Cobys short dilemma, p.1
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       Coby's Short Dilemma, p.1

           R.H. Proenza
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Coby's Short Dilemma
COBY'S SHORT DILEMMA

  By R.H. Proenza

  * * * * *

  PUBLISHED BY:

  Coby’s Short Dilemma

  Copyright © 2013 by R.H. Proenza

  Revised 09/24/2016

  *****

  This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.

  Your support and respect for the property of this author are appreciated.

  Many thanks go to those who have encouraged me to write.

  I hope you the reader enjoy the story and perhaps become one of its characters, if for only a short while.

  * * * * *

  Coby’s Short Dilemma

  * * * * *

   

  “Rats!” said Coby Johnson. He turned his back to the sun and looked down at his shadow on the ground. Coby grit his teeth. Eleven years old and pretty smart, but this was as tall a shadow as he could cast on the ground. His parents told him not to worry; he was due a growth spurt soon but right now he was a shrimp. Yeah, sure…a spurt…sounded like he was going to turn into a sprinkler or something.

  He raised both fists in the air and yelled at the top of his lungs, “WHERE IS PUBERTY WHEN YOU NEED IT!” A man wearing green City Water Department coveralls at a neighbor’s yard came to a startled halt. The meter reader man looked nervously at him before walking away. Coby gave him a small embarrassed grin as he lowered his arms and grabbed his bike.

  “What?” A few feet away Coby’s best friend Hank Elroy was playing with a large

  grasshopper he found jumping around. “What did you say?”

  “Aw, nothing, Hank. I was, um, just thinking out loud and got carried away.” Coby’s eyes followed the man who kept looking over his shoulder before disappearing behind a house. “Hank, did you see that weird guy across the street?”

  “What weird guy?” He raised his head from the bug. “I didn’t see anybody.”

  “Well, anyway, let’s go fishing or something,” said Coby. “There’s lots of daylight left.”

  “Yeah, that sounds cool. Let’s go.” Hank shot up from where he was squatting. “But can I borrow a fishing pole from you? I don’t feel like going all the way home for mine. And some of your worms too, while you’re at it.”

  “Aw, you’re always mooching,” remarked Coby.

  “Hey, that’s because you’re my best friend, remember?”

  “Oh, yeah, that’s right … best friend,” said Coby rolling his eyes. They peddled their bikes side by side for a block before turning into the Johnson’s driveway.  They almost ran into a police car that parked there. The officer was just leaving as the boys excitedly ran up to Coby’s dad to find out what happened.

  Mr. Johnson told them someone had broken into their cellar workshop. They had stolen some power tools along with Coby’s red shortwave radio. It was a cool one with all sorts of stickers on it that his grandpa had given him. Bummer for Coby. The police had informed Mr. Johnson of a rash of burglaries in the area. He warned them to keep a lookout for anyone acting suspiciously and report it at once.

  Pushing aside the burglary, the boys hurried to the shed.  There they got the fishing gear and the worms his dad had bought the day before. “Gosh, we have a real live criminal loose around here,” declared Hank.

  “Yeah, that’s a scary thought, isn’t it?” said Coby.

  “Naw, that doesn’t scare me,” boasted Hank. “It’s just because you’re so short that it scares you.” Hank missed Coby’s dirty look. “Me? I’d punch him in the stomach before he knew what hit him, then stomp on his head for good measure, and then…”

  “Let’s get going before you bore the worms to death with all that bragging.” He grabbed his worms, small tackle box, and rod. “There’s the extra rod you can use over there in the corner. I’ve got enough hooks and floats in my tackle box for both of us. C’mon, let’s go.” Fishing gear in hand, they took off from the driveway on their bikes. They peddled to the next block when Coby came to a screeching halt.

  "What’s the matter, did you forget something?” remarked Hank stopping next to him.

  “Look, Hank.  There’s that guy again, you know, that meter reader guy.” The man was walking from one backyard to another, still with an anxious look on his face. “That guy is acting funny, you know, suspicious, like the cop said.”

  “Aw, you’re just being suspicious of everybody ‘cause of what the cop said,” Hank remarked.

  “Hey, let’s follow him to see what he’s up to,” said Coby. They spotted the man darting to yet another house’s back yard.

  “Well, I guess he is acting a little funny,” said Hank. “I guess it could be fun, and if we catch him doing something bad, we’ll call the cops and be heroes.” The boys parked their bikes at a tree and stashed their rods and gear hidden in a bush next to it. They ran to the side of a house to where they had last seen the man. Peeking around the corner they spotted him at the next house, trying the doorknob of the back door. The boys looked at each other and knew they were on to something.  It looked like the man was up to no good!

  The man tried another house when the door swung open. This back door had a little dog door flap at the bottom. He rattled the door to see if a dog would show up. When none did, he went in. “Hey, that guy just broke into somebody’s house!” Hank whispered. “C’mon let’s go peek.”

  “No,” said Coby. “We don’t wanna get caught by him. He could be dangerous.”

  “But we gotta catch him in the act so we can tell the cops, and then we’ll be heroes, remember?”

  “No!” repeated Coby.

  “Well, I’m going to go peek through the doggy door. It’s too small for me to get in but at least I can look inside if I push it open a little.” Hank rushed off toward the door. Coby hesitated.  Then against his better judgment snuck behind, ending up at the side corner of the house.  Now he was looking on from a safe distance.

  Hank got to the back door and looked side to side making sure no one else was watching.

  Suddenly the door swung open and the man came out, almost running into Hank.

  “Wha…Hey, who are y…have you been following me?” he said in a gruff voice. Hank froze with shock, his mouth gaping open, jaw flapping up and down, and eyes wide as saucers.

  “Get in here you nosey kid.” The man looked around to make sure there were no witnesses. He forcibly grabbed Hank by the arm, and roughly pulled him into the house. "You dumb kid.  Why don't you mind your own business!" he said in a gruff voice. The man dragged Hank deep into the empty house.

  Coby's heart was racing but he stayed hidden trying to decide what to do next. Hank was crazy to have gone to the back door. He had not listened to reason. He heard the man’s harsh voice coming from a cracked window at the side of the house. Creeping towards it, he could see the man pushing Hank into the same bedroom where Coby was listening. He had tied up the boy’s hands behind his back with a lamp cord and then put a piece of duct tape across his mouth. “Shut up and stay put, you snotty kid, and maybe you won’t get hurt. If you try to get away or try to scream," the man came to an inch of Hank’s face, "and I will have to teach you a lesson!”

  The man whipped out a knife from his pocket. Hank squealed in fear behind the tape across his mouth. He chuckled maliciously. “I’ll be gone and out of town in an hour anyway.” He walked out of the room and in the direction of the front of the house and away from Hank. The door closed behind him as he rushed out.

  Coby pondered the situation; he had an idea. Now that the man was farther away from the back door he went over to it.  He took a deep breath and opened the dog flap to check
that the man was not anywhere nearby. Carefully he pushed himself through the little door. This was the only time he had been glad of his small size that made it possible for him to get in. Being extra quiet he got off the floor and crept toward the room he knew his friend was being held.

  Hank jolted upright from his sitting position on seeing Coby. He tried to garble through his taped mouth. Coby frantically gestured at his friend to be quiet as he approached.

  Untying the cord from Hank’s wrists was a little tricky but he finally succeeded. Again Coby shushed his friend into silence. He was tempted to leave the tape across Hank’s mouth but decided against it. Coby crept toward the cracked window. He lifted it up enough for both of them to get through and down to the ground. The man was so busy rifling through drawers that he had forgotten to check on his captive.

  “Hurry, we gotta get out of here and get some help,” whispered Coby. Hank was still half dazed with shock but was able to move. They ran around the side of the first house before going toward the street. It took running a full block before they lucked onto a police car patrolling the neighborhood. They flagged it down.  After some babbling and confusing explanations, the officer finally understood the boys.  He used his police radio to call for back-up.

  Meanwhile, the man inside the house was finding all sorts of valuable items.  He dropped them into a pillowcase sack he had snatched from a bedroom.  By now he had gotten a small laptop computer, several watches, rings, bracelets, and cash.  He knew time was running out for him and had to hurry and finish this job. He hated to leave this house because of all the goodies he kept finding. But still, time was growing short. He was already planning to go to the next small town down the road and hit it before leaving the area altogether. Reluctantly he headed toward the back door again carrying his heavy stash of stolen items.

  The man cracked the door to check for anyone around before swinging it open. The sound of a car tire screeching to a halt at the front of the house made him quicken his exit. As he took two paces outside the door he heard someone’s voice yell out “STOP RIGHT THERE. PUT YOUR HANDS UP. NOW!”

  The police officer was aiming his gun at the burglar from the corner of the house. The man hesitated before a second officer appeared around the house’s other corner gun in hand. He dropped the bag of stash and his arms flew up. “D-don’t shoot! I give up!”

  As the officers handcuffed the burglar he caught site of two little heads peeking around the side of the next door house.  Now he realized who had called the cops on him. The surprised owner of the house had just come back home from walking his dog.  A third officer had arrived and was explaining to him what had just happened at his house.

  The boys raced their bikes back to Coby’s house.  Mr. Johnson was doing yard work in the front when the two boys came crashing in to land in the yard.  They start rattling their story, both at the same time. After a few minutes of looking from one to the other, he had to stop them.

  In time he was able to get the whole story from them. Just then a police car stopped in front of the house. It was the same one that had spoken earlier to Mr. Johnson.  The officer told him all the details of the burglary. Indeed, the two boys were responsible for them having caught the neighborhood thief.  Thanks to Coby’s smaller size he was able to crawl in through that dog door and rescue his friend and contact the authorities.  They also found several power tools in the man's van parked nearby along with an interesting looking red shortwave radio.

  Later, Mr. Johnson approached the boys to talk to them. “Boys, this sure has been an exciting day for you two.  And since you guys are now HEROES how about if we celebrate. I’ll take you down to the Dairy Queen and treat you to the biggest ice cream sundaes you can get.”

  Hank’s eyes got big. “You mean with chocolate sauce and sprinkles and nuts on top?”

  “Yes…the works, however you want them.” Coby was grinning all the way to the ice cream store.  He didn't feel short any more.  He remembered his parents once telling him that  'good things sometimes come in small packages!'  Actually, he was feeling pretty big today.   And now he was looking forward to Monday and seeing his friends.  He had a really really cool story to tell…and he could hardly wait!

  * * ~~ * *

  The End

 

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