"What's wrong!?" My mom would bark from the bottom of the steps in response to the scream that came from the upstairs hallway.
We would all go suddenly quiet in the upstairs hallway and give the collective evil eye to the brother that screamed.
"Nuthin." One of us would reply from the top of the steps making sure to stay close to the shadows so mom might not recognize the person responding.
"What do you mean 'Nuthin.'?" Mom would ask. Which would then be followed up with "Someone is screaming bloody murder up there."
In the upstairs hallway, heads would snap in an accusatory way towards the offending screamer. Silent whispers of "I told you to be quiet" or "It's your fault" would be directed at each other.
The offender, also clinging to the shadows, half leaning down the steps, would apologize.
"That's enough!" Mom would say without ever clarifying enough of what.
We would wait a few minutes, laugh at the person who was scolded, and go back to our our game of hallway tackle football or our steel cage match. The offending screamer was not hurt but was most likely cheering at a touchdown or a perfect Greg Valentine Figure Four move. If someone was ever actually hurt, required stitches, broke a bone, what have you, we would never scream. We would all be quiet in an effort to cover up the incident; including the brother that was bleebing. Quiet and brothers usually mean someone is hurt. The quieter the bloodier.
Our screaming bloody murder was never really murder.
I never understood the phrase screaming bloody murder. When I was eight, I thought my mom meant that someone was actually screaming the words bloody murder. When I was twelve, I thought my mom meant she wanted to murder someone after hearing the scream. When I was sixteen I thought my mom was trying to be British but without the accent.
Now? Now I get it. Maxfield will scream like he is being fed into a wood chipper if Wyatt knocks over a Lego building. Wyatt will wail, as if he was getting scalped with a hatchet, if Max stands in front of his view of the TV. They both scream like they are being murdered.
I appreciate the phrase. I get it's meaning, but since I was once one of the people screaming, I know that 99 percent of the time screaming is not the result of injury or something serious.
No, I try to listen the long moments of silence to know when something is wrong. I will call up from the bottom of the steps. "What's wrong?"
"Nuthin." Max will call from the hallway upstairs.
"What do you mean nuthin?" I say. Which I then follow up with,"You guys have been quiet for 5 minutes now. Who is hurt?"