Old Granny Maple was just like your typical granny. Retired from teaching, she would still watch the children from her porch, as she rocked in her old rickety rocking chair, happily smiling to herself as she remembered her younger days. Like clockwork every holiday she would have treats for all the children of the neighborhood. For every new face that entered her world, she would greet them with a smile and a gift basket featuring her famous fruit mince pies. They were the best Fruit Mince pies you could get, baked the old-fashioned way, from scratch with love and care. Old Granny Maple truly is a gem.
One day a little boy moved in with his family; a little boy named Johnny McGee and he was a terror of a child. Granny Maple would watch him day after day, throwing his tantrums and making the other children cry with his taunts and outrageous outbreaks of seemingly unprovoked rage. He even put little Sally in the hospital one day.
This little boy was not a good boy at all, but still she would smile at him, greeting him with a friendly;
True to the little horror he was, he would flip her off, abruptly and poke out his tongue. Granny Maple still smiled at him, waving, pretending his behaviour didn’t bother her one little bit.
Granny Maple was a tolerant soul, that was until one day, as she was walking through her gate, little Johnny took his terror to far, knocking Granny Maple over and taking her handbag. In her younger days, Granny Maple would have chased him down, but she was a bit slower these days. As she rose to her feet slowly, she watched as Johnny McGee ran into his house, slamming the door hard.
“Right.” Granny Maple grumbled in a huff as she made her way across the street.
She frowned at the yard, which was now a poor shadow to its glory days with weeds running riot and plants left untrimmed, playing host to a scattered pile of rubbish. As she went to knock on the door it opened, and his mother stared at her, with an attitude, her hair in curlers as she smoked a cigarette.
“Can I help you? His mother asked, puffing a cloud of smoke her way making Granny Maple cough.
“Sorry to bother you dear.” Granny Maple said in a kind motherly way. “But your son Johnny pushed me down and took my bag. I would like it back please dear.”
His mother looked her up and down disapprovingly, puffing another cloud of smoke her way before turning.
“Hey Johnny.” She called angrily back into the house.
“Yeah what?” He called opening his bedroom door.
“You been harassing the neighbors again?” She yelled at him, like it was an inconvenience to her day.
“Nah.” Johnny says freezing as he sees Granny Maple standing here, looking down at him sternly with her hand on her hip.
“Don’t lie to me Johnny and give her back her stuff.” She yells, turning and blowing another puff of smoke in Granny Maples face.
“Please if you don’t mind.” Granny Maple says as she coughs.
“Here.” Johnny says handing her, her bag rather abruptly.
“Thank you, but do you have something else to say young man?” Granny Maple asked unsatisfied by the reception and wanting an apology.
“No.” Johnny said full of his usual disrespect.
“Look lady, you got your things back so get lost.” His mother says angrily, as she slams the door in Granny Maples face.
“Well, that wasn’t nice. Wasn’t nice at all.” Granny Maple said rather angry. “I can see where that little terror gets his terror from and it just won’t do.” She added, knowing she’d have to do something about this injustice, plaguing the neighborhood.
She walked across the street, where a little girl named Sue is playing.
“Hello Granny Maple.” Sue said happy to see her.
“Hello, Sue dear.” She smiles, cringing a little as she bends down still sore from her run in with Johnny McGee.
“Are you okay?” Sue asked grabbing her hand.
“Fine dear.” Granny Maple replied not wanting to worry her. Sue was the neighborhood sweetheart.
“I saw what Johnny did. He’s not a good boy.” Sue said frowning as she looked over to Johnny’s house.
“No, he’s not dear.” She smiled wondering what to do about the neighborhood terror named Johnny.
“Granny Maple.” Sue said looking at her with hope in her eyes; “Are you going to make your famous Fruit Mince pies this year? They truly are the best.”
Granny Maple smiled at her warmly.
“Yes, Sue and for you I will make a few extra. You have been extra good this year.”
“Thank you, Granny Maple.” Sue smiled warmly.
“Sue.” Came a loving voice from just down the street.
“Yes mother.” She called back politely.
“It’s time to go get daddy from the airport.” She called.
Granny Maple helped Sue pick up her dolls, still as pretty as the day she had brought them.
“I’ll see you soon Sue and I’ll bring you some pies.” Granny Maple said kindly as she ran to her mother.
“Bye Granny Maple.” She called waving with a huge smile on her face.
Granny Maple, walked through her gate, up onto her porch and walked inside and was lovingly greeted by her old cat Salem.
“Oh Salem,” She said giving him a pat. “We have some baking to do but first I think we will get you some food.” She smiled picking him up.
Granny Maple, patted Salem as she walked to her fridge. She opened the door, pointing to each can of cat food, stopping when Salem meowed, selecting his can. Granny Maple put Salem down and emptied the can into his bowl. Although Salem was an old cat, he still had the appetite of a young, active kitten, which explained his added pound or two. Still who minded?
“Now I better wash up.” She said softly as she patted him again. “One cannot make pies with dirty hands.”
By the time it was dark, Granny Maples kitchen was filled with the homely scent of Fruit Mince pies. It always was a pleasure and reminded her of her mother, each Christmas, baking pies as she told her stories and the sound of carollers echoed in softly from outside.
She packed half into a basket for her favourite child Sue, who was always a little bit of sunshine in her day. She sprinkled the remainder with her special secret sugar mix and packed them into another basket. She was making two deliveries tonight.
Tucking the pies in, to keep them warm, she took one last look at Salem, asleep in his bed.
“Such a dear.” She whispered, adjusting her coat before picking up the two baskets of pies.
Granny Maple walked outside and carried them across the road to Sue’s house. She knocked on the door, and Sally, Sue’s mother answered with a warm smile on her face.
“These are for you all dear. A welcome back present for your husband Harry.”
“Oh, Granny Maple, it is so sweet of you. Thank you. Would you like to come in?” Sally said warmly stepping aside.
“Not this time dear. I’m sorry. I still have one more delivery to make but thank you.” She said smiling as she clutched the other basket tightly.
“Well thank you again, Granny Maple.” She replied as Granny Maple adjusted her coat, stepping back.
“You are welcomed dear. Please say hello to little Sue for me. Bye dear.”
“I will. Bye Granny Maple.”
Granny Maple listed to the sound of their door close and she went on her way, heading towards Johnny McGee’s place. Hearing her speakers blaring as usual, she banged loudly on the door. There was no answer, so she knocked again even louder making her hand ache.
“What?” She yells opening the door, with a cigarette hanging out her mouth. “Oh, it’s you again. Johnny do something?”
“No dear. I…” Granny Maple started before she was cut off.
“Well what do you want?” She snapped.
“To give you these dear. Something of a peace offering.” Granny Maple smiled warmly handing her the basket.
“Well what are they?” She said, rather softly now, put off guard by Granny Maples kindness.
“Fruit Mince pies dear.” Granny Maple smiled as she bit into one. “My mother’s recipe.”
“These are nice. Thank you.” She said as Johnny stood behind her reaching over and grabbing one.
“Glad you like them dear and you two Johnny.” Granny Maple smiled warmly.
“Yeah well, thanks, and sorry about the attitude before. People complaining about Johnny gets old and boys will be boys, you know.”
“I know.” Granny Maple smiled, thinking to herself, it was such a poor excuse. “Well, goodnight dear. I must get back to Salem. I hope you both enjoy them.”
“Thanks, we will. Night.” She said stepping back and closing the door.
Granny Maple walked back across the street, grinning to herself, knowing it wouldn’t be long now. She went inside, Salem at her feet as she went upstairs.
“Oh Salem.” She said tucking herself in. “It won’t be long now, and our little problem will be solved.”
Salem curled up beside her and she closed her eyes, drifting to the sound of her old grandfather’s clock tick. Such a peaceful sound.
By Christmas time, his mother was still dishing out attitude to the other parents in the neighborhood, but she smiled when saw Granny Maple sitting on her porch and always gave a friendly wave. Granny Maple would always wave back in kind.
Johnny however had gotten worse. He was wild, angry, especially now his mother had moved her latest boyfriend in. Such a troubled and angry child in need of a cage. He keyed old Johns car just because he growled when he broke his mail box with a batt. He threw stones at cars, and at pet’s as they walked passed. The residence did the best they could to avoid the raft of Johnny McGee, but Granny Maple was determined to combat his reign of terror.
It was a week before Christmas. The neighborhood was filled with the regular cheer, and decorations could be seen in all directions, except for Johnny McGee’s house which remained an eyesore of gloom. Such a shame.
Granny Maple was running low on ingredients to make her famous pies, so with her hand bag in hand, she went to the store, only to have Johnny run into her as he ran away from the store clerk.
“What is going on here Johnny?” She asked, rather frustrated as she held on tight to him.
“You keep that kid away from here!” Came an angry voice, as he shook his fist.
“Damien Martins.” Granny Maple said in her firm school matron voice.
“Miss Maple.” He said stopping in his trap. “I’m sorry. I did not know it was you.”
“Quite alright Young Martins. What is going on here?” She said as if she was still in the school yard.
“He,” He said angrily pointing at Johnny. “has been throwing snowballs at our customers all morning.”
“Well that will not do.” Granny Maple said, looking down at Johnny. “What do you have to say for yourself young man?” She asked still holding him firmly.
“Sorry.” Johnny said, looking back at her.
“Oh, not to me young man.” She said directing his attention to Damien.”
“Sorry.” Johnny said, looking at him somewhat defeated.
“Now you run off home and keep your nose clean.” Granny Maple said, releasing her grip.
Johnny sculled at her angrily and ran away leaving Granny Maple and Damien alone.
“Now young Damien, will you escort your old teacher to your store? Rumour has it you have some fresh Cherries in, and I could use some for my pies, among other things.”
“Sure, Miss Maple.” He said taking her arm. “How is Salem?”
“Good. He loves that new brand you have in.” She said warmly.
“Well we have a sale on that this week.” Damien smiled as he led her to his store.
By the time, Granny Maple had gotten home she was tired. Her old bones ached from the cooling weather outside and all she wanted was a nice warm cocoa. As she walked up to her gate, she saw Johnny sitting there. His eye was swollen, and he looked a mess.
“What happened to you?” Granny Maple asked as she took her key in hand.
“Nothing. Old Kev’s just at it again.” Johnny said catching her can of cat food as it dropped.
“Well you better come in.” Granny Maple said watching as he walked in front of her. “You’ll catch a cold out there.”
“Thanks.” Johnny said as he took a seat on her couch and Salem took off.
“Don’t mind him. He isn’t used to visitors.” Granny Maple said taking her groceries into the kitchen. “Tell you what.” She called warmly. “You help me put these groceries away and there will be a hot cocoa in it for you?”
“Cocoa?” Johnny asked coming into the kitchen.
“Yes, cocoa.” Granny Maple said confused by his question.
“I’ve never had one of those.” Johnny said, looking down at his feet.
“Well that’s a shame.” Granny Maple said, putting her hand on his shoulder. “Give us a hand and I’ll make you one.”
“Sure.” Johnny said, picking up some cans.
By the time, they were finished, Salem had joined them again. He sniffed around Johnny, eventually curling up beside him on the couch.
“Here’s your cocoa.” Granny Maple said bringing out a tray and sitting it on the table. “You must simply try it with marshmallows.” She said passing him a cocoa. “It’s the way my mother used to make it.”
As Johnny took a sip, he smiled, making Granny Maple smile. It was strange to see Johnny in this way. Not at all the terror he had been. He was softer and more loveable this way.
By the time, they had finished, screaming from across the road, had shattered their moment of bonding and they were now standing on the porch watching. Johnny’s mother was screaming abuse at her new boyfriend and throwing his stuff into the snow. His attitude was no better. Such vile was escaping both their lips. Eventually Kev got into his loud muscle car and sped off, still screaming abuse.
“I guess I should go.” Johnny said, thanking Granny Maple for her hospitality.
As he left, he looked back at her.
“You know what, you’re not such a bad old bag.”
As the night went on, Granny Maple began feeling ill. Her stomach was playing havoc and she could not remember a time when she had to visit a bathroom so much. One her way to the kitchen for a glass of water, she noticed the shimmer of a silver package, dislodged from its hiding place by a sleeping Salem. Granny Maple picked up the package and frowned. Laxatives. Johnny had not changed a bit. He had just become more cunning.
“Well,” Granny Maple grumbled. “This will not do, Mister Johnny McGee.”
The next morning Granny Maple woke up early and headed into her kitchen. For the whole day, she ignored the world outside and just focused on her Fruit Mince pies. She was baking a special batch, taking care to remember each step. By 4pm, the most mouth-watering scrumptious pies sat cooling, filling her house with their beautiful scent. She sprinkled her special secret sugar mix on top and waited for it to sink into the warm pastry. Carefully she packed them into a basket and covered them with a tea towel.
“I do hope they enjoy these.” Granny Maple said softly to Salem as he circled her feet.
She picked up the basket, saying goodbye to Salem and headed to Johnny McGee’s house.
“Hello.” She said warmly as his mother answered the door, true to character, with a cigarette hanging from her mouth.
“Hello Granny Maple.” She said looking down at the basket.
“I know you and Johnny have had a little bit of a hard time lately. I am sorry.” Granny Maple empathized as she handed her the basket. “I baked you both some of my Fruit Mince Pies.”
“Thank you, Granny Maple.” She said taking the basket from her hand. “It’s truly good of you. If only all could be so understanding and kind.” She replied in kind as Johnny stood looking down at her, with a somewhat confused look on his face.
“Hello Johnny.” Granny Maple called up to him. “I hope you are well?” She asked putting him off guard.
“Fine. Thank you.” He said, taking a step down.
“I enjoyed your visit dear.” She said, seeing a look of confusion on his mother’s face.
“Visit?” She asked looking at Granny Maple.
“Yes dear. Yesterday. We had such a lovely time and Johnny was such a gentleman, helping me put my groceries away.” Granny Maple said with little pause.
“Oh. That was nice of him. I hope he was no trouble?” She said clambering.
“No trouble dear. Now you two enjoy those.” Granny Maple said making her exit. “I still have a lot to do.”
Granny Maple crossed the street and headed back inside to the warmth of her fire and the comfort of her cat. All she had to do now, was sit back and relax her old bones.
By 8pm the yelling had started. Granny Maple watched from her window as Miss McGee stumbled into the yard intoxicated and Johnny struggled to pull her back inside. She watched as she pushed Johnny away, slapping him hard. It was no wonder he was a rough pill to swallow. She watched as a red muscle car pulled into the driveway and Miss McGee throw her phone shattering the windscreen. The return of her boyfriend was a surprise. She watched as Kev and Johnny grabbed her, pushing her back inside. Miss McGee sure was a nasty, mean and violent drunk. Within moments the street fell silent again, but Granny Maple knew it would not be long.
By 9pm the yelling was in full swing again but this time, Johnny stormed out of the house, eating one of Granny Maples mince pies. Miss McGee stood with her hands on the porch screaming at Johnny. He ignored her, still chewing as he covered his head with his hoodie and put his hands in his pockets.
Enraged by his defiance, Miss McGee reached inside the door and threw Granny Maples basket at Johnny, hitting him in the back of the head. He stumbled forward, landing in a pile of snow. Granny Maple opened her door and called out.
“Now Miss McGee, that is quite enough from you. Anymore and I’ll call the police.”
Johnny looked at her surprised.
“Piss off. Old bag.” Miss McGee called back at her.
“Johnny.” Granny Maple called. “You’d do better over here. At least until your mother cools down.”
Johnny crossed the street and Miss McGee went inside.
“Come in Johnny.” Granny Maple said opening her door to him. “You’ll catch death out here.”
“Thanks.” Johnny said, walking inside.
“I see you liked my Fruit Mince Pies?” Granny Maple asked drawing his attention to the pie crumbs still on his chin.
“Yeah. Thanks.” He said wiping them off on his sleeve.
“Take a seat dear.” Granny Maple said, ushering him into the lounge room.
Johnny sat comfortably, warming himself as he watched the flicker of the fire. Soon Granny Maple returned with a tray of hot cocoa and a plate of fruit mince pies.
“Go on. Help yourself.” Granny Maple insisted warmly as she handed him his cocoa.
“Thank you.” Johnny said as he took one off the plate and took a bite. “These really are delicious.”
Granny Maple watched as he drunk his cocoa and took another pie.
“So, you’re not mad?” Johnny suddenly asked putting Granny Maple on the spot.
“Not at all dear.” She smiled in a motherly way. “The children I used to teach did worse than you my friend.”
Granny Maple laughed kindly, watching as Johnny relaxed again.
“You really are a bit of okay.” He said, taking another bite.
His demeanour led her to believe that Johnny was used to people reacting to his antics. Granny Maple figured it was his way of getting attention. His mother certainly wasn’t the attentive type. Shame, because under it all he seemed to be the perfect mix of sweetness and the kind of sweet Granny Maple liked.
She watched as he yawned.
“Sorry.” He said, rubbing his eyes. “I’m just feeling a little tired.”
“Well it is late dear.” Granny Maple said, stacking up the tray. “I’ll bring you a pillow and blanket. You can sleep here.” She continued as she carried the tray into the kitchen.
She walked up the stairs and opened the linen cupboard. She quickly grabbed a pillow and blanket and headed back down to Johnny.
“Here love.” She said kindly passing them to him. “Just close your eyes and sweet dreams.”
“Thank you, Granny Maple.” He said yawning again as he positioned himself.
“You’re welcome love.” She said softly. “I’ll see you in the morning.”
Granny Maple headed back up the stairs and into her bedroom. Salem was already asleep on her pillow. She gently moved him aside and dimmed her lights. As she waited, she watched her old grandfather’s hands tick. It wouldn’t be long now.
By midnight, she could hear Johnny snoring. She softly crept down the stairs and headed into the kitchen. She began to sharpen her meat cleaver. She wanted the blade nice and sharp. After all she had quite a lot of pies to make and she wasn’t about to give her secret recipe away. Once the blade was like a new razors edge, Granny Maple headed into the lounge room where Johnny McGee now slept.
The next morning Granny Maple awoke to a loud and frantic banging at her door. She covered herself in her dressing gown and quickly made her way to her door. She opened it up to see Miss McGee standing there, holding Johnny’s hoodie, which was bloodstained.
“Where’s Johnny?” She screamed. “What did you do?” She screamed as two officers walked up behind her.
“Nothing dear.” She said looking confused and worried. “He was asleep on the couch when I went to bed.” She explained.
“You cow.” She screamed lunging for Granny Maple.
The officers pulled her off and helped old Granny Maple up.
“Are you alright Miss Maple?” He asked helping her to the lounge.
“Fine. Thank you, Sam.” Granny Maple replied, out of breath.
“New phone?” Sam said, picking up a mobile.
“No dear. It’s not mine. Johnny must have left it here.” She said calmly.
“Do you mind if we take the phone?” Sam asked warmly.
“No dear, take it.” She smiled.
“Miss Maple,” he said pausing. “I know it’s an inconvenience, but.” He started but Granny Maple cut him off.
“I know it’s your job dear, so look around. After all Johnny was last seen here.” She said easing his mind.
“Thank you, Miss Maple.” Sam said breathing a sigh of relief.
“Just be gentle with my things.” She said, like anyone would.