Chapter 6: The Twisted Johnsons
“Well, that sucked,” Eddy told his brother, plopping down on the couch, defeated.
“It’s your fault, you spaz. When you tripped, you ruined everything.” Eric, Eddy’s older brother, kicked a box near the sofa in frustration and sent it flying, knocking into the ladder leaned against the wall and sending it clattering to the garage floor. He glared at his brother, like it was his fault.
It’s not all my fault, you jerkwad. What about that witch next door who called in on us again? He wanted to scream in Eric’s face. But of course, he didn’t. He stayed sitting right where he was, convincing himself it wasn’t worth it to blow up at his brother.
Eric was always sour after a mission. First ecstatic, riding the adrenaline rush. And then bummed it was over, crabby if it didn’t turn out quite right, and downright rageful if it completely failed. Thankfully, this one was at least a partial success.
Eddy said nothing, letting his brother ride out his mood, as usual. It had always been like that between the two of them, loyal as hell to one another, but Eric was clearly superior, and not only because of the one year he had on Eddy. It was something else about Eric, his dominance, a natural leader since he was born. The younger Johnson was a little quieter, tough as hell, but more reserved and silent.
Fiddling with a rip in his jeans, Eddy was content to chill for a second, and then move on to something else, maybe go shooting or play pool. Eric was much easier to stand when doing a hobby together, not counting the people he could aggravate. Just when enough time had passed for Eddy to feel comfortable to suggest something fun, Eric perked up and made eye contact with his brother.
“Here,” Eric called, tossing his brother a water bottle with iced tea they’d made earlier that day. “Drink up.” He grinned. Eddy raised an eyebrow, wondering what the sudden urgency was. “How ‘bout we kick things up a notch?” His eyes danced with excitement. Eddy could see his brother’s thoughts racing, and developed a lump in his throat. No matter how much he tried to wash it down with his drink, he couldn’t seem to. But he hated to admit, he was a little excited, too.
The Crazed Johnsons
Marvin had barely stepped out of his car before Joan Hazel had thrown open her front door and rushed to meet him on the sidewalk.
“Thank God you’re here, Deputy!” she said, out of breath from her jaunt. Her face turned serious as she gained her composure. In a low voice, she told him, “They’re up to something, I just know it.”
Internally, Marvin sighed. He’d dealt with the Johnson boys many times. Most of the time they were simple pranks pulled on neighbors or other people their age, but once it had gotten violent when they’d gotten thrown from a bar—that they were too young to be in anyhow. For what was generally mostly harmless, the older one had a scary look about him…
Focusing back in the present, he looked at Joan and asked her why she had that thought.
“Well earlier, right, they were picking on old Farmer Fred again, up to their usual nonsense. But I saw them out here and told them to knock it off. They both came at me, I honestly thought they were going to hurt me. But then Roxy, you know my German Shepherd? She came up and rescued me, barking away at them.” She shuddered as if reliving it. And then her face grew grim. “The older Johnson boy took one look at Roxy and smiled at me. I got chills, that look he gave me.”
“But,” Marvin interrupted her, “did they physically assault you or give you the impression that they were going to?”
Just then his phone started ringing. He reached to answer it.
“They threatened my dog and basically me!” Joan suddenly yelled. She glanced behind her, looking either for Roxy or the Johnson boys, she wasn’t quite sure.
He let his phone keep ringing, giving Joan his full attention, as she obviously felt he should. He knew that more than likely, everything was fine and would be fine, but he wanted her to feel safe and taken seriously. She didn’t have a husband to look out for her regarding these things, which is exactly why Marvin had given her his personal number. For a situation just like this.
“Ok, Ms. Hazel, how about we take a look around, make sure your place is all secure, and then I’ll go have a chat with the neighbor boys.” She nodded, seemingly somewhat satisfied he’d ignored his phone call for her.
She led the way up her porch and into the main living area, ushering him inside and giving him a tour like he was a friend. He half expected her to offer him a cookie. Upon entering the kitchen, though, she let out a shriek. Water, flowers, and broken glass scattered the floor. A spill like that could have easily been from the bump of a hip on a coffee table, or maybe the dog had knocked it over.
But, as Marvin felt in the pit of his stomach, it was more than that. It was different. It felt… bad somehow. It meant something worse.
Wait. The dog.
“ROXY!” Joan looked at Marvin, startled at his sudden call for her dog. And then he saw in her eyes that it clicked.
“Out back!” she said and ran out. He followed.
When they reached the back porch, all Marvin could do was stare. His phone started ringing again, but he didn’t move even a muscle. Joan shrieked “Roxy!” at the same time as Marvin gasped.
Marvin was all too familiar with the Johnson boys. Hell, he’d been called to their home just a few short days ago by a different unhappy neighbor. But when he saw their faces in the backyard, they looked almost foreign to him. Completely lacking emotion in the facial features, but the eyes looked… mad. Not an angry type of mad. A crazy, insane type of mad.
They walked clumsily across the yard, the older Johnson boy carrying a stick. He stabbed at Roxy, missing by a wide margin, as if his coordination was a little off. When Joan shrieked again, he looked up, as if noticing their presence and not sure what to do with it.
He grunted and pointed the stick at them. The younger Johnson boy looked in their direction and let out a similar grunt. Eddy opened his mouth, almost as if to say something, but then just froze, his lips parted. His eyes were vacant.
Marvin’s phone rang again, disrupting his transfixed stare at the scene before him. The third time in five minutes.
The Johnson boys did not like the sound of his phone ringing. The older one let out a high-pitched screech, dropped his stick to the ground, and broke off in a sprint toward the noise. Roxy bounded back to Joan, and they embraced.
Eddy Johnson, lips still parted, stalked toward Marvin, a few feet behind his brother. Marvin, in his surprise and panic, dropped his phone while trying to answer it. He froze as Eric reached him and let out a grunt.
“Eric?” Marvin asked, barely above a whisper. He had no idea how to navigate this.
Eric stared down at the phone, no longer ringing now. He seemed relieved, like it had given him a headache or something. Drool dripped from his open mouth, and in one quick gesture, he reached up and smacked Marvin square in the chest.
“Hey!” Marvin yelled and scrambled back a few feet, completely caught off guard. The scream turned Eric’s eyes back to the same crazy panicked look that the phone ringing had on him. And then Eric was on top of him, the two men rolling end over end, in a weird violent embrace. When Eddy dove into the mix, Marvin took a blow to the stomach. He tried to pay no attention to it and struggled to grab ahold of one of the boys, do whatever he could to put himself on top.
The crazed Johnsons threw punches and kicks in random directions and places, pretty much did whatever damage they could. Marvin tried to think ahead, planning to get the three of them near a weapon he could grab.
He lunged for it, just a few feet away in the grass. Just when he’d gotten his grip on it, Roxy came barking and dove to join the mess of humans. Luckily, it startled both Eric and Eddy, and they shifted away from Marvin for just long enough for him to take a jab with the stick. He hit Eric in the jaw, producing a long scratch along his cheek. His eyes turned rageful, angry at the pain Marvin had caused.
He took another stab, this time getting Eddy in his side, just above his waistline. Eddy scurried away, clutching the injury. He seemed close to tears.
Eric, blood dripping from his face, dove for Marvin, a fierce determination in him. He wanted revenge. Out of the corner of his eye, Marvin caught sight of Joan running away. Abandoning him! When he’d been there to save her in the first place!
Marvin threw a punch, hitting just beside Eric’s already hurt face. Eric straddled Marvin and grabbed him by the shoulders and forced him on his back, thrashing him to the ground over and over. Marvin could feel his head growing dizzy, his brain ricocheting inside his skull with each impact. Just as he neared unconsciousness, he heard a loud THWACK! and watched Eric fall off to the side to the ground, completely limp.
When he glanced up out of his one good eye, Marvin saw Joan standing over him, bloody brick in her hand from bashing Eric over the head. She threw it at the same spot on his head, and he made no noise, no movement. He was dead.
Shaking his head, Marvin stood and brushed himself off. He needed to find his phone.
“Oh my god,” Joan said with a deep breath. “I just saved your life.”
Marvin glared at her. “I wouldn’t go that far. I was just fine.” He hobbled over to the phone in the grass from where he dropped it earlier.
“OH MY GOD MARVIN SAY SOMETHING!” he heard barking from the phone when he’d picked it up.
“Wendy? What the hell?” Marvin wiped his brow, sweat and blood now covering his hand. “How long have you been on the line?”
“Seven of the scariest damn minutes of my life. What the hell is happening over there?”
“Um, it’s going to sound insane. How about I just tell you things got… out of hand over here and one of the Johnson boys is dead.” After a glance around the yard, he added, “And the other one will be soon.” He expected Wendy to retort about how Mayor Marsden—who was her uncle—wouldn’t like that. But she didn’t. She told him she was glad he was alive.
“I hate to break it to you, but I have another problem for you to take care of. Betty Hoggins needs your help. Get over there ASAP.”
Marvin sighed. Whatever this new thing was surely couldn’t be as bad as what he’d just gone through. He imagined a hot shower and nice meal waiting for him at home. All he had to do was stop by Betty’s house. Surely it wasn’t anything too bad.
He waved goodbye to Joan, washed his face with a cloth from his glove box, and drove down the main road to the Hoggins residence. His heart was still racing a little but, the unsettled feeling, for the most part, was gone. He made a mental note to tell Sheriff Elderton just how much praise he deserved for taking care of the two Tiptonites she hated most.
Please subscribe to our newsletter to learn about new publications of stories and more.
About the Blog
Stories, excerpts, writing tips, guest bloggers, writing prompts, and more. A place to share and grow as a writer. Feel free to subscribe, submit something for the blog, or dive into the comments.