Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Drafts: Frog Haven Chapter 21

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. Chapter 16, Chapter 17, Chapter 18, Chapter 19, Chapter 20

Chapter 21: In the Outhouse

Sissy jogged up the road between the ponds toward the outhouse. A skunk was waddling down the middle of the road from the cabin toward the outhouse. She wondered if it was the same skunk they had seen several times before. If Sissy didn’t hurry, she wouldn’t be able to get to the outhouse until the skunk passed, and it was going fairly slowly, so she’d be late to dinner.

She put on a burst of speed and dashed to the door, opening it and reaching quickly for the ring. In her haste, she knocked the ring into a crack between the boards. Only the drop of blood was keeping it from falling through to the darkness below. The ring was swinging back and forth on the blood drop. Sissy looked back out at the approaching skunk and reached again, more carefully, for the ring.

This time, it slipped through the crack. Grumbling to herself, Sissy went all the way into the outhouse and let the door shut behind her. She stuck her face down by the hole and looked in. There were lots of cracks between the boards, and the whole outhouse tilted to the side, so there was plenty of light at the bottom of the hole. It looked just as it had a little while ago. Her little folded piece of toilet paper and the damp spot where she had peed were the only differences. There was no sign of the ring.

Sissy had clearly seen the ring drop into the crack. She looked again, but the ring wasn’t there. It just wasn’t there. Sissy opened the door and peered out at the skunk. It was sitting at the edge of the road right in front of the outhouse. It was licking itself like a cat. When Sissy made a little sigh of unhappiness, the skunk looked up at her. It had a nice face. But Sissy was afraid it might spray her if she tried to leave the outhouse. She decided to look one more time for the ring and went back in.

The door shut behind her. The ring still wasn’t there. Sissy tried to lift the boards where the ring slipped in, and to her surprise, the whole platform holding the two toilet seats lifted. It was hinged at the back right behind the seats and could be lifted and leaned against the back wall. There were so many cracks in the outhouse that Sissy hadn’t noticed the slightly wider crack in the boards behind the seat.

After Sissy had leaned the toilet seat platform against the wall, she noticed an open wooden box at the top of the opening on the far left, out of reach of the toilet hole. It contained 4 coffee cans, each containing a perfectly fine, unchewed roll of toilet paper. An emergency supply.

Then she looked at the spot where the ring had slipped through. There, under the platform was another wooden box. She tried to take it off, but it was securely attached. There was no opening that she could see until she looked on the side closest to the wall. That side was open and inside, she could see a grey metal box tied with twine.

She reached in, stuck her fingers under the twine, and pulled the metal box out of the wooden one as if it were a drawer. There was barely enough room between the wooden box and the outhouse wall to get the metal box out, and it was heavy. Sissy was afraid she would drop it into the pit. As the metal box slid out into her hand, there was a little clinking sound in the wooden box. Setting the metal box carefully on the outhouse floor, Sissy reached back into the wooden box. She felt her blood-siblings ring lying in the bottom back corner of the box. She pulled it out and put it on her finger. The swelling had gone down and it slipped right on. Then she lowered the platform back down.

Picking up the metal box, she shook it slightly. It sounded as if it had money in it, coins and papers. The treasure! It wasn’t a very big box, so it couldn’t be a very big treasure. But even a little treasure was pretty exciting. Of course, she probably wouldn’t be able to keep it, but at least it was hers for a little while.

The box was tied with thick brown twine, around and around in both directions. Under the twine was a folded piece of paper. She cut through one strand, which loosened the twine, but not enough to get it off. She started working on a second strand when she heard voices. They were coming up the road between the ponds. It sounded like the fat cop and his friend were coming back, possibly to look around more for treasure.

“I gotta take a crap,” the fat cop’s voice came clearly from close on the road. “Do you think that run-down outhouse would hold me? Or would it collapse if I went inside?”

Sissy looked desperately around. There was no back door and the windows were high up and way too tiny. She would have to lift up the platform and hide underneath. There was enough room on either side of the seats so that she wouldn’t get dirty. But what if he looked in the hole? Still, she had no choice. She lifted the platform and leaned over to drop the treasure box to the bottom.

“I think you’d be better off hanging your butt over a log,” the skinny man’s voice said, less stench and varmints, and besides, look, there’s a skunk sitting in front of the door.”

“Guarding the old outhouse, eh?” The fat cop asked. Sissy stood waiting, ready to leap into the pit. “I’ll go out back, I wanted to look around out there anyway in case the old geezer buried it somewhere.” Sissy could hear their voices getting farther and farther away. “And maybe we should come back later and check the outhouse. That old guy would be just weird enough to hide his money there.”

Sissy clutched the box. She watched through a crack as the men walked slowly up the hill. In spite of what the fat cop had said, they went into the cabin. The front of the outhouse faced slightly away from the cabin.

Sissy opened the door a little. The skunk looked up at her.

“Listen skunk, I need to go home. If I don’t, I will get into trouble. Big trouble. Now I am going to come out very slowly. I won’t hurt you. I am just going home. You don’t need to spray me.” Sissy slipped out through the partially opened door. The skunk turned and looked at her as she backed slowly away from it. It took a few steps toward her.

Chapter 22, P365-07W

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