"I'll get it!" Jussi chuckled as he jumped over the low fence and out into the street. His sister Aliisa was a top-notch baseball player, the best pitcher in the neighborhood, but she was terrible at basketball. The ball had bounced out into the street for the fifth time in twenty minutes, and he could tell that she was getting frustrated.
The road in front of their small townhouse was on an incline, which meant that he had to run as he tried to overtake the rolling basketball. He muttered a few nonsensical medieval-styled curses at it, noting that he would have to tie his shoe soon.
One short leap and he had it in his hands. He grinned as he straightened, then felt his face drain of color as he stared into an oncoming truck. He heard brakes squeal, Aliisa screamed, his legs ran without any conscious commandand the accursed shoelace caught under his shoe. It was a spectacular trip. He rolled sneakers over head, squawking like a parrot as the street scraped his arms, legs, and back.
When the rolling finally stopped and he'd realized the misfortune of having stopped on his face, he let a few stray tears slide down his freckled nose. His back and right arm burned, and he could only open one eye. It took him a moment to realize that was because he'd lost a shoe and it had hit him in the face before flying off in another direction.
A hand on his shoulder made him lift his head a bit higher. "What...?"
"Don't move, I called an ambulance. It's on its way."
The voice was barely above a whisper, but Jussi pegged it as belonging to a man. Which meant that someone, probably Jussi's brother, could take a swing at the guy. Jussi certainly would have liked to. He ignored the advice, even though it hurt, and pushed himself into a sitting position. His neck felt alright, but his right arm was a wreck. It was scratched to hell, covered in smeared blood, and his wrist was...he could only describe it to himself as 'incorrectly angled'. He let it lie limply in his lap and looked around to glare at the voice's owner.
He'd been right, it was a man. But it didn't look like a man who could survive getting punched by Jussi's brother or even by Jussi. He was ridiculously skinny, a trait that made Jussi groan inwardly, and he had a lazy man's encroaching beard on a weak chin. His nose reflected the rest of his build, as it was thin and long, with a sharp point that tilted up a bit and reminded Jussi of Sherlock Holmes. The man's eyes were masked by concern and greasy black hair that was almost as long as Jussi's own much redder hair.
"My sister..." Jussi's throat was raw, and he couldn't see Aliisa in the driveway. She must have gone into the house to find their father. The fall hadn't sent him sprawling quite so far as he'd thought.
The man followed his gaze, then frowned and turned back to him. "Your sister? Where is she? Was she" His voice rose in pitch and seemed to come close to breaking.
Served him right, Jussi thought unkindly. "She wasn't in the street." He brushed gravel off his shoulder and squinted at the man. "Who are you?"
"My name is Arthur Pershing, I've moved into that house there..." Arthur pointed rather sheepishly at the house across the street from Jussi's. "Oh dear, I suppose that makes us neighbors, doesn't it?"
Jussi nodded, a bit distracted as he began to realize just how incorrect his wrist's new angle was. He was already looking forward to various 'neighborly' acts he could perform. Toilet paper was a classic favorite, but he had always been fond of egging. And he was left-handed, which meant he wouldn't have to wait for his wrist to heal. "That's my dad." He had to bite his tongue to keep from adding, Now you're gonna get it, you overgrown daisy.
Jussi's father was a large man, taller and far wider than Arthur Pershing, with a bristling beard and angry-looking hair that matched his broad angry face. "Wha's this now?" He only slurred when he was upset, and Jussi almost felt sorry for Arthur.
But Arthur didn't quail or even shrink away from the impending block of furious father. He introduced himself and explained quite calmly that Jussi had been in the street, Pershing himself had braked in time, and an ambulance would be there momentarily.
Indignant rage lead Jussi to squeak an incoherent protest. The git had made it sound as if it were his fault! "I didn't do anything wrong!" he shouted, further distressing his throat and eliciting a cough.
His father, a notorious softy, moved to kneel beside him. "It's alright, Jussi, you aren't in trouble. Let's have a look at you."
Pouting unashamedly, Jussi pointed out his wrist right away, then let his father look over the various scrapes and cuts that had accumulated. To Jussi's surprise, Arthur didn't start off fabricating reasons to be off. In fact, he had to be told to move his truck when they heard the ambulance approaching the cul-de-sac. He stumbled the entire way, looking back and apologizing profusely.
Jussi's father chuckled at the unfortunate man and set a gentle hand on his son's shoulder. "You'll be a'right, boy. You're too tough to let a little thing like that get you."
Pride swelled in Jussi's chest and he coughed happily. "Yeah."