Snow Day is a short work of fiction about a snowstorm in the fictional city of Tecumseh< Indiana, The kids are home from school and their next-door neighbor is Quirt. The situation leads to big trouble. #short fiction #Tecumseh #Indiana #Quirt #snowstorm
Kenny Mulligan woke up to discover a miracle had taken place overnight while he was asleep. A warm front moved up from the Gulf of Mexico and collided with an arctic front moving down from Lake Michigan in the perfect conditions to cause twelve glorious inches of magnificent lake effect snow.
The result was all the streets in Tecumseh, Indiana was covered with a thick white blanket of snowfall. Kenny didn’t grumble when his mom shook him and said he needed to get out of bed. She was calling a family meeting in the kitchen. That could only mean one thing. The television station she was watching in the living room must have included Tecumseh city schools in the cancelation list they always scroll on the bottom of the screen when there’s severe weather. It was bad luck for a person to complain when they were given a gift like a snow day.
Kenny comes downstairs to learn he has a snow day
His big sister Mandy and little brother Stinker were sitting at the kitchen table by the time Kenny made it downstairs. When Stinker came into the world six years ago, he earned the nickname because of the mountain of dirty, smelly diapers he produced. Mandy made a smart comment about how he was a real stinker and the name sort of stuck to him like all the poop he produced.
Mrs. Mulligan crossed her arms over the middle of her chest and studied the children before she started talking. “I’m the only dispatcher who lives in town. It’s all hands on deck. The county is sending an SUV for me. Your dad’s stuck at the factory. The three of you are going to be on your own today.”
Kenny had to resist the urge to shout for joy. Not only was he getting a snow day, but it was going to be unsupervised. A kid didn’t get a better scenario than that. He thought he was the luckiest guy in the world until his mom opened her mouth again. “I don’t want anyone in this house except the three of you. Kenny, your job is to shovel the sidewalk and driveway.
The snow almost stopped on this snow day
The snow has almost stopped. I want it done before I get home tonight. All three of you need to stay away from the crazy old man next door. Our new neighbor, Colleen O’Brien, gave me the low down about the man. She says he plays on the wrong side of crazy when he gets in one of his moods. We haven’t been in this neighborhood long. The last thing I need when I get home tonight is trouble from Quirt.”
Kenny’s hopes for the perfect snow day deflated like a balloon poked with a needle. “Why do I have to shovel the walk. Why can’t Mandy do it,” he complained.
“She’s going to be busy keeping an eye on Stinker.” Mom picked her gloves up from the table and squeezed her hands into them one finger at a time.
“Can’t I at least have Courtney come over. I promise we won’t do anything bad,” Mandy whined.
Mom says to stay away from the crazy guy next door
Mom slid her left arm into her coat, followed by the right. The sound of a zipper being pulled to her neck filled the warm kitchen. “I’m serious about your friends not coming over to the house. It’s going to be a long day. I don’t want to come home to a mess.” A horn honked in the distance, and Mrs. Mulligan moved in the direction of the front door.
“Stay away from the crazy guy next door. There’s no telling what the change in barometric pressure has done to Quirt’s state of mind. Plus, the moon is full tonight. Kenny, make sure you clear all the snow from the sidewalk and the driveway. It’s important you do it after the snowplow clears the street,” she yelled over her shoulder.
The noise of the front door closing sent the Mulligan kids running for the front room window. They huddled on the couch, watching their mom trudge through twelve inches of newly fallen snow to climb into a waiting SUV. Kenny could understand why she instructed them to stay away from the crazy neighbor next door.
There were times he did act like a fat Wile E. Coyote in a Road Runner cartoon. What he couldn’t live with was all the snow shoveling and being grounded from his friends. It would be the perfect day if he could have Gabe and Winston come over and play video games all afternoon. “Well. That sucks,” he said.
We can’t have anyone over
“What do you mean?” Mandy said with the snarky tone of voice she acquired the day she turned fifteen.
“We can’t have anyone over,” Kenny said.
“You don’t honestly believe she was serious about that? What Mom doesn’t know won’t hurt her,” Mandy chuckled.
“She was serious as a heart attack. I wouldn’t want to be the one to get caught with a friend over here.” Kenny couldn’t believe Mandy was questioning the snow day rules their mother laid down before she walked out the door.
Stinker is hungry on this snow day
Stinker rubbed the sleep out of his eyes. “I’m hungry,” he said.
“He’s your job. You better make him something to eat.” Kenny watched Mandy take Stinker by the hand and lead him into the kitchen.
Courtney showed up fifteen minutes after Mary Mulligan left for work. She brought another girl with her. They took Stinker into Mandy’s room and slammed the door. Kenny could hear giggling coming from inside Mandy’s lair followed by a musical number performed by New Kids on the Block. He knew they’d be huddled up in Mandy’s room, talking about boys and listening to music, for most of the day. The snow stopped around ten a.m.
Snowplow made a pass
The snowplow made a pass down Elm Street a half-hour after the white stuff stopped falling from the sky. Kenny moved downstairs and reached for the wall phone attached to the kitchen wall. He punched Winston’s number into the buttons on the front of the phone. It didn’t take much to convince the guy to grab a snow shovel and head for the Mulligan house. Winston said he’d call Gabe.
They’d be there in fifteen minutes. The prospect of playing Super Mario in a parentless house was the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae for the remainder of the snow day. They could say as many cuss words as they wanted, and no one would care. Kenny was lucky enough to have a mom whose job came to pick her up, even with twelve inches of snow on the ground.
It took an hour for the three boys to clear the driveway and the walk. They were finishing up when Kenny spotted Racheal Wilson turning the corner. She was wearing a white coat, which made her look like the Abominable Snowman stomping through the snow. “Get out of my way, Creep,” Racheal said when she passed him on the sidewalk. She gave Kenny a little shove. He lost his balance and toppled into the snow. Racheal Wilson was the one friend of Mandy’s who Kenny couldn’t tolerate.
Racheal shows up on snow day
She had the angelic smile of a Jennifer Aniston, but the voice of a Roseanne Barr. The contradiction made Kenny suspicious about her true nature. Kenny had half a mind to call his mom and tell her what was going on up in Mandy’s room. He resisted the urge because that would mean he’d have to tell Winston and Gabe they had to leave. Since his friends had already helped him shovel so much snow with the promise of an unsupervised game day, Kenny couldn’t make them leave.
Once they went up to Kenny’s room, the three boys got so involved playing Super Mario the rest of the world faded away. They were an hour into the game when Mandy pounded on his bedroom door. “You better get out here and see what Quirt’s done.” Kenny could hear the girls laughing before he swung the door open. Stinker was even giggling.
“Take a look at the sidewalk out front. It’s going to make you want to barf,” Racheal croaked.
Quirt wrecks all Kenny’s work
Kenny ran to the front room picture window and pulled back the curtains. One look at the driveway and sidewalks he and his crew worked so hard to clear were filled with mounds of snow. “He did it with a snowblower. His yard is almost clean. You can even see grass in spots,” Mandy said.
“And you watched him do this,” Kenny exclaimed.
“Yeah, it was really entertaining,” Courtney said.
“I’ve got to go over there and talk to him. He’s got to take some of his snow back, or mom will kill me when she gets home,” Kenny blurted out as he studied the disaster in the yard in front of him.
“You know what mom said about staying away from Quirt,” Mandy said in the know it all voice she used with lesser beings.
“I have to do something.” Desperation echoed in Kenny’s voice.
“Send Stinker. Even a crazy old man like Quirt wouldn’t hurt a little kid,” Winston suggested.
“Yeah, but he might put him in his oven and bake him. Haven’t you ever heard of Hansel and Gretel?” Racheal said to plant fear in the hearts of everyone in the room. send Stinker to negotiate
Stinker goes to negotiate
They bundled Stinker in the blue snowsuit he wore to play in the snow. They pulled the zipper up to his chin and wrapped a red scarf around his neck. To give Stinker a measure of courage, Kenny shoved his head into a sock cap with the Colts logo scrolled across the front. Stinker’s tiny hands were shoved into mittens seconds before they sent him out the door with a simple message.
He was to ask Quirt to please take back some of his snow. The kids watched Stinker waddle through the thick white blanket covering the lawn. It took ten minutes before he reached Quirt’s front porch. The conversation didn’t last long. As Stinker turned around to leave the porch, Quirt gave him a shove. The six-year-old landed face forward in the snow. The witnesses gathered at the window could see tears streaming down Stinker’s red face, transforming into ice crystals on his cheeks. Mandy swung the front door open and gather Stinker into her arms. She comforted him until he stopped crying.
“Quirt is a mean old man. He said to tell you to get busy shoveling. It builds character. He said Mom spoils us kids. We need to learn to work. I’m supposed to tell you thanks for making room on our sidewalk for his snow,” Stinker hiccupped.
Kenny assembles a juvenile army on a snow day
Kenny paced the living room floor while he thought over the situation. “This means war. Winston called everyone we know. Send out an S.O.S. Gabe follow me. We need to locate the weapons.” Kenny took the stairs two at a time with Gabe on his heals. Winston rounded the corner and moved into the kitchen to make the call to arms from the wall phone. Serious business was about to go down on this quiet little block on Elm Street.
Within a half-hour, Kenny managed to assemble a juvenile army. Almost the entire fifth-grade class was gathered at the Mulligan house, waiting for orders. Two paintball guns, three super soakers, and a baseball bat were spread out on the coffee table. Kenny paced the floor, looking over his classmates like a general inspecting his troops. “I called you here today to make right a terrible wrong. The evil man next door blew snow into the paths Winston, Gabe, and I took all morning to clear. Then the monster pushed Stinker into the snow.” The entire army glanced in Stinker’s direction. The small child rubbed his eyes and shed a few crocodile tears, managing to look pathetic while relishing all the attention.
“We need to avenge his honor. This enemy doesn’t fight fair. He’s been known to use cruel and unusual tactics. If any of you want to back out, step forward now. No one will think any less of you if you want out of this fight.” Not a single kid stepped forward. “Good. Let’s get busy then.”
The army builds a snow fort on a snow day
The first order of business for the juvenile army was to build a snow fort. Bill Murphy was put in charge of the operation. His dad owned the construction company out on route 6. Building stuff was part of his genetic code. Under his supervision, the fort was assembled in record time. The next task that needed to be performed was to remove all the snow Quirt deposited in the Mulligan driveway and sidewalk and take it back to where it came from in the first place, which was Quirts driveway, sidewalk, and lawn.
All the snow removal must have worn Quirt out because he didn’t appear once to stop them from shoveling the snow. Kenny figured he was inside his house, taking a nap. The troops were finished by late afternoon. They retreated to the inside of Kenny’s house to get warm.
Mandy called all her friends while Kenny and his army were erecting the fort and piling snow onto Quirt’s property. They turned the living room couch around and threw open the drapes. This gave them a comfortable seat where they could watch the action. A room filled with high schoolers were glued to the Mulligan’s front window when the fifth graders sauntered through the door.
A crowd gathers to watch the war
The smell of freshly made popcorn filled the air. Cool Bon Jovi music played in the background. By the time the army squeezed into the room, Kenny had estimated there were at least fifty people hanging out in the tiny house on Elm Street. Stinker sat in a chair in the middle of the crowd, put on display like some sort of hero. He told the story of his confrontation with Quirt over and over again, like a repeat button inside his tiny six-year-old brain was stuck on fast forward. Kenny could see the situation was spinning out of control. His juvenile army mingled with the teenagers.
Everyone was feeling proud of themselves until too much time passed without Quirt making an appearance. It would all have been for nothing if the old man didn’t step out his front door and notice the snow piled in his walk and driveway.
Quirt isn’t taking the bait on a snow day
“I think you have a problem. Quirt isn’t taking the bait. People are starting to get restless. We’re running out of popcorn and soft drinks. I don’t know what they will start eating if the action doesn’t start soon,” Mandy said, pointing out the obvious.
An army tends to get in trouble if they aren’t fed and are bored. Troops loss interest in the fight out of desperation for excitement. Kenny knew the situation was dire. His army craved action. “I think he’s taking a nap. The snow blowing must have worn him out. We need to find a way to draw him out of the house, but I’m not sure about what our next maneuver should be,” Kenny said.
Racheal gets an idea
“I have an idea.” Racheal handed the bowl of popcorn she’d been eating out of over to Mandy and flounced into the kitchen. Courtney followed on her heels. The two young women giggled when they moved back into the living room.
“What did you do?” Kenny asked.
“There’s one thing you can count on even in a snowstorm. Pizza delivery. We called for two large pepperonis to be delivered to Quirt’s address,” Racheal said.
Kenny had to admit it was a brilliant idea. “How long before they get here?”
“The guy said twenty minutes.”
“Okay, people, it’s time to get into position. Bundle up. We want to be hiding behind the walls of the fort when the pizza guy makes his delivery,” Kenny said with the voice of authority.
“I got a bad feeling about this Kenny. We might have just poked a fat bear with a short stick,” Winston said as they moved through the door. Kenny shrugged off the statement. Winston could be such a pessimist.
The army assembles
The army put on their coats, gloves, and scarves. They moved to the coffee table where weapons were distributed. Those who didn’t have a paintball gun or super soaker made snowballs as soon as they were hunkered down inside the fort. Now all they had to do was wait.
It seemed like hours before a rust bucket Chevy pulled to the curb in front of Quirt’s house. Heavy metal music blared from inside the car when the delivery guy stepped onto the snow-covered street. The plow had already made a couple passes, so the snow didn’t get deep until the pizza delivery guy stepped onto Quirt’s snow-covered lawn. The teenagers in the house gathered at the front window inside the Mulligan’s warm living room to watch the guy trudge through the twelve inches of snow plus the extra accumulation Kenny and his crew piled onto the sidewalk leading to Quirt’s door. Things were about to get interesting.
Pizza delivery guy shows up on snow day
Pizza Delivery Guy climbed the steps to the porch. His audience watched as he knocked on the front door. There was a slight pause in activity before Quirt opened the door. That was when the yelling started. The juveniles couldn’t hear the entire conversation as they huddled behind the protection of the four walls. Quirt screamed he didn’t order any damn pizza. He wasn’t going to pay for it. Pizza Delivery Guy yelled back that he knew he was in the right place because he could see 1313 printed on Quirt’s mailbox, and he knew he was on Elm Street.
There was more yelling before the Delivery Guy turned around and stomped back to his car, making sure he stepped in the holes in the snow he created when he made the journey to Quirt’s porch.
For a few minutes, it seemed like the entire mission was a failure. Quirt stood on his front porch, glaring in the direction of the pizza delivery guy with his hands on his hips. It looked like he was going to turn around and go back inside without noticing the fresh snow on his property. The cubby old man stopped in his tracks and took a second look at his front steps. Quirt erupted, swearing at the top of his lungs. He stepped from his porch and started moving in the direction of the Mulligan house. The old man was knee-deep in the snow when Kenny’s juvenile army moved into action.
The juvenile army goes into action
They popped up from behind the snow fort and aimed their weapons at Quirt. The first shot to hit him was a yellow paintball fired at his chest. It exploded with a pop. The front of Quirt’s Carhart coat was covered in yellow paint, but he continued to advance. The kids armed with super soakers waited for him to get close before they started firing. Kenny’s crew proved to be good shots. Quirt was dripping water and yellow paint as he continued his forward march.
About the time it looked like he would breach their fortification, the kids with the snowballs raised up out of the white blanket of snow they were hiding behind. Quirt was hit by so many unidentified flying objects he had no choice but to retreat. He’d almost made it to his front door when a slow-moving squad car cruised down Elm Street. The vehicle stopped and looked Quirt over before it continued its forward momentum. It made two more passes before the officer inside the slow-moving squad car decided there was nothing to the call they received about an old guy harassing a group of kids.
Battle of Snow Day is over
The battle was over. Kenny’s juvenile army enter the Mulligan house the clear victors. There was little time for celebration. The clock on the wall informed them it was four o’clock. They had an hour to clean up the mess before their mom came home. In record time, the garbage from the party was stuffed into black trash bags. It was Kenny’s job to carry it to the trash can in the alley.
He made sure to cover over his tracks. Their mom was smart. She’d be sure to look. The remaining kids were kicked to the curb. The Mulligan kids were lucky no valuables were broken during the all-day party and the snow war. Kenny put away the paintball guns and the super soakers. Stinker was sworn to secrecy. The Mulligan kids looked like they had spent a lackluster day at home by the time their mom walked through the door at five.
Mom smells something rotten about the snow day
Mary Mulligan examined every room with a critical eye before she moved into the kitchen. She was almost convinced the kids had followed the rules she lay down about their snow day until she spotted the empty trash can. “All hands on deck,” she yelled loud enough for everyone to hear even if they were upstairs playing video games. The Mulligan kids streamed into the kitchen.
Their eyes were focused on the floor to avoid eye contact with their mother. One look and she’d know all their secrets. “The empty trash cans was the first clue the three of you didn’t follow the rules today. It was half full when I left this morning.”
“I told you we should have left some stuff in the bag,” Mandy said, elbowing Kenny in his ribs.
“A call came into dispatch this afternoon. Colleen O’Brien claimed she saw Quirt fighting with a bunch of kids. I sent a patrol car around, but the officer couldn’t spot anything out of the ordinary. What do the three of you know about that?”
“Nothing,” Mandy and Kenny said in unison.
“What do you have to say, Stinker?” Mary Mulligan asked knowing her youngest was the weak link in the chain of deception.
“Quirt pushed me down when Kenny sent me over to ask him to take back his snow,” Stinker said. “He’s a real mean guy. He doesn’t like kids at all.”
“That’s why Kenny never should have sent you over there.” Mary Mulligan turned to her oldest son. “Stinker and I are going to fix dinner. He’s going to tell me about everything that went on here today. You have an hour before your dad gets home. I suggest you get busy clearing Quirt’s sidewalk and driveway. Mandy. You might as well get your coat on too. I know you had friends over here who contributed to the drama. Stinker could have been hurt. Did either of you consider that?”
Kenny found himself standing next to the hall closet with his sister. He could tell Mandy was mad by the scowl she wore on her face. “I’m going to kill you,” she mouthed as she zipped up her parka. Kenny knew the peaceful life he lived was about to change. Mandy was famous for the way she held a grudge.
Mandy will have her revenge
Her revenge would be slow and filled with torture. No army of fifth-graders could protect him from her revenge. Then there was Quirt. The old man would be out to get him now. A lot of bad can come from what you first thought was going to be a magnificent snow day.
Who is Molly Shea?
Molly Shea is an accomplished fictional short story writer from Indiana, who writes short stories and novels about a fictional town called Tecumseh. To read more of her short stories and adventures click here.
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