Hard City by Clark Howard

Hard City by Clark Howard

Author:Clark Howard [Howard, Clark]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9780982924761
Publisher: Delabarre Publishing
Published: 2011-05-02T04:00:00+00:00


The place where Miss Menefee took him was a shabby little frame house on Loomis Street, set far at the back of a yard that consisted solely of hard brown dirt, with not a blade of grass in sight. As they walked from the car to the front porch, the wood of which had faded gray with age and was rotting from neglect, Miss Menefee said firmly, “You’ve brought this on yourself, Richie, just remember that.”

When Miss Menefee knocked, the door was opened by a stout woman in a soiled apron. She had cheeks that hung down to her neck and traces of lip hair at each corner of her mouth. Her left arm was missing a few inches below her elbow. “Another problem, huh?” she said by way of greeting.

“Richie, this is Mrs. Raley,” Miss Menefee said. “It’s the last foster home I’m putting you in. If you run away from here, when you’re caught you’ll be brought right back here again for Mrs. Raley to deal with you. And every time you run away, you’ll be brought back here again. So you see, there is absolutely no point in running away; it isn’t going to change a thing. I hope for your sake that you adjust.”

Richie barely heard a word she said; he was staring in fascination at the stump of Mrs. Raley’s arm.

Smiling a narrow smile that could not seem to penetrate her pendulous cheeks, Mrs. Raley said, “Don’t you worry, dearie, I’ll straighten him out. Did you bring the first week’s check?”

Miss Menefee handed Mrs. Raley a welfare department draft, gave Richie a brief, cheerless pat on the head, and left. Mrs. Raley took Richie’s collar between thumb and forefinger and pulled him into the house. In a seedy, musty little living room, the heavyset woman and the skinny twelve year old faced each other. Unable to help himself, Richie continued to stare at the stub of her arm. It was round and wrinkled, the folds of the skin seemed to have been tucked together like one would close a paper bag. Richie wondered what they did with the part they cut off. . .

Mrs. Raley suddenly seized him by the front of his jacket and pushed the stump in his face. “Take a good, close look, kiddo!” she snarled. “Ugly, ain’t it?” Dragging him into the hall, keeping the stump in his face all the way, she snatched open a closet door and from a nail in the wall took down a razor strap of thick harness leather. “See this here?” she asked, taking her arm out of his face and holding the strap in its place. “I ever catch you looking at my arm again, kiddo, I’ll lay this on your little ass until you won’t be able to sit down for a week!” Hanging the strap back on the nail, she shoved him roughly into the closet, closing and locking the door. “I don’t wanna hear a sound out of you!” she warned.

It was dark but Richie was not afraid.


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