And then the cops showed up.

Debbie and John pulled into their driveway early Sunday morning, still ignorant to the fact that most of their back lawn lay in ruin. It’s transformation had been quick, inspired, and hot. They had been away Saturday through the night at a couples meditation retreat allowing their children Carl, and to a lesser extent Robbie, enough time to orchestrate and execute exactly what they’d been forbidden to do: throw a bitchin’ party.

 

“Honey, can you help with some of the bags?” Debbie said stepping out of the car, hands full of certified organic produce packed neatly in reusable canvas.

 

John interrupted his humming rendition of Detroit Rock City, “Sure, hon.” The two made it in one trip after John draped the rest of the bags on his arms. Veins bulged in his neck under the strain.

 

“John, just come back for the rest.” Debbie said.

 

“No,” he grunted. She rolled her eyes and unlocked the front door. The two stepped inside and hurried to the kitchen where they found Robbie and Carl quietly eating cornflakes.

 

“G’morning boys,” John said.

 

The both mumbled greetings into their bowls.  

 

Debbie followed John inspecting the walls and floor for any signs of wear. Not a spot anywhere. It was clean– too clean for the likes of the two animals she’d birthed. She squinted at them in suspicion and until they looked up from their cereal.

 

“Hey ma,” They both said in succession.

 

“Good morning.” She said, swinging her bags onto the table. “How was your night in boys?”

 

Robbie choked on his corn flakes and Carl spoke. “Good.”

 

John had resumed whistling Detroit Rock City– the chorus anyway, while arranging the spotless stainless steal fridge.

 

“So,” Debbie continued, “you two just felt like cleaning the entire house by yourselves? My,” she put her hand to her lower neck, “how thoughtful of you.” She placed both palms on the kitchen table and looked at Robbie then Carl. “So how many people did you have over last night when I specifically told you no party?”

 

Robbie’s eyes confirmed her suspicion. “Uhh,” Robbie began. Carl cleared his throat.

 

Debbie cut him off. “You’re both going to say on the count of three.” Her children winced. “Ready?” Debbie held up a hand with her thumb out. “One, two, thr–”

 

Carl: “10”

 

Robbie: “50”

 

Carl kicked Robbie under the table causing him to yelp. Debbie saw and twisted Carl’s ear causing him to yelp. John was nearly done putting the groceries away and was now air guitaring and whistling the solo of Detroit Rock City.

 

“Say sorry to your brother.” Debbie said, still twisting Carl’s ear.

 

Carl, redfaced and on the verge of tears apologized. After he was let go, he looked at his brother, one ear the color of eggplant. “Why’d you tell her?”

 

Robbie looked like a retriever who’d been caught muzzle-deep in the garbage can. “She’s gonna find out eventually.”

 

John closed the fridge and took a bow. The fridge internally churned ice cubes in response.  Debbie smiled, took out a glass from the cabinet, and filled her cup at the sink. When she looked up out the window at the blackened wasteland that was her yard she shrieked, prompting Carl and Robbie to try their luck at escaping. Debbie’s mom-reflexes kicked in and she grabbed Carl by the back of his neck and shouted Robbie down.

 

“What the fuck, Carl. Robbie, sit back down.” She felt like slapping Carl to get an answer out of him. And then she looked at Robbie, who was now shaking. “What happened last night?”

 

John looked out the window to see what all the fuss was about. “Jesus.” He said and pulled up a chair at the table. He wanted to laugh, but tried to put on his best solemn face for his wife’s sake.

 

In his mother’s iron grip,  Carl silently wished that Robbie would suddenly turn deaf, dumb, and mute.

 

“Uh, well.” Robbie said, beginning to cry. “Carl said we should throw a party last night and then we did and then Alex, Sean, and Carl said they should play a show in the back and then people showed up and Carl told me to get his roman candles and that I would be his roadie.”

 

Debbie’s grip tightened on Carl’s neck shriveling him into what John thought a person trying to imitate a mole rat would look like.

 

“So then Carl told me to light off the candles and point them up and I accidentally hit the tree and it caught on fire and I tried to put it out with the water but it only made it worse and then the cops showed up.” Robbie, beat red and out of breath, finally inhaled.

 

Debbie looked at Robbie and told him to go upstairs. He ran. She looked down at Carl and pushed his head away. “I’m so mad I don’t even want to look at you right now.” Debbie said.

 

Carl made no effort to move. John bit his lip trying not to smile.

 

“You’re grounded for the rest of the school year.” Debbie said.

 

Carl whipped his head around. “The rest of–”

 

“AH! A year,” Debbie shouted back. “That’s just the start. You could’ve burned the house down. Or worse.”

 

“But ma–,”

 

“AH! Why are you still talking?” Debbie stopped and squeezed the bridge of her nose. “I–I can’t even.” Debbie said, walking out of the kitchen.

 

John sat there staring at his oldest, listening for his wife’s footsteps. Up the stairs and into the bedroom. Bang. Ooh, and a door slam, he thought.

 

John finally laughed. Carl looked up confused. “What?” Carl asked.

 

“Sounds like a pretty kick ass show, C. You really play for 50 people?”

 

“Yeah,” Carl said, still pouting. “Maybe more.”

 

“And you had pyrotechnics?” John said. Carl nodded. “Albeit they weren’t the best executed, but that’s pretty fucking cool.” He patted his son on the back. “Say,” John said, standing. “You didn’t let the cops into the house did you?”

 

Carl shrugged. “They came in on the first floor to kick people out. I locked the basement.”

 

John smiled, relieved. “Good boy.” He started for the basement and stopped. “Carl just keep out of trouble this week and do what you’re told. I’ll work on your mother on your grounding. Okay?”

 

Carl smiled and took another spoonful of cornflakes.

 

Prompt: And then the cops showed up.

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