Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Drafts: Frog Haven Chapter 15

Chapter 1, Chapter 2 and 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8 ,Chapter 9, Chapter 10, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, Chapter 13, Chapter 14

Chapter 15: Eavesdropping

“We didn’t take anything,” Garryd said, indignantly. “We thought it was abandoned. It looked like it from the outside. We were just looking.”

“No, we didn’t take anything. Nothing at all,” Sissy said. “I already told you that.”

“He doesn’t trust anyone,” David Harrison said, jerking his thumb toward Maroni. “Don’t worry, I believe you.”

“That’s good,” Sissy sighed.

“Can I take the children home now?” Sissy’s father asked. “They have school in the morning.”

“Sure,” David Harrison said, “We know where to find you if we need you for anything.”

“Why did that fat cop think we took something?” Sissy asked angrily as they walked back through the woods.

“His name is Officer Anthony Maroni, Sissy. Even if you don’t like him, you must show him respect. You were breaking the law when you went into that cabin. That was wrong, and it was illegal. If you could do one bad thing, why would he think you might not do another and steal something?”

“We thought the cabin was abandoned. I know better than to steal something.”

“I know you do, Sissy. I don’t think you took anything, either of you. But I can see where the policemen might think so. Lots of kids steal things, especially from abandoned buildings. But that’s still theft. Buildings that appear to be abandoned still belong to someone. And Sissy, you were forbidden to go there.”

Papa paused to climb over the fence, then held the wires apart for Sissy and Garryd. They started through the arboretum and Papa continued, “It doesn’t matter what Garryd said or what animal you saw, you shouldn’t have gone there. We had heard that Old Man Williams had threatened to kill anyone who came on his land. He shot at hunters; he even shot at Mr. Dzabel when some of his cows went through a hole in the fence into Williams’ Woods.”

“Did he hit anybody?”

“No, but I would hate to think that if he had been alive, it would have been you or Garryd that he hit.”

“He wouldn’t have shot us, Papa. I know he wouldn’t have.”

“Sissy, there is no way you could know that. You must never disobey us like that again.”

“Okay, Papa, she said, looking down at her feet. They were getting dirty again, and she had just taken a shower.

She washed them, sitting on the side of the tub, and kissed her parents goodnight. She lay for a long time but couldn’t sleep. She was thinking of the toys in the cabin loft and she was sure Old Man Williams would not have shot her. And she was thinking about his papery skin and the longish white hair with the grey streaks, and Maroni accusing her of stealing. She might have taken something, if they hadn’t have found the body. She sort of thought the place didn’t belong to anyone any more. Mom went by and stuck her head in the room.

“You have school in the morning sweetheart. Try to relax and go to sleep.”

“Okay, Mom, I will.”

A while later, Sissy’s Mom walked down the hall again. She poked her head in the door, and seeing that Sissy was still awake, she went in and sat on the bed beside her. Sissy sat up and leaned her head against her mother. Her mom put her arms around Sissy.

“How do you feel about finding a dead person? Does it bother you?”

“We found a dead fox, too.”

“But that’s not really the same, is it?”

“Well, it is and it isn’t. I feel sort of sad about the man. But I feel sad about the fox, too. Sadder, about the man, I guess. But I don’t feel freaked out or anything, if that’s what you’re worried about. Maybe because he’s been dead so long. It’s Okay, Mom! It’s all right, really.”

Sissy’s Mom gave her a hug. “I’m worried about your still being awake. You must be upset, at least a little. Maybe more than you realize.”

“That’s not it, Mom, I don’t think. It’s not so much the dead guy that’s bothering me, it’s that some fat, mean cop wanted to blame us for something. For something we didn’t do. It was as if he was looking for an excuse to get us in trouble.”

“Well, keep your nose clean and you won’t get in trouble. Seriously, Sissy, you shouldn’t have gone over there. You know that. But don’t worry, we know that you haven’t done anything seriously wrong, and we will see to it that you don’t get blamed for anything you didn’t do. Now go to sleep. Lie down and close your eyes. Keep them closed no matter what until morning. Unless the house burns down or something of course. Come on, close your eyes.”

Sissy’s Mom leaned over and kissed Sissy goodnight. But Sissy still couldn’t sleep. The police car was still in their driveway. The policemen hadn’t yet come back from Frog Haven. It was getting darker and darker. Suddenly, there was a blinding flash of light. Sissy sat up in bed. It was completely dark out. Another flash of light lit up the neighborhood. Sissy could see the colors of the roses across the street, brilliantly pink in front of Taylor’s and yellow in front of Smith’s. She could see the green blades of grass in the lawns and the green leaves of the trees and then the neighborhood plunged into darkness again. When another flash came, Sissy watched the colors brighten and fade. It was like adjusting the color and contrast on the TV. Only much better and more exciting.

Lightning, but no thunder. It flashed again and again. Finally, a rumble of thunder followed. Sissy pushed her window down against the coming rain. In the next flash, Sissy saw the two cops walking past her window toward their car. They were deep in conversation. In the next flash, Sissy saw that they were having a heated argument. Both of them were waving their arms around and she could tell that they were shouting, but she could not distinguish the words. She inched her window carefully back up.

“I don’t care if Old Man Williams does have a treasure hidden somewhere, it’s not ours and we had no right to look for it. Our job is to simply report the death and our findings about the children and follow whatever orders we are given!” That was the blond cop, Harrison.

“Everyone knows Old Man Williams was rolling in dough. Why shouldn’t we get a cut of it?” the fat man pleaded. His voice was angry and whiney at the same time.

“We don’t know that. It was probably just a rumor made up by suspicious neighbors. Old man Williams was a weird one. He never spoke to anyone. You know how people can’t tolerate anything different.”

“Well, if we get sent back there, I’m having a look around. I just might, anyway.”

“You’d better not. You’d be breaking the law.”

“Why are you such a goody-goody, Harrison?”

“I’m not a goody-goody. I just think that some things are right and some are wrong. I want to be on the side of the good guys. That’s one reason I became a policemen. Listen, we’ve got to go report in.” They climbed into the squad car and the engine purred to a quiet, well-oiled start. The car rolled almost silently down the driveway and Sissy sat for a long time staring out the window. She wanted to get up and go wake Garryd and tell him what she had just heard, but she didn’t dare. She had promised her father not to go back to the cabin, and besides, it was starting to rain.

Big drops splashed against her window and spattered through the screen. Soon it was pouring. Lightning and thunder crashed, and the pines between Taylors’ and Sampsons’ lashed almost sideways. The wind and rain blowing through the window made Sissy shiver. She closed the window and snuggled down into the covers. The last thing she heard was the sound of Henrich Hamster the Third and Henrich Hamster the Fourth running in their wheels.

Chapter 16; P365-07W

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