Disclaimer: Not my characters! I'm just molding them… like play-do. I LOVE play-do. There're some curses, not many. I try to tone it down, but still keep most of the foul language. Anyhoo, here you go! Tell me what you guys think!
Riley crouched down, his eyes glazing over in what one could only
hope was intense thought. The subject of his interest was a trail of
ants, one by one moving across the sidewalk. Their movements were
quick and jittery, but other than that they all walked the same
direction and were, supposedly, going to the same place. The only
problem was that "same place" was through a hole that led
directly to his kitchen. Normally he wouldn't bother himself with
such matters, but this time was different. This time his granddad
had, not too politely, ordered him to "Get those damn ants out my
kitchen, boy! Now!"
So he had reluctantly made his way outside, a magnifying glass clutched tightly in his right hand. Huey had once told him that in order to eliminate a problem, one has to first find its source, and right now Riley could bet that the "source" was going to take a while to find. With a heavy sigh he began to trace back to where the ants where coming from. Then from there he would nuke them to hell. Down the block, past this boy, Matt's house, through the park and finally – there it was – the biggest ant hill Riley had ever seen.
It looked like something out of a horror movie, its sandy walls rising to at least a foot off the ground. Ants poured out of it like a peppery eruption. He gasped and watched as they branched off in five different directions. It amazed him that the ants had singled his house out. He had to have passed at least fifteen houses along the way. For a moment he considered following another stream of ants to see where they went, but he remembered his original plan.
Huey Freeman lounged lazily on the couch, both feet propped on a pillow; a newspaper erected flimsily in front of him. It was an easy way to spend a spring day.
BLACK MAN ASPIRES TO BECOME A PRIESTThe headline shot out at him and he tiredly rubbed his eyes at the sight of "Uncle Ruckus" smiling widely at the camera. The man was insane.
"Huey…" It was Riley, he knew immediately and for that he didn't look up; he didn't even bother to answer. "Huey." His younger brother tried again, this time sounding more resolved. With a sigh, Huey looked over the paper and down at Riley.
"This better not be stupid." He said simply.
"How're you supposed to stop something that's bigger than you?" Riley asked calmly. Huey folded the paper, surprised by the question. "Stage a protest." He answered, not sure what the discussion was about.
"I don't think that's gonna work. Ya' see… I tracked the problem back to its source, like you told me to, but its source is too big." Huey was shocked that Riley had actually listened to him.
"Well…" Huey began, but was interrupted when Grandad ran in, broom in hand and gave Riley a good hit on the head with the end.
"Boy! Why ain't you fixin' that ant problem! These things don't just go away on their own!" He said, ending each word with another hard hit. Riley threw his hands up, trying his best to shield himself from the particularly painful blows.
"Ow! Jeez Grandad! I'm going! I'm going!" He cried, racing to the door.
"Ya' see? That's how you properly motivate a boy." Grandad said proudly. Huey just rolled his eyes and hopped off the couch.
"What ant problem?" He asked, heading slowly for the door.
"That hole your brother made in the wall is lettin' ants in. I don't take too kindly to unwanted visitors." Grandad responded, heading back into the kitchen. Huey went out the front door, intending to find Riley and was surprised when he almost tripped over the younger boy who was crouched just outside.
"What're you doing?" He asked as Riley straightened up.
"Damn ants," Was all he said. He shook his head and sighed. "For things that're that small," Riley gestured with two fingers. "They sure do know how to ruin a good day."
"Why don't you just fix the hole in the kitchen?" Huey asked, studying Riley's face.
"Oh yeah…" He said, rushing back into the house. "Thanks Huey!"
At dinner Grandad dropped a huge plate of… something… on the table. The thing that stood out the most in the pile of mush was the unmistakable peppering of tiny dead ants throughout it.
"Uh, Grandad…" Huey began, forking the disgusting-anty mush.
"Don't touch that boy!" Grandad said, batting Huey's hand away. "This is for Riley… who so "kindly" fixed our ant problem. All eyes now on Riley, Huey noted how nervous he looked.
"I ain't eatin' that shit!" He said rebelliously. "Ain't my fault there're ants in that."
"Oh I beg to differ, boy. Somebody took the cabinet door off its hinges and put it over that damn hole in the wall. Is that what you call fixin' the problem!?" Grandad shouted, the veins on his forehead showing thickly. "Now eat that or I ain't gonna feed you anymore!"
Riley looked grimly down that the plate and noticed that some of the ants were still twitching. "It just looks like mushed up bread," He said after a moment. Then his eyes widened and he swallowed painfully. "I can't eat that." He said timidly.
"The hell you can't! If you gonna just waste my time then go to your room, now!" Grandad yanked the plate away, spilling some of its contents onto the table. Huey half expected Riley to protest, but he just simply slid out of his chair and headed up the steps.
Once he was gone, Grandad went into the kitchen and returned with takeout – some sort of hamburgers and a salad which Huey took.
"Don't you think you were a little rough on him?" Huey asked after a few minutes of silence. Grandad took a sip of his drink and shook his head.
"Boy ain't never gonna learn if you don't teach him," He justified himself. Huey shrugged and left.
Creaking open the door, he peered into the darkness and could only faintly make out the form of Riley lying on the bed.
"You okay?" He asked, making his way fully into the room but not bothering to turn the light on. When Riley didn't answer Huey approached the bed. "Riley," He tried again.
"'mm hungry," His younger brother mumbled, his face buried in the pillow.
"Maybe if you fix the cabinet and then fix the hole with somethin' a little less important, Grandad will let you eat." Huey suggested and smiled lightly at Riley's expression.
"Yeah! That's a good idea." Huey watched Riley leave, unable to stop the rush of sentimental feeling. He couldn't help it. In a way, Riley was all he had left. Huey hated thinking that way – thinking about the way life used to be. Though, no matter how much he hated it, he could always fall back on the fact that Riley hated it ten times more. The younger boy never mentioned their parents.
Riley used to cry at night. He'd never admit it, but he did. They were times that Huey tried not to look back on, tried not to remember the painful nights where Riley would curl up against him and sob, asking the darkness why it had to happen to them – why, out of all the people in the world, God had to take away the two he loved the most. Then, on the last night at Grandad's before they would move, Riley suddenly changed.
Instead of dwelling on what he didn't have anymore, he focused on what remained – Huey.
Huey was shaken out of his thoughts by a loud crash. Leaping up, he ran out of the room and down the hallway, almost smashing into Grandad on the way.
"God damn it boy what you think you're doin'!?" He shouted, waving his fist menacingly. "And if that's your brother down there tryin' to get food, tell him it's no use. I locked everything up."
"Uh, sure." Huey answered lightly, watching Grandad retreat back into his room. As soon as he was sure the coast was clear, Huey dashed downstairs.
Riley walked slowly through the darkened house, his mind turning over every possible thing he could fix the wall with. It only took him a minute to figure out that the good stuff was probably in the basement, so he headed there.
Listening closely for Grandad, Riley crept passed the fridge, noting the locks on it and made his way toward the basement steps. He creaked the door open and – taking it one step at a time – walked down the stairs. He could feel the dust collecting on his socks. No one ever went down the basement. Now that he thought about it, he'd actually only been down in the basement once.
Unable to find the lights, he shrugged and kept going. Only little kids were afraid of the dark. Riley got to the bottom of the steps and allowed his eyes time to adjust before he continued on. He'd need to be able to see the wood to get it. After a few hard blinks, he scanned the darkened and dusty room. It was chilly in the basement and all the walls were littered with boxes. Mostly things that were never unpacked once they moved like extra blankets and almost useless kitchen appliances.
Finally Riley's gaze landed on a piece of thick wood on top of a stack of boxes. He recognized it as the wood that held his and Huey's air conditioner in because he wrote their names on it. He approached the boxes and cursed his height. They were too heavy and stacked too high for him to move them, so he opted instead to climb up. Wrapping his arms around the smelly cardboard, he began his unsteady ascent.
The boxes wobbled dangerously and when Riley reached the half way point, things went wrong. In order to get a better grip, he wrapped his right arm around a box and began repositioning himself when suddenly his arm erupted in pain. At first it felt like a pinch, something small and easy to handle but the pain only got worse from there. He withdrew his hand so fast that the box came with it – everything came with it and in one simple instant all the boxes and Riley plunged to the ground.
Hearing no further noise only added into Huey's sense of urgency. He went right for the basement, coming to the same conclusion as Riley. Huey took the stairs two at a time, leaping the rest of the way as soon as he got close enough. One more jump and he clicked the light on causing the small chain that controlled the devise to swing about.
"Riley!" Huey called, immediately noticing the small hand poking out of a pile of boxes. Knowing better than to just grab it and pull his younger brother out, he carefully began taking the boxes out of the pile until all of Riley was in sight. Huey crouched down and touched his shoulder lightly. "Riley?"
"Aww man." Riley moaned without opening his eyes.
"'Course I am." He sighed and then opened his eyes, they were fiery with uncontrolled anger. In one swift motion Riley was on his feet and kicking furiously at the boxes. Huey stood too, reaching out but not entirely sure how to handle the situation.
"God damn!" Riley cried, kicking a box that, from the sound of it, held plates or glasses.
"Riley, calm down!" Huey demanded, grabbing the younger boy and yanking him back. Riley struggled and elbowed him in the face. Huey let go, more from shock than anything.
"No!" Riley screamed - his voice loud enough that Huey was sure that every resident on Timid Deer Lane could hear. "I will not calm down! Everything has to be hard! Why couldn't it be easy?! Why couldn't the stupid piece of wood just be on the ground?" As Riley's rant went on, it seemed to die off – his words becoming less forceful. He kicked another box and crossed his arms, but almost instantly after doing so, he grimaced.
"Well," Huey began, choosing his words very carefully. "You got the wood down."
Riley's whipped around, his eyes landing quickly on the wood that was now sticking out of the bottoms of a few boxes. The younger boy stomped over to the wood, still angry that he had to get it by knocking nearly everything in the basement over.
He reached out for the wood but stopped. Huey leaned in; trying to see what had stopped his brother. A few seconds passed until Riley reached again, taking the wood awkwardly.
"Let me see." Huey commanded as he took a step forward. Riley held out the wood innocently but Huey just stared, schooling his anger. "Not the wood, Riley." He said, even though he knew that Riley was just playing dumb. "Your hand."
"Man, what you talkin' about?" Riley's voice didn't waver, but his choice to revert back to his normal lingo only raised Huey's suspicion. It was surprising how articulate Riley could be when he forgot about looking cool; of course Huey knew it was a front. Riley was smart, he just chose not to show it.
"Oh there's nothing wrong? Then tell me… when did you become left handed." Huey kept his face stony – even as Riley blanched. Seeing no end to this, Huey took action. He swiftly knocked the wood from Riley's hand, grabbed a hold of his other and wrenched it forward. It was a small wound, only slightly bleeding. Why had Riley tried to hide it?
"Come on." Huey said, but Riley pulled away.
"Wait." He said, and ran over to the wood. On his way back from getting it, he reached into a cabinet and pulled out a hammer and a small jar of nails. "I ain't gonna miss breakfast tomorrow."
So!!! It's kinda… uh, I dunno. I like it. Expect three more chapter. Also expect this to be the longest night of Huey and Riley's life. . I love Grandad by the way.