A Short Story
Chapter Description: A Short Story
The van bounced only a little as they made their way down a less traveled dirt road. The man known as James Smith in the driver’s seat was really Martin Pasko an expert con artist.
Martin looked in the rear view mirror of the van as the old faces looked forward with excitement and hope.
‘I almost feel sorry for them. ’ Martin thought and nearly smiled as he thought about the money stored in the suitcase on top of the van.
“How much longer?” Walter Green asked the only member of the group not fully convinced all this was the real deal. Walter only came along for the sake of Abby Winters.
“Pretty soon. Mr. Green. I drove this way last week just to make sure the spring was still flowing after all these long years. ” Martin said doing an Oscar winning performance to convince the rest of the senior citizens loaded into the van. Including Martin it made six in all.
“Sure and when we get to this Fountain of Youth you claimed you found two decades ago we will all be young again and use our pooled money to buy a big house so we can live together with our little secret. ” Walter said his voice still showing some scorn. Abby beside him telling him to give the man a chance at the very least.
“You will see Walter, I will want an apology afterwards. ” Martin said with a chuckle and went over the plan in his head to dump the geezers. Martin didn’t realize he missed his previously planned route by missing a single turn at that very moment.
Agatha in the passenger seat next to Martin gave Walter a deep scowl then leaned over toward the man she knew only as James Smith to whisper something. With Walter’s failing hearing it was very doubtful he could hear any soft spoken words.
“Don’t mind that old sourpuss. When I’m young again we will see a movie together. ” Agatha said and Martin smiled at her knowing full well she was under his charms.
“Don’t forget Agatha that I plan to take a drink myself. These bones of mine are feeling the ache you have known for years. There is nothing like starting over again. ” Martin said in a cryptic tone which left Agatha in deep thoughts for a while trying to puzzle out his meaning.
Only Trevor and Jackie the long time married couple in the back were quiet only because they were also asleep. In their case it was Trevor in fear of losing his beloved Jackie he had convinced her to come along on this crazy chance to be young again.
Martin swallowed hard when he realized he was now lost. He decided to bluff his way out by making another right turn which ended in a spot clearly meant for turning around.
Instead Martin parked the van and announced in a cheerful voice they had arrived. Martin was pretty sure he could locate another spring for the one he saw only a few days ago.
The area was littered with them after all.
Slowly the senior citizens got out of the van and did their best to stretch then walked around a little bit to get the blood going.
Martin was using this time to spot a path and saw right away a narrow path only a deer could have made.
“I believe it’s this way. All these plants and trees always look the same to me. ” Martin said with a chuckle and appeared himself to be just as eager to drink from the magical spring he had promised them.
Martin used the slow hike to buy himself more time in finding any source of water he could pass off as for the fable Fountain of Youth. Martin had nearly empty his own plastic water bottle when Walter spoke up in protest.
“I don’t believe this fool knows where he is going. I don’t see any spring around here. ” Walter said and the rest of the group now tired from their short hike were starting to agree with Walter.
Martin was encouraging them it was just a little further when he heard the bubbly sound of gushing water.
“Can’t you hear it? The spring is near. ” Martin said and pointed to a spot in the general direction of the noise and off the beaten path.
Agatha turned up her hearing aid and smiled when she could hear it too.
“I hear water gushing. ” Agatha yelled and was right behind Martin has he stepped off the path and toward the spring.
The sight before the group was better than Martin could have dreamt up. Large trees were growing around a pool of water big enough to take a little swim in. The clear water looked very inviting in the summer heat. Nearly in the center of the pool of water it bubbled up from an unseen source.
“Before anyone takes a swim I need to fill my water bottle up first. ” Martin said with a big grin and went to the edge to refill his plastic bottle.
Agatha went straight for the water’s edge herself getting ready to bend down to take a sip herself.
“I beg a minute longer. Don’t drink until I come back with the camera. I left it in the driver’s glove department box. ” Martin said now his moment had come to run off with the money.
“Just wait one second. How do we know that this water really is safe to drink and you are coming back? ” Walter said and held his walking cane a little tighter. He was ready to give this young man a good knock on the head.
“Okay Walter. Here are the keys to the van I won’t need them since the glove box is unlocked and I will take a drink right now in front of everyone. ” Martin said and he handed the old man the spare set of keys to the van then took a gulp of water from his water bottle.
“I will be right back, please wait for me to return. ” Martin said and half ran back to the van clasping the original keys in his other pocket.
When Martin was halfway to the van Agatha had finished stripping her sundress off.
“Agatha, have you gone batty?” Walter asked seeing the old woman now in her undergarments walking toward the water.
“He didn’t say a word about taking a dip. When I get younger I will be skinny dipping in this pool of water. ” Agatha said with a sly tone to her voice she hadn’t had in years.
Martin had to keep from laughing out loud when he was almost to the van. He slowed now not fearing the old timers behind him could catch him if they wanted too.
Taking more water from his plastic bottle he barely noticed how loose his clothes now felt.
“Walter, that stupid old bastard nearly ruined my plan a dozen times over. ” Martin said to himself and seeing the van in sight.
“Bottoms up. ” Martin said and empty his water bottle then went into a light run only to trip on his own shorts when they went sliding down his legs.
“What the hell!?” Martin cried out and nearly jumped out of his skin when he heard himself.
“I sound funny. ” Martin said just to hear himself speak again.
Martin looked at himself and he was puzzled by the very young body before him. It was a young teenager’s body maybe a boy about 13 years old at best.
“No, this can’t be happening to me. ” Martin said leaving his shorts, boxers, and shoes behind as he ran for the van again this time at full speed.
Agatha was just turning around in the pool of water by herself to see everyone staring at her.
“We are all adults. Get naked already and join me in the water, it is so refreshing. ” Agatha called back and noticed her voice had changed.
“Agatha, come out of the water. ” Walter called a little concern he was either going mad or Agatha really was changing before his eyes.
As Agatha waddled over to them then out of the water everyone could clearly see her wrinkle skin was gone and her hair had gone back to its natural color.
Her now wet undergarments now looked snug on her younger body. All at once Trevor, Jackie and Abby went into the pool of water discarding clothes as they went.
To Walter’s surprise even the women went topless into the water.
Agatha was doing her best to dry her hair and wipe her body dried of the water then Walter watched as she became a late aged teen again.
Walter wadded into the pool next his shorts getting wet in the process and not caring.
“Abby, Trevor, Jackie come out of the water already. ” Walter said feeling the effects of the water on his own skin.
Playing like children Trevor and Jackie were too busy splashing each other then laughing as they did.
Abby was the only one who listened at first and didn’t mind she was completely naked when she got out of the water. It had only been a few minutes, but could feel and see her younger body.
Abby looked over at Agatha and with some shock she saw the old gal had gone back to be a girl just barely old enough to drive and doing her best to cover herself since her dress was too wet to wear now. Thankfully it appeared the process had stopped for her.
“You dang fools, if you want to be making babies you better get out before you become babies yourselves. ” Walter said getting out of the water himself. He dared only a few minutes in the water like Abby.
Walter even stripped off his shorts and briefs to be sure the effects would fade. Finally he was forced to use his own shirt as a towel leaving himself naked as a blue jay.
“We are fine you old fart. ” Trevor called back and got to the center of the spring where the water was bubbling up. His wife now middle age herself swimming next to him.
“Walter is right on this one. Just look at me. I was in there maybe five minutes. ” Agatha said seeing that modesty was now the least of their problems.
Trevor and Jackie did see the now young teenager and looked at each other.
“You still got to get back to shore and dry off before the water wears off. ” Abby called to them hearing her voice with its strong tone once more.
Finally Trevor and Jackie made a mad swim for the far shore on the opposite side since it was closer to them now. They got out and without even thinking about it Trevor had gone to Abby to dry off while Jackie came running up to Walter for the same treatment.
Long minutes passed and it didn’t seem to matter their hair was still wet Trevor and Jackie finally stop getting younger, leaving them both as young children.
Walter and Abby appeared to be in their early thirties while Agatha was about 14 or 16 years old by his own guess. Poor Trevor and Jackie looked like they should be back in primary school doing finger painting.
The group waited while their clothes dry off and for their guide James to return.
“I forgot. He took a bottle full of that water with him. He did say something to me about starting over again? You don’t think he meant that in the literal sense do you? ” Agatha said thinking she finally worked out his words in the van.
“Agatha, I will go have a look just in case he drank a little too much. ” Walter said trying not to picture what an unborn baby might look like without a womb for protection.
Walter managed to fit into Trevor’s light pants and put on his own t-shirt after making sure it was dry now. Walter didn’t remember it, but he had pulled his socks off and kicked his shoes away before going into the water.
With his footwear still dry Walter made his way back to the van. In the clearing where the van was parked he found some clothing that once belonged to Martin.
“Mr. Smith? ” Walter called out searching the area around him for a crawling infant or something far worse.
No answer came and Walter looked at the van to see the door was slightly ajar. Walking up to it he opened it slowly expecting the worse.
Walter smiled with relief a moment later. There on the driver seat was a little baby boy kicking his legs upward and trying to get his entire fist into his mouth while drool ran down the side of his mouth.
“No wonder you didn’t come back. Too young to even crawl or remember who you are. ” Walter said quietly and considered what Agatha had said about him. It was clear he was completely innocent once more. There wasn’t a hint of intelligence in his tiny vacant eyes.
“Mr. Smith was this your plan all along? Did Agatha remind you of your own mother so much you wanted to start your life over? ” Walter asked wrapping the baby up in the shirt getting the little tike settled on his hip.
Agatha was the first one to see Walter coming back with the baby on his hip. Everyone was dressed as best as they could manage now wearing dry clothes once more. The youngest would have to go barefoot until they could get new shoes.
Abby stepped forward and took the baby from Walter as Agatha walked closer to see baby Martin.
“Well, looks like I owe Mr. Smith my apologies. ” Walter said and looked at his friends then to the baby boy. Showing everyone he wasn’t too proud to apologize even if the person in question could no longer understand him.
Trevor and Jackie were huddled together crying a little. To Trevor’s credit he wasn’t nearly crying as hard as Jackie was.
“What is all that catter wailing for?” Walter said standing over the child couple and scowling down at them.
“We lost our rings in the water. ” Jackie said showing him her bare left hand and not even a band of pale skin to show she had a ring there once.
“So you will get new ones later on. ” Walter said thinking it was easy enough to replace the lost rings.
“But, they will separate us. Someone will put us in foster care. Then how will we find each other again. ” Trevor said reasoning things out.
“Nonsense, we will stick to the plan. Tonight we will get a hotel room for a few weeks while I search around for a big private house nearby. We will go live in that house like a family. ” Walter said looking over at Abby.
“I will be Mr. Smith’s mommy and Abby can be my mom. ” Agatha said proudly announcing herself as the teenage daughter of the family while looking at the now older woman.
“I get daughters and become a grandmother in one afternoon. ” Abby said trying to act offended, but it was clear she liked the idea.
“Well, I never ever saw myself as a father figure before, but for the sake of the plan here on out I guess I’m dad. Trevor doesn’t look like me or you Abby so will just say he is adopted. I assume he will marry Jackie again when they grow up. So that won’t freak people out too much. ” Walter said and looked at his new family.
“Okay everyone, back to the van and if you are good we will get ice cream. ” Abby said sounding like a mother already and with grinning faces the children were first in running back to the van.
“I think you will make a great mother and lover. ” Walter said going over to Abby to put his arm around her hip. Abby gave the baby over to Agatha to carry back to the van.
“You dishonor me Walter. All these children we have now and I don’t even have a ring on my finger. ” Abby said in a mocking tone which caused Walter only to smile.
“I will fix that. ” Walter said with a wink causing Abby to giggle with delight.