Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Short Story Mystery

Welcome to our Shorty Story Mysteries! Every Tuesday, the authors of Heartsong Presents Mysteries will post another installment of Short Story Mystery. Enjoy!

Water Under the Bridge by Susan Page Davis

Part One

*Note: This story was first published in the August, 2001 issue of GRIT.

“Let’s go to the bridge,” Michael said.

“My dad would kill me,” Billy replied. He floated lazily in an inner tube on the glassy surface of Pleasant Pond. The three boys had been swimming for an hour, and Michael was bored.

Larry flicked a few drops of water at Michael and said in his Donald Duck voice, “What parents don’t know won’t hurt them.”
“Your parents aren’t cops,” Billy said glumly. “Dad’s afraid we’ll get hurt.”

Michael laughed. “It’s not like we’re jumping off the bridge. Let’s go.”

He and Larry splashed toward shore, and Billy reluctantly followed. They ran barefoot to the bridge, where the road crossed a neck of the pond.

“Come on!” Larry plunged into the water.

Billy waded in cautiously. Larry surface dove in the narrow channel, and Michael was treading water beneath the bridge.

Larry surfaced and shoved his dripping hair from his eyes. “There’s a lot of junk on the bottom.”

“Old cans and what else?” Billy asked.

Larry sucked in a deep breath and dove again. He came up sputtering, “Hey, there’s a cave or something down there.”

“Yeah, right,” Michael said scornfully.

“No, it’s for real. Did you see the pile of gravel on the bottom next to the concrete? There’s a hole there that it came out of. I can look up into it.”

“Cool!” Michael cried. “Show me.”

“Guys,” Billy said nervously. His friends disappeared beneath the surface. He saw them glide toward the abutment. Suddenly they were gone, and it was very still beneath the bridge.

“Mike? Larry?” Billy called. Michael could hold his breath a long time, but this was way too long.

“Howdy, pardner,” said a loud John Wayne voice.

Billy knew it was Larry. He could imitate anyone.

“Where are you?”

There was a laugh. A few seconds later Larry popped up beside him.

“Come on, I’ll show you.”

Billy paddled along behind him toward the piling.

“Take a big breath,” said Larry, and ducked beneath the surface.

Billy gulped and followed. He saw Larry’s legs disappearing into a hole under the concrete. He followed and bobbed almost immediately to the surface.

“Where are we?”

Michael was sitting on a concrete shelf at the bottom of the pier wall. “Inside the bridge support. Cool, huh?” Their voices had a weird, hollow echo.

“We shouldn’t be in here,” Billy insisted. “Dad will freak!”

“Only if you tell him,” Michael said.

“No, really,” Billy insisted. “Some cottages have been broken into around here, and Dad’s upset because they can’t solve the case. I don’t want to do anything to make him mad right now.”

“Shh,” Larry hissed. “There’s a boat coming.”

Michael peered through a slit between two concrete slabs.

“Let me see!” Billy took his place and saw a small motor boat putt-putting toward the bridge. A man and woman in the boat rested their fishing rods on the seats. The boys were just above water level, five yards from where the boat would pass.

“Watch this,” Larry whispered. He called through the crack, in a high whine, “Go ba-a-a-ack!”

“What was that?” the woman cried, looking around.

“Beats me,” said the man.

“Stay away from the bridge,” Larry wailed, louder. “Go ba-a-a-ack!”

“Let’s get out of here,” said the woman.

The man hesitated, then turned the boat and headed toward the main part of the lake.
The boys smothered uncontrollable laughter.

“That was so cool!” Michael chortled. “Did you see her face?”

“We’d better scram,” Billy warned. “If they tell someone, my dad will be down here looking for an explanation.”

Tune in next week for Part Two of Water Under the Bridge...

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