“Gary, why are you painting the fence?” Robby asked his best friend, grabbing hold of one of the crumbling boards that were part of the horrendous leaning structure and pulling on it. The fence creaked and groaned from the testing.
“Because my dad said to,” Gary replied, checking to make sure he hadn’t missed a spot yet.
“But this thing is old and falling down. The whole thing needs to be rebuilt, not just painted.”
“Well then I should be thankful that my dad just wants me to repaint it I guess.”
“Yeah, but what a waste of good paint. Seems senseless to do all that work for nothing.”
“You could help if you want.”
“No way! Me and Ricky are going down to the S-turn to throw rocks at cars as they come around the mountain.”
“Hmmm, that sounds kind of dangerous.”
“Naw, we only throw small rocks to see if we can scare them a little. Nobody ever gets hurt.”
Gary watched his friend walk away. I sure could have used his help. He went back to painting the fence.
Doug and Nancy Garner navigated the mountain road with one thing on their mind, returning to the same café where they had first met fourteen years ago. The Nissan Maxima hugged the edges of a road that offered little room for error.
“Doug, why do you have Gary painting that fence? Aren’t you supposed to put up a new one next month?” Nancy inquired of her husband.
“Yep, I sure am.”
“So why make him work so hard on a beautiful summer day?”
Before Doug could answer, a small rock shattered the windshield of the car. Doug wasn’t sure what happened, but his initial reaction was to swerve the car to his right. The Nissan scraped across the guardrail and sparks from the metal to metal battle shot down the mountainside.
The car stopped in time. Doug and Nancy looked out over the ledge they had nearly gone over. Hundreds of feet of rugged mountainside below them, they exhaled for the first time in what seemed like eternity.
Doug tapped Nancy on the shoulder and directed her to look up the mountain to their left. Standing there were two young boys, their faces ghost white. It was obvious where the rock had been launched from.
“Isn’t that Robby Haggle and Ricky Morris?” Nancy asked.
“Yes, it is.”
“I think I know why you had Gary painting the fence today.”
Doug leaned over and kissed her on the cheek, exited the car, and went over to talk to the two boys who had almost caused a catastrophic accident. The whole time he was talking he noticed Robby looked a little distant.
Robby felt sick as Gary’s dad told him how stupid it was to throw rocks at cars. It was hard to concentrate on anything other than the fact that he should have stayed and helped Gary paint that fence. At least then he would not have almost killed his best friend’s parents. And then he thought about the fact that if Gary had come with him, instead of listening to his father’s instructions to paint the fence, the three of them might have almost killed Mr. Garner. It was all too much to fathom. Robby passed out and fell to the ground.
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