Fog on the golf course hugged the ground carrying gloom within its billowing movement. Stillness in the night air was seasoned with the secret language of night birds and the dying chirps of the last crickets to survive this late in the New England Autumn.
The chill numbed Connor’s nose and cheeks as he squatted next to the chain link fence, he asked the question even though he knew the answer, “We really don’t have to do this if you don’t want to," he whispered over his shoulder with eyes trying to break the opaqueness of fog which had settled between the teens and their goal.
She stared at the back of his hooded head raising her right eyebrow in an arch so severe it resembled two thirds of a triangle, “If you want to chicken out, you have your own flashlight and I am pretty sure you know the way to your house."
Ego snapped his head around quickly, “No, uh, I was saying it for, like if you were scare…” He bit off the last word too late.
Madison’s breath rose in quick condensed clouds, as she locked directly onto his eyes, “Connor Adam," each syllable of his name was pronounced with sharpness of an angry mom. “If you are done worrying about me, put you scrawny behind under that fence right now, it’s getting late."
Wordlessly and with ease Connor slid from a squat to supine with his head poised at the base of the fence. The hood of his sweatshirt immediately began to sieve moisture from the bed of wet leaves he was laying on.
He continued as he inched in to the natural rut underneath the fence where rain water created tight passage to the golf course for anyone small enough to fit. He assessed his position and began to shimmy his shoulders under the fence, heels digging in with knees kept low, elbows adding extra propulsion as he slowly moved to his belt line. With one more push he…
“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, I ripped my hoodie, he is going to kill me!" His face was drawn in genuine fear, not for the midnight hour, or the little escapade they were on, but for the tear in the front pocket of the hoodie. “Maddie what am I going to do, you know how he is," tears rose in his eyes against his will, but the dread he was now partnered with forced the emotion.
“Connor listen to me, you need to calm yourself, if we get caught out here you will be in it for double, the hoodie and now this," Madison raised her hands towards the golf course and then to the moon overhead. Her earlier sarcasm now became best friend understanding, she had seen Connor after Mr. Spoon was done carrying out punishment on his father’s behalf, and she could not imagine the pain that went along with the welts and bruises.
“Con… Connor!” She had a problem keeping his attention, he was in his own world sitting on the ground with his back resting against the other side of the fence, eyes fixed on the 14th green. Madison slid under the fence with a young girl’s grace and rested next to her best friend. “Connor, we can figure out the hoodie, even if you have to come to my house my mom has a sewing kit so we can probably fix it good enough so that your dad won’t even notice. But, we can’t get caught, if we get caught we are done. You know, done-done? And that is without us getting to that dumb tractor."
Connor had calmed a bit from his friend’s logic and caring, he flicked pebbles that were around his hands in the dirt. “You really think you could fix it? I mean it did pull out on the corner by the thread and the tear is inside the hand warmer, not on the outside," he asked with guarded hope in his voice.
Her smile was pure and sincere, “sure, I have sewn things before, it’s not that hard."
Connor found reassurance in his friends eyes, “Ok, then let’s get to the tractor and get done with this so you have time to fix my hoodie, and then we can be done-done, the good kind."
Madison nodded, “Ok, so it’s on the other side of the green over there," she pointed to a copse of trees, an obstacle designed to keep the golfer’s with a slice on their toes. “My dad said it is yellow with lots of rust, we should be able to find it with the light from our phones."
“Ok, let’s go," he motioned to get her attention and they began to walk quickly, Madison leading Connor, both of them subconsciously lowering themselves to the ground like secret agents trying to remain unseen. As they edged towards the far side of the 14th green they shone their lights directly in to the woods and an amber flash reflected back their lights signaling the location of their target like visual sonar.
“There it is, come on," she waved him forward.
They halved their pace as they entered the woods; the tractor’s rectangular shape was slowly being defined by their phone’s lights. The tractor shown in a night tinted yellow, with the chromed word TORO riveted to the side of the ancient machine’s cowl.
Together they ran the rest of the distance with a trot-hop to keep from tripping on the undergrowth, arriving to the tractor at the same time. Madison jumped on the side board and came down hard on the rusted seat, “Shotty! Now get up here and let’s get the pic and get out," her breathing a bit faster than normal due to the final run.
Connor followed her path on to the tractor, landing on her lap with a laugh. “Your knees are so boney," he wriggled around to get comfortable and to get in to position for the picture.
“Your butt isn’t much better," she gasped out a laugh fighting his weight.
“Ok, come on, Say cheese whiz," Connor whispered, adjusting the camera so it was framed straight down to get both of them and the tractor. The picture’s timestamp would prove the shot was taken after midnight.
Madison mouthed the words silently with a bright smile that belied the stress of the evening. The phone rang with a trill tone meant to mimic phones of yesterday. It startled them both; Madison let out an abrupt scream as Connor dropped the phone. When he picked it up from the tractor’s floorboard and turned it over to see who was calling the screen was filled with the picture of a dark wooden kitchen spoon with a hand drawn face in black sharpie. It was the angry Mr. Spoon, his sharpied face had one eye and an eye patch, a bent L for a nose, and a frown you might see on a banshee or some other lost soul. It was simple and at the same time horrifying for Connor to look at as he knew when he got home this would be his judge, jury and executioner.