Chris was the taller of us. By maybe a half an inch, but when you're six years old half an inch is like comparing a walrus to a penguin. He was pudgy with curly brown hair and brown eyes. I on the other hand had blonde hair and blue eyes, was as skinny as a rail and my face was smothered in freckles. We were known as double trouble by our teachers and classmates. That was double trouble by committee.
We grew up in a middle class neighborhood that was composed of brick ramblers, green lawns and rose gardens where everyone was pretty normal, except for us.
It all started on a warm sunny spring day when we were on our way to the early session of kindergarten at Rock Creek Valley Elementary School. In those days there wasn't much pre-school just a bunch of kids who teachers had to get ready for first grade. So when some kid in the class put a plastic ball through a four foot high hoop, the teacher told the parents "Mike put the ball through a four foot high hoop today". They never said: "Mike spent today working on his spatial relationships". That would have been really over the top.
On our way to school we crossed through a small wooded sliver of land composed of maples, oaks, willows and poplar trees that had a stream running through it. A small bridge allowed the students to cross over the stream from a dirt path. There were no guard rails on the small foot bridge but then again no one ever fell off the bridge and drowned in the 3 inch high water. Leastways as far as I could tell.
The stream fed off of a much larger creek whose size garnered the attention of the county's public works, who put a large cement bridge over it for cars to cross over. This creek is what Chris and I referred to as the river. We called the stream the creek.
Chris lived just four houses from me which according to our benevolent neighbors was four houses too close. We always walked to school together which caused our motherly neighbors to proclaim out loud: "OH GOD! HERE COMES DOUBLE TROUBLE AGAIN". Although they did say other, sometimes, unmentionable comments, we just ignored them and took the main one as a compliment.
"Some people are always going to be jealous over other people's accomplishments", Chris would always tell me as we walked through the gauntlet. "It's why they're always so mad all the time".
On this particular day as we crossed the bridge over the creek a frog suddenly jumped into the water.
"What was that?" Exclaimed a startled Chris.
"That was a frog", I replied. "There are a bunch of them all along the creek. Last week I was trying to catch one when I fell in the mud and planted myself in the skunk cabbage growing along the shore".
"So is that what happened to your face?" Chris asked.
"Hey Chris", I said. "Let's see if we can catch one of those suckers. Between the two of us it should be a cinch. I heard you can make a lot of money selling frog legs".
"Your right", Chris answered. "As a matter of fact my dad told me they catch frogs and surgically remove their legs, sell the legs and then put the frogs on doilies and let them go again. They live a normal life afterward. He told me frog leg vendors fleece the pockets of the common citizen more than a county executive".
"We're going to be rich", I answered. "You should see how many frogs are hopping mad about this place".
Thus began our endeavor of becoming the frog leg king distributor of the world.
It didn't take long to realize how valuable frog legs were. After an hour of futility we had caught a grand total of one small three inch leopard frog which we tried to keep in a broken milk carton before he promptly jumped out and hopped into the creek.
It was at this point when Chris decided we should try the river because there should be bigger and dumber frogs to catch. Or so it was what his dad had told him. "You always catch the big dumb ones along the shores of the river".
When we got to the river our premonitions were partially true. The river was wide, maybe 10 feet or so, and deep, about 12 inches at its' deepest. The frogs were not only bigger but much quicker and jumped much further than those from the creek.
As we hit the river a whole slew of frogs began jumping from the banks and into the river all at once. It looked like the interstate where all the cars were cutting each other off in order to get to the exit ramp. In all the excitement of the frog hopping Chris became demonstrative and ran after them all reeling and rolling left and right like a drunk stumbling home after the pub had closed. In his faux inebriated gait he ended up going straight into the river where he performed a world class belly flop while scraping his knee on a rock. The crash was a good crash as far as Chris and I were concerned because Chris was doing what we called a gallant act. A gallant act is what one of us did to further the good of our present endeavor.
When Chris recovered we began to realize the gravity of our situation. All the kids who we were going to school with had vanished. We realized that school had been in session for some time, as to the amount of time, we were unsure seeing we were living on frog time.
"Hey Chris", I asked. "Everybody is long gone shouldn't we be at school by now?"
"Well no we shouldn't", answered Chris. "It's way too late for that. We should just stay here and do what we're doing being entrepreneurs and all that. I mean did Edison stop inventing the light switch just because his mom was calling him for dinner?"
"I guess you have a point", I said. "So where to now, seeing our entrepreneurship has gotten us no frogs at all?"
"We need to find a bigger river where the frogs are lazy and easy to catch. I always heard my mom playing songs on her record player about some lazy river which I am sure has plenty of lazy frogs. We need to find that river".
It was at this point in time the school, realizing our absence, decided to call our mothers to find out why Chris and I were not in school seeing we always came to school together. Also, there was the fact other students mentioned seeing us on the way to school which caused concern amongst the teachers.
When both mothers got wind of our absence they immediately called the police and put out a missing child report, which was taken rather seriously by the police.
The first thing the police did was retrace our path to and from school and in no time flat found us by the river, Chris wet and muddy and me just muddy.
We knew something was up when we saw two of them coming our way, because Chris's dad always told us we'd both end up in jail someday and today looked like it might be that day. The first order of business when dealing with a situation as this is to lie and deny like hell.
They approached us and the first one asked if we were Chris and Mike to which Chris promptly answered: "No I'm Jerry and this is my friend Donny".
"Well now…., say, hey wait a minute aren't you two supposed to be in school? Asked the first officer"
"We don't have to be in until 11:30 when the second session of kindergarten starts", I quickly chirped.
"Well, you haven't seen two boys your age named Mike and Chris around here have you?" started the second officer.
"We sure did", piped Chris. "They were here a while ago when this big hairy ape like thing picked them up and carried them away".
"Oh my goodness!" Cried out both officers. Are you telling us they were kidnapped by big foot?"
"You're darn tootin'", I chipped in.
"Oh my gosh Bob!" Cried out one first officer to the second. "We're now under an official big foot kidnapping alert! You know what that means".
"Um, no I don't", responded Bob.
"We have to call in the big foot swat team to take care of this".
"Well thank goodness, I was under the impression we were going to have to take on big foot by ourselves".
They asked us which way he headed causing both of us to point across the river and say: "That way!"
Chris added some color by saying: "He even banged his head on a low lying branch and almost fell down".
Word soon spread to the local news stations who immediately sent out field reporters to interview as many important people as they could connected to the case. Their favorite target was Chris and I who were still under the assumed names of Jerry and Donny.
The competition was so high amongst the news stations' field reporters causing two rival stations' reporters to start fighting over which would interview us first. The fight was short as one of them pulled off the toupee of the other reporter who responded by poking the other in the eyes with his index and middle finger. The police quickly broke up the fight and sent them back to their news' vans for a time out.
It was around this time when both our parents happened to be watching the news for information about our whereabouts when they saw a reporter interviewing us going by the aliases of Jerry and Donny. Needless to say they were way north of mad.
They both left their respective houses in a mad huff and walked down to the river where the scene was unfolding. They happily blew our cover and scared the truth out of us to the embarrassment of the police who had just launched their big foot swat team for the first time in its history. The swat team commander was more upset the big foot sighting was false as he had spent years training for a chance confrontation with big foot. His underlings on the other hand were much more subdued.
We were dragged home and both of us were grounded for two months. It was during our incarceration that Chris and I planned our next endeavor once we could break the chains that bound us.
Note from the author: This story is completely true and has not been embellished except for the fact that Chris never said Thomas Edison invented the light switch. He correctly stated that Edison invented the Model-T. Everyone knows it was Bon Jovi who invented the light switch.