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Dottie and Gordo trudged home. All the other kids had already left to go enjoy the little bit of sunlight that was left in the day. With the change of seasons, the days kept getting shorter. They missed their bus but both lived just a few blocks from school.
“I guess we got off easy.” Said Gordo.
“What are you talking about? We have another note to have our parents sign. I will probably get grounded which means no video games for an entire week.” Dottie groaned.
“The last time she sent us home with a demerit, she said next time she would send us to the principal’s office for punishment.”
Principal Butler always seemed nice but there were rumors whispered in the hallway about a special paddle he kept in his office. It was supposed to be designed for maximum impact.
“I am glad we are not going to get a spanking. I hear his paddles have special holes drilled into it to improve air flow and let him swing harder.” Gordo continued.
Dottie stopped in her tracks.
“Seriously, Gordo, when was the last time you heard about someone in our school getting a spanking?” She asked.
“Well….I think Frank’s brother got one last year.” He looked up in the air as if the answer would suddenly appear there.
Disgusted, Dottie shook her head and started walking.
“I’m just glad we aren’t getting paddled.” Gordo said as he hurried to catch up to her quickened pace.
“Paddling is something you do in a canoe, Gordo. Nobody paddles anymore, they don’t have to.” She said.
“Well I wish you would tell my dad that. He didn’t get that memo.” Gordo replied.
“That is why they invented video games, Gordo.”
“What are you talking about?” he asked.
“Video games were invented as a form of discipline. Parents give you one to enjoy and when you do something bad, they take it away.”
“Dottie, that is ridiculous.”
“No, I am serious. Last year, I accidentally broke my video game console. At first my parents said they would not get me a new one because I was careless with my toys.”
“After a few weeks though they broke down and bought me a new one because they couldn’t think of any other thing to take away as punishment. It’s not like they let me take karate lessons.”
“It makes sense. My little brother never lets me play video games when he is awake. He starts screaming when he doesn’t get to play the one he wants and my mom just tells me to give him what he wants to make him quiet.”
“So really, your little brother is responsible for them spanking you.” She concluded.
“I never thought about it that way. But I guess since I don’t get to play my video games it kind of makes sense.”
“What else do you like to do?”
Gordo thought for a moment. The only thing he really liked to do was hang around with Dottie but he wasn’t going to tell her that. He decided the best answer was to change the subject.
The hair on the back of Dottie’s neck began to rise. She had the distinct feeling that she and Gordo were being watched.
Gordo kept talking.
“You know, I think we should check out the tree house tomorrow. It is late and we are…”
“Shhhhhhhhh” she put her arm out in front of Gordo to stop him.
“What’s wrong?” Gordo whispered.
“Do you hear that?” Dottie asked.
Gordo then noticed that it was completely silent. There were no birds chirping or insects buzzing. Something scared them into silence.
Dottie scanned the area looking for anything out of the ordinary. Her heart started racing as she tensed her muscles and got ready for action.
“I don’t see anything, Dottie.” He whispered.
A gust of wind made the trees sway in unison. Leaves that lay motionless on the ground now danced across the street as if they were playing a game of tag.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw something small and dark dart from behind a tree and run into the bushes.
Dottie dropped her book bag and broke into a full run toward the bushes with Gordo right behind her. She did not know what ran into the brush but she was determined to catch it.
Something in his voice made her stop as she reached the end of the grass.
“There is a lot of poison ivy over there.” Gordo puffed as he jogged over.
Dottie looked at the heavy underbrush with a wary eye. Feeling frustrated, she kicked the dirt.
“Sorry, I just didn’t think you wanted to be covered in calamine lotion for the rest of the school year.”
“No, it’s okay. Thank you. What do you think that was?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t see anything.” He replied.
“Whatever it was, I think it was stalking us.” Said Dottie as she stared into the underbrush.
Next week: Suzy Sparks
Words and pictures copyright 2016 SF Varney