Fiction Friday, my way of forcing myself to write outside my comfort zone of non-fiction, by backing myself into a corner every Thursday night.
Heavy steps ran toward Jess as she sputtered snow from her mouth and struggled to remove the small boy from her chest. He had other plans, however, and dug himself in, grabbing her arms even as she flayed them about in vain.
“Nooooo…” he screamed, looking behind him and pressing his body closer to her, sharp fingernails scratching her face as he scrambled to hold on. Jess tried vainly to push him away.
Trooper Kingston arrived just as she finally shoved the kid to her right, tumbling him to the ground. She sat up and he climbed back on. Her hood fell off and he grabbed the back of her hair and clung tightly to the strands, breathing heavily against her skin as he wrapped both small arms tightly around her neck.
“Are you okay, Jess?” said Kingston.
“There’s a kid on my face!” She twisted her head sideways to see around the boy and scowl at the trooper.
Kingston reached down and grabbed the boy by either side and tried tugging him off of her. But thin arms just gripped harder, pulling her hair.
“Ooouuch…” she screamed. “Quit playing tug-o-war with my head!”
“Sorry,” said Kingston, letting go and stepping back.
“What the heck is this thing?”
“I found it on the dock. I mean, I found him on the dock.”
“And what are you going to do with it? After you get it off my face…that is.”
“I put in a call to Department of Children’s Services. Left a message. But it’s a weekend, so we’ll see what happens. Maybe Monday. Maybe not.” He looked out beyond town, at the water’s edge.
“Weather front comin’ in.”
“Maybe we could talk about the weather after you peal this kid off me,” said Jess, putting a hand on either side of the urchin and pulling, only to find he wouldn’t budge.
“Get him off,” she said again.
“I tried. He yanked your hair and you screamed like a cougar.” He pulled a smoke from his pocket and lit up.
Jess rolled onto one side, pushed herself up with her arm, and got to her feet. As she stood, his legs wrapped around her waist and she stood there, her hands on her hip, with a dirty kid hanging from her like one of those stuffed monkeys you get at a carnival.
“Looks like you’re taking him home with you,” said the Trooper Kingston, tapping ashes into the rolled cuff of his shirt sleeve.
“Oh, no….no way. Not going to happen. Can’t we just pinch him until he lets go?”
“Do you know anything about kids at all?
“I know I can’t run my trap line with this one stuck on me.”
She tugged at one foot but he didn’t flinch.
“Well, I’ll tell ya what. Take him home. When you figure out how to get him off ya, just give me a holler and I’ll come get him. I’ll see if I can get Margo to watch after him till Monday.”
“Margo? Your wife, Margo? The one who can’t keep a cat alive more than a week?
“You know she felt bad about that. Those things hardly ever catch of fire…”
Jess stretched her neck out so she could breathe. She smelled his hair in her face and almost gagged at the stench. She shifted him to one side, having to force his head away from her face and onto her shoulder. He hadn’t moved in several minutes and save for his quick, heavy, breath, hadn’t made a sound.
She looked down the street to see Margo coming from the post office clutching an armload of packages, no doubt from some high end department store in the states. She felt soft fingers stroke the back of her neck. She closed her eyes and mentally checked off the list of things she had been going to do today and silently cursed her father for ever having instilled a sense of right and wrong somewhere deep inside her.
She turned from Trooper Kingston and started walking clumsily towards her small house on the edge of the village, unable to take large steps in the quickly building snow.
“Jess, what are you going to do with him?”
She would have walked away. Would have pried the little boy from her body and dropped him into the snow…somebody else’s problem. She would have…except the look in Margo’s eye as she walked towards them, swinging her hips from side to side and shaking her head as if to say, “Jess Cobb, you give me that baby right now…” made her want to run the other direction and never look back. And with the way his hands clung to her, pressed against her skin as if they were molded together, she doubted she could scrape him off of her if she tried.
So Jess threw a look over her shoulder that told Kingston not to bother following, and wrapped one arm tentatively around the boy as she made her way through the thick snow towards home.