Yaeger's Sin

Billy and Freddy Collins embark on a harmless Halloween caper. But when a cantankerous old farmer imposes a severe punishment on the two young brothers, unexpected consequences result.

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Excerpt from "Yaeger's Sin" by Jon Case

Twelve-year-old Freddy's athletic arms pulled on the Sparrow's oars, forcing the pram silently northward atop the negligible current of the canal. The air glowed gold from the reflection of bright autumn trees. Downed leaves floated by, swirling like tiny upside-down umbrellas, some getting pulled into the boat's wake for a moment and then drifting on. Towheaded Jimmy sat in the stern squinting from the morning sun as he watched and admired his brother who was twice as strong and twice as clever. After all, Freddy had chosen Sunday morning as the ideal time for their foray. Most people would be in church or still asleep. A soft north breeze, warm for late October, pushed against Freddy's strokes now, but would enhance their speed on the hasty retreat homeward. And so the tiny craft innocently glided between the banks of the thirty foot wide canal.

The night before, eight-year-old Jimmy couldn't sleep. He lay on his back, eyes wide open, staring up through the absolute dark as if he could see the slats and mattress above. His older brother, whom he idolized, had included him in one of his delinquent capers, instantly promoting Jimmy into the ranks of the older boys.

"Are you awake?" Jimmy whispered to the bunk overhead. "Are we still going to steal some corn from Old Man Yaeger's tomorrow?"

"Yeah," came Freddy's soft reply. "Now shut up and go to sleep."

Jimmy rolled the plot over and over in his mind. They'd row their boat to the north end of town where the corn field spread right up to the canal bank. They'd load the boat with hundreds of ears of corn, torn fresh from their stalks. Then hightail it home. They'd share the booty with their friends, Joey and Danny, and maybe even Franky. If they got enough, Jimmy added to the plan, they would try to sell some to the mean kids over on Pigturd Alley. Buckets and buckets of Halloween corn for throwing on mischief night. They'd be heroes.