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© Cecelia Dougherty

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Chapter 1 – At the River

I’m Debbie and I’m ten years old. I live with my grandparents in a small house near the river. I love to fish and my grandfather has taught me many of the tricks of catching and holding onto a fish.

Since Grandpa is retired and it is summer, we can fish a lot. I think Grandma likes us to go fishing, then she has some time to herself. She says Grandpa gets underfoot. I suppose I do too, especially when I come in the house with dirty feet. She’s always saying, “Wipe your feet, Child. How many times do I have to tell you?” I know Grandma is serious when she calls me “Child”.

One day when Grandpa and I were fishing, some of the naughty neighborhood boys came around to tease us. I knew them from school. They were considered bullies. They kept calling Grandpa “Old Man”. And they called me “Baby”. They kept coming closer and closer until they were right next to us. Grandpa said, “Get on, Boys. We don’t want no trouble with you!” But the bigger boy, Tom, said, “You are the trouble, Old Man! We want this fishing spot!” Steve and Bill stood right by Tom. Finally Bill said, “Come on, Tom. We can go somewhere else!”

Tom said, “You gonna let this old man and baby girl push us around? No…Let’s help them move!” Then Tom noticed the two knives in the tackle box by my Grandpa. “Cool knives!” he said and grabbed them out of the box. Grandpa said, “Please don’t take them. They belonged to my grandfather!” “They’re mine now. Old Man!” Let’s try one out!” I think he was pretending but he stabbed Grandpa on his arm. Grandpa pulled his handkerchief out of his pocket and covered the cut. Tom closed up the knives and threw them to Steve and Bill. “You know where these go, guys!” Then Tom lunged at Grandpa! But Grandpa was just getting up and stepped aside. Tom went right into the water. Problem was, he hit his head on a big rock and stayed under the water. Grandpa jumped in right away and pulled him up and out of the water. But Tom was not conscious.

Grandpa got out his cell phone and called 911. Good thing Grandma insisted Grandpa carry the cell phone. The other boys were scared so they started to leave. The paramedics were there in no time at all. They were able to wake up Tom. They asked, “What happened?” And before Grandpa could say a thing, Tom said. “The old man threw two knives in the river. All I wanted to do was look at his fish. But he said, No! and then pushed me in the water. I think he’s crazy and dangerous!” At this point the other boys ran away. Then Tom started yelling and crying out. I think he was pretending but the paramedics took it serious. “Who are your friends?” The paramedic asked. I said, “They’re Steve and Bill!” “Yea, they were afraid of the old man!” said Tom.

The paramedics put Tom in the ambulance as he yelled and yelled some more. I couldn’t believe Grandpa hadn’t said a word. We gathered up our things and went home. I told Grandma about some of it. She said, “This could be big trouble for you, Jason. You better tell me exactly what happened. So he did and I filled in some parts. Grandma said that Tom’s parents just let him run loose without any discipline, but Steve’s and Bill’s parents will listen to reason.

Chapter 2 – Big Trouble

About an hour after the water incident the police came to our house. I was so scared! They talked to Grandpa and let him tell his side of the story. Then they said, “We have to arrest you, Jason, until this gets all cleared up. That boy Tom is blaming you for everything.” All my Grandpa could say was, “How is Tom? Did he get badly hurt from the rock?” The police Officer said, “No, he’s fine, but he keeps acting like he’s been killed. This could be big trouble for you Jason. I won’t put the handcuffs on you but I have to take you in.” Grandma said, “Now William, we’ve known you since you were a baby and you know Jason wouldn’t hurt a flea.” “I know, Mabel, but I have to do my job. You better look into getting a lawyer. I bet you can work something out with Roger Billings, across from the court house.”

Things were looking very bad but I remembered Tom telling the boys “You know where these go, guys.” I asked the officer if the knives were found could that help Grandpa? He said “As long as they weren’t found in the river they could prove what Jason was saying was true. We really need those knives!”

I ran out of the house. I knew where the boys’ hideout was. They were always taking kids’ lunches, money and anything they wanted. The kids at school were very afraid of them. One day I followed them because they took my new pen and I was going to get it back! I saw them go into a little shed in the back of Tom’s house. When they left I sneaked in. There were all kinds of things there. I took my pen and ran all the way home! I don’t think they even missed it because they never came after me for it.

Chapter 3 – Caught

Now it was my turn to help Grandpa. I ran to Tom’s house and slipped through the fence to the little shed. I didn’t know that Steve and Bill just rode up on their bikes. I went into the shed but I couldn’t find the knives. Then suddenly Steve and Bill stepped in. They were as surprised at seeing me as I was surprised at seeing them. I tried to be brave. “Where are the knives Tom threw you?” I asked. They both laughed and took the knives out of their pockets. “You mean these?” Bill asked. “You know they’re the ones”, I said. “You can’t let my Grandpa go to jail because you’re too afraid to speak up to Tom. You used to be such cool guys. Now you’re just toughies!” I said. I didn’t know how I got so brave. Bill said, “Aw they won’t put the old man in jail. They’ll just scold him and send him home.” “Not true!” I said. “The police already have Grandpa in jail.” That totally surprised Bill. “Anyway it’s changed. Tom called us from the hospital. We’re going to throw the knives in the river. Then the police won’t believe the old man’s story”. Then he just said, “Go on home, Debbie. It’s late.”

Chapter 4 – Parents

I knew there was only one more thing left do. I went over to Bill’s house and asked to talk to his mother and father. The maid let me in and I sat down on a chair by the door. When Mr. and Mrs. Robinson came out, I stood and said I needed to talk to them. Mrs. Robinson said, “Please come in, Debbie.” I started to tell them about Tom, Bill, and Steve when Mr. Robinson said, “Wait a minute, Debbie. I want to call Steve’s parents to hear this too.” He took out his cell phone and called Mr. Slater who said that they would be right over. They lived just down the street.

When the Slaters came we went into the living room and sat down. Then I started my story over again. I told them “The boys were bullies last year in school, taking kids lunch money or whatever they wanted. If the kid wouldn’t give it up, the three bullies would meet them after school and hit them and threaten them. I told them how the boys took my new pen, but how I followed them home and saw that they put things in the little shed behind Tom’s house. After they left I went in and took my pen and left. They never mentioned the pen so I guess they just didn’t miss it. There was lots of junk in the shed. At the river before Tom was taken in the ambulance he told Bill and Steve to put the knives “you know where”. So I knew that place was in the shed. When the boys caught me there today they said they had to throw the knives in the river so the police won’t believe Grandpa. We have to stop the boys from throwing the knives in the river!”

Mr. Robinson said, “Let’s get in our cars and get to the river. We have to stop our boys from making things worse. Debbie, Come with us!” We got to the river as fast as we could but as we neared it we saw Bill and Steve walking away from the river. “Oh dear”, I said, “They’ve already done it!”

Mr. Robinson called out, “Bill and Steve, get over here!” When they saw who it was who was calling them they came right away. Mr. Slater said, “How could you hurt that nice old man? And now he has to stay in jail because you threw the knives in the river. I can’t believe that you’ve turned out so badly!”

Chapter 5 – A Change of Heart

Then the boys did a strange thing. Each boy pulled out one of the knives from his pocket. Steve said, “We decided not to put the knives in the river. Debbie was so brave to come to the shed to get the knives for her grandfather. And we really didn’t want anybody to go to jail.” Bill said, “We haven’t been very cool this past year. Just a bunch of bullies with Tom. We’re not going to be that way any more, honest, Dad.” Then Steve said, “Yea, we’re real sorry. Thanks Debbie. We won’t bother you or your grandfather at the river any more. And if Tom gives you any more trouble, just let us know.”

Mr. Robinson said, “Well I’m sure we’re all glad to hear that boys. Now let’s get down to the Police Department and get Grandpa Jason out of jail. We’ll deal with Tom and his parents after. I’m sure Tom is going to need a lot of help. And we’ll see that he gets it.” Mr. Slater said, “I’ll call your grandmother, Debbie, so she’ll know things are getting straightened out.” “Thank you, Mr. Slater,” I said.

By the time the police officer dropped Grandpa and me at home, Grandma had made a wonderful supper and baked a beautiful “Welcome Home, Grandpa” cake. Grandpa was glad to be home. He put his knives with his fishing gear and thanked Grandma and me.

Then he winked at me and said, “How about going fishing in the morning?”