Sturgis peeked out from the closet and watched the faint line of light between his bedroom door and its jam flicker as the bodies passed back and forth. The fishy smell of his own pee, puddled and dried and puddled again on the shag carpet underneath him filled his nose. He’d tried to go in his shoe but it leaked. At least the screaming had stopped.
The men with the black coats with POLICE came in a while ago. Some of them spoke in low voices, while others laughed and said bad words. Sturgis wondered when they would finally leave.
It started the way it always did. Mom dressed up in her shiny silver pants that showed all her lumps and creases, and shoes that made her almost as tall as a man. She piled her hair on top of her head and painted her eyes so many different colours that it was hard to tell what colour they were supposed to be. Then she bounced him out the door in her tight sparkly top, her bosom patting him on his head, and into the car for the long, boring drive to Auntie Bambi’s house. The car radio was broken, so Mom sang. “Out of the frying pan and into the fire,” over and over. He’d never heard the song on the radio before, but Mom seemed to know it. She always kissed him on his forehead and told him she’d be back in three days. Sturgis didn’t know why it was always three days, but it was.
Today was only day one.
Sturgis loved Auntie Bambi the best. She called him Fishie hugged him a lot and told him he was handsome. She always felt soft, and sometimes in the winter she would warm him up by opening her shirt so he could get closer. She said her own little boy, Ralfie, had been just like him before Ralf got scooped up by the cops. Auntie Bambie had given Sturgis Ralfie’s room and told Mom to drop him off any time. He thought Auntie Bambi loved him more than his mom, who told him she hated the city he was named after.
This time wasn’t any different from any other time. After Auntie Bambi was done hugging Sturgis, she always got on the phone and invited a man over. While she waited for the man, she told Sturgis that when he was bigger she’d invite him over all for herself, just like the men. Then she’d send Sturgis to his room, even if it was early. Sometimes she forgot to feed him, but most of the time she called him out to the kitchen and sat him down in front of a plate of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches while she and the man went out on the veranda and hid in the corner behind the big piece of wood that was nailed up between the house and the house next door. Once, Sturgis peeked out; he never told anyone what he saw. He just really wanted to forget all that soft white flesh bouncing like Mom bounced, but when Auntie Bambi held him, he remembered what it looked like all over again. Only then it wasn’t so bad.
Sturgis thought about getting out of the closet and telling the POLICE he was there. He almost got up once. But then he thought about all the questions they would ask him, just like on TV. They’d take him to the COP SHOP and interragade him. Mom told him that people who got interragaded got Gatorade, but he thought Mom was just joshing him. Even though Sturgis was pretty thirsty, he didn’t want to leave Auntie Bambi’s house. He thought maybe Auntie Bambi didn’t want the POLICE to know he was there either. Maybe that’s why she’d been keeping so quiet.
The other reason Sturgis didn’t want to be interragaded was because he didn’t want to have to tell the POLICE what he heard. The shouting started before dinner time. He didn’t know the man who came over but the man seemed to know Sturgis. The man kept asking about Mom, and wanted to know where he could find her. He said some very very bad words about Auntie Bambi–even worse than the words the POLICE said when they were joking–and then he started looking for Sturgis. That’s when Sturgis hid in the closet.
Then the big sounds, like firecrakers on Canada Day, went off. And then the sirens brought the POLICE.
Sturgis hoped the POLICE would leave soon. He needed to pee again, and Mom would be mad already that he’d gone in his pants. Usually when he had an accident at Auntie Bambi’s house, she washed his pants and didn’t tell Mom. But mostly he wanted a hug from Auntie Bambi. Her softness would make everything better, like always.
Find the Flash Fiction Challenge at Chuck Wendig’s site: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2014/06/27/flash-fiction-challenge-bad-parents/