“You be Tom, and I’ll be Huckleberry.”
“Huh,” shrugged Kevin?
“From Huckleberry Finn. You be Tom Sawyer, and I’ll be Huck.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Whatever,” said Daniel. “Just help me get this in the water.”
Kevin and Daniel shoved a homemade raft of twine and sticks into the small pond in the woods behind Kevin’s house. It fell apart as soon as it touched the water.
“Well, there goes that idea,” said Daniel.
“Oh well,” said Kevin.
Daniel picked up a handful of rocks and began skipping them one by one across the pond. Kevin picked up a rock and tried to skip it. It sunk with a thud. Daniel snickered. Kevin sat down and started picking at some grass.
“I’m bored,” said Kevin.
“Bored? How can you be bored?”
“I dunno. Just bored.”
“Do you wanna go check out the cave?”
“We did that yesterday.”
“So what? It’s cool. And maybe the bats are there.”
“There are no bats,” said Kevin.
Kevin sighed. He stood up and started walking away from the pond with his chin in his chest, scuffing his feet with each step. The forest was finally in full green. It had rained the night before, and everything was damp. Kevin and Daniel had spent nearly every day of the last month in the forest. They’d wake up, eat breakfast, ride bikes for an hour, and then end up here. Daniel loved spending time in the woods. He never wanted to leave. He’d show up in the morning with new bruises on his arms and legs and talk about how he was a man of the woods. Kevin never had any injuries. Maybe he wasn’t as clumsy. Or perhaps he just wasn’t a man of the woods.
The boys made their way through the winding path that took them past the boulders they named Boulder City and up and over the ridge where they built the swing rope that broke. The caves weren’t far, but they weren’t easy to find. One time, Daniel said he saw a family of bats living in there, and they’d gone almost every day since to find them. But they hadn’t. Kevin remained convinced there weren’t any bats in there. He thought Daniel made up the bats so they could hang out in the forest all day. Kevin wanted to play baseball with Johnny and Sam, but Daniel never did. Only the woods.
When they got to the caves, something seemed different. There was a small wrapper outside of the entrance. Daniel put his hand out to hold Kevin from moving forward and put his finger over his mouth to tell him to be quiet. He whispered.
“Don’t move. I think somebody is in there.”
Kevin nodded. Daniel tiptoed toward the entrance and peeked his head inside. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his Swiss Army, and opened the little knife. He gripped it tightly and held it out in front of him. The vigorous sounds of huffing and heavy breathing were projecting outside. Daniel looked back at Kevin. He bit his lip.
“What if somebody is getting murdered in there,” whispered Kevin. His face was white in fear.
“Then we have to save them,” said Daniel.
Daniel began tiptoeing into the darkening cave. Kevin huddle behind him, looping his fingers in the back of Daniel’s shirt. The cave wasn’t deep, but it was narrow until it opened up. Through the thin gap, Daniel could see a faint light.
The cave opened up as they approached the end of the slight gap. There the boys saw what they never intended to see. There were a red and black plaid blanket and an old blue Pepsi cooler with a couple of bottles of beer and a basket. And on the red and black plaid blanket, there was a sweaty monster of four legs and curled toes, a couple of hands, lots of brown hair and big butt in the air. The breathing turned to moans and then to silent yelps.
Kevin backed up, pulling Daniel with him by the shirt. He didn’t know what they were seeing, and he didn’t want to know. Suddenly he tripped, and they both stumbled backward. Daniel let out a whimper. He dropped his knife. The monster stopped moaning and separated. It was a man and woman. They were naked and angry.
“What are you doing here,” bellowed the man?
“Get them out of here, Jim” shouted the woman!
The boys stood to run. Kevin didn’t wait.
“Let’s go, Daniel!”
“Wait! I want to get that cooler. I bet there’s beer.”
Daniel stood in a showdown with Jim, the most naked man he’d ever seen. He looked at the blue Pepsi cooler. Jim looked at Daniel looking.
“Don’t you dare,” said Jim.
Daniel lunged for the cooler and grabbed it by the metal handle. The man jumped for Daniel, but he missed, and belly flopped on the cave floor. Daniel took off running down the narrow.
“Get him,” yelled the woman!
Jim stood and took after Daniel, still naked, still angry. Kevin was waiting for Daniel at the entrance fo the cave. Daniel ran past him. Kevin followed. Jim wasn’t far behind. “Not so bored now. Are ya?”
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