Buck and Tom peered in from the window and could only see the mother at the kitchen. She stood over the stove, stirring something that caused their stomachs to rumble. The house was bare and neat with very simple furniture, a floral print couch and two mismatched chairs, a coffee table. Buck felt the slow crawl of something down the back of his neck. He smacked at it but it was only sweat. Tom’s head swiveled left to right, watching. In the distance, a set of headlights cut through night.
“What do you think she’s cooking?” asked Buck.
“Chicken probably,” replied Tom, laughing. Buck snickered.
They looked inside, studying the house.
“Will you just get on with it,” said Tom, there waiting for us back at the house. “They said this was easy. Come on.”
Buck looked at the brick in his hand and tossed it lightly two times in his hand, studying its weight.
“You can’t throw it from here anyway,” said Tom, “you’ll have to move, like over there,” he said, pointing to some bushes farther away.
“Don’t you think I know that! This isn’t my first time you know! I just wanted to see them up close, that’s all,” growled Buck at his friend.
“Yeah well I hope you would hurry up. It’s just a little scare, remember, Boone wants us back as soon as possible,” said Tom.
She moved to the cupboard and grabbed some bowls, next a drawer for silverware. Buck watched her set the table. He’d seen this done a hundred times at home. Suddenly, their shadows were thrown against the house. A police car cruised by behind them, they crouched low and fast like like frightened animals as they watched the cruiser roll away. When it was safe, they stood up. They looked back inside the house and found a little boy and girl sitting across from each other at the dinner table. The mother grabbed the pot and walked it carefully to the table, her lips blowing at the food inside. She said something to the children and they laughed, smiled. Buck’s grip on the brick loosened.
“Let’s get it over with,” said Tom, shoving buck in the shoulder.
“Wait,” replied Buck, something new in his voice.
She poured a hot soup of potatoes, carrots and beef into the girl’s bowl first and then the boy’s. Buck and Tom watched. The boy looked into his bowl, a dissatisfied look on his face. He mouthed something to his mother. She replied by looking into the bowl too and bringing her hands to her hips. The boy spoke again. This time, Buck made out the word please. She poured another scoop into his bowl and he smiled. She poured herself her bowl.
“Are you gonna throw the brick or not?” said Tom, angrily.
She sat down in a chair at the head of the table, scooting her chair closer in. She extended a hand to each of her children, and they took it. She looked at the boy and spoke. They closed their eyes and the boy prayed for their food, the way Buck had seen it done a hundred times at home.
“No, I’m not throwing it this time,” Buck told Tom, dropping the brick and walking away.