I have run into a problem with the mystery I have been working on. To try to work it out I went back to working on my coming-of-age novel. Below is an excerpt. I currently am calling it Hoch’s Creek, but that can change. It’s still a little rough, so be kind. By the way, County Ops is again available on Amazon for 99 cents.
Weiner stuffed a few more sticks into the burn barrel and put the old refrigerator shelf back on top of it. The fire was going good now, the odors of the previously burned garbage coming out in an aroma of burnt banana peels and magazines which would permeate anything we cooked on the fire. Weiner put the can of pork and beans on top of the shelf. Beside it he put the coffee can of cowboy coffee, two heaping handfuls of coffee grounds thrown in with the water. Picking up the green sticks we had used earlier, he speared a hot dog and held it over the fire. He handed the other stick to me.
It was about midnight and this would be our third time eating tonight. We had roasted some hot dogs over the fire and ate some chips when I first came over. About ten we had sneaked into his kitchen and robbed half a brick of Velveeta cheese from the refrigerator. We ate the cheese with a few saltines, washing it down with the coffee. Neither of us drank coffee on a regular basis–my mother said it would stunt my growth. Even now when we drank it, we put enough sugar in it to give us diabetes, but we had to have the coffee to keep us awake. No matter what we called it, sleeping out was never about sleeping. I would sleep tomorrow after I got home. Now here we were again standing by Wiener’s burn barrel ready to suck down more food and the coffee.
“We should have gone to Chuck’s place at ten,” Weiner said and shot me a sly grin.
I returned the smile even as a wave of apprehension rolled through me.
Every time we camped out, Wiener mentioned Chuck’s place. At ten Chuck Elliot took his little Pomeranian, Puddles, out in the backyard to do its business. Last summer Weiner, Bob Parker and I were camping out in Bob’s backyard. On that night we decided to sneak into the lilac bushes behind Chuck’s house and wait for him to come outside so we could scare him. Ten came and went without Chuck making an appearance. We continued to hide in the bushes.
At 10:30 Chuck’s sister, Cindy, came home from her job at the Dairy Sweet. Cindy was going into her junior year in high school at the time. Blonde with blue eyes and a body like a mature woman, Cindy was a looker by anyone’s standards. Shortly after she got home the light in her upstairs bedroom window snapped on. She had left the shade halfway up when she left that afternoon because it had been daylight. We watched as she took the belt out of her pants and then stripped off her pants and threw them on the bed.
She was standing toward the rear of the room, and because of the angle we couldn’t see anything from the waist down, but just the thought of looking at an older girl standing with no pants on was enough to get our twelve-year old hearts pounding. She began to unbutton her blouse and then walked out of view to the right.
Immediately Bob and Weiner went back and forth in the bushes trying to find her again. I of course diverted my eyes and said a quick prayer. (And that is the truth no matter what vile lies the other two tell about me pushing and shoving them out of the way to get a better look.) Cindy couldn’t be found from any angle, but after a few minutes something flesh-colored suddenly flashed across the window, and the light abruptly went out.
Because all we could see was the rectangle made by the foot that the shade was up and maybe an eight inch gap between the curtains, we couldn’t tell if we had seen an arm, a leg or maybe some uncovered girl’s body part that is never left unclothed except for showers and baths—it could just as well have been a peach-colored pair of pajamas or a pink robe. Not knowing what we had seen let our imaginations bloom like vines climbing up a red brick wall. Young boys can see far more with their imaginations than they ever can with their eyes. The story went from maybe seeing a female body part that is normally covered with clothing, to seeing Cindy standing completely naked on the bed in front of a wide open window without a shade or curtain, doing a wild hootchie coochie dance with wild gyrations and motions that would have challenged even the most flexible Olympic gymnast.
I personally did nothing to grow the story–Weiner was by far the best gardener–but neither did I do anything to correct the record, and I gladly accepted the envy of the other boys, even high school boys, at having seen one of the best looking girls in town naked.
Despite all the adulation a deep terror burned inside me. Cindy dated Josh Noble who was now a starting linebacker for the high school football team, I lived in fear, and sometimes had nightmares, that Cindy or Josh would hear the story and show up and try to beat the memory from our heads.