She smiled as she heard his wail. He’d always been delicate and wasn’t as mature as the other kids.
…But she knew that would change soon.
He ran into the room with his fist clenched out in front of him.
“Now then Jimmy, don’t cry. It’s only a bit of blood.
…And it’s worth it.”
Jimmy hated the taste of blood and the throbbing in his gum but he was happy that he was holding back the tears.
“Stick your tongue in the wound.”
He shook his head.
She giggled, “Trust me. You’ll gag at first but you’ll get used to it.”
Jimmy liked to hear his mother laugh so he did and he did.
“Now let’s go upstairs and put it under your pillow. It’s your left eye tooth, that’s special.”
…“Good Lad. It’s a bit of a tradition, all the boys in our family hang onto that one until just after their thirteenth birthday.”
Jimmy went straight to bed and avoided touching the tooth.
He woke early and looked under his pillow. He was delighted to see five ten pound notes. They were those ones with the otters. Jimmy liked the otters.
He stumbled out of bed and ran downstairs to show his mum.
She hugged him and kissed the top of his head, “Other kids will have already told you about the tooth fairy.”
“But you never got money with the others so don’t concern yourself, it’s a load of old tosh anyway. It was me who bought that tooth.”
Jimmy was rubbing each of the notes.
…“I need to ask,
…Are you happy with the money?”
Now I’ll show you what we’ll do with it. Get dressed and put your coat on.”
He ran upstairs, into his bedroom and did what his mother told him. Jimmy put the notes in his bank. He loved saving. Counting his money was better than spending it.
She was waiting for him at the door.
“You’re a good boy Jimmy, you always have been…But as you get older, you might not be quite so obedient, that’s why I bought your tooth.”
“I’ll always do what you tell me.”
“I hope so.
…But I don’t think so.”
She began to laugh and gave him a huge hug, “Boys will be boys and only time will tell. Now, you sure that you’re happy.”
…Then follow me.”
She led him into the back garden. She mumbled something and buried the tooth, only a few inches into the soil.
“That’s that done.”
“What happens now?”
“Nothing…Unless you are a bad boy, then you’ll see.”
Jimmy didn’t think too much, he was looking forward to the next time he counted his money.
… “Did you break your gran’s vase?”
…There are only two of us in the house and I know it wasn’t me.
Think carefully, I’ll give you one last chance to only be bad once. If you tell me that you broke it, that’s once but if you lie to me AGAIN, I’ll count that as twice.”
Jimmy stared at his shoes.
“I’m sorry. I was playing with a ball and it hit off my hand and smashed the vase.”
She touched his face gently, “That’s a good boy Jimmy. At least you didn’t disappoint me twice. But you have done once. That’s the first time ever.
…Do you remember me burying your tooth?”
“Well, when I’m annoyed something happens. Let me show you.”
She took him by the hand and led him outside.
Jimmy pulled back.
“Do you want to be disappointing me again?”
She waited for a second.
“I don’t think you would want to do that.”
He stared at where they’d planted the tooth. There was a boy who was rooted to that spot. The boy looked exactly like Jimmy.
“One of you is getting a sound thrashing, either you or the other you. You need to choose.”
Jimmy began to shake and cry.
“Let me tell you what I mean by a sound thrashing. I’m going to pick up the spade and hit you over the head with it and then try to chop you up.”
She laughed, “I do say try as I don’t think I’m strong enough to get the spade all the way through. Or, you can do it to the other you. It’s your choice, just like it was your choice to take the money and your choice to break your gran’s vase.
…So who will it be?
He began to wail
“I advise you to stop that or it’ll be both of you.”
She lifted the spade.
He shook his head.
“Fine. She swung it back.”
“No mum! Please!!”
“You know what you need to do.”
The other Jimmy began to whimper. He began to plead. He began to say ‘No.’
She lowered the spade, “He can’t run, he’s got roots here.”
This made her giggle.
“Be a good boy Jimmy, I want it to be you. Stab him, hit him, slice him!”
Jimmy took the spade and tried to blank out the cries of his other self. He hit him across the face to quieten him but he screamed more. He hit him again and again and then decided to cut off his head with the blade of the spade and gave that a go. His other self stopped screaming and started gurgling.
Jimmy never liked blood, and the other Jimmy’s blood felt heavy on him. He wanted to stop. He wanted to cuddle his other self and put a plaster on him.
“Keep going! Get it all the way through. You need to show me that you’re sorry!”
Jimmy tried and tried but just couldn’t.
She gave the mulch that was once him a prod with her foot, “You’re a bit weak Jimmy…But I think you’ve done enough. You can bury him now, he’ll grow if we need him again.
…Maybe next time you’ll take his head clean off.”
She held out her hand, “Let’s get you showered and cleaned up. And this time, I’ll show you something that you’ll get when you don’t disappoint me.”
11 thoughts on “Legs Eleven by Hugh Cron”
What a fine send up of the domineering mother who twists her son’s mind. You know that something is “wrong” about her almost immediately. But nothing she says, till the end supports that, which is where the brilliance shines. Of course she bought more than a tooth and did so without asking. Jimmy never had a say, thus establishing a parallel with children never asking to be born.
Thanks as always. I love to read your take on my stories.
I’m glad I wasn’t tempted to call him Norman!!
Oh – That’s made me think on ‘My Name Is Norman Bates’ by ‘Landscape’ – Whit a weird wee tune!!
Oh…And now I’m thinking of ‘Gary Gilmore’s Eyes’ by ‘The Adverts’
Those two will be being played as I answer these!!
Wow, scary story! The dialogue method works pretty well here re: build and tension. I knew all those ten pound notes would be too good to be true. I see Mrs. Lilith uses the olde spade method of discipline. I guess that’s one way to turn a kid into a tough, strong boy. The ending is rather ominous also… I don’t think this will be something good…. I mean, not long-term good.
Thanks as always.
I’ve written a few horrors and I love doing them. But to be honest, my imagination isn’t that great to come up with anything more frequently, which I wish I could. That is why I have such a respect for Herbert, King and Laymon.
But I suppose writing about real life is more scary than anything!!
I’m delighted to read your kind words!
All the very best my fine friend.
I’ll take a ‘Yikes’ off of you any day!!
Just remember – ‘It Was A One Eyed, One Horned, Flying Purple People Eater’!!
I’m trying a lyrical cheerio like you do!
Fuck – That is pish!
…Okay – Neil Young really does beat Sheb Wooley hands down with bells on and into infinity!!!
Flying Saucers parts 1 & 2. Little Green Man. Back in the day Flying Purple People Eater was used as a joke about a certain segment of the population. Do you like “Roll With It” better than “Rocking In The Free World”? Together they are Young Winwood Rocking and Roll.
Wonderfully imaginative. Parents can make their children into monsters in many ways, and this is one of the wildest. The metaphor works well. I agree that the ending is more than a little ominous. And I’d hate to see what else is buried in the garden.
I can’t tell you how much I take from your comments when you incorporate the word imaginative for one of my stories!
I am honoured!!
I would love to have seen her rhubarb!!!
All the very best my fine friend…Much appreciated.
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I had to give you a wee nod as it was your musing about what a parent was meant to do with a tooth that brought this story about.
Again – To anyone reading – You don’t realise what comments can do and the inspiration and thoughts that they can instigate!!
I prefer Neil Young but must admit – Old Man is my favourite.
But as a quote – Back to Keep Rockin’ In The Free World!
For a few years I would quote Fergal Sharkey – ‘My expectations may be high, I blame that on my youth.’
…But can’t say that anymore for two reasons…I have no expectations and I have no youth!!
So maybe I should go with Mr Thorogood and ‘One Bourbon, One Scotch’ One Beer’