You Have to Draw the Line

Submitted into Contest #114 in response to: Write a story that involves sabotage.... view prompt


American Drama Crime


The Pitcher

At twenty-eight, Maggie had three kids under three and a head full of distracted thoughts.  She couldn't get over how much she had to do now that she had a new set of twins and a toddler.  Her mother lived far away.  Well, Maggie thought, she'd gotten a lot done today.  She took the twins for their six month check-up; just shy of 15 pounds, they were a bit small but healthy.  Teddy needed new shoes and he chose brown ones.  She even got a haircut, shorter and fashionably messy, because she couldn't stand looking at herself.  Then Maggie picked up the dry cleaning–Glenn’s dress shirt and his new suit, went to Stop & Shop–a few items for beef stew with red wine.

            When she arrived home, her kids were asleep in the back seat.  She parked in the driveway, leaving enough room for Glenn to get his new car into the garage.  He'd bought himself a fancy BMW X-5 and, God forbid, it got a scratch.  Glenn would rant and yell, "What the hell happened to my car?"  She sat for a minute looking at her house with the salmon colored front door.  The pansies’ purple faces bloomed against the dark mulch.  The bees were working their way into the blossoms and the birds chirped.

It was starting to get dark and the night was greying the sky.  Living in Massachusetts provided her with climate adventure.  Weather changes, cold winters, clocks adjusted, boots, mittens, and glorious golden, rust Octobers.  Springtime was lovely, fall even better, but winters were tough with snow removal and heavy coats.  Maggie was tired and craved a cocktail and a cigarette, although she felt guilty about smoking.  

She got out of the car and opened the trunk, trying not to wake the children.  The neighborhood was safe–a cul-de-sac on a pretty street.  Not much traffic, little kids on bikes, maybe a FedEx truck now and then.  Glenn had insisted they buy one of the first homes in this new development, Pheasant Run.  He had wanted to get in before prices went up.  All the homes were Cape Cod style with a centered front entry, some with a symmetrical appearance, others with a room between the main house and the garage.  The additional room was wonderful for a family and had many uses.  The room in Maggie’s home was an enclosed breezeway where she liked to drop her bundles and put the kids’ jackets on hooks.  She had a chaise and a chair in the space, the beginnings of a comfortable room.  

As she collected her bags and boxes, she looked up and thought she saw her living room curtain move.  Was someone in her house?  Glenn wasn’t home… she wished he were.  Why would someone be in her house?  Her babies were sleeping and safe.  Probably her imagination. 

Rather than go through the breezeway door, she walked up the front pathway.  There was no movement around her.  The flagstone was bumpy and wound its way to the brick steps with the wrought iron railings.  She felt perspiration on her forehead.  Should she call the police?  She looked back at the car with the sleeping babies.  It was probably all in her head.  She was a bit of a drama queen, Glenn said.  She exaggerated things.  Well, she did like to embroider a story…  what was a good story without a few added colorful details?  No, she’s observant.  Careful.  

She stopped at the front door.  Her arms were full of bundles.  This was not well thought out, she decided.  She returned to the trunk of the car and deposited everything inside.  Call the cops.  No, she’ll go inside and look around.  She needed a weapon.  Maybe a big rock?   She felt the sweat in her armpits.  She shoved a branch out of the way, then picked up a large rock from her garden and wiped off the dirt.  Just in case.  Her shoes were wrong, but she wouldn't have to run.  

Instead, she walked up the three steps a second time and opened the front door with her key.  Quietly, she entered the foyer and stood there and listened.  Looking left towards the living room, she spotted the curtain that had moved.  No one was in the room unless they were hiding in the back corner.  She looked towards the dining room on the right, and immediately noticed that her silver Paul Revere bowl and matching candlesticks were missing from her dining room table.  They were wedding gifts.  Maggie tried to swallow, but couldn’t.  She lifted the rock above her head in a throwing position and walked into the kitchen.  Standing by the back door, a young man stood staring at her with a startled look on his face.  He was wearing a black stocking hat, black sweater, and hiking boots.  A big guy, maybe two hundred pounds, with a ponytail.  He held a green duffle bag no doubt filled with her silver candlesticks and bowl.  Her red Kitchen Aid Mixer, which had cost five hundred dollars, was sitting on the kitchen table.  Glenn had given it to her for Christmas and the thief had been on the verge of taking it. 

She lifted her arm, using her skills as a varsity softball pitcher, and threw the rock with all her might.  It hit him in the face.  He looked stunned, bending back from the pain, and touched his eye.  The skin above his eye started to bleed.  He turned to the door, opened it, and fled.  The rock was on the kitchen floor with his blood on it.  She stared at it as if it was a dead animal.  Lifting her iPhone with a shaky hand, Maggie called 911 and yelled, “Hurry! Please come quickly! There’s a guy in my house! 122 Stargaze Road… hurry!”  

Maggie heard the dispatcher say.” We’re on the way. Stay out of the house until the police arrive.”  Then she called Glenn.

Within a few minutes, a police car drove up to the house followed by an unmarked car with two detectives.  Detective Brown was tall, stocky, middle aged and wore a trench coat, unbelted.  The second, Detective Cotton, a woman in her early thirties, had a short no-fuss Dutch haircut.  Built like a runner, she wore a black pantsuit and no makeup.  Meanwhile, the uniformed cops walked around the house and discovered a broken window in the back by the basement. 

Maggie explained to the two detectives what had happened.

“Why didn’t you call sooner?”  Detective Cotton asked. 

“I almost did, but then I thought maybe I was imagining it."

Cotton asked, “Have you had a chance to check if anything else was taken?”

“I don’t know, but I caught him in the act.”  Maggie rolled her eyes, kept her back straight, and said no more.  Despite Maggie's distress, she wondered what ever made Cotton become a cop.  Maybe her father or brothers were cops and it was a family thing.

 "Please have a look, make a list, and describe what else may be missing, like jewelry.  He probably needed stuff to hock for drugs,” Brown said.

Glenn arrived and comforted Maggie.  He was a realtor, the most successful one last year in the suburb, and he had been in the middle of closing a deal on a small cape.  He bent over and gave her a kiss.  “Are you okay?”  

He was a mid-sized guy with black eyebrows and dark wavy hair.  People thought he was handsome.  He looked in the mirror and admired himself every morning.  Glenn was the bad boy that Maggie had always wondered about.  He challenged rules and then smoothly talked his way past it.  She’d fallen for him quickly and never forgot how she'd felt when he had come to her parents’ home the first time.   He'd walked up the flagstone pathway as she peered through the screen door, filled with an intense attraction to him–his swagger, his pack of cigarettes in the front pocket of his shirt, his smile, and the way he wanted her. 

“Pretty shook up,” Maggie answered.  The kids were still sleeping in the car and she went outside to get them.  Glenn went with her to help. 

Little Teddy was grumpy when he woke up until he spotted his father and then he lifted his arms up and said, “Daddy, Daddy.”  The twins were pink cheeked and identical except for a birthmark near Sally’s left eye.  They took off the kids’ jackets, changed diapers, and put them in the playroom with snacks.  Meanwhile, as Cotton took notes, Detective Brown put the bloody rock in a plastic bag with gloved hands so as not to contaminate the prints or DNA.  

“You could have been hurt,” Detective Cotton said to Maggie.

“I know, but it worked out.  I got him good,” Maggie said with a small smile.  She was proud of her throwing arm.  A lefty with a lot of zip, her coach had said.  

She remembered how she'd learned to throw and eventually pitch–she and her dad throwing the ball back and forth in their driveway when she was ten.  By twelve she was pitching so forcefully that her father needed to stop due to a sore hand.  He bought himself a catcher’s mitt and Maggie, a pitching glove.  Together, they had oiled, wrapped, and heated their gloves until they were perfect.  

One day when she and her dad were playing catch, Maggie said, “Dad, I’m too tired to play today.”  

“What’s wrong honey?” he’d asked.  

Her friend Sandy’s dad had remarried a woman ten years younger than Sandy’s mom and had a new baby, and then another, and Sandy’s father was tied up with his new family.  “I never see my dad anymore,” Sandy would often cry to Maggie.  “He spends all his money and time with his new wife and kids!”

            “Daddy, would you do that… can this happen to me?” Maggie asked.

            Daddy looked at Maggie and rubbed his face.  “No, it won’t honey, I promise… I’m not like Sandy’s dad but some men do that, maybe more often than I’d like to admit.”  Maggie thought, I would never let this happen to me.

“We’ll find him,” Brown said.  “There were footprints outside.  I figure he climbed through the basement window… we’ll be able to get finger prints.”  Glen asked them a few questions and they explained the procedures of the investigation.  They gave him their cards and left, walking side by side. 


Maggie had always been a bit of a risk taker.  Her shrink had asked if she thought she had good instincts.  Maggie had always thought so, but after thinking about her shrink’s question, she wasn’t so sure.  Once, following those instincts, she had gotten into a strange man’s car and went to a motel with him and had sex.  It was after she’d graduated from college and had a bad breakup with a guy she'd really cared about.  Her friend had slept with him and Maggie had been so bummed out that she went to a bar, flirted with some fellow, and left with him an hour later.  Somehow, she'd known she would be safe.  Another time, Maggie had been out late the night before a final exam.  She realized she had little chance to get to class on time if she paid attention to the speed limits and traffic lights… so she didn’t.  Traffic cameras at three intersections, had caught her running red lights, resulting in $1000 in fines and near suspension of her license. 

After a day and a half, the detectives arrested the burglar.  Maggie went to the police station and identified him in a lineup.  His name was Buck Bender, a local with a drug record.  He weighed two hundred and twenty pounds and stood six foot two inches tall­–a big guy, who worked out when he wasn't stoned or high.  He'd been using heroin for a few years, his habit increasing over time.  He had a cut over his eye, which required six stitches, and they had a blood sample from the rock.  Bender was cooked.  Maggie went to the police station and identified him in a lineup. 

 After Buck pleaded guilty, Maggie got her silver back.  Glenn closed the sale on the little cape and life returned to normal, except she had trouble sleeping and often woke in the middle of the night if she heard strange noises.  She and Glenn got a security alarm system installed that was hooked up to the police station. 

Glenn wanted to get a handgun, but Maggie said, "Glenn, I do not want guns in this house.  Period.  Amen." Besides, she thought, with their stormy relationship, it wasn't safe.  She'd probably pop him after one of their fights. 

October 02, 2021 11:29

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S. Thomson
18:04 Oct 09, 2021

Great story! I think your location descriptions are really strong. If I had one improvement, I would take a look at your structuring; there are a lot of tangents for such a short story, and occasionally a moment that feels emotional is interrupted by something off topic like physical description of a character. My favourite line was "a lefty with a lot of zip, her coach had said" I think that is really funny and well placed in the narration. Well done.


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Lins E
14:31 Oct 09, 2021

Nice work, Patricia. There are a lot of details in that last section that I think could be fleshed out a bit more. This reads like an excerpt, like there’s a lot more to the story.


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