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Creative Writing

Illustration: Joel Bentley

Joel Bentley, “Hollering like Indians”, Short Story
Illustration: Joel Bentley

             Nate jumps off of the deck, his feet swinging behind him as the swing rope curves his fall. He sweeps down upon his prey and leaps on top of Philip as the swing begins its pendulum ascent.
             “Avast ye matey!” he yells, mixing calls of conquest. Though Philip watched his friend descend from the deck, he is caught by surprise. Nate is already on top of him before he can get a word out. He lands on the ground with an oof as Nate pins his skinny shoulders to the ground with knees.
             “Tickle torture!”
             “No! No! No!”
             Nate pokes Philip’s chest with his index fingers, over and over, until Philip is tearing, leaking uncontrollable laughter.
             “Stop!” Philip moans. “I can’t breathe.” But Nate continues his conquest.
             “Paul, do something.” Up until this point, Paul has been an innocent bystander. Now he has to choose between helping helpless Philip and joining Nate’s tormenting. “What am I supposed to do?”
             “Knock him off,” Philip pleads. Paul stands his ground.
             “Nathan!” calls Mr. Smith, his father. “What are you doing?”
             Nate takes one look at his father and sighs, releasing his prey. “Nothing.”

Every summer Nate’s family heads up to their cabin on Galiano Island. Each of the Smith children is allowed to bring a friend. Jon, the eldest, has chosen Philip’s older brother James. They spend most of their days golfing or playing Jon’s brand new Super NES, which Nate and his friends can only watch with envy—Jon won’t let them play, or at least not very often.
             Amanda, Nate’s little sister, has brought along her best friend, also named Amanda. Baffled by the boys, the Amandas spend most of their time avoiding them, while staying close to the parents’ protection in the yard.
             And Nate, who can never decide, has been granted his request to bring along his two best friends: Philip and Paul. The three are inseparable, and use their number to its full advantage. The Three Musketeers, as they’ve dubbed themselves, terrorize the Amandas with ease, stealing their candy, pushing them into the ocean, and interrupting their game of “playing house” whenever possible. Their trio also gives them better odds at standing up to Jon and James, but their size still puts them at a considerable disadvantage. Though the Musketeers would never admit it, the older brothers are the Kings of the island kingdom, the undisputed authority, even over their parents, who manage to go unnoticed by the children until one of them is hungry.
             The Musketeers plan their first coup at Morning Beach. The Kings are spending the afternoon golfing, but will join the family for a BBQ dinner on the beach. This gives the Musketeers hours to prepare.
             Nate, their self-appointed leader, has a flawless plan. Taking hold of his scepter, a knotty piece of driftwood, Nate sketches out a blueprint in the sand. “Here’s what we’re going to do. Philip, you’ll be our lookout. You’ve gotta hide near the path”—Nate draws an X near the squiggly line of the path—“and use a bird call when you see them coming.”
             “A bird call?”
             “Like what?”
             “You know, like cuckaw! or doo-wop!


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