Throwback Thursday for Writers: My First Published Story
© Barbara V. Evers, All rights reserved.
On Facebook, it's Throwback Thursday (#TBT), so I thought I'd take a different slant on that idea and share this story. In the spirit of #TBT, I have made no changes. It appears as it did in print many years ago. Also, I never gave the story a title, so any suggestions in the comments below this post are welcome.
"Stupid. Dumb." Joey kicked the box at the garage wall. "They were my puppies." With the back of his hand, he brushed at his eyes, then landed a savage kick to the side of the box, ripping it off. He kicked the box again and again, tearing it piece by piece by piece. "Hate them. Hate, hate, hate." One last piece, he swung back and sent it hurtling across the floor "I don't care." Joey leaned against the wall, crying.
The garage became darker, shapes of objects only dim outlines. Staring out the door, Joey decided it was late, time to go in. His stomach growled reminding him of supper and his mother's cooking.
"Mom's cooking," he muttered. "Mom, the thief's cooking."
Joey thought back to the day his parents decided the time had come to sell the puppies. If his father's golf clubs had been in the right place, the puppies would still be here. But his father, hurrying to supper, propped them against the lawn mower.
Playing in the garage, the puppies ran between the clubs and the mower, tipping the clubs forward. A dent in the car door showed the result of this caper.
The decision came then.
Joey knew that his parents planned to sell the puppies. He'd known that all along. But a hope to talk them out of it lingered.
They argued that day for what seemed hours, Joey constantly insisting, "They're my puppies, all mine."
After Joey's fourth repetition, his father corrected him. "They're our puppies, and we are going to sell them."
Joey ran, crying to his room, his mother soon following him. She came into the room and sat on the edge of Joey's bed. Brushing the hair back from his wet face, she tried to explain, "Joey, we can't afford to keep four puppies and their mother, too. Especially since we need to fix the dent in the car, now."
Joey sniffed and turned towards the wall.
"Don't you realize it hurts us, too?"
Joey lay still, staring at the wall.
Sighing, she promised, "O.K., we won't sell them, not yet."
"Liar," Joey muttered, watching his mother's car turn in the driveway.
When she parked in the garage, Joey jumped up and ran in the house. In his room, he lay on the bed, staring at the ceiling.
Soon, the clatter of pots and pans sounded from the kitchen. Minutes later, the aroma of chicken frying reached Joey, reminding him of his hunger.
A door opened and slammed shut as his father came home. Joey listened to the deepness of his father's voice contrast against his mother's high one.
The deep laugh that Joey always distinguished as his father's bellowed from the kitchen. Still laughing, his father walked down the hall, the bellow getting louder as he neared Joey's room.
The slam of a nearby door meant Joey's father was in his own room. Five minutes later someone knocked on Joey's door.
"Joey?" his father called.
Joey stared at the door.
"Joey," he called again.
Joey remained quiet, staring at the door.
"Joseph, answer me this minute."
Joey fidgeted on the bed, but still said nothing.
The doorknob rattled.
"Open this door, now."
Joey scooted back on his bed, scrunching into the corner.
His father's voice boomed outside the door, but Joey remained tight in his corner, focusing his eyes on the doorknob that his father still rattled.
"Leave him alone," Joey heard his mother shout over this father's ranting. "Just calm down and leave him alone for awhile."
Joey pictured his mother taking his father by the arm and leading him away.
His father still complained, but less violently. "We shouldn't let him do that. He's losing his respect for us."
"I know, I know," his mother consoled, "but he's upset right now."
"That's no excuse."
Joey heard his father stomping back to his room, his voice getting louder and closer. At the door, he ordered, "Young man, open this door immediately."
Scrunched into the corner, Joey stared at the door, shaking his head.
It was quiet for a moment then his father called, "Doris, where's the key to this door?"
"Forget about the key, Mike, and come to dinner. When he gets hungry he'll come out."
"And get a good thrashing, too."
The voices faded down the hall and soon began to rumble in conversation. The tiny clink of forks and knives against plates rang in Joey's ears, and again he remembered his hunger.
He climbed off the bed and went to the closet. On his knees, he plowed through the clutter. Books, shoes, clothes, toys--if he needed something, he found it there.
Finally, he found the old ragged windbreakeer. Cramming his hand into the pocket, he pulled out two broken cookies left over from yesterday's lunch. Stuffing them in his mouth, he munched happily. But once they were gone he discovered they only made him hungrier.
His stomach growled hungrily at the same time that there came a scratch at the door. Joey hurried out of the closet and opened the bedroom door. Midge, a brown cocker, raced into the room, jumping and yipping at Joey.
"Hey, Midge," he greeted her.
She plopped down on the floor and watched Joey, her tail thudding on the floor.
"Yeah, midge, I know, you miss your puppies."
Midge rolled over and wiggled until Joey began rubbing her tummy.
"Mom and Dad played a rotten trick on us."
Midge jumped up and began pushing a ball around the floor. Stopping in front of Joey, she dropped the ball and waited for Joey to toss it.
When Joey just sat there, shaking his head, Midge barked and nudged the ball with her nose. It rolled to Joey's foot. He picked it up and held it in the air for Midge to jump at.
Laughing, Joey rolled around the floor, playing with the dog. The room being too cramped for their romping, he opened the door and rolled the ball down the hall.
Behind Midge, he ran into the kitchen. His parents looked up from the table.
"Young man--" his father began, half rising from his chair.
"No, Mike," Joey's mother checked him.
Sighing, his father sat down and continued eating.
"Would you like some dinner?: she asked, already getting up to serve his plate.
Source: "Untitled".: Variety, Volume 1, Spring 1985. Editor Pam Sheppard. Clemson University, 1985, 34-35.