“Like I told the cops, it was just a prank. Okay, maybe we picked on Jimmy Harkins too much, but the skinny little pervert was usually asking for it. Anyway, there were four of us hanging out behind Wethering’s boathouse.
“Yeah, I know, people stay away from it- with what they found there a few years ago. And besides it’s falling down rotten. But there we were, maybe fifteen yards up the shore.
“Along comes Jimmy and asks why we hadn’t been in school with him… Yeah, the cops asked that too, if we knew where Jimmie went after that day. How would we know? So, we kind of grab Jimmie by his arms and legs, but we don’t know what to do with him Then, Sammy, I think it was Sammy says we should throw him in the scum water inside the boathouse. It’s at least three feet deep, he says, he won’t croak. We all laughed.
“And Jimmie, he starts screaming in that crappy shrill voice of his that there’s leeches and blood suckers and maybe something else in the slime and please, please let him go. But of course we’d talked ourselves into doing it, so we hauled him over to the boathouse door. The planking was rotted in places, but it held up while we swung and pitched him in, then slammed the door shut and stood outside laughing.
“After a few seconds we heard gasping and then really shrill screams, car crash kind of screams. ‘Pull me out! They’re on me! Help! God help me!’ And stuff like that. After a couple minutes it got all quiet, and Ritchey says we should look in and make sure he’s all right. So we creep back in, and there’s Jimmie. He’s managed to climb onto a piling, but his clothes are all torn, and he’s got a big bleeding sucker mark on his cheek. And there’s leeches and some kind of centipedey looking things all over his skin.
“He’s dripping blood and the water under the piling is swirling. “Pull them off,’ somebody yells. Jimmie just stares at us. ‘They’re not done feeding,’ he says.
“So we finally walk around on the outside beams and pull him off the piling and carry him onto the stone beach. He just looks at us. ‘You don’t know what you did,’ he says, ‘but you will.’
“Nah, he never made it home, nobody knows where he went. So then Sammy goes missing. And a week later, Ritchey. And Joey, he gets the idea that maybe Jimmie puts them in the boathouse. It’s crazy, but we admit to the cops what we did.
“And that’s where they found them, in the boathouse muck, all bitten up and drained. And that’s why Joey and me got stuck here. It’s harder for him to find us.”
Ed Ahern resumed writing after forty odd years in foreign intelligence and international sales. He’s had a hundred forty or so stories and poems published so far, and three books.