Campout over

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It was dark, like now. Miss Helen had laid out the sleeping bags. Mama had set the sandwiches and cookies she’d made in the center of a picnic cloth.

After Mama and Miss Helen had gone inside the house, Scoot and me were fine for a while. We settled in to the hum and thump of the distillery until I realized the machine was so loud, I wouldn’t be able to hear danger if it came sneaking up on us. Maybe if Choppers had been there. But he was still recovering and getting used to his missing leg.

All that day, Scoot had been excited about camping out. That’s why I didn’t tell him I was spooked. I looked up through the gaps in the trees and watched the clouds as they moved across the half moon like Blankets trying to cover a small bed. Then it got darker. The owl hooted. When we both saw its eyes, yellow and mean, Scooter said it first. “Campout over.” Then he got up and walked inside with the sleeping bag over his head.

I’m not afraid of the dark anymore. I’m not afraid of untold secrets, either. “I’m afraid for Scooter,” I tell Frank.

Excerpt from The Moonshine Thicket set in 1928

 

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