My thanks to Ed Westen from https://deartedandjody.wordpress.com/blog/ for this photo to use as a short story prompt.
Esme was tired of her son’s pestering. Sure, he had worked at the lumber mill weekends to raise some money, but he was still going to need two hundred dollars from her to buy the bike. He said he wouldn’t ride it on the road, just as well at his age. But she just knew he was a reckless boy, and even riding on tracks in the woods might be dangerous. Who was going to help out if he went and got himself all busted up?
The sulking was the worst, and the whining. She hated whining.
“But ma, if I don’t say yes soon, that bike is gonna sell for certain. It’s only two hundred, and you know I will work at the mill to pay it back”.
They couldn’t have a meal in peace without him whittering on about that damn bike. And he had to trek all the way over to Chatsworth to buy it. She guessed it was those Weaver twins he hung out with. They both had bikes, and he was always on the back of one of those. When Cyde spent the whole weekend shut up in his room, Esme knew she would have to give in.
There was genuine delight in her boy’s face when she gave him the money. She hadn’t seen him that happy since before his daddy took off. Bo Weaver came by to take him to Chatsworth to see the guy selling the bike, and she waved them off with a shake of her head. “You boys be careful now, y’hear!”
Bo laughed at the small Honda, but Clyde didn’t give a fig for his teasing. He passed over the cash, and got the key and paperwork from the man. Between Chatsworth and home, there were some of the biggest woods in the state, and he had a mind to explore them. They bought gas on the corner, then Bo took his leave. He had to work the afternoon shift at the mill, so needed to get back to town. Clyde headed into the woods, the warm breeze on his face, and a new-found feeling of freedom puffing up his chest.
Roy Mullaney didn’t care much for people. Most of those he had met during a long life were as low as dog shit, in his opinion. He liked his own company, and only drove into town once a month for supplies. He was proud of his cabin, built it him himself on land he bought deep inside the woods. He lived on his veteran’s pension, and didn’t need much besides his books and his old dog, Barney.
Just lately though, he was bothered. Kids on dirt bikes tearing around on his property, showing no respect. They upset Barney too, set him off growling and barking. Most times they were gone before he could get to them, and sometimes if they saw him they would holler and-cat call, maybe even give him the finger. The notices didn’t stop them neither. PRIVATE LAND. KEEP OUT. Roy had placed them all around. Many times he found them ridden down, covered in dusty tire tracks.
He heard the engine from a way off. Sounded like the muffler had been removed, rasping like an angry wasp. Barney sat up on the porch, and his ears pricked up at the sound. A low growl sounded in his throat, and Roy petted him. “It’s okay, old fella. You stay here”.
Maybe Clyde had ridden the bike too hard, or could be that the man had lied when he said it was always reliable. But it stopped dead across some tire-ruts in the woods, and nothing he could do would get the thing started again. He had no choice but to push it, and it was going to take a very long time. Bo would come by and help him fix it, he just had to get it home.
When he saw the man walking toward him along the ruts, he was relieved. Maybe he had a car or truck nearby, and would help him out. Clyde stopped walking and raised a hand in greeting. “Hey, mister…”
He didn’t hear the blast that cut him short, just felt the impact on his chest. First he was looking at the sky, then blackness.
Roy racked another shell into the pump shotgun as he carried on walking. But once he got close to the boy, he knew he wouldn’t need it. Back at the cabin, he got a shovel and some rope, and Barney jumped into the passenger seat of the pickup as he drove off.
He buried the boy under the big tree, then used the tow hitch of the pickup to drag the bike over the branch next to the other ones before tying it off.
If the signs didn’t work, maybe this would.