01 February 2012


Trenfil groaned. The light would have been better and the going much easier had he stuck to the road. But he continued to pedal, skirting the edge of the woods on the bike trail that would take him home.

Aw, Man. I shouldn't have snuck out. And I definitely shouldn't have taken the stupid short cut home. Could have been home by now. Could have made it back before curfew

He sighed.

But it was fun tonight.

He chuckled.

That look on Bobby Wispen's face when he had to pay up ten whole dollars in front of everyone.

Trenfil beamed and patted his jacket pocket.

Priceless! Bobby Wispen was full of it. Always making up stupid gory stories. Trying to scare me.

Trenfil rolled his eyes toward the heavens.

Like the one about the cops in the black Winnebago in the woods. Yeah, right!

Trenfil snorted.

Like seriously? Cops hanging out in the middle of the woods catching people and barbecuing them? Gimme a break!

Trenfil grimaced as the front wheel of his bike hit yet another gigantic rock that seemed to materialize the instant before the tire hit it. Concerned that he might have damaged a spoke this time, he flipped the kickstand and got off the bike to examine it. Kneeling carefully in the darkness, he ran his fingers over the spokes on the front wheel, feeling each one for signs of bending or breakage.

In the daylight, navigating the trail was an easy task. He had taken that route so many times before that he could anticipate every twist,every turn, every rock, even low hanging tree limbs, and navigate himself quickly and effortlessly around them. In the darkness,however, it was a completely different business. The going was painfully slow.

Shaking his head from side to side, Trenfil sighed a heavy sigh as he stood again beside his bike. He couldn't find anything but he knew that it was only a matter of time before his luck ran out. He released the kickstand and began to move forward again, this time walking alongside the bike. 

Now I'll be grounded for sure. 

He inhaled. The air had a different quality to it, but Trenfil couldn't quite place it.


Trenfil inhaled again, deeply this time. He twisted his head to the left, to the right, back to the left again. He surveyed the treeline. 

The hairs on the back of his neck bristled, standing to attention, one by one.

There was a faint orange glow flickering in the distance.


Something was definitely burning. But the scent was wrong. It was off.


Laying his bike onto its side, Trenfil moved through the brush as quickly as he could toward the glowing horizon.

The shrubbery at his feet thickened as he closed in on the fire. The smoke in the air had intensified making his eyes sting. Unsure of his new path, he fought his way through tree limbs and foliage, clawing at anything that hindered his progress. 

Finally he stopped moving. Hoisting himself atop a fallen tree trunk, Trenfil could see them, a woman and a man old enough to be his parents, clearly silhouetted against a burning campfire. Just beyond them, he could barely make out the rectangular structure of what looked like a dark colored Winnebago, enclosing the scene like the frame of a photograph.

Huh. No barbecue. But that repugnant stench!

Trenfil smiled, suddenly pleased that he had found a use for his newest phrase. 

The image of a possum he had found behind his house year sago, full of tiny white little maggots, burst into his thoughts. Trenfil shuddered, squeezing his body into the shadows as far as he could.

The fire belched loudly, spitting sparks and soot high into the air. The couple were busy talking but Trenfil couldn't hear anything over the din of his thumping heart. He jumped down from the tree and began to move ahead again. Slowing his pace, and treading more carefully with every step, almost as if he were stalking prey. He sucked in the smokey air, trying to catch his breath, confident that they couldn't see him in the shadows.

Oh man, what is that god awful smell?

Pulling his sweater up over his nose, Trenfil tried to shake the stink that was searing into his nostrils. Willing himself not to gag, he squatted beside a large tree trunk and forced the spit to retreat into his throat. Trenfil wrinkled his nose beneath his sweater.

Smells like roadkill.

The couple, however, didn't seem to notice. 

The pair were sipping from from wine glasses and discussing something animatedly. They stood up just then and, for an instant, Trenfil wondered whether they had somehow heard the thought that had strolled through his mind. They were laughing now, standing before the fire and raising their wine glasses in a toast.

For a few seconds, the campfire glowed a little brighter as the flames ignited the alcohol in the wine glasses the couple had casually tossed into the fire. Then they were walking hand in hand toward the dark Winnebago. He watched the pair enter through the open doorway and pull the door shut behind them.

No way.

Trenfil waited motionless beside the tree, hoping that they would reemerge as responsible adults to extinguish the fire that they had so carelessly abandoned. One by one the lights disappeared inside the Winnebago leaving the mobile home in total darkness.


Although he had long since stopped running, Trenfil's heart was still racing. He shrugged, and slowly rose to his feet. With one eye glued to the door of the Winnebago, he stood, careful not to remove the sweater from over his nose. Breathing deeply through his sweater, Trenfil watched the flames flicker in the night. It was mesmerizing, watching the choral of warm colors moving against the dark stillness of the night. The burning logs chattering and spewing flames that danced freely in the darkness.

There was something appealing, seductive even, in the pattern of the flames and he hated to think about having to extinguish them. Subconsciously, at least, Trenfil understood that the sensible thing would be to put the fire out and, somehow, he knew he had to summon the nerve to take care of the task at hand.

The headlights of an approaching vehicle caught Trenfil off guard, and retreating again into the shadows, he squatted hastily. The vehicle came to a sharp stop on the opposite side of the Winnebago, obscuring itself from Trenfil's direct view.

From his vantage point, Trenfil could see clearly beneath the Winnebago. A pair of flat dark boots stepped onto the dirt road and Trenfil watched as they made their way around the Winnebago, stopping every few yards and then continuing on again. It was a weird dance and Trenfil wondered what kind of person might be wearing such old fashioned boots, and why they might need to stop so often.

What?Were they old, tired? Ill?

Eventually, the boots made their way to the edge of the bus and rounded the corner finally affording Trenfil an opportunity to view the wearer. Notepad in hand, and flashlight perched on his shoulder like a pet bird, the uniformed officer stepped into Trenfil's view, scribbling occasionally.

A cop!

Careful not to make any noise, Trenfil prostrated himself. It was bad enough that he was out after his curfew, the punishment for which would be severe. There was no need to get caught spying out in the woods, by the police no less, and add that to it as well.

Walking straight past the most obvious point of entry, the officer continued to circle the Winnebago. He moved hesitantly, scribbling occasionally in his little book, and then disappeared from Trenfil's view as he walked around the other side of the motor home. Trenfil watched silently as the door of the patrol vehicle opened, the boots climbed inside, and the door shut again behind them.

Aw,come on.

Trenfil sighed agitated. He had even forgotten the horrible odor, allowing his sweater to slip away from his face. The thought of not just one,but two grown ups getting away with such careless and reckless behavior had brought him back onto his feet.

You didn't even write them a ticket!

A light suddenly illuminating the entrance of the Winnebago, however, sent Trenfil crashing back down to earth with a thud and he squatted hastily.

Holding his breath, Trenfil waited for someone to emerge from inside the darkened motor home. Instead, underneath the Winnebago, he saw the pair dark boots reappear and retrace their steps to the entrance of the motor home.

Trenfil smiled.

Now, this should be good.

The officer stopped beneath the sole incandescent bulb and tapped rapidly on the door of the motor home. When no response came, the cop peered, on tipped toes, into the windows of the Winnebago with his flashlight. Apparently unsatisfied, he returned to the lit entrance and rapped at the door again.

Inside his sweater, Trenfil shifted uneasily, his eyes glued to the brightly lit entrance.

The officer tried the door handle and it swung open effortlessly.


The officer removed the flashlight from his shoulder and shone it through the open doorway.


Trenfil swallowed, his heart racing.


With his free hand, the officer took hold of the hand rail.


The cop took one step up, and disappeared into the Winnebago.


From the darkness, the police officer's hand reached out and grasped the door knob, pulling the door shut.


One by one the hairs on the back of Trenfil's neck stood on end.

Bobby Wispen.

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