Gaggle of Children

It all begins with school, I tell them. If you can’t take lunch money off a kid in a school-yard, then you aren’t going to lift money from anybody on the street. Sometimes that’s an easy lesson for them to learn — usually I need to beat them.

On the street you need to keep it simple. Begin small — maybe petty theft from street-stalls; one kid plays the distraction, another pockets something. Both need to be able to run fast. I don’t have my kids steal cars, but I do have them run things for me. Messages across town, a few grams of coke. There is an advantage to youth in this: the younger, the more innocent — the less apparent guilt. Too young, though, and that’s a complication.

Halloween is one of my favourite holidays, when I can dress my children up and send them out under cover of crowds. Usually my children need to show some subtlety, but that’s not true for this one night. No doubt you’ve seen them — you feel them watching, you wonder what they want. I dress them up as animals, the dog, the cat, the donkey, the pig. And yes, if you’ve ever crossed me, then you should worry when you see them gathering on your doorstep. Because even if they’re sweet looking and innocent, they could still be one of mine. Heartless and cold, not just the animal on the outside, but an animal on the inside.

And they could be waiting for you.

2 thoughts on “Gaggle of Children”

  1. This is scary and creepy, a good tone and a great Halloween story. I enjoyed the image of any child being one of “them” and planting real fear into the tradition of fake terror.

    “Sometimes that’s an easy lesson for them to learn — usually I need to beat them.”
    This doesn’t quite scan for me – usually I don’t need to beat them is what I keep expecting.

    “the more innocent — the less apparent guilt” – the less chance of suspicion or something of the kind. Apparent guilt indicates that these kids feel guilty (but it’s not apparent). I just don’t think they think about what they do.

    “Heartless and cold, not just the animal on the outside, but an animal on the inside.”
    This sentence highlights the central problem I have with the story – I can’t make up my mind if the children are merely tools or if they are evil in their own right. Messengers and petty thieves are not threatening when they gather on your threshold, and I see them only as that rather than little monsters.

    Thanks for a great story!

  2. I liked this – especially the halloween themes – already a time of costumes and deceit – but making the happy children part of the scariness is clever and elegant.

    Found this ‘sentence’ a bit wrong: Too young, though, and that’s a complication.
    But liked: Heartless and cold, not just the animal on the outside, but an animal on the inside. – thought this was at the heart of your idea and that it worked well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *