The Trouble With Bernie

The Haunted House- 4

The Patterson boys were the first ones down the stairs. Taking them two, three, four at a time, Richard and Robert, shrieking at the top of their lungs, raced toward the door. Right behind them were Clark, Larry and Brian.

All the way down the long, long trail, through the woods, along the banks of Peabody Creek, they ran. They splashed through mud puddles, they jumped over stumps, they sprinted for all they were worth.

And finally, their legs aching, their breath coming in painful gasps, there it was: the trail that lead up the hill and back into the neighborhood.

As if walking into another world, they emerged on the border of Mr. Cornelius’s apple orchard. They could see cars whizzing past on Park Street, and old Mrs. Wolverton across the street, picking lilacs, and three of the neighborhood dogs, furiously barking at a squirrel in a tree. At the Baxter house, several of the neighborhood girls were playing on the swing set.

Clark gestured for everyone to gather around. “All right you guys, no one breathes a single word about this. Got it? What we gotta do now is ... one or two of us have to volunteer to go back down there, and take another look, and make sure we really saw ... what we really saw.”

When no one volunteered, Clark pretended to scan his finger randomly at the boys. “In that case, you’re the lucky guy who gets to go.” He was pointing at Brian.

“You’re crazy,” said Brian, “I wouldn’t go back down there if you paid me a million dollars.”

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