ACD Copywriter

Short Stories

When Hammers Swing

If you happened to need a detailed map of the Lunder’s backyard and the woods surrounding it, all you would have to do is ask their youngest son, Jeremy. He was meticulous, exploring every iota of land within a quarter-mile radius behind their home. Jeremy was a gypsy when it came to his outside adventures, never playing in one location for more than a few days.

Jeremy’s current obsession was an abandoned set of railroad tracks situated behind his house. To an adult, it looked like an eyesore, because it was where people living in the country came to illegally dump unwanted household appliances. But to Jeremy it was a world of possibilities: shoes that would let him jump like a grasshopper, a flying bicycle, a refrigerator that would teleport him to other planets. The things he imagined himself inventing!

During his first trip, he surveyed the area, bouncing from the rusted-out stove to a refrigerator that sat askew, just like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. A few feet over laid a microwave and a window AC unit. There were more treasures littered all over the place, of course. These were merely the highlights of the inventory. 

Jeremy didn’t know if it was intentional or not, but these appliances were arranged as though they sat in some sort of invisible kitchen. Was it possible there were people who lived in this area and at night they came out and plugged the appliances into the trees to cook delicious feasts for themselves and their opossum neighbors? The thoughts that crossed Jeremy’s mind! 

Today was Jeremy’s third trip to the abandoned railroad tracks. This time he remembered to bring a hammer. He intended to use it to pry apart old railroad ties so he could capture a lizard hiding inside. His success was limited. Even though he was able to wedge the claw of the hammer into one of the many grooves, his little arms weren’t strong enough to pry the old wood apart. He stuck to the low-hanging fruit and split apart the little slivers at the top, but it was useless; that wasn’t where the lizards hung out. And if he did manage to get lucky and spot one, there was no point in chasing after it. The suckers were fast, darting off and juking wildly to the left or right just when Jeremy thought he had one cornered. 

Frustrated and growing bored of lizard hunting, Jeremy decided to dissect some of the kitchen appliances. He’d long forgotten his story about the people who lived in the woods and how they might need a working stove or refrigerator later that evening. A hammer in the hand of a little boy will forever trump the needs of invisible strangers. 

There wasn’t much damage he could inflict on the stove, other than a few dents and dings on its rusty side panels. It was the same frustrating story for the refrigerator. He managed to work over the microwave a little, but it was stubborn. The window on its door wasn’t glass, but some sort of plastic Jeremy classified as indestructible. 

As Jeremy wondered if he should have brought a screwdriver instead of a hammer, he spotted a TV off in the distance. It was the mother lode of discoveries, the kind of score every eight-year-old boy wielding a hammer hopes to find. It had a humongous glass screen, and Jeremy was determined to find out what was on the other side. 

He sized up the TV as though it were a boxing opponent and took a swing at the glass. Despite being a direct hit, the hammer bounced off the screen as if it were made of rubber, almost causing Jeremy to drop it. He took another swing and got the same result. After several more swings, a crack appeared, but it was so thin it could almost have been mistaken for a strand of hair. So far, the TV was turning out to be as much of a disappointment as all the other appliances. In Jeremy’s mind, it should have only taken one blow for the entire thing to shatter the way a window does after Jean-Claude Van Damme roundhouses a bad guy through it. Maybe I should have brought Jean-Claude Van Damme, Jeremy sniggered to himself. 

After five minutes of working the TV over with the hammer, Jeremy decided to take a break. The tube was close to breaking, but he was sweating and out of breath. After a few moments, an imaginary steam whistle sounded and Jeremy slapped his hands on his thighs, picked up his hammer and stood up. “Alright boys! Back to work!” he said to himself.

With two more swings, Jeremy managed to bust open the TV’s screen. It didn’t shatter and fall as one broken sheet like he’d wanted. The hole he made was only the size of a nickel. The success hadn’t been gratuitous, but it was a success, and he would take it. As he chipped away at the hole, it quickly turned into an opening the size of a coffee can. He gathered all the strength he had and swung as hard as he could. He hoped he would be able to shatter at least one half of the remaining glass, but instead, he completely missed and the hammer plunged right into the hole he’d already made. As it did, the top of his thumb caught on a piece of the jagged glass which gouged out a chunk of his flesh. He was amazed at how little such a wound actually hurt. 

At first, the blood slowly worked its way out of the spot the flesh had been only moments prior. It was like a snake sleepily emerging from a hole until it began pouring out and painting his suntanned hand. The sudden appearance of so much blood opened Jeremy’s eyes: the small wound hurt more than anything he had ever experienced before. As he frantically pedaled back home to his mom, somewhere near a TV with a broken screen, laid a hammer forgotten to the rest of the world.

Michael Williams