A Song for Kenny Novel (Part 10)
TEARS BEGIN TO FLOW
Kenny's leg was acting up and giving him a nasty headache. He needed to rest awhile. Stop, look and listen flashed into his mind.
So he stopped. And he looked. There was a fierce looking scrape with a dark shade painting his pink skin. He touched it gingerly.
Climbing unsteadily up the edge of the ravine, allowed loose rock and earth to tumble under his feet. One foot dragged slowly after another, right leg then the left one. Move. Move … slowly. Oh, so slowly.
It felt like he was scraping against the side of a mountain, instead of another in a series of ridges, topped by zillions of trees.
Kenny had to pause often. His mosquito-bitten body cried out in pain and frustration. Where was he? How could he have left the riverbed? It was the one area he knew.
All he had to do was follow it downstream. He was so stupid. He kicked at the earth hurting his leg even more. He rushed across one hill, then another. After a while they all began to blend into one. Why? Why? Questions throbbed inside his head.
Kenny slapped at the constant buzzing of mosquitoes. They were driving him crazy. He dug repeatedly in the earth for some moisture, since it was so dry in the higher country. His tongue was parched.
He looked ugly with clumps of mud around his head and face. At least it helped fight off two or three-dozen mosquitoes.
A cloud of them danced around his sweating neck and belly. Large pieces of cloth had been ripped from his T-shirt exposing his bare skin.
He smelled his own sweat. So much of it was due to fear. He tiredly sat back on his butt. Kenny swatted mosquitoes from his legs. His jeans were tattered from walking through miles of raspberry bushes.
Remaining shreds of cloth hung from his legs like pennants.
Oh for some water and a dip from that little lake he saw in the distance. It didn't seem to get closer, at all. He had to get to the water, somehow. It was the main objective in his young life right now. He needed moisture.
But it seemed so far away. Even after all this walking. If Larry were here he'd say, "Never give up, chum."
Kenny lay on his back. He just had to rest a little and pretend that cool water was lapping at his legs. Then up to his waist and ... AAHH. Imagination was a great help right now.
Even the memory of days camping with Larry helped cheer him up. Canoeing, fishing, campfires and hotdogs was all up there, in his head.
He was hot and confused. His blond hair was matted and stuck out in all directions. Clothes were all ripped to pieces. Bloody smears provided color in wicked looking slashes across his pink skin.
Fingernails were broken from digging in the mud.
The lake slowly began to draw closer. He picked up one foot, then another, one after another. "Forward left...right...left! He called out.
It became his marching song.
He pretended he was in the Air cadets. Just like Larry once was.
"Forward left...right...left!" Over and Over…Over and Over, his voice called out.
When did he discover he was definitely lost? His mind was wandering. He found it hard to focus on anything that made sense.
"Hug-a-tree." That's what he should have done. Hug a tree the moment he knew he was lost. They had even discussed it not long ago in school.
"Move forward...to the lake...left, right, left," he called out.
What day was it anyway? Sunday? He came out Friday night, so many thoughts. What a sucker he was. "And a dope," Just like Troy had said, "Dope."
Everything was so confusing. "Was it all a dream?"
His tired mind had a tough time concentrating. "You can be such a stubborn kid," James used to say. Kenny had hated that. But then, maybe he was right.
"Act your age Kenny!" was another of James' expressions. Kenny deserved to be treated like a child, especially when he behaved like this.
"Where is that darn lake anyway?" He turned and spotted it again through the trees.
His leg was a bundle of pain from dragging it up the hill. Tears flowed again. "Come on big boy, you can do it."
He didn't want to die. He wanted to grow old. "Sorry Mr. Montgomery. I'm sorry. I should have told you. Or mom...or the police." Feeling sorry for him was the worst thing he could do.
But Kenny had little choice.
"I want to see you all again and say I'm sorry." Kenny's rambling brought on more tears.
Who was he crying for? Himself?
The lake drew even closer. He stepped carefully over a bee nestled in a blueberry bud. His eyes could barely see from his puffy and dirty face. He wished the shrunken buds were ripe.
Kenny grabbed at them, forgetting the bee.
His hands plucked greedily at the branches feeling them prick his skin. Why doesn't it rain? Even blueberry bushes must be thirsty. "I'm so hot. And tired," he added in a weakened voice.
Finally, as Kenny approached the edge of the lake, he could see tiny ripples. Trout were nosing to the surface. They were anxious to nibble on flies. If only he had his fishing rod.
"Look at the size of those fish, awesome!" His parched lips were cracked and mouthing a few words caused a lot of discomfort. Eyes wanted to close.
Kenny's head turned wearily as he surveyed the lake. First time here in this unknown place. Then he sat down. He looked at the sky. His face was like a question mark. "God, please help me!"
He watched the soft summer breeze tickle the lake's surface. And he swayed with the movement. His gaze took in the hills on the other side. It wasn't fair. He was so miserable in such a peaceful place.
"Mommm," his lips managed to whisper.
The boy saw no roads. No houses. No humans. No sounds of civilization. Normally he would have felt thrilled in the deep woods.
Right now all he felt was hunger, pain, and helplessness.
His legs creaked. He could barely get up. His stomach felt cramped. His tongue repeated itself. "God, please help me."
He didn't go to church very often. But he knew he needed some help right now.
And then something really special happened. The third part of Stop, Look and Listen took place. He listened.
Faintly at first, came a sound. It turned his head. Then the crack of a branch nearby announced something coming in his direction. Kenny noticed through blurry eyes a creek swinging away from the lake.
The new sound was coming from that direction.
Brush was being scraped from movement. He could see taller willow branches quivering. "Run! Hide!" his senses demanded.
He willed his body upward and stretched shakily to his feet. He didn't know where to go. What to do?
Confusion set in.
His eyes squeezed tightly. It provided a moment of relief as evening shadows began to fall. The tops of branches were moving rapidly towards him.
He froze in his tracks.
At first Kenny saw, through wide and frightened eyes, the outline of a tall figure. Then a familiar hat swung into view. The traveler coming towards him suddenly stopped. Breath inhaled in a loud gasp.
And Kenny looked and stared. Twenty feet separated him from his imagination. It was like another dream. Kenny pushed all thoughts of fun and games out of his mind.
This was too serious. He searched the familiar face trying to decide. Is this a dream or fantasy, or truth?
He saw the man's eyes widen in surprise. A familiar smile sent a beacon of warmth towards the boy.
Then tears began to flow. Kenny's mouth said over and over in silent thanks. "Larry... Larry"
Suddenly he was almost flying through the deep grass. As if propelled from a cannon, like a man in a circus shooting off into space. Except in this case, it was a boy.
Not very tidy or smelling clean. He was simply a boy racing across a hundred foot stretch like Olympic runners did.
His mind was on nothing else. Not even soggy socks, ripped sneakers or torn pants and T-shirt bothered him anymore. Not even the squishy, uneven land bordering an unknown lake in the woods slowed him.
Not the bloodied leg and arms munched from too many mosquitoes. Nor the tired body that until a few moments ago had run out of steam.
No, nothing else mattered.
There was a destination that took command of his focus. It was those outstretched arms and broad, smiling face of joy that was his target.
Kenny's recharged body built up a scream of happiness. Nearby rescuers heard “LARRRYYYYY!! And so did every animal and bird in the forest within a quarter of a mile.
A launch into space covered the last few feet and the boy buried his dirty face in the man's chest. Larry wrapped arms around Kenny, like a warm blanket.