Marty slung his towel across his shoulders and jogged a few paces to catch up with Caleb. “So what did you tell your mom?”
“I told her the truth.”
“Man, she lets you do everything. How do you do it?”
“I never lie to my mom.”
“That’s cause he’s a goody two shoes.”
“Leave him alone, Joey.”
“It’s okay, Marty. Joey doesn’t bother me.”
Marty stepped closer to Caleb and whispered, “But he’s always picking on everybody.”
“Come on girls,” Joey called out. “We don’t have all day.”
The trail took the boys through the woods and over two hills until they came to a large rock formation. Joey climbed onto a small boulder. “Here we are. The pond’s on the other side. You girls ain’t scared of a little climb are ya?”
“Boy, I can’t wait to jump in. Is it deep enough?”
“Yes, Farty Marty, it’s deep enough.”
“Stop calling me that.”
Joey reached down and petted Marty’s hair. “Relax, Farty, I’m just kidding.” Joey dodged Marty’s swing. “Besides, you got nothing to worry about. You can handle that jump better than we can.”
“What do you mean?”
“You see me and Caleb, we got muscles. But you, well, everybody knows lard floats.”
Marty swung at Joey, but missed.
The trio found their way up the rock face until they reached a natural platform. They looked down in collective awe at the clear, jade pool below them. Fed by a small stream, it was surrounded by rock walls save for one side where the water trickled over a worn shelf which provided a perfect spot for laying out in the sun.
“Wow, this is great.” Marty started to climb down the path to the water.
“I thought you wanted to jump in.”
Marty stopped and looked back. “From up here? It’s too high.”
“Awwww, what’s the matter? You scared?”
“No.” Marty stepped to the edge and looked down.
“If you’re so brave, you do it.”
“No problem.” Joey took off his shoes and filled one with the contents from his pockets. “Let me show you girls how it’s done.” He raised his hands Olympic style and dove head first. He exited the water with a victory howl and climbed up the path as he watched Caleb jump in. “Okay, Farty Marty, your turn.”
“Stop calling me that!” Marty took off his shoes but left his shirt on. He stood near the ledge and stared at the distant water.
“I knew you couldn’t do it.”
“I can. Just give me a minute.”
Joey plucked him behind the ear.
Caleb climbed out of the water. “It’s okay, Marty. It’s not as high as it looks. You can do it.”
Marty tried to calm himself as Joey chanted. “Farty. Farty. Farty.”
“Leave me alone.”
“Farty. Farty.” Joey plucked Marty’s ear.
“Stop it!” Marty turned around and pushed him. Joey stumbled sideways and tripped over a rock, stumbling down the path to the rock shelf below. Blood pooled around his head.
Marty and Caleb stared at each other, unable to move. Caleb finally walked over and put his head next to Joey’s.
“Is he ?”
Caleb looked up at Marty, nodded, and climbed up the path.
Marty couldn’t stop his body from shaking. “It was an accident. I didn’t mean to do it.”
“It’s okay, Marty.”
“Oh, man, there gonna put me in prison. I’m going to jail.”
“No you’re not. I’m gonna call my mom and tell her what happened. It was an accident, that’s all. Don’t worry. She’ll believe me.” Caleb retrieved his cell phone and made the call.
“Is she calling the police?”
“Yeah, but relax. She’s gonna tell the police the truth.”
A moan broke through the silence. Marty looked down at the body. “He’s still alive. What do we do? What do we do?”
“Don’t worry. I’ll take care of it.” Caleb started down the path.
Relief washed over Marty. He stayed put and watched Caleb. “Is he alive?”
“Yeah, but barely.”
“What do we do?”
“I told you. I’ll take care of it.” Caleb carefully turned Joey’s head exposing the wound. He knelt beside Joey, held a large rock over him, and smashed it against his head.
Marty stumbled back a step. “What did you do that for?”
Caleb threw the rock in the water and brushed the dirt off his hands. “I told my mom he was dead.”
“I never lie to my mom.”