The Louisiana Baby Apple Tree Massacre

‘What is an abomination?’ he asks, stomping back into the house with his basketball under his arm after leaving to play outside a mere five minutes before. He has a puzzled look on his face, trying to make sense of a word he has undoubtedly never heard before. His big brown eyes focus on Sam, who in turn looks at me. I put my fork down.

‘Why?’

‘The Kid From Next Door said he couldn’t play with me because his mom said you guys were that.’

Of course she did. This lady has been pissing me off since day one. At first because she sucked up to us like nobody has sucked up to us before. Then, when she realized we didn’t give a tiny rat’s ass that their fence, baby apple trees and extension were technically on our land, her other side came out. Disgusted snorts clearly audible to every member of my family who happened to pass her house while she’s outside. The pretending she doesn’t see us when we bump into each other at the super market. Loudly referring to us as ‘Her, That Boy, That Damned Dog and Them Kids’ when we are within earshot.

It has all been very lovely.

But her son and Cole are roughly the same age, and they get along, so I had no problems with them hanging out and shooting some hoops. After all, you can’t blame a child for their parents’ racist ignorance. But apparently we have cooties now.

My husband sighs the sigh of a frustrated man, and I can practically hear him grind his teeth from across the table. Sam’s not usually the one who loses it over these things – I am. I am the one who’s always ready to knock on some doors and spit in people’s faces, and pregnancy hasn’t helped with these impulses. If it weren’t for Sam dragging me back into the house by the back of my pants, Mrs. HolierThanThou would be missing several chunks of hair by now.

But this time, while I struggle to find a decent answer for Cole with my mouth open and no words coming out, it’s Sam who pushes back his chair with so much force that for a second I’m scared the legs will give. Then he realizes there are two big-eyed children looking at him and he smiles a smile that is so obnoxiously sweet that it chills me to my very core.

‘I think I will do some yard work.’ He announces, and leaves through the back door.

Uh-oh.

Cole sits down at the table. ‘Is Sam mad at me?’

‘No, hun. He’s mad at the neighbors.’

‘Is it a mean thing to say?’

I think about that for a minute, then shake my head. ‘It’s a dumb thing to s-‘

I’m interrupted by the sound of a chainsaw.

We all look up like a bunch of meerkats, turning our head from the left to the right and looking at each other for confirmation of possible danger. Then the three of us stand up simultaneously and rush to the nearest window to witness Sam mow down their tiny apple trees – our tiny apple trees, officially – in three quick motions. On the other side of the fence, Mr and Mrs. HolierThanThou are purple in the face and screaming what the F he is doing.

‘She said a bad word,’ Sadie comments with a giggle, clapping her hands over her mouth. We watch Sam ignoring them completely and walking back to the house, before I tell them to wash up for dinner.

‘Nice example,’ I scold him as soon as he walks through the door.

He shrugs. ‘Enough is enough.’

‘Yea, well, use your words next time, ‘ I half-joke.

‘That probably would have been worse.’

But three days later, he does exactly that. When they ask him who the F he thinks he is, he tells them ‘I’m the effing person who owns the ground part of your house is built on, and frankly, sir, those trees were an abomination.’

Immature? Maybe. Effective?

F yes.

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