There was a big thud, and then snarling and snapping and snorting and squealing. On top of that was the distinct noise of Mark Franklin shouting frantically from the tree, “Paul, get up, man! Get up!”
Ada slowly squeezed open one eye, then the other. She gasped, amazed and relieved to see Paul still alive. The dogs from The Yard of NO RETURN had attacked the pig before it got to Paul! Paul was safe! Ada, who did not believe in luck, nevertheless found herself thinking, Paul has got to be one of the luckiest people that has ever lived…
Paul, did not yet appear to realize how lucky he was. He didn’t even try to get up, most likely because he actually thought he was dead.
He was splayed out on the ground next to the tree, whimpering, “I’m sorry I stole that box of girl scout cookies from Aunt Jeannie! My mom never buys them, and Samoas are the best,” said Paul while starting cry hard. “And I cheated on like every spelling test this year,” he continued, sobbing. “I can see Aisha’s test and she’s like the best speller in the class and I copy her answers every time.” The tears came on thick and heavy. “I haven’t studied any spelling at all this year.”
“Paul!” Mark yelled, trying to get his attention.
“And sometimes I stay up late and play Minecraft until midnight.”
Ada looked at Paul sternly and yelled, “Paul! You’re not dead. Quit confessing everything!” Then added, “You gotta move!”
The pointy dogs were still actively chasing the pig around the yard but Ada realized that the dogs might turn their attentions back towards them at any minute. Every single one of them was still in danger.
“And sometimes,” Paul continued, gasping for air, “I draw pictures of ladies in bikinis instead of doing my homework.”
“Really?” Mark asked, genuinely curious. “Are they good?”
“No,” Paul answered, “They’re terrible.”
“Paul! Snap out of it!” said Lyle as he hauled up his large and tear-stained friend.
It would have been a truly touching moment if it had not been for the dog and pig tornado heading their way. The gang all scuttled to the corner of the yard where Paul and the pig had knocked down part of the fence. As they were quickly checking on Paul, helping him wipe the dirt off his face, they were confronted with another threat. It was an old man. The angry kind, wearing brown.
He came barreling out of the house when he heard all the noise. Discovering the hole in his fence and his pointy dogs rampaging against a wild pig, the old man starting yelling the Old Man Battle Cry with a primal ferocity, “ GET…OUT…OF…MY…YARD!!!”
Surprised by the presence of an actual human coming out of the house that for years was rumored to have no owner, the gang froze like a herd of deer caught in headlights, their mouths gaped open, their faces left bewildered.
The initial yell didn’t get the results the old man wanted. A pig was still tearing around his property getting his dogs more and more riled up, and worse yet, there were children still in his yard. So, the old man turned a special kind of angry purple color and began yell a slew of old-man curses, which is to say there were no actual bad words, but the force with which he said them made them worse than curses. As Mark heard these novel, new curses streaming out of the angry old man’s mouth, he paused and looked off to one side silently mouthing the words to himself for later study. Ada saw Mark take note of the old man’s curses, Mark’s talent for expertly using strong language was well established. She knew that at some point in the near future, she would hear Mark revisiting these new curse words.
Ada saw the old mad grab a broom. This was to either separate his dogs from the pig or to beat Ada and her friends. Ada didn’t want to wait around to find out which one he had planned. Ada, Lyle and Leela collectively came to their senses and lost no time getting out of The Yard of NO RETURN. Ada, Lyle and Leela grabbed Paul and immediately bolted through the hole in the fence while the old man wedged himself between the dogs and the pig. Now that the old man was busy trying to separate the dogs and the pig, the coast was clear for Mark and The Eagle to clamber down the tree and escape the yard as well. Ada and the other three were half way down the neighborhood block before they heard The Eagle shouting.
“Guys, don’t ever leave a soldier behind!” The Eagle yelled in a voice that was a little whinier than usual. “Wait up! Where are you going?”
Ada, Lyle, Leela and Paul slowed down at the stop sign at the end of the block and waited for Mark and The Eagle to catch up to them. Paul leaned against the sign and it groaned as the metal post gave a little from bearing Paul’s full weight. He was still sobbing uncontrollably.
“Paul! What was all that about?! You brought a pig to rescue us?! Man…WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!!” Mark yelled. “You could have been killed, and you could’ve killed all of us in the process of killing yourself.”
There was a short silence in which no one spoke before Mark added, “AND WHERE DID YOU GET A PIG?!”
Mark’s verbal assault sent Paul over the edge and he began hyperventilating through cascades of sloppy tears and large amounts of runny snot.
Ada watched Paul. Oh, is this what they call ugly-face crying? Ada thought to herself.
Lyle, who was Paul’s very good friend, and cared for him like a brother, slapped him hard across the face, yelling, “Get it together, Greenwald!” then immediately hugged him fiercely, yelling equally loudly, “I’m so glad you’re alive!”
Paul sniffed once, and after clearing away his tears and his disturbing amount of snot, he somehow managed to get it together.
Feeling a flood of relief for their narrow escape, Mark looked at all his friends, turned to face Paul, who was trying to keep calm and not start crying again. Mark said, “I’m sorry I yelled at you.” He said it in a voice that was so earnest, Ada was taken aback. Mark looked down as if it took a lot of concentration, and then looked up at Paul’s tear-stained face and said, “I was super freaked out. I mean, I’m still super freaked out. I just got shot out of a building. I landed in a tree where dogs were seriously going to eat me. You were almost killed by a pig. Today is turning out to be a supremely weird day. I’m just sorry.”
Paul didn’t seem to know what to do with this apology and it took him a very long few seconds to mumble his heartfelt reply, “It’s cool.”
Breaking the silence and changing the subject, Leela piped up, “We should probably go back, we can’t just ditch school in the middle of the day.”
The Eagle, ever observant, pointed to the burning school cafeteria in the distance and the firefighters hosing it down.
“I think school might be cancelled today.”
“Okay, but Mrs. Ratchman will be looking for us,” Leela said. “We never checked in with our class. For all we know, Mrs. Ratchman has given our names to Principal Miller who may have already called our parents.”
Ada saw Lyle shoot Leela a short but significant look at the mention of calling parents. Brenda, their step-mother, loomed large in their fears.
“No, Mrs. Ratchman wouldn’t have done that,” muttered Paul finally looking up from the ground and gazing firmly at Leela.
“Why not?” Ada Asked.
“Yeah, old Rachtman would never NOT notice that we weren’t there during roll call after the fire,” Mark noted. “If anything she’d be happy to have a reason to call our parents and get us all in trouble. That’s what she’d call a good day.”
Paul shifted his gaze to Ada and sighed, “Mrs. Ratchman never had the chance to take roll, or notice we’re missing or anything else…”
“Why?” asked Ada, cutting Paul off.
Paul continued, “…because she’s busy fighting with those dogs back in the yard.”
“Wait…What?” Ada said.
The gang stared at Paul in total confusion.
Has Paul gone crazy? Where did Paul find the pig in the first place and why did he bring it to rescue the gang? Was that a part of his plan all along? Find out this and more in the next chapter of Surviving Storybrooke.
Kelly Raine is an artist, writer, and educator. He teaches children and likes to think he is pitching in to make the world slightly better. He wears a lot of black and wakes up very, very early.
© Kelly Raine, 2019 All Rights Reserved.