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The Stought Brothers: ‘The Mystery at the Market’ – Chapter 5

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A BarbWire Exclusive Fiction Short Story Series…

Here is the fifth serial installment of the middle grade (ages 8-12) story, The Stought Brothers: “The Mystery at the Market.” First, a brief reminder of what this is and then the installment begins.

Nonfiction is great. But fiction is important too. And instead of just complaining about all the filth that is out there, we should start producing entertainment—culture—as well. Producing solid entertainment for kids is particularly important.

Furthermore, publishing a serial story is an attempt to expand what BarbWire is. So along with being a place for columns and opinion pieces, I’d like for BarbWire to become more like a magazine. Columns, editorials, and articles are all integral parts of magazines, but fiction and other cultural writings are as well.

You can read more of my reasons for experimenting with this idea from an earlier post.

Click on the “The Stought Brothers” tag at the bottom of the post to view all the chapters of, The Stought Brothers: “The Mystery at the Market.”

The Stought Brothers: “The Mystery at the Market”

By Gunner B. Summit

Chapter 5:

Two days after Reggie and Heathcliff had first visited Dan they did so again. They all were ready to play pickle again as soon as the Stought brothers arrived at Dan’s house.

After about an hour of play, it was Dan’s turn to be the runner again. Reggie and Heathcliff were the fielders. Reggie threw the ball to Heathcliff as Dan was in between the two bases.

“Run at him!” Reggie yelled to Heathcliff. Reggie was fielding his base and Heathcliff was at his. Heathcliff now charged towards Dan. Dan started running towards Reggie.

“Now! Throw the ball to me!” Reggie yelled, his baseball glove up and wide open. Heathcliff kept running towards Dan as Dan ran towards Reggie’s base.

“Throw it! Throw it!” Reggie yelled, slapping his mitt with his throwing hand.

Dan was now only a few yards from the base. Heathcliff finally threw the ball. Reggie caught the line drive throw while Dan dove head first for the base. Reggie’s tag and Dan’s hand reaching it seemed to occur at the same time.

“Safe!” Dan yelled.

“No! You’re out!” Reggie said, holding up his closed glove with the baseball inside it.

Dan got up and brushed the bits of dirt and grass off his shirt and pants. “No, way!” he said. “My hand touched the base before your glove hit me.”

Reggie argued back. Dan insisted he was wrong. And then Heathcliff joined the argument. This went on for about five minutes and grew increasingly heated. Finally, Reggie gave up.

“All right. You were safe,” he told Dan. Reggie looked at Heathcliff. “Next time throw the ball to me right away when I tell you too,” he said.

“He would’ve just stopped and run past me back to my base,” Heathcliff said.

“No, he wouldn’t have. I would’ve been able to tag him before he could stop and get his momentum going back towards you,” Reggie said.

Heathcliff tried to argue back but Reggie shut him down.

“So I’m still the runner,” Dan said. “Let’s start playing again.” He clapped his hands as he stood on the base Reggie had been fielding.

“We will in a minute,” Reggie said. He reached into his back pocket and pulled out his cell phone.

“What are you doing?” Dan asked.

Reggie walked to a nearby table. The wooden table had been sitting outside for some time. Sun had bleached it and water had helped it decay. Pits and grooves in the wood ran with the grain. The nails that held it together were rusted and its top no longer was a level surface.

“I’m going to record us,” Reggie said as he set the phone on the table top. He grabbed a stone from the ground and used it to prop up the phone. “This way we can review the video if we have another close play.”

Dan walked off the base. “Okay. Then I’m going to set up my phone to record it too.”

“We only need one phone,” Reggie said.

“I know that. But I want to make sure we have different angles,” Dan said. He began setting up his phone on the table next to Reggie. He quickly propped it up but then picked it up and looked at it closely. He furrowed his forehead. “Looks like my video isn’t working,” he said.

Reggie glanced over at it. “You’ve got a pretty old phone,” he said. Heathcliff now joined the boys at the table.

“So what if it’s old? It was working the other day,” Dan said.

Reggie shrugged. “Looks like it isn’t now,” he said. He picked up his phone. “Mine’s one of the newest ones there is,” he said as he showed it to Dan. “We can play stuff back in super-slow motion and it’s still crystal clear and smooth. Don’t worry about yours.”

Dan slammed his phone down on the table. “Stop shoving it in my face. I know it’s newer than mine,” he told Reggie. “And why are you so worried about recording the game? Do you think I cheated? I really was safe.”

Reggie put his phone down on the table and turned to look at Dan. Both boys now faced one another and stood only inches apart. “I said you were safe. What more do you want?”

“If you really thought I was safe, then why do you now want to record the game?” Dan asked.

“Because we got into a fight over the last call,” Reggie shot back. “This will keep it from happening again.”

“That’s not it,” Dan told him. “You just want to rub in the fact that you have a new phone and I don’t.”

“It has nothing to do with that,” Reggie said.

“Yes it does. You want to show me what a rich American you are,” Dan said. He shoved a finger into Reggie’s chest.

Reggie took a step backwards. “Don’t do that again,” Reggie told him.

“Or what?” Dan asked, stepping forward.

Heathcliff watched as they stared at one another. Reggie turned away first.

“I’m not getting into a fight over this,” Reggie said. He took some more steps away from Dan.

“I didn’t think so,” Dan said. “Give me back the gloves,” he told both the Stought brothers. They did as he told them, handing him the ball as well. “Now get out of here.”

Dan turned his back on them. Reggie and Heathcliff did the same. And then they began the walk home in the stifling heat.

It turned out to be a rotten day. It was about to get worse.

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