“This rain sucks, is it ever gonna stop?” Frankie’s head hung low under the hood of his raincoat.
“Yeah, but didn’t your grandfather say this was the best time to fish?” Scrawny Ronnie let out a snicker. Frankie didn’t offer a response. “What’s with you?” Ronnie didn’t really expect him to answer; he already knew his best friend wasn’t pleased with all the rain they’d been getting.
After losing one hook on the bottom of the river and another to the biggest fish in the world, Ronnie’s tackle box was light. Frankie let him have a hook so they could keep fishing till it was almost dinner time. Scrawny stopped at Frankie’s house on the way home just to get out of the rain for a few minutes before trudging the rest of the way.
“Would you like to stay for dinner?” Frankie’s mom asked.
“No, that’s okay Mrs. Dwyer.” Scrawny had had enough of Frankie’s sour puss for one day. “Oh Honey,” she turned her attention to Frankie as he hung up his dripping slicker, “Mr. Geddes called twice. He asked for you to call him back.”
Frankie grumbled something under his breath as he headed for the basement. Surprisingly, Ronnie was on his heels, dropping his raincoat on the floor as he kicked off his muddy boots. “Hey, let’s go to the village in the morning. I gotta get some hooks.”
Frankie didn’t say anything till they got to the bottom. “That’s alright, you go.” He opened the old refrigerator door then closed it quick as if he didn’t like what he saw.
“WHOA!” Scrawny opened it back up then took a step back with the door still in his hand. It was as if he needed the extra distance to be able to take in the entire view. “How many worms do you have in there?”
“None! That’s the problem!” Frankie explained that Mr. Geddes at the bait shop was expecting a lot of business with the upcoming holiday weekend. With all the rain, the man at the golf course wouldn’t let him collect any. He’d already prepared all the containers with fake dirt, worm food and even lids. Now all he needed were the worms. But if it kept raining he didn’t know what he was going to do.
* * *
The rain finally did stop, but it was another day before the golf course guy let Frankie collect his worms. Mom lathered him up with bug spray while Dad put new batteries in his flashlight. Mom made him a thermos of chocolate milk to keep him going then sent him on his way.
When it was getting a little too late, Dad put a new set of batteries in another flashlight then headed out to check on his little boy. As he got to the backside of the course he could see the beam from his son’s dimming light headed in his direction. Instead of jumping the creek, he waited.
“Your mom’s getting worried.”
“Sorry,” Frankie tossed the small backpack with his empty thermos to his dad as he struggled over the creek with his heavy load of worms.
“Looks like you got a bunch tonight,” Dad tried to cheer him up.
“Yeah,” Frankie motioned to his dad to hand back his backpack.
Dad ignored the gesture as he hoisted it over his own shoulder then pointed his flashlight in the direction of home. “Mr. Geddes called again. He sounded surprised that you were collecting worms tonight. He wants you to call in the morning.”
“FRANCIS,” Dad started, then decided not to push.
Back at home Frankie headed straight down the stairs with his catch of night crawlers. Mom called down with instructions for him to get to bed soon and that’s where they were headed.
Dad got up sometime in the middle of the night to take care of some business. That’s when he noticed Frankie’s night light wasn’t on. Downstairs in the kitchen he could just make out the basement light was still on. “FRANCIS,” he yelled a whisper down, “Get to bed.”
* * *
Frankie didn’t call as he was instructed. Instead, when he got out of bed he went straight downstairs to ask his father to drive him to the village. It took several trips from the basement to bring up all the worms. By now, Frankie was looking tired again. He nearly fell asleep on the short ride to the bait shop. But by the time they walked in he was once again all business.
Mr. Geddes set his newspaper down as they walked in, “Frankie, I’ve been trying to get a hold of you all week. Why didn’t you call me back?”
“WHAT?” Dad’s eyes were as big as saucers. “You didn’t return his calls?”
Frankie was puffed up with pride as he set the first of several boxes of worm containers on the counter, “Because I had a job to do.”
Dad set down the one he was carrying.
“There’s two more just like these in the car,” Frankie said.
Now Mr. Geddes’s eyes were as big as they could get. “I tried to call you multiple times this week to tell you not to worry. I knew with all this rain you couldn’t get on the golf course.” Mr. Geddes walked over to the refrigerator where he kept his worms. As the door swung open it showed a small stack of worm containers.
“WHAT?” Now Frankie’s eyes were huge.
“Good thing I was only able to get a handful of worms. Otherwise, I wouldn’t need yours.”
Frankie sat in the passenger seat counting his money as they drove to the bank.
“You’re a lucky kid. If Mr. Geddes had been able to get all the worms he ordered from that other guy, you’d have to eat all yours.”