Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Red writing hood - The monster never caught

I'm participating in a writing meme from The Red Dress Club. This is a work of fiction. The prompt was to write a character sketch of a villain. I think my piece is a little long.

The invitation to his foster mother's 100th birthday lay on the kitchen table and John had to restrain from crumpling and tossing it. Of course the old witch had outlived everybody - the wicked usually do. Although decades had passed and John was now director of his city's children's aide society and a father of two almost grown boys, not a day went by without remembering the abuses he suffered in that house under her rule.

Today he was recalling one summer day when he was 12 and cooped up in the house looking after four toddlers and his foster brother and sister. He could see some of his pals riding their bikes in the street out front and yearned to be with them, wind in his hair, away from the stifling prison of a home he had grown to hate.

The four toddlers were the kids that made up the "daycare" his foster mother supposedly ran. Little did the kids' parents know that a twelve year old boy was taking care of them while Janice Taggart his foster mother was out selling her Avon beauty products.

At almost noon while he was preparing the children's lunches - a box of Kraft Dinner again - the phone rang. Instructing his six-year-old foster sister Tanya to watch the boiling water, he ran to grab the phone and then wished he hadn't when he heard his foster mother's voice. It was a gruff no-nonsense kind of voice. One that always made John cower because he knew all too well what she was capable of. One wrong peep from any of them and she was quick to whack you with whatever was in her reach.

I forgot to tell you about Joel's earache medication. It's up in the cupboard where the dishes are. Give him a teaspoon full after he eats lunch. Do you understand? Put the phone down and go find the medication and then get back on and tell me you saw it.

John put down the phone, pushed a chair over to the cupboard and saw a small glass medicine bottle. He came back and shakily affirmed that he had found it. Gotta go and she hung up.

Later that day after the daycare kids had been picked up Janice entered the room John shared with his little brother. Is this the medicine you gave Joel? John looked up from his sketchpad - a rare gift from Janice who had surprisingly encouraged his artistic side. He nodded. And then he couldn't explain what happened next. She was on top of him hitting him with the small hard glass bottle, at first on his back and then his head. All the while she was was crying and screeching unintellible things. You stupid little boy, you ungrateful little sissy, God didn't give you the brains of a worm you ungrateful little wormhole. I hate you, I hate you, I hate you!

As John rolled around on the bed covering his head trying to fend off her blows, it dawned on him that it must have been the wrong medicine. She then pinned him down, a knee on each of his arms, her madness spilling out of her, drool hitting his forehead. Her fists rained down on his face. The pain was threatening his sense of consciousness and he thought he might pass out or die.
He remembered thinking that she was pretty five years earlier when he had first come to live there. She had shoulder length blonde hair, small blue eyes, a thin little mouth and always dressed well. Her glasses were the frameless kind and together she had a look of pleasant intelligence. But few people knew about the monster that lurked within her. A monster strong and swift with physical retribution for the tiniest infraction. She saved the bloodiest beatings for the summer time when menacing teachers couldn't nose their way into her business. During the school year, her punishments were equally gruesome, just more subtle. In fifth grade she had taken away John's bathroom privileges for a full week because he had forgotten to tell her about parent teacher interviews. He relieved himself in the bushes behind the Circle K every morning on his way to school praying no one from his class would see.

John was black and blue, with a split lip from that particular beating. It was a Friday evening so that the next day he didn't have to face the daycare kids, just spend his entire day cleaning the house from top to bottom as he did every Saturday. Back then it never occurred to him to tell anyone or call the police or even run away. Thinking back to this always made John sick with rage that that abusive hag gotten away with it.


  1. This is very powerful writing - a true villain indeed. The character of the foster mother comes through very strongly, the story of the mistaken bottle and the consequences is very vividly drawn, her emotions and actions clearly drawn. If I had one critique it would be that perhaps you could establish a little more of that rawness in showing us how the 12 year old John felt, just a little bit more of his emotions and fears and resentment. But this is really very good.

  2. wow, i was just getting into it! i wanted more! you are a great writer!

  3. I want more, too---but I agree with Jane (Aging Mommy) that I'd like to see more of the 12 yr old's point of view.

    I haven't attempted this yet. I keep chickening out of the prompts....ugh....but you've done a wonderful job here and I got all creeped out by the foster mother and the medicine....

  4. Awesome job, my writer friend :) I would love to keep reading this story as well. Your prose flows beautifully and you engage the reader right away. I'm so happy that you shared this piece with us. It's really very, very good!!

  5. Wow...what a witch. You did a fantastic job with this, although I want to go hunt this fictional woman down and beat her tail now. Write more!!!

  6. This is a great start to what could be a very intriguing story. I agree with the other comments that there could be a bit more from how John was seeing this woman and how he felt.

    But who am I to judge, I took this assignment WAY differently ;)

  7. I really enjoyed reading your piece and cringed all the way through because I have worked with foster children, so this was a little too real for me.

  8. This was so hard to a good way! Your villain was so villainous that I wanted to kick her in the face and pull the children away and care for them! You really got the emotions charged here! Nice work!

  9. Now she is a true villain that you brought to life!

  10. WOW! What is wrong with that woman... poor boy.. i felt real sad reading this story. but i think it is just fab... the sketch of a true villain...

  11. wow, very hard to read ... but only because she was such a villian. I agree that it would be interesting as well to read it from a 12 year old perspective.

    man ... i really hate that woman ...

  12. I was ready to report her too. Wow. Great job!

  13. There was a lot of telling in this, describing, and not a lot of emotion. John suffered horrific abuse. Did his stomach hurt all the time? Did his skin crawl? Did he feel guilty and wish she - or he - was dead?

    You have a great villain but for some reason we all want to know more about the victim!

  14. Great job! What a wicked woman. I want to hear more too about the boy. I hope you continue this, I want to hear more in general.

  15. Your villain is perfect, so clear. I can see her wailing on that poor little boy. I would have loved to have seen the older self remembering something the younger self thought during that moment. Might link the two and bring more element/emotion to the scene. Great job though!

  16. What a wicked bitch.

    I too would like to hear more of the voice of the adult John and his perspective.

  17. She then pinned him down, a knee on each of his arms, her madness spilling out of her,

    This was such a vivid line.

    Ugh, what a horrible woman. You sucked me right in. I was right there, feeling for that boy.

    Also, I wanted to make sure that Joel was okay and that the medicine wasn't a fatal mistake. That was really weighing on me, too.


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