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Eggnog Jenkins and the Flatrock Five
The Race To Flatrock
Old Flatrock was the meeting spot for the liveliest bunch of boys in town. Every morning during the summer each boy would try to be the first to get to the slab of sediment that rose out of the creek just a down from Tyson's bend. Whoever set their foot on the rock before the others became the leader for the day, unless of course, Eggnog saw it otherwise.
Eggnog Jenkins was the unofficial leader of the group. All of the other boys looked up to Eggnog ever since he sent the school bully Joey Kritchen home with red nose after Joey tried to give him a wedgie during lunch. From that day on none of the kids in school crossed Eggnog and even his friends showed him a new found respect.
Wallace Maynard was determined to be the first to the rock for the first time this summer. He just missed beating out Billy Howard two days before and if it wasn't for his untied shoelaces he would have been the winner yesterday instead of Bobby Lister. Chubby Cheeks Charlie would have to sleep out on the rock all night to beat anyone there on account of his hay fever and poor sense of direction. At least once a week the other boys would have to search the woods for Charlie when he would fail to reach the rock within fifteen minutes of the others.
All of the boys lived different distances from the flatrock with Billy being the closest and Stanley Rogers being the farthest away. In order to make the competition fair, the boys agreed on a set of rules and special tasks that each would be assigned. First was that no participant could leave their porch until the shift whistle blew at the lumber yard. Once the high pitched sound was heard, the race began. Since Billy was the closest, he had to count to twelve before leaving his yard and even then he had to run around the old barn three times before setting his course to the woods. Wallace was just a few houses down from Billy but he had to open and close three gates and throw the newspaper onto his front porch before he was allowed to begin. Bobby Lister lived two blocks over from Billy and Wallace and was both blessed and cursed by his position. As long as the train which ran behind his house remained on schedule, Bobby could hear the whistle and only had to count to six before his could begin his sprint but sometimes the train would be a little bit behind it's normal pattern and its whistle would drown out the one from the lumber yard and Bobby would have to listen real hard to determine which noise was first. Most of the time Chubby Cheeks Charlie was still eating his breakfast when the whistle would go off and he would often show up to the rock with milk and corn puffs still on his face.
Wallace had a hard time sleeping on this humid Wednesday night. His mind was racing with ideas on how he could shorten his time to the rock. His aim with the newspaper had gotten pretty good so far so he didn't see any way to make improvements with that task. He then suddenly realized that the second gate was the obstacle the slowed him down the most. He had to make sure the latch fell into its proper position on the gate would swing open and he would then get in trouble when he got home because the goats would wonder out into the front yard and it would take him hours to corral them back to the grazing part of the yard. This is where he could make some adjustments and perhaps shave off the few crucial seconds that had cost him his victory two days ago. Wallace finally fell asleep dreaming of what he would do as leader the next day when he won the race.
Stanley Rogers had beaten the rest to Flatrock three times over the last two weeks. Since he was farther away then anyone else, all he had to do was to get a good start once he heard the scream of the lumbar yards siren. The only trouble spot was the narrow path through the cornfield that stretched from the end of his property to the middle of Watkins farm. The tractor tires would push the mud to the sides and create gullies which the sun would dry up, making an uneven and unstable route. Stanley learned that with just the right timing he could step into every other tire tread and not lose any speed. If the ground was still wet and muddy he would get his shoes quite dirty but he didn't have to think about his foot placement and could run even faster. He went to bed confident that he could achieve his fourth victory.
By the time the first rays of light were peeking into Wallaces bedroom he was already in the kitchen digging through his mothers junk drawer. This magical sliding box was overstuffed with several different kinds of tape, bolts, expired coupons, pliers, wrenches, mayonnaise lids and anything else that didn't have a home in the house. Wallace sifted through the drawer looking for something that could help him to fix the troublesome second gate. He wedged three screwdrivers and a wrench into his sock and grabbed a roll of electrical tape from crowded drawer and stuffed it in his pocket. He then quietly closed the wooden drawer and turned to head outside. As his slowly tip toed past the kitchen table careful not to step on the creaky floorboard, his eye was drawn to a large tub on the counter. He reached over and stuck his hand in and pulled out a big glob of lard. He snuck out on to the front porch and quickly sprinkled the ground before him with feed so that the goats wouldn't wake up his mother crying for food as they always did at first site of a caretaker in the morning. With the animals distracted his made his way to the pesky second gate and lathered the latch with the lard. He then took out one of the screwdrivers but quickly dropped it because of the slippery lard that remained on his hand. One of the goats nearby wasted no time in picking up the screwdriver and scurried off to nibble on the wooden handle. Wallace wiped his hand on his shirt in an attempt to remove the slippery lard and reached for another tool. He loosened the screws on the gate latch enough so that the gate was no longer tight but was secure. He raised the latch and watched it fall with ease as the lard acted as a lubricant. Satisfied with his modification, he returned to the kitchen and awarded himself a bowl of oatmeal and caramel sauce to celebrate his certain victory.
When the shriek of the wood mills alarm finally went off , all of the boys were positioned. Eggnog was standing down by the treeline of the woods acting as the referee. He had a perfect view of the path Stanley would emerge from as well as the trail that both Wallace and Billy would share towards the end. Bobby would often remain camouflage by the bright sun until he reached the large oak tree which blocked out the blinding rays. Nobody knew, or even cared where Chubby Cheeks would emerge because he was always either way off course or too far behind to make a difference. As the shrill of the whistle stopped, Eggnog knew he had three minutes before he would have to remain alert and vigilant, for it was he who would identify and infractions by the participants and then have to hand out disqualifications.
Bobby had gotten off to a bad beginning. His father was in the middle of lecturing him about his unkept room when the whistle blew. He was twenty five feet behind his usual starting position and he had to promise three times to clean up his room before he was allowed to rush out the door. He knew he was behind and it made him angry that his poor housekeeping was tto blame for his tardiness and not a slow conductors watch.
Stanley was primed and ready where alerted of the beginning of the competition. He had been sitting in a rocking chair positioned five feet from the open front door, swaying back and forth as if her were building up momentum. He sprang from the chair and darted out the door and across the grass, dodging a tricycle and leaping over his sisters kiddie pool. When he made the turn down the slim path his right foot landed in the groove created by Watkins tractor but whn his left foot came down it hit a large clump of hardened soil that caused him to lose his footing. He stumbled a bit and then tried to regain his balance. Either his timing was off or the farmer Watkins had done the unthinkable; he changed the tires on his tractor! Stanleys right foot then was caught in a deep hole which caused him to trip and fall face down into the trail. He sat back on his heels and took notice of the unfamiliar tread and sighed knowing that he would have to find develop another system if he wanted to compete with the others ever again.
Eggnog let out a big yawn which was cut short when he saw the first bobbing head arise in the distance. The bright red hair of Wallace was difficult to confuse with anything else found in nature. There had been a few mornings in which Eggnog had misidentified the Sandersons dog as an approaching Billy but never had he thought Wallace was anything else than Wallace. As he focused on the orange globe that bounced in the distance he saw another figure off to his right which was nearing the fork in the road that Wallace would soon reach.
"Oh this is going to be ugly" Eggnog said to himself as he watched Wallace turn to see the fast approaching Billy. Eggnog the looked over towards the Oak tree for a sign of Bobby and then to the left for Stanley. Neither were visible and therefore both were out of the race. By the time Eggnog looked back towards Wallace and Billy they were side by side on the same trail. The contest was similar to the one Billy won just two days ago only that this time Wallace was even with Billy and even pulling ahead. Billy must have been alarmed by Wallaces sudden lead and he lunged forward with his arms out trying to grab Wallace to slow him down. This would have been a clear violation of the regulations but to lose by pure defeat would have been less acceptable than a disqualification in Billys eyes. His left hand surged towards Wallaces waist and clawed at his shirt. Wallace looked down in horror as he felt his speed slow and reached down to push Billys hand off. As Wallaced freckled hand grasped Billys wrist and edged it down a bit, the slippery lard that was wiped on his shirt caused Billys hand to slide right off of Wallace, causing him to stumble and fall behind even more.
"Serves you right, cheater" Eggnog yelled followed by a loud chuckle. Wallace turned his head to gauge his lead and in doing so he lost his footing and to his horror he fell to the ground. Billy in his excitement attempted to jump over Wallace as tried to break his fall by tucking himself into a big ball of lanky limbs and red hair. As Billy was leaping over his fallen friend he let out a gleeful howl and in a few short steps lost his own balance , sending him into the same dirt that Wallace was spitting from his mouth. Eggnog couldn't stop laughing. He fell to the ground holding his stomach and gasping for air. Wallace lay on his stomach holding his knee up to his chest. He moaned in pain and then laughed as he watched Billy crawl around trying to shake off the dirt and his pain. Eggnog pushed himself off the ground and stood up while still holding his belly and laughing, tried to recount the pitiful event he just witnessed. Billy and Wallace both looked at him and resented his joy in their misfortune. They both were up on their knees, waiting for each other to dart up and and resume the heated battle when Eggnog stopped laughing. They both looked at him intensely as his smile flattened and his hand slowly rose.
"Oh this can't be happening, this is just perfect, perfect" Eggnog exclaimed as his finger pointed between the two fallen runners. Just as Billy and Wallace turned their heads towards where Eggnog was pointing, they could hear the sounds of heavy breathing and feet. Before they knew what was happening, Chubby Cheeks Charlie ran right between them snickering loudly between his gasps for air. The two disgraced competitors rose to their feet and watched as Chubby Cheeks disappeared into the woods. Eggnog fell back to the ground holding his belly, screaming and laughing. Stanley jogged in from the the left while Bobby came out from the shadows of the oak tree. Bobby looked at who was remaining and realizing that they weren't in a hurry looked towards the trees then back at the other four.
"There is no way, no way Chubby beat up all" Stanley declared in amazement.
Eggnog composed himself long enough to stop laughing and stood up. He looked at the ground and said to Stanley " Why don't you follow the trail of milk and sugar puffs"
The five boys made their way through the edge of the woods and back to the stream bed. They were greeted by the uneasy sight of Chubby Cheeks Charlie shirtless, dancing around and singing on top of Old Flatrock.
This is my first draft of my very first children's story. It was written from 1 am until 4 am and I can't keep my eyes open. Illustrations will be added later once completed by the talented artist V.R. Let me know what you think so far.