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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Christian Baptism (10/18/07)

TITLE: Steal'n Melons
By dub W


We bragged about how long the pastor held us under the water. Jimmy Smith even said he thought a snake bit him on the toe. We sat on the hillside, in scratchy green Army blankets, and watched the parade of boys and girls and adults one by one step into the cold Arkansas River and to the waiting arms of Pastor Dan.

“He didn’t tell me to hold my nose and I near drowned.” Freddy pretended to be grabbing at invisible water.

Rodney wiped his nose with his arm. “Durn near choked to death riech der. Water leaked in my mouth.”

“Shame on you heathens.” Mary Beth Owens stood above us, her Army blanket dragging the ground. “None of you knows what baptism is.” Mary Beth was a head taller than all of us, and standing on the top slope she looked like a giant. “I bet none of you even thought about it.”

Truthfully, none of us did. We had been to confirmation class and had each felt the need to go down front when the preacher called. I’m not sure if it was the Spirit or my Aunt Anna threatening me with her spit dampened handkerchief. I believe she spat in that hanky every few seconds just to find a dirty spot on my face.

Nevertheless, we each one dutifully got out of our seat – pushed along by relatives – to the joyous shouts and praises of the ladies’ front row chorus.

Jimmy interrupted my thoughts. “You ever talk to God?”

“Sure, I pray. Don’t you?”

“Yeah.” Jimmy pulled the blanket tighter around his shoulders. “But, I mean, like I prayed that there’d be a thunderstorm this morning and we wouldn’t have to come down to the river.”

Freddy tried to stand and his blanket pulled him down. “If they’d baptized me first there wouldn’t been no water left in the river. I think I done drank it all.”

Rodney nudged Freddy with his shoulder. “Ya jes git dat tall tale sin forgiven too, with the dunk’n.”

“Jimmy, Baptism, according to my grandpa, is all about forgive’n sins. Didn’t you wanna do that?” I tried to lean up on one elbow.

“I guess. Ma told me I did.”

Rodney seemed to ponder the thought. “Guess it be lik pay’n off a loan.”

“Huh?” Jimmy and I both looked at Rodney. Freddy just scratched his head in a comical way.

Rodney continued, “Lik dem watermelons we stole last summer.”

Jimmy kicked at the sand and clay at his feet. “What’s steal’n watermelons got to do with baptism?”

“Lik did say’d,” said Rodney. “We napped dem melons, and steal’ns a sin. Well, we never paid fer dem melons, until now, cas we done been fergiv’n fer steal’n. Fergive'ns like not haven pay'n a loan. Jes glad ol lady Lutz not hur, she not fergive’n nohow.”

I pushed my glasses up on my nose. “But, the melons are still gone. Ol lady Lutz don’t got em no more. It was wrong for us to take her stuff.”

Freddy cleared his throat. “Lord
done forgave us, but…”

Jimmy bushed back his hair. “Guess maybe we oughta take a couple a dollars by her house huh?”

“Cool Jimmy.” Freddy slapped him on the back.

Rodney laughed. “I thiks dat baptism maya dun you riech gud afterall.”

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This article has been read 1058 times
Member Comments
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Joanne Sher 10/25/07
Love the dialog here - the conversation among the boys feels so real. Felt like I was sitting there listening to them. Love wisdom out of kids' mouths.
Bonnie Way10/25/07
Cute dialogue between the boys. Liked the change of hearts at the end. Rodney's dialect was a bit hard to read - be careful with that.
Seema Bagai 10/25/07
You've created memorable characters in this piece.
Debi Derrick10/26/07
Nice story; nicely develops Christian principles about baptism and what it means. The one child's dialogue did need to be simplified.
Jan Ackerson 10/26/07
Cute--the kids' conversations seemed just right for their ages and the setting.

I wasn't sure about the dialect--it seemed inconsistent sometimes, and I couldn't really place it. Would it change the story a lot if you eliminated or simplified the dialect?

I really like the concept here; very realistic and fun to read.
Verna Cole Mitchell 10/27/07
I loved the characterizations you created. Was Tom Sawyer there, too?
April Bailey10/29/07
I loved this! Very funny, poignant, and believable. I missed a bit of Rodney's dialogue, but overall, I was transported there with those genuine children. Great job!
LauraLee Shaw10/30/07
This was SUCH a fun story to read! This line made my belly chuckle:
“Yeah.” Jimmy pulled the blanket tighter around his shoulders. “But, I mean, like I prayed that there’d be a thunderstorm this morning and we wouldn’t have to come down to the river.”

Cute cute cute!
Laury Hubrich 10/30/07
Really good! I liked listening in on these young boys. Their thinking was kind of flawed but they eventually came to the right answers! Well done!!!
william price10/30/07
I really liked the childrens' viewpoints. Very entertaining and creative vehicle for ministering your point. God bless.
c clemons10/31/07
I get that the children finally understood about the forgiveness of sin, but I missed the part when they asked for it. The dialect of the one character was unreadable maybe it could have been mentioned why his speech was worse than the others. Needs a little work for readability good effort.
Cassie Memmer10/31/07
Cute! Good for Rodney to think it through and figure it all out. I can just picture those boys trying to outdo each other. Rodney provided the serious moment to bring them around to realize the significance of what they did. Nice!
Chris Gursche10/31/07
Very nicely done. Regional accents always make the reader work, but that's not a bad thing. This piece has the feeling of truth to it.
Beckie Stewart10/31/07
Well written, and I am sure it is just me that has a hard time following stories written in this way. Love the ending.
Sheri Gordon10/31/07
This is really cute. I felt like I was watching a scene from Little House on the Prairie.

The dialects were a little hard to follow at times. I even read it out loud, but some of it I just wasn't getting. (But I've read some classics where I've had plenty of trouble with the dialects, too.)

Really cute take on the topic. This is a fun read.
Betty Castleberry10/31/07
I kept thinking "The Little Rascals" as I read this.
The dialogue issues have already been addressed, but for me at least, it could be just because I've never hear that particular dialect.
Regardless, your kids are fun, and I'm glad they decided to do the right thing.
Brenda Welc11/01/07
Wonderfully written. Just loved the characters and their speaking. Great job on this one!