Author's note – It's been two years since I updated this one fanfic, but then I lost my outline over a year ago and not many people showed interest. I really like this story though for some reason.
When one thinks of family in this town, they picture a happy family home, where the kids dress properly and they don't get into mischief. Siblings don't go out of their way to hurt each other and the parents go about there every day life, the father working a job, while the mother works a job along with the household chores.
Of course, what job did the Herdmans' father hold down? I have never, ever seen the man and I doubt they even remember what he looks like. Their mother definitely doesn't take care of the house, or so the ladies say. Mrs. Wendelkin particularly, that the front yard, which is in constant state of disarray says everything. Oh, and the kids are never dressed properly and they are always into mischief.
One would honestly think that the Herdman children would actually get along with each other at least, but they always were beating up on each other, getting into fights. Mom always said though, that despite the fact they fought all the time, they still loved each other. This never made any sense to me why someone would purposefully go out of their way to harm their own sibling. But the Herdmans do it all the time.
At the Herdman household, six of Herdmans were in the room, a complete chaos. However, the number for once included their mother which meant that one of the Herdman children was in fact missing. The woman came home from her shift to get something to eat and to have a chance to sleep the time between now and her next two shifts.
Upon opening the door to her house, she found five of her kids spread across the living room watching the television and playing various games that they likely stole. Actually, she didn't want to know where they got any of the toys or objects that they obtained over the years. She simply went and shoved Ollie and Gladys off the chair.
Glancing around, she mentally tallied up her kids, then snapped rather loudly. "Imogene... where is Ralph?"
"Hmm?" The eldest female glanced up from the trashy romance novel she was reading, then went back to her reading. "Library I think."
"Library... uhh huh. Sure. I think that was the dumbest excuse I've ever seen you ever make for your brother. He's getting into trouble again." Their mother stated.
"If he was getting into trouble, why aren't Claude, Leroy or Ollie with them." The female mumbled.
"Fix something to eat will ya." The female muttered, which caused Imogene to hurry off, pulling out the leftovers. "Isn't there more food then this?"
"You need to go back to the food bank and pick up more stuff." The girl stated, tossing the plate of food onto the table. "This is supposed to be Ralph's share."
"Ralph can go without. It isn't my fault that he isn't here is it." Their mother stated, getting up and grabbing the sandwich.
"Ma... he really is at the library." Imogene protested.
"Most likely causing trouble, isn't he?" Their mother went and pulled out a beer from the fridge and lit up a cigarette. She took a bite out of the food, causing her daughter to glance away. "You know, your brother has been trouble ever since he was born? He's caused me the most trouble out of all of you." Biting down on half of the sandwich, she watched her daughter carefully.
The eleven to twelve year old girl simply glared at the her mother, then walked off towards her other siblings, shoving between Gladys and Ollie who had climbed back into the chair, picking up her novel as she did so. She placed her feet up on a box and began to read, her mind trying to get away from the world that currently surrounded her.
About thirteen minutes later, the door clicked open and Imogene knew Ralph had finally gotten home. She didn't dare look up or try to get between her mother and her brother. Sure, people said that Ms. Herdman was scarred of her own children, but the eldest female child had always felt that was far from the truth. No one bothered to even meet the woman. Else they would know other wise.
"Ralph. Where ya been?" The woman stated. She could have added kiddo in there, but she choose to leave it out. The woman glared at the boy as he stepped in.
"Li... library." The boy muttered, glancing at the ground, his boot scraping at the floor.
"Sure. You of all people were at the library. You're stupid Ralph. What were you doing?" Mrs. Herdman pushed.
"Tutoring..." came the one word response, whispered to a barely audible level.
"What did you say?" The woman let out a laugh. "I couldn't hear you due to the fact that a mouse spoke up."
"Tutoring..." The boy glanced at the ground, wanting to escape from the environment around him.
"Tutoring... you going to tutoring. That is a laugh." The woman shook her head. "Why would you even want to go to tutoring. You don't care about school. We all know that."
"I..." Again, the eldest child paused shortly.
"Ralph doesn't want to get held back again." Imogene stated, not looking up from her romance novel.
"Get held back?" The woman suddenly paused, her finger going into the spout of her beer bottle. "Ralph? You got held back? You're going to be in the same class as your sister?"
"Yes..." The young male stated.
"You are the stupidest child I have ever met. You've been passing up until now. Oh, wait... I know, the teachers have been passing you because they don't want to deal with your idiocy, but in order to get into middle school, you actually have to have smarts." Mrs. Herdman snapped out, her eyes narrowing at the young male. "Besides, you can't even read Dick and Jane. What did you read? What did you do? Nothing I bet."
"Tom Sawyer..." Ralph muttered, his head hung low.
"You? You being able to read Tom Sawyer. You've got to be kidding me!" The woman shoo her head at her eldest. "That is way to complex for you to understand. Name me one thing you remember from when you read?"
"Tom ate truck." The boy muttered.
At that, the youngest four Herdman children overheard and suddenly burst out laughing. Leroy let out a sharp laugh. "How can someone eat a truck?"
"It is this big!" Gladys held her arms apart very wide, a huge grin on her face.
Mrs. Herdman glared at the children. "Off to the bed with you. I wish to talk to your brother."
At first the Herdman children stopped and stared at her, the silence profound. Imogene then threatened to hit the younger siblings if they didn't move and they hurried off. "Ralph... you're exasperating, you know that."'
"I didn't mean he ate a truck. He had crumbs on his face, that is what the word means." The boy glanced at the ground.
The woman suddenly blinked a couple of times, half way through the second half of the the half sandwich. She set it down and pushed it over. "Eat. Not much there, but come tell me what else you read in that book."
At that, Ralph sprung on the sandwich, gulping it down. He then began to ramble. "Tom's aunt... she has glasses, but she doesn't wear um because she needs them. Tom got into a fight with another boy 'cause the boy wore fancy clothing. No body at our school ever wears clothes like that 'cept whats her face. She was supposed to tutor me, but she fainted. Don't think her mum..."
"The book Ralph." The woman sighed, bringing him back on topic.
"He played hookey from school and got caught 'cause he resewed his collar on with the wrong thread color." The boy stopped. "That's about it. I couldn't get father then that."
"And you did that on your own?" The woman shook her head. "You read all that on your own."
"No. Someone was helping me with the words I struggled with." Ralph stated, glancing at the ground. "I can't read."
"Really?" Mrs. Herdman shook her head at the boy.
"I'm stupid..." He then glanced at the hallway. "Can I?"
"Yeah, head to bed." The woman gave a weak smile, watching him go. When he was gone, she grumbled to herself. "I really hate you Ralph."