CHAPTER FIVE HUNDRED and TWENTY-FOUR
Nelson was fast asleep in his bedroom when the sound of glass shattering awakened him.
The next door neighbor lady was screaming and breaking things. Again.
As he did every time he woke this way, he went to his window and looked out through the curtains. They lived in small houses situated right next to each other. There wasn’t any real sound insulation. He could tell before he opened the blinds that tonight was going to be a bad one.
He heard his father’s door open. His father came up behind Nelson. He put his hand on his son’s shoulder as they looked out Nelson’s window at the little house next door.
“Wait here,” Pierre said in French. “I will go take a look.”
Pierre turned to go.
“Papa!” Nelson said.
Nelson pointed out the window. Junior, his sister, and the toddler boy were looking out at Nelson from the bathroom window on the second floor.
“Papa!” Nelson pleaded.
Pierre sighed. From where they stood, they could hear the mother banging on the bathroom door and screaming like a banshee.
“Put on your shoes,” Pierre commanded in French.
Nelson pulled on his Converse All-Stars. For good measure, he pulled his bathrobe over his pajamas. Pierre took Nelson’s hand, and they ran to stand under the bathroom window. Junior pushed up the double hung window. For a moment, Junior’s panicked eyes locked on Nelson’s.
Nelson’s life was mostly devoid of drama. They lived a sedate, structured life of intellectuals. Nelson did what was expected of him, and Pierre loved him. Nelson got up at the same time every day. He went to bed at the same time every day. They ate at “meal times” and had pizza every Friday.
Outside of Pierre’s struggle with tobacco, their lives were free of conflict. Nelson had no experience with the kind of drama that had started to happen next door.
With Junior’s look, Nelson felt flooded with Junior’s desperation.
“Il est terrifie,” Nelson told his father that Junior was terrified.
“Oui,” Pierre nodded to Nelson. Looking up to the window, Pierre spoke in unaccented English to Junior, “Throw the baby, then your sister. You know how to climb down?”
Junior’s head nodded.
“Do it now!” Pierre commanded.
Junior grabbed the toddler by the straps of his overalls. The baby hung in the air for a moment before dropping into Nelson’s arms. Nelson set him down.
They heard wood splinter. Junior and his sister turned to look behind them.
“Now,” Pierre commanded.
Junior pushed his sister out of the window. Always strong, Nelson easily caught the girl. Junior hurled himself out the window. He almost made it, but a large hand wrapped itself around his leg.
Shock and horror fixed on Junior’s face. Nelson felt the full force of his friend’s terror. The furious woman pulled her son back into the bathroom. They heard to boy scream with pain as the blows rained down on him.
“Go,” Pierre said in French to Nelson. “Take them. I will deal with this.”
“But Papa!” Nelson said.
“Go to the basement,” Pierre said. “Take the children. I will deal with this.”
Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…
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