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​Desmond Boyd’s eyes locked onto the group filing into the pizza parlor as the schoolbus rumbled past it and the Mid-Island motel where he lived. He had to turn around and his corduroy pants squeaked as he watched Tookie and his boys disappear inside.
“Crap,” he said as the bus turned off Jericho Turnpike to head down into the neighborhood.
“What’s the matter?”
“Nothing. Tookie and his crew are in Frank’s. No dinner for me tonight.”
A paper airplane smacked his friend Joe Mojica in the face who then stood up and launched it back behind them. They always sat in the first seat of the bus to minimize harassment during the trip home, it was only mildly effective.
“Come over to my house.”
“Can’t, Mom says I have to go straight home except for dinner.” Desmond’s Scooby Doo lunchbox banged against his knees as the bus stuttered to a stop, the brakes hissing and squealing. He grabbed his stack of textbooks and composition notebooks and gave Joe a bug-eyed look when his friend didn’t move.
“Wait till Chauncy gets off so he doesn’t push us down, with his left-back behind.”
“He’s just gonna wait for us anyways,” Dez said. “Just go, man. I gotta get inside the motel room before those thugs come out of Frank’s.”
Joe was about to get up when Chauncy stepped in front of him and pushed him back in the seat with a meaty palm on his forehead. Dez’s books and lunchbox hit the floor, his thermos rolled towards the back of the bus like a soapbox derby car. Chauncy just laughed and stepped down off the bus.
“Let’s go, kids. I don’t have all day,” Mr Neville said with his slow as molasses country drawl that never inspired haste in anyone.
“Coming, sir.” Desmond was squirming back from under the seat having retrieved his thermos and garnered a kick or two along the way.
As they arrived at the foot of Joe’s driveway, Dez was looking anxiously up the block towards the motel. “If they only let us kids who live there off at the motel parking lot I’d be inside my room by now,” he thought.
After declining another invitation, this one seconded by Mrs. Mojica who stepped out on to the porch wiping her hands on a dish towel and announcing that she had some warm empanadas on the kitchen table, Dez headed to what had been home for the past nine months. The Mid-Island motel was a desert amid an oasis in Jericho’s suburban wonderland. It was an urban world on the head of a pin, and Dez had been out of his element there since day one. In some ways. In others he managed to thrive, his solitary nature making him difficult prey for the predators that roamed the parking lot.
Employing his very best Hide and Seek skills, he looked around the corner of the office by climbing on the dumpster and in a back window that allowed him to look out through the plate glass window of the office. No sign of Tookie or the other guys who were looking to stomp him for stealing one of his friends’ bike back. He put his back to the wall and sidled along the remaining few feet to the door to the office. Just a dash away from home base now. Not there there was anyone there to call ollie ollie oxen free to. His palms were sweating and he was starting to hyperventilate as his heart made a drumroll inside his chest.
Taking a deep breath he broke out into the open, sprinting for the stairs as he looked down the turnpike to see Tookie and his boys running towards him. He was closer, but they were older, had longer legs, and were just as fast as he was.
He got to the stairs and took them two at a time. Somehow Tookie had made the second floor landing at the far end. “Damn, he must have hopped the wall,” he thought. They were equidistant from his room’s door, and now Dez was scared. His key out, he got there with just enough time to unlock, slip inside, and slam the door closed. But he hadn’t had time to turn the lock, so with his back pressing to hold the door shut, he reached over his shoulder and fumbled the chain onto the door just in time as another roughneck arrived to try and shove his door open.
Dez dropped his books and lunchbox on the floor and flopped on his mother’s bed as the boys cursed at him and promised him all kinds of fun when they got hold of him. Dez watched the clock as the boys tired of the threats. Mom wouldn’t be home for a few hours, if then.
When the boys tired of their threats he went and shut the door. Then he scrounged under the bed for the hotplate and their one pot. There was a box of Rice-A-Roni left and that was going to have to be his dinner. After he got it going he turned on the motel television, played with the puzzle of an antenna until he got a picture without static and snow, and sat down on the plastic covered couch where he fell asleep with the hotplate still going.
~
M. Zane McClellan
~
Copyright © 2016
All rights reserved 
Jane Dougherty Writes, Microfiction Challenge # 6: The Child

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