(A Step Short is a novel based on true stories. It is about a vigilante who directs her anger on those who commit heinous crimes against animals, but do not pay. It has many gruesome images, all of which did not come from my imagination. They are sadly the actions of others.)
“Fucking closed? No way! What the fuck?!” Trevor was pissed. He and Randy, both 16, had driven the 45 minutes to the rec center, and were now stuck in town with barely enough money for lunch. The sign on the door read “Closed for plumbing repairs. We apologize for any inconvenience.”
“This is bullshit!” Randy spit, looking around at the streets that seemed busier than the ones back home. He didn’t like being in places he was not familiar with. If he was honest with himself, he’d even admit he was a little scared. But right now, he was just mad he wasted money on gas and had nowhere to go. He and Trevor were to start their community service today, and had hoped to start today, working doing janitorial work at a center for underserved kids. They really didn't like kids, and actually enjoyed antagonizing them any chance they got, but really didn't want to walk the ditches, picking up trash along the highway. August in Iowa was humid and hot. But more than that, they couldn't risk being seen by their buddies, or worse yet, the the girls from school, while wearing those bright orange vests, carrying garbage bags, picking up cans, garbage, and the occasional bottle of piss some trucker had tossed out the window. Fortunately, the boys were to work during off hours, when offices in the building were open but no kids were to be present.
"I don’t see any work going on in there. Place is empty.” Trevor’s face was pressed against the front door window. “I don’t see a damned thing.”
Randy walked to the end of the street, and came back. “Hey, let’s go around back.”
“Nothing. Let’s just go to the back.” Randy walked away.
Trevor followed. In the alley immediately behind the community center they saw there were no vehicles of any kind to indicate someone was inside the building. Randy kicked his foot lightly on a basement window, thinking how easy it would be to break in. As though reading his mind, Trevor asked. “You wanna go in?”
Without answering Randy kicked harder, then waited for any kind of noise from inside. He then picked up part of a concrete block and threw it directly through the window.
“Shit! You really mean it.” Trevor was impressed. Through all his years of delinquency he had never done a B & E into anything but houses around town, places that didn’t really have much to offer except maybe a cheap tv, stereo, or the liquor in the cabinets. This was for real.
Randy knocked the remaining glass out of the window with his foot before telling Trevor. “Hey, give me your jacket.”
“You want me to cut my ass? Now give me your jacket!”
Trevor took off the old Braves jacket he so cherished and tossed it to Randy.
“Now, hold onto my feet so I don’t fall to hard.”
Trevor did as he was told, holding Randy around the ankles as Randy slid on his belly through the window. When Randy’s hands touched the floor he yelled for Trevor to let go. Trevor did and watched as Randy’s legs and feet disappeared into the dark. He waited while he listened to Randy move around, then heard nothing.
A few minutes went by when Trevor noticed a puppy nearby, eating something off the ground by a dumpster. It was a scrawny looking, pot-bellied thing, maybe 3 months old, and didn't seem to notice Trevor was even there. Trevor threw a rock at it. The rock missed, but scared the puppy enough to make it dash under the dumpster.
A few minutes later Randy showed up at the window. “Man they have all kinds of shit in there, gym, pool tables, a kitchen with food. Here!” Randy tossed Trevor a Hostess cupcake, which was pretty much a mushed blob after it's trip tucked under Randy's arm.
Trevor couldn't peel the wrapper off the chocolate, so pretty much had to scrape it with his teeth, to avoid getting it all over himself. Once he was done, he was about to toss the wrapper onto the ground, when he saw the puppy out from under the dumpster. “Hey, see that dog over there?”
“I say we have some fun with it.” Trevor smiled as he watched how the puppy searched in a frenzied manner, looking for his snack.
Randy smiled. He knew exactly what he wanted to do.