Two boys find themselves in a bad place and a bad time
| WINNER OF THE WRITER'S CRAMP 6/25/21
We didn’t shit our pants like Larry said. Nothing like that. A nasty rumor my brother started. I’ll admit we were nervous there for a moment or two. I’ll tell you another thing; Grogan’s Orchard is like a spooky graveyard when you’re walking through it at night and there’s no moon and you didn’t bring a flashlight. So, you’re trying to walk quietly in your flip flops thinking how great and brave and smart you are, how much time you’re saving, how impressed they’re going to be when you show up at their beach bonfire and then you hear something. You stop walking. What was that? Did you hear it? Did you hear it! Yes, I fucking heard it! Did it sound sort of like a growl to you? Yes, it sure as shit did! Then you know how great and brave and smart you are. You know you aren’t in no field of daisies now, traipsing along with your funny old grandfather to a picnic lunch. No. You are in real trouble and you’re listening to an elongated low-pitched snarl that starts off deep-in-the-chest of something large out there in the darkness telling you it doesn’t like you very much and ends up some place else, someplace meaner, louder, telling you it seriously hates your guts and isn’t joking about it, not even a little bit.
What difference does it make?
There is no difference, not while you’re standing there and every instinct tells you not to move, not to make a sound--don’t even breathe loud, and also, why the hell are you still standing here?
And so, you run. You and Freddy, your best buddy, the only other person dumb enough to accept your brother’s dare. We’re having a bonfire on the beach. You want to come; you have to walk there. We are going to drive because we are big bad-ass teenagers and you two are twelve-year-old little pussies. Through the avocado orchard? Yeah, through the avocado orchard, pussies!
“Come on,” you say to Freddy. “It’ll be a summer breeze, man. They’re going to have girls there. Once they hear we walked through Old Man Grogan’s Orchard, they’re going to flock to us like hummingbirds to a hummingbird feeder!
It was a good line; hummingbirds to a hummingbird feeder! It sold Freddy on the whole idea, but as you run blindly through the darkness bouncing off trees and falling down into the thick sour/sweet smelling paste of fallen and rotting avocados and getting up and running again, tripping over everything, a werewolf behind you, brambles scratching your face, arms, legs and finally, somehow, making it through the orchard and onto the beach to stand wide-eyed and bleeding in front of a bonfire being laughed at by girls you don’t know, it makes you wonder about yourself, and the choices you make and all you can do is deny your brother’s accusations—“I'm telling you for the last time, Larry, we did not shit our pants!”
And not a hummingbird in sight!