SPINNING THROUGH PERIL
The darkness suddenly seemed ominous as the brothers walked a little faster, wondering who might be out there. Frank tried to tell himself that he was just being nervous, that there wasn’t any real reason for his jumpiness. He felt Joe take hold of his hand, and knew that his little brother was concerned as well.
The figure following them continued to do so as the brothers began walking again. He made sure to stop whenever the Hardys did so they wouldn’t hear him. Humorless laughter threatened to escape the shadowy individual as he made his plans on what to do. The sight of Frank and Joe had come as a surprise to him, not having expected them to be out in the cold night, alone. He remembered how he had given a specific warning, but it was obviously going unheeded. How unfortunate for those two, he thought.
Up ahead, his eyes spotted something that could be helpful in his quest. A large decorated trellis stood near enough to the road from the yard where it was located, to be toppled over onto the Hardys. If that hit Frank and Joe, it would undoubtedly cause them harm. Careful to not let the two up ahead see him, the person dodged around, cutting off into the night to get ahead of the Hardys. Hidden behind the trellis full of decorations, he got ready to push it over onto the two unsuspecting boys.
His evil plan might have worked, too, if he hadn’t hit the icy spot right then. The trellis moved some but didn’t topple. Frank and Joe caught the movement out of the corner of their eyes, as they were going right by it. The two rushed away from the dangerous area. They didn’t yet know that there was a person there who had been trying to push it over on them.
They slid to a halt on the slippery surface of the freezing snow as they heard a yell come from behind the trellis. With a glance at each other, they hurried toward the cry. They were pretty sure they recognized the voice.
Coming around the trellis, they saw their nemesis, Hank, lying on the ground, clutching his arm. The brothers hurried over to the downed bully.
“Take it easy,” Frank said calmly, as both brothers knelt next to Hank, whose face was contorted as if in agony. “Don’t worry, Hank, we’ll help you.”
Hank stared at the brothers in shock. He’d have thought they would have been scared by the yell and the fact that the trellis had almost fallen on them, and would have taken off running as fast as they could. He couldn’t believe they were helping him, because he had been looking for revenge ever since they showed him up earlier.
“Where all are you hurt?” asked the youngest one, concern in his blue eyes.
“Uh, my arm and my leg,” Hank mumbled. Frank glanced over at the nearby house just a few feet away. The lights weren’t on, but it was likely the electricity was out there as well.
“We’ll check and see if someone’s home to help,” Frank stood up from where he had been kneeling. He brushed the snow off his pants, and then started for the house. He expected Joe to follow him, and stopped when he realized his little brother hadn’t been doing so. Frank looked back at Joe, who held up the thermos of what had been hot hot chocolate.
“This is probably still warm, it’ll help him, he’s shivering,” Joe explained, his eyes full of compassion. Frank nodded, proud of his brother’s thoughtfulness, and moved once again the few steps to the house. He was stopped by Hank’s words.
“Nobody’s home, this is my house.” Hank took a drink of the warm cocoa.
Frank turned back around and looked at Hank for finally giving them that important little piece of information.
“Do you have a key?”
“No, I was supposed to stay home while my parents went over to visit some neighbors down the way, and, uh, I left, before they did without them knowing, so the doors are all locked.” Hank glanced at the two boys helping him, surprising himself at sharing these facts with them.
Frank had silently listened to Hank’s story, and was ready when he finished, asking, “How far away is the neighbor’s house where your parents are?”
“Not too far, but not right next door either,” Hank mumbled. “I can’t walk that far.” He felt like he was frozen, and he was hurting, plus he knew he was going to be in big trouble with his parents.
“What now?” asked Joe, looking up at his big brother.
“I think my arm is broke, probably my leg, too!” Hank interrupted. “I can’t move!”
“Lying on the cold ground isn’t going to help you,” Frank said quietly. He looked around at all the snow covering practically everything. His eyes took in the large inflatable, but currently deflated, decoration lying in the yard. Joe always snickered at them as they passed by houses with this sort of decoration and said they looked like plastic puddles when they were deflated like that. Frank then had an idea on exactly what to do.
“Come on, Joe,” Frank said, moving toward the decoration. Joe was glad his brother had an idea, he felt bad for Hank, being in such pain. He had given the bully the thermos to hold onto while he went with his brother.
Frank pointed at the decoration and raised his eyebrows at Joe, “We need something to pull him on. I was wishing we had a sled but this will have to do.”
“Great idea, Frank!” Joe watched his brother unplug the decoration from the extension cord and grinned.
Frank smiled at his brother’s praise. Working as quickly as possible, together they dragged it over to Hank.
After explaining briefly what was planned, Frank and Joe picked the bigger boy up as carefully as they could. Hank wasn’t giving them a whole lot of help and it was no easy thing to get him onto the flattened vinyl sled of sorts. They brought it as close to Hank as possible, and eased him onto it.
Once they had him on there, they each grabbed part of the vinyl and began to pull, heading toward the closest house.
“Why are you helping me?” Hank finally asked, bewildered, as Frank and Joe moved ever so cautiously to not cause him more pain.
“Because you’re hurt,” Joe answered, throwing him a look that clearly said he didn’t understand Hank’s confusion.
“But…we aren’t friends, in fact, I’ve always considered us enemies,” Hank couldn’t figure it out. “I doubt I would have helped you.”
“Guess it’s a good thing you needed our help, instead of vice versa,” Frank noted calmly as he trudged through the snow, sweating from the exertion despite the coldness of the night.
Hank fell silent, trying to ignore the throbbing in his arm and knee, while attempting to figure out why the Hardys were helping him. For the life of him, he couldn’t come up with an answer. He thought about it the whole time as he kept a lookout for the house where his parents were. Hank also realized now that if the trellis had fallen on the Hardys, it could have killed them.
“Hey, the house is right down this road!” Hank pointed. “We’re almost to it.”
“Tell us when we’re at the right house,” Frank said. He carried the flashlight in one hand while pulling the vinyl along in his other hand. It was good for Hank that Frank and Joe were both strong little boys.
The brothers worked steadily together, maneuvering over the snow, trying to avoid any bumps that would jar Hank. Joe noted that he sure wasn’t cold anymore like he had been. Even though he was aware of the fact that Hank had gotten injured because he was trying to hurt the Hardys, Joe still felt sorry for him.
When they reached one of the houses that actually had lights on, Hank spoke up, “That’s it there.”
Frank and Joe looked at the long driveway for a moment, then taking a breath, made their way up to the house. It seemed to take forever, but they eventually arrived in front of a door that was full of decorations. The brothers noted there was an identical decoration in this yard as the one Hank currently had his butt on.
Frank knocked on the door and a lady answered it. Frank explained that they were looking for Hank’s parents, and an annoyed looking man came when he overheard the boy at the door. “Yeah?”
“Your son was hurt, sir, and we brought him so you could help him,” Frank began, determined to not feel intimidated by the man. Looking past Frank, Hank’s father was surprised to see his son there.
“Whitmore, what in the world?” Hank’s father called for his wife, then came and bent down next to his son.
“It’s my arm and leg, Dad,” Hank told him. He glanced at Frank and Joe, almost shyly, “They saved my life.” Frank had been concerned that Hank, fearing he would be in trouble with his dad, might lie and say the brothers had caused him to be injured, as Hank was a notorious, self-proclaimed liar. Both brothers were glad that Hank was now safe and would be taken care of. They had definitely hoped he wasn’t going to make trouble for them, but that hadn’t been their main concern.
“Let’s get you inside,” his father said, picking Hank up as his wife came hurrying to the door, upset when she saw that her son was hurt. The neighbors were already getting blankets for Hank, hurrying about in the commotion. The father and mother were so worried about their son they didn’t even see the two heroic little boys turn and head back out into the dark, cold night.
As Frank and Joe walked back down the driveway, the younger brother glanced behind them toward the house, noting the plastic puddle still by the door.
“At least that thing was good for something,” Joe noted. For some reason those kind of things gave him the creeps whether inflated or deflated.
Frank looked at Joe, who appeared pretty tired, and smiled, “Let’s go home, little brother.”
“Sounds good, big brother!” Joe smiled a bit sleepily and walked along beside Frank. Maybe, hopefully, their parents would be home by the time they got there, but most importantly, that they were safe. It sure had been a long day. A fun and adventurous one, but still a long day. Boy, Joe thought, I can’t wait to get into my nice warm bed and go to sleep. He yawned as they got back out onto the street that would eventually lead to theirs.
Frank still had their flashlight and Joe had retrieved their thermos. The two cold and exhausted boys were very anxious to be home. They hoped that the trucker was now safe and sound in a warm hospital room, being treated for whatever injuries he had. They wondered if Smuff was still stuck or if Chief Collig had found out that the officer hadn’t done as he was ordered in getting the boys safely home. They didn’t spend a whole lot of time wondering over that one, they were just too tired to much care about that.
They walked by a small, empty intersection. The brothers kept to the side of the road since the sidewalk was too deeply covered with snow to be traveled on. As it was, the road was very slippery despite the fact that this was one that a snow plow had cleared a short time ago. The wind was blowing the snow around, as well as coming from the sky, causing Frank and Joe to tug their knit caps down more and pull their scarves up. The only sound that had accompanied them for awhile was the wind, with the brothers being too cold and tired to talk more.
The two boys didn’t see the speeding car that was rapidly traveling the same path as they were until it was too close for them to have any chance of moving themselves out of its way. The driver, coming home from an office party where he had imbibed liberally, didn’t notice the two little brothers as they walked along, so close to home. The drunk driver’s car’s headlights showed two heads turn in unison and shock at the sound of the engine and the sudden sighting of light coming from behind them. Two pairs of eyes suddenly filled with fear, a set of dark eyes and a set of blue eyes. Things can happen so quickly that can never be reversed.