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Alice

Dirty Tommy opened his dirty mouth one too many times...

Sometimes payback is all about cooking up the right recipe for revenge...

Alice by Marietta Miles




Dirty Tommy had a friend. And that did not sit straight with Alice. She had a friend once. But Tommy took to whispering about Beth, said he had taken her to the dry riverbed. Then he said lots of boys took her to the dry riverbed.

“She’s gonna be gone awhile,” he grinned and lied one day when Beth went to her Grandmother’s. Everybody knew what he was talking about.

Soon after, on a Sunday morning, Beth lay down in her mother’s soaking tub. In the deep, warm water she pushed the knife through her small, pale wrists. Beth’s mother said she had cut all the way to the bone.

***

Dirty Tommy told the youngest faction of dirty-nailed, freckle-faced, mid-puberty rats from Cushing High School he had seen all of Alice, too.

“Every bit of her,” he cackled from the boy’s room. It was after third period, sweat stains already peeking through his blue plaid shirt when he made his breathtaking announcement.

He had not, of course, seen “every bit of her,” as he liked to say. He couldn’t have because Alice was rarely, if ever, completely naked. Not with her mom’s new boyfriend lurking around their one-bedroom apartment. But Alice did have plans with Tommy. Or for Tommy, she thought with a smirk.

“Behind the reservoir, you and me,” she whispered to Tommy on the bus ride home from school. “This Friday, after class. I’ll show you everything,” she added, her smile breaking across slight lips.

Alice could see Tommy’s fight between confusion and excitement as he stared at her. He stood awkwardly, then passed Alice as if she were the devil and dribbled off the bus. Waiting for him on the dirt driveway in front of his house, like every day, was a dog. The curly haired mutt wagged his long, black tail at the boy’s return. 

“Stupid dog,” Alice thought. They looked an awful lot alike, that dog and him, the dog being far cuter. Tommy stared at her through the cloudy window as the bus pulled away. The dog stared at Tommy.

***

Friday afternoon, Tommy followed Alice to the reservoir. He climbed down the drain that led to the main run-off tunnel and listened for her quick, light steps. He heard the water trickle over his head. The sound was like china breaking; Tommy’s mouth was dry and his clothes felt heavy. In front on him, a few yards at least, waited a sharp drop into the fast moving reservoir. The noise became overwhelming; looking around Tommy realized he had lost sight of Alice. And then, with a solid crack, he thought of nothing more for quite some time.

***

“Not hungry?” Alice frowned as Tommy, again, stirred awake. “Usually such a hungry little pig.”sually such a greedy little pig," She pictured him greedy, needy and always grabbing. Tommy’s eyes opened wide and his ugly face turned red and puffy, a ripe tomato. At this moment he was nothing like the boy from school, the dirty one who spit on people’s food and called girls filthy names at the bus stop.

Tommy was sitting in an old, lemon yellow lawn chair. Alice stole the chair from the front porch of her nearest neighbor. The chair groaned under his weigh and it leaned far to the right. He was bursting at the seams and sick from eating.

”Fat boy in the eye of a needle,” Alice said, giggling queerly, her hand over her mouth. Though, truth be told, she grew tired. “Come on, finish your dinner,” she said, mimicking a perturbed older sister. “When you clean your plate you can join him.” 

Tommy sobbed behind his teeth and pulled against the wire around his wrists. 

“Max? That was your dog’s name, right?” She pushed the plate and a rusty fork toward the tangled boy. 

Alice stared into his enormous, slow-witted eyes and cocked her head. “I tried a bit. Too…meaty.” Alice grimaced, tapped the plate with her fingernail and scratched her lower lip.

Above the tunnels, near the school sports field, Alice could hear the rowdy noise of football games and concession stands. A school band began to play in the distance. Alice was growing bored. All Tommy did was cry; that interested Alice for only twenty minutes. Soon her mom and her mom’s boyfriend would be working the night shift, leaving the house empty for Alice.

Friday nights were spent reading astrology magazines, eating chocolate mint ice cream and watching spooky movies on the late show. And there was a book report due on Monday. Because she was a careful girl she had completed the reading, and her research notes were neatly printed on perfect white index cards. Alice saved Saturday morning for her writing time. Plus, her library books were due by the afternoon. And she had choir practice after church on Sunday. Alice’s plate was full.

***

It was Monday before her thoughts returned to Tommy. By that time it was too late. A search was organized and the police found him water logged and broken underneath the tunnels of Old Cushing Creek Reservoir just down the street from school. For days town officials cornered every unclaimed man over the age of fifteen to find the culprit; still no monster was found. A strange sadness lay over the small town and Alice thought it felt like the first day of autumn. Chilly but exciting.

Alice passed Tommy’s house after school one day. The little black dog, Max, continued to sit at the end of the drive, waiting for Tommy to come home.

She stopped to pet Max. “I would never hurt a dog,” she said, curling her fingers behind his ears, cooing at his sweet face. “Never.” She stood straight, walked towards home and patted her thigh as invitation. Max ran after her, happy to have a new friend.


Marietta Miles lives in the fine state of Virginia. The fried chicken is good, the sweet tea better. She makes an excellent grilled cheese, is currently a “red-head” and is terrified of anyone between the ages of twenty and seventy, particularly if they don’t have tattoos. She has conned a few publishers into printing her “stories,” and hopes to do so again.