“She looks like the snake swallowed her and vomited her back up,” Tommy said between laughs.

“Yeah, she’s so ugly right now even the snake couldn’t digest her,” Sammy tried to stifle his laughing. He grabbed at the slippery moss and slid some of it off her face and blouse. It fell onto her yellow shorts and legs.

“Aaaaaghh. It smells bad and it’s cold.” Tears ran down her cheeks, making shiny tracks in the sand clinging to her face. “Don’t laugh at me,” she sobbed. “It’s not funny.”

“Sure it is,” Tommy said. “And you look funny. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t be laughing.”

“Yeah, you are the funniest looking snake vomit I’ve seen,” Sammy laughed hardily at his own words. “And you smell like Tommy’s dog after it’s eaten cheese curls… really bad right now. Don’t get too close, Tommy.”

“Don’t worry, I’m not going to,” Tommy said. He backed away from her holding his nose. “Think we should help her get home?”

“Yeah, she’s a mess. I’d bet her Mom isn’t going to be too happy with her,” Sammy said, helping her to her feet. He scraped the rest of the slimy green stuff off her blouse and brushed sand from her face and chin. “Don’t see any cuts.”

Tommy scooped up the bunch of weeds she’d collected and handed them to her. “Here’s your flowers, Di. C’mon, we’ll help you through the brush. We won’t let the snake get you.”

The three trudged out of the brush and weeds, walking toward the bike path on their way to the dirt road that would lead them to the entrance of the park. Dianna’s tears and sobs subsided as the two boys talked about the ten foot snake and how they were going to get great pictures of the lime green ‘monster’ the next morning.

“It’s too bad we didn’t have your camera today,” Tommy said. “We could’ve shot pictures of Di down there by the water and told everyone she was the monster from the Black Lagoon.”

“She really looked like it. All green and yucky and covered with sand.”

“Stop it,” Dianna shouted. “It’s not funny and I’m not a monster.”

“We know that,” Tommy said. A grin went ear to ear. “But no one else does. We could’ve e-mailed those pictures to our friends… everyone. Who would’ve known it was you?”

“You might have been famous,” Sammy added, trying to calm her. “We could have even sent some to Channel Nine news.”

“I don’t care. I don’t want to be a monster,” Dianna said. “I just want to be pals with you guys.”

“OK. OK. You’re not a monster. Is that alright? And you can be our pal. We let you come along with us this time, didn’t we?”

Tommy, Sammy and Dianna walked out of the park and east on Quincy Street, past the Seven-Eleven convenience store. Two more blocks and they’d be home, in the same block in the subdivision. Sammy lived in the house on the west side of the street, on the hillside, with an incredible view of the Cherry Creek Dam and Lake. The entire front range of the Rocky Mountains could be seen from the deck; from Long’s Peak on the north to Pike’s peak south, a distance of 120 miles between the two mountains. The midday sun lit brightly the purple mountains.

“See you Saturday, Di?” Sammy asked, chuckling at the sight of Dianna. The front of her blouse was stained green and remnants of moss still clinging to buttons and her hair. “Down below the bridge, OK?”

“Don’t forget,” Tommy added. “If we want to see the snake, we’ll have to get down there early. We’ll wait for you, but don’t take all morning.”

“I won’t,” Dianna said. “I’ll be there early.”

“See you then,” Sammy shouted, already two houses away from hers.

Tommy followed, his house was next.

“Call me later, tell me for sure if you’re Mom says OK.”

“She will. I’m sure of it. Dad’s out of town-business trip. He won’t be back til Sunday.” Tommy yelled.

“Call anyway, I’ll tell you what I’ve found in the microscope.”

“See you later,” Tommy shouted, climbing the steps to the tan bi-level house.

“I don’t know,” Mrs. Skipper said into the phone. Glancing hurriedly at the clock: nine AM. The Saturday morning program she liked to watch was coming on, she knew she would miss it this morning. “She’s got a red rash on her face, arms and hands. Coughing and she has a fever. She’s vomited a couple of times already. I don’t know what to do. I’m afraid to move her. Please have the doctor call me right away.”

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