“The Destructors” is about a group of teenage boys who call themselves the Wormsley Common gang, after the area where they live. They meet every day in a parking lot near a part of town that was bombed during World War II. Almost everything in this area is destroyed although one house stands with minimal damage. This house is owned by Mr. Thomas (whom the boys call Old Misery), an old man who lives alone.
One day, the gang’s leader, Blackie, suggests that they spend the day sneaking free bus rides. T. (whose full name is Trevor) has another idea. He has been inside Mr. Thomas’s house and suggests that the boys take advantage of the old man’s upcoming two-day absence to demolish the house from the inside. T. becomes the gang’s new leader.
When the boys meet at the appointed time the next morning, T. has already organized his directions for the boys to demolish the house. By the end of the day, the house is in shambles: the floors are torn up, the fixtures are smashed, the electrical cords are all cut, and doors are destroyed. After everyone but Blackie has left, T. shows him ”something special,” Mr. Thomas’s savings of seventy one-pound notes. T. explains that he and Blackie will burn the notes one at a time to celebrate. After they are finished, they go home.
The next day, the boys meet again at the house to complete the destruction. They take out the staircase, demolish the inner layers of wall, knock down the floors (it is a multi-story house), and flood what is left. Before they are finished, one of the boys runs in and announces that Mr. Thomas is on his way home. Mr. Thomas was not expected until the next morning, so T. locks him in the outhouse until morning. Not wanting to physically hurt the old man, the boys give him a blanket and food.
The next morning, a driver starts up his truck, and as he pulls out of the parking lot adjacent to the house, he hears crashing. At first he is confused, but then he realizes that his truck was tied to a support beam of the gutted house, bringing it down. The driver lets Mr. Thomas out of the outhouse, and although the old man is devastated, the driver cannot stop laughing. He explains that it is not personal, but he thinks it is funny.
Thomas E. Barden – Short Stories for Students – Presenting Analysis, Context & Criticism on Commonly Studied Short Stories, vol. 14, Graham Greene – Published by Gale Cengage Learning.