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Rodney to the Rescue: A Short Story by cam, Part One (of 2 posted)

Updated on December 16, 2017
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Chris has written more than 300 flash fiction/short stories. Working Vacation was 21st out of 6,700 in the 2016 Writer's Digest competition.


Rodney to the Rescue

Dust billowed from the quarter mile lane as fifteen early model cars, pickups, vans, and a bus made their way from the county road to the farm owned by Tom’s Parents. It was tomato harvesting season in Indiana and the migrant clan, comprised mostly of one extended Mexican family, was arriving as they had for the past several years since Tom’s dad had begun growing tomatoes.

Tom, Rick and Rodney walked from the big red barn into the yard

“I sure hope Juan and Marcos are in one of those cars,” said Tom.

“Yeah, and I bet Rodney is lookin forward to seein little Lucía again,” said Rick. Ten year old Rodney kicked his older brother before Rick had a chance to run.

“Ouch. You know she’s got a crush on you, don’t you?”

“Girls,” said Rodney. “I don’t want nothin to do with em.”

The cars pulled into the yard to park for the day, and people began piling out onto the grass. Toddlers and infants seemed to outnumber everyone else combined. Grandmas and Grandpas crawled out, stiff and bent nearly double after the long ride from the early peach harvest in the south.

“Hey, there’s Juan and Marcos. Let’s go,” Tom, Rick and Rodney ran to greet the friends they hadn’t seen for a year. There was a good deal of back slapping shoulder punching and laughing as the boys picked up where they had left off the previous summer. As things quieted down between them, they heard the familiar, small voice.

“Hi, Wodney.” Rodney’s eyes were clenched shut mimicking the fists at his sides.

“Hey, Rodney,” said Rick. “Somebody’s waitin to talk to you.” Rodney slowly relaxed his hands, opened his eyes and turned around. Like all the Mexican women and the other girls, Lucía wore a long dress, something she would wear even into the fields to pick tomatoes.

“Wodney,” said the six year old girl as she rushed in and threw her arms around his waist. “I missed you so much.” The boy didn’t know what to do with his arms and hands which he held out from his sides like a scarecrow, but he finally let them drop, surrendering himself to Lucia’s affection.

“You take your time, Rodney. The rest of us’ll be up in the hayloft when your done,” said Rick. Rodney gently pulled away and smiled at the girl. She smiled back, revealing a gap the size of two incisors.

“I’ll see you later on, Lucia,” he said, backing away and then sprinting to catch up with the older boys.


In the hayloft they took turns swinging from the rope that hung from the rafters at the peak of the barn. They climbed to a platform high up on the end wall and swung out over the bales of alfalfa, dropping into a mound of loose hay. Later, lying on their backs looking up at the century old rafters, they talked about their plans for the following day.

“What time will you be finished picking tomorrow,” asked Tom. The migrants usually picked for long hours so they could move on to the next location.

“Our fathers have given me and Marcos half the day off so we can spend some time with you guys. Let’s meet here at one o’clock,” said Juan.

“Wodney.” The boys laughed when they heard Lucía calling from the ground floor of the barn.

“Somebody tell her I’m sick, cause I think I’m startin to feel that way right now,” said Rodney.

“Yeah, love sick,” said Rick.

“Hey, Rodney,” said Marcos. “That’s my sister down there. You better not hurt her feelings.”


Rodney got up and went down to see Lucía while the other boys stayed in the hayloft laughing.

Rodney found Lucía playing with one of the farm cats.

“Can I see the baby cows,” said Lucía. The farm was primarily a dairy farm and the holstein calves were kept in a pen in another barn.

“Sure,” said Rodney. “Come on.” They climbed the side of the pen in which eight calves were lying in straw bedding. At the sight of Lucía and Rodney, they scrambled to their feet, hoping it was feeding time. Rodney showed Lucia how to let the calves suck on her fingers as though they were nursing from their mothers.

“Why aren’t they with their mamas,” said Lucía.

“If the calves were all out runnin around with the other cows, Tom’s dad wouldn’t know if they were gettin enough milk. Plus it’s a lot cleaner in here.

“It’s still sad they aren’t with their mamas,” said Lucía as she scratched one of the calves behind the ear. “He likes it when I scratch him like that, doesn’t he?”

“Yeah, I think he does,” said Rodney as he scratched behind the other ear.


The next day, the five boys met back in the hayloft. They would be able to play the remainder of the day since Juan and Marcos had gotten half the day off from picking tomatoes.

“What do you want to do today,” said Marcos.

“Lets hike along the creek as far as we can go,” said Rick.

“Yeah,” said Tom. “We can make fishing poles and stay out all day, then come back and sleep in the barn.”

The plans were made and the boys took off for the creek and the woods that bordered it. They had to cross the end of the tomato field on their way and Lucía walked with them to where the trees started. The older boys turned around to see her holding Rodney’s hand and did the best they could to hide their snickering.

“Can I go too?” said Lucía.

“No way,” said her brother, Marcos. “We’ll be gone all day, and you’d just slow us down.”

“I would not,” she said.

“Stay here and wait for us to come back,,” said Marcos.


The boys headed off into the trees toward the creek while Lucía stood at the edge of the field waving. Only Rodney looked back and raised his hand to her. After a while they scared up a fox and the rabbit it had been stalking.

“That hungry fox made me think about eating too,” said Tom. Let’s see if we can catch some catfish. Tom and Marcos got the fishing line out, tied on the hooks and squeezed on the split-shot sinkers while the others cut down five, straight saplings for poles.

The creek was separated from the woods by a low ridge of limestone rubble which had been blasted out of the creek bed with dynamite long before the boys were ever born. They climbed over the hill and sat under the arch of two giant willows, enjoying he cool shade as they watched their lines.

“Our Uncle Bob moved in with us a couple of months ago and he’s a carpenter. He built me and Rodney a cage for our pet raccoon,” said Rick as he lay on his back looking up through the willow branches.

“You ought to let that coon go. It’s going to get meaner the older it gets,” said Tom.

“Yeah, I know. Maybe we’ll catch some more pigeons to put in the cage. But what I was going to tell you is that Uncle Bob is building a box.”

“A box?” said Juan. “What’s the big deal about him building a box?”

“That’s just it,” said Rick. “It’s a big deal because it’s so big.”

“How big?” said Tom.

“The sides and the top and the bottom are made of full sheets of plywood. Then he put half a sheet on one end and a door on the other end,” said Rick.

“Plywood is four feet wide and eight feet long. That’s four times eight times four. One hundred and twenty eight cubic feet,” said Tom.

“How’d you add that up so fast?” said Rodney.

“I didn’t add, I multiplied,” said Tom.

“Wow, that is a big box. What’s he gonna put in it?” said Juan.

“Your not gonna believe this,” said Rick. “He put a bed in it.”

“A bed? Like for a dog you mean?” said Tom.

“No, a people bed. It takes up the whole floor of the box,” said Rick.

“Did he put anything else in it,” said Tom.

“yeah, a television set, a radio and a light hooked to the ceiling.”

“And he put one small window in the door and another one in the side,” said Rodney.

“What’s he gonna do, live in it?” said Marcos.

“Yeah, I think that’s exactly what he’s gonna do,” said Rick.


The catfish started biting and the boys soon had enough fish for a meal. They gathered some firewood and soon had the fish roasting on the ends of sticks, like hot dogs. After they ate, they spent some time sorting through the limestone rubble looking for fossils. Juan found a trilobite and Marcos found some crinoid stems.

By the time they got back to the barn, it was getting dark. They heard voices coming from the woods beyond the house, a different woods from the one they had been in that day. There were actually several voices and they were calling a name, over and over. The person they were calling for was Lucía.

“It’s my sister,” said Marcos. “Something’s happened to her.”

Author's Note

"Uncle Bob's Box" was a true account. My neighbors' uncle built this box and lived in it for years, except during the winter, of course.


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