Free Read Friday: E is for Everett Park

© Can Stock Photo / Anna_Om

E is for Everett Park

Part 3

Read from the beginning HERE! 

Sign up to be notified when I update my blog, click HERE!

Ever hear of the boiling frog syndrome? If you try to put a frog into a pan of boiling water it will jump out, but if you put the frog in a pan of tepid water, then turn the heat up under the pan, the frog will stay in the water until dies when it can no longer adjust its internal temperature to that of the boiling water.

That was us,  our little group, like a frog sitting contentedly in a pan of tepid water. It didn’t matter if Arnold was the water, or the flame applied to the pan, but he was the one responsible for what happened. At the time we assured one another that it would never reach the level of abuse it eventually did, laughing off his attacks as we would any other from Jeremy and William. But looking back, with the years between then and now to serve as a filter, it was pretty obvious to everyone that Arnold was going to seriously hurt one of us.

It began as they always do with Arnold’s first day on the playground. He just wandered in off the street one day, no one knew where he lived or even what school he went to. No one recognized him, but remember what I said about predators and prey? We knew even then as he climbed onto the monkey bars and surveyed the playground with his cruel green eyes.

“Hey, you can’t sit there,” Robert, one of the popular kids shouted as he crossed from the small group he’d been with to confront the new kid. Robert was the biggest kid there, though he was only in the sixth grade, it was whispered that he’d been held back twice so was in reality an eighth grader.

“Who said?” Arnold shot back, watching Robert with the bored expression of one who already knew what the outcome of this confrontation would be.

“I said dammit, get your ass down off there, and go play with the retards,” Roberts said as he waved a hand in our direction. By now a small crowd was following Robert as he neared the monkey bars, excited chatter coming from the group.

“Come up here and make me.”

“I’m gonna kick your ass from here to Belcher field.” The anger in Robert’s voice sent a wave of ohhs and ahhs through the crowd around him.

Someone yelled fight!

This was getting serious, Robert had never had to threaten anyone, his presence alone was enough to quell any argument. But Arnold was different, he was a predator of a different magnitude, as Robert was about to find out.

Arnold smiled as he climbed down to confront Robert who stood a head taller than him, and outweighed him by at least fifty pounds. We couldn’t see what happened next, but one moment they were facing one another, and the next Robert was curled up on the ground as Arnold danced around him, kicking him.

There was something strange about the way Arnold attacked Robert, there were no emotions with his actions, most people would have been yelling at their victim as they brutalized them. Not Arnold, he beat Robert down silently, emotionally detached from his actions.

When he was done, and the other kids moved in to help Robert, Arnold turned to gaze in our direction. We knew at that moment that we were next. He actually smiled at us before Jeremy and William led him over to Gigantica to celebrate his victory. It was his smile that awakened that slimy ball of dread in the pit of my stomach. There was no emotion, no merriment in the act, it was simply a smile that would have looked out of place on anyone else, a smile that failed to reach his eyes. 

It wasn’t long after Robert’s demise as the leader of the playground that we learned what was in store for us. I didn’t really want to go to the playground, but if I stayed home I’d have to explain myself and the last thing I wanted to do was have my mother show up at the playground. I wasn’t afraid of what the others might have said, I was more afraid of what Arnold might do to her.

When I got there Tina was sitting on the edge of the merry go round bawling her eyes out, the others in our little group gathered around her, trying their best to comfort her. I knelt down before her and asked what was wrong, between hitching breaths she told me Arnold had taken Sally, her baby doll, and wouldn’t give her back. I glanced over in their direction, spotting Arnold’s red hair among a group of other kids on the base of Gigantica. It was as if he knew I was watching because the moment I spotted him he turned his head in my direction, again smiling at me with that emotionless expression, his eyes devoid of anything that might have made him human.

This was no spoiled child confronting me across the playground, this was something else entirely I realized as he pushed through the group around him and made his way towards us. The others followed him silently, not sure of what was going to happen, someone shouted fight, but another disembodied voice hushed them. In his hand he carried Tina’s baby doll by one arm, the legs dangling above the hot pavement.

He stopped ten feet away.

“Why don’t you give it back to Tina, it’s not hurting anything,” I said, calling up every ounce of courage I could muster. Outwardly I might have looked calm, but inside I was a trembling mess. I knew I was going to get my ass beat, how bad remained to be seen.

“I don’t like any of yous,” Arnold said, “you need to leave, quit stinking up the place.”

“We have as much right to be here as you do,” Jimmy on my right said, surprising me, he’d never been one to stand up for himself, but this was different. This wasn’t about us, it was about Tina and her baby doll. She was our friend and we couldn’t remain quiet.

“Think you’re tough?” Arnold said with a smile as he held Tina’s baby doll in his hands before him.

“Don’t hurt her, please,” Tina wailed from my right, and it was then I felt it inside, the fear I had of Arnold turned in upon itself to become a cold rage that calmed me.

To be continued

If you've been enjoying what you've read why don't you stop by my one of my Author Pages listed below to check out my other work. 


Become a member of my
readers group and get a
free starter library.

That's 2 complete novels and a 
collection of short stories.
Absolutely Free!


No comments:

Post a Comment