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Run Danny, Run novel Chapters 13&14

Story ID:11456
Written by:Richard Laurent. Provencher (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Fiction
Location:Truro Nova Scotia Canada
Person:Esther & Richard Provencher
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OurEcho Preface This post deals with a mature theme or contains explicit language. While the post is not extremely violent or pornographic, it does contain language or explore a subject matter that may offend some readers. If you do not wish to view posts that deal with mature themes, please exit this post.


The beach at Economy Lake was quite rocky, with hardly a spot to place a bare foot on solid ground. Tufts of grass were known to hide little pockets of broken freshwater clamshells. Susan complained about these rough conditions on her feet each time her mother asked her to play outside.

Since daddy wasn't here, she felt like she was underfoot all the time. And playing on the beach was her escape.

"Well then wear your sneakers," her mother said. "It's quite a simple plan. There now, no more feet getting torn and scratched."

Susan found out mommy was right.

Water had to be hauled from the lake, dishes needed washing and a general tidying up required. There was so much going on, she was glad to help in any way. That gave mommy a chance to be by herself. "Private time," she called it.

Susan had wanted to go to Truro with her daddy, but he said she would be in the way. She knew the real reason, though. Danny must have done something bad, because daddy was very upset.

He tried to make up a whole bunch of excuses like---"Need to go shopping for food," and "Got to make phone calls to the Children's Aid," and "Maybe I should check something out at work."

But she knew daddy needed to talk to the Police. "And I have to contact our insurance agent in case other damages are found," she also heard him say to mommy.

Susan decided to take a little rest and carefully placed the tea towel on the sink before stepping outside the trailer. She noticed her mother still looking out over the lake. "Okay mommy," she smiled as she was waved over. “Lookit. A pretty seashell!" Susan shouted, holding it up proudly. "Now let's walk together. Okay? Just you and me."

Her mother agreed it was a good idea.

"That's a lake clam shell, dear. You need salt water for a sea shell." Then Anne proceeded to give a short lesson on various shells, as she stepped barefoot in the shallow water. So much for that great advice to Susan a short while ago, Anne reminded herself.

Being raised on a farm along the shores of Cape Spear, near Cape Tormentine, New Brunswick taught her a lot about the ocean. Anne explained the differences between Mussels, Quahogs and Razor Clams. Susan was a good listener.

"Oh, the water feels so good she said. Where's Walt ?"

"He's getting hotdog sticks for our campfire tonight. You didn't forget, did you mommy?"

"Right." Anne did forget. A promise is a promise. It is truly fascinating how children remember things adults sometimes wish they would forget. And yet that's what makes them loveable little people. At times they continue to prod, remind and startle you, all in the same few minutes.

"Hey, mom."

"You startled me, Walt."

"Well. What do you think? Neat, eh?"

"Don't you think the sticks are too short? You might have to sit in the fire to cook your dogs."

"Mom, they're OK. You'll see."

She looked out over the lake and mused about the island in the distance. It didn't look so far away, now that the mist had cleared. Anne agreed with Larry it might be a good idea to explore it with the kids. From here it looked rather mysterious.

As Anne cupped her eyes from the sun, she thought she saw a plane circling the island. Or, maybe it was an eagle.


Danny was watching the scene below. He knew he couldn’t be seen from his spot high up on the rocky ridge. There was a clear view through the leaves from here and he could observe most activities going on in the campsite.

Good thing he had taken the 7X50 Busch binoculars from the Reynolds home. They surely brought up the view. He could even read words on the side of the trailer---Prowler. Not much farther away a woman and two children stood still by the beach. They were staring up at the sky.

He wondered what they were looking at.

The boy must be Walt and the girl, Susan. Yes, it's them, the whole Reynolds family. Most of them were there, except for their father. Or, should he say, his father too?

It was too far away to make out their exact features, especially with tree branches blowing back and forth. Danny had walked all around the old campground last night before finding them. Their site was in a quiet section near the far end of the grounds. Since no other lights showed, except for that old lady's in her small trailer on the far side, he had to be very quiet.

Danny didn’t have to be too bright to know this must be Economy Lake, from the broken sign that only had "OMY LAKE" left. Something must have eaten the first half. Mr. Lapointe once told him porcupines liked that kind of stuff. Or else someone had blasted it off with a shotgun, using it for target practice.

Right now he felt like finishing off the other part.

Danny was able to sneak close enough to confirm their names. It wasn't too difficult, since no one had any inkling of being observed. They had no need to. Without other campers in the vicinity it was easy moving around and listening to their conversations. Voices carried easily in the evening's stillness, especially since the children always seemed to be shouting.

He read some of the mail at their house that identified Anne and Larry. Also report cards at the house told him both children were quite intelligent. Walt and Susan. Nice names. Even Danny realized it wasn't polite reading someone else's private letters. But he had to.

Now he crept slowly past the trailer when everyone finally stopped talking. It was lonely sitting by the shore throwing stares into the lake. He thought about what he planned to do. He resolved to carry out his plan and give the whole family a good scare. It would be a form of punishment, something they would never forget.

The man, his father, was gone down the road somewhere. Probably went for more food. Danny had seen him drive away this morning. Supposed to be staying overnight in town he heard. Now Danny had a chance to do something quickly. To leave some sort of message, just in case the father---his father changed his mind and came back tonight.

Danny used a sharp rock to scratch a message on the side of the trailer, facing away from the lake. Then he cut a small hole in the canvas with the blade from his pocketknife. It was large enough to see what stuff they had inside. It might be handy in case he wanted to "borrow" something later.

He almost giggled as he made his way back to his little spot several hundred feet away, underneath a large spruce. It was a cozy hideaway, from which he could easily see the trailer.

It had taken him almost an hour to construct his cozy shelter made of carefully selected spruce boughs. The natural camouflage easily hid his pup tent from observation. At the same time he kept a careful eye out for the return of the kids or their mom. They must have gone for a long hike along the shore. Or they might have gone for a dip.

That gave him more than enough time to complete his project.

His Boy Scout training taught him to use young boughs for a soft mattress under his tent. It provided a shield of insulation above the cold ground. Then he crawled into his sleeping bag for a short rest. Danny was not looking forward to another night of being alone. It wasn't the same as being in a house with solid walls.

In the outdoors there was only you and the wind, and wild animals.
During the night his leg began to itch. Scratching didn't help. It wasn't too bothersome at first then a pain made its presence known. He turned over onto his left side. The boy tossed and turned restlessly, mumbling incoherently.

One leg remained outside his sleeping bag, his pant leg moving up the calf. His shirt top opened, taut skin showing. Bony ribs against the pink acted as protruding steps across his chest. Danny knew he was too skinny. Even at school, his chums call him "bones." That’s why he didn't learn how to swim very well. This kid didn’t plan to be on public display for anyone.

His lips moved soundlessly. Turmoil seemed to be taking place within his mind. An image on the edge of darkness, someone with shadowy eyes, now replaced with a stream of light. It's the moon. His eyes opened wide as a dazzling moonbeam entered the tent’s open doorway, then across his freckled face.

He experienced a tingling feeling. As if he was on a path from earth to sky. It's a strange sensation, sort of soothing and comforting at the same time. From far away, voices seem to vibrate through his inner being. And words collect in phrases that seem to pierce his tough-guy attitude.

"Don't give up on yourself, Danny, I love you." His mind reacts. Cloudy thoughts develop into visions of anger. He's confused. His father wants to be forgiven. “No, go away. You don't love me. Mom, you said things would get better. You promised," his voice cried out in the darkness.

Danny exhaled deeply as he completed his dream. Drifting off into the thankfulness of rest, sleep curled around his thin frame.

Somehow he didn't feel so alone anymore.


Larry’s station wagon woke everyone up. A couple of backfires in the forest created a disturbance in the orderliness of Nature. It sounded as if the muffler had blown off. Now there was a loud sputtering as trails of smoke marked his return journey.

He was driving with determination, so that he could have a special day today. He needed to have fun with his family and provide them with some great memories. It was the only way he knew how to wipe away the sadness threatening to build even more in his heart.

Susan was first to poke her head from the tent trailer. "Daddy!" she shouted. It marked the beginning of good moments.

Later, they took pictures, laughed at each other's antics, and chased through the woods and back until they fell on top of each other gasping for air.

The day was truly blessed. Good weather, the sun shining just right, and marshmallow clouds floating across a blue sky. Canoes were prepared for a trip around the shoreline. Trout poked their heads above the now disturbed lake surface and teased them into action.

After Larry’s earlier hugs and "Hello's" it was more "fun-time," the way he believed a family should enjoy each other's company.

Then both parents fulfilled a promise and took their children fishing. Adults watched in fascination as young shouts of glee greeted each nibble. Both Walt and Susan were ecstatic as they each landed two trout. Cooking would come later, after reminiscing about their adventures.

Anne had Susan in her canoe and Larry had Walt. "Everyone wears lifejackets," Anne had said before they started. She spotted Walt trying to forget his just because he was an excellent swimmer.

"Everyone wears lifejackets!" Larry had thundered at the time, in full support of his wife. No way was he going to give Walt a chance to try and negotiate anything. "Walt, remember our trip, just the two of us? Don't blow it."

How could the boy forget? He was so excited, just the two of them. Father and son were going on a canoe overnight to the island, just the two of them. "Right, dad. I promise. It won't happen again."

Larry and Anne had decided it was crucial for each of them to spend extra time with each child, one on one. It was important for them to feel extra special. And it would certainly assist in their maturing, helping them realize one day they would be separated. Perhaps by large distances, so this time together was extremely important.

Neither of them looked forward to the day their children moved out on their own. They wanted to make the most in the sunlight of each other's company. Anne was comfortable about being alone with Susan, since the island wasn't so far away. And the boys would be gone only one night.

Yes. Anne and Susan would be just fine.


Walt stood beside his dad and looked across Economy Lake. From this distance the little island looked like a pile of rocks, with a scattering of pine trees. If you sighted down your thumb, you could easily make it disappear.

The baking sun tried to sap their energy as they prepared to begin this exciting camping trip. Dad talked about it for the past two weeks and now they were actually going to do it.

The boy could hardly believe it, just the two of them.

Father and son waded into the water in bare feet, until the keel of the canoe cleared the shallow shore. Then one at a time they carefully stepped into the canoe. Paddles dipped as Larry yelled from the stern, "Forrwarrrd Ho!"

They were off. Walt gave a quick peek back at his mom and sister. He figured Susan was seething with jealousy. Maybe next year she could come, he reasoned.

When a few waves exploded over the gunnels, Walt became fearful. But he managed to settle down as he relived feelings he had been keeping to himself these days.

The overnight was dad's great idea. "It’s because I spent so much time chasing after Danny," he had said, "I'm sorry you were neglected son. And I wanted to make it up by doing something really special."

This trip would go a long way towards proving he was the number one son, Walt thought. Although it was still painful discovering he had a new brother. Later tonight, he and dad would have to talk.

Right now though was bug-slapping time, as a cloud of insects followed them from the mainland. It helped steer Walt's mind away from his serious thoughts.

Black flies flew down his neck, then up his shirt and into his hair until they struck pay dirt. Fresh blood was their prize.

Walt wondered if they were related to vampires.

Setting up the two-man pup tent went smoothly. Walt and his dad checked the ground for rocks and twigs, placing their nylon house flat on the ground. Four pegs secured the corners. Each of the outside aluminum poles at opposite ends had taut guy lines. The tension lifted the tent to a height of four feet.

Walt and his dad didn't go out very often, anymore. Lately, things were just too busy at home with everyone only worrying about Danny. His family didn't realize how much Walt was a worrywart. Studying as much as he could was meant to make mom and dad happy.

He knew he spent too much time worrying about things, like the bills for all those telephone calls and airplane flights. And whether he was helping around the house enough. He tried to find as many ways he could to prove dad didn’t make a mistake by adopting him.

"What are you thinking about, son?"

"Oh, just things." Walt tried to smile back. His mushroom haircut fluffed in the wind. Tired-looking blue eyes were usually full of sparkle on his tanned face. Lately, they were troubled. The sun's golden rays played tag with his light brown hair, trying to cheer him up.


"Come on, son. What is it?" Larry asked as he placed their sleeping bags in the tent.

"It's just...I'm happy, that's all. You and me, I mean." The boy swiped at his eyes. He was happy. Here they were in the great outdoors, father and son, just the two of them. Really, it was neat.

"Since everything's put away let's have a swim," Larry suggested, trying to penetrate his son's dark clouds. Walt seemed disturbed by something these days. If only he could get him to open up.

Faster than gulping back two hotdogs, father and son were in their bathing trunks. Bare toes slipped into rubber and nylon swim shoes.

They shivered through the water out to their waists, before the splashing began. Soon it was a free-for-all.

Mud balls and handfuls of grassy weeds went flying through the air. It was a "gooey" war. Mud balls made messes that landed with "splats" on backs and chests.

Walt won because his aim was much better from pitching for the school's intramural baseball team. He plopped a handful of mud and weeds on dad's head. "Now you’re not bald anymore!" he shouted.

Hungry bellies called a truce. After washing off the mud they changed into dry clothes.

Thankfully, the wind blew just enough to keep the black flies away. Lunch was hotdogs, juice packs and Trail Mix.

Walt made a super fireplace with flat stones. Between he and dad collecting firewood, the sounds of a fire soon crackled.

After tidying up, fishing rods were checked and life jackets put on. This time Walt didn't even try to argue. He had made a promise to mom to have fun. The 14 ft. Kawartha canoe moved easily through the water and brought them quickly to a small bay.

Dad had said the blue fiberglass canoe was easy to handle.

He was right.

"I wish mom and Susan were here to see this," Walt said, looking around at the scenery. Yellow flowers looked pretty alongside green lily pads. And the sun reflecting from the water made it's surface look like thousands of bright icicles laying side by side.

"Yes son," dad finally answered. He too was caught up in the beauty of the scene. "I know they would enjoy it. But, mom has a surprise for Susan too. Probably about now they're heading out on their own special trip. Like us, the two of them are spending a special evening together. They’re going to a restaurant in Collingwood, just about ten kilometers up the road."

"Did they want to come with us, dad?"

"Well, for one thing, Susan's asthma hasn't acted up lately and we want to keep it that way. We thought maybe heavy morning dew might trigger something. No sense taking chances. We thought her sleeping in a tent on the ground might not be such a good idea. Make sense?"

"I guess so," the boy answered. But he was glad Susan wasn't being left out. The water was inviting and another swim was on the menu since the fish weren't biting.

Before long, they were back at their campsite on the edge of the lake. From here, they barely made out their tent trailer a quarter of a mile away. Anne and Susan must be gone by now. Larry wished he hadn't forgotten his binoculars back at the house.

It seemed only a short time before supper was finished and the sun was setting. The night was warm enough to wear only T-shirts and underwear as father and son lay in their sleeping bags.


"What are we going to do about Danny, dad?" Walt asked in the darkness of the tent.

"Do you want me to lie about it, son?"


"I really want Danny to be a part of our family. Even come camping with us and---”

Walt shifted in his sleeping bag, turning away.

"Wait 'till I finish. Please," Larry said, placing a hand on his son's shoulder.

The boy turned around once more and faced his father. He knew dad was taking his time, trying to say the right words.

"I want Danny to get to know you. To see how special you are to me. You might get to love him too. Besides, wouldn't you like to have an older brother---I mean living with us?" Larry allowed the question to hang silently in the short distance between them.

Walt took his own time before answering. "Did you like the mud fight?" he asked.

"Yes," the man answered.

"And getting splashed when you tried to show me some fancy speed paddling?" Walt laughed at that one. He could still see dad's face when his whole side got soaked. But, he didn't get angry. Just sort of chuckled, after he let out a scream from the cold water.

"Yes, that too" Larry answered, poking his son on the chest.

"Is it fun being a father, taking his son camping?" Walt quietly asked.

"Yes, it is, a whole lot. Boy, you sure talk a lot. Aren't you tired yet?"

"I'm still a little upset," the boy answered in the darkness. "We have to try harder, dad."

"What do you mean, son?"

"You know."

"No, I don't. Help me out. Okay?"

"Well it's just...you and me right now. Later there will be somebody else, like Danny. And it won't be the same."

"I promise you son, you will always be super special to me.” Hope to die if it isn't true, Larry thought to himself.


"What, son?"

"I'm going to try really hard, too. About having an older brother. I know there’s Roy. But it’s not the same, he lives in Halifax."

"Thanks son." God, it's so hard sometimes. So much love needed, sometimes little left to give." And Larry wanted to give much more.

As Larry looked out the doorway flap, he yelled, "Hey look!" The moon was like a flashlight beam pointing right at their tent.

"Do you want to check it out?" Walt whispered, hope in his voice.

Father and son left their sleeping bags and walked to the shore, only a few feet away. They stood in bare feet in the glare of the moon. It bathed them in its freshness. A bright white beacon created a path towards them.

Sparkles like diamonds shimmered across the water.

"Now this is what I call peaceful," Larry said, trying to begin a cheerful conversation after their serious chat a short while ago.

"Do you really think Danny will want to live with us?" Walt asked, changing the subject once again.

The man fumbled for the proper words. "I sure hope so, son." “Gosh,” the man said quietly to himself. Surely the boy would want to live with his family. Larry hadn’t really thought about that other possibility.

The Big Dipper stood out clearly in the sky.

"Why does it seem so bright?" Walt asked.

"There are no lights from Truro to compete with in the middle of these woods," Larry answered.

As they headed towards their tent the calling of a loon pierced the stillness. "It sounds sort of sad and happy at the same time," Walt said. It was exactly the way he felt this moment.

As they settled once more in their sleeping bags, Larry told his son what he knew about loons. "Usually two baby chicks are born, with both parents working together to protect and teach their young."

Dad's voice was soothing as Walt lay in the darkness. It had been a full day. Both fun-filled and thought-filled. Tiredness threatened to close the boy’s eyes in a few moments. He almost missed hearing his dad say softly, "You'll never be second best, son."

Walt fought back tears before closing his eyes. Dreaming about a family of loons took over the boy’s thoughts. Except instead of two baby chicks, there were going to be three of them.

A deep and restful sleep descended upon the boy.


The "splash" of early morning waves traveled silently to his ears. Suddenly, Walt jumped up. It wasn't a dream. He really did hear loons. And they were very close. He peered through the tent opening.

His heart was hammering.

"Dad...oh dad," he whispered, barely able to breathe.

Through the mist he saw two loons and two baby chicks about twenty feet away. The mist caused him to blink; making sure what he saw was real.

Strange sounds became melodies escaping their throats and circled the tiny island. Walt shook his dad awake. "Listen, listen."

"Sssh. I'm awake, son” Larry said, putting a finger to his lips. “It’s a beautiful sight, isn't it?" he whispered. Both father and son lay quietly on their stomachs and watched, and listened.

The family of loons was awesome. Their cries rose eerily through the dawn. They sensed they had an audience that appreciated them.

An accolade of further calls was their parting message. Then they were gone, swimming into new adventures.

Dawn was now showing on the horizon.

The boy turned and faced his father. "Dad, that was so cool," he said. His tears came rapidly now, but Walt didn't care. "I'll try real hard, dad. I promise."

"Our family will have to work together like those loons with their two baby chicks, son."

"You're wrong, dad. Counting Danny makes three baby chicks."

The crushing hug Larry gave his son said, "I love you so much."