Saturday, March 24, 2018

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((Triple Saturday -- Page 3 of 3))
Of course, it was only a pretend war. A game. Not like the real war that was raging in the south and the northeast.

“Think we’ll ever see them again?” said Steven one day, while they were lounging around a hole that they had recently dug out for themselves as a hiding spot. He had stopped wanting to be called Peter a month ago, nor did he want to go back to Jonah. And rather than quarrel with him over something that they didn’t really care about, Parson and Damian merely went with it. Besides, it made for an extra means of confusing people in the village, which was always a plus. “Our fathers, I mean. Think they’ll ever come back?”

“Of course they will,” said Damian. “Why wouldn’t they?”

Steven scoffed. “Idiot. Don’t you know what war is? It’s where people die. Lots of people.”

“I know that. But they’re not gonna die.”

“How do you know?”

“He doesn’t,” said Parson. “He’s just being optimalistic.”

“Do you even know what that word means?” said Damian.

“Do you?” said Parson.

Damian folded his arms. “You shouldn’t use words you don’t know the meaning of. It makes you look stupid.”

“Shut up. You don’t know anything.”

“My mother says the war is going great for our side,” said Damian. “There’s nothing to worry about.”

“Hmph,” Parson huffed. “As if she would tell you the truth.”

“You callin’ my mother a liar?!”

“No, I’m callin’ YOU a baby!”

And they fought again, but it didn’t have the same kind genuine anger behind it that it used to. They were both content to let it end in a draw. Steven tried to get them to shake hands. They both just slapped him instead for trying to order them around.

Not long after that, tragedy arrived and hit them like a ton of bricks.

Stefol passed away. The Miles family dog had simply grown too old.

The Trio didn’t know how to react. This was their first experience with such things.

But they were sad. That much, they knew. Even Damian, who’d been bitten not that long ago. They’d all gotten to know Stefol much better in the recent months, Parson included. The old dog had seemed fuller with life during that time than Parson ever recalled before.

Then, at his mother’s recommendation, Parson decided to make a memorial for Stefol. The other two members of the Trio joined him.

Alas, it was a task which would never see completion.

“Hey, what’s that?” said Steven, pointing toward the horizon.

Parson saw what he meant. Smoke in the distance.

“A fire?” said Damian. He sat atop a tall boulder that they’d been trying unsuccessfully to roll up a hill for the past day or so. They hadn’t been exactly certain what they were going to do with it if they ever managed to actually get it up there, but it had seemed like it would make a good fixture for Stefol’s memorial.

Soon, they caught sight of a rider as well--a lone man on horseback crossing over the hills and coming toward Trintol. He was slumped forward in the saddle, not riding properly at all.

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((Triple Saturday -- Page 2 of 3))
However, the next time Parson, Damian, and Peter met, there was much less animosity. While Parson still couldn’t exactly say that he liked Damian, there was a degree of camaraderie between them. They had a common enemy in the girls now. And arguably the adults as well.

And so it was that they became a trio, of sorts, and spent their days scheming away, trying to come up with various ways of terrorizing the girls. One time, they gathered as many frogs as they could find and released them like a plague upon the girls’ most frequent haunts. No one ever knew who was responsible. Another time, they gathered up crickets. And still another time, they gathered up fleas.

They regretted that one, though, and resolved to start coming up with plans that didn’t involve animals.

They relied on Peter for a while, helping him to hone his craft as a liar. First, they tried to trick the girls into thinking that Peter was a prince. It didn’t work so well. Then they tried to convince the girls that the well on the south end of the village was haunted.

“By what?” one of the girls asked.

“By the ghost of Mad Man Morris!” said Peter.

“And who is that?”

“He was a lunatic and a murderer! He killed his whole family and laughed while he did it! They say he fell down the well and died, but you can still hear his moans at night!”

The girls didn’t believe them, of course. But they convinced them to visit the well at night in order to prove their courage, at which point, Parson had already climbed into the well and was waiting for them. After a few timely moans of “agony,” the girls quickly decided to leave.

And the next day, they began to hear rumors of the ghost in the well.

It was all they could do to contain their pride and laughter.

That meager taste of success was all the motivation they needed to push themselves toward ever greater heights. Story after story, prank after prank, the trio began to grow rather infamous as troublemakers.

But by far, their most triumphant venture was when they covered Damian in sheep’s blood and told everyone--with the greatest of sincerity and commitment to their roles--that he’d been be mauled by a pack of wild coyotes.

They had the whole village in an uproar.

Of course, when everyone realized the truth, the Trio caught hell to a greater degree than they ever had before, but it was worth it, Parson felt. He’d never laughed so hard in his life or had so much fun.

In time, some of the other boys wanted to join their little gang, but it was far too late for new members. The Trio were in agreement that they should keep things exactly the way they were.

The other boys didn’t take the rejection well, perhaps because the Trio lobbed curses and mud at them, and for a while thereafter, the Trio went to war with all the other boys in Trintol.