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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Angry (08/02/07)

TITLE: Sticks and Stones
By Bonnie Way


“Hey, don’t go too close.”

“Why?” Carson demanded, looking at the rickety fence.

“’Cause old man Brown gets mad if we do,” Jake said, pointing at the house beyond the fence. “He’s the meanest, angriest man in this town.”

Carson surveyed the house. It was a one-story dwelling, once one of the best houses on the block, now falling down. The tall roof seemed too heavy. Part of the porch was sagging. The brown stain had long since worn into a dark, motley colour. Shutters covered half of the windows, and the others were dark.

“If I lived in a place like that, I’d feel that way too,” Carson observed. “Doesn’t he have anybody with him?”

Jake snorted. “Who’d want to live there? He ain’t got no kids, and his wife died. Some say he murdered her.” He dragged out “murdered” in his best spooky voice, making a face at Timmy and me.

“That’s silly,” Carson said.

“Whatever,” Jake said, getting bored. “C’mon, let’s go see if Miss Riley will give us some lemonade.” He set off at a quick walk, and Timmy and I followed behind.

For the next week, life was quiet as Jake and his buddies were kept occupied by showing the new boy around. Then one day Carson had to help his mom with some unpacking, and Jake’s gang got bored. They were sitting around the empty lot next to Brown’s house, having sent Timmy to sneak into Mrs. White’s kitchen for cookies, when Brian threw a stone at the house.

It bounced off a shutter with a clatter. The boys waited, but nothing happened. In a moment more sticks and stones were flying at the house, bouncing off the siding or the shutters, clattering down the roof, dropping onto the porch. The boys whooped, daring old man Brown to come out and get angry, but the house remained dark. Growing bold, they ventured closer to the fence, and Jake reached for a bigger rock, one he could barely get his hand around. He hefted it, grinning, and was about to toss it, when a voice stopped him.

“What are you doing?”

Carson had returned and was staring in disbelief. “Is that what you do to him? No wonder he’s an angry old man.”

Sticks and stones thumped to the ground.

“Hey, we just wanted to see if he’s still there,” Jake said. Carson gave him a scornful look, then walked up to the fence, through the gate, and down the path toward the house.

We couldn’t see who opened the door. Jake and his buddies stood there with gaping mouths, watching. We’d all seen old man Brown come out before, screaming and shaking his fists, angry at any disturbance or intrusion past his fence. He hadn’t done it much lately, but that never stopped Jake and his buddies from trying to make him.

Then Carson stepped inside and the door closed. Jake and his gang looked scared. Timmy got back with the cookies that none of us wanted now. We sat down to wait, eyes glued to that door. Tyson started mumbling about what old man Brown must be doing to Carson, that maybe we should go get help. But what would we tell our parents? So we waited.

It was almost supper time when Carson emerged. He tramped over to us and sat down by Brian.

“You guys are picking on an old man who can barely walk,” he began, not looking at anybody in particular. “He’s been sick. How would you like to have someone pelting rocks at your house?”

Jake forced a scornful look. “You just moved here, Carson. You don’t know nothing about this dead little town and how there’s nothing to do around here.”

“Yeah? That’s okay. I just found us something to do.” Carson grinned. “My dad’s got a couple gallons of stain left over from his last project. I told Mr. Brown we’d paint his house. He says if we do that, he won’t get angry and call the police on you.”

Jake’s mouth gaped open, then slapped shut.

“I like painting,” Brian volunteered.

“I could bring my dad’s mower over and do the lawn,” Tyson said.

“He can have our cookies!” Timmy squealed, holding out the bag.

“Jake? You in?” Carson asked. For a long moment, Jake just looked at him. Then he grinned.

“Yeah. Let’s go help old man Brown.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Chrissi Dunn08/09/07
Very well written. I couldn't help but be reminded of the 'Boo Radley' subplot in 'To Kill a Mockingbird' as I read this. I particularly liked Jake's change of heart.
Joy Faire Stewart08/09/07
I enjoyed this story and like the turn-around in attitude. You make an excellent point.
Sherrie Jackson08/09/07
This was a fun read, and it too reminded me of 'To Kill a Mockingbird.' I love how at the end, the boys jump in to help without a mind to what Jake might say; that's great.

There's a part in the middle where it sounds as though you shift from first to third person; and I never really got a sense of who the MC was (could have been Carson, really).

Otherwise, though, great job. :-)
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/09/07
I thought the characterization, plot, and descriptions were excellent. The message was presented well with the boys' change of heart.
Lynda Schultz 08/10/07
I'll bet there is going to be one less angry old man in town when the kids get finished (not to mention kids who think before they act). Nice work.
Michelle Burkhardt08/10/07
I liked your title link to the subject. I enjoyed reading your story.
Gabrielle Morgan08/11/07
I liked this story very much. Carson came through as a strong and exemplary character. I could visualise the scenes very well from your descriptive dialogue. Good work!
Mo 08/12/07
Good job!
Kristen Hester08/12/07
I really liked this story. And it's not just because my new son is named CARSON!!! (Though that did help.) This has great writing and is a great story. Some people who seem angry, may be angry for a reason. The title is great also.
Dee Yoder 08/23/07
This also reminds me of Boo Radley. I like the way Carson doesn't back down when the boys don't want him to go to the house. I was a bit confused at first with the shift in POV, but it didn't keep me from enjoying the story!
Linda Roth10/18/07
Bonnie, you not only had a solid story here, but you made the characters come to life. I like the way you handled it.