Jason was in his room filling up his knapsack with odds and ends when Sniv walked in.
"Going out? May I come with you? I can't find anything to do today "
Jason cast a place at his brother, then turned back to the bag and
"Why not? Where are you going?"
"I'm meeting up with Niklas and Fabi"
"So? You usually let me come along. And sometimes I see them without you, too.
"Not today, Sniv."
"Jason, I don't want to spend all day watching TV; I will come!"
Vince, I don't want you to tag along with us today, alright? Now get out of my room!"
Sniv was going to reply angrily, but he saw that his older brother wasn't in the mood, so he simply said, "Alright. Have it your way", and went out slamming the door loudly.
Ten minutes later, Jason and Niklas were cycling toward Fabian's house. As soon as they arrived, they heard loud music coming from the house. The boys exchanged a meaningful glance and went inside.
"Hi, Mrs. Waitaweill!" the two boys said in unison.
"Good morning guys!" shouted Fabi's mom over the music. "Why don't you take my lad somewhere outside today?"
"This is exactly why we are here, Mrs. Waitaweill"; don't worry!" replied Niklas, shouting as well.
The two ran into Fabians' room without knocking. Here the music was so loud that Fabian didn't notice them. They stood in the doorway for a while looking at their friend, whom was clad only in his pants and guitar strap. Fabian was jamming, jumping, and singing an old hit by Queen. When he saw Niklas and Jason, he blushed red as a pepper and turned off the music.
"Oh uh I didn't know you were here."
"We know," replied Jason laughing, "That's the funny
"Uh, well, I don't know, I'd planned to practice guitar all day "
At this, Niklas started to approach Fabian grinning. "Not today, my dear, we have planned something different and we need you. "
"Well, really-I wasn't in the mood "
"Catch him, Jason!"
"What! No! Hey! Please! He-he, no, don't tickle me careful!-hehehe my guitar!
At this point Niklas and Jason had put Fabian out of action, whom was still laughing while fingers tickled him everywhere.
"He-he! Please stop! I can't take it anymore-he-he-he! I'll come! He-he-I'll come with yehehehe "
"Now you're talkin'!" exclaimed Niklas as he got up from Fabian's belly.
"But where are we going?" asked Fabian from the floor breathlessly.
"You'll never guess!" answered Jason. Instead of getting up, he took advantage of the moment to hug Fabian. "Niklas has the best idea he ever had!"
"I hope better than catching rabbits in Mr. Rupert's fields!"
"Forget that!" replied Niklas offended, "How was I supposed to know about the dogs? However, today we will go ta-ta-ta-ta-taaaam!... FISHING FOR FROGS!"
"You'll see" replied Niklas, arranging some baskets with pierced lids. "My dad taught me this technique years ago."
The boys were on the old wooden bridge. It was used only by pedestrians and cyclists because it was no longer strong enough for cars, so the road to the bridge was always deserted. The trees surrounding the place threw cool shadows upon them, and they felt sure they would have a really good time. Under the bridge, a low rill was full of croaking frogs which awaited the boys.
"Did you bring everything?" Niklas asked Jason.
"Of course: Fishing-line, roast beef, knife. Are you sure we don't need some fish-hooks?"
Niklas took the line from Jason, the rod from Fabian, and tied them together. Then he took the knife and prepared some small pieces of roast beef.
"Do frogs eat roast beef?" Fabian asked uncertainly.
"You do, why shouldn't they?" was Niklas' logical answer. He tied one piece of the meat at the end of the line and stood up.
Niklas went to the parapet and let the line go down. His friends stood behind him, and still perplexed, were watching the piece of meat which Niklas was skillfully moving about the frogs like a fly. Suddenly one frog bit and Niklas gave a yank. The three boys could see the frog flying up towards the sky. At the top of its trajectory, the frog left the bait and was free again.
Obvious thought Jason and Fabian, but then they understood. As soon as the frog touched the floor of the bridge, the two ran toward it from different sides. The frog was faster and jumped away, so Niklas left the rod and joined his friends in the chase. For several minutes laughter resounded in the woods while they sprang side-to-side, back-and-forth trying to catch the little green jumping devil. Finally Jason caught the frog and raised it triumphantly over his head.
"This is a true hero of the Frogs!" he said. The boys put their heroic prisoner into one of the baskets.
"It's my turn now." said Fabian, picking up the rod.
They spent all of the afternoon laughing and running after frogs. They really had a good time, but soon it was time to go home. Now the boys had to decide what to do with the little green army in the baskets.
"Probably my mum would be glad to fry them." said Jason.
The three glanced at each other. Without a word, they opened all the baskets. They stood on the bridge looking at the frogs jumping in all directions until the last one reached the freedom of the rill. Now the boys felt better and went back to their bikes.
On the way home, they met Martin and Keith, whom were also returning home.
"Hi guys!" said Martin in a shrill voice. "Where have you been?"
"Hi!" answered the others. Niklas continued, "We were at the bridge fishing for frogs"
"Cool!" said the little boy. "Next time bring us with you."
"You know, we had a real fun time too. We spent all day pretending to be brothers!"
Niklas and Jason were stunned by Martin's innocent remark.
"Well, we have to go now; see you soon!"
"See you", murmured Niklas shocked.
When the other two boys were at last far away, Niklas and Jason looked directly at Fabian. A little tear was descending his cheek. Instantly Niklas got off his bike and ran to kiss the tear.
"Please, Fabi, don't be sad," he said gently.
"Sorry, guys; I know you tried. But I thought of him all day.
I can't pretend anymore
" replied Fabian sobbing.
"But it's exactly one year since he left-last year at this time we were saying goodbye to each other if only he was my real brother oh Jeremy, Jeremy, why are you not my brother?" Fabian was crying now, and Niklas and Jason didn't know what to do for their friend.
"If only I had his phone number I can't even hear his voice why? If he was my brother he would have spent the day with us instead "
Niklas tried one last tactic, hoping that it would not make things worse. "Think about this," he said, "If you were real brothers probably you would not love him so much. One day you will meet again and you'll be happy; and this is because you are NOT brothers."
This remark appear not to have any effect, so he continued, "For example, I would only be glad if an alien starship would kidnap Tina and take her to another planet "
"Yeah!" added Jason.
" and think about Jason and Sniv "
"Huh?!" exclaimed Jason, surprised.
" He's never kind to his li'l bro, just because they are real brothers. He didn't bring him along with us today."
"Really, Jason," said Fabian, "You are so lucky to have Sniv near you. And you always treat him badly. Sometimes you make me angry."
At this, Jason turned red. "Do you wanna know something? Sometimes you two are really STUPID!" and he cycled away. Niklas and Fabian were so astonished that they couldn't do anything.
"Did I say something wrong?" asked Fabian.
"Don't know." replied Niklas.
That evening, Fabian was in his room with soft music on.
Mrs. Waitaweill called to him. "Fabi? The phone!"
Fabian hobbled wearily to the telephone in the foyer, and picked up the handset.
Meanwhile, at the Van Mason home, Jason went into the sitting room and found Sniv had fallen asleep on the sofa. On TV there was some stupid program. He stood awhile, watching his sleeping brother. Then Jason moved behind him and hugged Sniv with one arm.