Fat Children of the Grouch

by Mark S. Lewis

Fat Children of the Grouch

The loud whistle of a tea pot filled the small, ancient kitchen. An elderly woman, with scraggly white hair, a very short stature, cricked back, and large brown slippers, hobbled into the room. She had lived alone in this tiny house for many years, had very few visitors or friends. She was jerk, unless you were of course a pigeon; for the pigeons had never wronged her, but people have. Every morning she would drink her tea, eat a large piece of toast, and go get the mail. Sadly no one but creditors wrote to her, so she was forced to only look forward to the generic print of some random business worker, trying to make deadline. The elderly woman slowly, but surely made her way down the cracked, crumbled, cement path she called her driveway. Stopping at the bent, corroding, copper, mailbox she pulled out a few crisp clean bills. And stamped neatly in the corner of each was the name Gretchen Hagglesin, though all of the neighborhood kids just called her the Grouch.

Now after the Grouch drank her tea, ate her toast, and paid her bills, she would crumble up a half a loaf of fresh bakery bread and go feed it to her children (the pigeons.) She would always feed them one kind of bread, and one kind alone-White Buttermilk. And today she would do the same. Getting in her old, dented, scratched, beige, Slug Bug she would make her way to the river. Where she would sit in a worn, splintering, peeling, bench and feed the fat old creatures (the pigeons.) Day in and day out the Grouch would toss handfuls of crumbled, fresh baked, white buttermilk, bread to the feathered scavengers (the pigeons) while cooing soft words of kindness and love to the creatures.

"My beautiful angels, my divine children, my loving babies," she would mumble to them as she stroked and preened their feathers. They would always give her one long analytical looked with their orb-like eyes, before returning to their feast of crumbs. For weeks upon months, months upon years, years upon decades, she continued this routine, till one day she would break it.

The Grouch had hurried to the bakery skipping her morning routine to catch it right as it opens. The day before she had run out of the White Buttermilk bread that she always fed to those beady-eyed monsters (the pigeons) and, being in her old age, had fallen asleep before she could muster the strength to enter into public. But this day as she entered the swinging door of the floury bakery, and as the small bell tinkled behind her, she soon discovered something was terribly wrong. The clear glass display cases that usually carry her precious bread were empty! But disregarding it the Grouch approached the counter.

"I would like White Buttermilk and three of them," she recited as she always has. The new, the young, the foolish, the unqualified, the "I couldn't find my way back to my car in the parking lot," sales woman frowned and replied, "I'm terribly sorry, but we're out, we had to give all our spare dough to a catering business this morning. But we will have more tomorrow." The Grouch yelled, cursed, complained, and argued in furry. Fore she so desperately needed her bread, but was denied. Powerless, she finally gave in buying three loaves of Whole Grain Wheat, and storming back to her gas guzzling car. To drive back to the river where her owe so precious angels (the pigeons) waited.

She sat in her usual spot and as usual, tossed torn pieces of her new brown bread to her fat children (the pigeons) vainly. And like always the wretched birds gathered around and ate their undeserved fill as she soothed them with extravagant compliments. But this time they did not approve, they did not let her stroke and preen them. They were furious; the cows with wings (the pigeons) regurgitated the horrible bread. How were they to survive on such vile crumbs? They revolted against their mother (the Grouch) and gave her retribution. They advanced upon her, squawking and cawing for White Buttermilk. The Grouch tried to explain, tried to excuse her behavior, but there was no reason, no reason at all they shouldn't eat. The Grouch tried to run, to escape from them, but she was pinned down by their bulk (which she had so happily supplied) until the birds got their fill, and owe trust me, they got their fill alright.

                                   Mark S. Lewis

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