chapter 14 - bait flings while coons burrow
[with apologies to nero's heirs] Jack watched from the park bench as the more Dog Bait thrashed around in the water, the more frustrated he became. This led to even more thrashing in the water that made the water even muddier than before. Sluggo wasn’t much help because he had completely lost track of where the bicycle had disappeared beneath the surface of the muddy water.
He was now shouting, “I think it went down over there! It went down over there!” while pointing to random spots in the river hoping that Dog Bait would get stuck in the mud or slip into a deep hole.
A few people walking by stopped to see what was going on. They hadn’t seen Dog Bait launch his bike into the water and had no idea what all the commotion was about. Then several more people joined just because they saw the first few people standing there. The effect snowballed until a small crowd had gathered along the riverbank, watching Sluggo and Dog Bait trade insults as Dog Bait sent tidal waves of water this way and that.
Sluggo, always on the lookout for opportunities, noticed the growing crowd and made one minor change in the coaching he was giving Dog Bait. With renewed urgency, Sluggo shouted, “I think he went down over there! He went down over there!”
Dog Bait, always quick on the uptake, followed with, “Here? Did he go under over here?”
“He’s been under for quite a while!” yelled Sluggo while the crowd stared hard into the muddy river. “Keep looking! I think he’s more this way!”
“Shut up!” yelled Dog Bait. “I won’t find him if you keep yelling at me!” The crowd leaned forward, craning their necks toward the thick brown water flowing by.
“Shut up yourself before I climb down in there and concave your forehead!” shouted Sluggo. The crowd leaned back just a bit, away from Sluggo.
And then, when the tension in the crowd was at its peak, Dog Bait took one last smack at the water and said in disgust, “Aw, forget it! Let’s go to the bars!” He climbed up out of the river, and Sluggo picked up the one remaining beater bike. The crowd parted before them and was silent except for the squeak-squeak-squeak of Sluggo’s bike and the squish-squish-squish of Dog Bait’s shoes as they walked away.
It took a few minutes for members of the crowd to wake from their hypnotic trances, with some people glancing back and forth between the river and the two would-be rescuers, while others were shaking their heads as if to clear their vision.
Jack realized that he, too, had been a bit hypnotized by the scene. It was later than he thought, and he would have to ride quickly to reach Brendan’s in time. Jack quickly looked over his shoulder for his bike and saw that it was gone yet again.
Bart had evidently finished rugby practice and was back to his old tricks because Jack spotted him laughing and pedaling across the park on Jack’s bike. A church bell started chiming the eleven o’clock hour, and at that very moment, a raccoon army came charging from several directions at once into the park.
to be continued...
[a serial by little orphan dbax]