As I slightly stirred, I saw the child intending to cause a beating. With an overly done lisp, he cried out, "Hith heatin' me." Three teenage brothers rushed out from the house still in their underwear, followed by their mother, who towered over all of them while holding a belt in hand.
Hiding an abrasive white stone he had picked up as he stepped out the door, the first brother curtly simulated an invite to breakfast, asking, "Would you like a strawberry." He had intended to cause a scab but wound up reeling and holding the back of his neck with both hands instead. With speed producing only a blur, the boy lunged, and the stone intended for him caused three quarter size abrasions. Much later, the brother would repeat the tale of his heroic tactics at the hands of a monster which only stirred doubt in every listener. And, overly protesting that his scar did not resemble a batch of strawberries, producing a silence in the conversation that allowed him time to count his blessings at reaching old age with only that memento.
The second brother fared slightly worse, for the boy squeezed his legs around the brother's chest, knocking the breath out of him with a wheezing whimper and three broken ribs that sent him to his knees. And the third brother stepped back as he attempted to make sense of the sight of his brothers in pain.
Intending to put an end to the scene, the boy began to play with the child's yellow Tonka dump truck. But the matriarch, dressed as if she had been up for hours with a tight-haired bun and slightly overdone makeup in further defiance, smirked as she swung the simulated calf hide but finding only empty air causing a sight that resembled fly-swatting.
In the twilight, the family was left stunned, alone in their tiny, manicured backyard. As the boy looked over his shoulder, the yard grew smaller, revealing old gray shingles of the little house and smaller garden shed and utility poles that flanked the alley like trees in a neighborhood marked by few.