The Lake

Jul 6, 2013 | 2013 Articles, Pets, Terrific Tales

by Ron Van Sweringen

Radio music drifted across the lawn on the humid air. Occasional lightning flashed in the distant swamp and rumbles of thunder could be heard rolling over the dark lake. A yellow Lab dashing near the water’s edge barked at his companion.

The boy threw an old tennis ball into the water.

“Bring it back, Skipper,” he shouted with excitement as the dog dove after it.

The swimming dog’s vibration drew it closer. With hardly a ripple on the water’s surface, the massive tail undulated.

“Good boy Skipper, now let me have it” the boy laughed as the dog bounded out of the water. Together they rolled over in the grass, the dog licking the boy’s face.

“Billy, it’s time to eat,” a woman called from the front porch of a small cottage.

“O. K. Mom,” the boy answered, turning to the wet Lab.

“Last one, Skipper,” he smiled, throwing the ball as far as he could. This time the dog was ahead of him and swam at a smooth pace, directly toward the floating ball.

Billy ran quickly toward the house. It was almost dark and the soft glow of a kerosene lantern filled the windows. His Father was already at the table when he entered the small kitchen. Observing the boy, he asked,

“Your shirt’s all wet. What have you been doing?”

“I’ve been throwing the ball for Skipper,” Billy answered slowly.

His father’s eyes caught his direct gaze.”Didn’t I tell you to keep that dog out of the lake, especially toward dark?”
“Yes sir,” Billy answered, lowering his eyes.

“Zack Mullen, saw a twelve foot gator at the far end of the lake, near the railroad trestle. A ‘gator that size can take a man or a cow. You steer clear of the lake, until we hunt it down, you hear me son?”

“Yes Sir” Billy replied.

Suddenly Billy was uneasy. Where was Skipper? He should have been at the screen door by now, but there was no sight of him.

Billy ate quickly, hardly tasting anything. He could not get his mind off of Skipper. Before he excused himself, his Mother reminded him,

“Get to your homework now.”

“Yes Ma’am”, he nodded, leaving the table.

Once outside, Billy ran in darkness across the lawn toward the lake. Breathless from exertion, he called softly,
“Skipper, come on boy, where are you?”

There was no answer, except for rustling palm fronds in the stiff breeze, heralding an oncoming storm. A streak of lightning split the darkness, and coldness crept over Billy when he saw the tennis ball floating at the waters edge.

“Skipper,” he called louder, “Come to me boy.” Fear and panic seized him in the blackness and tears welled in his eyes. A clap of thunder shook the ground and brought stinging rain with it. Billy turned toward the house when suddenly something lunged, knocking him to the ground. A heavy wet form slid across him, jaws opened.

“Skipper,” Billy cried out, clutching the wet dog in his arms. “I love you boy!”

They clung together, until another streak of lightning lit the darkness. A huge alligator, the monster his father had described, its cavernous jaws distended, waited at the water’s edge.

All of the pieces of art in this story were done by Drusilla Kehl of The Illustrated Rat. To see more of her work go to her website and check out KRL’s article about Drusilla.

You can find more of Ron’s short stories here in KRL’s Terrific Tales section.

Ron Van Sweringen, painter and writer, 76 years old resides in Vero Beach Florida with his Carin Terrier,’ Punkin the lizard catcher’. Recent exhibition of Astroismart at the MENNELLO MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART in Orlando, Florida. Astroism is the art of air born painting, created by Ron Van Sweringen. The artist’s paintings have also been exhibited at the CORCORAN MUSEUM OF ART in Washington, D.C. and in the WHITE HOUSE during the Reagan and Bush administrations. Ron began writing 5 years ago and to date has had 54 short stories published and three Novellas.

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