Friday, December 19, 2014

Barely Back, A Short Story

Douglas Winslow Cooper and Brian Maher

“Dad, can we take the Ford to Bear Mountain?” Rick asked.

“Who is ‘we’?” his father asked.

“Joan and I.” Joan Black was Rick’s current girlfriend.

“What did you have in mind?”

“Picnic. It’s a beautiful day for a picnic.”

Mr. Williams gave it a minute’s thought. Did he want his old car and his son twenty miles away, alone with a seventeen-year-old girl? What could happen on a picnic? Mr. W. had been seventeen once himself…he had an idea or two about that.

“You can go, if Tess goes with you.”


“Yes, Tess…your sister.”

“I’ll ask her.”

Tess liked the idea, if Eddie Gomez could go with them. Eddie liked the idea. Joan liked the idea. The youngest Williams, Tim, did not want to go. Fortunately, he was not essential.

The picnic got organized. Rick, Joan, Tess, and Eddie drove off to Bear Mountain...beautiful, remote Bear Mountain State Park.

Having arrived, they unpacked the car and marched off on one of the trails. One of the trekkers, we won’t say who it was, forgot to close the rear passenger car door fully. The little lights inside the car stayed on, but no one noticed them, as it was a bright day.

The foursome picnicked pleasantly, returning when it was getting dark. Almost all the cars that had been parked near them had gone.

Rick and crew put their stuff back in the car, and Rick tried to start it up. “Click, click, click….” That sound meant that the battery was nearly dead.

“Now what?” Tess asked. Sharp, she knew something was wrong.

Rick replied, “We could call a garage and have them send someone out here to start our car, but that will take a long time and cost money, and Mom and Dad will not like it. Let’s try to get some help from someone here.”

A woman and her two young children were in a nearby car, just starting to go.

“Excuse me, but would you help us start our car?” Rick asked her.

“What do you want me to do?”

“We would like to use our cables and connect to your battery to jump start our car.”

“Will that hurt my car?”

“No. You’ll keep it running, so we don’t run down your battery.”

“Well, OK, if it doesn’t take long.”

Rick and Eddie got the jumper cables out of the back of their car, but Rick was not exactly sure how to make the connections. They discussed this quietly.

“Eddie, do you know how to do this? I’m not sure.”

“Yes. Put the black connectors on the negative terminal of her battery and yours. Put the red connector on her positive terminal, then put the other red one on your positive terminal. Next, start your car.”

Rick and Eddie made these connections, and Rick tried to get his car to start. “Click, click, click” became “urrr, urr, urr,” but the car wasn’t starting.

“”Give it more gas!” Eddie told the woman, and her car engine started to roar…and Rick’s car started.

“Enough!” Eddie told the lady. “Keep it running, Rick.”

All four of the kids thanked the woman again and again, and she drove off with a smile.

When the foursome got home, Mr. and Mrs. Williams asked if they had a good time and whether they had any trouble.

“Everything went just fine,” Rick responded.

It is said that “bad times make good stories.” The Bear Mountain picnic was not exactly a bad time, but Tess’s diary got a highly dramatic story about the picnic. Eddie starred as the hero, and surely he did deserve some credit. He would have liked to read it, but it was a secret diary.

Tess ended her write-up with, “We barely made it back from Bear Mountain.” They were not really in danger, but diaries are not always accurate, especially when special friends are being described.

One of our series of 50 somewhat instructive stories for young readers.

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