Three Word Wednesday is a once-weekly 3-word writing prompt.
The three words are harmless, moist, yelp.
The yelp caught Allie’s attention, drew her out of the book she’d let herself become engrossed in. High-pitched, terrified, and loud, it penetrated the thick walls of her shop. It had come from somewhere out back; a second yelp, louder still, confirmed the direction and had her running for the back door.
June-next-door’s latest boyfriend was standing in the narrow passageway behind their buildings, looming over the dumpster? No, over a skinny boy standing near the dumpster; the yelp had come from the kid, presumably.
What was his name? Jack? No, no, Fred. “Leave him along, Fred,” she called, hurrying over to the pair. “He’s harmless.”
“He was digging in the dumpster. Freaking little rats will steal anything not nailed down.” He lowered his arm halfway, eliciting a whimper.
Allie looked the kid over quickly. Grey bandanna, grey hoodie, but the signs she was looking for… “He’s not a rat, Fred, he’s a pup. Leave him alone.”
The kid snarled at her. “Not a pup,” he complained, but it had little heat behind it.
“What’s that, some sort of gang? I’m telling you, Alison, what you want to do with these kids is show them who’s boss. Do that, and they won’t give you any more trouble. If you let them steal whenever they want, they’ll walk all over you.” He grabbed the kid’s arm again, ignoring the little whine the boy made.
“Fred, let it be. There’s no need to go messing with him; there’s nothing in the garbage worth stealing, it’s why it’s garbage.” She kept her voice calm, soothing. June didn’t pick the brightest boyfriends. “This isn’t the neighborhood to go starting trouble in, Fred.”
She knew it was a mistake the moment she’d said it, but she’d known it needed to be said, too.
“I keep telling June, and I’ll tell you, too, Alison. You can’t give in to thugs and creeps. You’ve got to show them who’s boss.”
She looked at the boy again, knowing it was a lost cause. He looked back at her with eyes a pale, icy blue she’d seen before in huskies, the whine high-pitched and, she thought, entirely unconscious. “I don’t want to be a witness to this,” she told him.
“Go inside, Alison,” Fred snarled. “I’ll deal with this.”
She sighed, wishing there was another way, and walked inside. “Come on in for some cocoa… later,” she threw over her shoulder, before she shut the back door, making sure it clicked locked.
The door wasn’t thick enough to completely muffle the pained yelp, nor the bone-cracking sound that followed it. The scream that came next was very short, even less silenced by the door, and cut off with a quiet, moist sort of crunching.
Allie wandered back to the front of the store before the magpies could rob her blind. The pup would be in, in a while, for his cocoa, and she had to figure out how to tell June she’d need another boyfriend. At least the wolves rarely left a mess.
At this rate, she mused, as the noises in the back faded away to nothing, there wouldn’t be a thug or bigot or creep left in Animal Town.