The saga of the Kinter house continues. If you haven’t read my last two flash fiction pieces, you might want to check them out before wading into this one. (Be sure to read them in the order they were published.)
I find myself warming to this story with each new piece I write for it. It is, admittedly, a stereotypical sort of premise: a strange old man who lives in the house that everyone on the block talks about. Is he evil? A psycho? What does he do in there all by himself?
Maybe it’s the fact that it’s a classic setup that has me intrigued. There’s nothing wrong with that. Sometimes it’s a good (even powerful) writing exercise to play with the formulaic, paying homage to those who have written similar stories before and adding your own little twists to the common legend. Whatever the case, I’m having fun making a serial out of these. I’m even enjoying using whatever prompts pop up each week to create the next layer of the story. It makes for an interesting challenge, knowing a little bit of where I think it’s going, but having to use specific words and setups to get there.
This week’s prompt comes from Flash Fiction Friday:
Prompt: Write a story using the following word list: Traffic, New Shoes, Calculus, Bus Stop, School, Principal
Word Limit: 1000
One more thing. Fear not–this story most certainly isn’t over.
“Come on, Carrie. We got school tomorrow.” Kevin was such a little whiner.
Carrie leaned against the bus stop sign on the sidewalk. She seemed entirely unconcerned about the first day back. She and Kevin and Max had been watching the Kinter house all Sunday afternoon and she didn’t intend to leave without seeing Mr. Baker reemerge.
“So, go home,” she said.
But Kevin couldn’t go home. Not with Carrie still there, keeping watch. When they saw Mr. Baker go into the house Kevin had just about pissed himself. What did he think he was accomplishing, keying Mr. Kinter’s car? He only did it because Carrie dared him to. It seemed like a stupid thing now.
“Wouldn’t it be funny if Mr. Kinter was the new principal?” Max asked. Panic flashed across Kevin’s face.
Carrie laughed and said, “I told you–my mom heard he’s the new calculus teacher at the high school. No one knows who the new middle school principle is yet. Some big fuckin’ secret.”
Even Max turned red hearing Carrie say ‘fuck’. Max wasn’t a big baby like Kevin, but neither of them were as bold as she was. They were on a practically deserted street. They hadn’t seen traffic in over an hour. No one was even watering their lawn, but here they were blushing at the sound of a girl cussing. They both probably still thought new shoes could make them run faster. Carrie was almost certain Kevin still believed in Santa Claus.
“Look,” she said, ignoring their embarrassment, “Mr. Baker went in there and he hasn’t come out. It’s been two hours! Is he friends with that old creep or what? I think we should go check it out.”
Kevin looked like he was about to shit himself. “Check it out?!” he sputtered. “What, like sneak into his yard and try and spy on them through the window? My dad’ll kill me!”
That elicited a chuckle from Max. “Dude, your dad is already gonna kill you when he finds out you keyed Kinter’s car.” Kevin looked to Carrie for support but found none.
“Yep,” she said. “You’re pretty much screwed already. You comin’?”
She had them now. Max wouldn’t back down if she could taunt Kevin into joining her little raiding party. They were both nearly a year older than her, due to turn 13 in October and November, but they followed her lead and she knew why. She was a girl. They couldn’t retreat if she was going in.
“I gotta be home by 8:00,” Kevin said. “Mom wants me to go to bed early since school starts tomorrow.”
Carrie rolled her eyes. “Kevin, it’s 5:30. I think you’ll be fine.”
“Okay,” he conceded, and the trio tentatively crossed the street.
Huddled on the other side, shielded from the Kinter house by Mrs. O’Connelly’s massive bush–they’d laughed about that more than once–they formulated a plot. Carrie spoke: “We’re not gonna do anything stupid. We’ll just sneak over to the corner window and look into the living room.”
“Why do we all need to go?” Kevin asked.
Max hit the back of his head. “Stop being a pussy,” he said. Then, embarrassed by his own language, to Carrie, “Sorry.”
Carrie shrugged. “You don’t have to apologize for calling him a pussy. He is.” Then she crouched and ran across the yard toward the house, motioning for the other two to follow.
They arrived at the corner with little fanfare. Carrie put a finger in front of her lips to ensure that Kevin didn’t say something loud. It was the kind of stupid thing he might otherwise do. She straightened her legs, rising high enough to peek into the window from the bottom. She saw a boring living room, something that looked like a throw-back to the forties, but nothing more.
“What do you see?” Max asked.
“Nothin'” she said.
The promise that the coast was clear evidently gave Kevin a boost of courage. He stood, too, while Max remained crouched scanning the street. However, Kevin straightened his legs fully, bringing his head and shoulders into view just as Mr. Kinter, wearing some kind of weird black leather apron, rounded the corner from the kitchen.
“Shit!” Carrie said. “Run!”
She ducked down, having been missed by Kinter, and she and Max made a mad, stealthy dash for Mrs. O’Connelly’s bush. But Kevin twisted his ankle when he tried to pivot away from the window. Flailing his arms, he went down. Carrie and Max weren’t the deserting type, but there didn’t seem to be any sense in all three of them getting busted. Kevin’s ass was already on the line for keying Mr. Kinter’s car. This would just mean a little more punishment for him. They made it to the bush and turned, peering through the branches to watch.
Mr. Kinter moved fast for a man his age. He was outside and rounding the corner of the house just as Max and Carrie dove behind the bush. He looked down at Kevin. “It’s rude to spy on people,” he said. “Where are your manners, young man?”
Without waiting for an answer, he lifted Kevin by the back of his shirt and brought him to eye level. “Wow,” Carrie said quietly. “He’s strong.”
Whispering so that Max and Carrie could not hear, he spoke to Kevin: “Maybe I should open you up and see if I can find them? Perhaps they are in your spleen. I’ll have to dissect it to see.” Looking down, he saw footprints in the mud around the window. Certainly more than one pair. “Where are your friends?” he asked.
But Kevin passed out, his body going limp while his bladder released.
Carrie and Max watched as Mr. Kinter hauled Kevin to the back gate and out of sight. “Well shit,” Carrie said.
“Yeah,” Max agreed. “Shit.”