The Legend of Bucky Mason

Austin Andrews was walking the dog along 'The Turnpike', the nickname the neighborhood kids several generations ago gave the path that ran through the woods.

He wasn't paying particular attention to his surroundings having walked the trail almost daily for the past several years and he nearly tripped over Mimi Carlson's legs as he came around a bend in the path that opened into a small clearing.

Mimi was sitting against a tree apparently daydreaming and her unexpected presence startled him.

"What in the hell are you doing here?" Austin asked, caught off guard by the unanticipated sighting.

"Sitting," she said and for a moment he thought she said 'shitting' but he quickly realized he misheard her.

It was a Sunday morning in mid-September, still comfortably warm but this is the last place he figured he'd find a girl like Mimi Carlson, especially on a Sunday morning.

"Are you hiding?" Austin frowned.

She glared at him. "Mind your own business."

The dog was sniffing her and she tried to shoo it away.

"Rufus," Austin commanded and with that one word the hound dog moved on to another sniff spot.

The Turnpike ran parallel along the hill and it was considered the demilitarized zone by the kids who lived on the upscale Hilltop section of town and the working class families in the neighborhoods below. Mimi lived in a nice house on the hill while Austin lived in a less impressive ranch in the immediate neighborhood below.

Austin knew who Mimi was although she now went to the Catholic High School while he attended the public Hillsboro High. She was a pretty girl with long black hair and today she was wearing a skirt and blouse underneath a blue windbreaker, white knee socks and saddle shoes.

"I didn't realize people still came down here," Mimi said, standing and brushing off her backside.

"Mostly at night," Austin reported. "There's usually beer cans lying about."

She let out a sigh as she glanced around, apparently unsure of what she should do or even where she should go.

"So, you are hiding," Austin realized.

"I'm supposed to be down at St. Patrick's," Mimi admitted.

"The church?"

"Attending CCD and then 10:30 Mass," she revealed.

"CCD?"

"Catechism. Sunday School." She looked at him. "Don't you go to Church?"

"I'm guessing you don't either," Austin said sarcastically.

"I don't want to," she confessed. "But my parents make me."

"Sorry."

"They don't even go themselves," she complained. "Doesn't that strike you as hypocritical?"

"Yes," Austin answered.

"I'm sixteen now," Mimi said. "I should be able to decide for myself."

"I agree," Austin said.

"But they say I can't until I get Confirmed," Mimi pouted.

"When's that?"

"Next year," she groaned. "I figured I'd skip this year of CCD, at least until it gets cold."

"Are you sure hiding in the woods is the way you really want to spend your Sunday mornings?" Austin frowned.

"It's my form of silent protest," Mimi said smugly.

"You could protest at my house," Austin offered.

"I don't think so," she said snidely.

"Beats sitting in the woods," Austin told her.

Rufus had gotten bored and he lay in a clump of leaves waiting for his human to move along.

"I doubt your parents would want me hanging around," Mimi rationalized.

"Parent," Austin clarified. "My father. He works Sundays. Manages the Denny's in Greenville."

"Where's your mother?"

"Nobody knows," Austin shrugged.

"Sorry," she mumbled lamely.

"You know, we're standing pretty much in the exact spot where Bucky bought it," Austin pointed out.

"Bucky?"

"You've never heard about the Legend of Bucky Mason?" Austin asked with surprise.

"No," Mimi cautiously admitted.

"They found him with his head bashed in right around here about twenty years ago," Austin reported. "Everybody talks about it."

"He was murdered?" Mimi asked with wide eyes.

"Never caught who did it either," Austin said, nodding his head.

"That's weird," Mimi stated.

"There were all sorts of rumors," Austin reported. "He wasn't the most likeable guy. Got in trouble a lot. Came from a broken home down by the canal. Some said it was over drugs, others claim it was about a girl."

"Why would they think it was about a girl?" Mimi wondered.

"They found a button from a fancy blouse," Austin explained. "One rumor goes that Bucky was assaulting the girl and some good Samaritan bashed Bucky in the head to save her."

"That sounds far-fetched."

"There was a girl in your neighborhood that suddenly moved away not long after the incident," Austin revealed. "And some kid who lived on my street ran away not long after Bucky died too." Austin pointed through the woods to the street below. "The yellow house is mine and that white one across from it is where the kid lived. My brother, who's much older than me, remembers him. The kid was seventeen when it happened."

"The cops could have found him if they really suspected him."

"Years later the people who bought the girl's house were digging up the backyard to put in a swimming pool and they found a buried bloody ripped fancy blouse," Austin said.

"Did they tell the cops?" Mimi asked.

"I don't know," Austin shrugged. "Anyway, that's why it's a legend. Who knows how much of it is true?"

"None of it," Mimi determined.

"Maybe," Austin said curiously.

Mimi pondered the story for a moment. "My mother has always been adamant about me staying off The Turnpike," she said with thought. "Do you think she's heard the story?"

"How many people get murdered in Hillsboro?" Austin asked.

"Well, I guess I won't be coming here again then," Mimi said with a shiver as she glanced around. "You've given me the spooks."

"You have somewhere else to hide out?" Austin asked.

"I suppose I'll just go to church," she sighed.

"You can hide at my house," Austin offered again.

"I don't think so," she said sternly.

"Why not?"

"I've heard stories about you," She said, giving him a hard look.

"I'm not Bucky," Austin assured her. "Besides," he said, gesturing to Rufus. "He'll protect you."

"The Andersons," Mimi realized.

"Huh?" Austin wondered.

"They're the ones who put the swimming pool in," Mimi said. "It was about ten years ago. I remember the dump trucks."

"Interesting," Austin replied, rubbing his chin. He pulled his cell out of his pocket and hit a button.

"Who are you calling?" Mimi wondered.

"My brother," Austin said. "He lives in New Jersey now." Austin paused. "Hey. It's me. What was the name of the kid who lived across the street who ran away after Bucky got his head bashed in? Call or text when you get this." He put the phone away and glanced at Mimi. "So," he said. "Church or a Bucky investigation?"

"Mass gets out by 11:20," she said. "I'll have to leave around then."

Austin nodded. "Come on," he said. "There's a path over there that leads right to my backyard." He motioned for Rufus to join them.

"This is the stupidest thing I've ever done," Mimi told Austin as she walked with him along The Turnpike.