As the front door opened, a little girl fell to the floor. Her arms and legs were covered in bruises and her tattered dress barely covered…. Oh god, Eliza!
Mom ran to her and swept her to the bathroom. She did this so silently and quickly that at first I began to doubt what I saw. Eliza’s screams from the bathroom let me know that it was all painfully real.
Mom took her to bed and tried to make her comfortable. That is when we were able to see how badly hurt she was. She had bruises that were visible even through her dark brown skin. Her face was scratched raw.
“Where did the animal attack you, honey?” Mom asked with that soothing voice only mothers have.
Eliza at first appeared as if she couldn’t say. She then opened her mouth, but only a moan escaped.
“Honey, you need to tell us so we can call the animal control people. We don’t want another baby getting attacked”
“It wasn’t an animal…” Eliza finally whispered.
This caught both Mom and I by surprise. If you would have seen her, you would have definitely thought the same thing we did.
“What was it then honey?” Mom asked her. Although I could tell by her tone that she doesn’t truly believe that it wasn’t some kind of creature that did this to her baby girl.
“It was Jim….. and…” Eliza started to say, but her pain made it hard for her to continue.
“Now, Jack we don’t know exactly….” Mom began, but I didn’t stick around to hear her finish.
As I ran down the street, I could hear my mother calling me back to the house. But I was no longer myself. Rage had taken over and it was looking to cause pain.
Jim and Janelle Pritchard were my neighborhood’s bullies. The meanest kids that you could ever meet. PIcture your bully, give them a sister (or a brother) just as mean and take away their souls. This visual won’t come close to how bad these guys were. They did the usual bully stuff, taking away lunch money, stuffing you into your locker, etc. The Pritchards were just meaner about it. Earlier that year, they took Eduardo Sanchez and stuck him in his locker, but first Janelle made him take off his clothes and Jimmy filled his locker with fertilizer from the school garden. They would also tell, to any kid who would listen, stories of how they performed experiments on little animals they caught around the neighborhood.
“Just practicing our craft, so when it’s time to perform our experiments on you all we will be ready” Jim would say after his sister finished recanting their latest “scientific” endeavour.
I myself stayed away from them so as to not catch their attention. But on this day, things were going to be a little different.
The rumor was that the Pritchards had a secret clubhouse somewhere in the middle of the old quarry on the outskirts of town. Of course, no one ever tried to find out if the rumor was true, but we took it as gospel. No one ever went to the old quarry even though it had the best swimming hole this side of the Mississippi. Many of my friends were more afraid of the Pritchards than of their own parents.
I don’t remember how long I ran, but I must have for quite some time. When I reached the old Weeping Willow that sat on the side of the road leading into the quarry, my lungs felt as if they were going to burst. I rested for a bit. Then took off into the quarry.
As I entered the quarry, I saw their handy work strewn all over. At first it was busted toys, mangled dolls and ripped stuffed animals. They were everywhere, most missing some part of their anatomy. I had to keep my eyes on the ground so as to not step on any of the debris.
I almost stepped on what looked like a burnt pillowcase with more stuffed toys inside, I lost my balance instead. I fell to the ground almost hitting my head on a stick that was buried into the ground in front of me.
As I looked up to the top of the stick (which I believe was broom handle), something got into my eyes. For a brief second, everything went red (just like what one would picture Mars would look like). As I scrambled to my feet, I realized that something was on the top of the stick. I wiped my eyes to see better, and immediately regretted it.
On top of the broom handle sat the head of a kitten, blood still dripped from where the neck should have be. When I realized that what fell into my eyes was from this kitten’s head, I retched.
At first, I was disgusted and terrified, who ever did this was more of an animal than their victim. That reminded me of why I was there, I began whipping the weeping willow branch (couldn’t remember when I picked this up) and moved faster down the path.
As I came around a large boulder, I almost ran into Jimmy. He was looking at his sister who was sticking needles into a small kitten they had tied down. The kitten was wailing and thrashing around as it tried to get away from what was causing it pain.
Jimmy whirled around and grabbed me by the shoulders and called out “Look it’s Eliza’s little brother coming to get some of what we gave her.” That sent me over the edge.
Jim who was almost 7 inches bigger than me, tried to throw me. I kicked him in the groin which made him go down onto one knee. I then kicked at his head and connected. Jim’s body somersaulted and slammed onto the ground. As I approached him, Janelle came from behind me and jumped on my back. She tried to bite my ear, but I back fisted her on the face and she dropped off me. At this point, Jim and Janelle were on opposites side of me. I whipped the willow branch from Jim to Janelle. They tried to get away from the branch. Every time it touched them a large red welt formed.
“ Please stop!” Janelle whimpered.
I turned to Janelle and whipped at her as I screamed “Did you stop when my sister asked you to!?!”
This gave Jim ample time to get off the ground. He grabbed me and yanked me around. Punched me in the face. The world started to fall away. I shook my head to bring myself back. Janelle kicked at my feet. Jim pulled me towards him. I crashed onto the ground. The pebbles below me dug into my chest as I slid to a stop. I wiped my mouth and saw the blood from my lip on the back of my hand. The sight of my blood, sent me over the edge. I tasted the anger that began to seep out of every pore in my body. Jim and Janelle each grabbed one of my shoulders and brought me to my feet.
“ What we did to your sister will be nothing compared to what we are going to do to you.” Jim panted in my ear.
Everything that happened after that is all a blur.
I ran out of my haze and into my yard. Climbed the stairs to my door and dropped the mangled willow branch on the steps.
I pushed the front door open, my mother screamed.
“ Oh my god! What happened to you? Your bleeding!”
She rushed over to me, grabbed me by my arm and guided me to the bathroom.
“ Where are you bleeding from? Where did you go?!”
“ I don’t know.”
“ What happened? Tell me boy!” she asked and grabbed my face with both hands. This sent a stab of sharp pain to my head and I pulled away from her.
As she was about to grab at me again the front door bell rang.
I went to my room as my mother answered the door. I put on another shirt and laid down on my bed.
“ Jack will you come here a second”
As I entered the living room, I saw Mrs. Pritchard standing behind Jimmy and Janelle. Jim looked as if his face had tried to play chicken with a large rock and lost. Janelle had one arm in a sling, red welts all up and down her legs (matched her brother’s quite nicely) and long deep scratches across her face.
“ …. can see this horrible boy of yours did this to my children. How can you allow….” Mrs. Pritchard was saying and abruptly stopped when she finally saw me.
“ Is this the boy?” Mrs. Pritchard asked her children incredulously. She couldn’t believe that a small boy such as myself would be capable of causing so much damage to her two amazonian children.
“Yeah” was the whimpered reply that came from both of them.
“What have you got to say for yourself young man?” Mrs. Pritchard spat at me. She said it with such force that spittle showered down on the floor.
“ Have you seen what they did to my sister?” I spat back.
“ Jack…” my mother began.
“ That is no excu…” Mrs. Pritchard started. But at that moment Eliza hobbled into the living room. The look of utter horror overcame Mrs. Pritchard’s face.
“… ah uh…. I apologize for disturbing you so early with this. We will be leaving now.” Mrs. Pritchard grabbed Jim and Janelle by the ears and jerked them out of our home.
My sister was out of school the following week. To this day, you can still make out the scars on her face. As for the Pritchards, they were never seen or heard from again. Richie who lived two houses down from them, said he saw them move out a week after my encounter with them.