An excerpt from Chapter 20
Sunday morning. Donny was face down in his bunk, still thick with sleep. Norman thumbed absently through a copy of Scientific American waiting for Donny to wake up. He’d already read all the articles. Rereading them just gave him something to do while he waited. Randy was on the bunk above him trying to start new novel but having a hard time concentrating. It was their first morning at Black’s cottage. Both boys were wondering what the day would hold. Especially after last night’s scene.
Donny was asleep, snoring and the cottage was still. There was no noise, no smell of coffee issuing from the kitchen. Through the bunkroom window, sun flickered through the trees. It danced between the birch leaves, trembling sunlight across their faces teasing them and beckoning them outside.
Randy leaned down over the bunk and cocked an eyebrow at Norman. He nodded.
They left their books on the mattress and snuck quietly out of the bunkroom they shared with Donny. The coast was clear. There was still no sign of Mrs. Black. The twins crept stealthily through the cottage until they got to the front door. Without having exchanged one word, they unlocked the sliding door and went outside.
They stood on the deck for a moment and breathed in the morning. The sun was up and the day promised to be hot and humid. Birds sang in the trees. In the distance they could hear the rat tat tat of a woodpecker. The lake was coming to life. Other families were already up and hard at play, taking advantage of the clear skies. Norman and Randy could hear the laughing and talking. They could even hear the sound of splashing. It was difficult to tell where exactly the sounds originated or from how far away they were. Norman knew that was because across water, sound travelled far and fast.
For once though, Norman was not thinking about science. The sounds of people playing in the water completely occupied his mind. Other people were splashing, swimming and enjoying the lake. They should be too.
He looked at his twin. Randy flashed him a wide grin, gave a small whoop, then starting running down the hill to the lake stripping off his pajama top as he went. Norman followed closely behind, shedding his top then his trousers. They left their pajamas in heaps on the path exactly where they’d dropped them. By the time they hit the dock both boys were buck-naked and running at full speed. They flung themselves off the dock in two long, ludicrous-looking leaps. Two breathtaking cannonball jumps. Two boisterous shouts of glee. Followed by two spectacular splashes.
As they flew naked off the dock and landed in the lake with a resounding splash the boys felt like Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn sneaking off for a skinny-dip in a deliciously hot Hannibal, Missouri summer’s day. But their daydream didn’t last long.
Only moments after their heads broke the surface of the water Mrs. Black came running down the path from the cabin to the dock, stutter-stepping, arms wind-milling. She was so off balance it seemed like she might trip and fall any moment. Her harpy yell could be heard across the lake. When she arrived at the dock she was so angry her neck and face had turned a telltale blotchy red. She screamed at the boys to get out of the water.
Randy looked at Norman, wide-eyed and nervous.
“Get out this minute,” Mrs. Black yelled.
They couldn’t get out. They were naked!
The twins treaded water. Neither boy knew quite what to do.
“Get out! I know you’re skinny-dipping. I saw your pajamas on the path. I don’t care. Get out. Right now! Get out. You boys don’t have anything I haven’t seen before.”
What Mrs. Black had or had not seen before didn’t matter to Norman and Randy. She hadn’t seen what they had and the twins wanted to keep it that way.
Randy whispered, “What should we do?”
“Get. Out. Of. That. Water,” Mrs. Black barked. This time though, her voice was controlled: clipped and tight. It made her sound even scarier.
The twins climbed out of the water and followed her meekly back to the cottage, heads hanging, hands covering their groins. As they passed their discarded pajamas on their climb back up the pathway, they picked them up and used them as a shield. When they got to the cottage deck, Donny Black was standing there watching.