Salted Tops of the Tasty Bakery

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Summary

106000+word - 24+ character - feelgood tear jerker - 1946 small town America. 3 veterans want to reopen a family bakery that closed during the depression. Some local boys who use the building as a hang out take issues to the bakery opening. A failed arson attempt on the bakery ends up having 12yr old John and his war widowed mother Clair working for the veterans.. Hearing John is now working to reopen the bakery causes mixed feelings that lead to gossip, vandalism, a fight, further arson and eventually a murder,

Genre:
Drama / Romance
Author:
R Allen Lancaster
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
13
Rating:
4.9 7 reviews
Age Rating:
13+

Chapter # 1

Chapter # 1 - Salted Tops of the Tasty Bakery

Based loosely on a true dream

by R.A.Lancaster 2016/19

Summer break with nothing better to do Jonathan is with best bud Kevin. Riding their old bicycles into the town’s industrial area. A variety of abandoned buildings closed up in the depression, making for great adolescent exploration. No parent wants their child back there in fear of possible tragedy.

Most intact of the buildings favored by the local youth is an old bakery. The only building still containing all that was within when it’s doors closed. Today an old truck parked near the building’s rear doors draws the boys’ attention.

Walking around the front of the bakery a large well built older male. The man’s flame-scarred face is noticeable at a distance, giving a menacing appearance.

Circling the old bakery on the bikes the boys keep an eye on the man. He is inspecting the exterior of the building from foundation to roofline. The movement of the bikes causes him to occasionally glance over.

With a squeaky voice Kevin asks, “hey Johnny, whadya think he’s doing?”

John hopes the man wasn’t going to buy the old place, "don't know?"

The old bakery is the only abandoned building where the roof doesn’t leak. On cold or rainy days it was a favorite place to hold up in. Avoiding mothers who’d have housework for them to do.

A fat, balding, bearded man exits the building. Looking left and right he calls out, “yo Sarg! Where’d you get to?”

Rounding the building Sarg replies, “Right here Lou. What do you think?”

Getting a little startled Lou informs him. “Well it’s filthy. Most of the equipment is there. The ovens and wires look good.”

“Yeah?” Sarg walks up to him, “Do you think we can get it working again?”

“Anything’s possible,” Lou grins, “but it’s gonna take a lot of time and sweat.”

Overhearing them Kevin and John look at each other with disappointment. Both saddened by the idea of losing their driest hide out.

“Ah, man,” sighs Kevin, “you really think they’re gonna open it up again?”

In their twelve years of living they’ve never seen anyplace here occupied. John is curious, “Don’t know? Lets’ ask.”

Nervous of the men’s rough appearance, Kevin shook his head no.

“Ah,” scoffs John waving a dismissive hand at Kevin.

Sliding the back tire out while stopping John inquires. “Hey, what’re you guys gonna do with this place?”

Jumping slightly being startled Lou clutches his chest. “Easy kid! You’re gonna give me a heart attack.”

Turning to look the boy over Sarg answers, “get it running again.” He glances at Kevin making tight circles nearby. “This town could use a real bakery again.”

He wasn’t wrong. An older Scottish couple runs the only bakery in town. In the last year their breads have been overcooked, from dry to almost burned. Most in town it assumed they may not be there much longer, so little was said to them. John knew only, he didn’t care for burned crust sandwiches.

Staring a bit too long at Sarg’s scarred face John utters. “No burnt bread.”

“Huh.” Tilting the head Sarg squints an eye.

“Ah,” John hopes not to have called unwanted attention to the big man’s face, “it’d be nice not to have to bread that wasn’t burnt. You really going to get this place working?”

Lou chuckles loudly knowing what was meant. “Sure.”

Since returning from overseas, Sarg too, was tiring of buying bread from the old couple. “The McGreaves have been baking in this town along time. Perhaps too long.”

Nodding Lou jokes, “that’s what they should feed prisoners.” Turning back to Sarg asks. “Do you have enough scratch?”

Shrugging Sarg replies, “well, get the hydro and water turned back on. I’ll have to see about a loan from the bank.”

Uninterested, Kevin calls out, “come on Johnny, let’s go.”

“Okay,” John scowls at Kevin. Pushing the bike forward to get started peddling he says to the men, “good luck.”

“Sure thing, kid.” Lou waves slightly to them.

Sarg just nods barely looking their way.

The boys headed out of the industrial area to find other buddies. Reporting they may not have that building to hang out in anymore. With each one spoken to the word spreads out. The main thought from all, it’d be a shame to lose that place.

The next day while John sits on Kevin’s porch trying to decide what to do, they spot Davy and Mark riding quickly their way. Lagging behind them was a pudgy pal, Arnie, you could hear call wait up, between panting breathes.

Davy the dare-devilish friend hit the property first skidding his bike to a stop drops it while hopping off. “Hey! You guys were right. The power company is over at that old bakery right now. Looks like they’re hooking up the power.”

Stopping Mark says coolly, “Hey Kevin. Hey John.” He remains seated leaning on the handlebars.

“Hey,” John nods back to them.

“Hey guys.” Kevin stands up, “yeah, we told yous.”

Stepping forward resting a foot on the first step Davy glances back. “That’s no good. That was our place. What are we gonna do about it?”

Kevin shrugged.

Mark didn’t seem to care, he rarely did about much and somehow that seemed to work for him as all the prettiest girls at school were always trying to get his attention.

Out of breath Arnie stops and gets off his bike. “Why do you guys always have to ride so fast?” Dropping the bike he sits on the grass.

John tries to think positively about it. “Well it’d be nice to have some place else to get bread from.”

“Bread?” Davy questioned, “I’d expect Arnie to say that.”

John shrugged pointing out. “Well, it’s not the only place we can go. There’s tons of places over there we can still use.”

Agreeing Arnie nods, “maybe they aren’t going to do anything with the place.”

Furling a brow at Arnie, Kevin suggests. “Maybe we should ride over and see. Nothing else to do anyway.”

“Yeah,” Davy agrees. “Whadya think Mark?”

Mark shrugs slightly, “why not.”

Down the steps Kevin picks up his bike. “You coming Johnny?”

Johnny slowly follows, “yup.”

“Right on boyz, lets ride.” Davy quickly gets on his bike.

“Ah man,” Arnie still winded struggles to get to his feet, “don’t ride so fast this time, would yahs.”

Davy likes fast and takes off first, “ah, learn to keep up Arnie.”

“Yeah Arnie.” Kevin follows close behind Davy.

“Don’t worry Arnie, I’m not in a hurry,” John slowly gets onto his bike.

Not in a hurry either Mark also waits. “Be strange if that place does open for business. It’d be the only thing working over there.”

Starting to get the bike moving Arnie inquires. “Do you think they’ll make donuts there? I haven’t had donuts in like forever.”

“Don’t know Arnie, maybe?” The thought sure sounded good to John.

Riding over John keeps an eye on Davy hopping up and off whatever possible. Arnie keeps thinking aloud, of baked goods that might be made there. Indifferent Mark is content to just be outside doing something.

Cutting across a semi vacant property they see the hydro company running new wires from a pole to the old bakery.

Parked near the building’s old, large wooden shipping doors, an abused pick up truck. Coming out of the building tossing junk into the truck’s bed three men, Sarg, Lou and a scraggly man.

Getting closer Kevin identifies the scraggly man uttering, “Oh, my God, they got crazy Carl with them.”

Carl wasn’t really crazy just one of the town vagrants who says little to anyone and most avoided him. Based on the man’s appearance you could understand. His greasy, graying hair and beard were wildly overgrown. Having a wiry build, his worn, dirty, holey clothes seemed way too big. The rope belt around waist didn’t help any. Frequently he’s found sleeping in the park, talking to no one or rummaging through garbage cans.

Finding the title amusing Davy grins, “careful, if crazy Carl catches you looking or talking about him, he’ll come after you.”

Worried about such tales Arnie whispers, “I heard he killed some guy, because he said hello.”

Circling the group Kevin says, “my mom says he killed the Turner’s lil’ girl.”

Having heard contrary John tells them. “No, she drowned, playing at the river.”

Davy adds to the statement, “Carl was there and was found holding her.” This is the only thing the town agrees as true. How she drowned remained the question.

Backing John up, Mark comments, “I heard he tried to save her.”

“Yeah, right,” not believing that Kevin points out, “he’s always watching the girls playing in the park. Real creepy if you ask me.”

“Yeah I’ve seen that too,” remarks Davy, “my sisters told me he yells at the trees and bushes.”

“Trees and bushes?” John is unsure of Davy, being known for making stuff up.

Still trying to speak quietly Arnie adds, “my dad says he hunts down and eats all the stray cats in town.”

“Eeewww,” Kevin remarks, “now that is crazy, who would eat cats?”

Stopping on the dusty side street beside the bakery the boys watch the hydro company work.

Occasionally the boys check out what’s being removed from the building.

The power company men pay little attention to the youths.

However, each time the men come out with more junk they notice the low budget bike gang.

Getting the boys attention Lou calls out to them, “hey! Instead of just watching. You could come over and lend a hand.”

Thinking it wasn’t a bad idea John looks to his buddies. Work, especially hard work wasn’t for Davy, Kevin, or Arnie.

As they were shaking their heads no Davy utters loudly, “no way!”

“Not us,” adds Kevin.

Carl takes a hard look at them. Making Arnie obviously nervous, as he tries to look away dryly swallowing.

“Let’s go,” suggests Kevin

Agreeing Davy pushes off, “sure thing. This is boring anyway.”

Just wanting to get out of there, Arnie is actually the quickest to do so.

Patting Carl on the back Lou says something and chuckles loudly, while they watch the boys ride off.

Turning to Mark, John inquires. “Would you’ve helped out?”

Mark gives a simple reply, “maybe.”

“I would’ve.” John looks back. “Never know what they might be throwing out.”

Trailing the group Mark and Johnny leisurely ride to their favorite abandoned building. A large, sturdy brick and stone block building. Its’ walls and roof reinforced, with steel and thick, wood beams.

Inside Davy keeps trying to jump his bike over anything possible. Less of a risk taker, Arnie is amused by leaving wet tire tracks on the dirty floor.

Just wanting to cause trouble Kevin spoke, “we need to do something to get those guys from opening up that bakery.”

“Yeah,” utters Davy always looking for something else to do.

Arnie inquires, “like what?”

Unsure Kevin throws out, “find a way to scare them out.”

Laughing at the idea Arnie points out, “scare away those guys and Carl? They’re pretty scary themselves.”

Watching a mouse race for cover Kevin has a different idea, “maybe fill the place with rats. No one would want bread from a rats’ nest.”

“That’s not bad Kevin.” Davy stops his bike to think about it.

Disgusted by the idea of handling rats Arnie queries, “where are we gonna find enough rats to fill the building?”

Not really interested in the idea Mark does inform him, “There’s plenty in these buildings. But just because you put them there doesn’t mean they’ll stay there.”

“True,” Kevin ponders aloud, “but they would if there was food there for them.”

Pointing out the obvious John says. “When it becomes a bakery there will be. And we won’t need to place rats there. The rats will go there anyway.”

“Good point,” Davy goes back to peddling for thought, “besides we don’t want them to get that far.”

“I know,” Kevin remarks, “we’ll set the place on fire.”

“Ah, Kevin,” not agreeing with the idea John shares an opinion, “after that, we won’t want it either.”

“Oh yeah,” Davy jumps his bike over a pile of lumber, “too bad, I kinda liked the fire idea.”

“You would,” John jokes watching Davy go around, “just so you could jump over it.”

“Or run,” adds Mark.

“Duh!” Davy jests, “of course.”

Trying to use his head Arnie suggests, “perhaps we can get the town council to stop them before they get to far.”

“Or the police,” Kevin thinks a moment, “but we’d have to be able to find a way to convince them that it can’t be opened.”

Knowing how hard it is for kids to convince adults to do anything John utters, “yeah, there’s no way any of them are gonna listen to us.”

Stomach growling loud enough to echo in the old building Arnie changes viewpoint, “what’s wrong with a bakery opening anyway?”

“Ah you’re just hungry,” laughs Davy.

“I am. So what?” Arnie looks down rubbing his belly.

Also a little hungry Mark says, “I know I am.”

“Yeah it is around lunch time,” John remarks, “guess we should head home, get a bite. Maybe meet back here later.”

“Yeah,” Davy hesitantly leads the group out of the building.

Back at John's home, a mom, was anticipating the noon arrival. A sandwich accompanied with sliced carrots, pickles and glass of milk wait on the table.

Watching John enter she asks. “So, what have you boys been up to so far today?”

Heading to the kitchen John gives the basics. “We were just riding around.”

“That’s nice,” she smiles as he passes, “I made you a sandwich.”

“Thanks Ma.” Sitting, the over darkened bread crust stands out to him. “Hey Ma? What would you think if another bakery was to open nearby?”

She thinks about the people more than their wares. “What, another bakery in town? What will happen to the McGreeves?”

Munching on a carrot stick Jonathon peels off the crusty crust, “well they are getting old, right?”

She comes into the kitchen, “well yes, but we’ve been getting our bread there for years. Where’s this bakery opening?” Watching the boy peel back the crust, “Oh is that the problem. They just get a little busy and don’t get to the ovens in time.” She takes a seat across from John.

He sets the crust on the plates’ edge, “ah yeah. You always get the worst loaf?”

“No,” she defends, “they’re all the same.”

Sarcastically he responds, “great.”

“They’ve been very good to us,” she points out, “when your father passed away they gave us plenty of free loaves and buns. I would feel awful, going somewhere else after they’ve been so nice to us.”

“I know they’re nice people.” Taking a bite of the de-crusted sandwich, its’ immediately followed by a sip of milk to get the dry bread down.

Still curious she asks again, “is there a new bakery opening?”

“Maybe,” he forces another bite down. “Although Davy, and Kevin don’t want it to open either.”

Knowing Davy is a little bit of wild one, she’s generally more concerned about things when he’s involved. “Davy and Kevin are opposed to a bakery opening? Why would they care?”

Realizing too slowly that mother is not going to like the area they were in, Jonathon slips out, “they don’t want the building to be used again.”

“Again?” She thinks hard for a moment remembering the bakery that closed up a decade ago, during the depression. “Hey, you boys aren’t playing in the old Tasty Bakery building? Are you?”

He tries to play innocent, "no, not me Mom, but they have.”

Not for one moment does she believe him, “you know how Kevin’s mother and I feel about you boys playing in those old buildings. It’s dangerous.”

Jonathon sighs, “I know. But it looks like you two won’t have to worry about us playing there anymore.”

Sitting back in the chair she peers into his soul wondering what other of those old buildings they’re still playing in. “The town-ship, should tear down that whole area. It’s an awful eyesore in the community.”

“Yeah they should,” said just to make mother happy before he attempts to alter the subject, “the power company was there this morning. And there’s guys cleaning out the place. And one of the guys is Crazy Carl.”

“Crazy Carl?” She knows several stories about him, “well if he’s working there I’m definitely not going to be buying my bread there. I’m not going to risk finding a razor blade in my bread,”

Now thinking he’s to be doomed to over toasted loaves for the next several years. “Razor blades? Wouldn’t you notice that when you slice up the bread?”

“Well I don’t want to take that chance. There’s no way Carl would be given a loan on business. He doesn’t even have a home. I wonder who bought the place?”

Finished getting down another bite he responds, “I’m not sure. I think the other two guys might be the ones. I think the fat guy’s name was Lou and there was this big, musclely guy, with a badly scarred face, called Sarg.”

Thinking hard she says aloud, “I don’t know any Lou. And Sarg? Must be a nickname of a veteran. The family that owned the place… what was their name? Hmm, the Tullocks I think. Yeah something like that. They died not too long ago. I think they had one son but he would be way older than me.”

He shrugs, “well, that’s more than I know. They were removing garbage from there, today. We were watching them until the Lou guy asked us to help. Then we took off. Davy and Kevin were talking about how to keep them from opening.”

She still finds it odd that those two boys would care about anything opening or closing. “Well you be careful hanging around Davy he’ll end up getting you in trouble, again. And as far as not wanting the bakery to open, if Carl is working there and townsfolk find out they won’t be in business very long.”

Later that afternoon back at the abandoned building, an old tractor factory, Davy and Kevin were already scheming as John rides in.

Kevin urges Arnie, “you don’t have to do anything but look out for any adults. Just holler if you see someone.”

“I donno,” Arnie mumbles worriedly, “my mom would kill me if she found out.”

Davy scoffs in reply, “ahhh. Nobodies gonna find out. It’ll just take a minute and we’ll be riding back to our homes. Pretending like nothing happened.”

Stopping beside Mark, John inquires. “What’s going on?”

Rolling his eyes, Mark fills him in, “Oh, Davy got some gas in a bottle and he and Kevin want to burn down the bakery with it.”

“Huh?” John turns to Kevin with question, “are you guys nuts? That’s dangerous. Besides if it’s burnt up we won’t be able to play there anyway.”

Arnie nods agreeing while Mark replies, “that’s what I said.”

Staying firm Kevin replies, “nah. If they open it up we can’t play there anyway.”

Davy states. “This is our area. We don’t want adults to be opening up more places back here. Because we won’t be able to do what we want to do.”

John points out their routine, “ah-um, we don’t really do anything but ride around.”

Putting in his two cents Arnie says, “I like being able to sit and talk where there are no grown ups around.”

Pondering John scratches his head, “there’s always the park and river for that.”

“I like busting out the widows.” Davy always lets it known what he likes. “There’s nothing to get into at the park or river. It’s like we got our own town here. Most of the other kids are to scared to come back here.”

“Or they’re afraid of what their folks might say.” Kevin tries to appeal to them, “I agree with Davy, this is our own little town, where we can do what we want. Nobody can tell us what to do back here. Besides who’ll miss one building back here? None of the townsfolk are gonna care about that ol’ bakery. And it’ll be something to have a huge fire to talk about. As long as we don’t tell anyone else, nobody will ever know we did it.”

Knowing it just isn’t right John struggles with thoughts. Not wanting to be the downer of the group, “well I don’t know. What do you think Mark?”

Everyone turns to Mark, as all like him and hold his thoughts as important. Unsure, he would like to see a burning building. Just doesn’t want to get into trouble over it. However figuring with Davy and Kevin nothing will really happen he replies. “Ah, they won’t be able to get it to burn anyway.”

Sounding like a dare Davy slyly grins, “sure will. Lets go Kevin. And Arnie you keep look out like we told you too.” Hopping onto his bike motions to Arnie to move.

“Ah I don’t know?” Hesitantly Arnie stands picking up his bike.

Urging Arnie, Kevin gets on his bike, “come on Arnie. It’ll be okay. We’ll just ride over. Davy will light his bottle and toss it. We’ll be back at home in minutes.”

Not really wanting too but not wanting to be left out of things Arnie gets on his bike, “okay, but I’m just gonna keep watch. Right?”

“Of course,” Davy utters starting to ride away.

Starting to follow Kevin inquires. “You guys coming? Or what?”

John turns to Mark, “are you sure about this?”

Shrugging Mark replies, “lets see what happens.”

Conflicted in thought but not wanting to be left out either John gets the bike turned around, “okay, but I have nothing to do with this.”

The boys ride over to the old Tasty Bakery. The only ones talking were Kevin and Davy, telling each other how great this was going to be.

Directing Arnie, Kevin barks out, “wait over there you’ll be able to see both roads coming in. And we’ll be able to see you.”

“Alright,” Arnie sighs taking up the position.

Without even getting off his bike Davy stops near the back doors of the building. “You guys ready?” He pulls a milk bottle from his coat filled with a yellowy liquid.

Waiting closest to Davy, Kevin replies, “Oh Hell yah.”

Keeping some distance Mark positions himself a few yards back shaking a disbelieving head.

Stopped beside him John mutters, “they’re really gonna do it, huh?”

“Looks like.” Mark watches Davy pull out a small box of wooden matches.

Drawing out a match Davy calls out, “here goes!” Striking the match alongside the matchbox. As it ignites he carefully moves it to the dangling material wick of the milk bottle. With the bottle clutched between arm and belly, struggles to line up the flame. Only to have it go out with a passing breeze. “Damn it!”

“Come on, hurry up!” Kevin utters wanting to get it going and out of there.

Nervously looking back and forth down the roads Arnie occasionally glances back to see if it’s done yet, “come on guys.”

Fighting to reposition himself Davy says to Kevin, “this ain’t so easy. Here you hold the bottle while I light it.”

“Un-uh,” mutters Kevin, “I ain’t holdin’ that bottle.”

“Alright, chicken,” Davy passes him the matchbox, “I ain’t chicken. You light it, and I’ll toss it.”

“Okay.” Kevin moves himself on the bike closer to take the matches.

Just loud enough for Kevin to hear, John says to Mark, “and they said it would just take a minute.”

Mark nods, as he surveys the area, “at least there’s no one around.”

Scowling at John’s comment Kevin quickly pulls out a match and strikes it. As it ignites the wind blows it out. “Ah, this is no good.”

“Try again,” Davy suggests, “try to hold your hand up to block the wind.” Leaning in real close, the gasoline soaked rag touches Kevin’s wrist.

“Hey careful,” Kevin jerks his arm away, “I don’t wanna burn too.”

“Ahhh,” scoffs Davy, “don’t worry. Just light the match.”

“Alright, alright,” Kevin draws out another match, “here goes.” Striking it, manages to get it lit and keep his hand up to stop any wind.

“Yeah, there you go,” Davy grins moving the fabric wick towards the flame.

Just as the flame touches the material it goes out. “Damn it!” Kevin utters, “these matches are no good.”

“It ain’t the matches,” Davy calmly tells him, “just try another.”

Taking too long Arnie looks less at the roads and more at the boys.

Beginning to worry about getting caught John suggests, “forget about it. Lets’ just find something else to do.”

Davy waves dismissively, “we’ve almost got it.”

With another match lit Kevin cautiously brings the flame to the fabric. All the boys watch intently waiting to see if it lights the bottle up and or their buddy. Unfortunately so does Arnie not watching what he was suppose to be, as the old pick up is rounding a corner back into the neighborhood.

The material wick of Davy’s homemade Molotov cocktail finally catches fire. Swiftly he tosses the bottle at the big wooden doors of the old bakery. The boys watch as it sails through the air.

Sarg and Lou can see the boys throwing it too and hit the gas to race over to prevent a horrible fire from spreading.

Poorly on six, Arnie is so focused on the bottle hitting the door, doesn’t even hear the acceleration of the incoming pick up truck.

Mark is the only one that does, as the bottle hits the door, he calls out, “lets get out of here!”

Snapping their heads back towards Mark the boys look to where he is.

“Scatter!” Davy yells, pushing off hard to quickly get the bike up to speed.

“Holy Crap!” Kevin utters scrambling to get moving.

Mark was already getting going and splits off from the others heading for the other side of town, having family over there. Never had anyone seen Arnie move so fast, he actually got out of the area first.

The bottle smashes against the wooden doors sending the fuel around but it didn’t catch fire, the rag still burns on the ground.

Johnny steps hard on the pedal to tear out of there like Davy and Arnie, but the chain comes off. The momentum causes John’s chest to hit handlebar. A weighted foot pushes the bike out from under. He and the bike hit ground.

More worried about a fire Sarg tore past the boys as they rode away.

“We know where you live!” Lou yells out the window of the truck.

Hurt but wanting to get away, John struggles to get up.

Whipping into the building’s back lot Sarg saw no sign of serious fire and aimed the truck right at John.

Seeing the truck coming John scambles to get upright and running.

Sarg gets in front of John, slamming on the trucks’ brakes. Noisily sliding the truck’s driver’s side towards John.

Feebly John turn’s his head while bringing arms up, trying to shield the body.

Grinding to a stop, mere inches away, Sarg slams the gearshift into park while whipping open the door.

Swiftly jumping out and grabbing John’s arm Sarg shouts, “what the Hell, do you kids think you're doing?”

Enjoying the ride Lou’s heavy body struggles to get out the door quickly, “don’t kill em’ Sarg. Not yet.”

Scared of getting hurt John nervously utters, “I’m sorry. I didn’t do anything.”

Lou and Sarg look back, seeing only a bit of smoke from the burnt rag. Back to a visibly shaky boy, Sarg eyes him up and down demanding, “what the Hell’s wrong with you kids?”

A tighter grip on the arm causes John to wince, “I didn’t have anything to do with it.”

Noticing the fallen chain on the bike Lou smiles, “looks like your ride failed you and your buddies bailed on you.” Turning to Sarg he asks, “so, we gonna beat him or haul him to the police station?”

Figuring John was just there to watch Sarg says menacingly in his deep husky voice, “nah I think this calls for something more drastic. Like Balen.”

“Oh no, not that.” Lou knows his partner is just messing with the kid and plays along, “that’s too cruel. I wouldn’t wish that on our enemy.”

Noticeably worried John asks in a squeaky voice, “what? What’s balen?”

“Lou put the bike in the back.” Sarg stares into Johnny’s eyes.

Shrugging Lou replies, “Okay Sarg,” and picks up the bike.

Maintaining a lighter hold on John, Sarg moves aside, “let’s take him for a little ride.”

Now starting to shake more Johnny pleas, “please sir. I really had nothing to do with it. I didn’t want them to burn down your place.”

Hiding a smile Sarg simply says, “you don’t say.”

Setting the bike in the truck bed Lou curiously asks while still playing along, “so, where we taking, this one?”

Easily pushing Johnny towards the cab Sarg grumbles, “get in kid.”

Feeling little choice and knowing he can’t escape the large man’s hold on his arm Johnny hesitantly starts to get in, but thinks of slipping out the passenger door when he gets a chance. “Where, where are you taking me?”

“Just get in,” Sarg almost pushes him in the cab, letting go of John’s arm.

Opening the passenger door Lou gets in preventing John from slipping past.

Figuring it’s now or never and certainly not wanting to find out what balen is all about, Johnny swiftly pivots and runs.

Touching John’s back pretending to feebly grab at him, Sarg yells out, “hey! Get back here kid!”

Trying not to laugh Lou hollers, “hey!”

Sliding back in the truck Sarg steps on the gas peddle to make the engine roar. Prompting Johnny to move even quicker. Which finally gets Lou to laugh, full-bellied. Hearing all that John is panicked, making his legs move faster than they ever had, driven by an adrenaline pumping heart.

Sarg gets the truck in gear pulling over to the bakery, “Lou, just make sure there isn’t going to be a fire.”

Still laughing, “sure thing,” as they get close Lou sticks his head out the window, “nah. Just a smoldering rag.” He sniffs deeply and laughs, “stupid kids. They used diesel.”

“Lucky for all of us.” Sarg replies driving off the lot.

Chuckling Lou wonders, “you really what to chase that kid home? He looks pretty scared already.”

Hitting the road and straightening out Sarg calmly states, “I’d like to know if we should expect a return visit from those kids.”

The most fun he’d had in a while Lou smiles and nods, “okay then. Nothing like ratting on them, to their parents. Balen, that was a good one. When we let that young German soldier think he was escaping just to find out where his buddies were holed up.”

Watching John round a street corner, Sarg grins slyly and steps on the gas, “let’s hope he just heads home.”

Breathing hard and beginning to sweat Johnny glances back before cutting across the road. “Holy crap. What are they gonna do to me?”

Hitting the other side he hears the pick up rounding the previous corner. Deciding it’s a matter of life or death John decides to cut through some properties.

Pointing him out Lou says. “We got him.”

“Nah,” Sarg informs him, “I’ve never seen any kids on this block. He’s either trying to cut across, or will hide out in one of the yards.”

With no fences between the homes John barrels his way to the next street.

Reaching the houses they saw John slip between, Lou spots him still running, so does Sarg and races for the next corner.

Gearing down Sarg slides the truck around the corner. Straightening out he steps on the gas hard gearing up again, the truck can be heard for blocks. Not so much by Johnny, the hard beating of his heart and heavy breathing is becoming almost deafening. Running hard through the next yards knows he’s closing in on home.

Speeding down the road Lou surveys the first cross street, “he must be headed for the next street.” Smiling he suggests, “maybe we should get jobs as truant officers for the township.”

Lightly chuckling Sarg replies, “nah.”

Clearing the houses John hits the next street seeing no traffic. Deciding to keep using the houses for cover. Home is on the next street he 'books it' between the next set of houses just as Sarg and Lou reach the corner. They spot him but he doesn’t look back.

The excitement of the chase becomes noticeable getting Lou to rock in his seat, “Oh, we’ve got him for sure.”

Clearing a low picket fence dividing two properties John comes close to wiping out, barely managing to stay upright and moving.

Hitting the next cross street first Sarg slows up, as they don’t see the boy. Quickly he down shifts into reverse and starts to back up. Johnny hits sidewalk spotting home just across the way and a few doors up.

The corner house and the line of cedar bushes in front, obscure the pick up truck. Johnny only sees home and bolts for it.

Catching a glimpse of the young boy Lou hits Sarg’s arm informing him, “there.”

“I’m on it,” Sarg watches John fly up the porch stairs and whip open the door as he gets the truck back into drive.

In the house John slams the door closed, attracting the attention of his mother. Panting he looks out the door window.

“Hey?” she utters coming towards the hallway, “how many times have I told you not to slam that door?”

Turning to face her Jonathan tries to play innocent, “sorry mom.”

However his sweating forehead, heavy breathing and odd pale facial coloring get her to ask. “What’s going on?”

“Nothing Ma,” He still tries to play it down, “just playing with the guys.”

Stopping the truck in front of the house Sarg motions to the back of the truck, “grab the bike Lou.”

“Sure thing boss.” Lou opens the door, while getting out wrings his hands together, with a big smile at the prospects of getting John in trouble.

Causally getting out Sarg surveys the house and surrounding ones.

Seeing the truck stop and two large dirty men get out she looks into Jonathan’s eyes. “What did you do?” She moves him away from the door.

Catching a glimpse of the men John tries to quickly explain, “Davy tried to set fire to a building and they think I did it.”

Knowing Davy is trouble she gasps, “What?” Unsure of whether to fully believe her sons’ total innocence, she opens the door. “Well lets just see.”

Salted Tops of the Tasty Bakery Chapter #1 Complete

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