Josh and... Who?
Part I)
A short story about one of Danny's slightly older brothers.
written by S. Rodgers

Setting: It is a clear, summer day as Danny, Josh, and Ben walk to the old school house. Danny wear's plain overallís with no shirt, Josh wear's holey jeans and a plaid flannel under a white t-shirt, and Ben wear's overall's and a white t-shirt.  They are accompanied by two girls, Salli Bunny and Danny's younger sister Vally, who just entered the 6th grade.  She wears a thin, pink dress with white-rimmed sleeves.  Danny, being in high school, was still very enthusiastic about his future plans of going to Hollywood.  Ben tries to ignore him, and Josh just thinks he's got too big of ideas for a normal farm cat.  Salli enjoys Danny's enthusiasm, and Vally wants to follow in his footsteps, literally!

Danny: (dancing around) Just four more years 'till I'm outta here!

Ben: I wouldn't count on it; you donít got nearly enough money to go all the way to Hollywood.

Danny: Oh, I'll get it, Ben. I'll get it.

Vally: Six more years and I can come with you!

Danny ruffles her hair playfully.

Danny: That's right, then we can be a do-ett!

Vally giggles.  For a girl of 13, Vally is still giddy, playful, and imaginative, and at the same time, knows when to be serious.

Salli: I wonder what I'll be doin' three years from now.

Josh: that's the way'ta think.  No one 'knows' what they'll be doin' in the future.  The only thing anyone can know fur sure is what's happinin right now.

Salli: Oh, that's not what I meant. I plan on marry'in when I'm at least 18 and...

Josh: Now what if you donít find someone by then, huh?

Salli: Oh, I think I'll find someone soon enough. Salli grins and links arms with Danny, who blushes nervously.

Danny: (voice breaking nervously) Uh...well, there's no hurt in...uh...a-a little imagine-nation...uh..heh heh. Ben stares at the two for a moment.

Ben: Yeah...right (turns at the sound of the school bell) We'd better get inside...

Inside the schoolhouse, animals of all school ages up to 18 are scrambling to their seats. Josh setís alone at the back, Salli slideís onto a bench next to Danny, and Vally sits next to Ben in the front.  Miss Calhoon stands in front of the chalkboard waiting for the class to settle, and then she notices something.

Miss Calhoon: Um, you can come on in, Billy.

A few head's turn to see a tannish, cream colored kitten with blue eye's, standing shyly in the doorway, his hand's in the pocket's of his overall's and his foot sliding nervously back and fourth on front of him. He edged is way in a little bit, then another cat appeared at the door behind him, taking his hand.

Other cat: Come on, Billy. No one's gonna bite you.

Miss Calhoon: Welcome! Class, I'd like you to meet two new students.  Billy and Cora Kitten.

It was plain to see that Cora was related to this kitten.  She had the same color of fur, and the same thin, little tail, much like Danny's.  She had brown eye's, and she wore overall's over a light blue t-shirt, which was much different from the other girl's, who wore skirt's. And she was thin and good-looking, as some people said about Danny.  Oddly enough, Josh was entranced by her!

Miss Calhoon: Billy, you can sit up here in front by Alex...She gestures toward a small grey cat about his age.

Miss Calhoon: And Cora, you can sit with Joshua.  She point's to Josh, and Cora walks over and sits down beside him.  He smiles as she sits.  This was going to be a great day, he thought.

After school: Everyone is walking along the dirt road at different paces. Danny was holding onto Vally's hand with one hand, and holding onto his book's with the other, trying to avoid the chance of Salli reaching for his hand.  It wasn't that Danny didn't like Salli, it was just that he didn't 'like her' like her!  Cora walked along side of Josh as they talked.

Josh: So, whare' ya from?

Cora: Wethersfield, it's neighboring Kokomo.  My pa got a job out here at an orchard next door to us and-

Josh: An orchard?

Cora: Yeah, why?

Josh: That's my place!  Your pa works for a Jonathan Cat?

Cora: Well, I'm not sure about the first name, but I know he said somethin' about workin' for a Mr. Cat.

Josh: Yep, that's my place alright.

Cora: Really?!

Josh: Yeah!

Cora: I guess that mean's we're neighborís.  Gosh, the first day of school and I already meet someone great!  Josh smiles, blushing a light red.  Then he perks up.

Josh: Say, you wanna go down to the river with me tomorrow?

Cora: There's a river here?

Josh: Yeah, it run's through the flower mill at the edge of town.

Cora: Wow, I'd love to. They have now reached Cora's property, just next to Josh's.

Josh: Well, I guess I'll see ya later.

Cora: Ok, bye Josh.

 Josh stand's on the road and watches until she if halfway up the walk, then he sighs, turning and walking toward his house.

Josh: Come on!

Josh grabs Cora's hand and they race off along the riverside, trying not to laugh, which would give away their position.  Danny is leaning up against a tree, his arm in front of his eyes.

Danny: (shouting) 48...49...50! He run's from the tree in the direction of the river, having heard them go that way.  He reaches the riverside and looks around, no sight of them.

Danny: (to himself) They've got to be here somewhere-aha!

Danny spies half of an orange tail with a white tip sticking out from behind a tree.  He run's over to the tree and grabs the tail.  To his surprise, it's not a tail!  It's actually a thin, orange, little sock, with a white piece of cloth stapled to the end!  He looks at the sock a moment before tossing it onto the ground.

Danny: Hah hah.  Very funny, you guy's.

Josh and Cora are laying, a little tightly, on their stomachs inside a large hollow log, which extends across the river from one side to the other.  They are trying to hold in laughter, hearing and knowing that Danny has found the sock.

Cora: (barely a whisper) Are you sure he wont find us here?

Josh: (also barely a whisper) No way, I used to hide here when we were kids, and he never found me.

Cora: This is fun.  I never did this when I was little.

Josh: How come?

Cora: There weren't many kids my age where I lived.  There was one girl, but she always teased me about my ugly brown eyes and thin, little tail.

Josh: Ugly brown eyes!?

Cora: Shhh.

Josh: (quieter) How can anyone say your eyes are ugly?  Why, you've got the prettiest eye's I ever saw!

Cora is silent for a moment.

Cora: You really think their pretty?

Josh: Have I ever lied to you?

Cora: Iíve only known you for a day.

Josh: Cora, I think your eyes are beautiful.

Cora blushes.

Cora: Thanks.

Josh: And who care's about your tail.  It's just like mine, therefore, it's gotta be the most perfect tail!

He grinned, and Cora giggled a little.

Danny, who is sitting on top of the log, pops his head down.

Danny: Found ya!

They both scream, shocked and surprised.  Danny laughs.

Danny: (still laughing) So this is where you always hide.

Josh: Darn, now I have to find a new hiding place.

Danny helps Josh squeeze out of the log, then he goes to help Cora.

Danny: OK, now you search, Josh.

Danny had suggested that he and Cora split up, so it would be even harder for Danny to find them. Cora had lost sight of Danny after she found a good hiding place on the other side of the river, behind a tree.  Josh came into view through the leaves, and Cora grinned.

Josh: I can see you, Cora!

Cora came out of hiding, hands raised.

Cora: I surrender, great hunter!

Josh laughs.

Josh: I come in peace! Take me to your leader!

Now Cora laughs.

Cora: Where is your accomplice?

Josh: Well in hiding, I have observed.

Cora: You had better seek him out!

Josh: (regular voice) You know where he is?

Cora: (also regular voice) No, even if I did, I couldn't tell you, it would be unfair to Danny.

Josh: Well, if I'm right, he's probably up in a tree.

Cora: You probably ARE right.

Cora steps onto a thin log that extends from one side of the river to the other, beginning to cross.  The water is moving faster and fiercer at this part of the river.

Josh: Cora wait!  It's not safe!

Cora: But this is the way I ca-

The log then cracks slightly beneath her and she almost loses her balance! Josh gasps.

Josh: Donít move!

Cora: (trembling slightly) Kay.

Josh moves as close to the log a possible without getting on.  He extends his hand.

Josh: Grab onto my hand.

Cora: I-I cant...

Cora is frozen.

Josh: Yes you can, just reach up and grab it.

Cora: I...I'll fall.

Josh: Cora, give me your hand. I'll help you-

The log snap's under her feet and she screams!

Josh: CORA!

Cora hit's the water, going completely under!

Danny, who is further down stream, fall's to the ground out of a tree and leap's to his feet.

Josh: (running along the river toward Danny) She's in the water!

Danny rushes to the river edge just as Cora's head pops out of the water, but only long enough to cry...

Cora: JOSH-

She goes back under!  Danny run's along the river ahead of Josh.  They pass Cora and rush out onto a log.  Josh reaches into the water and catches Cora just before she passes the log.  She grippes his hand, gasping for air.  Danny rushes up and grabs onto Coras other hand and they pull her out of the water.

As soon as they are back on shore, Josh pulls off his flannel and wraps it over her shoulder's.

Danny: What happened?

Cora: (shivering) T-the log b-broke.

Josh: She was trying to cross the river over that old, dead, log back there and fell in when it broke.

Danny: I told you we should've taken that down last spring.

Pause. Cora looks from Danny to Josh.

Cora: Let's go home.

Josh: OK.

Josh puts his arm around Cora and they start back home.



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