I wrote yesterday about how and where I grew up. If you have read anything I have written you will see that small town stuff creeps into my writing. Sometimes it takes over completely. I have written some non fiction, True Stories from a Small Town 1, True Stories from a Small Town 2,True Stories from a Small Town 3, things that show my life in more detail; details I wish even weren’t there. And fictional work that very closely mimics my small town life, like the one below…
The End Of Summer
Copyright Dell Sweet
Original Material Copyright © 1976 – 1984 – 2009 – 2014 by Dell Sweet
* * * * *
PUBLISHED BY: Dell Sweet
All rights reserved, domestic and foreign
This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
The End Of Summer
This short story is Copyright © 2013 Dell Sweet No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and, or distributed without the authors permission. Permission is granted to use short sections of text in reviews or critiques in standard or electronic print
The summer of 1969 was winding down. The warm air held a smell 13 year old Bobby Weston couldn’t quite identify but nevertheless acquainted with going back to school. An end of summer smell, he decided. Or maybe an end of summer feeling. He couldn’t make up his mind, and it really didn’t matter, as soon enough summer would be gone and he’d be back in school. He had permission to go camping today, but camping by yourself was no fun at all, he thought gloomily. So he had come out and sat on the front porch and watched the trucks at Jackson’s lumber run back and forth delivering lumber to who knew where. Bobby had been sitting quietly on the steps wondering who ordered all that stuff and how they could possibly pay for it-when his mother had said the country was going broke, when Moon Calloway and Lois Tibbet walked up. All three of them were good friends and had been since they had met the summer before. They were also the same age and would be starting eighth grade together in just a few weeks.
“…Hey,” Moon asked, “whatcha doin’?”
“Hangin’ around, man, bored.”
“What’r you doing today?” Lois asked.
“Nothin’. Where you guy’s goin’?” Bobby asked.
Moon shrugged, Lois stayed silent. “You gotta stay here?” Moon asked finally.
“Uh uh. I told my mom I was going camping. I can leave, so…”
“Wanna camp out with us for the weekend?” This from Lois finally.
“Yeah, but I don’t have any money, you know.”
Moon pulled one hand out of his pocket, a crisp five dollar bill in his fist, and then quickly shoved it back into his pocket.
“Holy cow!” Bobby said, a little too loud. Five bucks was a lot of money.
Moon just grinned. Bobby got up from the front steps and followed Moon and Lois out of the yard towards the tracks that ran behind Jackson’s Lumber.
“So, how’d you get five bucks? I mean, your dad or something?” Bobby asked.
“Yeah. I gotta clean out the garage when I get back tomorrow,” Moon told Bobby smiling. “Lois is gonna help me…”
“Hey, I’ll help too,” Bobby said. He knew Moon had been looking to hear that.
“Cool,” Moon said and grinned.
“Like you didn’t know he would help,” Lois chipped in, and rolled her eyes towards the sky.
Moon just grinned.
“So where we gonna go campin’?” Bobby asked as they walked.
“How ’bout Glenn Pines?” Lois offered.
“Your uncles?” Lois had an uncle who rented a huge old run down house out there, and there were about a million miles of woods behind it. Deep woods. They were kind of spooky.
Bobby looked at Moon.
“Hey, I don’t care. I ain’t scared.”
“Okay,” Bobby said slowly, “I guess so. But what about a tent,or blankets, or food, man?”
“Well, I read about how to live off the land, you know, like Indians do? We could make one of those lean-to things, and we could catch fish to eat, and we can buy some food too.” Moon said enthusiastically.
“Sure, only we ain’t no Indians, man, and my mom went to the surplus food place the other day, and nobody likes that stuff except me. We got canned meat and powdered eggs, and, you know, all that stuff. It ain’t bad, and I could also get some blankets. Plus, I could get some matches too,” Bobby finished.
“Yeah… I guess so, but I think I can do that rubbing the sticks together thing, and we can catch fish so we really don’t need that other stuff.” Moon sounded insulted.
Lois rolled her eyes and stayed quiet.
“I bet you can, for real, but, you know, just in case is all, and besides I gotta get the fishin’ poles too.”
“Well, yeah, okay then, but I really think I can do it, and I wanna try, so…”
Bobby agreed that they would try that first, and then they went back to his house to get the stuff. Once a month his mom really did pick up the surplus food handouts, and she really had just picked it up, and he really was the only one that would eat it. The three of them slipped into Bobby’s house through the back door. Twenty minutes later they were walking the tracks to Glenn Pines, loaded down with paper bags. The warm summer breeze floating in and around them as they walked.
“So for real, do you really think you can do that stick thing?” Lois asked Moon.
“Sure. Yeah, I saw it in a movie, and then I read about it too. It’s really easy see, all you gotta do is get two sticks, and some dry leaves and stuff like that, and then you sorta rub the sticks together until they catch on fire, and bingo. You’ll see, it’ll be real easy,” Moon said confidently.
“I read about it too, but it seemed like it would be sorta hard,” Bobby said.
“Yeah, maybe, but hey, if Indians could do it we can, right?”
“Okay, so we get the fire going and then how do we cook stuff?” Lois asked.
“Easy,” Moon replied. “See the Indians used to cook stuff on rocks, and stuff like that. You know, you stick the rock on top of the fire and it gets hot and then the food that you put on it cooks. Or, they made these things out a wood that you put over the fire see, and then you stick whatever you wanna cook on them and bingo, it cooks. You’ll see.”
Bobby had stuck a can of lard, and one of his mother’s cast iron frying pans in one bag, but the rock thing did sound sort of cool. And he understood about the spit idea, probably better than Moon did. “Uh huh. So about this lean-to thing, you ever build one?”
“Well, not really, but all you gotta do is get some long branches from trees, you know? And then you lean ’em up against some other trees, see, and then you cover up the top with some more branches, only you gotta leave a little hole for the smoke to get out is all.”
“Smoke?” Lois asked.
“Yeah, you know. See, you gotta have a fire inside to keep out the wild animals and stuff, or else, I dunno, they’ll try to eat you or something, I guess.”
“What wild animals?” Bobby asked. About the only wild animals in upstate New York were bears, and deer. Deer didn’t bother him at all, but bears scared the hell out of him.
“Bears probly. See, they come around on account of they can smell the food, see, and then, if you don’t have a fire…” he let it trail away.
“Well, we’ll have a fire for sure,” Bobby said quickly, “a big one too. You ever seen a bear?”
“I haven’t,” Lois said. She looked a little scared, well, maybe a lot of scared.
“I seen the ones at the zoo,” Moon answered solemnly.
“Me too,” Bobby agreed.
Sinton Park had four bears. They rarely ever came out of their cages and into the large concrete yard. And they were probably no more than six feet high, but they all suspected that real bears were probably a lot bigger than that. They all began to have second thoughts about camping, but they were on their way, and it was a little too late to back out, and really there was no way to back out and not look like a chicken.
Moon cut down off the tracks and followed an old path down closer to the river. Lois and Bobby followed. The bear subject didn’t come up again.
Eventually they left the river behind them, cut through the trees, and came out on old county route six. A short time later they were at the uncles’ house. Lois did the asking. Bobby hadn’t thought they needed to tell him they were there. But Lois swore he killed kids who camped out in the woods without his permission. Bobby and Moon both believed her. The uncle gave his permission, and stood watching them with a small smile on his face as they walked off through his back field and into the woods at the edge of the property.
A half hour later they were as deep into the woods as they wanted to go, following what looked to be an old logging trail. They came to a fairly good sized stream, and called it good enough. Moon began to work on his lean-to idea, and Lois and Bobby helped.
“So?” Bobby asked Moon as they searched around for limbs to use.
“Well, first we gotta find limbs and stuff that have fallen down, but only the ones that still have leaves on ’em.”
They did give that a chance to succeed, but what they could find was dried out or rotted, and really wasn’t worth a whole lot. It was hard enough to find enough dry wood to use for fire wood. They did manage to get six or seven long dried out limbs together, and drag them back to the campsite.
“You sure about this, Moony?” Lois asked.
“Well, see, Indians had hatchets and stuff so I guess they probly cut down trees, you know?”
“Real good,” Bobby said, “if you had said that in the first place I could’ve brought one with us.”
“Well, see, theirs were made out of stone, I think. We could probly make some, right?” Even he didn’t believe it, and it was obvious he didn’t.
“Your uncle got an axe he’d let us use?” Bobby asked Lois.
“I think so,” she replied.
The hike back to her uncles’ was a lot easier without the bags and blankets, and, as it turned out he did have an axe, and after cautioning them not to chop off their fingers, and extracting a promise to bring it back, he let them have it. The lean-to went much easier with the axe. It wasn’t the greatest thing to look at, and there wasn’t room for a fire inside, but it wasn’t half bad at all. It also got the three of them into the spirit of camping out. By that time it was late afternoon and Moon announced he was going to catch their supper.
“Right, okay, but what about the fire, Moony?” Bobby asked.
“Oh, well, that’ll only take a little while to do, so I can do it when we’re done fishin’, it won’t be hard at all, you’ll see.”
The stream was maybe two feet deep, and no more than twenty across. Minnow country, but Moon swore there were some big Trout in it.
“For real. I fished here before.”
“Right here?” Bobby asked.
“Well, not right here, you know, but close to here … I think.”
“That’s what I figured,” Bobby said. “Okay, so how about this. You catch dinner, and I go start the fire. I think it takes longer to do, I think, you know, that you have to do it for a long time before it’ll actually work,” Bobby finished.
“Well… I dunno,” Moon said slowly.
“Yeah, it could work out better that way,” Lois joined in, “I could go and find some big flat rocks like you were talking about, while you guys do the other stuff. Then everything’ll be ready at the same time sorta.”
Bobby had his doubts about that, but stayed silent.
“Yeah… Yeah, I guess so, but I was sorta hoping to do the stick thing, you know,” Moon said.
“Okay, so cool,” Bobby said, “you can too. I’ll do it now, and then you can do it in the morning, ’cause it’ll go out over night, I think,” Bobby countered.
Moon agreed with a reluctant nod, and they split up to get started. In all the time they were standing next to the stream none of them saw a single fish at all. Bobby didn’t have much hope in fish for dinner. Lois followed him back to the lean-to before she left to find some flat rocks.
“You really gonna rub sticks together to start the fire?” she asked.
“No way, we’ll be here ’till next year,” Bobby replied.
“Did you see any fish back there?”
“Not unless minnows count,” Bobby said.
She laughed. “So should I really get the rocks?”
“I guess so, might work, who knows. And anyway, it’ll keep Moony happy. I got stuff to eat, so it ain’t like we’ll starve or nothing, and who knows, maybe he will catch some fish.”
Lois took off back to the stream to find some flat rocks, and Bobby started to build the campfire.
The fire wasn’t hard, and the spit that Moony suggested wasn’t either. There were plenty of big rocks to put around the edges to keep the fire in one place, and the opposite side of the hatchet made a great hammer to pound the forked pieces of the spit into the ground with. Lois was back fairly quickly with a couple of good sized flat rocks. Bobby had a couple of dried out sticks set to one side, so it would look like he’d really started the fire with them. There was nothing to do but wait for Moon to come back.
“So what’s that for?” Lois asked, pointing at the spit.
“Well, I guess to sorta slide the fish on to cook, and then you can turn them over the fire so they don’t burn. Or, like, you could put a rabbit or something on it. I guess that’s what Indians did, you know, put rabbits on ’em.”
“So we’re gonna put a rabbit on it?”
“Not unless one walks into camp and surrenders or something,” Bobby laughed. “And any fish Moony brings back’ll probly be smaller than the stick.” They both cracked up then. Bobby managed to stop laughing first. “But for real, I bought some of that canned meat stuff?”
“Yeah my mom gets it too.”
“Well I bought three cans a that and three cans a powdered eggs. They really ain’t too bad, and I got a loaf of bread and three packages of hotdogs, so…”
“Those powdered eggs stink sorta, but they taste okay I guess.” Lois agreed, “and the canned meat ain’t bad at all. I take it to school for lunch.”
“Me too. I like it, but nobody else does, so I’m sorta lucky, you know, I can have all of it. My brother and sisters always get the peanut butter. It’s sorta gross, kinda oily like stuff, you ever try it?”
“Uh uh,” Lois said and made a face.
“Don’t, ’cause you won’t like it. But the instant potatoes make good base-lines. You know, you just like put a hole in the bag and pour it out along the line, it works neat. My mom got really bent though when she caught me doing it, so I don’t anymore. But for real, you could, like, maybe sell it for that… A lot a kid’s would probly buy it, maybe you could even get rich or somethin’.”
“Probly,” Lois agreed. “Would you ever wanna be really rich? You know, like, you could walk into the five and dime and buy, like, anything you wanted too?”
“Sure. I mean, that would be great. But if I was rich, I’d be sort of a cool rich guy. You know, like not be stingy or anything, like have parties and invite everybody on Fig street to ’em, and like… I don’t know, all sorts a stuff like that. Wouldn’t you?”
“Yeah, but I wouldn’t invite old man Helmer, ’cause he’s like a real jerk,” Lois said.
Old man Helmer lived on the end of upper Fig street, and he hated kids. On more than one occasion he had chased the three of them out of his back yard with threats to call the sheriff. He had too. Kyle Stevens, the sheriff, Glennville wasn’t big enough for a police chief, had chuckled and told the three of them to stay out of Mr. Helmer’s yard. That had been the end of it for the kids, but not for Old man Helmer. He glared at them from his front porch every time they walked by, which was one of the main reasons they used the tracks that cut behind Jackson’s Lumber to leave the neighborhood.
“I wouldn’t either,” Bobby agreed.
It was getting close to dark and Moon had still not come back. Lois and Bobby went rooting around for more firewood. By the time they finished it was dark, and Moon came trudging back from the stream. Bobby had the frying pan ready, and the canned stuff and hotdogs too, but he hadn’t opened any of it yet. Bobby was hoping Moon really would come back with some fish, and he didn’t want to hurt his feelings.
Moon bought back six fish. The longest was maybe five inches, the shortest less than three, but he insisted on cooking them anyway.
“I figure that maybe they weren’t hungry or something. You shoulda seen the big ones,” he held his hands better than two feet apart, and gradually brought them inward as he talked, until they were less than a foot apart. He wouldn’t budge from that estimate at all. “Like, all I had was little red worms from under the rocks, and I guess the big ones didn’t like ’em or somethin’.”
“Well, maybe we can walk over to the river tomorrow and catch some big ones,” Lois suggested, as Moon cleaned the fish. Bobby opened the cans and got the frying pan ready. Lois walked back down to the stream and got some water to mix the powdered eggs with.
Moon stuck the fish on one of the flat rocks and edged it into the fire. The spit came in handy for making toast. They just strung half a loaf of bread on it, and watched it burn. Still it wasn’t bad, or it didn’t seem as though it was. Scrambled powdered eggs and cooked canned meat on burned bread with jagged holes through the middle of the bread. The fish stayed on the rock.
“So what’s the five bucks for, if it ain’t for food?” Bobby asked Moon.
“Emergency,” Moon said through bites of his sandwich.
“Like?” Lois asked.
“Um, like, if we can’t catch no fish tomorrow or somethin’.”
They all glanced quickly at the fish. Apparently you could cook on a rock, but the fish were so small they were starting to shrivel away to nothing. They all looked away.
“Or, like, I guess we could buy some hamburg or something like that, or like we used up most’a the bread already so we’ll need some more. or… All sorts a things I guess, emergency type things, you know?” Moon finished. He made no move to retrieve the fish.
“Maybe some Cokes?” Lois asked.
“Yeah … right, ’cause Cokes are sorta like emergency things, I guess,” Moon agreed.
“Yeah, and maybe like some paper plates?” Bobby asked. The sandwiches were falling apart thanks to the holes in the middles.
“Right,” Moon agreed, “but I think Indians used bark or something, and we could…”
“I won’t tell if we don’t use bark,” Lois said, cutting him off. “Beside, I think they used special bark.”
“Yeah, you’re right,” Bobby agreed.
“For real?” Moon asked. “Well, like, what sorta special bark?”
“I dunno, man. But I’m pretty sure it was, you know, special bark,” Bobby told him.
“Yeah. Probly was, cause Indians were sorta cool, you know, and so they probly wouldn’t eat off regular bark.”
They all agreed that Indians were cool, and that they probably wouldn’t be caught dead eating off regular bark. The paper plates were voted in.
“So what d’you think they used for forks and stuff?” Moony wanted to know.
He was looking at Bobby because Bobby’s dad was part Indian. To Moon that made him an expert of some kind. In truth Bobby’s dad hated the fact that he was part Indian, never talked about it, and Bobby didn’t know any more than they did. And what he did know came from watching the same westerns on TV that they did.
“Uh, like little sharp sticks, I think,” Bobby said.
“No way man,” Moon disagreed, “my old man says only Japanese people eat with sticks and stuff like that.”
“You mean, like, still?” Lois asked, “like right now?”
“Uh huh,” Moon told her.
“Okay,” Bobby agreed, “but they probly stole the idea from the Indians, see?”
“How?” Moon asked.
“Well, ’cause once my dad told me that everybody stole everything from the Indians. Like land, like the whole United States, I guess,” Bobby told him.
“Yeah. For real, so maybe Japanese People got the stick thing from Indians, ’cause I’m pretty sure that’s how they eat. You know, like real ones anyhow,” Bobby finished.
“Yeah?” Moon challenged. “Well, did you, like, ever see, like, your old man eat with a, you know, a stick?”
“Sure,” Bobby lied. “It’s like the only way he will eat.”
“Get outa here,” Moony cried. “For real? Like right at home and stuff? Like in front of you?”
Bobby nodded. “Yeah… For real, man, for real he does.”
Moon shook his head. “Well that must be, like … like, really sorta weird or something ain’t it?”
“Yeah, and how does he do it?” Lois asked.
“Well … he sorta stabs it,” Bobby elaborated. Bobby had a bad problem with lying, and then running with the lie. “You see, the stick is sharp on the end, right? And he just sorta stabs what he wants to eat with it, and it sticks to it, get it?”
“Hey, for real, do you think I could watch some time?” Moony asked.
“Uh uh,” I said quickly. “You know, cause he drinks, and Indians can’t hold their firewater, you know? So he’s like really mean.”
“I heard a that,” Lois agreed. “Anybody knows that about Indians.”
“Yeah, that’s true, I saw it in a movie once,” Moon agreed.
“I’ll try it,” Lois said. “It sounds neat to me.”
“Okay. So just plates, and some hamburg then, right?” Moon asked.
“Cokes,” Lois reminded him.
“Right, and more bread,” Bobby threw in. “We can cook the burgers at your house while we clean out the garage.”
“That’d be, cool,” Lois agreed.
Moon nodded, and finished chewing the last bite of his second sandwich. “You know, we shoulda thought of this emergency stuff earlier, ’cause a Coke would taste good right about now, wouldn’t it?”
“Yeah,” Bobby agreed, “but there ain’t no stores close by, and besides,” He reached into one of the bags and pulled out a half of bottle of cola.
“How’d you get that, man?” Moony asked.
“Easy,” Bobby said and smiled, “it was in the fridge and I just grabbed it.” Bobby passed the warm and sudsy soda around, and then they all sat back against the sloped wall of the lean-to and watched the fire for awhile.
They spent another hour or so talking, made a few halfhearted attempts to scare each other-the woods were so silent and spooky that they didn’t really have the heart for it-and then went to sleep.
Whether it was the fact that their bellies were full of powdered egg and canned meat sandwiches, or just the fact that they had dragged all those bags and blankets into the woods and were just tired out, I couldn’t say. But they were all dead to the world just a short time later. No one woke up until the next morning, and if any of those fabled bears came prowling by during the night, they left them alone.
The night had slipped by uneventfully and they all felt rested. They agreed to spend just a few more hours camping and then head back home.
Moon’s fish had glued themselves to the rock overnight. He made an attempt to get them off, but they just wouldn’t come. Finally he gave up and tossed the rock further into the fire.
“Hot dogs, man?” Moon asked .
“If you wanna,” Bobby agreed.
Moon built up the small fire, while Bobby and Lois searched out some small sticks.
“How many you want?” Lois asked.
“Six probly,” Moon said seriously. “Maybe seven, we got a lot to do today.”
“Like, drag all this stuff home. And like I gotta clean my Dad’s garage and you guys said you would help me, did you forget about it?”
“Uh uh,” Bobby lied. He had though. He had forgotten completely about it. “So, do you think you can do it?”
“I remembered,” Lois said.
“I have to, or else I’ll get grounded, man,” Moon said seriously.
“You know what I meant. Seven? You can eat seven hotdogs?”
“Oh. Sure. I ate ten once, and I didn’t even get sick at all, for real.”
“I never ate ten, but I did eat five all at once, and then six later on,” Bobby told him. He skewered four hotdogs on one stick, and handed it to Moon.
“Well, that don’t count. It would, you know, if you’d ate ’em all at once, but it don’t, cause you didn’t.”
“Lois?” Bobby asked.
“Uh uh. No way. I’ll eat like one, that’s it,” she said solemnly.
Bobby handed her a stick with one hotdog, and then put four hotdogs on his own stick, and held it high over the fire. “I know, but I always wondered about that, cause it was only a few hours later when I ate the rest… I bet I could eat eleven, I probly could.”
“Well, how many we got all together?” Moon asked. This sounded pretty cool, maybe a contest, Moon thought.
“Uh,” Bobby counted, “Twenty nine left for us, man.”
“Well, that’s… Um… How much is that?”
“It’s fourteen each, takin’ out the one Lois has, and one left over” Bobby told him.
“Sure, but who has to eat the last one?” Bobby asked.
“I do. I can do it, watch and see.”
“You’ll get sick, man, I really think you will.”
“Uh uh. I never get sick. My mother said it’s something to do with my jeans.”
“Really. Like, they are kinda tight,” he shrugged his shoulders, “maybe that’s it.”
“Could be, but I never heard anything about jeans making you not get sick,” Bobby said seriously. “I woulda heard about that.”
“Oh, so, like, my mothers a liar?”
Lois rolled her eyes.
“Uh uh, probly she ain’t. I just never heard about it is all… So… you really gonna eat the last one too?” Bobby asked, changing the subject. You could make mother jokes. And you could even say things about mothers as long as you were kidding, but you couldn’t say some-bodies mother was a liar.
“I’ll eat it if Moon can’t,” Lois offered.
“Ready?” Bobby asked,” he carefully pulled his hotdogs from the stick and wrapped a slice of bread around each one.
Lois followed suit.
Moon removed his. They had a small jar of mustard Moon had hocked out of Mrs Weston’s pantry while Bobby was getting the hot-dogs. Moon dipped each hot dog in the jar, and then ate it. “Man,” he said around a mouthful of hot-dog, “how can you guys eat ’em plain like that?”
“Me, how can you eat them like that?” Bobby asked.
“For real,” Lois agreed.
“Cause they’re really good,” Moon grinned.
Lois and Bobby both grinned back.
“These are like really good,” Moon said. “I knew you wasn’t chicken. I knew you’d do it,” he finished his last hot dog, skewered four more, and held them over the fire. A few seconds later Bobby did the same.
“You guys are gonna get sick,” Lois told them as she watched in fascination.
Moon pulled his blackened hot-dogs from the stick after only a few minutes, and one by one began to dip each of them. He was done with all four long before Bobby was. “You gonna be able too?” Moon asked.
“I dunno, man. It seemed like it might be cool, but,” he finished his last one, “I was thinkin’ it might make me too heavy if I eat ’em all.”
“What? Get outa here, man. Too heavy? Too heavy for what?” Moon asked, as he skewered four more hot-dogs.
“Like, for draggin’ all this stuff back home, and then helping you clean out the garage… I read about that once. Even a little bit of extra weight can really slow you down… Might not make it if I eat eleven,” Bobby said. He raised his eyes hopefully.
Lois nodded her head in agreement. “I heard that too,” she told them.
“For real?” Moon looked skeptical.
“Honest Injun,” Bobby said.
“Makes you really slow,” Lois agreed.
“Well… Okay. It’s more important to get the garage cleaned, I guess, besides, we can do this tonight. We could buy more, see, and just do it tonight, and that way you won’t havta worry about being too heavy, right?”
“Um, like, hot-dogs two times in a row? I thought we were gonna get hamburgers?”
“Oh yeah. Well, cool, tomorrow night then.”
“Yeah tomorrow would be better,” Lois agreed.
“Cool,” Bobby said. By tomorrow night Moon would forget all about it, Bobby knew. And if he’d had to eat one more hot-dog today, he’d probly puke. “Really cool… So are you gonna eat ’em?”
“Sure, all of ’em?”
“Well, could ya?”
“Probly, how many more is there?”
“It means that all together you’d havta eat twenty five stead of eleven.”
“I dunno, Bobby, twenty five’s a lot… I’ll eat twelve, and we can feed the rest to the ants, deal?”
“Deal,” Bobby laughed.
Moon finished his next four, an even dozen all together, and then they set the remaining hotdogs out for the ants.
“Ain’t you even a little bit sick?” Lois asked, as they walked away from the makeshift camp.
“Uh uh, I swear, I probly coulda ate the other ones, but, you know, I was savin’ them for the ants. Ants gotta eat too, you know.”
They cleaned up the camp quickly, first deciding to take down the lean-to, then deciding to leave it. Maybe they would come back once more before school started, they agreed. Lois made the trip to the small stream for water to douse the fire, as Bobby and Moon neatly stacked the leftover wood next to the lean-to and buried the small pile of trash they had accumulated.
Forty five minutes later they made the tracks that would take them back into Glennville, the camping trip ended. They balanced on the rails as they went, laughing, calling back and forth to one another. A light summer breeze sprung up and pulled their words apart as they were flung into the air. Their voices became distant as they walked further down the tracks, their small child shapes fading into the heat haze in the distance, and then disappearing altogether.
If you like the kids in this story, you can find them in my latest book, Fig Street, playing much larger parts…
The year is 1969: In the small city of Glennville the streets, even in the poorest of neighborhoods are safe for children to travel on their own: Play kick the can after dark. But the city has its secrets, and those secrets have their dangers. https://books.apple.com/us/book/fig-street/id1532766082