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Rated: E · Short Story · Children's · #1535253
Assignment 4 for LRWG needing Critique

Assignment #4
Assignment Due: March 31, 2009
Word Count: 1,407

“Look,” shouted the youngest Callahan brother. Ben races to the edge of the frozen lake and points out into the darkness. “It’s here Jack,” He can barely contain the excitement, jumping up and down. “The shanty is exactly where you said it would be.”

“Ben, calm down and stop your shouting.” His older brother, Jack says. Gasping for a breath he takes two quick puffs off his inhaler as he comes up along side of his little brother. Relief short lived, he pants between words “You’re loud enough… to wake… the dead.”

“Wasn’t that the point?” grumbles Joe, the middle of the trio and the last one up the hill. “I still don’t understand why we’re out here in this bitter cold freezing our nuts off.”

Neither could Jack, but something just told him he needed to get them out of the house. Going to the fishing shanty was an after thought.

“Why, exactly are we out here?” Joe asks, not exactly thrilled about freezing off his family jewels.

“Listen; let’s just do a little ice fishing.” He tells his brothers as he picks up the fishing polls from the ground, handing them each their poll. “Ben, you go on and I’ll be right behind you.”

Joe grabs his brother’s arm, stopping Jack. “Come on, you can tell me what’s going on. Why are we out here tonight?” He bobs his head at their favorite swimming hole that’s covered with a glacier of ice. “It’s not exactly summertime and swimming is definitely not happening, if you get what I mean?”

“I get it,” Jack’s anger with Joe boils over and he shakes free from his grip. Glaring at Joe, he says, gritting his teeth,” I told ya. We’re going ice fishing.”

“You’re hiding something.” Joe shouts back at him. “I can tell.”

Jack’s not in the mood and storms off after their little brother. The snow has been making impressive strides since they left home an hour ago. With each step it has become harder and more difficult to keep pace with Ben.

Finally, Jack stops to catch his breath. He digs in his pocket and pulls the inhaler out once again; only to find it empty. Great, what else can go wrong? he wonders as he throws the inhaler to the ground.

“Ben, wait up. “ His voice muffles as he wraps his wool scarf around his mouth and nose. “You’ve got ten minutes, whether you catch a dang fish or not.”

“Oh. My. God.” Ben cries out. He jumps back hard, trying to escape, but falls right into Jack, busting his brother‘s nose.

“What the fri…!” Jack shouts. Dropping to his knees, Jack covers his face grasping his nose as he tries to staunch the blood.

Joe falls with a thump, slamming his head against the ice, giving him an abominable headache. “What the hell, Ben?”

Their little brother is standing, shaking and crying. He swipes at the tears flowing down his frost-bitten cheeks; not wanting his brothers to think he’s a baby.

Joe climbs to his feet and walks over to where Jack is kneeling. He hunches down, leaning in to see if Jacks nose has stopped bleeding.

“Here use this.” Handing Jack his scarf Joe helps his brother wrap it around his nose.

“Thanks,” he says. “Go see what freaked Ben out, would ya?” With wobbly legs Jack push to his feet and follows Joe to where Ben is standing, still shaking.

“What? What‘s wrong, Bud?” Being compassionate wasn’t Joe’s strong suite, but he tries.

Ben points to the little grungy steel structure and watches his brothers walk to the opening. Not sure what they’ll find the two oldest boys creep into the pitch dark building.

“Hey, I can’t see a flipping thing.” Leave it to Joe to always be the one to state the obvious. “Do you have a flash light, or something?”

“Give me a sec,” Jack scrounges in his pocket and pulls out a pack of matches. He lights the match, making a popping sound. The glow of the match barely lights up the little room. “Come on.”

“Jack, you’ve got to come over here.” He turns in Joe’s direction. “What? What is it?

“Jack get over here now.” His brother shouts. “It’s Bullet. He’s having hard time breathing. I think someone brought him out here. I bet Old Man Withers is half out of his mine with worry”

They both stare at the half frozen Dachshund and can’t believe anyone would be this cruel. Joe unzips his Northern Exposure ski parka and tucks the little dog against his chest.

“How, in the world did you get out here, little guy?” Joe zips his coat up and holds the dachshund close to his chest. Wanting to give the puppy all the warmth and heat he could.

The boys walk out of the out house to see Ben still standing where they left him. Jack nudges Joe. “Hey Ben, here, you carry Bullet to Old Man Withers.”

Joe hands the lethargic animal to his brother. He helps to tuck the dog up close so the Bullet can hear Ben’s heart beating.

“Keep him nice and tight.” Jack tells him, as they start the walk across the lake. “That little guy needs all the warmth he can get.”


Two mountains of snow and thirty minutes later they arrived at Old Man Withers cabin. The building and camp site wasn’t anything to write home about. The old man lived in a one room cabin that housed: a built in kitchen, living room that doubled as a bedroom and an out house in back of the main cabin. To the boys it seemed desolated and run down, even with all the piles of snow plowed. No wonder no one dared to cross on to this property.

“It doesn’t look like anyone’s here.” Joe notices there’s no smoke coming from the chimney. Or that Old Man Withers hasn’t left a light on in the cabin. “Maybe, he’s up and moved and forgot about his dog.”

Joe had a point. Most people vacationed in these cabins and they weren’t set up for yearly rentals. Maybe the old man took off not having a place to bring the dog. Jack started to fume.

“Come on,” Jack starts to mount the stairs. The old rotten porch boards creak as the boys cross to the door. Jack knocks, “Mr. Withers, you in there?” He knocks again, this time louder. “We found your dog, Bullet, out in Old George’s fishing shanty.” Jack knocked once more, harder this time, for good measure.

“I’m telling you, Jack. He ain’t here.” Joe says, leaning up against the rotted porch beams. “I bet he’s run off leaving that poor dog all on his own.”

“Can we keep him?” Ben asks, his big expressive green eyes beaming with hope. “What’ya say, Jack? We always wanted a dog. Plus, dad did say we could get one this spring.”

Ben was right; their dad said they could get a dog when it was spring. “It is spring; just two days ago it turned.” He heard his brother say the whole time hugging the puppy tighter.

Jack looks to Joe for help and finds none. Joe has a smile plastered across his face. “Look at how small he is. How much trouble can he be?”

Umm…where you guys not with me out on the lake when we found him half frozen to death, he wanted to say.

Jack knew when he was beat. He sighed and shrugged his shoulders. “Okay, we’ll take him home only on one condition,” he starts to say then holds up a hand to ward off complaints. “We leave a note telling Old Man Withers where to find his dog; dad has to agree because I am not the only one taking care of him. Do we agree?”

Both brothers agree in unison.

“Then let’s shake on it and seal the deal.” Jack places his hand out and gets weary looks from the other two. “What?”

“Jack, you’re a dork.” Joe smiles and walks down the steps.

“Yeah, Major… Dork,” Ben laughs, following Joe. He shouts over his shoulder. “Hey, dork, are you coming or what? This little mongrel is getting fidgety. I think it has to pee or something.”

They all start laughing and head home through the snow and wind.

© Copyright 2009 C.J. Colburn (adkmor4 at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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