Page 70 - WCM Summer 2022
P. 70

 although the sun had set and the air had that clear, no-glow look to it. Bears like orchards, he thought, as his heart beat a bit faster, then sank. Across the road, a blue-haired Mrs. Henderson raked leaves in her front yard and paused, watching his approach over her half glasses. “Good afternoon, Gerard,” she called to him. “Your mother’s been looking for you.”
“Afternoon, Ms. H. Thank you, and may I?” he answered, pointing to go through her side yard.
“You may not,” she replied, waggling a gloved finger at him. “No cutting across my clean lawn, young man.”
“Yes, ma’m,” he sighed, moseyed on, then scooted down to the road’s curve where she could not see him.
I’ ll sneak through her side lot, he decided, ducking through a hedge into the field beyond her cottage, and saw welcome lights glowing in his house beyond the rock wall that separated their property from hers. When he heard a huffing sound swelling behind him, he did not look back. He sped for that low stone wall as fast as he could. When he reached the wall, he knew it was Mrs. Henderson’s beagle barking and baying after him. The dog nipped at Gerry’s heels as he cleared the boulders and fled to his back porch. The yapping faded away.
Slamming the door shut, Gerry collapsed onto a kitchen chair. “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” he panted, talking to the woods, the snake, the bear, the buck, everyone and everything that had brought him home. His chest heaving, he saw Petey safe, fast asleep by the stove.
“Gerry?” he heard his mother’s voice calling from the front room. “Where have you been? I was worried. Can you run down the road to Eddie’s to fetch Richie for dinner? Dad will be home soon.” She walked into the kitchen and stopped when she saw him. His face was red, his clothes and cap were speckled with leaf-bits and dirt, and his breathing was ragged. The last thing in the world he wanted to do was go back outside.
“What ever happened to you?” She eyed him closely.
“Ma,” Gerry said tiredly. “Can’t we just telephone for Richie?” Her eyebrows rose. “It’s a long story, Ma.” Gerry took off his cap, dropped it on the floor and roughed up his matted hair. “Richie better hear it, too. I’m barely alive! The guys left me . . .” he blurted.
“Gerard, don’t you dare exaggerate! This better be good, young man,” she tussled his hair as she walked by but picked up the phone and tapped the keys. Gerry closed his eyes. Home, barely. Or bearly home? He smiled. Richie should get an earful. ❧
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