A Little Slice of Zachary

Hello friends!
I am not a professional writer nor did I have an editor or proofreader.
I wrote this short fiction because I felt like it and it made me feel good.
Sooo… feel free to enjoy it (or not 😜 ) and make comments about whether or not you liked my story, but PLEASE NO COMMENTS ABOUT SYNTAX AND SUCH. THANK YOU!


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A billowing cloud of dust leaped through the air and landed with a thump on the rutted and narrow strip of loose soil and pebbles that led deep into the forest on the outskirts of Danby County. Had the sudden movement not sent all the little critters scooting back into the safety of the thicket, they would have seen that at the center of the intrusive explosion was young Zachary Blake, pumping the pedals of his bike with all his might as he careened down the hill towards his house. The loose soil and ruts beneath his wheels made steering particularly difficult but today nothing could slow him down as he raced to his destination – the safety of home.


Just as he came perpendicular to his driveway, Zach slammed on his brakes and his rear wheel swung around and pointed him up the drive. As he shot up the gravel drive, Zach took in his surroundings and started to calm down. Home at last. Home, where Ma and Pa took care of him; where nobody bullied or made fun of him.


The quaint single-story clapboard house sported a new coat of slate blue paint and the door and shutters were a brilliant white. The porch that ran the length of the front housed a swing at one end and two weather-worn rocking chairs with a huge pot of geraniums at the other. Lacy yellow curtains could be seen through the large living-room window. Expansive flower beds resplendent with an orgy of vibrant colors decorated the front of the house and up the drive to the corner of the house. Where there were no flowers, the front property was spotted with fragrant pine and robust maple trees from whose branches hung a multitude of homemade birdhouses and feeders.  It was truly a welcoming homestead.


When he reached the stone path that led from the drive to the house he disembarked from his bike and, after taking a few deep breaths to relax, Zach began walking towards the back of the property to his father’s garage where he stored his bike. As he turned the corner of the drive he came to a dead stop and his hands tautly gripped his handlebars. There, parked in front of the garage, was the county sheriff’s car. From inside the gaping maw of the door of the garage, he could hear the deep, bellowing voice of the sheriff and the muffled responses of Pa. The sheriff was at his home – his safe haven was compromised and it left him completely panicked.


Of course, his was not an entirely unusual reaction to finding Sheriff Duane at one’s house. The sheriff was quite imposing physically; his demeanor was even more so; and he had a booming voice that silenced all others. In short, he was a bully with a badge and he reigned with terror. Constantly the butt of much teasing and bullying, Zach found his ultimate nemesis in the the sheriff.


The sheriff had his back towards him so Zach stood as still as he could; still clinging to the idea that maybe, just maybe, the sheriff was not here about him. Then the men changed positions a bit and Zach could make out the pinched and tired face of Pa as he seemed to grow more and more haggard the longer he listened to the vitriol of the sheriff. Watching the interaction between the men made his breathing grow more shallow and the blood drained from his face. Zach’s palms grew sweaty and the handles of his bike slowly slipped from his tense grip until it came crashing down in a rattling heap at his feet. The crash came and all other sounds stopped.


Sheriff Duane Strathmore had been talking loudly and gesticulating wildly when he heard the crash of Zach’s bicycle hitting the ground. He stopped mid-sentence, dropped his arms and spun around to see what had made such a noise. Standing like a deer caught in headlights, there stood Zach with his mouth and his eyes wide open. He looked as if completely unsure as to whether he should bolt or faint. Before he could do either, Sheriff Duane recovered from his surprise and hollered at Zach; beckoning him to come to the garage immediately.


Zach did not respond well to being yelled at; it made his anxiety and distress soar. He did not move; he could not move. The sheriff took Zach’s lack of action as a lack of fear and respect so he hollered louder and moved towards Zach. Seeing the look of abject terror in his son’s eyes moved him and Zach’s Pa came out of the garage and ran to his son to protect him despite his own fears.


Pa stood between his son and the sheriff; one terrified and the other terrifying. Although of a similar build as the sheriff, Pa was quiet, kind and gentle. He was a mechanic who worked out of the garage in his back yard and was known as an honest and hard working man. As he stood before the sheriff, wiping his grease-stained hands on his stained overall’s, he kept shaking his head and insisting that his son was not responsible for the incident that had brought the law down to his home. He maintained that if Zach had assaulted Jamie Wilcox with his lunch box then it was purely self-defense. He reminded the sheriff that Zach may have an anxiety disorder and a personality disorder but that he was not an aggressor; he was the victim of some of the boys bullying him and humiliating him because of his hardships. He pleaded and begged for some understanding on the sheriff’s part but the sheriff was a hard man with a hard head and what little kindness he possessed did not extend to “kooks & crazies”. His retort to Pa was to suggest that if Zach was such a problem then he should be interned in an asylum. 


Regardless of his inability to educate the sheriff, Pa managed to keep the sheriff at bay for a few minutes but the sheriff had the upper hand and he kept approaching.  Suddenly, the back door of the house burst open and out came Ma wearing matching sundress and apron, and wielding a large wooden spoon. She was screaming at the sheriff to get back in his car and off her property. Ma wasn’t normally a confrontational person, but she’d been defending her special boy at any cost for quite some time. 


Ma came right down into the yard next to Pa, who was sweating profusely by now, and pulled Zach by the sleeve so that he would be directly behind her.  All the while, the sheriff kept approaching; yelling that he would take them all in if Zach didn’t come with him peacefully and immediately. Ma could tell this stand-off was not going to end well so she tried to reason with the sheriff but he was in no mood to be reasonable or understanding. He was just like the bullies at Zach’s school – mean and nasty because mental illnesses scared them and they wouldn’t admit to fear so instead chose to denigrate, bully and stigmatize. 


When Zach saw the lack of empathy in the cold grey eyes of the sheriff as he steadily approached them, he could no longer control his distress and he broke down into big gulping tears. Both of his parents turned to comfort him and as his mother took him into her arms the sheriff saw his opportunity and he swiftly and forcefully placed Pa in handcuffs and pushed him to the ground. Wasting no time, he turned and pulled Zach from the arms of his mother and down to the ground next to his father where he put tie wraps around Zach’s wrists. As he hauled him to his feet and led him to his patrol car Ma kept pace; all the while beating the brawny shoulders and back of the sheriff with her wooden spoon and screaming at him to let her son and husband go free.

When they reached the patrol car the sheriff shoved Zach onto the trunk of the car and turned to deal with the screeching woman making his blood pressure rise. He pumped himself up to look as daunting as possible and, shouting at the top of his lungs, he told her to stop hitting him and calm down or he would arrest her as well for assaulting a police officer. Then he reached to his belt for the keys to the handcuffs and threw them at her; telling her to go let her husband loose. As she scurried off in tears to do so, the sheriff opened the rear door to his patrol car and pushed Zach inside. Then he got in himself, turned on the ignition and began to drive around the yard and back towards the driveway.

Meanwhile, Zach’s ma had freed his pa and they both ran after the sheriff’s car but to no avail. The sheriff had their son in custody and there was little they could do about it. The sadness and fear overwhelmed them and they clutched to one another and sobbed as they watched Sheriff Duane drive off with Zach’s face pushed against the window looking profoundly frightened and alone.

– sm palardy

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