Chapter 8:

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 107

 

*Keely*

I don’t know what made me snap at Leigh.  I’d been in a good mood sitting out in the fresh air.  Then I’d opened the door and she didn’t even let me sit down.  I blamed it on my crappy shift and the fact that I was tired.  I was kind of feeling proud of myself right now but I knew Leigh would get me back later.  According to Kirsten, her expression was something nightmares were made of. 

Kirsten had shut my door after herself and I was tempted to block it with my dresser.  I just wanted to sleep for eight hours.  With the mood I was in, I didn’t even want to go over and go fishing. 

I read a few chapters in my book while Kirsten stalked people over Facebook.  We joke that she’s at level eight.  Apparently level nine involves a name in the phone book and finding them on Facebook.  She’s laid out the levels but I forget them.  I’m a level two, maybe.

I fell asleep sometime, my book still in my hand.  I hadn’t even set my alarm clock.  I woke up and looked at  the time.  “Oh shit,” I rolled out of bed.  Kirsten was nowhere to be seen.  Maybe they’d left me to just sleep. 

I jogged up the stairs and got greeted by El and Peyton.  “They wanted to wait for you,” Tate said with a smile, coming around the corner.  “Ry and I are their babysitters.”

“Where is everyone else?” I asked.

“They left like twenty minutes ago.  They knew it would take awhile to get things ready so we were to let you sleep.  Until now, actually.  I was on my way to wake you up because Ry was getting a bowl of warm water.”

“He would,” I said.  “He still hasn’t gotten me back from the last time.”

Ry came around the corner, a bowl in hand and groaned.  “Dang it.  Tate, I told you not to wake her up.”

“My internal alarm clock went off,” I said.  “I was already up here.”

“Okay, well, get in the car.  I don’t want to miss out on a minute of fishing.”

“Yeah,” El piped up.  “Let’s go, Keke.”

“Okay.  Come on, Ry-ry.”

“Oh, you need to pack up your stuff.  Dad’s shipping you off to boot camp.  He said he was appalled at your language.”

I reddened.  My parents hated when I swore in front of them.  My mom would just let it go, most of the time, but my dad thought swearing was a sign of poor education.  I think it’s a sign of pure annoyance.

I ran back down the stairs, followed by the two midgets, and packed a bag.  Peyton decided to help me by taking out everything I put in the bag.  I double checked that I had everything and then shoved it all back in and zipped up the bag.  “Time to go fishing,” I said to the two of them, grabbing my ball cap from my closet door.

Somehow I was forced to sit in the back seat of my own car, between the two car seats.  I’m tiny and I was squished so I guess it would have been fairly impossible for Tate or Ry to sit back here.  I was still in my work gear but I’d change once I got over there.  Squeezed between El and Peyton, poking the two of them to make them laugh, I started to lose the bad mood.  It got even better when El and I sang along to “Take it off,” by Ke$ha.  All she said was “Take it off,” over and over but it still worked.  All three of us in the back seat were dancing along to it.  Ry and Tate were amused by our antics.

Ry pulled my car up and parked it, making sure to stay away from where the truck would have to back out to take us down to the pond.  “Why is the trailer over here?” I asked.

“Dad figured you would want Ro over here,” Ry said.  He refused to call her Rosie, always had.  “Tate and I brought her over earlier to get out of the house.”

“There’s my little girl,” my grandpa called when I slithered out over the now empty car seat.  Peyton was already racing to give my grandpa a hug.  His huge German shepherd dog was racing at her.  I started to yell but Peyton saw him coming.  She stopped short and he barreled past her, missing by a mile.  He’s not very smart either, so she was to my grandpa before the dog realized.  He wouldn’t have hurt her on purpose, but he was twice her size, if not three times.  He just liked to play.

“Get me out,” I heard El say.  I looked over my shoulder.  A baffled Tate was trying to figure out the buckles of her car seat.

“I’m trying,” he said to her.  “Which buttons?”

“That one. And that one.”  She pointed.

I walked around the car and he gratefully stepped out of the way.  Within seconds El was free, hopping to the ground.  She stopped to pet the dog, then pushed him away.  I smiled when she too ran to give my grandpa a hug.

“Hey, little girl,” Grandpa said to me.  “I hear you’re staying over here for a few days.”

“Yep,” I said, handing him the lifejackets.  The little girls had to wear them to go anywhere near the pond.  “Otherwise you’d have to come visit me in prison.”

“Well, we don’t want that,” he said.  “Everyone else is in the house, waiting.  We’ve got everything loaded up.”

I picked up Peyton and followed El into the house.  Tate and my grandpa followed me. “Hey twin,” Kirsten greeted me.  She was sitting on the fireplace, braiding Madelyn’s hair.

“Nice pigtails,” I said.

“Nice work shirt.”

I stuck my tongue out at her.  I put Peyton down and took my bag from the chair.  Ry had carried it in to get out of unbuckling a small child.  I grabbed the first pair of shorts I saw, and a tank top.  It was a steamer out there.

I sat down on the fireplace next to Kirsten and put my sneakers back on.  My cowboy boots have no traction on them.  After one near slip into the pond, I’d learned my lesson.  “I have decided that we’re going to embrace our Iowa heritage and the fact that we’re going fishing on a Friday night.  I have deemed that tonight, we are hicks.”

“Okay,” I said, not understanding what she was getting at. 

“Pigtails for you,” she said.  “And from now on, I’m Gus,  you are Cletus, and we only talk in hick accents.”

“Whatever,” I said, taking the pony tails Madelyn handed to me. 

“No, not whatever,” she said.  “Hick, woman.”

“Golly, Gus, you sure is mighty annoyin,” I drawled.

Kirsten clapped her hands excitedly.  “Awesome!  I mean.  Well, Cletus, hurry it on up so we can catch them thar fish in that thar pond.”

I quickly braided my hair, then topped it off with my ball cap.  With a grin, Kirsten pulled her ball cap from behind her back.  “I feel like we should black out a few teeth,” I said to her.

“Naw, Cletus, that would be takin thangs too fur.”

It was hard not to smile, even when Leigh glared at me.  I was a little nervous about sitting on the tailgate to keep the midgets from falling out the back of the truck.  Leigh would so push me out.  Luckily it was only a short distance to the pond and I was hopping from the back, all good.  “Dibs on the good boat,” I called. 

“Dibs on the kayak,” my mom called.

“Dibs on… the other rowboat,” Ry said, looking at his options.  “Unless you want the paddle boat,” he said to Tate.

“I want to go out on the paddle boat with you,” Madelyn tugged on my dad’s arm.

“That answers that question,” Tate laughed.

“Word of advice.  The Titanic is a little leaky.  You might want to stay close to the dock,” Kirsten said to him.  “Keely and I learned that one the hard way.” 

“Hey, I swam for shore.  You’re the idiot that swam all the way across the pond.”  I shuddered.  “Nasty water with fish and snapping turtles.”  She smacked me.  “Oh right.  Nasty water with them  fishes and snappers.”  She nodded, satisfied that I was using my hick accent.

“Did you lose a finger or a toe?” Tate asked Kirsten.“I saw that picture you sent to Ry.”

“Oh yeah,” Kirsten remembered.  “He was just sitting there in the middle of the road.  I poked him with a stick.” That came out sounding like a hick was talking without even adding the accent.

“I saw the half stick picture that you sent, too,” Tate said. 

“Kirsten was turtle free.  She climbed onto the dock, laughing that the pond wasn’t that bad and we should go swimming in it more often,” I said.  “Then the beaver came.”

“That thing was huge,” Kirsten said.  “I’m sitting on the dock, dangling my feet in the water, when there’s this huge mass of fur that comes shooting out of the overflow thing.  Then it whizzes under the dock and makes a beeline for the other side of the pond.”

“Where I was up to my waist in dark water, trying to pull the Titanic onto shore,” I took up the story.  “I look up and see Kirsten jumping up and down in the center of the dock, shrieking  ‘What is that?’ and see this dark blur heading for me.”

“Needless to say, she skedaddled for the shore.”  Kirsten stopped because she was laughing so hard.  “That was the greatest day ever.”

“What is this?” Ry held up the pink bucket with bright flowers painted all over it.

“Our fishin bucket,” I snapped, taking it from him. 

“Dag nabbit, we fergot our anchor,” Kirsten said to me.

“It’s okay, Gus.  We don’t need that durn anchor.”

Ry rolled his eyes.  “Keep it up with the hick accent and you’ll meet that snapper again.”

“Yer just jealous that we’re havin fun,” I drawled.  “Fun hater.”

We helped haul all the gear to the dock.  Then Kirsten got in first.  I handed her the bucket and our fishing poles.  The bucket had the glove in case we caught a fish, a towel to wipe off slime, pliers, the chain for us to keep our catches, and all the bait we could ever desire.  My grandpa handed me the good oars and I handed those to Kirsten.  She prepared to steady the boat while I stepped in.

“Good thang we have our hats, Cletus,” she said.  “The sun shore is bright.”

“Why is Keke and Kirsten talking like that?” Madelyn asked my dad.

“They’re just being goofy,” I heard my dad answer. 

Kirsten started paddling for the far end of the pond, hopefully out of Leigh’s voice range.  Today her voice wasn’t carrying as far.  “Which lure are you going to use?” I asked her, dropping the hick thing since nobody was around to be annoyed.

Kirsten looked at me and cleared her throat.  I sighed.  “Which dadgum lure are you gonna use, Gus?”

“No you’re Gus.”  She abandoned the hick accent in order to straighten things out.

“No.  I’m Cletus.”

“Cletus is so much better than Gus,” she complained.

“You came up with them, genius.”

She made a face at me.  “I want that one.”

I stared at her and cleared my throat.  “I want that thar one.  Thar.”  Once she’d corrected herself she stared at me, patiently waiting for me to hand her the lure.

I smiled and handed her the lure that she wanted.  The two of us had spent the last two summers and the early fall out fishing, so we had everything down to a smooth routine.  She faced one direction and I pointed myself the other way.  When we wanted to change our lures we just had to stick the poles back at an angle and grab the lure from the bucket in the center of the boat.  There were three rows of seats but she was in the back and I was in the middle, making it easier for her to steer. 

Ry and Tate eventually made their way over, having figured out that Grandpa and Dad had fixed the leak in the Titanic.  “This here is our cove,” Kirsten called to them. 

“Shut up,” Ry said good-naturedly.  He had spent a lot of time with the two of us, so he was mostly used to our antics.

“We do not reply unless you are speaking in a hick accent,” I said primly.  “Starting now.”

“Shut yer yap,” Ry said.

“Good one,” Kirsten clapped.

“No, seriously, you’ll scare the fish away.”

For a while we just sat out there, quietly casting and reeling.  I was the first to have a bite, fighting to reel it in only to discover it was a baby blue gill.  Tate and Ry snorted in typical guy fashion.  “Thank god we have you so we don’t starve,” Ry said.

“What have you caught?” I retorted.  “Oh wait, that’s right, algae.”

“What’s wrong with algae?” Ry asked.

Kirsten reeled in her hook and wrinkled her nose at the mass of slime caught on it.  She delicately picked it off, tossing it in Ry’s boat.  Then she daintily wiped her hand off on the towel, which happened to be pink.  My grandpa has a great sense of humor when it comes to us.  He really liked our personalized bucket.  Ry and Tate just shook their heads at us.

Kirsten cast out her line again.  She started to reel in slowly and got this excited look on her face.  “I think I caught one.  Wait.  It’s a weed.”

“Again?” I said, casting my line out.  A nice little breeze wafted across us, bringing with it the smell of fish and pond water.  Oh well, any breeze in this heat was appreciated.

“I can’t tell.  I think it’s stuck on a weed.”

I reeled in my line quickly.  “Please tell me you didn’t hook it on those trees again.”

“Hey, I was the one who stuck my hand in the water after it,” she snapped at me.  We handle crises in funny ways. 

I stowed my fishing pole to the side and moved closer to her.  “Try to reel it in.”

She obeyed.  “I think it’s just a weed,” I said to her.

“Yeah.”

She tried to reel it in.  She was so focused that she was just looking at the reel in her hands.  I was the only one watching the clump of weeds that it appeared to be attached to.  It suddenly went left.

“Um, Kirsten…”

“What? Is it loose?”

“I think you have a fish.”

“No, I don’t.”  She reeled in, the plastic line lifting out of the weeds.  “See.”

“Then why did the weeds just move?”  Her line moved sharply again.

“I caught a fish!” she cheered happily.

“It doesn’t count until it’s in the boat,” Ry called.  He and Tate were watching as Kirsten struggled to reel in the line.  I had a grip on the pole, trying to keep the tip up. 

“Here,” Kirsten thrust the pole into my hands.  “You reel.”

I struggled to reel while she got the glove out of our bucket.  Then she started pulling in the line with her hands, leaving me to just reel in the slack.“It’s a big’un,” she predicted.

“If it’s not you and I are going to look like super pansies.”

By now the fish was almost to our boat.  Kirsten and I shrieked when it made a run for it, going under the boat.  Our boat tipped sideways and then started to turn.  “Reel it in,” Kirsten yelled at me.  The fish was determined, swimming, pulling us and the boat with it.

“I’m trying,” I yelled back at her.  She could no longer reach the line.  She climbed over the seats and leaned over the edge of the boat, grabbing the line again.  She pulled it in and I reeled furiously.  Finally this huge, struggling bass was held up out of the water.  We were in view of the people on the dock.  Kirsten struggled to hold it up and I moved forward to help her. 

My dad and Madelyn were sweeping past us in the paddle boat.  He pulled out his cell phone and snapped a picture of us.  “Good one.  Definitely a keeper.”

Kirsten pulled it over the side and the two of us lifted our feet up as it flopped around on the bottom of the boat.  I handed her the pliers.  She held the fish still and pulled the hook out of its mouth.  “I kind of feel bad keeping him,” she said to me.

“He put up a valiant fight,” I agreed.

She sighed.  “But I want to eat him.  We earned the right to eat the fish.”

“We did. He put up a valiant fight.”  I handed her the chain with the clasps on the end. There were like twelve for you to attach the fish to.  Then you put it back in the water and they got to swim around, pulled around by their mouth.  Kind of cruel, but it’s a man eat fish kind of world. 

Kirsten picked up the fish and it somehow managed to flip so that it smacked her in the face with its tail.  She was so stunned that she dropped it on the seat.  From there it was a flop and a flip into the water.  Ry, Tate, and I were laughing.  I could hardly breathe.

“You just got bitchslapped by a fish,” Tate said, holding his side.

“That’s not funny.  You just let my fish go,” she accused me.

“I wasn’t going to touch that ninja fish.”

“He may have won that battle but I will win the war,” she announced.  She started to fish with a vengeance.

“I’m not catching anything,” I heard Ry mutter.  Then he jabbed himself with a hook.  “Ouch.”

“Except tetanus,” Tate said to him, face straight.

We rowed back in to shore to get a drink and to pick up El, who wanted to fish with us.  At first she sat in my lap but when she didn’t catch anything right away she got bored. I didn’t want her falling into the water or getting hooked by one of us so I had her sit on the floor of the boat.

“Can you feel the water?” I asked her.

“No.”

“Are you sure?” Kirsten asked her.  “I can definitely feel the water moving with my butt.”

“Not with your butt,” El laughed at the ridiculous idea. 

After a short time, El got bored.  “Can we go back now?” she asked.

We really didn’t want to row all the way back there and waste precious fishing time.  “A few more minutes,” we said.

“Now?” she asked a little bit later.

“No, El.  We have to go back to the house soon anyway, so just stay out here with us.”

Eventually Kirsten and I blocked out her requests to go back to shore.  We just fished and talked over her head.  Kirsten and I caught a few fish, getting them on the chain.  Tate and Ry were taunting us, although I hadn’t seen them keep any.

“Hey,” El said.  “Hey.”  I ignored her the first few times.  “Hey.  Get off me, hey!”

“What do you- Oh my god.”  I looked down at El and saw a snake wrapping itself around her leg.  “Oh my god.  Snake in the boat.  We have a snake in the boat!"

*Tate*

He and Ry looked up as Keely exclaimed, “Snake in the boat.  There is a snake in the boat.”

“There is not a snake in the boat,” Kirsten said, her back to the whole situation. 

Ry started to row over, probably worried that his sister or El would fall into the water.  Keely lifted her niece up and Tate saw something fall off of El and hit the aluminum boat.  “Stay sitting,” Keely instructed her niece, putting her on the seat beside her. 

By this time Ry was next to them.  “I don’t see a snake,” he said. 

“You take her,” Keely ordered, already handing El over the side to Tate.  “If we flip I don’t need her going in the water too.”

Ry pushed off the side of their boat.  Kirsten had turned around by this time.  Tate had looked over the edge.  Whatever had been on El had disappeared.  “What the hell, Keely?  There’s nothing there.”

“There was a snake.  It probably crawled under someone’s seat.”

El started to sniffle.  “It’s okay,” Keely said to her.  “We’ll get him.”

“You’re freaking crazy,” Kirsten said, turning back around. 

“We’re going back to the house,” Tori called from shore.  “Bring it on in.”

“Okay,” Keely called back.

Ry started rowing back, Tate keeping an eye on El.  Keely and Kirsten were after them. 

They were halfway back when suddenly there was a shriek from behind them.  “Snake.  Snake in the boat.”

“I told you!”

Ry stopped rowing and joined Tate and El in looking back at the two girls freaking out.  Keely and Kirsten both had their legs pulled up on the seat and Kirsten was brandishing an oar.  She started trying to scoop out the snake with the oar but only managed to have Keely blocking her face.  “Just get it,” Keely yelled at her.

“Pick it up.”

“You.”

“Oh shit, it went under my seat again.”

“Such language,” Ry clucked at them .  “Enjoy getting back to shore.”

After waiting for a few more minutes to see if the snake would emerge, Kirsten started to paddle again.  Tate noticed that both of them kept their legs up on the seat.  “There it is.  Get him!”

He saw Kirsten bend and rummage around by her feet on the other side.  She held up a little snake.  “That’s it?”

Ry glanced over his shoulder.  “What a beast.”

“What are they doing?” El asked as Keely snapped a picture of Kirsten smiling, holding the snake up, close to her face, but not too close.

“Taking pictures,” he answered.  “They’re being silly.”

There was a snap of the two of them and the snake, then a retake because Keely’s face looked shiny, a discussion of whether Kirsten could edit that out, then the snake was being unceremoniously tossed onto the grass of the shore. 

“What was going on?” Keely’s mom asked.

“Snake.  Huge snake.  In the boat.  It was wrapped around El’s leg,” Keely explained, grabbing the dock to keep the boat steady.  She and Kirsten started putting their stuff on the dock.  “Then it hid under the seat to sneak attack us but Kirsten handled the situation.”

“There was a snake in the boat?” Madelyn said skeptically.  “How?”

“Oh, I meant to tell you girls that,” Keely’s grandpa spoke up from the truck where he was stowing things.  “They crawl under it to keep warm.  Since we flip the boat over it’s pretty easy for them to crawl in the gaps.”

“Sneaky devils,” Keely muttered. 

“It was wrapped around El?” Tori said.  “Did it bite her?”

“No.  It was a garter snake anyway,” Keely said.  “Perfectly harmless.”

“You wouldn’t say that if it bit you.”

Everyone loaded back up in the truck.  El was tired, probably from a day in the sun and her bout with the boat snake.  She snuggled into Kirsten’s lap, playing with her hair.  “Take the jacket off,” she said. 

Kirsten unsnapped her life jacket and helped El out of it as the truck started.  Keely took the jacket and held it in her lap, leaning against the side of the bed of the truck.  She looked tired too, but that could have been the ball cap shading her face.  Tate had to admit, with the little green camo ball cap and her braids, she looked adorable.  The shorts and her smile had nothing to do with it.

“What’s for dinner?” Madelyn asked.  She was sitting in her mom’s lap.  With her dark hair and hazel eyes, she was a ringer for her mom.

“We’re having a bon fire to roast hot dogs,” Tori answered.

“We should have kept the snake, El,” Keely poked her stomach.  “Roast him on a stick and slap him on a bun.”

“Ew,” El said, giggling as Kirsten tickled her. 

“No, put some ketchup and mustard on it.  Tastes like chicken,” Keely said, grinning widely.

El stopped to ponder it.  She got a mischievous look on her face that looked exactly like Keely’s when she was thinking something funny.  El raised a brow and rubbed her stomach.  “I like chicken.”  Everyone burst out laughing. 

El might have been disappointed that nothing that tasted like chicken was on the menu but Tate found the hot dogs roasted over an open flame were pretty delicious.  And when the s’mores came out, his night was made.  Dusk fell and he got to watch the girls and Keely chase fire flies.  The sight was more enjoyable since Leigh and Josh had left right after dinner, so she wasn’t here to mar the sight with her bitter comments. 

Eventually everyone left.  The girls were starting to get grouchy.  Keely and Ry helped their grandparents carry in all the trash and leftovers.  That left Tate and Kirsten, sitting in lawn chairs, watching the fire.  “I love this family,” Kirsten said suddenly.  “They’re all amazing, you know?”

“I definitely know.”


Submitted: April 25, 2012

© Copyright 2022 DMT. All rights reserved.

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