The Adventures of Little Johnny and Friend:
No Bones About It
Watching my grandson and his cousin gave me this story idea. Hope you enjoy it. Excuse my mistakes. They belong to me.
I also dedicate this story to Southernfrau. She was one of my favorite Lancer authors. I can not do justice to her Brat Pack stories and I know that she is entertaining those Angels up in heaven with her stories.
A beautiful moonlit night had the family and friends sitting outside enjoying the night air. So was it the night’s air or the two little one that they were playing which provided the contentment of the night?
“Johnny, come on let’s do dis.”
“Nah, I want to do this.”
“Come on, peassssss.”
“Nah, I want to do this instead. Look I’m busy, see.”
She walked over and knelt down to see what he was digging.
“Yeech, wha’s that?”
“Worms, they come out at night. See.”
“Yuck, you like worms?”
“I don’t eat them.” He chuckled and slapped his knees.
“No, but you play with ‘em.”
“So?” He thought her remark was uncalled for.
“Girls don play with worms. Come on Johnny let’s go play over there.”
“Not now!” He was trying to calm down and looked away from her.
She stood and pouted. He rested his cheek on his knee and looked at her. “Ah, Ok.” Naturally little boys cannot resist sugar and spice, not hers anyway.
They walked over to the tree. “Let’s play hide-n-seek. I’ll hide and you find me.”
“OK, go hide. One, two, three, four, five… ready or not here I come.”
She stood behind the tree and giggled. “I’m over here. Now you hide.”
“Ok, go.” He ran to hide behind the water trough. “I’m ready come find me.”
“Wait, I have to count. One, two, toiiee, pour, five… ready or not here I come.”
She ran around the tree shouting, “Where are you? Johnny where are you?”
He was scrunched down smiling and peeking his head out.
She continued to run around the tree. “Jooohhhnnnyyy?”
He finally gave her a hint. “I’m over here. You ain’t going to find me running around the tree like that, dummy.”
“Hey, don’ call me dummy. You the dummy, dummy.”
They both heard a stern voice. “JOHNNY, CAROLINA… be nice.”
“Sorry pa’. Sorry Carolina.”
“Is ok. Johnny. Let’s go dig more worms.”
“OK.” They both ran. Carolina stopped dead in her track and scream. “YEEEE, there’s a bug daddy, there’s a big bug!”
The adults stood and were getting ready to investigate, but noticed that Johnny stopped and gently moved Carolina out of the way. He bent down and looked at the bug, then stomped it with his boot.
“Son? Did you get it?”
Johnny lifted his boot and looked under it. “Yup, it died.” He turned and looked at Carolina. “Come on let’s go play.”
The adults just chuckled at the boy’s heroism.
She followed him. They started chasing each other around laughing and screaming. They stopped and talked, then walked over to the veranda. “We thirsty and need a break.” They were given a small glass of lemonade. They both sat on the floor drinking with lust.
“Hurry and drink. I want ta show ya’ something.”
They stood and ran out to the grounds again. He tripped on his own boot, stood up fast, and dusted himself off while running then yelled a warning to Carolina. “Be careful, there’s a big hole.”
“Ok.” And she ran a big circle around that imaginary hole.
They spotted a chest and went to investigate. Both looked inside as if it was a wondrous treasure chest. Their conversation ranged from tools, dust, worms, bugs, water and bones. “Na-ah, ain’t no bones in da’ box Johnny?”
“Ah-ha, you can go ask Jelly. He’s always say so.”
“Na-ah. I don’t see bones.”
“I swear on my… bibell. There are bones in here.”
“OK, I believes you. Can we go someplace else? I don’t want them bones coming out.”
Johnny just busted out laughing, shook his head, and slapped his knees. “Silly, bones can’t come out. It ain’t hall-o-ween. They only come out then.”
“Oh. You sure?”
“Ya’ sides. I will sock ‘em down if they do come out.”
“Look Johnny I found one.”
They both tiptoed up higher with their little heads tilted into the box.
“Whoa, your right. That looks like one.” He looked closer almost falling into the chest. “Yup, it’s a hueso.”
“How’d it get there?”
“I think it’s… Jelly! Let’s go ask him.” They both took off yelling for Jelly.
He ran out into the yard thinking something was wrong with Johnny. “What in tarnation is wrong? What’s all that yapping my name so loud?”
They reached him and were out of breath. “We found one of your bones Jelly.” They both pointed toward the area. “Come on. We’ll show ya.’” Each child grabbed his hand and pulled him over.
“Now what makes ya’ think it’s one of my bones?” He was just scooting along. “I swear you kids have a wild imagination.”
When they got there, Jelly looked inside the chest and started to move things around. He quickly pulled himself up and placed his hands on his waist. “You kids best go to your parents now. Uncle Jelly has to put this bone back where it belong and it could get real ugly.” He shooed them away.
Johnny hesitated, “Ah come on Jelly. I want to see.”
“No siree. You scoot now.” He patted him on the behind to give him a convincing gesture.
“Ahhhh, Jelly.” Johnny just shuffled his feet, real slow.
Murdoch noticed Jelly’s expression and stood up to go investigate. “What’s going on Jelly?”
“Don’t rightly know boss. Them kid found this bone and well, I just want ta make sure it ain’t nothing to be concerned about.” They both looked inside. Murdoch glanced back to his guest.
“We’d better wait until tomorrow Jelly after our guest have left and there is enough light to get a good look. Thanks for taking care of the kids. Let’s get this chest closed up and push it over to that area.” They both proceeded to push the chest next to the corral where Johnny couldn’t get to it so easily.
The kids continued to play chase around the veranda until their guest decided it was time to say their goodbyes. Carolina ran up to Johnny and hugged him tight. “Goodnight Johnny. See you laters.”
Johnny felt a bit embarrassed and looked at his father. He then looked down. “Goodnight Carolina. See you later. Thanks for coming over.” He looked back at his father who now had an approving smile and gave him a wink.
They stood there watching the buggy drive away. Murdoch reached down and picked up his five year old. “I am very proud of you son.” He kissed him on the forehead and took him inside. “Let’s get you ready for bed. Come on Scott. You need to get ready as well.”
Scott was getting ready for bed, when he heard Johnny running down the hall. His door opened up quickly and slammed against the wall.
“Dang Johnny. Does Pa’ know you’re here?”
Johnny jumped up on his brother’s bed. “Hey Scott?”
“What’s up Johnny?” Scott finished changing and went to sit on the bed next to his brother.
“I’s found an old bone in a chest.” He laid back.
“How do you know it was a bone?”
“Yeech, I know what a bone looks like Scott.” He sat up again.
“Well, I want to… go treasure hunting ‘morrow. Wanna help me?”
“Treasure hunting? For what? More bones?” Scott laughed.
“Ain’t funny Scott. I can find more bones. They belong to the pie-raids. Like in the book you read to me.”
They heard heavy footsteps and knew it was their fathers. “JOHNNY?”
“Oh, oh, hurry Scott. You in or out?”
Scott just shook his head and thought he’d better be in and keep his brother ‘out’ of trouble. He stood and went to open his door. “I’m in Johnny. Now go to bed.”
Johnny stood on the bed and spotted his papa standing at the door with his hands on his waist. “Hi Pa’. Jus came to say nite to Scott.” He gave that adorable smile.
Murdoch walked up to the bed and Johnny flew into his arms. “To bed young man.”
He carried Johnny and turned to leave. “I’ll be back to tuck you in Scott. Get in bed son.”
Hugging his baby boy, Murdoch took in a deep breath. He loved the way his baby smelled after a nice bath. “Hummm, you smell good enough to eat!” He nibbled on Johnny’s neck.
Giggling and squirming, Johnny tried to get down out of his fathers’ hold. “Stop it Pa’ you gonna make me pee.”
Murdoch threw him on the bed and watched Johnny laugh and bounce. “Get in that bed or I’ll have to continue my nibbling.”
Johnny opened his eyes real wide and crawled into his blanket. He waited for his pa to tuck him in. “I love you Pa’. Good night. Don’t forget Scott, K?”
Murdoch tucked him in and kissed him. “I’m on my way to his room. Sweet dream son.”
Time went by and Johnny’s curiosity was going strong. He could not stop thinking about the bones in the chest. It intrigued him even more when he went out the next day to investigate it and noticed that the chest was gone.
Scott was not able to follow through on their treasure hunt. His father had him helping Paul around the ranch. Johnny was kept close to his father’s side helping around the barn, but he kept his eyes open for that chest at every place that they’d be working on. ‘I bet Jelly buried it.’ He was more curious now than ever!
The summer nights were wonderful and it was the Lancer families turn to visit their friends. Johnny jumped off the surrey and ran up to Caro. “Hey Caro, let’s go on an adventure, K?”
“K Johnny, but I can’t go to far because my daddy will get mad at me.” She thought about it some. “Well… “ She looked back at the porch where the family was gathering. “Guess we could go out a bit more ‘specially since I’m wif you. K, let’s go. Johnny?”
He was digging up small rocks and looked up. “Yeah?”
“Wha’s an avenchure?”
Little Johnny stood up and dusted his hands. “It’s a place where we can find things to do.” He grabbed her hand and they ran to the back of the house. “Let’s look over that way and see what we find.”
Both fled toward an abandon shed. “Johnny, my daddy told me not to go in there.”
“We ain’t going in. We’re just… up-serve-in!” He was quick to straighten that up.
Looking around the edge of the shed, he moved, stopped, and looked at her. “What?”
“Wha’ are we servin’ up?”
He cringed at her question. “Huh?”
“You said we were up-serve-in. Wha’ are we servin’ in?” She stomped her foot frustrated that she didn’t understand his words.
Johnny just let out a chuckle. “No, we are… looking around… observing means looking around.”
“Well why didn’t you say that smarty pants.”
With a shake of the head and a nod, he gestured her to follow him. “This way.”
Enthralled at the disheveled condition of the shed, they were careful not to get too close. Johnny was watchful of Carolina. He knew that if anything happened to her, he’d be the one to get in trouble for it. “Be careful Caro. Watch where you step.”
“What are we looking for?”
“Bones. Pie-red bones.”
Carolinas eyes were saucer like when she realized that Johnny still wanted to find more bones. “Johnny, Jelly ain’t been here to leave his bones.”
He quickly turned around and started to laugh and grabbed his stomach. “Ah, I… I… know… Jelly ain’t … been here.” He wiped the tears from his eyes. “Whoee, you are funny. We are looking for pie-raid bones, not Jelly’s bones!”
She really didn’t appreciate Johnny laughing at her and just turned to walk away.
“Hey, where are ya’ going? We ain’t finished with our adventure!”
“I AM!” Ignoring him, she kept stomping towards the front of the house.
Johnny just sat down and picked up some dirt annoyed at the situation. “Girls!”
Johnny lay on his bed thinking real hard about that chest. ‘Hum, where did Jelly bury it? I know he did. Where? I think Scott might know.’ He quickly sat up on his bed and listened for any noises in the hall. Hearing none, he slowly left his bed and tiptoed to the door. Carefully opening the door and peeking out, he stood still and listened. ‘Good Pa’s asleep… I hope.’
Making his way to Scott’s room was a dangerous attempt especially if his father caught him. ‘Quiet-l-l-y-y…’ He reminded himself and sighed when he reached his big brother’s room; then he stood in front of the door listening for any sound from inside. Feeling comfortable that it was now safe, he proceeded to reach for the doorknob and slowly started to turn it. He was controlling his breathing as he concentrated on the steadiness of his approach. The door was now ready to be opened and he started to push it slowly…
“JUST WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING YOUNG MAN!”
“ARRRGGGGHHHHHHHH……..!!!” Johnny let out a loud scream and fell against the door forcing it to open and slam against the wall.
Another scream was heard from Scott’s bed. “ARRRRGGGGGHHHHH…. damn Johnny! You scared the shit out of me!” Scott jumped out of his bed and stopped cold in his track when he saw his father standing by the doorframe with a frown that made a bears look like he’s smiling. “Pa’…. I… I…”
His father stepped into the room. “You… you… said some words that are not allowed out of your mouth! Now get back in bed while I tend to your brother.”
“Yes, sir. I’m sorry about my language sir.” He slowly crawled back into bed.
Murdoch went up to him and caressed his cheek then turned to see what Johnny was up to, but soon realized that Johnny was no longer on the floor. ‘That boy. I swear.’ He chuckled as he headed out to his little boy’s room.
Johnny’s door was shut. Murdoch stood in front and purposely made noise before opening it. When he regained his composure, he took in a deep breath and made a scornful face. Stepping in he looked at the bed and found his boy, snuggled in the bed with the blanket over his head facing away from him. “I know you are not asleep.”
Not one sound came from the still form. “Johnny… I know you are awake.”
Murdoch heard some mumbling from under the covers. He stepped up to the bed and uncovered his son. Johnny slowly turned his body to face his father then sat up.
“S-o-o-r-r-y-y, P-p-p-a’.” Murdoch’s heart fell when he saw him crying.
“Johnny…” He reached down and cradled his boy into his arm. “Why were you going into Scott’s room and why couldn’t it wait until tomorrow?”
Pressing his head against his father’s shoulders all Johnny was able to do was mumble his answer.
Well old softy decided it best to comfort Johnny instead of interrogating him. He stroked his hair and rubbed his back until his baby relaxed. He did not release his hold. ‘Guess I’ll have to wait until tomorrow.’ He was finally able to tuck him into bed, bending down his kissed him on the cheek and held back a laugh remembering the sight of both his boys startled reactions.
“Bones, he wants to know where those bones are buried Jelly.” Murdoch was laughing at his youngest antics.
“Well boss, should tell that boy of yours that it was the bones of a dead animal ‘fore he gits ‘emself into a scrap.” Jelly did not like it much when the boys got into trouble and he was one that was always trying to keep one step ahead of them. Except that them boys always seemed to be two steps ahead oh Jelly!
“Yes, I guess we should tell him before his imagination gets the best of him.” Just then some ranch hands started yelling out in excitement. “What in the world is going on?” Murdoch ran to the corral.
Johnny was in the barn helping Scott clean up some hay when he heard all the noise and started to run out. Scott immediately grabbed his arm. “NO sir, you are not heading out there until we know it’s safe. Stay here while I look.” Scott walked to the barn doors.
“Dang Scott. I ain’t a baby.” He kicked the hay then lifted his head as an idea struck him. Little mischief watched his brother walk away; then he turned and ran to the ladder that led to the hayloft. ‘I don’t need to be there. Yup, I can just look from up here.’ Tongue dangling out, he climbed the ladder and made his way to the large opening. Leaning over to get a good view, he held on to the rope that dangled on a hook from a beam and watched the ranch hands scurry around trying to calm down some horses. ‘Why are they scared?’ He leaned out some more wanting a better look.
Scott was standing by the frame of the barn doors looking over to the area and he yelled for Jelly. “Jelly! What’s going on?”
Jelly ran back to the barn to be with his boys. “Ain’t nothin’ for ya’ to worry ‘bout. Jus’ a rattler got inta’ the corral and spook’d them horses.” Both were turning to go back into the barn when they felt some hay fall on top of them. Jelly stepped back and looked up. He turned paler than a ghost when he saw his little Johnny dangling from the rope holding on for dear life. “OH MY GOD… JOHNNY! Hang on boy. I’z coming.”
Well, his scream got the attention of the ranch hand and Murdoch. They turned to see what all the commotion was at the barn when they caught sight of Johnny hanging onto the rope. “JOHNNY!” The rattled horses forgotten, all men ran to the barn.
Jelly was making his way up the ladder when he heard Scott scream. “No-o-o-o-o-o!”
‘God, please don’t let it be.’ Jelly hurried his pace and what he saw almost caused him to have a heart attack. Johnny was no longer hanging onto the rope. The old man felt his knee buckle and he fell on them. When he regained his composure he hurried back down.
There in front of the barn doors was a group of men circled around, mumbling to themselves. Jelly walked up to the group slowly with tears forming in his eyes. He maneuvered his way through the group to take a look.
Murdoch was kneeling down with his baby boy in his arms, holding him tight. Scott had his arm around his father crying.
Jelly sighed loudly. ‘God, not my Johnny.’ The ranch hands finally reacted and moved away. Paul gave the order to return to their duties. Each man smiled and left the family in peace.
It was then that Jelly realized that Murdoch held Johnny in a loving embrace. “Murdoch?”
“It’s OK Jelly. Paul caught him. He’s not hurt. I just… “ A tear slid down his cheek. “Let’s get my boys back to the house. Paul… thank you for saving my son.”
Paul just padded the man’s shoulder and smiled. ‘That boy and his adventures.’ He laughed and went to help the hands.
With all the summer work that had been done throughout the valley, many families decided to gather together for a large picnic. It was a cloudy day; yet, everyone decided to have the picnic. The clouds prevented the sun from making it a hot day and some sunshine would seep through making it clear that the weather would be almost perfect.
Wagons were all gathered around as people prepared an area for their celebration. Johnny spotted Carolina running around a tree. He just laughed. ‘She is crazy.’
He ran up to her. “Hi Caro. Want to play?”
“Sure. Come on. I’m chasing a pie-red.”
His eyes beamed. “Yeah? Which way did he go?”
She stopped and looked at the ground. “See his foot print. He went… that way.” He knelt down and studied the ground, nodding his head, he signaled her to move out. They both took off in that direction.
“Don’t go to far Johnny!”
“OK Pa’. Just over that way to get the pie-raid.”
‘Pirate?’ Murdoch just laughed and kept helping out.
Those kids had their imagination hats on and were using them. “Hey Caro, I think we better get our saddle bags.”
“Just in case. Ya’ never know when we might need ‘em. I got mine in the wagon. Do you have one?”
“No, but my mother can fix me one up. I’ll go ask her.”
“K, I’ll go get mine.” They both ran to get their supplies, just in case.
Johnny jumped into the wagon and looked for a saddlebag. He found one and looked inside. It had the usual. Looking at the supplies of jerky, matches, a bottle of something he did not recognize, bandages, a knife and a small derringer, which he knew he couldn’t take so he took it out, and a rope. ‘Yup, that should do it.’ Looking around for more things, he noticed two canteens and took one. ‘OK, I’m ready.’ He jumped off the wagon with supplies in tow.
Carolina went to her mom and told her she needed supplies for her adventure. So her mother obliged her and gave them some sandwiches and cookies. “Do you think this is enough for your adventure sweetheart?”
Caro looked at the flour sack. “I think so.” She started to walk away when her mother stopped her. “Here honey. Take a canteen. And don’t go too far. Stay close.”
“OK mami. Thank you.” Caro was starting to go when she realized that she had forgotten something, went to the wagon and grab what she needed.
“Hey Caro. Are you ready?”
“Yeah. Mami said not to go to far. OK?”
“Ah, we ain’t going far just over there, that way ‘member.” They took off ready for the hunt.
Both children were surveying the area looking for footsteps, imaginary ones, but they were there. Once spotted, they’d head in another direction. Carolina noticed that Johnny was breaking branches as they walked.
“Johnny wha’ ya’ doing?”
“Leaving a trail like trackers.” He broke another branch.
“How does that help?”
He knelt down and studied the ground. “Well, I just go back and follow the branches I broke and I find my camp.”
“Johnny! You have a camp? I don’t!”
Grinning at her. “No silly. That’s how it works. If I had a camp… I could find it. We will find the picnic. OK?”
“Oh. I get it.” She really didn’t, but dared not say so. She just followed him.
As they trailed further away from the picnic area, Caro started to notice that Johnny was really into his adventure a bit more than she was. “Johnny. I think we are too far.”
He looked around. “Yeah, didn’t find any bones, so we can go back now.” Suddenly a large gust of wind hit them. “Stay close to me Caro.” He looked for a broken branch and saw it; then he walked more looking for another broken branch when the gust of wind became stronger and unrelenting.
“Johnny, look at the sky.” Caro was getting scared.
“So K, Caro. Look here is another branch.” Only he wasn’t sure because the wind was breaking branches left and right. He just kept leading her. The wind was blowing so hard that they had to cover their little faces.
“Johnny I’m scared.” She held his hand.
“Don’t be Caro. We’re almost there.” He was just as scared. Then he felt raindrops and stopped. “It’s starting to rain.” He looked around and spotted an area next to a hill. As the wind blew hard, he saw that there was an opening into the hill. “Caro, look a cave. Let’s go see.”
“No Johnny. I want my mamí and daddy. I want to go back.” She was starting to cry.
“Don’t cry. I’ll take you back, but it is starting to rain and… we can’t get wet or we’ll get sick. OK? Come on.” He grabbed her hand tight and fought his way through the wind and raindrops.
The wind had swayed some bushes away and Johnny was able to spot the opening of the cave. He managed to move some of the broken branches out of the way and they walked in. The cave was bigger on the inside than what the opening indicated, but it was shelter for those little ones.
“There, see. We’re safe and dry.” Just as he finished saying that the rain started to pour with thunder and lightening. Both kids jumped at the loud thundering noise.
They were frightened and huddled together. Then Johnny realized he needed to remain calm when he felt Caro shaking. He closed his eyes and took in a deep breath. “Caro? You OK?”
“Uh-huh.” Every time the thunder sounded loudly, she held on to him tighter.
He remembered how his brother would help calm him down when he was afraid of the thunder, so he offered his friend the same. “Hey, it’s only the angels practicing.” He tried to assure her.
“What? She moved back. “What are they practicing?”
“Shooting their guns!” He acted out like he was drawing his gun from a holster.
“Angels don’t shot guns.” She crossed her arms in disbelieve.
“Yeah, they do. How do you think they protect us?” He stood and continued his pantomime.
Carolina giggled watching him. She reached for her bag and pulled out her precious cargo. “I brought my doll, Angel.” She lifted it up to show him and smiled.
He sat back down next to her and smiled. “Angel? Good name.” When the thunder sounded a protest for their calmness, Johnny quickly grabbed the doll and looked at her face. “Hum, seems to me that Angel is real scared. Maybe you should hug her tight. Make her feel safe.” He handed the doll back to Caro.
“She does look scared, huh? I’ll take care of her. I brought her a blanket. It is cold in here.”
Johnny dug out the blanket from the sack and handed it to Caro. He saw that she shivered a bit, so he took off his little jacket and placed it on Caro, just like his Pa did once for him. “Here you both need to keep warm. I’ll see if I can find dry branches to start a fire.” He started mimicking his father’s mannerism when they camped.
“Johnny? You know how to start a fire? Are you allowed?”
“Yeah Caro. I’m not a baby.” He started to crawl around looking for branches. “Remember that I’m almost six. My Pa teaches me more stuff now.” He turned away from her and let loose a loud blow to hide his lie. With that he decided to walk towards the entrance of the cave; Then he shook his head when he saw how hard it was raining and turned back to Caro. “I need to look in here for branches. It is raining hard out there.”
Not finding any dry branches near the entrance, Johnny started to scrounge around the ground and moved further into the cave. During his scavenging, he found a big branch so he grabbed it. Just in case.
Suddenly he heard Caro scream his name. “JOHNNY!”
He wasn’t far, but still got startled and ran. “What? Are you hurt?”
She bowed her head. “No, I just couldn’t see you anymore. I got scared.”
“Now where can I go Caro?” He smiled at her. “Let me start the fire. Want to help me? Do you think Angel will be fine alone for a while?”
Carolina looked at her doll. “Yeah, she’s being brave now. What can I do?”
“We’ll need rocks. Do you think you can find rock around here? And dry leaves.” Some more thunderous music sounded off and they both jumped in unison.
Johnny was trying real hard to be courageous for her sake. “Hey, Caro. Angel sure is being brave over there, alone.”
She looked at the doll and then back at him. “Yeah, she is… I guess.”
“Come on, let’s get to work.”
Both were hard at work looking for rocks and branches.
“Johnny, look at what I found!” She held up a long ivory looking stick.
He went to examine it. “It’s a bone. Caro drop that!”
Caro gasped loudly. “A bone? A BONE!”
“Yeah, so?” He looked at her as a matter of fact.
“SO? What if he comes together?” She bit her lip and quaked.
“The pie-red Johnny. What if his bones come together?”
He wanted to laugh, but knew she was real scared. “Then I’ll break him apart with this branch.” Quickly lifting the branch, he swung it hard.
A puzzled look appeared on her scrunched face. “What?”
“Yeah, look. He placed the bone on the ground and struck it with the branch. The bone broke apart. “See, he can’t stay together like our bones do. We got skin to hold us together. OK?” But deep down, he sure was glad it wasn’t Halloween, if it were, he’d be just as scared as Caro.
She wanted to believe him. “I’m still scared.”
He sighed. She was making him nervous. “Me too Caro, but we need to be brave… like Angel, OK? Please Caro.” The sound of his plead made her become conscious that he too was a scared kid.
She tried to give him a smile and nodded.
Once more the little man continued to mimic his father and made a circle with the rocks; he added dry leaves in the middle with small branches on top; then he lit a match on a rock and jumped back a bit when the match sparked with fire. Johnny couldn’t help but giggle at his reaction. Finally, he placed the match onto the dry leaves and watched the fire start. He was mesmerized that he had actually done it, yet quickly realized he needed to add more branches.
The fire lit up offering them the warmth they desperately needed.
“Hey Johnny, mamí made us some sandwiches. Want one?” She now looked and felt safer.
“Sure. Thanks.” Squatting on his heels, he poked the fire before reaching for the sandwich. He wanted to be in the safe arms of his father, but knew that he needed to continue the brave front just a bit longer.
They ate quietly and continued to huddle together every time the thunder and lightening startled them. The wind would occasionally blow strongly into the cave causing the fire to sway in all directions. They just held their breath until the fire settled.
Both children had lost track of time and Johnny was getting worried. It was also becoming harder not to be afraid. He didn’t have his big brother to help him. ‘I want Scott.’ He felt the tears starting threat. He huffed it out trying to control himself.
The rain was letting up some and Johnny stood to go check. Just as he started in the direction of the entrance, he heard a sound that made him shiver, but didn’t want to alarm Caro. He walked back in and listened intensely. There it was again, the noise he feared and recognized. Only this time Caro heard it.
“Johnny what was that?”
Emphatically, he answered. “The rain Caro.” He picked up the big branch and stood in front of Caro.
“Johnny that was not the rain. It was a growl.” She stood up.
“Caro stay behind me. Don’t move.” He only moved to place the branch into the fire. When the branch caught fire, he picked it up and held it tight. The growl was coming from inside the cave and getting closer. They both knew it was a cougar.
Johnny looked over his shoulder towards the opening of the cave and started to push Caro along behind him. It was still raining, but that was better than becoming the cat’s next meal. He held the torch up in front of him thinking that maybe the cat just wanted to leave the cave and they were in its way. He continued to guide Caro towards the exit, when she suddenly bolted out from behind him.
“Angel. I have to get Angel.” She started to go back in to get her doll.
“Caro NO, leave Angel!” He stepped out and scarcely managed to grab her sleeve. He then saw the glow from the large cat’s eyes. Subsequently, it made its move and crouched down for the attack. The brave young boy pushed Caro back behind him when he suddenly heard her gasp out loud.
He swiftly turned his head to see what had started her. There by entrance, they saw a long tall figure standing at the entrance of the cave followed by lightening.
Johnny gulped down his fear and thought. ‘Pie-raid bones!’ He was now faced with two monsters, one in front and one behind him.
The cougar could not longer contain its intensified attention towards the children and it lurched itself into the air. Johnny promptly threw the torch at it and immediately turned to push himself on top of Caro. They fell hard. In the blink of an eye, he heard a different kind of thunder. It was loud and fierce. He glanced over to his side and saw the large cat lying there next to them, dead. He realized that Caro was eyeballing him with an alarmed expression. As he tried to offer her an assuring smile, he unexpectedly felt a sharp pain on his head. The pain caused him to see blurry and then he saw black.
In a deep state of unconsciousness, Johnny was unaware that he had hit his head on a rock when he pushed Caro down to safety. His little body was carefully lifted up and carried out of the cave away from any further danger.
The rain had finally let up and the search party was cheering loud enough to be head into the next state. Carolina couldn’t believe all the people that were parting a path for Murdoch and his baby. Her father carried and held her tighter than a roped calf. “Daddy, I need to breathe.” He just laughed and refused to let go. All he could do was kiss her over and over again.
When they reached the picnic area, few had left and stood under umbrellas waiting until they knew those two precious children were found. Caro’s mother tore the muddy ground with her heels, ran up to them, and threw her arms around her baby.
Scott followed, but stopped dead in his track as he saw that Johnny was unconscious and there was a bandage with blood wrapped around his head. He started to cry and felt Paul’s arms wrap around him. “Come on Scott. Johnny will be fine son. Doc will have him running before long.”
Murdoch placed his injured son on the back of the wagon where Jelly had already prepared a soft bed for the little one. They noticed he started to stir. He opened his eyes and closed them. “Come on son, Papás here sweetheart. Open those eyes.”
Johnny felt his father’s strong hands caressing his cheeks and he moved his head and smiled. “Pá, Caro?”
“She’s safe and sound with her parents.”
Murdoch creased his face in confusion. Scott sat next to them and just chuckled, adding. “He’s asking about the pirate. I read him pirate books.”
“Oh.” Murdoch laughed. “Johnny there were no pirates, son.”
He opened his eyes. “I saw ’em… his bones. He was standing…” He closed his eyes again in the pain.
“Sh-h-h-h-h. Rest.” Murdoch signaled Jelly to get going. The wagon was about to start moving when Jelly spotted Carolina running towards them.
“Hey honey. Want ta’ see ya’ friend before we leave?” He jumped down and carried her up to the wagon.
“Is he OK Mr. Lancer? He saved my life. He’s my hero.” She then kissed Johnny on the cheek.
“Argh, yuck!” Johnny just squirmed into his father’s arms. “Girls!”
Murdoch chuckled. ‘No bones about it… my son is going to be a ladies man!’