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

That Saturday morning, around about nine or ten o'clock, and after all the morning chores were done, Danny lay back down on his bed with his hands folded neatly behind his head and his leg's lying uselessly across the bed. 

He stared up at the ceiling, his mind apparently gone for the moment. He had been thinking about the past week, how Cora had seemed to jump into their lives out of nowhere and........and...............

Danny: (muttering to himself) Oh, for cryin' out loud, stop doing this to yourself!

He tossed his leg's over the side of his bed and rolled over, landing in an almost perfect standing position on the hard, wooden floor of his bedroom. 

He had been thinking the same insane thing since a couple day's ago at school.......

Teenager: C'mon, Nick! Send it home!!

A young white rabbit, with dusty brown overall's and no shirt, stood at home plate in the schoolyard, after school was out.   In his hand was a good sized stick he held in position as a bat.  A young, fox named Jason was crouched behind him, catchers mitt ready.  He wore a pair of faded blue jeans and a no-sleeved T-shirt, as well as a little brown hat.  The bases were loaded with various children, including Billy Kitten, Cora's brother, who had managed to make a few friends here and there.  He stood at First Base, with Josh at Second, and a young sheep in overall's named Tommy at Third. 

Danny, Cora, a young, white with gray stripe's cat named Matthew, who wore a pair of nice, clean jeans and a blue, button up T-shirt tucked neatly into his pants and a worn little belt, and a brown puppy in jeans and a white T-shirt named Andy, were all in the outfield.

Guarding the bases were other various children and teenagers, leaving Cora as the only girl playing baseball.  Ben was pitching.

Matthew: (cheering) Hey, batta' batta' batta' batta', sa-wing, batta'!!!

Ben hurled the ball toward home plate, and Nick swung the bat out hard, missing by a good two or three inches.  Some people laughed at him, others groaned.  Jason stood and tossed the ball back to Ben, who caught it.

Teenager from bench: Ya gotta HIT the ball, Sanders!

Cora: Hey, leave 'im alone!

Nick looked hurt by the comment as he got his bat ready again, but said nothing.

Jason: (crouching down) Don't let him bug ya, Nick.

Nick didn't answer, only gave his full attention to the ball.  Ben threw it again, and Nick swung.  This time there is a loud CRACK and the ball sailed off into left field, they were indeed playing in a very large field outside the school house.  Danny and Cora both went running for the ball, with Matthew and Andy trailing behind them, ready to catch at the first throw.

Danny: I got it! I got it!

Cora: No, I got it!!


As what usually happens when two people are running for the same ball, Danny and Cora ran into each other and landed in a heap on the ground, of course, right after Danny caught the ball.

Andy: Toss it here! Toss it here!!

Unable to get up at the moment, considering the Cora was practically on top of him, Danny simply hurled the ball in Andy's general direction.   Andy caught it and threw it to the kid at Second.

Danny: (trying to get up) Are you OK?

Cora: (also trying to get up) Yeah, I think so...

Matthew: (running up to them) Hey, are you guy's alright?

Danny: Yeah.  Geez, that was a pretty hard fall, (to Cora) You sure you're OK?

Cora: Yeah, I'm fine.

Matthew: (extending hand) Here, lemme help you.

Cora takes his offered hand, and he helps her to her feet.  She smiles at him.

Cora: Thanks.

Matthew: (smiling shyly) Sure thing.

Danny suddenly gets a strange feeling in the pit of his stomach, but he ignores it and walk's back with Cora and Matthew, because that had lost the game and it was over anyway......

Danny knelt down in front of the window and folded his arm's over the windowsill, letting his head rest on top of them as he gazed out the window, un-intentionally, at the neighbors house. He knew not long after what that feeling had been, only he hadn't really admitted it to himself until later that night after the game.

He had been jealous, pure and simple.  But why?  Why had he been jealous?

Matthew only offered to help her up, and besides, Danny knew how much Josh liked her already.  Never had it occurred to Danny that he could actually end up liking Cora until now, then again, he knew he always liked her.  She was fun, not like the other girls at all, and a good friend to be around.  He had liked her like a friend since the day he met her, but now this.

If Josh knew, it would probably kill him, because he really liked Cora a lot, and he knew that Danny knew that.  He trusted Danny enough to tell him all the detail's of his feelings, and Danny was the only one he talked to about this sort of thing.  Danny had guessed after some time that Josh didn't go to Ben because Ben was older then him by a good four years. And he certainly didn't go to Breezy because she was at least seven or eight years under him. 

Danny, on the other hand, was barely a year under him, and they got along so well that sometimes it seemed Danny was older then Josh.

If Danny did anything to betray Josh's trust, it would ruin Danny, and Josh, and probably Cora as well.  Danny had never in his life been in such a situation as this, sure he had liked girls before.....

OK, two, which included Salli in the first grade......

But this was completely different, this girl was completely different, this girl was.....was just.....

Nothing he'd expected he'd "like" like in a girl!  It was so ironic to the thing's he saw in girls, and this girl already had two guy's who liked her, maybe.  Danny knew fully about Josh, but Matthew, on the other hand, he had no clue about.  During school, he had made it quite clear in certain ways that he liked Cora, but then again, they could have just been friendly gestures.  Danny wasn't very good with that sort of judgment.

The question now was, what was he going to do?  If he acted on his feeling, maybe Cora would like him back, but then it would brake Josh's heart, not to mention Matthew's.  In honesty, Danny had been good friends with Matthew ever since the third grade when Matthew moved to Kokomo.  They just hadn't strengthened their friendship to the point of sharing feelings about girls with each other.

Oh, if only I had built our friendship, he would probably tell me how he felt, Danny thought.

Just then, Danny jumped at the sound of someone knocking on the door.

Mom: Daniel? Are you ready to go, sweetheart?

Danny: Yeah, I'm comin'.

He got up and headed for the door, determined that he wouldn't tell anybody about the way he felt for Cora.  He couldn't, and he knew it.  That was just the way it had to be.

He had no other choice.

Later at the Town Fair, Danny never let on that anything was wrong.  He, Josh, Cora, and Matthew got along as they always had.  Not much happened during that afternoon.  There was the hay ride, and Josh had said there would be, and games of all sorts.

Later that evening, as the sun was setting and people were calming down and growing tired from the days event's, Jonathan Cat and Jason's father, Roy, were getting the bonfire started out in the prairie.  They already had hay bails set up in a circle around the fire for people to sit, and slowly, people gathered around the fire, just talking and having a good time.

Danny sat on a hay bail facing outward, away from the fire, alone. He wanted to give Josh all the space he might need, in case he was planning to admit his feelings to Cora that night. Danny would do anything for his brother, and he didn't worry much about Matthew anymore, who didn't really seem as interested in Cora as he had in the past.

Maybe that's just me wishin', Danny thought, staring out into the seemingly endless field of fresh grass, ready to be plowed for hay.

After a moment, Danny lay back on the hay bail, his lazy cat instinct's taking control.  He arched his legs up and folded his hand's behind his head, gazing up at the sky as stars slowly began to dot the sky.  The sun had long since disappeared.

Just then, Danny felt a thump near his head.  Startled, he arched his head back to see what it was.  But is wasn't a what, it was a who.

Cora: Hi!

Danny: Oh, hi Cora.  Whatcha doing'?

Danny tried his best to act casual, where the heck was Josh?

Cora: I came over to watch the bonfire, what are you doin' over here all by yourself?

Danny: Aaa, just thinkin'.  Where's Josh?

Cora: Out house.

Danny: Oh.

There was a long stretch of silence then, and Danny shifted slightly so that he could continue staring up at the sky, which was now thick with stars.  He didn't want to get into a conversation and say anything he didn't want to say.

Voice: Hey, guy's.

Danny crooked his head around to see Matthew sitting on the ground in front of Danny's bail of hay.

Cora: Hi, Matthew.

Danny: What's up?

Matthew: Nothin' much.  I saw you guy's sittin' awfully quiet over here, and thought I'd see if anything was wrong.

Danny: Nope.

Matthew: That's good.  How long you guy's stayin'?

Cora: Not long, my dad says he wants to be up in time for service tomorrow.

Danny: Yeah, my mom like's us to go, too.

Just then, Josh walked up.

Josh: What are you guys doin'?

Cora: Oh, hi Josh.  Nothin' much.  Just talkin'.

Josh: Mind if I join ya?

Cora: Not at all!

Danny quickly sat up to give Josh a place to sit on the hay-bail. Nothing much else happened that night, all they did was talk.

The next morning, most of the town appeared at the Church Service as usual.  The pastor read from the book of Genesis, the story of Cain and Abel.

Figures, Danny had thought.  Liking Cora wasn't THAT big of a crime, was it?  God sure had a funny way of revealing things.

After service, most of the families went home to change out of their Sunday clothes and carry on with their everyday business.  But most families didn't do chores on Sunday with the exception of things that couldn't be ignored, and most of the children had the day to play.

Tommy: Are you sure this thing is safe?

Tommy patted the inner side of the boat, testing how sturdy it was. A small group of older children had met to go to the lake, which was about two miles out of Kokomo.  Cora's father had allowed them to take the old rowboat, which Danny's father had driven there with the truck they used for shipping apples.  And, of course, they had ridden in the back with the boat.

Cora: Of course it's safe, get in.

Tommy: I don't know...

Danny: C'mon.

He and Josh grabbed Tommy by the arms and hauled him into the boat, where Matthew forced him into a seat.  Tommy was one of the younger teenagers, a skeptical sissy at the most, and this particular group didn't hesitate when forcing him to do something they knew he would like in the end.

Tommy: What if it tips?

Matthew: You'll swim.

Tommy didn't say anything more as Josh hopped into the boat, almost followed by Danny.

Cora: Help me, Danny.

Danny turned, seeing that Cora was about to push the boat off the sand bank.  He quickly backed out of the position he had been in, halfway into the boat, and began to push.  Just as the boat drifted into the water, Cora and Danny hopped in, getting onto the bottoms of their pants wet, they weren't wearing shoes.

Josh: And we're off!!

Matthew: Ahoy, Mateys!  Hoist the anchor and raise the main sail!

Matthew raised his arm as if drawing a sword.

Danny: 'Aye, we're headin' into shark infested water now!

Everybody laughed, joining in the act.

Josh: Alright y' scurvy sea dogs! I'm yer cap'n!  And I give the orders around here!

Cora: Nobody gives ME orders, I'M the navigator!  I choose where we go!!

Josh: No, I do. You just show the steerage how to get there.

Danny: Where we off to, then, Cap'n?

Josh: Dead Man's Point!

Cora: North by Northwest!

Cora pretended to have a map and scale and such.

Danny: I claim steerage!

Matthew: Me too!

Tommy: What about me?

Cora: You can be the heir to the captain, in case he dies.

Josh: Thanks for the encouragement.

Danny: Say, who supplies the food around here?  Isn't that the captains job?

Cora: Yeah?!

Josh: You never said anything about food!

Matthew: Mutiny!!

Danny: Mutiny!!

Cora: Make' im walk the plank!!

Josh: Hey!!

Danny and Matthew tackled Josh where he sat, tying his hand's behind his back with the rope that was used for tying the boat.

Josh: Guy's!!

Cora: OK, Tommy, you're the new captain!

Tommy: Alright!

Josh: That's not fair!

Matthew: Nothing's fair when you're a pirate!!

The crazy game continued like this for some time until they decided to call it quits.


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