Special Delivery

by Nancy W.

Chris and Buck is mean. They make us play in the backyard all the time so we has to see it. We can't play in the front yard or in the barn, only the backyard so we has to look.
     JD's mad at me. He says it ain't fair that he can't even touch it cuz it's all my fault we got in trouble. But it ain't all my fault. I was just trying to have fun. Nothing would have happened if the man in the brown truck had stopped like he was supposed to. And nobody would have been all upset if Mrs. Potter hadn't called 9-1-1. And she wouldn't have called if the digger       men hadn't been there digging in the first place. It wasn't my fault really. I just wanted to have fun.

Uncle Ezra says I'm not doing too good on this essay. He says maybe I need to go into the backyard some more cuz I'm not getting the point. I think I'll ask Uncle Josiah to read the rest of my paper. Just a minute. I'll be right back.
     I'm back now. I asked Uncle Josiah and Uncle Nathan and they both said Uncle Ezra is right.
     How come a guy can gets in so much trouble just trying to have fun?

Vin and JD stared at the computer screen in silence...

"Aren't you gonna talk, Vin?"

"Don't wanna."

"But, Buck and Chris said we gotta write about it."

"Don't wanna. You start."

"'Kay..." JD paused to collect his thoughts and then began... "It was all Vin's fault..."

Grown ups are so boring sometimes, Vin thought.

He and JD had been having a perfectly good time watching the men working on the road at the end of the long driveway that lead to the ranch house. They had a big digger and had made a great big hole, big enough almost to fit the whole house in, and it was fun watching as the digger chomped up big clumps of earth and dropped it into a big pile. There was all kinds of interesting stuff in the hole. Slippery mud that looked like the clay from art class at school, the kind you could make pots with and let them get hard in the oven. All kinds of cool rocks. And best of all, a whole bunch of wiggly worms.

JD and Vin had pulled a whole big pile of them out of the mud before one of the men came over and told them they couldn't touch the pile of dirt and that they had to stay behind the fence that divided Chris's property from the road. They obeyed, but took their worms with them, and then Mrs. Potter came running out of the house and told them they had to stay behind the house where they couldn't even hardly see the digger, and they couldn't bring the worms.

Vin sighed. He loved living with Chris and Buck, and he loved Mrs. Potter, too. But sometimes... just a little teensy tiny bit, he kind of missed the days when it was just him and JD and they could do whatever they wanted whenever they felt like it, and there were no grownups around to tell them it was too dirty, or too dangerous, or too dumb.

Of course, back then, they never had roast beef and mashed potatoes. That's what Mrs. Potter was making for supper and it was Vin's favorite, even if she also made green beans that Chris made him eat. She made a chocolate cake for desert, too. He couldn't wait!

Since it was actually further from the road than the house was, they decided it was okay to go to the barn to visit the horses and the chickens. It had been raining so the corral was muddy and Mrs. Potter said not to let the horses out unless Chris and Buck were there because if their feet got full of mud, Vin and JD were too little to clean them and she was scared to. They petted the horses and talked to them and gave them some carrots and JD fed the chickens even though he had already fed them that morning. The chickens didn't mind.

They wanted to squirt each other with the hose, but JD caught a stupid cold after he fell in the river, and he was over it but Mrs. Potter said it would come back if he got all wet. Vin didn't believe that. He figured Mrs. Potter just didn't want them to play with the hose because grown ups were no fun.

They found a shovel and decided they would dig their own hole and find more worms. Maybe they'd even dig a well. Mr. Beidler at school had said sometimes you could find oil in the ground and if you did, you would be rich. If they were rich, they could buy another pool, one that Peso couldn't wreck. They missed that pool. Chris and Buck said they'd buy another one, but not until next summer which was about a million days away.

The rain had left the ground soft and muddy, but even so, they soon discovered that digging a hole with a shovel was nowhere near as fun a watching the big digger do it. They were quickly growing tired of the task when they spotted a large brown truck turning off the main road and up the driveway towards the house. It was the kind of truck that brought packages and JD ran to tell Mrs. Potter.

Vin walked up to the head of the driveway to greet the truck.

"Hi there," the driver said. "Is this the Larabee Ranch?"


"Is your mom or dad home?"

Before Vin could answer, JD walked up with Mrs. Potter. The truck driver explained that he had two large, heavy boxes and she said she'd show him where they went.

Vin and JD watched excitedly as the driver opened the back of his big brown truck. It was BIG inside - so big a grown up could walk in it - and there were lots of packages. He unhooked a little wheelie thing from the side of the truck and then hoisted the first of the large packages onto it. It was long and flat, and to the boy's disappointment, there was nothing on it to identify what was inside.

The other box was shaped differently, but was also big. Both boxes made a clanking sound when they were moved. JD asked the driver what was in them.

"I don't rightly know," he answered. "Sounds like something metal."

"Could be the new corral gate," Mrs. Potter said.

Peso had learned to open the corral, and he even got out and ran away, so they had to tie the gate closed with chains and it was hard to get open for people now, too, so Chris had ordered a new one.

The driver closed the back of the truck, and Vin and JD figured some old gate wasn't really that interesting. They made no move to follow to see where it was going.

"You boys go inside and start getting cleaned up," Mrs. Potter told them. "Chris and Buck will be home soon."

Vin and JD were going to do what Mrs. Potter said. They really were. But first, they had to get a better look at the big brown truck.

+ + + + + + +

Shantelle Wilson heaved a sigh as he wiped his forearm across his brow. He was in charge of the excavation that would eventually become and underground aqueduct to prevent run-off from mountain rains from cutting arroyos in the surrounding ranch property or maybe even flooding them. Problem was, the surveyor's map had a discrepancy and he was not working with the type of soil he had anticipated. The sandy mixture kept slipping back into the hole, creating hazardous conditions for his crew. He hated to send them home an hour early, but it would be safer if they resumed the next day after they had obtained proper shoring material for the trench.

No sooner had he let the workers know than there was a soft whooshing sound and one wall of the trench collapsed, making his point for him. He got no arguments as his workers packed up to head home for the day.

+ + + + + + +

The driver had closed the big door at the back of the truck, so they couldn't look inside anymore, but when he did, something else had caught Vin's attention.

The truck's rear bumper was wide and flat, and on either side of the door were metal handles. Vin had seen the driver easily place his much larger feet on the bumper while he used one of the handles to lift himself into the truck.

Vin was too short to reach the handles, but climbing onto the bumper was easy and once he stood up on it, he found he could reach them just fine. Grabbing hold of one, he leaned forward and called to JD, who was peeking in the side door looking at all the things inside the cab.

"JD! Look where I am!" Vin shouted.

JD ran to the back of the truck. "Me too!" he laughed.

It was a little bit harder for him to climb on the bumper because his legs were shorter, and once he was up there, it wasn't quite as easy for him to hang on because his fingers just barely reached the handle, but he finally made it.

"This is so cool!" he said.

Vin agreed. "It would be fun if the truck was moving, huh?" He swung his body precariously over the edge of the bumper, as if he were blowing in the breeze.

They heard the voices of Mrs. Potter and the driver and Vin pulled himself back flat against the truck's door. "I got an idea, JD," he said excitedly.

You ready to talk yet, Vin?


But you're s'posed to help me.

Nope. All I really have to do is write my dumb essay. I don't have to talk if I don't one ah.

??? Look what the computer typed Vin.

Stop laughing at me!

I'm not laughing at you. It typed one ah when you said want to.

Dumb computer.




JD, quit breathing on the microphone and just tell the story.

Okay. Where was I? Oh yeah, the guy with the brown truck...

Greg Rozelli made the appropriate delivery notes on his hand-held computer and then checked to make sure the two little boys he'd seen earlier were not in the area. He glanced at his watch. This was his last delivery, and if he hurried, he could get back to the depot in time to drop off his pick-ups, clock out and catch the last half of his son's soccer practice. The big cargo van was not as easy to maneuver at interstate speeds as a car, but, he'd been driving it long enough that he was comfortable taking that quicker route back to downtown Denver, so he decided to head directly for I-25.

As a precaution, he glanced under the truck and, seeing no little feet anywhere, he climbed in and started the noisy diesel engine.

+ + + + + + +

Vin grinned broadly at JD as the big truck rumbled to life. This was going to be fun!

JD was grinning, too, but he wasn't so sure this was a good idea. It seemed an awful lot like something adults would get mad about, because adults often got mad about things that were exciting and fun. He hoped he never got old and thought that way.

The plan was that they would take a short ride on the back of the big truck, and when it slowed down at the end of the driveway to turn, they'd jump off.

JD laughed excitedly as the truck began to move. "Weeeeeeeeeeeeeee!"

Vin laughed, too, grabbing his handle with both hands and leaning back so that the air sweeping around from the front of the truck acted like wind and blew his hair back. It was thrilling to be riding free like that, with no dumb booster seat, or seat belt.

JD wanted to hang off the truck like Vin, but, his arms were too short, so he contented himself with watching the ground pass below their feet.

They were going kinda fast....

It was going to be over all too soon. Vin could tell from the distance to the house that they were almost to the gate.

"Okay, JD!" he called out. "Get ready to jump!"

JD looked down at the ground uncertainly. They were now going so fast that all the little rocks that paved the driveway seemed to be passing by in a grey blur. He'd jump if Vin jumped, but he looked at the older boy with a worried expression.

The smile had faded from Vin's face. He had expected the truck to slow down when it reached the gate, but it wasn't.

+ + + + + + +

Normally, Greg Rozelli would have stopped before heading out onto the main road, but road construction had blocked off any traffic that might be coming from the left, so he eased the truck into a right turn without slowing down.

+ + + + + + +

"Vin!" JD wailed. "He didn't stop!"

"It's okay JD... " Vin tried to calm the younger boy. But, truth was, he was getting kind of scared now, too. The truck hadn't slowed at the gate like he thought it would. The ground was passing faster and faster beneath their feet and Vin was sure that if they jumped now, they'd get hurt and then he'd be in real trouble.

He didn't know what to do.

The truck hit a bump in the road and both boys' feet bounced up off the bumper. One of JD's feet slid off the edge and for a horrifying instant, Vin thought he was going to fall.

Screaming in terror, JD managed to pull himself back onto the bumper. He was holding onto the handle with only his fingers, though, and it would be easy for his grip to fail.

"Hold on JD!" Vin cried. "Don't jump! Just hold on!"

"I'm scared!" JD cried. "I wanna get off!"

"NO! Just hold on!"

Vin knew they were in what Buck called the deep doo-doo now. Chris was going to be so mad at him. But, he couldn't let JD jump off and get hurt. He watched in horror as the ranch house grew smaller and smaller in the distance.

+ + + + + + +

"Where are you boys?!" Gloria Potter shouted impatiently. Supper was ready on the stove and Chris and Buck would be home any minute. She liked to have the boys clean enough to sit down to eat when the men came home, because as a working parent herself, she knew how precious those few hours in the evening were.

She had already checked the bathroom, bedroom, and the rest of the house and then had gone to the barn looking for them. They were nowhere in sight. Then she remembered their earlier fascination with the earth moving equipment. If they had disobeyed and gone back to watch it, she'd make sure the little devils got a stern lecture from their dads.

Hurrying down the driveway, her heart sank when she realized that the road crew had gone home for the day. The sinking feeling evolved into a sense of overpowering dread as she approached the edge of the excavation. She had thought maybe the boys had gone to look for more worms, but what she saw stopped her in her tracks. An entire side of the hole had caved in.

"Oh dear God, no!" she gasped.

She had to fight the urge to jump into the hole and dig with her bare hands, and instead ran back to the house and dialed 911.

+ + + + + + +

JD wasn't having fun anymore. His fingers were hurting from holding onto the metal truck handle and he was scared the truck would hit another bump and he'd go flying off.

The truck was taking them far away from their house. He didn't know how they were going to get home, and Buck wouldn't know where he was. The big truck might take them all the way to Japan or some place and he'd never see home or Buck again.

"Vin, I wanna go home," he sobbed. "When is it going to stop?"

Vin wished he had an answer. The truck had just kept going faster and faster. After it hit the bump, it was on a paved road. This was the same road the school bus took, so maybe they'd pass by the school. There was stoplight there and if it was red, the truck would have to stop and then they'd get off and call Buck and Chris and tell them the teacher made them come to school....

Okay, that was a dumb idea. He was so scared he couldn't think of any ideas that weren't dumb, and a surge of panic washed over him as the truck began a wide turn and he spotted a familiar red, white and blue sign with a big "25" on it. They were going on the Interstate! There was no stoplights or anything there, just a lot of cars going really fast.

He choked back his own tears and tried to reach over to grab onto JD, but he was too far away. "Hold on JD! PLEASE hold on!" he pleaded.

There was a slight lurch as the truck's gears shifted and it started going even faster. The rocks, weeds and even the guardrails alongside the ramp were all fading into a blur of movement.

Vin wanted to be brave for JD, but he was terrified they were going to fall off the truck and die, and he couldn't help it, he started to cry, too.

+ + + + + + +

After receiving a frantic call from the public works dispatcher, Shantelle Wilson had turned his crew around and raced back to the excavation. Unconcerned about their own safety, the men grabbed shovels and jumped into the trench and gently but quickly began to clear away the caved in dirt.

Wilson was pretty sure that no more dirt had slid into the trench since they'd left it, but it wouldn't take that much to bury two small boys. A father himself, his gut clenched knowing that if the excavation had collapsed on the two little boys, they were already too late.

+ + + + + + +

Chris and Buck slammed to a stop at the group of police and rescue vehicles gathered on the road in front of their home. After a frantic call from Gloria Potter, they'd slapped the magnetic flasher onto the roof of Chris's Ram, turned on the sirens and skirted around rush hour traffic in a race for home.

Gloria was standing off to the side, clutching a paper towel she was using for a handkerchief and weeping openly.

Chris ran to her, ready to explode with anger, but a police officer intervened before he could get his first bitter words out.

"Mr. Larabee?"

"WHAT?!" Chris turned his fear on him.

Buck had run up and joined them also.

"And you're Mister Wilmington?" the officer asked.

Buck nodded. He was too numb with dread about what the officer had to say to offer his own words.

The officer continued. "The good news is we don't think they are buried... the crew boss for this job said most of that earth caved in before they left the site an hour or so ago, and they've dug most of it out. But..." he looked cautiously at both men, "the boys aren't anywhere around. We've issued an Amber Alert."

"Oh dear God," Buck gasped. Of all the things they worried about happening to the boys, the idea that some pervert could simply take them had never seriously occurred to either of them.

"I'm so sorry," Gloria Potter sobbed.

Chris glared at her as Buck moved over to place a comforting arm around her shoulder.

"I told them to go inside and wash up for dinner," she explained. "I thought they were in the house."

Chris softened when he saw the pain and misery on the woman's face. If someone had taken Vin and JD, they would have waited until it was certain no one would see them, and out here, away from the perils of the city, even he and Buck didn't watch the boys continuously, assuming they were reasonable safe from such danger.

Now was not the time to be assigning blame. They had to find the boys.

+ + + + + + +

JD had clamped his eyes shut. It was too scary watching all the cars around them and thinking if he fell off he would get squished and be road kill.

His arms burned with the effort of hanging on, and the wind whipping past him was making him cold. Pretty soon, he was going to fall.

He didn't want to die, and he was so scared he couldn't stop crying.

"I want my mama," he sobbed. "I wanna go home!" Stupid Vin and his stupid idea...

Vin sobbed softly. JD had to be scared if he was calling for his mama. He knew she was dreaming of angels and wouldn't come. He wanted to go home, too. Or at least, he wanted the truck to stop. Even if he went to jail it would be better than where he was - there were cars all around and some of the people in them were looking at him and JD and pointing. He guessed they probably looked pretty silly, although none of the people were laughing. One old lady had her hand over her mouth like she wanted to scream.

"HEEEEELLLLPPPP!" Vin called out, not sure anyone in the cars could hear him. The wind rushing past the truck seemed to suck his words away.

"Vin! I can't hold on!" JD screeched, and as Vin watched in horror, one of the younger boy's hands slipped.

Acting on instinct, he reached out with one hand and grabbed on to JD's flailing arm. It kept him from falling, but now, both boys were only clinging to the speeding truck with one hand, their other hands joined together in a precarious death grip.

JD was just screaming now. Vin choked back the violent, terrified sobs that were trying to escape. "HEEEEELLLLPPPPP!!"

+ + + + + + +

Greg Rozelli frowned as a Ford Ranger pulled in front of him. The driver's window was open and the driver's arm was out and he was pointing towards the shoulder of the road.

Rozelli had seen more than his share of obscene gestures, but he couldn't figure this particular one out, and wondered exactly what he might have done to piss this guy off.

He checked his side mirrors and adding to his confusion, he saw that there were vehicles on either side of him and the drivers of both were making the same gesture. He was thinking it was some kind of prank, but taking a closer look, he didn't see how that was possible.

He couldn't see the driver of the pickup in front of him, but the arm hanging out the window was beefy and covered with tattoos. The Dodge minivan on the right had an elderly couple in it, and even the passenger was making that same gesture.

A young girl was driving the red Mustang on his left.

It didn't seem likely they were all working together.

Checking his odometer, he realized they had him boxed in and were slowing down. He felt a brief instant of panic - people had hijacked delivery trucks before. That thought passed quickly, though. No one would be dumb enough to try that in broad daylight, not with all this traffic...

And then he noticed that every lane of traffic had slowed... no one was passing him, even though his speed was now down to 40 mph. He was nearing the Colfax exit where he would leave the Interstate. He'd already passed the 1/2 mile sign. He had just about decided that whatever game these yahoos wanted to play, they could do off the Interstate just as well when suddenly, a state trooper appeared to his left.

+ + + + + + +

Trooper Rick Zerbey had raced towards the Colfax exit after a dozen cell phone calls to 911 had alerted dispatch that two juveniles were riding on the back of a delivery van. He notified the dispatcher when he made visual contact.

The little boys appeared to be uninjured, but they were clearly terrified and just barely clinging to the back of the truck. He didn't see how they would be able to hang on when the vehicle made the sharp turn onto Colfax, which he was sure it would, because that was where the depot was.

Not wanting to frighten the children any more than they already were, he decided not to use his lights and siren. The traffic around the delivery van had slowed and everyone had completely cleared the lane behind the truck, so they really weren't necessary. He turned his loudspeaker on.

"PULL OVER! PULL OVER" The Ford Ranger in front of the truck moved out of the way so he could slip into its spot.

He turned his flashers on then, and repeated, "PULL OVER!"

Rozelli tapped his brakes and checked his right side before pulling the truck over onto the shoulder, even though he wasn't entirely certain the trooper was even talking to him. The truck was running fine, he wasn't speeding... all of his doors were closed and his cargo was secure...

The trooper stopped directly in front of him, and Rozelli reached for the overhead ledge where he kept his wallet, thinking he'd at least be asked for his driver's license.

But the trooper jumped out of his unit and ran right past him without a word, heading for the back of the truck.

Frowning, Rozelli exited the vehicle to see what the hell everyone's problem was.

+ + + + + + +

The smaller of the two boys was crying hysterically, and when he saw Zerbey, he raised his hands in the air as if he were surrendering.

Zerbey held his arms out to him. "It's okay... everything's okay," he said gently. The little boy leaped into his arms, and quickly calmed down enough to point an accusing finger at the other boy.

"HE MADE ME DO IT!" he cried.

The other boy was still standing on the bumper and had turned away, hiding his face, his small shoulders heaving with each sobbing breath.

The driver of the truck appeared and stood staring at the little boy on his bumper and the one in Zerbey's arms.

He put his hands on either side of his forehead. "Oh God!" he gasped. And then repeated. "Oh God! Oh God!" as he made a complete circle. "I swear to God," he told the trooper. "I didn't know they were back here!"

Seeing Vin trying to make himself invisible, Rozelli thought of his own little boy. "C'm 'ere, son," he held out his arms. "Let's get you down from there."

Passengers in the other cars had exited their vehicles and were walking up to make sure the boys were okay. Sirens in the distance signaled the arrival of Denver PD and Rescue.

Vin couldn't stop crying. He was dead meat, he just knew it.

A nice lady handed him a tissue and he wiped his nose. The truck driver opened the big door at the back of the truck so that him and JD could sit down inside it.

Somehow, it wasn't so interesting anymore.

When the policeman asked for their names, Vin got scared.

"Eli Joe Chavez," he said, giving the first name that popped into his mind. Eli Joe was a mean boy from school. Vin hated him.

"HIS NAME IS VIN TANNER!" JD said angrily. "And I'm JD DUNNE."

Zerbey immediately recognized the names and mentally checked the boys' appearance against the description he'd received a few minutes earlier. He activated his shoulder mic.

"Go ahead 234."

"Be advised that the juveniles at this location are possibly Amber Alert subjects Tanner and Dunne."


Zerbey knew that dispatch would contact the proper authorities. He looked at the crowd gathered around him. Everyone and his brother had stopped to check on the two boys. "Okay folks, show's over. Thank you for your concern... now let's clear these cars out of here so Rescue can get through."

A few minutes later, the regular cars were gone and Vin and JD found themselves surrounded by police cars and ambulances and even a fire truck.

It would have all been so cool if Vin wasn't so scared. He was thinking he might have to go to jail for what he had done.

The driver of the truck kept shaking his head and telling everyone "I swear, I didn't know they were back here!"

Vin wondered if the driver was in big trouble, too. That didn't seem right, and made him feel even worse, until he thought about how the driver didn't stop like he was supposed to so it was really his fault, wasn't it?

He had stopped crying at least. JD had too, when a nice lady had given him a bottle of Sprite. JD loved Sprite. Nobody gave Vin anything. They probably all thought it was all his fault JD almost got killed. Chris was going to be mad at him and Buck was probably going to hate him forever.

"Want some?" JD asked, offering his drink.

Vin shook his head. He didn't deserve a good drink. He'd been stupid, stupid, stupid!

+ + + + + + +

Chris was pacing the kitchen, raking his fingers though his hair. Buck sat in numb silence at the table with Mrs. Potter. They had wanted to join the search for the boys, but the police detective in charge had managed to convince them otherwise. Intense emotion would make them a hazard out on the road, and it would be better if they were there should any ransom demands be phoned in.

The waiting, though, was physically painful.

Both Chris and Buck knew too many horror stories about abducted children who were taken for God only knew what horrible reason and never seen again, or worse, horrifically abused and then dumped somewhere, dead.

Josiah, Nathan and Ezra had joined in the search, though, and if anyone had hurt either boy, the entire team would not rest until they were brought to justice - and they would not be lucky enough for that to be the "justice" of the courts. None of them would have the slightest guilt over acting as judge, jury and executioner, and the sicko would learn the true meaning of cruel and unusual punishment.

It was in the midst of these dark thoughts that a Denver police officer entered the kitchen with a big smile on his face. "We found them. They're fine!"

+ + + + + + +

Vin was confused. He had expected Chris to be mad, but when the big Ram had driven up to the delivery truck, Chris had run to him and scooped him up into his arms and asked him if he was okay.

Everyone had come, in fact. Uncle Josiah was with Uncle Nathan in his SUV and had decided to drive Chris's truck back to the ranch so Chris could squeeze into the tiny back seats with him. Buck and JD had gone home in the back seat of Uncle Nathan's car. Uncle Ezra drove his Jag in the front, so it was like a parade.

Vin supposed JD had told Buck everything by the time they got home. Chris, though, hadn't said a word to him. He just held onto Vin's hand and kept swallowing hard like he was trying not to cry. Vin didn't think he was mad, but he didn't understand why he wasn't, and he wasn't sure he wasn't, so he kept quiet.

When they got home, they had to drive though another crowd of policemen and neighbors and even the guys with the big digger. Everyone waved as they passed by. Vin slid down in his seat, embarrassed by the attention.

After all of the "uncles" had made sure that Vin and JD were okay, Buck passed a bottle of beer to everyone and then took JD to give him a bath because he had boogers all over his face from crying. Vin was sent on his own to take a shower.

Sometimes, Vin didn't really take a shower when he was supposed to. He just stood under the water long enough to get wet so Chris would think he did.

Today, though, he carefully soaped the washcloth and cleaned everywhere he could reach, and then poured out a capful of shampoo like Chris had taught him, and worked it into his hair. Then he stood under the shower to rinse off until all the bubbles were gone.

Stepping out of the shower, he dried his hair real good so it wouldn't leave a big wet spot on his shirt, and then he combed and combed until all the tangles were out.

By the time both boys were clean and dressed, Josiah, Nathan and Ezra were gone, and Chris and Buck had supper waiting.

Chris even let Vin have some of the chocolate cake for desert.

But, just when both boys thought the entire incident would be forgotten, Chris cleared his throat and said, "What do you think we should do about what happened today, boys?"

Vin and JD looked at each other warily. JD had already tried to blame everything on Vin, but Buck hadn't seemed real happy with that answer.

They both hung their heads.

"Reckon you boys might be curious about what was in those boxes," Buck said, winking at Chris.

Vin looked up. "The new gate?"


He reached into his shirt pocket and set out a pamphlet. The picture on the cover was a jungle gym just like the one they had at school!

Both boys smiled at each other, excited by this wonderful gift.

"Chris and I are going to put it together this weekend. We figured it would make up for the pool."

The boys' smiles broadened.

"Problem is," Chris said, "You aren't going to play on it."

"Huh?" JD looked shocked, but Vin seemed to have known that was coming.

"Nope. For two weeks, all you are going to do is look at it, and think how much more fun it would be than riding down the interstate on the back of a delivery truck...."

Good work, Gentlemen.

Thanks Uncle Ezra, but Vin didn't say nothing.


Well, you didn't. And you should have because it's your fault.

It is not.

Yes it is.



Excuse me.

Oh, sorry, Uncle Ezra.

That's quite all right Master Dunne. But I think you are forgetting something.


Did Vin force you to get on the truck?



He was going to have fun and I wanted to too.... Oh... Sorry Vin. I won't be mad at you no more.


Vin, ain't you going to talk to me? I said sorry.

I'm sorry too. Two weeks is like a billion years.

Yeah, but we can have fun doing other stuffs.

Are we finished, Gentlemen?

Yeah, here's my picture. See? It's got the truck and see, there's the man driving it. And here's me and I'm crying because I'm scared. And there's Vin and he's screaming HELP!

Don't yell, JD!

Well you were. And see this part down here? That's the highway. And these lines up here? That's the wind blowing by the truck because we was going so fast.

It's a very complete picture, Master Dunne.

Thanks, Uncle Ezra.

Vin, how are you doing with your essay?

I think it's done... unless you make me do it another time.

Uncle Ezra said I had to do my essay over. He talked to me for a long time.   He even telled me about one time when he did something real dumb and it was all his fault even if he didn't want to say so. I shouldna got on the back of the truck. JD coulda got hurt real bad. Uncle Ezra says I coulda got hurt too. He's right. I thought I was gonna fall off and, well it would be too icky to say in my essay. He says sometimes little boys forget to think about the consekenses when they think somethin might be fun. If that means I forgot to think what bad things could happen before we rode the truck, then he's right.

  I feel real bad that everyone got scared. I didn't mean for that to happen. I just wanted to have fun. And it would have been fun if the man in the brown truck stopped at the end of the driveway like he was sposed to.


"How many more days, JD?"

"Nine," JD sighed.

The jungle gym was the best... shaped like a big dome with lots of bars to climb on and hang from. Not only that, but the previous owner of the house had worked on cars and had left a big A-Frame next to the barn for his winch that Buck had always said would make a perfect swing set. Buck had ordered the necessary hardware along with the jungle gym and now two swings hung from chains that were almost 20 feet long. The swings would go really, really high.

When they got to use them.

Both the jungle gym and the swings were wrapped in yellow CRIME SCENE tape. Buck and Chris had told them both that if they even touched either, they would add another week to the time they weren't allowed to play with them.

Mrs. Potter said she'd tattle on them too. She said they had taken 10 years off her life. They had both felt really bad about that - they didn't want Mrs. Potter to die - until Buck had explained that was just a 'spression, meaning you had made someone really scared.

The big brown truck had come again a couple of days later, this time with a big box that said "A-1 Corral Gates" on it, so they knew it was nothing interesting. Vin and JD didn't even go close to the truck this time, but the driver, Mr. Rozelli, had called them over.

He had two little toy trucks that looked just like the big one, and he gave one to each boy. They couldn't believe he wasn't mad at them, until he bent down to eye level and showed him a scar on his chin.

"When I was a little boy, I decided to take a ride, too," he explained. "Only it was a pickup truck and I was on a skateboard. When the truck stopped, I kept on going, right into the tail light," he laughed.

Vin and JD laughed to.

"Just promise me you won't ever do that again," Mr. Rozelli had said.

Both boys had nodded solemnly. They had learned their lesson.

JD was checking out the box that the coral gate had come in. It was long - so long that if they lifted it on one end, they could lean the top against the roof of the house.

It would make a great slide, JD theorized.

Vin had to agree. The only problem would be finding a way to get on the roof so they could slide down again...


Next: Fountain of Youth...

Comments: Nancy W.

In The Good Ol' Summertime (Index)