1st draft. No edits. Just the beginning. This is the story idea I posted on my twitter a few days ago.
“Your turn,” Thomas said after the football disappeared over the fence.
Alan stared in the direction the ball had flown, hoping it would somehow tumble back over into their yard. “But you threw it,” he said. It would do no good. Thomas was four years older, and he gave the orders. Plus, it really was Alan’s turn.
“Is he home?” Alan asked.
“I saw his car out front.”
“Do you think he heard it?”
Thomas shrugged. “I think it missed the window. Just go get it.”
Alan took one more glance at the fence, taking note of the area the ball had sailed over in relation to one of the windows of their neighbor’s house. In case it had landed in the bushes, marking the spot would make it easier to find. If he found it at all. Footballs, Nerf baseballs, and other various projectiles that happened to accidentally fly over the fence and into Ron’s yard had a way of disappearing.
Alan stomped out of the gate that led into their front yard. Ron was indeed home. His maroon sedan was parked in the driveway.
The worst part was the few seconds after turning the corner of the fence. That was when The Jenning’s yard became the Cannidy’s yard. Ron Cannidy’s yard. With luck, this would be one of the times his front door was closed. Sometimes, when Ron was in his living room, he’d leave the front door open behind the screen door. Alan thought it was pretty odd. There wasn’t much of a view from his front door, and it sure seemed like a waste of air conditioning during the Florida summer. It was awful when you turned the corner and were face-to-face with Ron. It forced interaction. Alan would always try to act like he was meaning to come ask the guy if he could search through his backyard all along, like he’d never go back there without first asking permission.
Nothing was externally threatening about the man. He had a slight frame, a smoker’s cough, and wore oversized prescription glasses that had a hideous brown shading in the upper half of the lenses. He was verbally cordial, but the way he looked at Alan made the boy uncomfortable. Ron never let Alan or Thomas go back there and search for their items without accompanying them and watching their every move. He’d have probably shit a biscuit if he knew they almost always waited until he wasn’t home to go get their toys, even though by then, they were often nowhere to be found.
When Alan took his first steps into that narrow section of yard where the football would be, he froze. There was Ron, walking in the opposite direction, toward his back yard. In his left hand was his ever present tobacco pipe. In his right was the football.
Alan was instantly angry. So this was what happened to all their balls that landed over there. The old man had been taking them. Alan walked back over to his own yard. Thomas saw him empty handed and wearing a scowl.
“What? Did you give up?” Thomas said.
“I saw Ron walking away with it,” Alan told him, in a hushed tone. The old man could still be right on the other side of the fence.
“So? Why didn’t you ask for it back?”
“He’s taking it somewhere. Maybe that’s where all our stuff is.”
The idea that they might be able to retrieve all of their items, that Ron may have a pile of them somewhere back in his yard, inspired a plan. They decided they’d wait until Ron left, then go explore his backyard. They’d go back into the far reaches, into parts unknown. They’d reclaim what was theirs.
UPDATE: Part II is here