© 2007 Tim Simmons
“Oh, Max, Timmy’s so upset. He’s been moping around all day,” said Laura Brocksmith, pulling a tray of fresh M&M cookies from the oven and placing it onto the counter.
Max Brocksmith jerked his newspaper down into his lap and looked at his wife. “You mean Little Timmy? Little Goddamn Timmy? Such a nice goddamn ring to it. How many times have I told you? He’s seven for Christ’s sake. Call him Tim like a man, goddammit!”
Laura stared at Max and looked as if she would start crying at any moment. “I wish you wouldn’t talk like that.”
Max pointed a finger at his wife. “I can talk about the little bastard any way I please.”
“What? He’s my son, you know. At least I tolerate him. That bitch of a daughter of yours though… I’d like to –” The phone beside the refrigerator rang and Laura raced to answer it.
“Yes? I mean, hello?”
“Hello, Mrs. Brocksmith? This is Dr. Wright. I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news.”
“Oh no.” She looked over at Max who was still reading his daily news.
“I’m afraid Fritzie isn’t going to make it. I’m sorry.”
“Thank you, Dr. Wright,” she said, covering her eyes with her free hand and trying to stay calm. “I’m sure you did all you could. Goodbye.” She hung up the phone, tears welling up. “Timmy is going to be crushed!” she muttered, wiping her eyes.
“Little Goddamn Timmy will get over it,” Max all but yelled from behind his newspaper.
She turned to face him. “Max! You’re so cruel.”
Max peered at his wife over the newspaper. “He’s tough. Just like his dad. Now if it was your daughter we were talkin’ about...”
“Leave her alone!” Laura yelled, her anger flaring for just a moment. “Can’t you be considerate just once?” That seemed to shut Max up at least for the moment. She stared down at the floor. “I can’t bring myself to even tell him.”
“Want me to break the news?” Max asked, striking a match to relight his cigar.
“No! I... I’ll do it.” Laura walked from the kitchen and down the hallway to her stepson's bedroom. She stood in front of the door for several minutes then walked back to the kitchen.
“Well, how did it go?” Max inquired and blew a nasty cloud of smoke across the kitchen table.
“Oh, he took it... like a real man.” She got her car keys and opened the kitchen door.
“Where are you going? Aren’t you going to finish baking those cookies?”
“I just need to run out and… pick up a few things. I won't be long.”
“Hey! You’ve got your protection on, right?” Max asked, as Laura was about to shut the kitchen door.
“Why do you always ask me that?”
“Because I know how scatter-brained women can be,” he said, nodding and pointing his cigar at his wife.
Laura pulled open her jacket. “Yes, I’ve got my protection on.”
“And you keep it on. Doesn’t do a damn bit of good in the glove compartment. There are a lot of wackos out there.”
“Yes, dear,” she said. Max had bought a small handgun and insisted she wear it at all times when she went out. There were a lot of crazies out there but she knew she’d never be able to shoot anyone. The thought of it made her shiver. Closing the door, Laura got into the car and left.
* * *
When Laura returned, she lifted a small pet carrier from the back seat. The puppy, a Golden Retriever, was whimpering. “Shhhh! I want Timmy to be surprised.” She entered the kitchen and set the pet carrier on the counter. Opening it, she removed the puppy and headed toward the hallway.
“Timmy?” She tapped on the door. “Timmy, mommy’s coming in.” She opened the door and entered Timmy’s bedroom. He was sitting on the floor playing with some plastic army men.
“Look, Timmy! Here’s Fritzie! The doctor fixed her up like new.” She handed the puppy over to Timmy who smiled but then a frown clouded his face.
“This isn’t Fritzie,” he stated plainly.
“Why, yes it is. She’s back from the vet, good as new.”
“It’s not Fritzie!” he insisted, thrusting the dog back to his mother.
“Well, here, why don’t I put Fritzie down and you two can get reacquainted.” She turned quickly and left the room. The boy fumed. The tiny puppy wagged its tail and walked clumsily toward Timmy, bumping into his leg.
“It’s not Fritzie!” he yelled and kicked the puppy with all he had. The puppy yelped and flew across the room, landing in a pile of plastic robots and action figures. The puppy whimpered loudly as it struggled to get up. Timmy raced over, grabbed the puppy by the neck and slammed its head against the hardwood floor, over and over. “Not Fritzie! Not Fritzie!”
The door to Timmy's bedroom opened and his older sister, Maribeth, took a step in. “Timmy, what’s all this –” She saw Timmy raise the dog high then slam it against the floor. Timmy turned. The small puppy hung limp in his hands, blood dripping from its nose and mouth.
“You sick bastard!” she whispered, a look of utter disbelief on her face. “You sick little bastard!” she yelled, charging at Timmy. She raised her right hand, preparing to swing at him and he cringed. The blow struck him across the side of the head and he fell backwards, Maribeth landing on top of him. She grabbed his throat and squeezed his windpipe. Timmy dropped the dead puppy and tried to pry his sister’s hands loose. His face was contorted with rage and fear.
“How could you?” she demanded, still choking him. “How could you?” His face turned purple, his mouth an open cave. As she continued to throttle Timmy, she started pushing him down, hard and harder. Her rage went unchecked and she slammed his head onto the floor. Max appeared in the doorway.
“Fighting again, I see. What the... ” He saw Maribeth bashing Timmy’s bloody head over and over. “Why you little bitch!” He jerked a baseball bat from the corner of Timmy’s room and rushed her. He swung hard, hitting her in the back. The blow knocked the air from her lungs and she fell over on her side, groaning. He swung again. She raised her left arm defensively but the bat broke her forearm. Her arm dangled useless. “Goddamn you!” Max yelled. He continued to pummel Maribeth until one swing finally connected with the back of her skull.
Her body lay still and Max stood over her, breathing heavily, saying, “You fucking bitch!” repeatedly.
“Oh my God,” came a voice from the doorway.
Max turned and saw his wife. How long had she been there?
From the doorway, Laura stared into the bedroom but she couldn’t see her husband with a bloody baseball bat in his hand and his shirttail out. She couldn’t see her own flesh-and-blood daughter, lying beaten to a pulp. She couldn’t even see the small puppy she’d bought to try and fix things up. All she could see was Little Goddamn Timmy, all humped over, lifeless, with blood still dripping from his nose. He was only seven. Only seven.
“What have you done?” she asked in a barely audible voice.
“It’s what I’m about to do that you need to worry about, bitch!” He lumbered toward her, the bat in both hands but then he halted. He saw a small handgun pointing at him now.
“Get away from me,” she said, the gun shaking visibly.
“Now, you wouldn’t shoot your own husband, would ya?” Max hesitated, feinted a lunge and the gun went off. Before she realized it, Laura had emptied the chamber, red oozing from several places within Max’s white shirt. The trigger began to click quietly but for some reason she kept pulling it. Click. Click. Click.
Max fell backward over the bodies and into a pile of Power Rangers. His left arm rose and shivered involuntarily, then lowered itself again.
She let the gun fall and stood staring at her family, too shocked to move. Too shocked to even cry. The room was still and the quiet was too loud in her ringing ears.
A noise jolted her from her daydream state. It was the telephone. But she did not move to answer it. After several rings, she floated to the master bedroom and with leaden arms she lifted the receiver.
“Hello?” she said, although she wasn’t sure she’d said anything at all.
“This is Dr. Wright. I’ve got some amazing news for you. Fritzie pulled through! She’s going to be just fine.”
There was a long silence.
“I… I’ll be right over,” she said flatly and hung up the phone. After retrieving her gun, she removed a box of bullets from a drawer, inserted two bullets into the chamber and headed for the vet.