Friday, August 12, 2005

A Hearty Collection of FICTION and Thoughts

Hello my Dear Readers! Forgive the abscence of anything this week. There have been some technical difficulties on my end - Charlie, the computer, didn't really want to work on anything major, so, we didn't. Needless to say, yours truly is behind on EVERYTHING with a determination to catch up at least a little today.

First and foremost is a piece of fiction from Chris Bartholomew entitled "The Overstocked Pond" which really is something different than what has appeared in The News before. She has a writing style that is almost down-homey and yet can make the icy fingers of uncertainty trip down your spine with ease.

As soon as I can catch up with everything in the other writing departments, I shall have for you two sections of "Fantasy Revealed" and the review of The Dukes of Hazzard for you. Right now, how about some fiction!

The Overstocked Pond
By Chris Bartholomew
Copyright (C) 2005 by Chris Bartholomew

Near the house of Farmer Ray, there was a new pond being dug. No one knew exactly who owned the property but the town was abuzz about the newly developed land. After all, Farmer Ray was a mean old man who wouldn't let anyone near his property and if this pond wasn't intruding on his land, it was close.

Ricky Lambert loved to fish. He was a tall, lanky teen who kept a little to himself and had, by choice, only a few good friends. He did well in school, but always dreamt of summer coming with camping, hiking, and fishing all day and into the night. He was usually alone on these trips. They lived in a small town where everyone knew everyone else.

Ricky got up early one day and decided to ride his bike over to Farmer Ray's place to see how close the pond was to completion. It was only two more months until summer and he was curious if it would be finished so that he could fish, if they stocked the pond.

Halfway down the dirt path to the pond, he stopped short. Farmer Ray was standing in the path with a shotgun in his hand. He raised the gun and pointed it straight at Ricky.

"Hello Sir, I'm Ricky Lambert, and I live just a few roads over," Ricky hollered. "Nice day today. I came to see the pond, are you going to stock it full of fish?"

In answer to Ricky, Farmer Ray shot a few over Ricky's head. Ricky had been terrified, but the farmer couldn't tell it. He smiled when the boy turned around without another word and went peddling away.

When Ricky made it to school, he saw his friends under a tree so he made his way over to where they were.

"Hi guys, what's going on?" Ricky said looking at Tommy Wythe.

Tommy said, "Oh not much, but the other kids are taking bets whether you'll go fishing at the new pond or not. We didn't bet Ricky, we know you aren't stupid enough to go over there."

Ricky just smiled at them.

"We were right to not bet right Ricky, you aren't going fishing there are you? I don't like the look on your face," Jerry Batten said.

"If there are going to be fish there, how can I not go fishing? Everyone knows Farmer Ray isn't the nicest person in town, but he's never killed anyone. I've been yelled at and even shot at before, yeah, I'll go fishing there this summer, as soon as someone tells me he stocked the pond."

"Hey, is that pond the Farmers? Did you find out for sure?" Jimmy asked.

"No, but you can't get there without going on his property. It's not likely he sold land right in the middle of his. People just figured that he wouldn't be building something like that because he's so mean," Ricky said walking away to go to class.

Well into summer, Ricky snuck over to the pond and found it stocked with fish. Over stocked he would say and he couldn't wait to get a line in. He thought it better to go camping and snuck in right after dark, on a full moon where he could see enough to put the tent up.

That night he took out his gear and readied his pole for a night of fishing. About an hour into it, he noticed someone fishing on the other side. He didn't know when the person came, but didn't think it was Farmer Joe, the outline seemed to suggest someone around Ricky's own age. He didn't move until he saw the figure walk away, and then he packed up his gear and went home.

The next day, Ricky couldn't help himself; he had to go again. He went near dark, so he could find the place opposite where he was last night. He wanted to know who was there when he was. He didn't care if it was Farmer Ray, he just wanted to know, and felt that if he could see the figure, they could see him too, so if it was Farmer Joe, he didn't shoot him so Ricky thought maybe his fishing there was okay.

As he put his line into the water, another boy came walking toward where he sat.

"Hi, my names Ricky, didn't I see you here last night when I was fishing?" Ricky asked the boy.

"Hi, I'm Timmy. Yeah, I was here but the fish didn't bite and I went home. I saw you but didn't want to walk clear over to the other side there," the boy said.

"I've never seen you before, are you visiting Farmer Ray?" Ricky asked him.

"Nah, I'm here for good. I'm his son," Timmy laughed and added, "I saw you in the middle of the road when he shot over your head. Thought you handled that pretty well, at least you weren't crying or anything."

They fished and camped together for three days, and then it was time for Ricky to go home. They parted ways at the fork in the dirt road and promised to meet again at the beginning of the next week.

Ricky went home and showered and took a nap. He had been tired from fishing and talking to Timmy. When he awoke, he came out and asked her mother if she knew that Farmer Ray had a son named Timmy.

"Yes son. Farmer Ray hasn't always been so mean. When we all graduated, he married the prettiest girl in school. Her name was Marquette, and she was good for him. They had parties over at the farm all the time. They were very happy. She had twins in fact; we were in the hospital together. She had them right before I delivered you,." his mother said.

Ricky interjected, "If he's married, and has two sons, where have they been?"

His mother continued sadly, "Marquette, as beautiful as she was, wasn't ready for a family so when she had two boys at the same time, she was getting ready to leave Ray. He wouldn't let them go; in those days, you didn't just up and walk away. One day he took her with him to round up the horses. He used to have wild horses on that land. He would go to far away places and bring them back. Well, there was a stampede and both the kids were killed when she couldn't get them out of the way fast enough. She is now in an institution, very far from here. No one is allowed in to see her."

She let Ricky get his mind around what she was telling him but wasn't sure why he was so surprised.

"Farmer Ray wasn't always a mean man, like he is now. However, when the kids died and his wife was sent away, he kept telling people that he saw the children. The town's people started berating him for speaking to the dead. They just wouldn't give it up, and so he kept to himself, only coming into town to buy supplies and dared anyone to come onto the property. He was excommunicated from the church," his mother was finished talking about it but Ricky didn't let it go.

"Mom, I was fishing this week with a boy who said he's the farmer's son, his name is Timmy," Ricky said wide-eyed.

"Ricky, it had to be some other Timmy, I was at the funeral, both boys died."

Ricky told his friends, who told their parents, and they all gossiped about it, but no one was ready to believe.

He spent the summer with Timmy, but never found out where his twin brother was. He and farmer Ray became friends over time, and the town's people began to try to be friendly with the farmer too.

Little by little, people began to believe Ricky, and they would come to the pond and visit with their family who had passed over. It was a well-kept town secret, still is in fact. When someone passes through a small town in the south, and no one seems friendly, there is a reason for that. There are secrets to keep inside, and this was such a town.


Chris Bartholomew writes full time from her home in Jasper, Georgia. Her stories can be found at Ragged Edge Publishing, the ezine, Writer's Nook and Reader's Corner, Bewildering Tales, Astounding Tales, Anotherealm, a new print magazine Theatre of Decay will feature two of her stories, The Knob, and The Owl of DarkWood in issues #1 and #3. She has four works in the Ragged Edge Anthology entitled, Vault IX - Alpha Anthology, as well as a column at Ragged Edge Publishing entitled; The Fountain Pen. She won second place in Writer's Nook and Reader's Corners picture contest.


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The Mountain Girl News said...

This is sad. Very sad.