Bound for Home Chapter 6 When The White Raven Flies

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Compass Point - Ch6The noisy shuffling of bare feet on the cold linoleum floor, and metal locker doors slamming loudly shut had awakened Sander from his deep sleep. "Hey there, you! Yeah, new kid! Hey, you better get up now or you'll get hollered at," said the plump kid with a shock of red hair and a  face full of freckles. "Name's Toby. I'm in the bed next to ya. Guess we'll be neighbors for a long time," he said as Sander, rubbing the sleep from his eyes, is trying desperately to get his bearings. He looked about the big room at all of the chaos, young boys running around in all states of undress, then uttered with difficulty because of his morning dry mouth, "What time is it?" Toby responded quickly," It's after six already. You better be goin' into the washroom . Better wash that face, comb yer hair and brush yer teeth, they are gonna check if ya did. We only gots ten minutes before we gotta march on down to the dinin' room for some breakfast.

Sander, still rubbing the sleep from his eyes, looked around at his new surroundings. The big rectangle room had three long rows of squeaky little battered, metal beds, each topped with a thin lumpy mattress, one flat pillow, sheets worn thin from repeated washings and two flimsy gray threadbare blankets. Next to the bed was a tall metal cabinet with a door. Inside were places to hang a few jackets, shirts and sweaters and next to them were three shelves for the rest of a boy's simple belongings. He didn't see any pictures, photos or mementos displayed. He assumed that they were not allowed, along with any images of personal imagination or of being an individual. At least in the military, a person could have a bit of themselves and their world around them. He slipped on the gray shorts, blue shirt and the brown shoes they had given him last night. The stained white socks were so worn that he wanted to stop and pull them up as the line started to move along, every step he took they slipped farther down inside his shoes and bunched up in a knot. Buy if he did that the line of kids that was filing down the noisy marble stairs behind him would have stacked up. He surely would have gotten " hollered at " for that. After going down three flights of stairs and being quickly ushered by several older girls, they got to the basement dining room. They were stopped at the door of the hall where they stood silently, waiting in line until they were allowed to enter. It seemed to be more than a half hour . He felt his stomach growling. The last food he had had was a bowl of watery chicken noodle soup they had given him, in the empty dining hall after check in, the night before. He had arrived  too late for the regular dinner time at four thirty pm. The tasteless soup was short on noodles, and not much chicken or vegetables for that matter. He found himself thinking about the two bowls of pea soup he had had with Marta and Charles while on the highway. A very stern, short fat woman, with reddish cheeks and messy gray hair, wearing a too small, stained white apron finally came into the hallway. She was frantically waving her hands, pointing to some long tables inside the door that had been hastily cleared off so his group could sit down and be served their breakfast. The wobbly table was still wet from the wiping towels and smelled of bleach. Everyone filed in smartly and sat very close together. He tried to follow the others, because there was no one showing him or telling him what to do. Sander was starting to feel very sad, out of place...... all of that on top of his being very hungry. He wondered what he would get to eat. He turned to Toby," Hey Toby, what are we going to get to eat?", he asked. "You' ll find out pretty soon," Toby answered with an evil grin. "You two over there. Quiet. There is no talking. You know better than that,Toby. We want to show the our new guest a better example here at St. Catherine's, " barked the lady that had stayed with them last night, who Sander assumed was the adult in charge of their group of boys.

He looked at her single table. It was elegantly set with a fine starched tablecloth, blue and white china with little flowers. She had a silver coffee pot with a matching creamer and sugar bowl, she was pouring herself another cup. He didn't even like coffee, but it sure smelled good. She had not waited in the hallway with the boys, but had gone into the hall ahead of them. A young girl who wore big, thick glasses and walked carefully carrying her heavy tray soon brought her a plate with two eggs, hash browns, and bacon that was still sizzling. She already had been served toast in a little silver holder just like Hanna, his grandpa's cook, used to serve breakfast at the mansion. The lady was spreading some orange colored jam on her toast, probably orange marmalade. He thought to himself, marmalade and toast. I hope we will get a nice breakfast like that. Maybe this place is not so bad after all. Soon a noisy cart with one wobbly wheel that was rattling rolled up, covered with several beat up metal bowls of something steaming hot. The woman with the gray messy hair was grabbing the hot bowls with out a hot pad and handing one to each boy. Next a young girl was hurriedly slamming down glasses of warm milk and a big spoon. Several of the boys grabbed for the large metal sugar bowl in the center of the table. Sander saw that bowls were full up with oatmeal, but it was quite soupy. He liked his much thicker than this stuff, which is the way his mother always made oatmeal at home. He soon found out that the sugar was gone and no one was going to bring anymore. He drank some of the milk and it was warm and had chunks of cream floating on the top. He asked the girl for some more, " That's all you are gonna get, one glass per boy!", she said tersely. " You better get ta eatin' cause you only got fifteen more minutes before we gotta clean these here tables up real slick for the next bunch of you brats." Sander did all he could do to keep from bursting into tears. This was a horrible place. These people were all horrible. His grandpa and grandma were horrible people too. He said to himself," I wonder how far it is to the mansion. I want to see Marta and Hanna. She would make me oatmeal like Mommy made. I could walk there, I will bet. I could make it there, you just follow the ocean on one side and the highway on the other side. I will just follow the highway and I could eat apples along the way. I wouldn't be hungry either." What he wouldn't give for a big juicy red apple right now. He could probably eat three of them, maybe more. he thought about the apple pie his mommy made at home. His Daddy loved that apple pie, but he liked a thick slice of cheddar cheese on it. He grabbed his spoon and hastily slurped the oatmeal into his mouth and drank down the lumpy warm milk. It was better than nothing at all. "All right, everyone get finished with that oatmeal. Everybody out." Shouted the gray haired old woman who seemed to be getting more angry by the minute. "We have to clean up after you for the next bunch. Take your empty bowls, spoons and glasses over to the tubs on your way out. You know what to do. Hurry along now," she added, the drops of perspiration about to run off her red nose. It is obvious that she needed two or three more helpers to do the job right.

Back into the hallway, lined up with the lady telling them to move closer together, they quickly were ushered upstairs to their room. "I want to see your beds made perfectly straight away. No messy shelves in your lockers either. All of your personal items put properly in the containers supplied and zippered shut, no dirty underwear lying about. Do you hear me?," she repeated in a monotone voice as she had probably done a thousand times. " I will be coming around to each of you in five minutes to check on you, so you had better be on your toes, young men!" She retired to her room, and left the door partly open. She turned on the radio and sat in the big blue floral overstuffed chair and lit a cigarette. Sander quickly cleaned up his area, made his bed like he always did at home, then sat on the cold, gray metal folding chair and waited for her to check his area. "You know, she ain't a comin', " boasted Toby. " I thought she was coming in five minutes to check  on everybody, responded Sander." " Toby offers, " No way! Mrs. Ledbetter says dat speech to us every day. She will go inta her room, listens to dat radio of hers and smokes a lot until we have to go to chapel at ten am. It's the same way every day, except Saturday, when she has the day off . Then on Sunday when we have to go to Sunday School at nine for two hours. She must think we all is real stupids for waitin' for her, ya know? "

The next day was a Saturday. The day was much more relaxed since Mrs. Ledbetter had her day off. The substitute was Mrs. White, the assistant nurse for the Home. A huge woman with a large bosom, lots of curly red hair and a pink face that was always smiling. She wore classes and they did not fit well because she was constantly pushing them back on her nose. She gives instructions for everyone to move the furniture back, forming a circle and some fun games are played, familiar songs are sung and all the boys get to be boys. Everyone seems to end up in a good mood. Saturday dinner is always leftovers, most often cold sandwiches are served, which are very popular with the children. Maybe because it reminds them of days before when they were part of a family or they lived in a normal home. This Saturday, tasty roast beef  and Swiss cheese sandwiches were offered with a small bowl of carrot and raisin salad and iced tea. Sander told Toby it was the best meal he had had since coming to St. Catherine's. "You like this stuff, Sander?", asked Toby pointing to his bowl of carrot salad. " Sure! ", he said. "Well, you can have mine. I don't like carrots or even da raisins they put in it. Yuk! " Now Sander was even more pleased. The old lady that barks orders at them in the dining hall must have had the day off too, because she wasn't there. June Bea , the teen girl he met his first day at St. Catherine's, plus some of the other girls her age were filing in for the women who had Saturday off.

"I hate Saturdays," said Toby grumpily. "How come you don't like Saturdays ?," asked Sander. " 'Cause we gots to take a shower on Saturdays. I don't like to shower. If I had my way, I ain't never takin' no shower. Never again.," he repeated, still grumpy and visibly out of sorts. Sander thought to himself," That sure explains a lot about Toby. He does stink a bit too much." " They will be in here at six for us, the girls will be. Mrs. White is gonna us all in a minute, like she always does." Sure enough, Mrs. White announced that all the boys will have their weekly shower at 6 pm as always, and for everyone to get ready. She went on to inform us that as a nurse, she made the point about how good personal hygiene was very important to keep the spread of germs down and that all would grow up to be healthy and strong young men if they bathed regularly. Sander had never heard of washing just one day a week, and he didn't consider that regularly.  His mother and everyone else he knew, bathed ever day. His Daddy would often take two or three showers a day, especially if he was working on a dirty job or it was a hot day in the summer.

"Who is coming in at six pm when we take a shower", asked Sander. "All the teen age girls. Theys all come in here ta wash us down. Some of them are pretty rough and scrub darn hard, but that's only a couple of 'em. Most of 'em are gentle-like. ya know? Like yer Mom would be, if she was here. But we ain't got no moms here, do we?, " Toby said wistfully, as if he wanted to talk about himself and his mother. He did not seem like a kid that was comfortable talking about himself. It was doubtful that he ever would do so. Mrs. White instructed us all that it was time to take all of our clothes off and put them in the soiled clothing hamper which had been delivered earlier. We did as she asked and it was quite a sight for nineteen completely naked nine and ten year old boys, all giggling, acting goofy, scampering about, while nervously lining up and to get ready for their Saturday night shower. There were two showers stalls, each lined with shiny, light gray tiles, several of them were cracked and chipped from years of use, and the ends of the stalls were open. Six teenage girls casually strolled in the room, took off all their clothes and hung them on big brass hooks just inside on the wall, except for their underpants. They grabbed big white bars of rough soap that were used to do the dishes, two wash cloths each and all the boys were ushered from their lines into the shower room, one at a time. Suddenly the boys were silent and the goofy shenanigans had ceased, but the nervous looks did not. It was the same way every Saturday night. Mrs. White stood by, just outside the shower room, with a wary eye peeled, watching closely for anything out of the normal that might occur, as if a nine year old was capable of any unacceptable activity.

The girls turned on the big brass faucets, adjusted the knobs ( thank goodness it was not cold water, thought Sander )  and started to lather up with the rough bars of soap, rubbing and scrubbing the first two in line, from head to toe, until finished. They stood silent, with pained looks on their faces. This was not like a Mom would give a boy a shower. Most would have been able to take their own showers at nine and ten years old. Then each boy was rinsed well with clean water. The next two boys stepped forward from the line, while the clean boy, whose shower was just finished, was rubbed down with big white towels that smelled of strong bleach. The mood seemed to lighten and some banter was happening with the girls too. It was a fact that they would have been happier to be in their rooms, reading, relaxing, talking about their favorite movie stars or sharing stories of the their day. Being free labor in the Lord's name wasn't lost on the girls, that is for sure. Sander mumbled to himself, " I think this is very strange. Mommy was always very uncomfortable if I might see her naked, and here there were six girls that had bodies that looked just like his Mommy's looked , their titties uncovered, moving all around and working very hard. He had only ever seen his Mommy's friend Phyllis' sister with so many clothes off, on a visit to their house when she was breastfeeding her new baby. She had taken her top off. She said it was hot and since it was summer time, plus she was uncomfortable." All the boys were putting on clean underwear and getting ready for bed. No one was allowed to wear pajamas at the Home and Sander missed wearing his favorite pajamas, the yellow ones with the longhorn cattle, hard riding cowboys, the different branding irons and the colorful Indians on them. He didn't get to wear his fuzzy brown slippers either, all had been packed up sent home with Marta. They informed Marta that these personal items were not allowed. Everyone wore socks in their room, shoes were stacked in rows by the door, removed as they entered. They said the maintenance crew worked very hard to keep the floors polished and they didn't want scuffs and marks all over the floor. Mrs. White shouted softly, " It is now time for lights to be turned off, my little angels. I want you to sleep tight and don't let the bed bugs bite. Tomorrow is a special day, it is our Lord's Day and we want to have good dreams on his day, don't we all? ", her pleasant face wearing a smile as if ready to relax and sit down herself. Sander, was now clean and safe and in bed, but it still wasn't his bed. His own bed felt softer and more familiar. He was starting to get a sore on his butt that hurt more everyday since he had come to St. Catherine's. He needed to ask someone about it, but not Mrs. Ledbetter. She would be back from her day off on Sunday. Maybe he would wait until next Saturday , then he would ask Mrs. White. She was different, he liked her and besides she was the assistant nurse and it seemed the boys could talk to her about stuff that bothered them. She was a nice lady and he finally had had a nice day, but he wasn't home. Home was where he wanted to be.

Some weeks has gone by and Sander was finally settling into a routine. He was not so uncomfortable with the systems as before. Saturdays were still his best day of the week. Mrs. White was there, being almost like a real mom. She would listen to the boys. They would suggest activities, and games they all liked to play and she was easy to be with. The food in the dining hall, even though it was still leftovers, was much better on Saturdays. Sometimes, he ate food that may have been leftover, but not from any of their meals during the week. Last Saturday,  they had had a beef and macaroni casserole and some toasted cheese bread that was delicious. Everyone talked about how good it was except Toby. Toby did not like that either, so he was able to have his share again. There was one thing that was not getting better, the sore on his butt. He had told Marta about it on their visit and she wanted to take him to a doctor, but they would not allow Sander to be taken to a local doctor that Marta had suggested. "It really hurts,and I can't sit on it for very long. They gave me some pillows, but they did not do much good. It really hurts and it is red and swollen all of the time. It itches and hurts and I can't sleep too well," he informed Marta. The Home nurse had the visiting doctor look at the boil. He had lanced it to drain and clean it, applying iodine and a sterile bandage. He said that it would heal on it's own, but it had to be lanced and drained two times more. They had discussed why it had happened. First they thought it was the well water since Sander was from the city, but finally attributed it to the fresh milk straight from the cow, so Sander was not allowed cows milk any longer. They gave him goats milk, which was not a pleasant beverage for a boy who had never even tasted it before, especially when poured over oatmeal with not enough sugar and not being cold.

It is safe to say that Sander's stay at St. Catherine's was getting a bit easier, but it did not stop him from having more thoughts about leaving his dormitory room after dark and walking all the way to Palo Alto, most especially when dinner had been a particularly dismal experience. Recently, they had been served a smelly, white and gray fish of unknown origin, bland, watery and tasteless. The rice was also plain and the only thing that Sander could eat on the plate. He couldn't stomach the canned spinach either, no matter what Popeye had said in the cartoons about how good it was for you. This was a meal that made him long for some of Hanna's wonderful deep fried halibut and crisp french fries, or the big fat shrimp she used to fix him with tomatoes and onions and some really good rice full of vegetables. He was going to tell Marta that weekend. Maybe she could she please ask grandpa if he could come back to the mansion early. He would be good, stay in his room, do lots of work that would help, and behave and make no noise. She drove in that Sunday in that big Packard, which she had mastered and now really enjoyed driving every trip to the Home. When she climbed out from the huge steering wheel, she seemed confident and like a woman who had been driving it for many years. Sander broke loose from the crowd of children in the hall where all the visitors met the visitors, he had been watching out the window for her car, and sprinted to her and almost knocked down the diminutive woman to the ground. There were hugs and chattering by both of them. Mostly on Sander's part, of how he wanted to do anything that was asked of him, how he would behave, about how he hated canned spinach no matter what Popeye said and all he wanted to do was drive back with her that evening. She felt so helpless and all of his rapid bantering touched her heart.  She wanted to take him back every time that she visited, but knew that was totally impossible. One piece of information that Sander was not aware of was that Mo had contacted Marta again and offered to take Sander and have him come to stay with her permanently at her hotel in Compass Point, if at all possible. For some reason, she had changed her mind from before and now her attitude was completely different. There was a room just for Sander, and had asked about his favorite foods and the things that he liked to do. A boy deserved to live with family that cared for him and wanted him around, a direct reference to his grandfather's attitude and actions towards Lysander.  Maybe there had been some recent correspondence from Sander's mother and Mo, Marta did not know. Marta knew that if she took any action on this without informing Mr. Egberg about it in detail, she would surely be sacked and out of a place to live too. The possibilities for any other employment, even in a different field, would be diminished, perhaps permanently. She would probably have to return to Norway, to the family farm for the rest of her life, as Mr. Egberg's influences were far reaching. Her visit with Sander was strained. She had brought him a big bottle of ice cold Pepsi as usual, and he had drunk it, but slowly and there were no smiles, stories, nor questions about all of his friends at the mansion Palo Alto. She felt his despair and unhappiness. The time came when visitors and family must leave and he was cold, somewhat distant and did not hug her. He just put his hand out and thanked her for coming, for the Pepsi cola, and wished her s safe trip home. He was presenting his best imitation of an adult, and all Marta wanted to do was grab him, put him in the Packard and roar out of that place and make them both happy. Just as if he was her own little boy.

She drove slowly down the highway, at one point a car honked at her to pull aside so they could pass her. She did pull to the shoulder, sat for a moment and then, completely not in character, she let out a scream at the top of her voice. She must have screamed three times and was surprised that her lungs worked that well without her usual cough, until she was exhausted and felt a little better. She dug into her purse for her handkerchief, blew her nose, wiped her face, looked in the mirror and adjusted her makeup, gave her hair a few quick brushes. She put on her sunglasses for the setting western sky at it's brightest, lit a cigarette, put the Packard in gear and roared off. As she drove, she thought long and hard, made a mental decision to make a change and was immediately calm and relaxed. The trip home was uneventful, and from that point she and the Packard just floated along. Just before turning into the driveway, the sun had dipped behind the hills, leaving a rim of golden, purple and orange haze, and she looked at the ancient California oak tree that was a landmark for drivers at the entrance to the drive. It was quite visible, that big white crow, just sitting there, as if it had been waiting for her return. It's presence startled her for a moment, then she looked up into the oak again and it had disappeared. vanished. She stopped the car and glanced all around the sky, into the other trees and it   was completely gone. Like it had never been there. She wondered if her eyes weren't playing tricks on her after her driving into the sun that evening. Maybe the vivid sunset was the culprit for her not seeing the crow any longer?

"Mrs. Ledbetter," asked the monitor for the day, Marshall. "What is it?". "I gotta note I'm s'posed to give ya from Mrs. Cowpens. She says it's 'portant and that I should run real fast up here to give it to ya," he said, out of breath, as he handed stuck out his fist with the crumpled envelope. She scowled at Marshall, smoothed the envelope somewhat tore it open with her fingernail. She looked straight at Marshall, who got the message and quickly turned and strode out of her room. She stood and read the message, removed her glasses, rubbed her eyes. "Interesting, she mumbled to herself. "She folded the note and shoved into her dress pocket, went through the open door of her room and announced in a clear voice, "Lysander Urquhart! I need you to come to my office right away. Someone go find him and have him get right over here. Now!." His bed and locker were the farthest from her room and the row of large windows along the wall, right by the entry door to the large room. "Hey Sander. Old Ledbetter's a  hollerin' for ya to come to her room. Yer in trouble now. Whatda do, anyway," asked Toby in anticipation of some new conflict to enjoy.

"Lysander. gather up all of your things. Put on your own clothes and leave the ones St. Catherine's on you bed. I need you to be ready in  fifteen minutes. You are no longer going to be a member of our group. Evidently, someone has come to pick you up, " she said in an official manner. "Are you sure, Mrs. Ledbetter? Is it me that is going home. Not some other boy?" "I believe I have given you some instructions that are clear and correct, Mr. Urquhart. Please comply," she grumpily said as if she was a reluctant jailer releasing a favorite inmate. Sander could not believe what he had just heard as he skipped over to his bed, pulling off the blue shirt as he made his way there. "So what are they gonna do to you, Sander. Get into lots of trouble, did ya," Toby said giggling with anticipation. "Nope, smarty pants. I am leaving this rotten place right now. You see Toby, I will not be your bed neighbor for a long time, like you said when I came here. I am going home. My grandpa sent Marta to bring me home. Tonight I am going to have a real home cooked dinner by Hanna and I will be seeing all my friends. I can forget this place forever," he said gleefully, as he was changing into his own clothes and throwing the others onto the bed. He pulled off the big clunky metal cross that he had been  required to wear since he arrived and tossed it onto the top of the pile of uniform clothes. "Ain't ya gonna keep that cross? When people leaves here, they git to take it with 'em, " informs Toby, now deflated that his potential for some fun is not going to materialize. "I am not even Lutheran, Toby. I don't want it. Take it, if you choose to." " Toby saw an opportunity for a way to make some money and play a joke on the next kid. He would tell him that he is supposed to have two crosses and that he'll sell that one to him for one month of desserts at every dinner and fifteen cents. The kid will never know the truth. He doesn't know they only give one cross when you come.

Mrs. Cowpens strode into their area with an official air about her and asked Mrs. Ledbetter to present Lysander."Are you ready to go, young man," she asked clearly. "Yes ma'am, I am," he answered. ""Do you have all of your things packed up and ready to go.....I see just the one suitcase, is that all?,  " she inquired. Sander nodded yes. Mrs. Cowpens had some official looking papers she kept glancing at, tugged at the key ring full of clattering keys at her waist, again acting businesslike and in charge and overly nervous at the same time. Sander had never seen her so jittery before. Maybe grandpa himself was downstairs. They stepped off the last landing and there standing in the foyer was a tall, skinny man Sander had never seen before. He was not an old man nor was could he be considered a young one either. He wore a jet black, freshly pressed and well fitting suit of a style that was at least twenty years out of fashion, scuffed, but polished black cowboy boots with silver spurs and hand tooled leather straps adorned with fancy conchos, three per side of the spur and his right hand was clenching a big black hat with white rawhide stitching, winding all around the edge of the brim, an elegant white feather tucked into the hat band. His hands folded properly in front. The man's hair was slicked back and long in style, his face weathered like a man who spent his hours toiling in the sun. The man seemed to be about fifty years old, and had a fit build and demeanor that gave one the impression of youth, except while standing there, he shifted his weight from one leg to another, as if he might be in some pain from an old leg or knee injury. He smartly stuck out his hand and announced, "It is good to meet you Sander. Mo sent me all the way up here to get you and take you back to Compass Point. I am very glad to make your acquaintance, this fine day. My name is Unai, but some people have called me, The Yaqui." He had a slight accent Sander could not place, and since he was called The Yaqui, he assumed that he was an Indian. He had studied the Yaqui and knew they were from Northwestern Mexico, the state of Sonora and were known in history as very fierce warriors.

This man's manner of speaking was not exactly that of an educated man, but it was unique, one of a man that was well read and almost precise. He looked a person straight in the eyes when he addressed them, and seemed to have a presence about him that was indescribeable. "Sander responded also with his outstretched hand," My friends call me Sander," he said quite strongly, surprised about all of this that had transpired in the matter of twenty minutes or so. "I was expecting Marta or my grandpa to come when Mrs. Ledbetter told me someone was here to take me home." "I understand, Sander. You father's sister, your aunt Mo, is my employer, for these last fifteen years or so. I am employed by her at her hotel in Compass Point and I perform various jobs for her at the hotel and grounds. She requested that I travel northward to bring  you and return safely to our little town. I believe that she and Marta, the woman you mentioned earlier, have made all of the satisfactory arrangements for all parties involved, so that our journey is fully sanctioned and in complete order. I have signed the proper documents as requested by St. Catherine's and Marta. I must also mention that because of the developments with your grandfather, your mother and all of the rest regarding your recent situations, of which I am not at liberty to discuss at this time, I was able to drive here. I came in a large and comfortable automobile supplied by our very capable Big Melvin in Compass Point. This vehicle has operated most admirably so far on my journey and I do not expect any problems upon our return sojourn. Sander had been listening intently to this man and especially noted that he spoke in a manner like someone from another time, maybe 100 years ago; although he didn't really understand the details of what he had said. It didn't bother him, in fact, he found it quite refreshing after having to constantly listen to the likes of Toby and others while at the Home. He also thought to himself for a moment, nostalgically," I must really take advantage of being with this man, listening and asking questions. He seems like someone I can learn lots of interesting facts from. Many, I am sure, that I do not know at all. He kinda reminds me of my Daddy that way." Those few thoughts started to have some tears well up. He did not want to cry, just after he had met this man, but he was a messenger that had made his dream come true. He was finally going to deliver him from this terrible place for good. Compass Point was a town that he knew absolutely nothing about, though he felt that would take care of itself and all would have a good outcome. He wished he could go and look up the name of the town up in the Encyclopedia Britannica as was his habit, but it was still at home, on the bookshelves in the living room, where it had been left. Perhaps he would be allowed to have it brought to Compass Point . Then he could use it again.

Mrs. Cowpens had been quietly, as had Mrs. Ledbetter who came downstairs right after her, standing there, listening to this exchange. "They seemed intimidated by the presence of this new visitor who had an obvious strong and quiet energy and a power about his manner that was also gentle, yet overwhelming, at the same time, " Sander was reflecting further. "I believe that we have all the proper papers signed , so we will be on our way. Thank you all very much for your kindness and for your efficiency," Unai said, ending the process that had taken much longer than was needed, Sander felt. Mrs. Cowpens started to explain, in her official way again, how St. Catherine's had been honored to have Lysander Urquhart Jr. as a guest, even if for the short time he was there. Unai smiled with a twinkle in his eyes, turned promptly, gently put his hand on Sander's back and they walked straight towards the front doors and down the steps, leaving Mrs. Cowpens in mid sentence with her jaw hanging open. The action, in essence, dismissed her attempt to salvage what she was sure was going to be some sort of detailed accounting and backlash that would come  from Mr. Egberg and his advisers on how Sander had been treated while at St. Catherine's. The look on her face was strained and frantic as she raised her hand feebly to say goodbye, following them as they climbed into the car. Unai placed  Sander's things in the trunk, they both slid into the seat of the burgundy roadster and drove off down the entry road. She would be wondering if there would be a visit from officials from the Diocese in the near future. She was sure there would be some sleepless nights ahead for her that she was surely not going to endure easily.

Not much was said by either Unai or Sander for several miles. He was curled up on the comfortable front seat, thinking that it was better than his bed back at the Home. Unai was comfortable that all had gone well so far and that Mo would be pleased to have her nephew safe in Compass Point. She made it clear that she was right in line with others in the family as not being one who was a fan of Mr. Egberg and how he threw his weight and wealth around when it concerned his daughter and grandson. Sander, please wake, young man. I am hungry and I believe you may be also. " " Hello," Sander said sleepily. He recalled for a quick moment that this was the best he had slept since leaving the mansion, and it was in a car. He had also noticed that boil on his butt was not bothering him for the first time in several weeks. He got his senses about him and said,"What, Mr. Unai ? " "I have awakened you because I wanted to know if you might be hungry? I am very hungry myself. There is a place up ahead where I stopped on my trip north and I had a quite a delectable meal." " Yes, I am really hungry too. The food at St. Catherine's is terrible. I am looking forward to this," he said excitedly. The big roadster pulled into the parking lot of Andersen's and Sander's eyes lit up. " I have been here before. Charles, Marta and I came here when they were bringing me to St. Catherine's. I had a real nice dinner." "Very good, Sander. By the way, I like to be called Unai. There is no need for addressing me by mister, just like you prefer Sander to Lysander. We have both been sated before by the fine food served here and we shall have a lovely time, I am sure." They entered, were greeted warmly as before, and were seated at a nice booth in front of the windows facing the back of the restaurant where there were some attractive plantings of potted trees and colorful flowers, plus six picnic tables for travelers and hotel guests to use and enjoy the surroundings. Sander ordered and consumed with gusto a hot steaming turkey sandwich with mashed potatoes and green peas and carrots. His usual cherry coke was drained twice and he had two pieces of chocolate cream pie as before. Unai enjoyed watching him happily eating his dinner, wiggling about like boys are apt to do, banging his feet on the booth front because he had shed his shoes. "I do some of the cooking at the hotel in Compass Point so no doubt you will have a chance to have some of my cooking in the future, " He said. Sander had been quietly wondering about this man, wanting to ask him some questions, even some personal ones. He had broken the ice and there was less of a formal air between them now. " What else do you do there? " " I am kept busy, that is for sure. There is Mo, myself, and two girls that help clean rooms and maintain the orderliness.. We do it all. There are eight rooms, a small cozy lobby and reading area where you can listed to the radio too. We have a pleasant little dining room, but we are not open for all meal times. Most everyone goes to Willie's Place, a sort of diner, hardware store, auto parts store and such for food. Cal runs it and does an exemplary job. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, every day. It seems like he never gets to goes home. They are not open on Sunday until two o'clock for supper, and just for three hours. Lots of us cook then. It is almost like a community pot luck then. And I do also all of the baking at the hotel. I is always like being in a dream place, calm and floating along. I do love to bake. It is an honorable profession.  My father was a Basque from Northern Spain and a baker for his whole life in the military, except for his later years when.... he." Unai's face changed and his manner got wistful as his last sentence trailed off, unfinished. " He was an amazing man. Some day I will tell you some stories. I like to tell special stories, but only to my special friends." Sander was looking at Unai while he was telling him about Compass Point, Willie's Place and all the rest. He thought it would be wonderful if he became Unai's special friend and heard the special stories. Not only was there a calmer energy between the two of them now, but he felt encouraged that he had intimated that Sander might be a special friend and they had just met that day. It was evident that both had remarkable experiences, memorable, powerful and compelling, about their fathers. Sander was looking forward to the stories that he hoped that Unai was going to tell him. He had been told by his family that he was older than his years. He always preferred the company and conversation of adults over the kids his own age. Sander recalled a time at school with a special meeting with him, his teacher and his Mom and Dad, when they said that they should take special care and expose me to "accelerated learning programs" to insure my future. It was a long time before he understood what that meant, because he and they never discussed it again at home. "I have been rambling on, have I not? If you are through with your pie, we should probably get going. I wanted to mention that the fried chicken livers that I had were quite enjoyable, as was their famous split pea soup. I will have to recommend this place to people, but I believe they have been open for some fifteen years or so.

It was about ten at night and Sander had been looking at the moon shining on the Pacific Ocean and remarking to Unai how the shimmering was almost like fireworks on the fourth of July. Unai slowed the car, turned right towards the ocean side of the highway and pulled into a wide drive way. There was a big white sign in front with a white hanging spotlight that read in large red lettering," Overnight Camping. No Open Fires Allowed. Running Water and Restrooms for Travelers and Campers." There were a few cars parked in no particular order, one lone flickering light for the rest of the area, mounted high on a bare pole. On the left side were two camping trailers hitched behind the old cars pulling them. A golden light shown in the small window of one of the trailers, the other small trailer was even smaller than the old green Dodge coupe in front of it. Those kinds of small trailers usually slept two people and had a handy little door to crawl through in from both sides. The rear opened for space to put an ice chest and a two burner propane stove and a small shelf with some utensils. It had no signs of life about it."Are we going to stay here," asked Sander curiously. "Yes indeed, Sander. I spend much of my free time in the desert and the forest, with nature and the animals, under the stars. It refreshes a person and is very healthy, I believe. Mo assured me that it would be best to stay inside in a motor court along the highway, but left the decision up to me. I believe you will enjoy being outdoors with the stars and the moon, fresh ocean breezes, clean air and the sounds of nature. I have a very satisfactory tent, sleeping bags, fishing gear and mats to put on the soft sand. All of the comforts of home, I guess they say, including an ice chest with some milk, cold water, butter, fresh oranges and lemons from the grove by the hotel and a loaf bread that I baked for the trip, to have for our breakfast. When I am out in the forest, I take very little with me, but I wanted to offer you a pleasant experience. In the morning, we will go down and do some surf fishing for halibut, perch or corbina, and maybe we will find some mussels on the rocks to eat. Our breakfast will become a real feast from the sea. Let us enjoy our short vacation. It is nice to have all the time in the world."

Breakfast was as predicted. Sander had his first experience in California surf fishing, even though Unai had to give him a hand while hauling in that perfect halibut. It was much too big for them to eat and having it stay fresh all the way back to Compass Point was not possible. He watched Unai deftly trim the fish, cut it apart and portion the gorgeous flat fish, with the pure white almost translucent meat, and get it sizzling in the cast iron pan from his camping kit. Everybody on the beach seemed to have open fires in spite of the warning signs. There were no accidents and when finished they poured some sea water on the campfire to make sure it was out before leaving. The two sweet boneless pieces of meat browned beautifully in the butter, and they ate it with fried potatoes and potatoes from an identical old seasoned, cast iron pan that Unai set up on the stones that made up their make shift campfire. It really was a feast from the sea. Unai drank coffee from the campfire pot, while Sander drank some cold milk. They both sopped up the juices hungrily with the bread they had, sauce that was left on the blue and white speckled metal plates. Unai had added some chopped seaweed to the lemon and butter sauce left from the fish, Sander hungrily finishing the rest of Unai's piece of halibut. He had never heard of eating seaweed, but Unai taught him that the native coastal people had been eating all things from the sea for thousands of years. The sea air had made him hungry, he thought. He wanted to do this often with his new friend. He wondered how far Compass Point was from the beach.

They packed up their cooking gear, the tent, fishing gear, mats and sleeping bags. Sander's job was to tidy up their area, and make sure to share the rest of the halibut with the other campers. They were very happy and offered their thanks, many times over. He tossed the bones, head and skin into the breakers and enjoyed watching the large flock of resident gulls fight, squawk, and fuss about who was going to get the biggest pieces. All of the bottles, cans and paper went into the trash cans next to the restrooms. Now ready to go, Unai announced that they would take their time driving home, but would have a pace to try to make it in one stretch. if not, they could camp out one more night. That made Sander very happy and pleased. The longer they were on the road, the better. He took out his orange, was peeling it and tossing the peels out the side of the car, watching the gulls flying along, diving and grabbing the pieces almost before they hit the gravel shoulder. The sun was bright and shone down on the sand and made it sparkle. This stretch of the highway was very windy section of the road, so the speed of the car was quite a bit slower than they had been going. He was about half way through all the peels, and Sander noticed that the gulls were gone. He saw no evidence of them at all. Instead there was only one bird flying along with them, and it was that large white crow again. "Unai, the gulls are gone. They were just here, flying along with us grabbing the orange rinds and now there is no sign of them at all! But that big white crow is flying along instead,"  he said excitedly. Unai glanced over at Sander's side of the roadster, the morning sun's reflection off the ocean, shining in his eyes, and said." Have you seen her on our trip before this  morning, Sander? " " Yes I have, several times. It is strange." I was waiting to share this with you until after we arrived at the end of our journey, but I see she wants me to comply much sooner than that. At the next place to turn the car off easily, perhaps with some trees and some shade, I'll tell you the story. OK?, he asked" " That is fine with me. " Sander replied, feeling befuddled.

About ten miles farther down the highway, Unai saw a Flying A service station off to the left side of the highway, tucked back away from the road with a small grove of eucalyptus trees beside it and two picnic tables for travelers to use while resting and purchasing gas and while getting service for their cars after the strain that stretch of tough road had on their cars. It was a good place for the setting and quite handy for them now. There was a large billboard behind the two little buildings, one obviously a home for the proprietor or manager, and the other a two stall garage and service bay space with gas pumps in front.. Signs out front announced in big green and black lettering, "COLD DRINKS-CIGARETTES-SANDWICHES-SNACKS". They parked the car at the side in the shade of the trees, Unai went in and brought out two bottles of Pepsi cola and joined Sander at the picnic tables. It was a Tuesday, and they were the only people there, except for a mechanic working on a black Buick sedan in the garage and an attendant intently writing something down on a clip board.  " Sander, are you sitting comfortably? Enjoying your Pepsi? He thought to himself," Here we go again. Grown ups are always sitting me down, acting calm and serious-like, then telling me things that make my life unhappy or that I will have to live somewhere new and strange. When I first met this man, I was so sure he had made my dreams come true and now I am not so sure. " "As I mentioned earlier, I was wanting to wait until we had arrived in Compass Point before telling you this information. After thinking about it, I know I can not tell you all the facts or show you the things you need to know in such a quick fashion. Not all right away, at least. I will get to it all eventually," he said as he was very focused and looked Sander directly in the eyes.

"The white crow is not a crow,but a raven. It is native to Chihuahua in northwestern Mexico. Same kind of bird, very smart, but quite rare. This one is not as big as a raven, but larger than a crow. You will continue to see her from time to time as you live in Compass Point," he said in a teaching-like manner. Sander was intent and listening carefully, and the feeling he had now was not so overwhelming as earlier, but calm and he wanted to know all that Unai had to share. He took a swig of his Pepsi and said," I really like that white bird. How do you know it is a female?", he asked. " That is not important now, but part of a bigger story that you will hear as time goes along. Now you must understand that what I will tell you is all true and you may want to question and not believe these facts. I know that is normal, but again, you will learn the reasons at another time, and for now I want you to accept what you hear from me without reservations. Agreed? " Sander nodded his approval. He trusted Unai and was ready to hear all that he was gong to share.

Your path has been chosen to be in the place where you are at this moment. I have also been chosen to be here with you. I can not say that the sad things that have happened to your Mother and Father were chosen, but I believe they might have been. Sander sat upright on the bench and was startled at what he had just heard. Unai noted this, but kept the pace with the story so as not to let him become unnecessarily emotional. Compass Point is a very strange little mountain town and many things that go on there are not completely within the law, but it is a town not about the people, although they are all important, but it is about where it is, why it exists, and what it's future will portend. Do you understand, so far?, " he asked seriously. "Yes, I am OK. I want to know more." "I believe you and know that as we go along in the next months and years, you will have much to absorb. " Sander again nodded eagerly and now was not at all alarmed or worried what was being told him that sunny day beside the ocean.

"Know that your future is already chosen for you. I know some of what will happen, but not all. I will never tell you anything out of order or not according to proper sequence of what will happen. Understand? Once again? " Sander said nothing, his eyes wide and fixed on Unai's and his every statement. He nodded yes and wanted him to continue quickly. " Much of what has transpired and will transpire in the future is based on things that occurred many, many years ago, and to people who are long dead and forgotten. Their legacies and influences are strong and will gather tremendous power and energies to guide your life."

Three cars and an old Model T truck with a steaming radiator had pulled into the station while Unai had been talking. Both station employees were busily opening hoods, pumping gas and washing insects off the windshields as they sat in the shade and talked. "Maybe we should let it be all for now, Sander. I realize that what I have told you is over whelming, and I doubt that you will sleep easily for many days. My advice to you is to try to adapt a calm manner, let it all fall in place. There is absolutely nothing you can do to change anything that will come your way. I will share these facts with you before we let it go. Understand that this moment, right now, this very moment is all you have of any value. Make it count, learn from it, and use your senses to help you become strong. You will meet many new people when you get to town. I will not give you any advice about what to do, or what to say, you already have all the skills that you will need. About the only thing I have to pass on to you is one very important fact. You and I will walk into the forest beyond Compass Point one future night in the next weeks. I will be with you for a short time and then will leave you there, and it will, at first, be scary for you, very, very scary. Look into your mind and you will know what to do and what decisions to make. I will not return. I will look forward to seeing you in town the next morning. We will go with out any thing that will help you. No flashlights, no blankets, no tent, no extra clothes. You will only have a knife with you., and you will have to find food for yourself, if you get hungry.You are to pass a test that night. It is a test that you will not know the questions ahead,  like you do in school. I can only tell you that you will not fail, but it will not be an easy task. You will never be the same person after that night. Do you understand? "

They drove through the darkness towards San Diego, winding along the ocean as the traffic was more busy, big trucks delivering goods to a city for the next days commerce. The Packard then turning east towards Cleveland National Forest and following the signs to Indio. At first Sander tried to stay awake. The day was racing through his mind, all of what Unai had told him was jammed in his brain and moving faster than The City of Los Angeles streamliner fast on it's rail route to Chicago. The drone of the engine and the quiet finally lulled Sander to sleep. Next thing he knew he was being shaken awake by Unai. 'Sander. Sander, we are here. Time to see your new home. " It was early in the morning hours, and they were parked out front of a two story building surrounded by trees. On the side of the building were painted in large letters, COMPASS POINT. A second story window opened and someone shouted, "Who's there. We're closed you idiot. It's late". " Just me, Unai and Sander," he answered. "Oh, The Yaqui. You back? I'm goin' back' to sleep. See ya in the morning, as he pulled the window down and drew the curtains." "Right, Willie. 'Night. " This is Willie's Place. He sells everything. It is a real hang out. You will meet everyone in the morning." "Hey Unai. It's ol' Big Melvin." said a large man in overalls, smoking a pipe, striding across the road and up to the car. "Melvin, you didn't have to wait up. It is very late.I was going to put the car over in front of the garage." " That's OK, Unai. Crankshaft woke me up  with his damn barking. Guess I should be glad he does. Just leave the keys in it. I'll clean it up real smart so Mr. Martin won't know you borrowed it. I'll put your stuff aside real safe ans sound." " Hi there, you must be Lysander. Mo said you was goin' to come and live in Compass Point. I'm Big Melvin. I fix all kinds of stuff , tow the wrecks off the highway and just do handy-like things folks might want a doin' 'round town. " " Very nice to meet you, Sir." he answered politely. "Hey there, don't need that sir stuff. My daddy back in West Virginnie, he was a sir. " "He motioned to Unai, " You boys probably wanna go git some sleep now. See ya in the mornin'." "Unai handed Sander his suitcase and Sander noticed something moving on the roof of Willie's Place, high up on the eaves by the spot light Willie keeps burning all night. "There she is again, Unai. " "I told you she would be around. She is the eyes." Sander followed Unai to the hotel, carrying his suitcase and wondered what he meant by him saying, " She is the eyes ". Just as they were approaching the hotel steps, Sander was startled by a loud, low-sounding and pronounced growl, coming from the mountain slopes directly to the east of town, which are easily visible, being framed against the sky by the bright full moon. It was quickly followed by the low ominous howl of a wolf, then the high pitched yip-yip of some other creatures. Unai immediately saw that Sander had frozen in mid step at the bottom stair tread, a terrified look on his face. Before he could utter a word, Unai said, "Be not afraid of these forest sounds. They are friends and not to be feared. You will soon learn more of this place, Compass Point." If those words of Unai's were meant to calm him, they were not successful. " What sort of place has he been brought to?, " he thought, as he had the strangest of feelings.

 

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