MACKENZIE'S COTTAGE (part one).
It was Johnny's idea to go fishing in Spindle's Creek. It was also Johnny's idea to take the short cut back home through Mackenzie's wood. And it was Johnny's idea to shelter in Mackenzie's Cottage when the weather broke. The first idea was a good one, the second idea a bad one, and the third idea...well, the third idea was the last idea Johnny ever had.
We were at one with the world that summer: Johnny, Marty and me. I know that sounds trite but it was true. we had all reached and passed our fifteenth birthdays so considered ourselves more adult than child, and the summer was proving to be a fine one. School had let out two weeks earlier and we were determined to enjoy the long awaited freedom that lay uncharted before us.
'Youth is wasted on the young,' proclaimed Oscar Wilde, via Mrs Morris our Engliah teacher on the last day of term. Far be it for me to contradict such a great man, but I think old Oscar got that one well and truly wrong. Youth was most certainly not wasted by either Johnny, Marty or myself. Not that summer anyway. We lived our lives to the full, each and every day.
As we strolled along the road that led out of Parish, fishing rods slung over our shoulders, Johnny thumbed his baseball cap back on his forehead and began to whistle into the cloudless blue sky. It was that kind of a day.
On the outskirts of the village we passed St. Michael's: our school. Mr Townsend, the caretaker, was cutting grass. He raised a hand in greeting. We all waved back. Smiling. Happy and carefree.
Spindle's Creek lay just beyond the village. There were two routes we could take, both of which led us down to the riverside. The first, the way we were going now, took just over an hour. It meant walking a couple of miles along Bosun's way: the main road out of Parish, and then branching off to the right and walking another three or four miles down Spindle's Lane until we arrived at the cool shady banks of the creek.
The alternative was to go through Mackenzie's Wood.
The way through the wood was barely two miles. You entered the trees at the back of Randall's Orchard and popped out twenty minutes later at the bottom of Spindle's Lane. Right beside the water.
But we didn't go that way.
The wood was said to be haunted by the ghost of Old Man Mackenzie himself.
...TO BE CONTINUED...