Peter and Karen sat in the kitchen, arguing silently between them as John strolled in from school and threw his backpack on the tiled floor and kicked it into the hallway. Karen scowled at Peter and nodded toward John. Peter shook his head and held up his hands. Karen huffed and kicked him in the shin under the table. “Jonathan Allen Williams, sit down.”

John glanced at his mother and sighed, then closed the refrigerator door and leaned against the counter. “Why?”


Peter sighed while rubbing his shin. “Just sit and get this over with.”

“Whatever.” John sat at the table and rubbed the apple against his shirt, staring at his mother. “What?”

Karen sighed and “We found your stash. Care to explain yourself, mister?”

A brief crunch filled the air as John took a bite of his apple, freezing mid bite. Moments later there was another crunch as he pried off a chunk of apple and slowly chewed as he stared at her. “What stash?” he asked after swallowing.

She flung a brown paper sack on the table, dumping its contents and spreading it out. “This stash. What in the hell are you doing with joints?”

John smirked and glanced toward his dad. He stood and said, “Ask him.”

Karen scoffed and prepared to unleash her fury until she saw the look of shame on Peter’s face.

John left the kitchen laughing, picking up his backpack as he walked down the hall.

Upstairs in his room, John sighed a long, deep sigh of relief as he reached behind his dresser and pulled out a small metal box. He flung his backpack on his bed, pulled out a medium-sized wad of red tissue paper, and smiled. Gently and carefully, as if it were a Christmas present, John unrolled the tissue paper and opened the box. He placed the latest acquisition into the box and counted the severed fingers. “Only three more till this stash is complete.”

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