Today’s prompt at The Haunted Wordsmith is the image below.

“But why can’t I take Walter to school with me?” Charles whined.

“School is no place for a falcon, Charles.” His mother put down her embroidery.” We’ve talked about this!”

You talked about it,” Charles retorted. “I didn’t.”

“That’s enough of your sass, young man,” Step-Father’s voice boomed as he sauntered down the spiral staircase. “Now put your bird away and get on to school.”

“Walter hates his cage!” Charles stamped his foot and regretted it a nanosecond later.

“Young man…” Charles bladder grew weak every time his step-father used that tone.

“Yes, sir?”

“You will put the bird away now, and go to school,” Step-father said evenly. “Any more of your sass, and the bird will be gone when you get home. It is up to you.”

“Yes, sir.”

Charles ran upstairs with Walter and quickly put him in his large cage. “I’m sorry, Walter. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

As soon as Charles left, Walter began devising a way to escape. It didn’t take him long to shred the weak bars of his cage with his sharp beak. Charles always set the cage near a window, so Walter could see outside and get some fresh air. But since the screen was blocking his way, he simply watched for Charles to come walking up the path. He could’ve easily knocked the screen out, but he figured Charles was in enough trouble. And besides, where would he go? Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

Smart raptor.

As Charles sat in his French class, he gazed out the window and watched the different types of birds fly by. This of course reminded him of poor Walter, languishing in his cage, all alone. Charles let out a big sigh.

“Monsieur Charles?” Miss Framingham addressed him. “Are we boring you?”

“Huh? Oh, no Ma’am!”

“Good,” Miss Framingham sneered. “Perhaps then, you’d like to conjugate the verb voler (to fly) for the class.”

“No thank you, Ma’am,” Charles responded. “I wouldn’t much care for that.”

The entire class roared at Charles’ insolence and well, guts! Miss Framingham had a difficult time regaining control of the class, but eventually she was able to calm them down with a few smacks of a yardstick against her desk.

“Monsieur Charles!”


“You find yourself most amusing, don’t you?”

“Yes, Ma’am.” Charles added, “As do most people.”

Another round of laughter ensued.

“Charles Weatherford, I’ve had enough!” Miss Framingham screeched.

The class was immediately silenced. Charles knew then that he’d gone too far.

‘Get out of here!” Miss Framingham spat through a clenched jaw. “You are no longer a member of this class.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“And rest assured your parents will have been contacted by the time you get home.”

Charles gathered his books and left the school. He took the long way home, dilly-dallying for as long as he could.

Suddenly, he recalled Step-father’s threat against Walter earlier this morning. If he’d heard what happened at school, Walter could be…Charles couldn’t bear to think of what rotten Step-father might do. He broke into a dead run.

As he neared his home, he saw Step-father waiting on the porch. He looked none too pleased, but then again, he rarely was.

Charles ran up the front porch steps. “Where’s Walter? Is he okay? You haven’t do—”

“Not yet I haven’t,” he interrupted. “What happened at school?”

Still out of breath, Charles panted, “Teacher’s got no… sense of humor.”

“Yes, well.” Step-father began taking off his belt. “Neither do I. Pull down your pants.”

“Where’s Mom?”

“I sent her shopping,” Step-father grinned. “I wanted some time alone with you.”

“Gross!” Charles grimaced.

“Now pull down your pants.”

“I most certainly will not.”

He grabbed Charles by the front of his shirt and yanked him up, so they were face-to-face. “You nasty little brat, I’ve had it with you and that damned bird.”

“I’m not terribly fond of you either. In fact, you’re the worst step-father I ever had, Dad.” And then Charles grinned and kneed the man squarely in the groin.

“Oooofff!” Step-father doubled over and Charles fell to the ground.

Walter had been watching the scene unfold from the bedroom window and decided he’d seen enough. Screeching, he knocked out the screen and swooped down just as Step-father caught his breath and righted himself. Walter’s deadly talons (accidentally?) caught Step-father by the jugular.

The vultures and crows had quite a feast that night.

And best of all, Step-father had made himself useful.


SusanWritesPrecise/Susan Marie Shuman
Portrait of a Boy with Falcon – Wallerant Vaillant (The Met – Public Domain)


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