“W’ll don’t j’st stand there, grab it!” Fran shouted to Doug who was crouched, ready to pounce onto the Garter Snake that lay waiting in the long grass. Doug dove for the snake, both hands out ready to snatch the innocent snake. The snake sped away escaping just in time and Doug skidded through the grass on his stomach.
“Aww, Doug!” Fran wailed, “We was so close!” She marched over to Doug and stood with hands on hip above his still body. “Doug? You a’right?” she asked, a hint of fear growing in her voice. She kneeled down and violently shook Doug after he made no reply. “Doug!” she called starting to panic. She heaved him over onto his back, for he was a stouter boy, only to see a smile he couldn’t contain creep slowly onto his face. “Oh you ninny!” Fran stuck her tongue out as she playfully hit Doug and stood up. Doug burst into laughter and stood up to brush the dirt off of himself.
“I ddn’t believe you fur one second!” Fran lied, crossing her arms and glaring angrily. “Did too!” Doug mocked, “You thought I was dead er somethin’.”
“W’ll yur still a slow poke.” Fran jeered as she turned and ran towards the house. “Hey!” Doug shouted taking off after Fran.
The Inn was small with delicate, white shutters and light blue walls covered in years of dust. There was a blooming apricot tree out front and a big, brown barn in the distance. The smell of hot dirt and recently cut grass was in the air. Jack Wilson noticed all these things with his well trained instincts. He was one of the best reporters in New York and he was dying to know how these so called “Utahns” lived.
Mrs. Jensen, at least Jack assumed it was Mrs. jensen, burst through the front door and steered Jack’s tall, thin figure into the Inn before he had time to think. “Oh hun.” she clicked her tongue, “You poor dear, you musta just bin dyin in that awful heat. Set yurself down right there and let me get ya somethin’ ta eat.” She hurried off into the kitchen as her quiet husband trudged up the stairs with Jack’s luggage.
Around this time a bouncy, little girl of about eight came running down the stairs. She jumped the last three steps and slid to a stop on the worn wood floor. Her dirty-blond hair bounced wildly and her green eyes flashed with excitement. “Hi ‘m Fran.” she said sticking a thumb at herself, “You m’st be that new guy mamma told me ‘bout. How long you gunn be stayin’ w’th us?”
“Nice to meet’ya Fran.” Jack nodded politely while pulling out his notepad. “I’ll be staying tell Sunday then I’ll head back up to New York. Mind if I ask you a few questions?”
Fran skipped towards Jack without hesitating. “Sure, I like tellin’ people all ‘bout me.” She paused and thought for a moment, “or about Rufus and Honey. Sometimes I talk ‘bout Doug too but he’s not as intrestin’ as Rufus or Honey.” Jack nodded thoughtfully and Fran continued. “This ‘ere ‘ouse is named Rufus, I named it course, and Honey’s my p’t horse. She’s sweet as pie bu’ sometimes she bites people.
“And tell me about Doug.” Jack nodded as he continued to write.
“Oh Doug? Ya we bin friends fur long as I can ‘member but he’s a bit shy and don’t talk much. Doug’s shurter and fatter en me wit reglur brown hair and brown eyes. Don’t lit that fool ya though, e’s as crazy as they come! ”
Jack carefully recorded everything, including Frans dress that had puffy sleeves and looked like an old worn out curtain or your grandma’s nightgown that had been tied around the waist. He wanted to make sure everything was perfect for his article on the people in Utah. They would never know that the purpose of this article was to ridicule and poke fun at them. It was better that they didn’t know anyway, to spare their pride. But the true glory would be the photograph of their bizarre and wild home. After seeing a picture of this landscape and the type of people that live on it, no New Yorker would step foot in Utah without a camera of their own. On top of that no New Yorker ,or anyone for that matter, could disprove Jack’s wild stories.
Over the next few days Jack noticed that the Jensen’s life was on repeat. Everyday they would do morning chores such as cleaning the stables and washing the guests room, then they would make supper, and in the evenings they would read the Bible in the parlour. It was a sweet, simple life with the occasional outbreak from Fran, but they seemed to enjoy it. One evening stout, little Doug came to the back door asking Fran to come play but she insisted that she had an “Inerview wit the fancy man fr’m New York.” Doug had replied angrily that “He ain’t fancy! An he’s gonn be gone soon anyhow.”
This had started a bit of a feud and Fran was not doing well with it. The two had been ignoring each other for a few days when Fran started getting into fights with her mom. “What is wrong with you child!” her mom would say exasperated as Fran would refuse to eat her veggies or sweep the floor. This feud eventually began to affect Jack as well as his things slowly began to go missing. He held his tongue and dealt with it until a roll of film for his camera went missing.
“I’m sorry to bother you,” he said politely to Mrs. Jensen, “but I can’t seem to find my camera film anywhere and I desperately need it for my news article.”
Mrs. Jensen’s skeptical eyes turned onto an unsuspecting Fran. “Child, you better git that cam’ra film afore I tan your hide!” Frans eyes widened as she realised that this time her mom was serious. “Mamma, I swear I ddn’t take no film!” she cried. But Mrs. Jensen didn’t believe Fran and sent her moping up to her room until she was ready to bring back the camera film.
Jack sat awkwardly through the whole ordeal and politely suggested after that maybe it hadn’t been Fran that took the film. But Fran was the obvious answer and Mrs. Jensen refused to believe otherwise. After two days of Fran still moping about and being grounded, Doug showed up. He knocked lightly on the door and asked Mrs. Jensen shyly if Fran could come play. Mrs. Jensen politely replied that Fran was still in trouble and wouldn't be able to play until she returned the things she had taken from Mr. Wilson.
Poor Doug’s simple eyes widened as he looked dumbfoundedly at Mrs. Jensen. He stood like this for a moment then snapped out of his trance and scurried away. Mrs. Jensen shook her head as she quietly closed the door. “Poor lad, he don’t think Fran would ever do somethin’ so bad as steal.” Mr. Jensen nodded without looking up as he continued reading his newspaper.
Sunday eventually rolled around and although no more of Jack’s things had gone missing, the film hadn’t been returned either. Jack was disappointed but he still couldn’t believe that it had been carefree Fran who had taken the film. “ I ‘M terribly s’rry Mr. Wilson, if you’d like ta stay awhile longer ‘m sure we could dig up that film.” Jack shook his head and politely noted, “I’d best get back to my office but it’s been a pleasure working with you all the same.” Mrs. Jensen nodded and Jack turned to get into the run down car that was to take him back. Standing in front of the car was blushing Doug with an old potato sack. Jack walked over to the boy and Doug handed over the sack without looking up. “M s’rry I took yur things.” He mumbled as his eyes began to fill with tears. “Can Fran please play now?”