The three children floated on their raft in Diablo’s pond. Meaghan, usually boisterous, was quiet today. Her knees were drawn up to her chest and she stared into the murky water.
Luthor nudged her with his shoulder. “What’s wrong?”
She shrugged in response.
“Holy crap! Did you see that trout jump?” Dickie shouted.
“Shut up, I’m talking to Megs,” Luthor shouted, swatting him with a rolled up horror magazine.
“We’re your friends, right?” Luthor continued. Meaghan stared ahead, nodding slightly. “Tell us. Maybe we can help.”
“It’s just…I’d really miss you guys if we moved.” she said.
“But you told us your mom wouldn’t move again until you finished school. That’s still four years away,” Dickie said.
“Yeah…,” Meaghan answered, tears tracked down her pale cheeks.
“…it’s really got to do with that man—“
“What man?” Luthor said.
“You’ve seen him around. That creepy, bald guy at the end of Cochrane Street?”
“I know him. He hardly ever goes out.”
“I’ve seen him too. He jogs every day. Just before dark,” Dickie added.
“Tell us…,” Luthor whispered.
“He’s talked rude to me. Dirty stuff. “He also touched me…,” she added, glancing at Luthor through reddened eyes.
Luthor grasped the edge of the raft, his knuckles white. “Did you tell your mom?”
“She wouldn’t do nothing. The same thing happened in Jersey three years ago.”
“What did she say then?” Dickie asked.
“She told me it was all a misunderstanding. A week later she had us packed and moved here.”
“I know you’re worried,” Luthor said. “But this is wrong and we’re going to fix it.” Dickie nodded in agreement.
“Don’t you worry about it, Megs.”
The boys had found a large, moss-covered boulder on a hillside far from the path. Luthor’s grandpa called it an erratic and said they were scattered all over New Hampshire during the last ice age. For three days they removed dirt from beneath the rock, propping it up with long bits of wood wedged into the dark soil.
On the Friday evening before Labor Day, Luthor stayed in the woods while Dickie waited near the jogging trail. As the bald man neared, the boy, frantically waving his arms, jumped into his path.
“Please help, mister—my friend’s hurt!”
“I think he broke his leg. Come quick!” Dickie said, and dashed through the trees. The man hesitated for a moment and then followed the boy. They ran far into the woods, eventually stopping at the boulder.
Dickie was breathless. “Down there, mister,” he said, pointing under the erratic.
The man bent over the moaning boy. “Are you hurt?”
Dickie snatched the hammer that lay against the base of the rock and struck the man in the temple. Luthor scampered from the hole as his friend swung again, sinking the claw into the base of the man’s skull. He screamed, clutching at the hammer as Dickie shoved him into the void.
Luthor grabbed a shovel and rammed the blade into the man’s throat, unleashing a gush of blood. “That’s for Meaghan, you perv!” he hissed.
The boys removed the wooden supports, causing the boulder to list forward. They shoveled the excess dirt around the edges of the rock and covered the soil with moss, leaves and branches.
Luthor watched the grey clouds from his office; the rain pelted the window and wound down the glass in sparkling tears.
The intercom voice startled him. “Dr. Guttormson, your patient is in exam two.”
Luthor strode down the sterile hall, rapped the door and entered the exam room. A thin, vaguely familiar woman sat on the bench. She smiled and offered her hand. “I’m Meaghan King. You probably don’t remember me, but my name was Murphy when we were in junior high.”
Luthor chuckled and squeezed her hand.” Of course I remember you, Megs. How did you end up in sunny Seattle?”
“I’m in computer sales and my work transferred me here. Dickie Stein said I should look you up.”
“Dickie? We haven’t talked in years. When did you see him?”
“Years ago, after we moved back to New Hampshire. He showed up at my door one day selling life insurance. What a grand chat we had.”
“That’s great,” Luthor said. He swallowed and leaned closer to Meaghan. “Didn’t you and your mom leave town because of that bald guy…on Cochrane Street?”
She thought for a moment and laughed. “Oh that! Mom got another job in Boston and moved us away. Practically overnight. What I told you guys was a huge pile of crap. He never touched me—he never even talked to me.”
Alan is employed as a structural steel draftsman and lives, with his wife and son, on the continent's edge in the old city of St. John's. He is a member of the Writer's Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador and is taking baby steps towards writing his first novel. You are invited to attend his ramblings at http://conversationsfromlandsedge.blogspot.com