Pete drove up the road toward Wrong Road, where dispatch had sent him. The music in his car was low enough that he wouldn’t have an issue hearing the radio. He tapped the steering wheel in time with the Willie Nelson song. He stopped by the Old Mill Stone on the side of the road and got out so he could walk up to the field without spooking the Duncan Boys.
He strolled past the cow farm and its electric fence, where he saw Ian Duncan facing away from him fiddling with something. Across the field, roughly 150 feet out, as far as Pete could guess, Nathan stood wearing an adult diaper, swimming goggles, and nothing else.
As Pete got closer, he could see that Ian was currently loading a large filled water balloon onto a clay thrower and double-checking it was lined up for the shot he was about to make.
“I didn’t-I mean-I’m sorry,” Ian stumbled when he noticed the sheriff standing next to him.
“Well, go on then,” Sheriff Pete said, motioning toward the boy in the field.
“W-what?” Ian stuttered.
“Fire the damn thing,” Pete said, pointing to the lever, “I can only assume you ain’t got water in the balloons.”
“What are you talking about?” Ian asked, ignoring the mechanism in front of him.
“Is that Sherrif Pete?” Nathan called across the field, trying to stand taller for a better view. “What’s he doing here?”
“Some of the things I’ve seen you boys get up to are entertaining,” Pete replied, a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth, “I want to see where this is going.”
“Alright, then,” Ian shrugged, pulling the lever, and the balloon flew through the air. Much to Pete’s surprise, the balloon hit its mark, slamming into Nathan hard enough that he heard the impact and winced.
Nathan let out a scream that sounded somewhere between a cat hitting the water and a car with bad brakes stopping. Ian, on the other hand, had already loaded another balloon and ripped on the lever again.
“So, you never told me what’s in the balloons,” Pete said as the balloon flew two feet to the left of Nathan.
“My special mix, castor oil, and fish sauce,” Ian chuckled, loading another. “I told him it would just be water though.”
“You know the neighbors called dispatch about you two again?” Pete said as Ian pulled again.
“Enough, for Christ’s sa-” Nathan managed before the balloon slammed into his face, knocking him over. His legs were clearly higher than his head for an instant.
“Yeah? That’s what, sixteen times this month?” Ian asked as he set up another and fired.
“I’m afraid I’ve got to ask you two to stop,” Pete paused, watching Nathan get to his knees just in time for the balloon to hit him in the face again, “whatever this is.”
Ian was focused on the now attempting to stand target in the field more than the sheriff next to him. Pete couldn’t believe the accuracy of the boy, he had to have been practicing for some time.
“Is it illegal?” Ian asked, loading up another and looking up at Pete. He looked confident in what he was doing, and now wouldn’t be swayed away from it.
“Technically, no,” Pete answered honestly, “but you know how the Peterson’s can be. It’s best for everyone if you two knock it off for a bit.”
“The Peterson’s can eat my shoe,” Ian said as Nathan began running toward them in a ‘Z’ pattern. “I don’t actually care what they think, we’re having fun whether they want us to or not.”
Ian closed one eye and waited patiently for Nathan to get where he wanted him. He pulled the lever quickly, sending the machine’s cargo full speed into Nathan’s chest fifty feet away. The sound it made hitting him made Pete wince as the spray caught the air and moved toward him and Ian.
The smell of the oil was reminiscent of a fish factory dumpster. Pete’s stomach turned, and he had to force his lunch back down. He imagined that Ian had been planning this for some time, but he couldn’t put his finger on how the boy would have known that the combination of the two liquids would make it so revolting.
“How long do you suppose it’ll take for Nathan to not smell like that?” Pete asked, watching Nathan slip and struggle to get back to his feet. The goggles on his face were skewed, so only one eye was covered while the other side dropped. Oil was literally dripping off the boy at this point.
“Eh, if he’s lucky? A week, maybe.” Ian smiled at Pete. There was a level of satisfaction in his expression that only a brother can have when he knows he’s just pulled one over on the other.
“Well, on that note, I’m off before I witness an assault,” Pete said, shaking his head with a chuckle. “You may want to consider running now, Ian.”
Nathan was back on his feet and sprinting toward Ian. The boy’s face a bright shade of red from the impacts of the balloons, or anger. It was difficult for Pete to tell which, but he could guess.
“Shit!” Ian said as he abandoned the thrower and ran for the road. Narrowly avoiding his sliding brother’s tackle.
Pete turned around and walked back to his car, a cow mooing at him as he passed, still chuckling every few minutes on what the boys had been up to. He thought Ian was right, as long as there is a sun in the sky, those Duncan boys will keep having fun, whether Mrs. Peterson wants them to or not.
Pete looked forward to telling the other personnel at the safety station about this one, he could already see the confused amusement on their faces as he buckled up and turned his car around to head back down the road. In the rearview mirror, he could see the boys running back and forth across the street, looking as ridiculous as ever.