A work of fiction where two precocious young girls stand up to bigotry in a scene that feels ripped straight from today’s headlines…
by: Frederick Foote
On a balmy Saturday, about 3:00 pm, twelve-year-old Mary and her fourteen-year-old sister Mavis are waiting at a downtown mall bus stop for the Number 12 bus.
Mary sighs. “We Should just Uber on home. This is taking too long. Avery may not even be driving this bus.”
Avery is their twenty-four-year-old cousin, recently discharged from the Army.
“Quit whining. I should have left you at home. All you do is eat and complain.”
Mary pouts and peeks in one of her three shopping bags. “How did Avery get us playoff tickets anyway?”
Mavis glances at an elderly white man striding purposefully toward their bus stop. “His new girl works for the NBA. She got them for us.”
“Mavis, the war messed Avery up so bad. Do you think he’ll ever be right again? Will he go back to college?”
The elderly man stops and eyes them both before he takes a seat.
The girls exchange glances.
Mary turns to the new arrival. “Why were you staring at us like that? You know that’s rude.”
The man sneers. “This is not your bus. This bus goes to Beverly Highlands. You’re at the wrong bus stop.”
Mavis holds up her hand to stop her sister from replying. “I got this.” Mavis turns to the intruder. “You need to stop right there. I don’t think you have anything to say that we want to hear.”
The stranger points his finger at the girls. “Beverly Highlands used to be a sundown town. I bet you don’t even know what that means.”
Mary snaps back. “It means you need to go back in time, but more than that, you need to stop pointing your finger at us.”
Mavis jumps in. “You need to look for another bus stop where you might be more comfortable.”
The old man snorts. “Times used to be you would never talk to a white person like that. Never.”
The girls shake their heads in disbelief.
Mary stands and shouts, “Are you for real? You—”
Mavis grabs her shopping bags and jumps between her sister and the stranger. “Get your bags, Mary. Let this MAGA creep stay here alone.”
Mary starts to say something, but Mavis turns to her, “Now!”
Mary mutters under her breath as she gathers up her shopping bags.
The man laughs, licks his lips, and suddenly stands and yells, “Stop. Hold it right there. What are you doing with those Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom bags? You stole someone’s bags, didn’t you?”
Mary screams, “Fuck you!” as her sister tries to push her away from the bus stop.
The man reaches down and pulls a revolver from an ankle holster.
“Stop. Don’t move. I’m calling the cops. Don’t move!”
Mavis drops her bags, pulls out her phone, and snarls, “No. I’m calling the cops.”
Mary drops her bags and pulls out her phone. “You stupid fuck. I’m calling the DA. She’s our mom, asshole.”
The gunman licks his lips, and his gun hand shakes. “Bullshit. You lying little nigger thieves. I caught you red-handed. Put down those phones now.”
“Hello, 911. I’m Mavis Broadstreet and—”
“Hello, Gwen, this is Mary. Is my mom—”
The gunman fires a shot into the sky.
“Drop the goddamn phones, now!”
The sisters drop their phones and clutch each other.
The parties on the phone keep talking. The gunman stomps each phone to pieces.
“You liars. The DA’s kids would not be riding the goddamn bus!”
“We aren’t riding the bus. We’re waiting for the bus,” Mavis replies.
Mary adds. “Our cousin is bringing us tickets for tonight’s playoff game, stupid. And he was an Army ranger. You better run before he or the cops get here.”
“You need to put the gun down,” Mary says softly.
“Shut up. Stop talking. Just shut up.”
Mavis steps in front of her sister. “Okay. We’re going to leave.”
“No! No. I’m RWDS. I can’t let you go. You set me up, didn’t you? You knew what I was all along.”
“We didn’t know you were a Right-Wing Death Squad member,” Mavis says softly. “We don’t even care. We just want to go home.”
“You tricked me. You tricked me into, into kidnapping you. You clever little nigger bitches.”
Mavis holds up her hands, palms facing the gunman. We just want to go home. We’re not part of any plot or undercover thing. We just want to go home.”
There are sirens in the distance, and the girls see the Number 12 bus gliding toward the bus stop.
The gunman is licking his lips, sweating profusely, and turning franticly from the approaching bus to the direction of the sirens.
“Run!” Mavis yells.
Five seconds later, they are both shot dead.
Five seconds after that, the gunman blows his brains out.
At the same time, a shooting at the downtown mall takes nine lives and pushes this story down to the second lead but ahead of the homeowner who shot two eight-year-olds playing hide and seek in his unfenced backyard.
Another slow news day in the USA.
Frederick K. Foote, Jr. was born in Sacramento, California, and educated in Vienna, Virginia, and northern California. Since 2014 Frederick has published over three hundred stories, poems, and essays, including literary, science fiction, fables, and horror genres. Frederick has published three short story collections, For the Sake of Soul (2015), Crossroads Encounters (2016), and The Maroon Fables and Revelations (2020).
Wow. Really powerful. Excellent building of tension.
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