TREE HOUSE
A Story from Parkersville

By David Durham
9 pm, about to rain, sitting inside a treehouse

Dan
Nothing

Cliff
It can’t be nothing.

Dan
Don’t worry about it.

Cliff
Danny’s got a secret!

Dan
Shut up.

Bailey
What?

Cliff
He said he found somethn’ at the junk yard.

Bailey
What?

Dan
It’s nothing. Just drop it.

Cliff
Tell us what you found and we’ll drop it.

Bailey
The junk yard? How’d you know?

Cliff
He said he found something.

Bailey
What’d you find?

Dan
Nothing!

Bailey
Oh, you tell him but you don’t trust your other best friend.

Dan
Fine. I found a gun. There. Happy?

Bailey
Ooooo.

Cliff
What kind? Beebe or Salt shot?

Dan
…A revolver.

Bailey
Ooooo.

Cliff
No way! You’re lie’n. You aint find no revolver.

Dan
I did. All wrapped in a rag…a bloody rag.

Bailey
Ooooo.

Cliff
No way.

Dan
And it’s still got bullets in it!

Bailey
Ooooo.

Cliff
No way.

Dan
And…

Bailey
And!

Dan
…and I saw the guy who put it there.

Cliff
No way. No way. You’re lie’n for sure.

Dan
Am not. I saw him two hours ago when I was out catchn’ fireflies. I was over by the old dump truck and I heard somethn’ moven’ ‘round the oil barrels. I thought it was a coon or big rat. I looked over the top of the truck and that’s when I saw him. I duckd' back - he didn’t see me. I moved over to the front of the truck and watched him through the cracks in the grill. First I thought he was looking for somethn’. Then he just stood there moven’ his head slowly. He started climbn’ up the big pile and then he slipped and almost fell. That’s when I saw he had somethn’ in his hand. I couldn’t tell what it was at first. I could see his face a little - he looked really mean so I figured I best leave ‘fore he saw me.

Bailey
Dang I wish I’d seen…

Cliff
Shut up!

Dan
I kept low while he went over tward’ the front. He stopped by the broken flag pole and then bent down and started diggn’.

Bailey
Diggin for what?

Cliff
He wasn’t diggn’ you moron – he was barryn’!

Dan
He dug a hole and dropped in the thing he’d been carryn’.

Bailey
Oooooo.

Dan
I waited till he’d filled up the hole and left. I watched him walk a ways down Hark Hollow Road ‘fore I went back and dug up…this. I’ve been carryn’ it in my back pack.

Cliff
No way! Le’ me see! No way!

Dan
See. I took the bullets out. It’s heavy. And this stain, it’s blood!

Bailey
Oh man, we shouldn’t have that. You gotta put it back.

Cliff
We aint putn’ it back. We found us a real gun.

Dan
I found it.

Cliff
Yeh, yeh, you found it.

Bailey
We shouldn’t have that. We’re gonna get in trouble.
Dan
Nobody knows I got it.

Bailey
What if the guy goes back for it and can’t find it. He’ll know somebody took it.

Dan
So what?

Bailey
What if he saw you? What if he followed you here!?

Dan
He didn’t…

Bailey
What was that!?

At first Evan didn’t know what to make of the kid digging up his gun. If he hadn’t left his watch by the hole at the junk yard he never would have known that some child was trying to further ruin his life. He stood at a distance and watched the little boy digging, not hand after hand like a dog but cupping both hands and scooping out the dirt, setting it carefully next to the hole. Evan was only a few years older than the boy, but there all similarity ended. Evan hadn’t meant to pull the trigger. It…just happened. The old guy was supposed to empty the register into the bag and Evan was just supposed to walk out. That was miles ago. His decision to bury the evidence seemed the right one. One can justify anything in their own head given enough time. But now a child was going to force him to make another difficult decision. He stood at a distance, looking at the boy. The little boy who would have to die.

Cliff
What’s what?

Bailey
I heard somethn’…outside…

Dan
I don’t hear nothn’.

Bailey
Shhhh!…
Cliff
There’s nothn’ out there… What we gonna do with the gun?

Dan
I’m taken’ it home.

Bailey
You can’t take it home.

Dan
Why not? I found it.

Cliff
How you gonna…

Bailey
Shhhh! Somethin’s out there I heard it!

Cliff
Look, there’s nothn’ out there…

Cliff swung the floor hatch open and revealed the face of the man who buried the gun. All three boys screamed and fell backwards away from the opening. A clap of thunder shook the window as Evan’s face burned into their eyes. “That’s him!” was all Dan could get out fighting back terror in his voice. Evan began pulling himself in as Cliff was kicking at him. Evan grabbed his ankle and pulled Cliff toward him. “No! Help!” Cliff was shouting as the rain began pounding the tin roof. He clawed at the floor trying to stop his movement. Dan had begun swinging his arms wildly in the direction of man but hadn’t hit anything when Cliff and the man suddenly disappeared. Bailey knew Cliff must have fallen through the hatch and probably lay bleeding 25 feet below at the base of the tree in the roots and pile of plywood. Another flash and…again a clap of thunder. Bailey and Dan both looked at each other. Bailey whimpering, Dan making small slow movements with his arms. Bailey tried to speak “…where…where’s… where did…”. The arm came in through the window and grabbed him by the neck before he had a chance to scream. Dan screamed for him. Evan pulled with such force that one of Bailey’s shoes came off as he went out the window. And was gone. Dan continued to scream. The storm drowning out any hope of someone hearing him. He backed into a corner, eyes darting, crying

Dan
No, I wouldn’t be crying.

Cliff
Sure you would. This killer just threw Bailey and I out'a the fort and he’s gunn’n for you. You’d be cryn’

Dan
No I wouldn’t. Change that part. Make it say I was “waiting for the enemy”.

Bailey
That’s stupid. He’s not like an enemy.

Dan
Yea he is. He’s the bad guy.

Bailey
An enemy is like what you fight in a war.

Dan
This is sorta like a war.

Cliff
One against three is not a war.

Dan
I wouldn’t be crying.

Bailey
Oh just hurry up and kill him, we’re supposed to be outside playing kick the can.

Cliff
I’ve gotta finish this story for my class.

Bailey
So just knock him off and let’s go.

Cliff
I’ve got like another half page or it won’t be long enough.

Dan
Good. Then I can kill the bad guy.

Cliff
I don’t think so.

Dan
Why?

Cliff
‘Cause you’re in the corner crying.

Dan
I’m not…

Bailey
Gime the paper.

Cliff
No wait!

Evan drops through the ceiling creating a hole that begins to flood the floor and soak Dan – who has stopped crying. “You’ve caused me to kill again little boy” Evan began as he pulled out a long carving knife.

Cliff
That’s not…

“…but you won’t ever be telln’ nobody.” Evan continued while raising the knife. A final flash of lightning and echoing thunder boomed inside Dan’s head just as Evan began to

Bailey
There, three pages. Now finally. Kick the can.