by Shelly Gonzalez
It was a dull Sunday, on a particularly muggy August morning—too sticky out to play catch in the yard, but too hot to even lay out at the beach—and Keith Williams was slumped on the couch staring at a blank TV screen. The good cartoons were over hours ago and he had already watched re-runs; now only the sappy Lifetime movies that always left Keith’s mom and older sister reaching for the tissue box were playing. There were only two weeks of summer left and Keith, stuck to the sweaty leather couch, was wasting it.
“I’m bored,” he moaned to no one in particular. Mom was out food shopping, Dad at work, and who knows where Brooke was—even though she was suppose to be watching Keith. He ripped his skin off the clammy couch and flopped his body down so he was now lying on the couch, half falling over the edge. Keith stared at the shaggy grey carpet and wished for something fun to happen. Twenty minutes passed. Since it didn’t seem like magic was going to strike anytime soon, Keith finally decided it was time to drag his sweaty body off the couch and create his own fun.
Keith grabbed his sunglasses off of the coffee table and ran out the front door, slamming it behind him. He hopped the side fence and landed in the Callahan’s yard, all springy and obnoxiously green, and home to Kaleigh Callahan, prettiest girl in the ninth grade. As he ran to the back of the yard, he peered up into the second floor balcony—Kaleigh’s room. Her curtains were closed—probably still catching that beauty sleep. Even if she was awake, it didn’t matter anyway. Kaleigh is too cool, too popular, and a high schooler—she wouldn’t be caught dead hanging out with Keith, even though they’ve grown up together and once even shared the same playpen.
As Keith jumped the fence at the end of the Callahan’s very large yard, his sneaker got stuck, causing him to fly right out of his shoe! He landed with an audible thud in Jake Glass’s yard, spraying mulch all over the hydrangea bushes and digging up a considerable amount of dirt with the flailing of arms and legs. Suddenly, Keith’s arm wacked something hard in the now exposed ground. Keith laid in the dirt for a few minutes, rubbing his arm and catching his breath.
“Keith? Keith! Whoa dude that was so awesome! You were like airborne!” Jake, Keith’s best friend since pre-k, shouted as he ran out the sliding glass door. He tripped twice on his way over to Keith’s side, knocking his glasses off and just barely missing stomping on them. Jake was clumsy and his glasses were too big for his face, so he was constantly pushing them farther up on his nose. When Jake finally skidded to a stop, Keith was just sitting up, shaking the dirt out of his shaggy hair.
“Hey man. Wow did you see that? Hey, grab my shoe would you?”
“Didn’t you hear me screaming? Dude, that was so awesome!” Jake stood up and loped to the fence, reaching up to yank Keith’s sneaker out. It was really wedged in there, so it took a couple of good tugs. Finally the shoe flung free and wacked Jake in the face, knocking his glasses off again.
“No worries,” Jake said as he rearranged his glasses on his nose for the hundredth time. “Hey, what’s that?”
“That,” Jake pointed to a small hole where an empty Coke bottle was half covered in dirt. Keith followed Jake’s finger to the bottle. He brushed the dirt away until he could pull the bottle free.
“This must have been what I hit when I flew over the fence,” Keith turned his arm to show Jake his dirty, red scuffed up elbow. He started to rub the dirt away on the bottle, “Hey Jake, there’s something in it!”
“No way! Let me see! Open it!”
“Okay, okay. Hold on, it’s stuck. Must have been there a while.” Keith struggle with the cap, until finally Pop! The mystery bottle was open. Keith tried to wedge his fingers into the bottle to grab whatever was there out, but they were too short. He flipped it upside-down and shook it a couple times. A yellowed piece of paper dropped out.
“Cool…looks really old,” Jake mused, bending down closer to Keith to get a better look. The boys uncrumpled the paper, smoothing it out on the grass. “Oh man! You know what this is? It’s like a map of our town, look that’s Hampton Middle School. Oh, and that’s the pizza place downtown. Oh and over there, that’s the playground with the crazy fast swings. This is pretty cool, what’s all the scribbles say?” Jake leaned in closer, pushing his glasses up.
“I think…I think it’s a map,” Keith stated.
“Dude. I just said that.”
“No, no. I know. I mean, I think…I think it’s like a treasure map! Or like a scavenger hunt!”
“A treasure map! O man! Really! Wow, this is like the coolest!” Jake jumped up in the air, “I can’t believe this was here the whole time!”
All Keith wanted was something fun to do today, now he found the ultimate summer mystery. “Let’s do it!”