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Mar 26, 2008

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Mar 26, 2008

Finders Keepers 1397 words

There was a firm knock on the front door, and when Thomas went to open it he saw the bulbous eyes of Vic “Frogface” Warner staring back at him.

“Hey you wanna hang out? A car crashed out in the creek and it looks way awesome.”

The scent of cheese long gone bad wafted through the screen door that separated the two boys; Thomas felt his nose wrinkle.

“I dunno, it's gonna rain soon. I got homework to do...” Thomas shuffled on his feet.

Frogface rolled his eyes, going so far as to stomp his ten-year old foot on the ground, “Come on! It's Saturday, you can do that crap later! You don't gotta be scared either, I know karate so if that homeless guy comes around we'll be fine.”

Thomas relented and followed Frogface out onto the sidewalk.

Frogface was halfway down the road by the time Thomas shut the door. Thomas shoved his hands in his pockets after catching up, “You don't know karate, Vic. You're just making stuff up again.”

The wind picked up, he'd have to convince Frogface that it was some pretty big homework if he wanted to get back before it started pouring; the sky had been overcast and had been dispensing with drizzles much of the day.

“You gotta see it, dude, you just gotta,” Frogface was adamant, repeating the mantra as they walked away from the cul-de-sac and out across the street. Thomas watched as the pudgy kid jumped over the guard rail and skidded down the heavily vegetated hillside. A thin path of dirt led between clumps of tall grass and the overgrown blackberry bushes; Thomas took that path instead.

It took only a minute to catch up with Frogface, he had bramble scratches all over his arms but his lips were stretched into a wide smile. “You ever seen a crashed car before? It's so cool, it's got busted tires and windows. This one had a bunch of suit cases in it. I was saving opening 'em for when someone came with me.”

Thomas shoved his hands back in his pockets and followed Frogface through the dry creek bed. None of the overgrowth had been disturbed as far as Thomas could see. The foliage was thick on the hills that lined the creekside, save for the few spots where people had worn trails through the bushes. “I don't think there is a car down here Vic,” Thomas said, “you're making it up again. I want to get home before it rains, are we almost there? I got homework.”

“Nope. I swear! I found it this morning, the windows are all bashed in.” Vic puffed up his cheeks, “Come on, just follow me, it's like a minute away probably.” He waddled forward and Thomas once more forced himself to keep up.

“If a car crashed down here, how come there aren't any cops or ambulances? I didn't hear any sirens,” Thomas asked as he took a look up at the sky; ugly gray streaks had begun to appear more frequently amongst the clouds.

“Oh, cause... it's a really old crash. Like, from the eighties or something. Check it out."
Frogface pointed as the car came into view. A thin layer of green had settled over the dirty white paint splotches that hadn't been overtaken by rust. All the windows had been smashed in save for front passenger side. Thomas heard the crunch of broken glass under his shoes as he got a little closer. The whole car was filled with garbage.

Frogface picked up a fist sized rock and casually tossed it to Thomas, "Here. See? Check it out, I smashed the windshield this morning. It was pretty solid, but I play a lot of baseball so I'm good at throwing. I saved a window for you."

Thomas gave the rock a pretty hard chuck and brought his hands up over his face as the window smashed inward, covering the mossy seats with glass shards. The boy felt pretty good about it; Thomas had never gotten a chance to smash something like that before without being grounded. Frogface kicked the car before moving towards the trunk.

"Gimme a sec, I closed it pretty good before I left."

After a minute of shoving a stick where the lock used to be on the back, Frogface jumped back a step as the trunk door swung open. A battered looking suitcase was sitting on top of chewed up jumper cables. Frogface pulled it out, "Man, I have been dying to open this up. I wanted it to save it for you, 'cause you're the only kid who still hangs out with me. Gimme a rock."

Thomas gave him a big one.

Thomas held the suitcase still with the rusted lock facing upward and tried to keep the I-told-you-so out of his voice, "If you didn't keep fibbing all the time, you'd have more friends. This is pretty cool though."

Frogface smashed the lock and briefcase popped open. Yellowed papers spilled out onto the creek bed; much of the paper had melted together. The suitcase didn't look particularly water tight, and creek water got nearly four feet high sometimes. A sharp clink echoed through the creek as a silver coin fell out of the case and hit a rock.

Thomas picked it up, "Hey! Check this out, a silver dollar!"

Frogface looked over at it. "How much do you think it's worth?"

"I just said, a dollar! Wow, my dad showed me one of these. They don't make them anymore. This is really cool."

Frogface dropped down to busy himself in the suitcase, tossing the illegible paper cakes to the side as he looked for more, "Aww, that was the only one. Oh well, finders keepers."

He put the papers back in the suitcase and shut the trunk.

"Lets go back now, I think I heard thunder.”

Going back took longer than getting there. The hills were steep and a light drizzle had turned the dirt paths into mudslides. Thomas managed to make it up the side without getting too muddy; Frogface had a heavy mud stain on his legs by the time they climbed over the guard rail. Thomas held the silver dollar in his hand, staring down at it with awe.

"That was pretty cool, Vic. Thanks for taking me." Thomas was pleased with his prize. He buffed it against his shirt before holding it up to the light.

"Yeah, it was cool. Let's go check it out when the rain stops, maybe we can break a door off or something, that would be really cool. Anyway, good luck with your homework. Is it math? You got Mrs. Sanders right? She always gives a ton of math homework."

Thomas kept looking up at his coin, "What? Oh, uh. No, I don't have any homework, I just didn't want to leave the house."

The coin was the coolest thing he'd ever found in the creek, mostly because he could spend it later. He was so enthralled that it took a moment for him to register that Frogface had knocked it out of his hand and into the street. Thomas ran after it but Frogface had beat him to it and shoved it into his pocket.

Frogface fixed Thomas with a bug-eyed glare, "If you didn't want to hang out, you should have just said so. Don't lie to me, I thought you liked hanging out with me."

Thomas reached for Frogface's pocket, "Gimme it back, finders keepers, Frogface!" Thomas hadn't meant to call Frogface that to his pudgy face, but didn't apologize either. It earned him another shove. Before Thomas could retaliate, Frogface ran down the street and into his house. Taking a deep breath, Thomas followed him and knocked on the door.

The heavyset Mrs. Warner opened it and stared at Thomas through the screen door. Behind her stood Frogface, his bulbous eyes streaked with filthy tears and his oversized mouth turned into a pout.

"Mrs. Warner," Thomas began, "Vic stole my-"

She cut him off, "I heard what you said and Vic told me what you did. He ain't got no apologies to give to no fibber. Now get outta here before you get into some real trouble!" Thomas bolted from the door as she yelled at him. From behind he heard Frogface call at him, "Finders keepers, fibber!"

Mar 26, 2008

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