Love and a Hate Crime
Thad is twenty, but he’s slow. When bully Jimmy tells him to “fuck up the queers,” the gay couple in their 60s down the block, Thad trusts that in return, Jimmy will leave him alone. He breaks into their house and witnesses the couple making love, arousing and terrifying him.
Thad crouched in the bushes, waiting for his opportunity to jump the delivery guy. Jimmy, the cool guy, called to have the roses delivered. It was Thad's job to wait and watch. And then to attack. He didn't have to hurt the delivery guy too badly, just enough to get the roses and get him the hell outta there. That's what Jimmy said, "Get him the hell outta there, Thad."
Thad's knees were sore from kneeling for so long, and the wet ground had soaked through his sweatpants, leaving dark spots on the cloth. He rocked back and forth, trying to warm himself, wishing he hadn't seen Jimmy this morning. Jimmy was always picking on Thad, but today he made a deal with him. If he just went into the house and fucked up the creepy old queers, Jimmy and his friends would leave him alone forever. It was a good deal.
Jimmy's car went down the street again, slower this time. He pointed at his eyes and then pointed at Thad in his spot in the ro-duh-den-drin. Thad got the message. There was no turning back. The old queers were a menace to the neighborhood. Jimmy said it was Thad's job to do something about it. Thad didn't know what was wrong with them, but Jimmy was a smart guy. Thad was just a big, stupid dummy. Everybody said so.
A white van crept down the street, and Thad's body tensed, ready to spring. The van passed his rhododendron hiding spot and then stopped and backed up, beeping its arrival in front of the house. Figaro's Flowers. That must be the one. The driver's door opened, and Thad froze. It was a woman. His mom always told him not to hit girls. She said, “Thad, you never hit girls.” He didn't know what to do.
He thought about what Jimmy would do if he chickened out. When he approached the delivery woman, he noticed her long, red, curly hair and her voluptuous figure. He didn't know the word voluptuous, but he knew that he wouldn't mind seeing her naked. He reached the porch, just as the woman came from the back of the van, holding a big bouquet of red flowers. When she turned around, she said, "Oh! You startled me! I didn't see you there."
Thad stammered as he always did with strangers until he finally managed to blurt, "Y-Y-You're real pretty."
She hesitated. Maybe she sensed the danger. Thad didn't know. She held out the flowers to him and said, "Mister Stempien? Here you go."
Thad didn't know who Mister Stempien was, but he took the flowers from her. She stood close enough that he could look down on the top of her head. She looked up at him.
"You're a big guy, aren't ya?" As soon as he had the bundle, she backed away, afraid to take her eyes off him.
"D-d-d-do I hafta s-s-sign?"
"Nope," she said, picking up her pace. "All set." She reached the driver's door, got in the van, and sped away to safety.
With the flowers in hand, Thad knew what he had to do next. Ring the doorbell and get into the queers' house. He pushed the buzzer and waited. He heard nothing. No footsteps. No voices.