Chapter One-Ode to Hemingway
It was dark. It wasn’t raining. It was on a hot, muggy and miserable Tuesday night that I spotted Ms. Hardy jogging her daily five miles. She enjoyed the rhythm of her feet pounding on the sidewalk. I could tell because it was the only time she smiled. Each step was measured and in perfect time. Her back was straight. She smelled a faint hint of gasoline. I could tell by the way she twitched her nose, but she didn’t really pay the odor any attention. I could smell it too; I was paying attention to the smell. Some mysterious things were stirring in our little town. I was determined to decipher just who was responsible. Ms. Hardy wasn’t paying attention because she was consumed with the list running through her head of the deviant miscreants she would have to contend with the following day. Names, images of students, and visions of students’ names on the detention list swirled through her head like cream in coffee. Meet Ms. Hardy. She runs like this every night. She was formerly in the military or something. She is SO stringent. I think that hard-hitting assistant principal enjoys corporal punishment.
Who am I? That doesn’t matter. You’ll get to know me soon enough.
Where was I? OH yes, explaining Ms. Hardy to you. She is the exact opposite of the principal, Mr. Tomasina. Ms. Hardy is so militant and almost masculine in attitude. And then there is Mr. Tomasina. He is totally in tune with his feminine side. He cries when the Tigers win games. He cries when they lose games. He cries when he says the Pledge of Allegiance. He even sashays when he walks. I know it sounds stereotypical, but Mr. Tomasina is simply more effeminate than Ms. Hardy.
I didn’t want Ms. Hardy to see me because she would be suspicious. I was following the trail of gasoline to its end. I wanted to know who was purchasing the gasoline and why he/she/they were transporting it in a way that would leak onto the sidewalks of our town.
Our town is quite small indeed. Its name is Sawsville. Yes, Sawsville. Our town was a logging town many moons ago, and someone had a sense of humor. Now just imagine in your head somebody Southern saying “Sawsville.” It has a nice drawl to it.
There were numerous trails of gasoline on the sidewalks in our town, almost as if someone had a tiny hole in the gas can and was carrying it on a bicycle. Hmm… Most of the children around Sawsville who rode bicycles were under the age of 16. Why would someone riding a bicycle need gasoline? Was there a lawn business I didn’t know about? No, that wouldn’t happen, not in Sawsville. Everyone knew almost everything about everyone else. The McLendon boys have a lawn business, but their daddy always transports their gas and equipment in the back of his pickup. The O’Brians have one too, but those boys are old enough to drive. I decided to keep pursuing the trail. Ms. Hardy had gone far enough that she wouldn’t see me.
I went through Ms. Groucherin’s back yard. She has a little
Once I cleared my contact, I started creeping along the ground. Sure enough, I picked up the scent of gasoline. I’m sure if anyone did see me, it was quite a sight with my rear end in the air. How do dogs do this? I followed the trail as best I could; it led to the shed out back. A quick step on top of a bucket gave me what I needed to know. There were ten containers in Mr. Hotchkin’s shed. That’s all I could see from the window. But the smell, it was overpowering. I had to deduce that the gasoline was in the shed, probably in the unmarked containers. When I checked the door, it was locked up tight. I decided to leave quickly. My contact story might have worked near the sidewalk but it the back of an old man’s yard, I don’t think so.