Thursday, August 30, 2007

Powder Burn Flash # 44 - Christa M. Miller

Just Watching

Every afternoon during lunch, Brian drove to the park to watch the kids play. He liked them all, the little boys who chased each other around the equipment as they played superhero games, the little girls who dragged their dolls up the steps and down the slides.

His favorite, though, were the tomboys. These girls wore dirty jeans and had tangled hair and ran as hard as the boys. They were spring-loaded, flexible, athletic girls. They were the ones he wished into his car, so he could hear them slurp on their juice boxes and watch their tongues curl around the straws and feel--if not taste--the sweat left from their skin sliding across the leather seats.

But it was only a wish. That was all. However much he liked to watch,he could never, never take such a sweet creature. He wasn't worthy.

He reclined his seat partway to where his watching would be less obvious. Two girls cavorted around the slides now. One in green jeans.The other in pink capris. Playing spies or detectives or whatever it was that tomboys played. He settled down to watch them move.


The bandstand belonged to Donnie and his friends. Everyone knew better than to mess with it when they were there. Even the little kids in the park stayed clear. Occasionally some pig would come by to try and make a point, but that was the beauty of the bandstand. From up here, they could see everything: cops. Their parents' cars. Belongings, including open cars, that no one was paying attention to.

Bart was bragging to the girls about his most recent arrest when Donnie noticed the green Chevy. He'd seen it before. The driver was an old white guy. Always parked by the playground so he could watch the little kids. Donnie didn't think he was just a grandpa, though. "Hey,"he said to the others.

Bart pantomimed what he'd done. "I beat the shit out of him with my skateboard, but he didn't die. Would've been a manslaughter charge, too."

"Hey." Donnie spoke louder. "Bring your fucking skateboard, man. That perv's back."He nodded toward the green car.

One of the girls, Brandi, tittered. "Call the cops. There's a new law. They can't be at a park."

"Cops won't do nothin' except tell him to move." Donnie started down the steps. Brandi was a fuckin' stupid spaz. Always trying to play by the rules. "Let's get him."

"Yeah!" Bart practically skipped down the steps.

"I'm in." Angela followed him. "Don't call the fucking cops, Bran."

Brandi looked nervous. Donnie bet she'd call them anyway. He hoped so. Angela would beat the shit out of her. Then maybe she'd get a fuckin' clue.

He followed the others.


Brian had closed his eyes, dozy with the bright hot sun. He was dreaming of the two little girls in their tight pants. In his dream they ran toward his car, smiling their carefree smiles. They opened the car door and grabbed him by the clothes, pulled at him, tried to get him to come out and play. "Girls, stop," he chuckled.

Then a man screamed.

Brian shot upright, eyes wide. In his side rearview mirror he saw them: the group of teens from the gazebo. Normally he paid them no attention. They'd never bothered anyone before. But now they werebeating the shit out of some guy.

Shit, he needed to get out there. So he wasn't on duty. He was still in a city car, carrying the city's badge.

He called it in. Then he pulled the door handle, kicked the door open. "Police!" he shouted.

It looked as if the teens had dragged the man out of his car. He'd folded in on himself, but they kept kicking and stomping and punching. One of the boys whaled on the man with a skateboard.

Brian wondered whether they'd heard him. "Police!" he repeated. He started to run toward them.

A crowd had gathered. In the distance, Brian heard sirens.

"Get the fuck out of here!" one of the teens shouted. He took off. Then the girl. A girl, for Christ's sake, and not much older than the pixies he'd been watching.

He shook that thought right off. The kid with the skateboard kept beating the old man. One of the bystanders tackled the kid. Brian didn't look twice as he knelt over the victim.

The man held his arms over his head. He was bleeding from the nose and ears. "I was only watching," he sobbed. "I miss my grandsons. I was only watching."

"Fuckin' perv," Skateboard Kid snarled.

Perv? Brian's skin tingled.

"He's here every day. Watchin' the kids play. Fuckin' cops never do anything. It was time to get him."

Brian accepted a rolled-up sweater from a woman bystander and placed it under the victim's head. "Is that so."

"Yeah. You going to arrest him, or what?"

Brian wanted to kick the kid in the balls. Instead he simply stood and faced the sullen teen. "No. You're under arrest."

Reading the boy his rights, all he could think was, Just watching. Well, shit.

BIO: Christa M. Miller is a freelance writer. You can contact her at remember to type two 'm's in the above URL.)

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