The Idaho Sting, chapter 2

Okay, this sounds like a whole different book–a technique I haven’t tried before.
Chapter 2.

               Kim could hardly sit in her desk.  The fifth-grade’s annual “Start a Business” assignment and  the new teacher had let them choose their own teams!  None of that careful mixing that Mrs. Snodgrass had done.  Mrs. Bailey had had the class elect five leaders and then had let the leaders take turns picking team members.  That stupid Jeff had every stupid jerk in the class on his team—and Kim had the best and brightest on hers.  All girls, of course.  Girls always ended up doing all the work, so why include any guys?
               Carefully, Kim started writing the notes.  “After school—my place, Kim.”  Anita and Wendy had cell phones, but the teachers took them if they saw them in class.  But paper notes?  Well, this was class business. 

               Kim did text her mother to tell her that Lori, Anita, Wendy and Olivia were coming to the house after school.  Her mother—a landscape architect– was probably off measuring someone’s yard.  Kim was pretty much on her own the first weeks of April—her dad wouldn’t come up for air until all his clients’ taxes were filed April 15, and half the town wanted her mom to help them get started on their yards.  Not that having classmates over was a problem—that was another advantage of having an all-girl team.
               Tonight they would decide on their project.  Once that step was out of the way, they could all get to work.

               “We could babysit,” Anita said, her big brown eyes serious.
               Wendy groaned.  “The last two years the babysitters came in dead last.”
               “Are you sure?  They were always busy,” Anita countered.
               “Yea, my sister’s friend Liz was on last year’s team.  They found out that the year before had started discounts for repeat customers.  They ended up getting nearly nothing after the fourth night’s work.”
               “Well, we won’t give discounts,” Anita suggested.
               “You know, we can’t legally babysit—not until we’re twelve,” said Lori.
               Anita and Kim laughed.  “This is Idaho,” Kim said. 
               “And teams have done it every year,” said Anita.
               Lori laughed too, but added, “But not one with our parents.”
               The girls were quiet then.  They had no doubt their parents had to be the most law-abiding in town.  When you edit the newspaper or run the local hospital or take care of other people’s money, you care about public opinion.
               After a while, Kim said, “Maybe a raffle.”
               “Team three is holding a raffle,” said Lori.
               Everyone nodded.  Lori’s twin brother was on team three.
               Kim brightened, “Yard work.  Mom could let us know who needs stuff planted.”
               “And they’d choose us?” asked Olivia. 
               Silence again.  Kim had tried to run a rototiller; it seemed to have a mind of its own.  She surveyed the girls.  Anita, with the serious eyes and long brown hair, was the smartest kid in the school.  Lori, the tomboy with the pixie cut, would try anything.  Olivia, tall and bony and blond, was practical and funny.  And Wendy, a classic beauty who used makeup already, was the richest girl in town.  How could this group not come up with a killer idea? 
               “We could hold yard sales for people,” said Lori, and all the girls started babbling at once.  Yard sales were something they knew how to do—and something they loved.

The Idaho Sting

This is a comedy.mystery with several fifth graders as characters, but the opening….Well, it is a cop story.  

Chapter 1.

               Even in the dim light, Craig recognized the trio entering the warehouse—tall thin kid, short squat man old enough to be his father,  and the bearded one, all in matching Nitrogen sunglasses.  He and Kip had bought a Springfield 9mm from them not long ago that had no past—never bought, stolen,  or used in a crime.  A gun they could have sold on e-bay or Craig’s list. 

               Well, stranger things had happened.

               Still, Craig hung back, studying the three.  This time the gun was a prize—an assault rifle, an expensive Wilson M-4 with a 100-round clip.  A mounted clip.  Craig reached for Kip, but already his partner was walking forward, a big smile on his face.

               “Wow, that’s something I’d like to own myself.”

               A volley of shots barked harshly as bullets ripped first into the wall and then into Kip. 

               Instinctively, Craig reached out to keep his partner from falling and, then—just as instinctively—held the man up as a shield, feeling the bullets drumming into Kip’s slack body as Craig stumbled his way to shelter behind the counter.

               Then the backup crew entered. 

               In seconds it was over.  The bearded gunman was dead.  His two companions lay face down on the concrete floor. 

               And, behind the counter, Craig helplessly tried to stop the blood seeping from the flesh that moments ago had been his partner.  Somehow knowing that Kip had died in the first seconds, even knowing the man would have willingly died to save Craig’s life, didn’t help.  What kind of coward shields behind his partner? 

               He heard the sirens, shut his eyes, and leaned against the counter.  This would play out as it would play out.  He had to ride it through.  Later, he would think, but not now.              

               They pried Kip’s body from his arms.  Even when aware that he still gripped his partner, Craig was unable to let go; every limb, every muscle, every cell fought to keep the man close.  When the body left, Craig sat back and cried–not manly tearing up, but an unearthly wailing. 

               Craig let them pull him onto his feet, but fought when they pushed him to a gurney.  “I’m not hit,” he said.  “I’m not hit.  I’m not hit.”

               Four men pinned him to the gurney. “It’s not your body we’re worried about,” a voice growled.  “You are F-ing mad.”

               Mad.  Craig chuckled as they strapped him to the gurney.  Mad.  Oh, god, what he wouldn’t give to be completely out of his mind.