March 30, 1966
Jocie Brooke here excited to be reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky because it’s SPRING BREAK!! No school for a whole week. We almost had to go to school on Monday and Tuesday, but then the Legislature said we didn’t have to make up all our snow days. So the superintendent just tacked on a few extra days to keep us in school until June, but we get all week for spring break. And it’s supposed to be pretty weather too.
Thank goodness, Aunt Love says spring cleaning can wait until later or I’d be dusting and washing walls all week. But now things are looking up. No homework. No housework. Well, other than the stuff I have to do every day. But I can do that quick and then go help Dad and Wes at the newspaper. Or go visit Miss Sally out on the farm. Or go to the library. So I can read like Jamie in the picture here. Jamie and I talk books all the time. He reads weird stuff like Wes. Science fiction. I like stories with romance or mystery. Or both. I want to read at least three books this week. At least.
Maybe I’ll see Jamie around town. Maybe at the library. Then I can ask if he wants to go see Wes and borrow some of his books. Wes has stacks and stacks of books. He says they are like old friends. He can’t just throw them away, but he can introduce them to new friends. He’d let Jamie have some of them for sure. Maybe Jamie and I can find a great place to read. And we can talk about what we’re reading. You know, a boy who likes to read isn’t so bad.
My sister, Tabitha, will laugh if she reads this and say I told you so. But talking to a boy about reading doesn’t mean I’m falling in love or anything. Just falling in love with reading. That’s all. That’s absolutely all!
Still, it might be fun if we both read the same book so we could talk about it. Do you like to talk about the books you read to your friends?
Maybe I’ll tell Jamie about the story I’m writing. See if he wants to read it. I don’t know if that would be a good idea or not. What if he didn’t like it? What if he made fun of it? It’s scary letting somebody read what you’re making up. Except for you all. I don’t mind you reading it because I know you’ll be nice and not tell me it’s awful. Thank you. Because I don’t want to feel all scared to report here from Hollyhill.
So on to the next chapter of Bailey’s adventures.
BAILEY’S BUG by Jocie Brooke
(Continued from last time. The whole book is under Bailey’s Bug up at the top of the page.)
Bailey was almost glad when what was left of the barn floating along with them banged into a tree and began crashing down around them. Dodging falling planks was easier than telling Lucinda the hum in his ear was gone.
“Hang on, lad,” Skelley called over the crash of the water. “We’ll drift away from the mess of it in a minute.”
Bailey clung to his board and stared over at Skelley balancing on his narrow plank. He was leaning this way and that guiding it through the debris. Lucinda floated along behind the old dog on her own plank. Her back was arched and her tail pointed straight up to get as far away from the water as she could.
A pole rammed into Bailey’s board and knocked him into the water. He dog-paddled like mad to catch up with the plank, but it rushed away from him. Behind him more of the barn crashed down around Skelley and Lucinda. Skelley shifted away from the falling timbers, but a board slapped Lucinda off her perch.
“Lucinda!” Bailey pushed against the water trying to get to her. She wasn’t swimming. Her limp body bounced up and down in the water. Bailey paddled harder but the water pushed him the other way.
“I’ll get her, lad.” Skelley jumped from plank to plank as though the boards were stepping stones. At last he floated on a board right beside Lucinda. The old dog hesitated as his mouth tightened on the painted stick.
For a heartbeat, Bailey wasn’t sure Skelley would be able to choose Lucinda over the baton. At last he placed the stick on the plank and clamped his paw on top of it. Then he plucked Lucinda out of the water with his teeth. All was well for a moment, but when he lifted the cat up, her weight threw him a little off balance. The board shot out from under him.
Skelley’s painted stick flew up in the air and splashed down into the water. Skelley watched it float away from him with large, sad eyes, but he kept his hold on the scruff of Lucinda’s neck.
“I’ll get it,” Bailey shouted.
With no sign of hearing him, Skelley turned and swam toward the creek bank.
Bailey swam back and forth, waiting for the stick to float past him. Bits of wood were everywhere, but none of them was the right bit of wood. It must have slipped past without him seeing it in murky water.
He hated to give up, but if he didn’t make for the bank, he might just float forever. Like Skelley’s stick.
The water had carried him far past the spot where Skelley had gone ashore with Lucinda. Bailey had to rest on the dry ground for a while before his legs could carry him again. He hurried back along the stream to find his friends.
When at last he spotted them, he gave a little bark of joy to see Lucinda sitting up. She didn’t look too good though with her head drooping down. Skelley’s head drooped even lower and he was shaking so that the old dog’s bones had to be clattering.
Bailey caught his breath. “I couldn’t find it, Skelley. I’m sorry.”
“That be all right, lad.” Skelley didn’t look up at Bailey. “I knew it was gone, for a truth, the minute the water gobbled it up.”
(To be continued)