The Northville Review
an online literary journal
The Lice Storm

Doug Bond

I had the cab pull over a half block away from the entrance to Janey’s school, and begged the driver to wait. He was Sikh and I couldn’t tell if he understood me. I said, “Please! Hold on! Hold on!” This whole business of cabs and tight schedules was going to take some getting used to. My skin crawled just thinking about how much more of mine I’d have to let go of.

When Janey came out through the gate, she couldn’t speak she was shaking so much. Her face was pinking. She looked
miserable. I asked her how it was. She said, “Wonderful, Mom! Really!”

“Wonderful?” Those powder faced, ribbon haired bitches must have told her to say that. Just another one of their hooks. There was nothing they wouldn’t do.

The terms of the “intervention” agreement stipulated I’d get her for only one hour a week, on Fridays, before her skating practice. Supervised, of course. I hadn’t seen her since the day the shit went down.

It felt like I’d been on thin ice with these people from day one, straight outta the gate from the Welcome Tea before
Labor Day. I don’t know what it was, maybe they didn’t like how my shrubs were shaped or the fact that I had a big dent in the hood of my car. Just two weeks into classes, there it was sitting in the mail slot, registered with return receipt, of course, a terse missive on school letterhead from the powerbitch attorney with the black hooded eyes.

“I hope, though not without serious doubts, that what I have been seeing on your daughter’s head and shoulders is merely dandruff. Please be advised that your child’s continuing enrollment status is conditional on a program of thorough and regular hair washing.”

Couple days later the Clerk of the Health and Safety committee called to reiterate the school’s strict “No Nit”
policy. Then someone wrote “Lousy Bitch!” in bright red lipstick on my windshield.

But the day they finally put on the clamps truly chilled me to the bone. I’d just pecked her on the cheek and handed her lunch when a phalanx of them, five across, came bearing down the sidewalk and were upon us like a runaway 18-wheeler on black ice. The Head of Middle School herself lifted the hair above Janey’s nape, and began dictating notes for the exam.

“Inflamed. Crusty. Scabby.” The Secretary of Homelife took it all down and paused while she looked at me and with a wide tipped Sharpie, (red again, cherry, this time) wrote “INFESTED!” in big bold letters diagonally across the page.

Some of the other moms had tried to spark me into a more cautious stance: Get a special comb! They’ll strike without

And then those final icy words, flat, uninflected, “Add this mother to the relinquish list!”

I swear, the weird moody one in the tight tweed jacket and the frosty gray hair winked as she told me that whoever got
Janey would treat her, “Just like their own.” And then she took my car keys and tossed them in the bowl.

About the author

Doug Bond resides along the Northern California coast in a foggy, windswept dune field once referred to as the Outer Lands. His work has appeared (or will soon) in the pages of Mad Hatters' Review, Defenestration, Northville Review, Stymie and Necessary Fiction. Additional confabulations and portals to virtual worlds may be found here: