Dog’s Run

Two boys playing hooky from school to go squirrel hunting found the young woman’s body lying facedown in the muddy creek at the bottom of Dog’s Run. At first, Wayne DeCross thought it was a dummy and started to approach it, but his buddy Chance Carver grabbed his arm and pulled him back.
“No, Wayne, that ain’t no dummy, that’s a real woman and I think she’s dead!”
“Naaa,” Wayne told him disdainfully, shaking the other boy’s hand off his arm. “You got too much imagination, Chance. Besides, even if it was a real woman, I ain’t scared of no dead body. Are you?”
“I’m not scared,” Chance said with a shake of his head, even though he was. “I just don’t want to be messin’ with no dead body.”
“Well what do ya think those squirrels hangin’ off your belt are? Ain’t they dead bodies?”
Chance couldn’t deny the reasoning but he still didn’t want to get anywhere near the thing laying in the creek. “That’s different. These are animals and pretty soon they’ll be food. That there’s a dead person.”
“Ain’t people animals, too?” argued Wayne. “And if we don’t get her out of that water pretty soon she’ll be food too, for the crawdaddies.”
“I ain’t touching her!” Chance said. “We need to go tell the Sheriff.”
“I swear, you are such a sissypants. Dead is dead, ain’t it? Don’t matter if it’s a squirrel or a chicken or a person.”
“Well I ain’t never been haunted by no squirrel or a chicken before!”
“And when was you ever haunted by a dead person?” Wayne asked.
“I wasn’t. But you ask Pete Ledbetter about gettin’ haunted. He’ll tell ya! He was haunted by his mother-in-law after she died ’cause they never got on.”
“Pete Ledbetter?” Wayne scoffed. “Hell, you know well’s I do that old Pete’s drunk most of the time, and he’s got a worse imagination than you. If he heard a tree branch scrapin’ the side of his shack, he’d swear it was old Bessie Green scratchin’ on the door tryin’ to get in!”
“I don’t care. I ain’t touching no dead body!”
“Fine, then hold my gun and I’ll do it. I ain’t scared of nothing!” Wayne said, handing his old Savage single-shot .22 to his friend and walking up to the body.
And there was no doubt that it was indeed a body he determined when he got closer. A hank of long, curly yellow hair waved off to the side in the muddy water and the back of the woman’s white dress had ridden up, exposing her upper thighs and the cheeks of her butt. Being a normal thirteen year old boy, Wayne couldn’t help pausing to admire the curve of her rear end for a quick moment before he put his hand on her shoulder and tried to pull her over. She was surprisingly heavy for such a relatively small woman. He called out to Chance, “Stop bein’ such a baby and come here and help me.”
Chance hesitated for another moment, then screwed up his courage. He wasn’t a Catholic, in fact he wasn’t much for Sunday School of any kind, but he crossed himself like he had seen that priest in the Saturday matinee at the Rigley Theater do last week, then laid the three squirrels they had shot, Wayne’s rifle, and his beat up old Savage 20 gauge on the creek bank and joined his friend. The water covering his ankles was cool, but that wasn’t what made him shiver.
“Who is it?”
“Don’t know,” Wayne said. “Guess we’ll find out when we roll her over. Here, give me a hand.”
They grabbed the woman’s right arm and pulled her onto her back and were greeted with the sight of a fat crawdad hanging from the corner of her left nostril by one pincher.
All thought of false bravado disappeared as both boys screamed and ran splashing out of the creek, leaving their guns, the dead squirrels, and the body behind them as they fled Dog’s Run.

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The growing library of Books by Nick Russell