This is an excerpt from a short story that I wrote this spring. It is a poignant recollection of an event that occurred when I was about eight years old. It is written for both children and adults alike. The Looters will be published as part of an anthology of short stories in Pearls 31 in the spring of 2012.
When we spotted the abandoned house a ways up from the dirt road, we skidded our bikes to a stop in a cloud of dust. I looked over to my brother Brad and his buddy Darren. The red metallic paint of Brad’s new bike bore fresh scratches from the gravelly ride. Darren stood, balancing with the tips of his runners, on his rusty over-sized bicycle.
“Is that their house?” I asked. We had been riding for over thirty minutes on this lonely stretch of forest road. I was now tired and hoped we had found the place at last.
“Yeah, this is their place,” said Darren as he squinted against a shaft of sunlight that shone down from between the canopy of trees.
We rode up to the trash-strewn clearing where the house stood and we dropped our bikes under some trees. Though it was a hot summer day, I shivered. It was cool in the dark of the shade and the smell of smoke hung in the air. Closer up, the house was more like a shack -not much bigger than some of the garages in my own neighbourhood. It had peeling black tar paper and there were weathered pieces of panelling nailed to the parts of the walls. All the windows were smashed and the door was kicked in; it just swung from its hinges.
“OK, Theresa, we get to go in first,” said Brad, “being as we’re boys and we’re bigger than you.” Brad and Darren were both eleven. Three years older than me. I was lucky they brought me along. My sister Tracey didn’t cut it because she wasn’t even seven yet. No babies allowed, they told her.
I peered into the gloom of the dark interior. “Sure, go ahead. I don’t care,” I said, rubbing the goosebumps on my arm. Yuck, Martin’s family lived in that? Martin Leblanc was a small shy Indian kid I knew from my grade two class at North Nechako Elementary School.
I held back and watched as the boys cautiously approached the doorway. Darren and Brad could almost pass for brothers with their matching black hair and summer-brown tans. They pushed the hanging door aside; there was the crunching sound of broken glass as they stepped inside.