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Volume 2, Issue 2, May 31, 2007
hot chocolate
The Arkham Kids
by J.J. MacMillan

        Five little girls stared up at me, their jeans, cartoon character t-shirts, and pigtails signs of an evil, midget barbarian horde that could disrupt the 'Skins-Cowboys game starting in 10 minutes. My three blonde daughters - Alexa, eight, and the seven-year-old twins, Haley and Kayleen - stood next to two other girls of about the same age, also twins, with black hair, brown eyes, and skin the color of roasted almonds. I knew exactly what they all were thinking: can we take him?
        Janie, her purse over one arm and her coat over the other, breezed past through the open door. "Thanks, Mike. Have a good time with the girls."
        I clutched my ex's wrist. "There are five, Janie."
        She glanced at the pigtailed gaggle, back at me. "Yes. The girls have a couple of friends over."
        I stepped outside with her. "But-"
        "Mike," she pushed me back inside, "for God's sake, can't you handle a few little girls for half a day? They'll entertain themselves, and you can watch your game."
       My eyes widened as I pressed my hand to my chest. "You think I would come over here to be with my girls and spend the time watching football?"
        My ex rolled her eyes and said through the closing door, "Just make sure they behave."
       The door shut. Her heels clicked across the driveway, her car's engine revved, and she was gone.
       Alexa turned the deadbolt while beaming at me, her front tooth still missing from when the Tooth Fairy had nipped it last week. "I'm glad you're here, Daddy." She took my hand and turned me around.
       "Me too, sweetie." Maybe this won't be so bad, I thought. "Who are your friends, girls?"
        "Harmony and Bridget," the dark twins said in unison. Their thin voices chilled me for some reason and made me want to warm up in front of the TV. "Great, great." Four minutes 'til kick-off according to the old Timex. With $600 riding on this game, I didn't want to miss a minute. "Well, I'm sure you girls want to go play...."

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