Tuesday, September 6, 2011


This week's theme was the City of Lost Children. The topic was to look at the photo and to look into the child's eyes. The genre was open and the length 700 words. A heartbreaking prompt, but a lot of good will come from this week's challenge. Fiona and Tom will make donations to organizations dedicated to protecting our children for each story submitted. Fantastic idea, guys.


A woman and her kid just moved in across the street. With those needle marks up and down Mom’s arms, I doubt she’ll run the PTA’s bake sales. The girl looks 5-ish, skinny, wearing pj’s. What the fuck--it’s February. Mommy went inside and the kid’s on the stoop playing with dolls that have more clothes on than she does.

“Hi. My name is Katie, and I’m 6. You probably don’t want to play dollies with me, but could you sit and talk to me for a little while? We move around a lot and sometimes, I just get so scared being by myself”

I figured I’d clue this kid in on reality.

“Get used to it, kid. You’re gonna spend your life being scared of something. The ‘scared thing’ never goes away. Anyway, I’ve got to meet my boys downtown. We’ve got important stuff to do. And, put on a damn jacket or something, will ya? It’s starting to snow and you’re sitting there with your nose running and looking all nasty. Oh, and my name‘s Richie and I‘m 12, so don‘t bother me again.”

As I made my way to the corner to catch the #43 downtown, I heard the little gimp say she didn’t have a jacket. What kind of kid doesn’t have a jacket? I’ll bet her fucked-up junkie of a mommy has a jacket…

A week in Juvie wasn’t that bad. It’s snowing like a son-of-a-bitch outside and at least I was warm and got 2 meals a day. Used to serve all three, but the new Mayor made some cuts. You ever seen the size of him? He sure didn’t cut his third meal, that’s for sure. Crazy how stuff turns out. I don’t get grabbed for walking out of Danson’s with a $200 leather coat stuffed under my old denim one, but the 1 ounce bottle of $30 cologne in my jeans pocket puts me away. Glad I was able to stash the jacket in the alley before Detective Randall caught up with me. He’s not so bad really; he always cuffs me so I’ll look like a real bad-ass in the neighborhood on our way to the station. Have to keep my rep up, you know.

Those jerks at Danson’s just wanted their cologne back, so I get a week’s room and board and I still got the jacket. I was thinking about giving the one I‘m wearing to that pain-in-the-ass girl on my block. Stupid little idiot, sitting outside in the snow, playing with her dollies, with no jacket on. I know her mom’s inside shooting up, so maybe the kid’s better off outside. Don’t get the idea that I feel sorry for her or anything. She’s nothing but a headache, always wanting me to sit and talk and stuff. Like I’ve got nothing better to do. This jacket’s ready for the dumpster anyway. Giving it to her is no biggie.

It’s a good thing nobody found my stash. This jacket makes me look like I own this dump of a neighborhood; not that I’d want to though. Gotta find the kid. She’s probably out there sitting on her stoop in her pj’s again, nose running all over her…

Well, her mommy’s out there on the stoop, mumbling to herself. Junkie whore.

“Hey, bitch, where’s the kid?”

“What kid?” she could barely get the words out and it wasn’t even 8am.

“YOUR kid”, I shouted. I wanted to stomp her, but there were already people out.

“Oh her”, she came down the steps and started pacing back and forth in front of the building. “Hung herself in her room. Wound her jump rope on the closet door’s knob, swung it over, and looped it around her neck. Figures. Couldn’t ever do anything right, but THAT she does right. Now I’m going to have to move in to one those nasty shelters downtown cause with her gone, I won’t get my monthly assistance check. Selfish little slug…”

I tossed my old jacket in the dumpster on the corner. Going to catch the #43 downtown. The boys and I need to find someone to take down.


Just because.


  1. Damn, JF. Now that is hardboiled. Yanked the rug right out from under me.

  2. Thomas, Thanks for your comments. This one was so tough to write. I drew on some memories from growing up in Chicago. Some kids never can find a way out.

  3. Joyce, hard ending. So much untold story imbued within the subtext. Sadness. Good story.

  4. Glenn, Thanks so much for taking time to read and comment. The prompt brought such sadness to mind. I couldn't write this any other way.

  5. Ron, Thanks much for your comments. So much to say in so few words. I'm very happy it all came through.

  6. (four letter expletive!) OMG... that didn't just take my breath away... you knocked it clean out of my chest!

    A hard, brittle story... damn it! I've seen that junkie girl... her 'type' anyway... downtown... on bus... dressed better than their kids... I just want to shake them and...

    Okay... it's just a story... I need to still the anger..

    Joyce, this is... how do I say... terrible (not terrible writing... as always, your writing is excellent!) in the sense that it evokes such a strong angry reaction in me... and superb that it evokes that strong a reaction in me...

    Excellently crafted writing... hard hitting... in 700 words you deliver a story that knocks me off my feet... it brings an anger and a sadness to me that were it not such a bright, sunny hopeful summer day, would overwhelm me. I feel such a need to hear children's laughter right now!

  7. Og my! That was a tough one! Really painfully and very well written. Thanks so much for taking part. xx

  8. My story was hard enough to write, this hit me very hard. Great work.