Sunday, January 21, 2007

Drafts: Frog Haven Chapter 12

Chapter 1, Chapter 2 and 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8 ,Chapter 9, Chapter 10, Chapter 11

Chapter 12: The Angels of Deliverance

Lyssa plunked herself in the seat next to Sissy. “Can Bill go with us to help rescue frogs?”

“You promised not to tell!” hissed Sissy. “You crossed your heart and hoped to DIE if you told,” she continued dramatically.

“Bill told me about the gang’s initiation ceremonies. He was so upset that I had to tell him. Telling Bill doesn’t count as telling anyone anyway.” Sissy turned around and looked at Bill. His big serious eyes looked back at her with great intensity. He didn’t smile. Sissy rolled her eyes in exasperation, sighed, and then smiled at Bill. He smiled happily back at her.

“Yes, I guess he can go, if it’s Okay with Garryd.”

“Ask him, he’s right there.”

“I KNOW where he is,” Sissy retorted. She leaned across the aisle to Garryd, who was sitting with Kelvin Moore again. She pulled on his sleeve and he turned toward her. “Is it okay if Bill Taylor comes too?”

“We can use all the help we can get. Maybe we can form an ‘Angels of Deliverance’ gang to counteract the other gang.”

“Shhhhhhhhhhh!” Sissy said, looking around to see if any of the gang members had heard him. Kelvin was, after all, in the gang. She studied him. He was big and just a little overweight. He had a round face, a slightly pointed chin, and an angel-like expression. Sissy had played with Kelvin and knew that he was a nice kid when he was alone. She had a hard time picturing him doing the kinds of things Paul LeFevre liked to do.

The Deliverance Gang met behind Mancinis’ garage. Lyssa and Bill brought their own pails. “The LeFevre Gang is going to be practicing for Friday’s rematch behind McAllister’s,” Bill told them.

“Good! Then they’ll be out of our way. If we get done soon enough, we can go play too,” Garryd said.

They walked companionably together through the backyards. Sissy wondered how much help Bill would be. Lyssa was very athletic and good outdoors, even though she’d usually rather be playing with dolls. Bill was awkward and uncoordinated. But he turned out to be pretty good at catching frogs. By the time they’d made it to the fence, they had more frogs than ever before.

“Well, we can either let the frogs go at Dzabel’s Ponds,” Sissy said, “where the LeFevre gang can get them again, or we can let them go at William’s Ponds, where they’ll probably be safer.” Sissy was worried about how Lyssa and Bill would react; they were both sort of goody-goody.

“William’s Ponds, where are they?” Lyssa asked, in surprise.

“Over there,” Sissy said vaguely, waving her arm in a long arc across the pastures.

“But we’re not allowed to go over there,” Bill said.

“I know, me neither. We could just walk to the edge of the woods and Garryd could take the pails in. He’d have to take a couple trips. We could wait. Or I could help him and you guys could wait. The ponds are just inside the edge of the woods and there’s nothing to worry about.” They walked across the pasture, keeping an eye out for Dzabel.

“Do you know why we’re not allowed to go in the woods over there?” Sissy asked.

“Maybe because they are just too far away,” Bill suggested.

“No, I think it’s more than that,” Lyssa said. “I remember something about an old man with a gun. Lyssa was a year older than Sissy and sometimes remembered things from longer ago. Also, she had a better memory for certain things than Sissy.

Sissy shuddered. “I don’t think anyone lives there any more. The place looks deserted.”

“Oh, there’s an old cabin, but don’t worry, it’s past the ponds, and anyway, like I said, it looks deserted. No one has been around for a long time.”

“Let’s go check it out,” Lyssa said excitedly.

“I thought you didn’t want to go into the woods.”

“That was before I knew there was a deserted cabin. That sounds like fun!”

“If we show you where it is, you have to keep it a secret, okay?”


“You, too, Bill.” Sissy was afraid that Bill was going to wimp out on them, but his eyes were sparkling with excitement. He showed more life in his face than Sissy had ever seen before.”

“Sure, Sissy!”

Garryd began to dance around, saying, “Come on, let’s hurry!”

Lyssa and Bill were thrilled by the beauty and tranquility of the woodland ponds. Seeing them again through the eyes of newcomers, Sissy was awed. What a tremendously lovely place, she thought, the two long ponds set in the open sunny woods.

Garryd told them about finding the dead fox as he led the way along the shore of the first pond. They released their frogs and stashed the buckets in the bushes. They rounded the bend of the larger pond and the cabin stood on the rise before them. Sissy shivered again. It was an ordinary-looking, small, pleasant log cabin. She studied it carefully and there was not a creepy thing about it. It was set in a perfect spot on the little hill overlooking the pond. Everything was peaceful and sunny. The woodland birds were singing and at a distance, Sissy saw the skunk wandering among the trees. But for some reason, she felt cold and frightened.

She wanted to go back, but the others were going eagerly forward. Sissy went too, trailing behind Bill. Garryd was so excited that he didn’t notice Sissy had fallen behind. He circled the cabin, with everyone following, and then led the way right up to the front door of the screen porch. There were three beautiful wooden rockers sitting on the front porch. They were dusty and littered with mouse-droppings, and the finish was a little milky, but otherwise, they were perfect. Sissy turned and looked down at the pond. What a beautiful spot to sit and rock, if you liked to sit and rock. Sissy did, sometimes. Her grandmother had rockers on her front porch and she and Sissy would sit on a warm summer night rocking and watching the people who walked by on the Schenectady street. In some ways, this would be even better, because if they sat quietly, they could probably watch beavers and herons and whatever that other animal was. Sissy wondered briefly what it was.

Garryd tried the front door. It wasn’t locked and he walked in. They others followed and they stood in a clump just inside the door. It seemed dark at first and they waited for their eyes to adjust. There was a table in the center of the room, off slightly to the right, with a green cotton tablecloth. It was set with dishes and with what looked like the remains of old food on them. The dishes were dusty but they all matched and looked like they might be fine china. Sissy picked up a cup and saucer and held the saucer up to the light, the way her mother had taught her. Her hand shone clearly through the saucer. Sissy turned it over and read the back. Fine china by Royal Copenhagen. Fine china in a log cabin. She showed the others, but no one spoke. For some reason, no one spoke.

There were three chairs around the table and the chairs matched. They were well-made oak chairs with finely woven cane seats. They looked like something Sissy had seen in the antique shops last summer on their vacation to Cape Cod and Acadia National Park. Sissy wondered why someone would have such nice furniture in a log cabin. She’d been to log cabins before and they had always been rustically furnished.

To the right of the table was a kitchen area with modern cabinets and counters just like in a regular house. There were a few dirty dishes piled by the sink as if someone had intended to wash them. Sissy turned on the faucet, and rusty water and air gushed noisily out. Quickly, she shut it off again. Bill reached out and quietly turned it back on, slowly and carefully. After a moment of additional sputtering, cold clear water ran out in a thin stream. He turned it up more and a thick stream of icy clear water rushed out. He shut it off. There was only a cold-water spigot, no hot.

Lyssa began opening cupboards. They were arranged very much like their cupboards at home, with stacked plates, cups hanging on hooks, glasses and so on in one cupboard, pots and pans in another, food in some of the others. Animals had chewed up some of the food. A box of A&P saltines had apparently been totally emptied by mice, because it was entirely sealed shut except a mouse-sized hole in one bottom corner. The cans and jars of food mostly looked fine.

While Lyssa, Sissy, and Bill were exploring the kitchen, Garryd walked into the living room. On the front or pond side of the cabin was a couch and two stuffed chairs, separated by end tables, each of which held a gas lamp. On the other side of the desk were a bed and a big, old-fashioned roll-top desk. Before Garryd got to the bed, he came to a ladder that led up to a loft. He climbed up the ladder and the others followed. The loft held two more beds, one on each side, divided by two dressers, one facing each way. There were toys of various kinds scattered around the loft: dolls, trucks, blocks and many others. On either end was a window. The one on the left looked out over the curved part of the larger pond. The window on the right looked toward the point where the two ponds came nearly together and the road passed between them.

From this angle, the kids could see the road winding through the woods, between the ponds, and curving to run up the hill to the cabin. The leaning outhouse stood just at the bend in the road. As they turned from the window, Sissy noticed that the lace-edged white curtains matched the bedspreads and dresser cloths.

Garryd started back down the ladder. Sissy took another look around. Something about the room made her feel very sad, but she wasn’t sure what.

Below her, on the ladder, Lyssa gave an ear-piercing scream.

* * *

Chapter 13, P365-07W

No comments: