Monday Dec. 8 , 1941 Chapter 10 When The White Raven Flies

 

1941-12-07-Pearl-Harbor-420x530

" It's a damn shame that we are all too old to go down to San Diego,  join up and kick them some bitchin' Jap's asses ", said Old Bill's candid sharing of his feelings on yesterday's attack on Pearl Harbor, while he swatted flies sitting at his regular table with his trusty old raggedy fly swatter. It's the morning after that terrible day in USA history. " I'm with you there , Bill. I'll bet we get a visit from the Navy or the Marine Shore Patrol lookin' for some spies over ta Fong's , added Willie. " What makes you think that will happen?  Old man Fong is Chinese and they didn't bomb Pearl Harbor ", offered Dotty. " Yeah, but  theys bound to be some of those slant-eyed Jap bitches in that bunch of whores he's got ", Old Bill continued. " I'd like to point out that you assholes better hope no tanks or artillery pieces start rollin' down Main Street and then the place will be crawlin' with soldiers,. "  Then Willie added, "  Shit yeah the people,  who come to town for Fong's and to stay at the hotel, stop in here for a fan belt or for a blown out tire, buy a saw blade, some potato chips or a hamburger for the road or maybe a few bottles of beer, not just to get their show laces pressed and stay the night with a warm bed and a shower..... if you know what I mean.  Without them, we don't get our bills paid, you old farts." " Just like everything else that happens, Compass Point is still not very important or worth bothering about ", continued Dotty. "  We're fifteen miles to the border with an International country, Mexico.  Camp Lockett and all of their negro soldiers ain't gonna be much defense.  Hell, they are still out there riding horses like goddamn Custer at the Little Big Horn.  The commanding officer won't let them boys come into town and I am not sure that is not a bad idea, but now you are gonna see those negro boys all over the place.  " You gonna let them come in here to eat, Willie?, " Dotty inquired. " Hell yes! Even if I have to build on a patio out back and tack up a damn tarp over the top of it. They get paid in George Washingtons like everyone else, don't they? "

" All we got between us and them is desert open country, heavy brush, some goddamn rattlesnakes, scorpions and one ol' single lane dirt road full of ruts and boulders, sand that will be up to your axles 'fore you know it, " replied Willie. " Shit. There ain't even any water,'cept when we get a godamn flash flood, and that dries up by noon in the summer time.  That's a shitty rough fifteen miles for any vehicle, I'll tell ya.  The Forest Service rigs have some tough goin' through there too, " he pointed out. "  The Border Patrol has got about ten men for the whole stretch from TJ to El Paso.   Just you wait and see what starts rollin' over that border in the middle of the night.  You got yer smugglers, Nazi spies, gun runners and all manner of folks will be wantin' to make this here war payoff!  Once they get to the forest- the big oaks and pines, ain't no soldiers gonna find them.  They'll come at night anyway, "  Continued Dotty, " You sure we got a war going on? " " The US Marines are gonna kick some Jap butt. Take a bunch of Leathernecks about two months to get the job done, " Old Bill said convincingly. " You really believe that,  you old shit? I don't think so. Not at all. We are in for the long haul, you mark my words, replied Dotty."  " So Dotty, you been talkin' to the Secretary of War or the FBI on their private lines in D.C., or some shit, this morning, have ya? "  " Oh shut up, it's a free country, Willie."  " Just you all wait and see. If this goes like you two say, this country will be buryin' lots of flag draped coffins and our good boys, just like WWI........ and this ain't gonna be a year and a half square dance like when me and the boys were gettin' gassed in France in the trenches.  Don't forget, we also got that " fuckin' seig heil asshole ' over there in Germany to deal with too.  On top of that, we're gonna have that bastard Tojo and his bunch of screaming, fanatical, rice and fish head eatin' assholes to deal with too, "  Willie added convincingly.

It seemed everyone throughout the town of Compass Point were either scared or getting ready for a fight. Patriotism was evident, even though the town flew low to the ground and operated pushing the boundaries of the law to survive. Joseph Martin is seeing this as the biggest opportunity to come along since he has been running the dark side of business in town.  He has been the little seen big boss of this berg and he now could really show his stuff and make one hell of a pile of money too, as if he wasn't already doing that.  The advent of the impending war would now allow him to advance his illegal operations in Compass Point on a grand scale.  It was more than obvious that any citizen who had a firearm would been seen walking around carrying the odd deer rifle or an ancient shotgun.  Many dug into their trunks, in the closet or under the bed and would now have an old six shooter strapped to their hips or a treasured .38 cal. S & W that was usually protection for a rattler looking for a slow moving field mouse in their garage or a hungry cougar that wandered down from the pines.  Even Big Melvin was seen early this morning sporting a Colt 1911 .45 cal. automatic , the shiny black butt sticking out from his coveralls, making sure those that walked by the garage saw that he was armed and ready for any action that might present itself.  In the streets and at work everyone was talking about the fact that since much of the Pacific fleet and carriers were either sunk or badly damaged at Pearl Harbor, it was obvious that the Jap carriers were now under full steam headed for San Diego, their best next target.  Who was going to protect the port?  Where were people going to go if that happened?  East to the mountains and to Compass Point, would be that answer.  Soon the town would be teeming with people and the activity would keep the everything humming like they had known in the past.  Talk of Jap Zeros from those carriers strafing the town was even heard in conversations at Willie's Place.

Those with deer rifles and scopes were posted as  early warning lookouts high up the ridge on the highway and at the road turnoff to town.  Some residents on Main Street, that had two stories, put an armed family member up high in a window or on the roof as a lookout.  This kept Mo at the hotel and Cal busy making sandwiches and sack lunches for those people.  Sander and the other older boys on their bikes were busy keeping these lookouts supplied with fresh water, thermoses full of hot coffee and sack lunches.  Unai was working double shifts baking fresh bread to meet the demand.  Mo had borrowed the massive '36  Dodge one ton truck from the US Forest Service fire fighting station to buy supplies in San Diego for the hotel, Willie' Place, Fong's and anyone else who might need them.  Willie was keeping his Emerson console radio, that received broadcasts from far away places around the globe, turned on constantly.  He had installed an extension to his antennae to make sure reception was available at all times. Old Bill showed at Willie's stuffed into an old moth-eaten Navy jumper and sat in the ready at his same table , his .38 caliber Remington revolver, that must be over 50 years old, ready for action. He kept nervously oiling it and polishing it.  He was attempting to load it but Willie wouldn't let him take any cartridges from the box on the table.  He finally took away the box, sure that Old bill's bad eyesight would result in an errant bullet hitting a window, some furniture or perhaps even striking a customer.  So he and Doomsday Phil would just sit and keep count of the flies they had swatted like little boys playing a game. making sure they kept countwith a contest running, each fly representing a dead Jap they had slain.  Regarding Bill and the Navy jumper, nobody is sure he was ever in the Navy, at any time.  It seemed Old Bill's life is continuing to be a a mystery, but no one is going to question his patriotism.  In Phil's situation, all were tired of listening to his going on and on about how he had been so right all along about the attack on Pearl Harbor.  He was getting annoying telling everyone about his predictions, predictions that were not accurate or he had not even made.  Willie was about to tell him to get the hell out, go home or just shut up.

The activities at Fong's were more busy than ever.  Most of the girls got only about 3 hours of sleep from Sunday, when the news of the Pearl harbor attack was announced on the radio. Fong had directed that more girls come down on the bus from his place in San Francisco.  Seems like many of their regulars were sure that the place would be closed down. After all they are Oriental, aren't they?  No one stopped to consider that any action taken by the government would be aimed at those only of Japanese ancestry, not Chinese.  Soon those that had made an early morning trip to Fong's stopped in to Willie's for breakfast before leaving town. The conversations, speculation , rampant false gossip turned the place into a din of noisy voices.  Willie was just sitting there counting up the Hamiltons in his head. Old bill is still offering his opinion while still handling his revolver.  Dotty sent a runner to the reservation for extra waitress help. Cal was furiously manning the griddle and stove with his usual skill and speed.  Cracking eggs, pouring pancakes, browning hash browns and stacking up the crisp bacon while sweat is pouring off his brow and dripping off the end of his nose.  He stops every few minutes to take a big swig from his coffee cup.  A cup that was half  Canadian Club and half coffee and that Dotty keeps filled to the brim.

The door swung open and there stood Grace.  Still only twelve but even more of a woman. Tall, beautiful and commanding every space she occupied. She calmly offered her hellos to the regulars, strode acroos to her regular corner table. She had had a nap, a fresh shower, put on new face and had donned her purple dress with the gold trim.  Determined to have a quiet breakfast..... a real breakfast with no Bourbon, just coffee, even though it seemed it might be difficult with all the yapping going on. Men just stared and women glanced casually or glared at this young woman. She had about an hour before another sixteen hour stretch at Fong's that was ahead of her.  Silently she was glad for all the turmoil, she would be making plenty of money today.  She had already blocked out the grief and sadness of yesterday's actions.  It would do her no good with the customers if she were in a bad mood.  However, she was sure that people she knew may have been hurt or killed, she just wanted to find out about her grandmother and all of her cousins, uncles and aunts.  Some of them worked at civilian jobs right at Pearl harbor.

" Coffee and a shot of your favorite Bourbon, Grace  ?," asked Dotty. " Only the coffee, Dotty. I have a long shift ahead of me again, " she replied. " Bring me some scrambled eggs, and two pieces of toast please. Do you have any fruit? " " Only canned peaches. Oh, wait a minute. We got some frozen wild huckleberries from last July.  I'll put some half and half on them, " she offered. " That will be nice, " she answers while lighting her second cigarette.  She is glad to be at her regular table since Willie had gotten the two guys that were there to move to another table.  She gave him a big smile and blew him a kiss. Dotty had often shared in private that Willie is one of Grace's regular customers, which would surprise no one in Compass Point.  Grace is finishing her breakfast, Dotty fills her coffee cup and she lights another cigarette.  Wishing she had some Bourbon, but knows the hours ahead will be pretty grueling. There is plenty of time later for drinks when all of this hullabaloo starts to die down.

The noise of the front door opening wildly, rattles the room.  Sander has left his bike in a jumble on the street and is sprinting in to get more sack lunches and water for the lookouts. Cal motions him to the side of the kitchen where he gathers up his cargo in both hands and Dotty is following with the bottles water.  He spies Grace, stops momentarily at her table, and smiles broadly, and says " Hi Grace. Gotta get going down the road.  I am very busy with an important job. "  He turns and is out the door before she can comment. After he has left, she says to herself, " He's a pretty good kid. Maybe he is finally growing up."  After that night in the forest, that neither could recall ever happening at first, she has often thought about this young boy. What kind of man will he make someday?  The thought brings a strange and soft smile to her face. " Dotty, left the money for breakfast on the table, plus enough for a carton of Chesterfield's for me and my Mom. Gotta get back to Fong's. See you in the morning."  " Take care of yourself, Grace, Dotty says as she hands her the cigarettes. " She nods as she opens the door into the bright sunlight, turns and heads up the street for the five minute walk back to work, looking both ways  hoping she will get a glance of Sander doing his job.  She puts on her sunglasses, tosses her jet black hair off her face and knows that people are looking out their windows at her.  Those long legs clad in stiletto heels, her purple skirt flowing to and fro, knowing she is only twelve years old, but is every bit the grown woman.  Even if only for appearances and her womanly manner.

 

" This is going to be a big deal here in Compass Point, Grace, " offered Dotty cheerfully as she brought her another double shot of Four Roses.  The biggest shindig this little burg has known since before the depression got a hold of us and we lost practically all of our population because the highway construction bypassed us.  " It had been several months since that day after the Pearl harbor attack.  The war was going ahead full bore in the Pacific, in Southeast Asia, in North Africa and all across Europe.  Business had picked up for everyone in town.  The Army Air Force had built on to the Forest service facility on the highest peak near Compass Point and had installed the latest gear to monitor activities from the air and to observe daily travels of vehicles on the highway.  The folks in Compass Point were used to periodic jeep Shore Patrols of Navy and Marines rolling through town, and the 11 TH Calvary was patrolling with their horses all across the border from Chula Vista, south of San Diego, stretching all the way to El Centro.  Being that Camp Lockett was in Campo, the 11 TH and their constant presence was giving fits to Martin's illegal activities, and he had to had to resort to only nighttime trips back and forth across the border. Fong's was especially benefiting having these young men around.  The old man had expanded to accommodate the new business and now had double the girls working for him.  It seemed that every bus that arrived would bring in another girl or two every week when it stopped at Willie's.  Of course, Fong's was off limits for the military, but that didn't stop them from there going anyway. Fang's was not raided very often, just an occasionally roust when thing were slow. Money took care of  too many hassles from the Shore Patrol.  Try to keep young men and pretty girls apart during a war and you will fail.  Mo had remodeled the six rooms that had sat empty for the last ten years, providing work for some of the local men with families and mouths to feed.  The kitchen was humming twenty four hours a day and Unai had trained two more Mexicans that he knew from across the border to help him with the bakery. Big Melvin had had to come and repair the oven twice in the last three months. Even Howdy Epps' Western Town, in it's out of the way location starting doing very well.  The two elephants were again a big draw and Howdy and his wife would dress up in their Western gear and outfits. Howdy did his roping routines that all the kids really loved. Willie had one of the Indian kids run the hot dog and popcorn concession at the Howdy's, which became quite lucrative.  Grace and Sander had both had birthdays since December, she was now thirteen and he was twelve.  He had grown another three inches and Grace' figure was still fill out, making her even more popular than ever with the customers at Fong's.  Now Grace was the girl most in demand at Fong's.  This was a good thing.  She  was benefiting from her new shapely form in many ways as she is rewarded with the best shifts, plus it paid off with more return customers and the cash, of course.  The negative was increased nasty gossip and added animosity from many of the older women.  This didn't seem to bother Grace at all.  She was now a seasoned trooper at Fong's and there are people watching out for her, besides Maddy, her mother. Fong's wife who mostly ran the show at the brothel along with Maddy. She wasn't about to let anything bad happen to Grace as long as she was around. There had been rumors going around for many months about what had happened in that run down hotel room on Broadway in San Diego before Maddy and Grace rolled into town, this despite the fact that neither of them had ever uttered a single word about what happened that day.

 

"Do you dream a lot?  Do you remember your dreams? ," Sander inquired of Unai.  They were sitting on the hotel porch in Unai's favorite spot, Sander on the porch swing. He was taking a break before returning to the ovens .  The town was needing bread and he was the one who supplied it, especially since the demand had been so high in recent months . The two new bakers were making his job a bit less stressful. " Why do you ask? "  " Well I could never remember my dreams very well until that night when Grace and I were supposed to go into the forest, you remember that?. It was the night you canceled it.  Now I have dreams that seem so real and alive, and I remember them really well, " said Sander earnestly.  " So you are having vivid dreams since that night? "  "Yes, vivid ones. I remember everything, but they are always about the same things. Bright colorful lights. A beautiful woman dressed like an Indian and Grace is always in them too."  " And that is bothering you?  It seems that way, if I am hearing you right."  Much time has passed.  Compass Point is showing it's growth like a just born colt with her four legs going in every direction, all at once.  Martin was brazen with his activities in the last few months. Not waiting until dark to roll his trucks across the border hauling goods to Mexico and then back. he had a network of lookouts with stolen Army Walkie-Talkies alerting to the horse patrols of the 111 TH Calvary.   No one knew what the rigs were carrying, if they did they were not about to tell.  That would be a dangerous thing to consider. One might lose their life or disappear forever.  The desert was a lonely and vast place.  The volume of traffic was increasing at a steady rate.  The white raven was seen flying over,  monitoring these activities.  She was visibly erratic and upset about what was going on.  Mala Rosa was planning something, Unai had considered, even though she had not had anything to say recently on the subject. She continued to remain her stoic self while allowing her menagerie to observe, stalk, hide in the shadows and report all of the activities.  He was not about to ask her on his frequent nocturnal visits to the disguised cabin in the forest.  Mala Rosa had not had any contact with Grace or Sander for many months.  It seemed she was waiting as both grew into their lives and had the experiences she had said they would have and would develop.  If only the citizens of Compass Point knew that forces beyond any that they knew about or could conceive, beyond the town strong man Joseph Martin or even all of the military, had the capability to change what they knew as their environment, it would be majorly disruptive beyond belief.  After all, a mysterious Indian woman who is destined to inhabit this small part of the world for the rest of time is not a fact any of them would believe or understand.  She and her five women attendants, in their altered states, had already been there for close to 200 years after the curse by their tribe's shaman had saved them from sure death and oblivion at the hands of the Spanish soldiers.

The troops from the 189 TH Infantry Regiment, California National Guard , whose numbers made up the majority of the sentry posts throughout the mountains and the the town, would just look the other way. As in any situation of crises, human nature sometimes stands out over his conscience After all these were clerks, salesmen, truck drivers and every day men.  A few Andrew Jacksons in weekly envelope solved Martin's problems and roadblocks to his acts of treason.  A soldier who made less than an average taxi cab driver was an effective enticement.  When the envelopes came steadily, the resulting loyalty transcended any solemn pledge they had made to their country or the military.  The threat of retaliation to their families proved to be a strong deterrent, along with the extra money. of course, this kind of illegal activity was not anything that upset Compass Point.  The town had survived on the edge of lawlessness for many years after the new highway had diverted travelers who stopped in town for many years and spent money.  Furthermore, the war situation was creating a climate for the people of Compass Point to finally flourish, and no one could predict how it would all end.  There was a mysterious element located in the forest that had more power than anyone could ever imagine.  At some point,  Mala Rosa would exercise that influence where it would have the most impact. One need only to watch for when the white raven flies.

Aunt Mo had bought Sander a brand new blue Schwinn Cycle-Truck for his birthday to replace his old rusty one with the bent front wheel and handle bars that would slip around, no matter haw much electrical tape he wrapped around the joint.  Instead of giving Sander a weekly allowance, he now had a business with his new conveyance.  "Sander's Fast Delivery" was painted in letters on the frame panel in bright red paint with white accents. The new bike's color was bright blue and the wheels and chrome parts were painted flat black so as to not shine at night during air raid warnings.  The heavy duty front wheel cargo rack could handle quite a bit of weight. Mo made sure that he got jobs from the hotel guests, and the hotel, for miscellaneous items that would be requested.  Even Willie and the girls at Fong's had Sander getting items for them.  Grace did not say how she felt, but she was very proud of Sander.  He continued to be resourceful and that made him even more special in her eyes as the days passed.  His standard fee was $.25 per trip, the second one was $.15.  Sander soon outgrew his treasure box to hold all of his money.  He asked Mo to keep his earnings in the office safe, held safely in a leather pouch Big Melvin had given him and he then marked with a flying raven from his wood burning kit.  Sometimes he would have to pile on a load that would be so heavy that he would have to stop and rest before finishing his delivery to that destination, but he was glad the bike had an extra heavy duty,  front wheel stand that would keep the loaded Cycle-Truck from falling over.

" Hey Cal, isn't that Big Melvin and Pastor Responsibility Ryan marching down the middle of the street?, " asked Willie as he looked out the window. He was pouring his first cup of coffee of the day that Cal had just brewed.  It was a Tuesday morning, and the bar clock on the wall showed 5:15 AM.  Willie had been pulling the chairs off the tables for breakfast service.  Customers would be coming in in just a few minutes.  Willie moved closer to the front window to get a better view in the dim mountain, morning light.  It was just about sunrise in Compass Point.  " What did ya say, Willie? ", hollered Cal through the kitchen pass through as he was adjusting the knob for the right griddle for the right temperature. " I said that Melvin has got Pastor Ryan by the arm and he is escorting him off toward the dump. No.... wait a minute, Cal.  You gotta see this.  Melvin got a big ol' damn shotgun stuck in the Pastor's back.  Willie and Cal continued to talk about the scene in the street in the early morning dim light, while the skies were still dark and the sun had yet to peek from behind the mountains to the east.  Melvin had had a strange Indian visitor that afternoon at the garage while he was doing a brake job for Willie's big Buick.  A visitor with some terrible news about Pastor Responsibility Ryan. News that would require some immediate drastic action that Big Melvin had never believed he would ever have to take again in his life.  He didn't know the Indian, had not ever seen him before today, but strangely he believed every thing this person told him.  At that time he immediately started to conger up his plan for the Pastor. It still bothered him why he would believe a perfect stranger, but he did.  After the Indian told his story and left, Melvin walked out in front of the garage to see what direction the man went, and he saw that there was no one in the street, just The Wheelbarrow Man on his way to set up his camp at the dump for the night.  He thought that very strange.  It all of a sudden made him think of Ol' Bear Paw back in Kentucky. Thoughts of that old Indian had not crossed his mind for many,many years.

The night before Big Melvin's plan for marching Pastor Responsibility Ryan down the middle of Main Street in Compass Point, he had not slept the whole night.  He opened the fifth of Four Roses he was keeping behind the stack of parts catalogs for a special occasion and poured glass after glass, all night long.  By 4 AM he had pretty much finished the whole bottle, and not with much change in his demeanor.  He was so worried about what he must do that the whiskey had had very little effect on him.  After school the day before, Sander had delivered some fan belts and a new radiator thermostat for Joseph Martin's Lincoln.  He was slow to leave and was having a problem folding back the front kick stand on his delivery bike. " You need some help there Sander with yer bike? ", inquired Melvin. " No. Thanks, Melvin. I'll get it to work, I might need some grease or something.  It is new and sticks some time.  Hey Melvin, can I ask you a question? ", Sander said with a worried look on his face.  " Sure, no problem. What is it ya want ta know?.  " Sander stood and shuffled his feet in the dirt, while he fiddled with his handle bars and said,  " If a guy tells a secret about a grown up and the grown up asked him not to tell the secret, will he be in big trouble? "   Melvin knew there was a message behind Sander's words.  " So what is botherin' you, little man?  You break something important or do something your aunt will get mad at you about....or what?  What is it?  You know I am yer friend and I ain;t gonna do anything that will make yer be out of sorts. I promise," as he crossed his heart with his big gnarled hand.  " OK, Melvin. It is about the Pastor. He sometimes keeps the kids that don't do well in class afterwards, sometimes for two hours or more.  For extra study, he says.  He doesn't keep me.  Not me, I make the best grades of anyone in the class.  But not the Indian boys from the reservation, who do not speak English very well. "  Melvin is starting to read between the lines."  After all, staying after school happens to most kids, Sander. " "  He has been doing it for a long time, Melvin. Everyone in class is afraid to tell anyone about it. I am scared too, but I feel bad for those Indian kids because he is messing with them.  He is doing really, really bad things to those boys.  They don't complain one bit.  If they did, one of their dads would come down here from the reservation and slit the Pastor's throat, for sure, Indian justice style. "  " Been goin' on for a long time, ya say.  How long did ya say?  Fergit that, how long don't even matter, no way.  You don't talk to no people, Sander. Listen to me, right?  Big Melvin will take care of this like I was a fixin' a testy carburetor or a whinin'' water pump.  But know this, I ain't a mentionin' yer name er nothin'.  You got that little man?  Now you git on home, have yer supper and sleep tight tonight.  Fergit the whole thing.  When you wake up tomorrow, all this commotion will be just fine over ta the school.  Consider the problem solved by Big Melvin.  " Sander rode away on his bike and was having visions in his mind of what Melvin would do, and he is wondering if he has hurt Responsibility Ryan badly by speaking up.  He had had to do it, those Indian kids surely weren't going to say anything. Maybe Melvin will just beat up the Pastor real bad and make him leave town.  Who was going to teach at the school if that happened?  Those and many other questions were rattling around in his head as he got to the hotel.  He realized he was really hungry.  He parked his bike in his usual spot by the old hitching rail and thought, " I hope Aunt Mo has fresh mountain river trout tonight? "

During Big Melvin's long night of contemplation and drinking, he had the memories of long ago in Kentucky now come back clearly. The day he took his Daddy's Greener shotgun and delivered the death sentence on old man Jakes, the rail yard foreman. The double- ought blast cutting him in half for doing those same things, that he had just had heard recounted by the mysterious Indian and by Sander, being done to the Indian kids at the school.  After all, these were just kids in that school, not adults.  They can't fight back. Better he deal with the matter than to have a bloody scene in front of the class when a father takes deals out his retribution.   What was Ryan thinking?  This man was sick and needed dealing with, just like Melvin had dealt with Jakes many years ago.  He took the key from his dresser and pulled out the fancy mahogany case from under his bed.  The box had gotten beaten up, covered with dust, dinged and weathered from being moved about for many years.  He opened it up to look at the Greener. It was just as beautiful as it had always been. The delicate scroll engraving and the initials of the original owner before his father, LR P, and the rich patina of the finely polished stock.  He hadn't fired it since those days he was on the run and only after that day, when he was hungry and after some a quail or a cottontail, to save himself from starving.  It shot true and many a quail, pigeon, rabbit and squirrel had been bagged and cooked over his campfires while he kept out of the sight of people.  He had kept it well oiled and the hammers working true and tight.  He hoped he would never have to use it on a man again, but it seemed that the time had come for the Greener to do it's job once again.

Melvin took the Greener out into to the early morning sunrise, streaming in at the front of the garage , cracked the fine firearm open and sighted down the barrel.  " Clean as a whistle .  This will do the job jest like afore, "  he mumbled quietly to himself.  Just then he heard the loud flapping of wings, looking up in the old oak at the front corner of the storage yard next to the garage was the White Raven.  She landed on a sturdy lower limb and cocked her head and glared at Melvin.  Since she was a common sight in Compass Point, Big Melvin paid her no mind.  He looked the shotgun over very thoroughly, inspecting ever screw, the stock, the triggers and the action by flipping it opening and closing it several times.  He turned and went back to his room, sat on his unmade bed and a feeling of remorse came over him.  Remorse he had not felt for many years, not since that day in Kentucky with Jakes affair.  He discounted it knowing that his decision had made and he would not waiver from that decision.  He thought it best to wait until after midnight, then he would roust Responsibility Ryan from his bed, tie his hands tightly, tape his filthy mouth shut and march him into the forest.  Melvin thought about the exact spot where the sentence would be carried out. The earth was fairly soft, digging would be fast, it was covered with forest litter and which made it easier to cover.  The sound of the Greener's barrels would not be heard and he thought for a moment, " I need make sure to take my shovel.  Maybe he will make him carry it to the spot. " That thought made him smile.  He wiped the shotgun down well with an old holey sock, placed it in the mahogany box, closed the lid and locked it.  He put the key on the night stand by the bed.  Melvin kicked off his work shoes, took another swig of his Four Roses, and lay down on the bed, still clad in his overalls.  Crankshaft jumped up on the bed in his usual place, curled up as he was to do, made his customary low rumble  and a sigh, then closed his eyes.  Melvin lay there for a moment and thought, " I wonder if his momma knew what kind of man she had birthed, naming him Responsibility?  A man that would be doing these terrible things to little children.  He didn't think she did.  Ol' Satan will soon have the right job for a new worker to show the ropes to. "

Feeling restless, he had a uneasy feeling, so he thought that he would get up and check on whether he had  remembered to lock up and close everything as was his nightly habit...... the doors to the garage, the big wooden gate to the yard, and make sure the big night light on the pole at the side of the office was on.  He had a difficult time slipping on his work shoes so soon after shedding them, his feet swollen from the day's work and worry.  Crankshaft raised his head and offered his quiet, knowing growl.  In a flash, he was off the bed and through the parts room where Melvin has made a nest for them both and was soon out of sight.  Melvin stood, stretched his long arms, not as interested in being in such a hurry as Crankshaft was.  He reached for his big five battery flashlight from the shelf over his bed and went to check the garage doors first.  He heard a low menacing growl that continued from his dog and glancing through the dusty window to the light pole, he saw it was not switched on, so he unlocked the back office door and headed through to the yard.  Flashing his light all around the yard, he strolled toward the pole to turn on the light, all the while looking  for the source of Crankshaft's need for his commotion.  He switched the big light on, the yard became suddenly bright as day, the bulb crackling after abruptly becoming hot.  Crankshaft was immediately quiet and sat down and still, in place, as Melvin was looking at the old Franklin with the bashed in left front fender and hood.  It had been sitting there for years, all the wheels had been sold and it was now propped up on the wooden spoke wheels from the Liberty WWI truck  that had worn out long ago and was then donated from the Forest Service when it ran into a ditch, too tired to move or be useful to work another forest fire. Melvin pulled it out of the ditch after two hours of effort with his reliable old Hudson wrecker.  All that was left of of the truck, after selling most of the parts and scrapping the rest, were those wooden spokes wheels.  Over time, thick grass had grown under the Franklin, almost reaching the running boards.  Crankshaft looked up at Melvin as he walked towards the Franklin and started to growl again, then uttered three sharp barks, this time he sounded as if he now had reinforcements and would be safer.  Perched up on the visor of the car was the White Raven.  Silent as she always was, looking straight at Big Melvin with those ominous steel-blue eyes. Her stare sent shivers up his spine, even though he had seen the bird in town hundreds of time.  " Let's get back to bed, Crankshaft. We got an important job to handle at midnight tomorrow.  " He quickly turned and headed back to his bed, thinking to himself,  " Why was that damn raven watching him at that time of night.  She was usually only seen in the daylight hours. It was if she knew what he was to do that next day, but he quickly discounted that idea. But still, he couldn't get the thought of how he had felt when she was staring at him with those eyes.  " No animal on earth has eyes like that, " he  added.

 

 

 

The Forest Lights Chapter 9 When The White Raven Flies

forestlights" Did you hear that, Grace? "  " What do you mean by ' that '?" You must have heard that. There! There it is again? " They had been searching on the trail for two hours, not knowing what they would find at the end. Faith and those inner feelings were  driving them on uneasily. Both were scared, but Grace wasn't about to let on to this " boy " she was with. Sander had his fear written all over his face and was quick to voice his feelings. Grace's instincts were leading them step by step, when the centuries old game trail in the forest disappeared. All they could see was a wall of  thick brush. The dark night sky made the going difficult. When they first set out it was a a bright, moonlit night. They had no flashlight, just the knife Unai had given Grace. Sander kept up the talking and was constantly making nervous comments, much more than Grace was comfortable hearing. She wanted the traveling to be a determined and successful task and it was making her uncomfortable. Grace was quiet and calm, using her that inner voice as if she had been there before, and Sander's chattering was a distraction, surely a sign that he was frightened. Her twelve years were not shown, her manner was more like that of a mature woman,as always a confident young mature woman. Neither could understand how they suddenly found themselves involved with this strange task, a quest they had to finish. No part of this has any connection to life as they had known it.

Grace had sensed since they left the town on the forest trail and the white raven was no longer easy to spot, that they were being watched by more than one set of eyes. The observers felt both friendly and sinister at the same time, she was sure. She had also heard unexplainable sounds, but declined to comment to Sander as to not get him more concerned than he was. In a way, she had wished she was by herself, but she also knew instinctively that the two of them had an unexplainable and permanent connection. What that connection was had not been made clear. She knew at some point that it would be revealed. She sensed that when that happened their lives would be altered forever. They continued to move forward as the thicket wall seemed to open up somehow and the way become more clear. Grace thought to herself, " I am so damn hungry. Right now, if I were back  safely at Fong's, one of the Oriental girls would be making a big steaming bowl of Chinese noodles and vegetables, with maybe some barbeque pork or some duck shredded on top." It would always one of  the girls who was having her time of the month, because like at a neighborhood firehouse, the girls on duty had to stop when were eating when they the gong sound. That meant there were customers out front to choose what girl, and what specialty they wanted from her. If she had her choice, Fong's is right where she would be now. She didn't care if anyone liked it or not, she was a whore and a damn good one. Her Mom was a whore and so was her kapuna wahine, her grandmother before that.It was always on her mind. Save up a nice, goodly chunk of money in her old Chinese camphor box and buy a boat ticket back to Hawaii. Live by the beach, catch fish, cook it in an imu and maybe marry a good strong Hawaiian boy and have lots of kamaikis, maybe five or six. Three girls and three boys. They could live in a simple house, the kids could run around half naked as is the way in the islands, search the tidal pools for sea urchins to eat, play in the surf and have contests building sand castles. She would quit working , or maybe make some big money from a rich tourist at a hotel in Honolulu occasionally. That was the dream that her and neither her mother or grandmother had followed. It seemed to always be a man in the mix. There were many who would remind her of the old saying amongst whores, "Easy money, spends easy." Grace was determined to change that.

Abruptly, her enjoyable and pleasant, rambling train of thought was interrupted when the white raven noisily flew right in front of them and, flapping it's wings, settling on a low hanging fir branch above eye level. The bird was not in the habit of making any noise at all when it arrived. Within seconds, almost like appearing from amongst the forest through the trees, branches and underbrush below the raven was a huge,sleek black jaguar. Almost immediately, there followed was a sinister coyote and then a giant gray wolf alongside the menacing jaguar. She did not see the smaller bobcat slip in between them all. Sander had stopped in his tracks. His mouth is dry and his heart is pounding faster than it had ever done before, more quickly than even after a race around the track at the orphanage chasing the boys in his dormitory. Grace surprised herself on how calm she  remained, being confronted by this fearsome and beastly lineup right in front of them. A strange internal energy seems to have been put in Grace's being and was heightened at that moment. It is as if she is communicating with these animals, all five of them, which defies normal explanation.It was a feeling she had never had in her life. Sander is not able to utter a word, but Grace is sensing that she should help him in this scary time. " Sander, just be calm and say nothing. I know they are terribly scary, but just let me handle this for both of us." " Ssssure, I guess so, " he found the strength to mutter. He wished he was somewhere else, like under his bed at his aunt's hotel. Safe and without being confronted by four wild and fierce animals that surely wanted to eat them both. Their glowing eyes trained directly on both of them. They were standing right in front of them. Sander had only seen pictures of animals like this in the encyclopedia. He did see a spotted jaguar and a wolf at the zoo. His dad had taken him to the San Diego zoo, but he was much younger. He had to count on Grace. She had that knife, but that was not going to do them any good. They were not in a movie or in a cage with Clyde Beatty, snapping his whip and firing a pistol in the air at a performance of  his famous three ring circus. That was just for show anyway. These creatures were not there for show and they meant business. Sander had a fleeting thought to turn and run, but where would he run?  He surely couldn't outrun this quartet that seemed determined to do them harm by their menacing looks.

What seemed like several minutes, but it really was just a few seconds, the jaguar slowly advanced towards them.  Eyes clearly fixed only on them. Each massive paw slowly placed in order as if she were stalking prey.  Her shiny black coat highlighted by the moonlight so the faint shape of spots are showing through her fur, looking like moving velvet sequins. Her glowing eyes, yellow-amber  jewels shining in the moonlit night, a deep menacing growl could be heard but not seen. She stopped and was rigid as she got to within an arm's length of Grace, who is just standing motionless, smelling the heavy measured breathing of the huge cat. She found herself wishing she had not run out of cigarettes ; then realizing they would not help her if she had them anyway. She still felt like right now she could use one....or maybe two. Her nerves were being tested like never before in her short life. She suddenly sensed that she and Sander were in a good and safe place on that trail as the moonlight started to come back more pronounced from behind the clouds. They could see better all around them, as if a spotlight had been switched on their dramatic scene.

The white raven made some more noisy gestures, followed with flapping wings, and all the animals amazingly seemed to fade into the forest, one moment they were there and now there was no trace of them, just the lingering fear Grace and Sander had felt since the beasts had arrived. Soon the white raven also had flown from view. " We need to follow them, Sander." "Why?, he replied, "They have left us alone, finally. We don't know where they went anyway. I just want to go back to my room."  " I want to go back too, but we are moving forward. Soon we will know why Unai sent us on this crazy hike through a menacing forest full of wild animals and that strange white raven." she said firmly. She gave Sander a sharp nudge on his shoulder and he reluctantly followed her deeper into the night forest. Grace now was picking up the pace as if she knew their destination, whereas before she had been visibly uncomfortable with the direction they had chosen. Sander followed obediently. All the while not really understanding what all of this is about or to what end it could possibly mean for them. He was wishing his Dad was with him now. He would make sure he was safe. He was always able to count on his Dad's confidence whatever time he was scared or uncomfortable. He would have led them to safety.

Grace suddenly stopped and put her hand in front of Sander as if to protect him from harm. " Why did we stop? " he asked. " There is nothing there but trees and bushes. " Don't you see it? It is right in front of us! ", she said emphatically. " Nope. I don't see anything. Are you crazy? There is nothing there. Nothing, I don't see anything. Let's go home, OK Grace?," he pleaded nervously, obviously more agitated and visibly upset. "Now look  at that odd rectangular shape of branches, right over there." As if by magic before their eyes, there appeared a little rustic cabin woven from leaves, branches, trees and limbs. It had a door covered in heavy bark with massive leather hinges at the top and at the bottom. There was a four pane window on either side of the door. It had wild flowers growing on the roof and in front of each window, which seemed unlikely because very little sunlight would be able to penetrate this part of the forest. It appeared as if the natural growth of the trees, shrubs and branches of the forest was destined to swallow the cabin shape completely, and somehow the cabin had held it's ground.

"Come on, let's go," Grace urged. " It's OK. I feel it all inside of me. It is warm but demanding at the same time. Trust me, Sander. " He finally was fixed on the cabin and becoming enthralled at how it had appeared from nothing but a jumbled forest thicket. " There is some candle light coming from inside, " he observed. They both moved closer and peered into the window. Amazed at what they were seeing, inside is a beautiful young woman with glistening long black hair, dressed in an elegant dress of pale buckskin trimmed in colorful sea shells. " I see you have found her and the cabin, " a voice from out of the forest announced. They both turned around, suddenly startled by the voice. There was Unai standing before them with a big smile on his face. " Here you both are. There were several times I thought you both might give up and go back to your former lives. " " What do you mean former lives. " asked Sander. Your lives from this night forward will be completely different, as I had mentioned briefly before you left on the forest trail. While there was moonlight to guide you, to find what you did not know you were destined to find.

All of a sudden a strange and silent air permeated the space around them. A quiet, unexplained, multicolored vortex of lights started to slowly spin around them. It was as if they had been transported to another place and another time. Every slightest gesture or movement from each of them seemed now to be in slow motion. Grace and Sander surprisingly were not afraid. They were calm as this state of physical phenomenon was enveloping them both. Unai just stood there with the same smile on his face, as if enjoying what was happening to them for the first time in their lives. This surely was what he was talking about when he spoke about their former lives. They knew it was obvious that the future was to bring continued unknowns and unexplained paradoxes. Grace was convinced it must be the forest and this young woman dressed in buckskin and sea shells was the center of these strange happenings. She was anxious to see what was going to occur next. Sander was just standing there in a quiet and calm bliss. His thought pattern only focused on the slowly spinning colors, the pleasant quietness and the strange air that now surrounded them all. His heart was not pounding now like when they met up earlier with those scary beasts.

Slowly the colors and the vortex started to fade along with the mist around the lights. More clearly defined and standing in front of them was the beautiful young woman from inside the cabin. Her sleek black hair and elegant native dress were even more impressive. The moonlight continued to shine brightly as if it were daylight. Suddenly she spoke, her melodic and soft voice startled them all. " My eyes have seen you all for many years, for a very long time. She is always watching for me, " she said quietly. "Grace and Sander, you were meant to be here in this place and at this time. Unai is my destined worthy trust. He is my strength and connection to your part of the world. I cannot ever leave the forest. I am to be here forever. As we have time in the future, you will learn of my story and your own roles that are to be played. No matter what you do, you will be guided to a place and to perform tasks and to seek horizons that you will have no control over. Grace, as you have experienced already, you and I will communicate often, eventually continually. When I have chosen to see you, you will be summoned and you will come. My eyes will still be present as she flies freely within the town. You have already seen her often. The other women that are my protectors probably have frightened you. Fear not their presence because they will now protect you as well. The jaguar leads the she-wolf, the coyote, and the smallest, but very clever, bobcat. You will remember little, if any, of what has happened here tonight. You will experience certain recall, but a not total memory of this evening. All that will happen to you in the future will be as it should be and as I have foretold. Do not worry that anyone is watching you or that you have to perform or act a certain way. All will seem perfectly normal. You will still make life's mistakes, have joyous times of happiness, experience times of sadness and suffer terrible dangers. Normality of life is what you will experience. It is now almost dawn. I retreat now and you will be back in your beds before you know it. We will meet again soon.

It was Unai's day off and he planned to have a late breakfast at Willie's and chat with the gang. Sander awoke and feeling refreshed, he went to Willie's. He was familiar with Unai and his day off late breakfast. Dotty waved him over to Unai's favorite table and said " One large glass of milk coming up, young man. How are you this fine morning, Sander? " " I am just great. I slept the whole night, just like a log, as my Daddy used to say. " " Good morning, Sander, " Unai said smiling. "You look bright and cheerful." " I am just that. I slept well and I am really hungry, " he said with the enthusiasm of a young boy. Dotty stopped by with Sander's milk and took their orders. Unai got one of his favorite breakfast combos. Oatmeal with brown sugar, stewed raisins and half and half. Two slices of whole wheat toast that he had baked himself and Mo supplies to Willie's Place. Two soft boiled eggs, grapefruit juice and hot tea. He had made sure that there was a jar of Dotty's dried apricot preserves on the table. Sander ordered a double stack of  pancakes, six of them, with extra butter and blueberry syrup, orange juice and his large milk. " Dotty, can I please also get four pieces of crisp bacon too?," he asked politely as she was on her way to give Cal the order. " I see that you are not just bright and cheerful, but really hungry as you mentioned, " Unai commented.

As they both were enjoying their breakfasts, Sander was vigorously cutting into his fourth pancake after spreading it with butter and drenching it in syrup. " What do you remember about last night?, Sander," he asked pointedly. " Last night? Remember what? Let me see. I just remember that I slept all night long. I do kinda recall that you wanted me to go down the forest trail in the dark, even though it was a moonlight night. I don't remember why I didn't. Why did you want me to go? Did you change your mind?" " Yes, Sander. I did change my mind. At least you enjoyed your sleep. Let's talk about it another time. Have you seen Grace this morning?"  "No, I don't think so, but you know that she doesn't get off work until about 2 or 3 AM. Odd that you should mention her now. I dreamed a lot about her last night, but now I do not remember any of it. I just know she was in my dreams the whole night. That is crazy, isn't it? Not recalling anything of what you dreamed about. I usually remember part of my dreams."

The day was an average one in Compass Point, uneventful for most. Mr. Martin drove up in  a cloud of dust as usual in his big Lincoln about noon. He met with two strange men in black suits and hats pulled low, who were driving a dark foreign sedan, for about an hour, then they all left separately. This in itself was not out of the ordinary, but that didn't stop the gossip hounds at Willie's to try and conjure what it had been all about. It was a warm evening and Sander had stayed up late. Mo was on a buying trip overnight to San Diego so she was not there to monitor his bedtime. She left Unai in charge of that, but he was not about to tell him when to go to bed. He was in front of the hotel under the streetlight engrossed in a heated game of marbles with some of the Royce kids and the oldest Mexican boy. Unai was on the hotel porch in the porch swing having some coffee and enjoying the warm evening air, and alternately dozing off. His shift baking bread would start in a few hours.

He was interrupted from his snooze by Big Melvin and his huge clodhoppers that were stirring up a cloud of dust on Main Street, heading for Willie's for his nightly dinner time at Willie's. Melvin was about three hours late. He usually sat down at his favorite counter stool at seven PM sharp. He moved heavily up the steps, opened the door and was greeted by the regular patrons and Dotty and Cal too. " Good evenin' Dotty. I believe I will have two hamburger sandwiches, a cup of coffee with cream please. " " So it is your regular order, eh Melvin? " Big Melvin nodded his head in agreement. " I was expectin' you in much earlier, " she said. Well today I hooked up my homemade antennae to my big 'ol Crosley so's I could listen to the Grand Ol' Opry in Nashville. They starts much earlier out here in Compass Point. Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys was playin'. They is my favorite. I wanted to hear all of their songs. " Dotty had busied herself with her duties and mostly had her back to Melvin,  but she was nodding and making verbal sounds in agreement to his story. She turned to Melvin and with her big smile, " Here are your hamburger sandwiches and coffee. " " There was more nodding from Melvin as his mouth was already full from his giant bite of Cal's handiwork. Typically Melvin ate like he was still at the table of his family. Being  poor kids and making sure they got their share. In no time at all he as polishing off the last bite, gulping the still hot coffee. He put down his forty five cents to pay the bill, then slid fifteen cents across the counter as was his habit. " That's fer you Dotty. See you all in the mornin'. Big Melvin was never off his schedule going to Willie's, be it breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Bob Wills changed that this evening. That Crosley console was his pride and joy, having taken it in exchange for a side customer deal who couldn't pay his ten dollar bill for new brakes Melvin installed on his Model A.

Later in the evening Grace and Jennie, her mother Maddy's best friend at Fong's, stopped in for an after work drink. Willie didn't like any of those " slant eyed whores " drinking in his place, but he had to allow it after being visited by a couple of Fong's burly enforcers with specific instructions from Joseph Martin and Fong who ran the town inside and out. Willie justified it to everyone in his bragging way, even while the memory of his younger brother who served in Shanghai with the 4TH Marine Regiment, known as the China Marines still haunted him. He did not come home, the casualty of an encounter with some Japanese soldiers along the border the Marines were stationed to guard from conflicts. To deflect this situation he would go on and on about everybody's money pays the bills. Grace and Jennie sat in the corner table as always where they could see all the happenings more easily. Dotty brought their drinks, a double shot of Bourbon for Grace and a Tom Collins for Jennie. Cal was in the kitchen cleaning up and almost ready to go home, Dotty was doing the same out front.  Old Bill was in his usual chair, head down and snoring loudly No one paying any attention to him. There were about five other people in the place, mostly regulars, and all were about to leave for the evening.

All of a sudden they heard a tractor pull up out front with a screeching and releasing of air from the heavy brakes. The bright red cab door of the Autocar swung open and the stocky driver jumped to the ground, shaking the stiffness from his joints. He took off his cap, spit in his hand, and slicked back his hair in the truck's mirror, putting his cap back on squarely.  He quickly went up the steps and opened the door. " Willie, you old chicken fucker. It's me, Lester Bond, come to see you. I am thirsty, horny and I could eat the ass end of a mule travelin' south if you was to hold him still! " " Lester, you useless turd. I haven't seen you in my place for ten years. Where the hell did you crawl out from under? " " I am still with the same company, Roberts and Wade Trucking. They had me on the northern runs. I requested that 'cause I got married to a red headed hair dresser with big titties from Bakersfield. Last month she ran off with a fuckin' travelin' shoe salesman from Oakland. Good riddance. Nothin' but trouble. Cost me most all of my dough. I'm back on the southern run out to Arizona and back to southern California circuit, so I'll be coming by once a month or so. Don't give a damn that they built the new highway.  I left my trailer back on the shoulder of the highway, under some trees and out of the way. I wasn't looking forward to that shitty drive on the road here  draggin' my trailer too. Shit man, I am here for Cal who makes the best steaks on any interstate and you are still pourin' the good booze, I'll bet." " It is damn good to see you, Lester. We can talk about the old days and get drunk together. You can stay in my spare bedroom upstairs tonight. I have to warn you though, the bed is lumpy, but it is clean and quiet. Gotta hot shower and breakfast downstairs. I call that a good deal, " informed Willie.

"Is Myrtle still here slingin' hash and doin' her specialties? " " No she's been gone about three years. married a guy with the Forest Service. Already got three kids. I want you to meet Dotty. She takes care of the customers, including the specialties, if you know what I mean? " " Very pleased to meet you , Lester." " Yes ma'am indeed. Dotty, fix me up with a thick steak and all the fixin's. Cal knows I like my fries extra crispy. Cal is still cookin' this late', isn't he? " " You bet yer ass Lester. Comin' right up, shouted Cal from beyond the pass through window. Lester was downing his first shot of Canadian Club with a beer chaser and getting ready for his second. Dotty stepped back to the restroom while Cal cooked Lester's steak and French fries.

Old Bill had awakened during all the commotion and Willie was half whispering to him and three of the regulars still there,  including Doomsday Phil, over in the corner at the end of the counter. Dotty came back and gave Lester his steak and immediately he carved off a big chunk and began chewing with relish and a grin on his face, smacking his lips. She walked over to the four of them and over heard Willie say ten inches, whereas they all started chuckling, careful not to be heard by Lester. " What the fuck are you bunch talkin' about. This bastard have a ten inch dick? " " Yes. That's what it is, but you can handle it Dotty. Myrtle did every time he came through. You scared, Dotty? " Willie challenged.  " I am not letting him shove that donkey dick in me. You can make book on that, you assholes " " Listen Dotty. Here is the deal. He spends lots of dough here and hasn't been here in ten years. You keep all the cash on this deal, I guarantee he will throw in a big tip. He always does. Shit,  I'll even toss in another Andrew Jackson. What'll you say? " Dotty paused for several seconds, face grimacing and running all of what had been said through her brain. " Oh, all right asshole. I will do it. But if he hurts me, I'll come out here and toss a pot of hot coffee in your lap. Got it? " " Deal, " Willie said with a huge grin.

No one had noticed that their voices carried to Grace and Jennie's table. It was one of the reasons why Grace always sat there. She quickly stubbed out her just lit cigarette, gulped down her Bourbon and said, " We gotta see this, Jennie. There is a space through the bars on the window in the storeroom where Dotty services her customers. " " Not interested. I have seen my share of 10 inch cocks. I'm headin' home. See you on the morrow, Gracie, " Jennie replied as she left. Grace knew exactly what she would do. It was a bit sinister, but he had to have some education about life and who better to show it to him than little Gracie! " Grace quickly went outside and there was Sander, still playing marbles in the street. " Why was he not in bed? His aunt must be out of town, " she thought to herself. Unai had left the porch to start his baking shift in the hotel. She walked over to the bunch of boys playing marbles and announced, " Hey Sander. You gotta come with me. All you kids get home before your folks come looking for you. " " Aw, Grace. Why? I was winning, " cried Sander. " You can play again tomorrow. Right now, you have to come with me. "

" How come we are here in the dark at the back of Willie's by the storeroom window? " " Just keep your eyes peeled through the window. You'll see why. " In about ten minutes the bare light bulb hanging from the ceiling came on as Dotty pulled the chain. She started to take off her uniform, her underwear and was soon naked. Her huge breasts prominent through the window. Sander's eyes were big round orbs like baseballs suspended in mid air. Grace glanced over at him and it was all she could do to keep from breaking out laughing. She knew better to talk, or he might turn and run. Soon a burly guy with a trucke's cap entered the storeroom, with a big grin on his face. He unbuttoned his trousers and pulled off his underpants. All of a sudden Dotty gasped and said, Ten inches my ass. Willie said you had ten inches. That monster is approachin' thirteen and if I am lyin',  just shoot me dead." It was standing parallel to Lester like he was ready for batting practice. " All right, Mister. I will give it a try. But if you hurt me, I'll break that damn thing off and we will see if you use it ever again. " Most men would lose their enthusiasm immediately after hearing a woman promise an action so drastic to their manhood, but not Lester. He maintained his grin and was more than ready to still do battle.

"I think you have had enough of this, " Grace declared. Sander had not uttered a word. He had just stood there with his eyes still wide open, not even blinking, speechless. Dotty pulled herself onto the high makeshift cot covered with a blanket she had arranged over some cases of peaches and Lester positioned himself between her legs. " Come on now, Sander. Get going , " said Grace as she yanked Sander's arm roughly and dragged him away and back to Main Street and the hotel. She was at least  a foot and a half taller and outweighed him by forty pounds so he did not have much choice but to follow her. " How come he...." she stopped him in mid sentence. There will be a time many years from now when I will tell you about tonight. Maybe I was wrong to show you that, I thought it might be funny. Maybe I have made a mistake. We will not talk about it further. If I hear that you have been telling anyone I took you behind Willie's to see them, you will be in big trouble. Trouble like you have never known. " Sander believed her. He was tired, exhausted and still could not get those images out of his mind. He had never seen a grown woman naked before. Not like that. " Well! What are you going to say? " " Ahhhh, nothing. I won't say a word. Some day you will tell me all about it? ", he asked. " Yes, I told you I would. I keep my word. For now, let's forget the whole evening." " Okay, I will. "

 

 

She is The Eyes Chapter 8 When The White Raven Flies

foresttrailSeveral days have gone by with not many new experiences for Sander in his new adopted home of Compass Point. He is scheduled to start school the following Monday, and he is very excited to get back to learning, his favorite endeavor. There are only twelve students in the school and it is held Monday through Thursday in the church. Many of the kids need to help with making money at home or in the family business,. Some have a job for themselves. The weekends are busy times in Compass Point and travelers from the highway may take the turnoff to town, either on purpose or from some unforeseen car trouble. The bus riders are about double in numbers too. Back at the school, to set up for class study, the hard seated pews are moved about by the older boys and the teacher, who is also the preacher, Responsibility Ryan, to make up different areas for the different grades. These pews were donated by the Catholic church, just to the west of Compass Point, when they remodeled. The church membership is made of well healed people who want to have the latest trappings for their services and classes and the old pews were only suitable for firewood use to them. The grades are combined because of so few students and rearranging the pews allows for defined spaces to stay together. Even though they are in good repair and not quite four years old, they are still constructed of  high quality Eastern hard maple, but many of the kids have to bring pillows or folded blankets, so sitting for long periods of time is easier on young bottoms.

It seems no one really knows the preacher's whole story, or if they do, will not share it with children. Unai promised he would divulge what is commonly known to the adults to Sander when he had the time to set aside. He said that he had finally convinced Mo to hire someone to help in the kitchen so he could take some days off,  from time to time. Eventually he wants to just bake bread and desserts, working the the early morning hours. Then his days would be free once again. Sunday before school was to start, Unai came to Sander's room, knocked on the door. " Are you awake, Sander? " He was just putting on his clothes and announced through the closed door that he was. " Meet me in ten minutes in the kitchen. I am helping explain some specials to my new kitchen worker, then we an go to Willie's for your first breakfast and we will catch up on the life and times of Sander." he said with a chuckle." OK, he answered through the door. " I will see you in the kitchen in ten, " he responded. "  Breakfast at Willie's. Wow, that is going to be great. Maybe Grace will be there. Unai will not want to talk to her or about her, but even though she may be there, I will get to see her again. I haven't seen her since that day, and I have looked everywhere too," he repeated to himself.

"Sander, I want you to meet Jaime Escovedo. He works as a cook with my friend over the border at the cattle ranch. Jaime was tired of moving with the herds and cooking for the vaqueros. Right Jaime? " Si Senor Unai. I am berry tired.Nice to meet you Senor Sander." " Excuse me, Jaime. I wanted to mention to Sander that you have a limited use of English, but since all of the servers and Mo know the language well, he will be OK with me not being here. A probably a better cook than I am, for sure." " Jaime, you worked at several top restaurants and hotels in Acapulco and Mexico City, didn't you? " " SI...Si. Many good places to work I am helping. I am making good American food , berry good. Las personas muy rica estan ...you know, dees people happy eating my food. " " OK then, I guess you are all set, Jaime. I will be back on Wednesday. Let Mo know if you need any help or questions that must be answered immediately.  Sander and I are off to Willie's Place for his first breakfast there. " As they walked over to Willie's from the hotel, Unai explained to Sander that he had been trying to get some help in the kitchen for almost six years. He was the one that was tired. "You know a guy with two days of free time would probably grab a bottle of his favorite and go to a quiet place, then proceed to get drunk. I wanted to tell you that I do not drink any longer. I was involved in a terrible two car accident and a woman was killed in downtown Los Angeles. It was about fifteen years ago. I spent two months in jail, it was not entirely all my fault. I had been out of work from another accident for about five years. I made money cooking, washing dishes or whatever job I could wrangle. Originally I had come to LA to work as a stunt man in western movies." When Sander heard that he was all excited and wanted to know if Unai knew his favorite actor, Tom Mix and a lot more about cowboys and Indians and such. However, he sensed it was a time for listening and he would learn more another time.

" I will tell you more after we get our food. " Once again the crowd at Willie's chimed in almost at once when Sander and Unai walked in the door. " The Yaqui is here," hollered Old Bill cupping with his hand his deaf ear. " Quiet the fuck down, you old fart. They can hear you in fucking Berlin, fer Christ's sakes,"  Doomsday Phil scolded. The place was almost full of customers, so Unai and Sander seated themselves by a small table, partially blocked by the windshield wiper blade display. Dotty was running full steam , waved her hand at them but said nothing, sweat pouring down her red face and cheeks, three pencils stuck in her hair to be easily at hand. She had some help today. Eleanor Small Badger,a student from the reservation near by, was helping out. It was a Sunday and she didn't have high school classes. Eleanor was a model student, and a wealthy Indian merchant who grew up on the reservation had paid for her whole college education. She was already pr-enrolled at San Diego State Teachers College to get her bachelors degree in early childhood education. She stopped by their table, her wide face beaming with a big smile and said, " Hello Mr. Unai. It is nice to see you. Do you know what you would like to eat this fine day of our Lord? Oh, excuse me. This must be Sander that I have heard about. I am Eleanor Small Badger. I wish I could talk more, but we are really busy. Maybe some other time. " Her smile still prominent even with the busy goings on. Unai nodded acknowledgement and with his hand pointing towards Sander, " You can order for the both of us. You need to have these experiences. " Are you sure?, " and before he could finish, Unai ,with a quick smile, waved his hand for him to continue his order. " I will have the bacon waffle. I have never had one of those. Can I get extra butter and syrup with my waffle?," he inquired. " Sure you can. " OK then, I also would like a small bowl of stewed prunes. I love prunes, and some milk. Lots of milk, please." Almost forgetting his new task, Sander glanced back at the menu with a wrinkled brow,thinking intently, and then up at the blackboard behind the counter. " For my friend Unai, please bring him the special omelet with nopalitos and green chiles, some hot fresh tortillas, refried beans, a small bowl of peaches and coffee. I think, ah. Yes, that is it. Thank you, Eleanor. " " Did I do a good job," asked Sander, worried that he had not. " You did a fine job. I did not know you knew about cactus omelets. That is a great breakfast and I am very hungry, ordinarily I couldn't finish that much food. But today I am going to go for a walk in the forest, there is something i  must do. About four miles, that will work off the fine breakfast You will like the bacon waffle. Cal is the first cook to do it that I have known. I have had one. Delicious....very good indeed.

Eleanor brought their milk and coffee, plus water for each. Sander was straining his neck looking out the dusty window into the street at the white raven, who had just landed. She had a wriggling field mouse in her beak that had lost it's quest to get to the other side of the street, but was still struggling to have it's freedom again."See the raven in the street, Unai? I guess she has to have breakfast too, because she doesn't get waited on like we do. Eleanor looked intensely into Sander's eyes when he looked back at her statement and repeated ," She is the eyes." Sander, all of a sudden, got a most eerie feeling and the goose bumps on his arms came on strongly before he could notice. She continued to stare for several seconds and she again repeated , " She is the eyes." Before Sander could notice, she had left to go to another table. Unai looked at Sander and said, " I see that you are most uncomfortable, are you not? " " Yes I am. She made me feel very odd. She said the same thing that you did about the white raven. I don't understand what just happened." " I told you that this would be a journey of discovery for you. Eleanor is from the reservation. All of her people are very spiritual and tuned into nature. Much of what they say is difficult to understand and comprehend for the rest of us. This is one of the factors of why almost all of her people were easily enslaved by the Spaniards in the sixteenth century. There will be some times when you will talk to Eleanor, and maybe some others of her people, and it will be a special time of learning. There are many legends about her people continually told here in the mountains for centuries. Some of them are not legends, but true stories and they will surely include you in the future. Enough already. Let us eat before our wonderful food gets cold. Eleanor had brought their plates without their noticing while Unai was talking. Unai then closed his eyes for several seconds with his hands clasped together, then he waved his right hand to the sky and then the left hand, all the while repeating and mumbling some words that Sander could not make out. Soon, he opened his eyes, and there was a sparkle in his eyes. He  picked up his napkin and put it in his lap and muttered very quietly again under his breath," I know. She is your eyes." Sander just sat and was silent. He dare not ask what any of that he had just observed was all about. He was sure he would learn about that later too." Mmmm. Smells good," said Unai enthusiastically, as he took a forkful of cactus omelet into his mouth, smiling and then a sip of hot coffee.

"Have you seen anything odd, unique of any kind or that spoke to you of any special interest in the last few days?," inquired Unai. " Well, I have been thinking about the white raven often. You said she is the eyes. Eleanor said the same thing. I imagined if I could see like that raven can. Be free to fly anywhere and see anything it chooses. You know, then I am the eyes. Unai smiled in anticipation of when what that statement ' she is the eyes ' finally meant to Sander and what his response would be after his learning of that meaning. " So I made a list. I have it right here. Sander pulled out a neatly folded piece of note paper with the hotel letterhead and read quickly to himself. " The Wheelbarrow Man was in the apple orchard,  sitting on the ground amongst the fallen apples, picking up one after another until he would find one good enough to eat. He  unfolded his big sharp jackknife with the bone handle that he sharpens on a well worn stone he keeps in his pocket of his ragged raincoat. It is the same one he uses for all the tough jobs at his camp site. He calmly sliced one slice after another and ate it. He was humming to himself and seemed quite content. What was amazing about this scene was the ten or twelve crows surrounding him, wobbly strutting about, squawking and squabbling, while looking for their good apple. Which really seemed pointless, since they were eating them all eventually, one not being more important than any another. Soon they were obviously drunk and really wobbling about more than before, or they would just stop and sit down where they were. Very uncharacteristic of crows.  One bird had sat down for three or four minutes beyond the cover of the orchard and that particular tree. He just sat there, his eyes were trying to focus and he attempted once to stand and walk. Before I knew it, a great horned owl swooped out of nowhere and attacked the startled crow. The bird then tried to get airborne and fly off, one wing flapping wildly, but the owl had dug it's talons into the chest of it's quarry. It was now sadly flopping about while the owl was tying to get a strong hold of it to fly off with the prey. Meanwhile Unai was leaning forward, had finished most of his omelet, some of his peaches and was sipping coffee as Eleanor had brought refills two times. He listened to the story as if he was learing something new, but as if he knew the outcome beforehand. By this time the damage had been done and the other drunken bunch had responded, albeit not with any sort of order and without much haste. To see a great horned owl in daylight attack was unusual and I couldn't explain it. Nature had taken it's course. Last I saw, the white raven was in close chase as the owl headed to apparent safety in the midst of some tall sycamores, but without it's quarry in tow. All the crows stood around their slowly dying brother and acted most odd. All of a sudden they were completely sober and this reminded me of humans acting in the same way after a experiencing a sudden tragedy.

"How did you feel after seeing this? Did you realize that you did not mention what The Wheelbarrow Man was doing while all of this unique bird activity? " " I know. I honestly do not remember what he was doing. For all i know he was as drunk as he crows. How did I feel? I felt sad for the crow, but then again, he was making a bad decision and his lesson was a tragedy." " Do you think that the crows have the intelligence to realize what had happened and to learn from it?, " asked Unai,  leaning even more forward in his chair,  waiting for Sander's answer. "I do not know. Darn it, yes I do. I think they know what happened and that small group of birds will not make the mistake another time. I do not think they will quit eating rotten apples and that makes them drunk, but they will have one or two crows stay clearheaded and stand guard for the others." " Very interesting observations. You may be more right than wrong in your opinion of what will happen with the same type of thing next time." " What else did you learn on your travels around town?," he asked. "I watched Aunt Mo go outside and sit in that stinky outhouse, when there are good restrooms in the hotel. I then noticed she would be there for a long time. She was smoking a cigar. I do not know if she was doing that to cover up the smell of the shit or because she wants to smoke a cigar. Both of them are disgusting to me." "Ha,ha,ha! You caught her. She has been doing that for many years. The Chinese herbal doctors tell her to quit, that it is not good for her health. She even drank  their prescribed vile concoctions for a whole month. I do not know who she was trying to fool, but it was not any of us or the China man who made it for her. I think she is addicted to them. It is also a way to have an uninterrupted break. Covering the smell is a well needed byproduct.

"Anymore that caught your fancy?" "Yes, quite a few. I am here in Compass point and some pretty strange things happen between men and women, if you know what I mean? Unai says to himself, " Oh boy. Here we go." I saw Mr. Joe Marin, the big shot who owns most of the town and does many things that are not legal. Right?" "Yes you are right, " hoping that he had not seen some of the really illegal activities and will now be in danger of violent ramifications. With anticipation, he waited for Sander's story. " So I believe he lives on a mountain top in a huge expensive,custom built house, by himself and not in town. He drives a 1935 Lincoln Le Baron Model K. A fancy cream color car with maroon fenders, two big spare tire covers mounted in front of the doors, wide fancy white wall tires and chrome wire wheels. Big Melvin told me all about the car and a little about the man. Very little. Unai was suddenly relieved that his fears were not to be. " I saw his car drive into town and park under the trees behind Willie's Place amongst the stacks of lumber and rolls of tar paper. In a moment, Dotty came out and got in the car, they hugged and he seemed very happy. He is a small and skinny man with dark rimmed glasses. he was wearing very formal clothes. I know all of this because i sneaked up close to hear them, but i really did not hear anything but quiet talking and laughing. then there was no sound at all and i couldn't see Dotty any longer. I know that everyone thinks I am just this dumb kid who doesn't know about life, but i listen and i learn. I crawled up in top of a stack of wide redwood planks and she had her head in his lap. He was just sitting there and did not seem like he was feeling anything. I know what she was doing. She was sucking his penis. I guess men and women like to do this to each other. She kept doing it for about fifteen minutes and there was still no expression from Mr. Martin. I was ready to climb down from that redwood, it was boring, then all of a sudden he let out these big grunts, many all in one row. Suddenly he pushed her head out of the way, and she sat up with a smile on her face. Him too. Smiles, but he was breathing hard and she was not. She was combing her hair and fixing her makeup. He reached into his jacket and pulled out his wallet and gave her several bills. She giggled, gave him a big hug, but he would not kiss her. I ducked down as she got out of that fancy Lincoln, straightened her uniform, lit a cigarette and went back inside. " Did you learn anything from all of that, Sander," Unai asked trying not to smile as to the potential answer. "I learned that I have more to learn. They both seemed pretty happy at what was going on. I guess a lot more than that usually happens. I thought about what I had seen and I could not help but think of Grace. It could have been Grace in that car." Unai did not have the heart to tell Sander that Martin had been trying to get her and her mother to move into the mansion on the hill since he was one of her first customers shortly after she came to town. If he gets her to come up there one time, she will probably stay for good. It is a good bet that Fong was raving about this beautiful and amazing twelve year old that he had in his stable and Martin should try her out, like she was a fancy new car. I also am sure he paid Fong handsomely for the information. A bigger commission than he normally paid is also a good bet. Unai had been quietly praying from time to time that Grace would not walk through the door while they were having their talk. The negative impact that would have on Sander could spell disaster. They were to meet and know each other but only when the timing was right, the moon was high in the dark heavens and only after they had been introduced to the mysteries that the forst held for just a few. Then it would be right and it could all follow in the proper order, as it had been foretold for over two hundred years. To have things happen out of that proper order, would take extreme measures to make it right. Unai sometimes felt that perhaps he was not the right one to be there to shepherd it forward, but it had been set down by his people when he was born and any choices of his were not to be considered.

Thinking about the fact that the longer they stayed, the more likely Grace may show up with a thirst for a liquid Bourbon breakfast, he said," Let us go outside and stroll in the sun. You are finished, I trust? " "Yes I am." " Good. Eleanor," he waved his hand as she passed by, " I am so busy Mr Unai, can you pay up front at the cash register. Dotty's there now." " Yes, of course. Thank you so much. "  When they walked up to the cash register, Dotty informed  Unai that Willie had given them free breakfasts because it was Sander's first time. Unai looked up at Willie, sitting in his chair, thanked him and shook his hand. There were smiles all around. " Here Sander. Give this five dollars to Eleanor and thank her for her good service when she was so busy this morning. I am sure she could add it to her college fund." Sander took the bill, gave it to Eleanor, and she stopped to hug him, while whispering something quickly in his ear and they both headed for the door. Just as Unai was about to open the door, in burst Grace with her usual flamboyance. The scent of fresh gardenia filled the room from the bllom she wore in her neatly combed black hair, puffing on the ever present cigarette. Today she was elegantly dressed in a pure white silk Asian style dress that accented her shape where the men in the room were clearly staring as she announced so all could hear, " Oh no! Are my two handsome and luscious men leaving so soon?" And before either could answer, she added, " Well I hope it isn't because of little ol' me?  No, I don't think so. She grabbed each of their faces in a hand hand and kissed each on the cheek, leaving a prominent bright red lipstick mark behind. " I guess I will have to wait until the next time to be with my handsome guys, won't I? ". Just like that, she was off to the bar." Four Roses, my dear Willie! " He had already painfully risen from his chair, bottle in hand and was wiping a glass clean as it if it had never been clean before. Sander thought to himself, " It is like she is playing a movie part. No twelve year old acts like that. He also noticed that every single man in the room, no matter what his age, still had his head turned towards this woman-child and was definitely mesmerized with her every action. She had a power many women would never achieve, a trait most woman would never achieve, at least not like a woman like this one. It was still hard for anyone to think of her as anything but a woman. Unai shook his head and mumbled to himself as they left down the steps, " I can not believe we dodged that encounter for a second time, I have to get the process going before there are some real problems before us. "

Unai checked with The Farmer's Almanac that Mo kept handy in the lobby for travelers as part of the reading material, along with the dogeared LIFE magazine issue from January 1938, the three well worn copies of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, some maps of the Cleveland national Forest, and Mo's favorite, that she reluctantly put in the lobby only after reading cover to cover late at night when wanting to fall asleep after a tough fourteen hour day in the hotel, ARIZONA HIGHWAYS. It was  before his baking shift one morning at three AM, the hotel was quiet and he could be sure of the next full moon. It was scheduled to be in five days by the Almanac. He came into the dining room later that morning when Sander was having his waffle and bacon, walked up to his table and announced, " Sander. I need you to be at the side of the chapel by the cemetery at eleven PM, five days from today. That is a Tuesday. Sander wanted to ask why he was telling him five days ahead and why would they meet in the cemetery, which seemed a bit creepy to him, but he just answered, " OK. I will be there. It is going to be pretty dark because the street lights go out at eleven PM, can I get a flashlight? " " You will not need one because it will be a full moon that night and the sky will be extremely bright, as if it were lit with searchlights that. Unai was waiting for him to ask the many questions he knew that Sander had running around in his head, but none came forth. Their original talk at the gas station on their drive to Compass Point, plus the steady growth and their relationship since then, is letting him   Unai know that Sander is comprehending the mysterious nature of what he is destined to learn. That was a good thing for Unai, because the really in depth secrets that are predetermined were about to be revealed for Sander and Grace in five days. Neither would be easily ready for the impact they would have on their lives.

Sander was sitting on the front porch having a cup of hot chocolate that Mo had made for him one morning, enjoying the sunshine when he saw a most spectacular sight. A red tail hawk had been harassing the crows that were feeding at the dump and the trash cans behind the hotel in town that whole morning. First it would perch in a tall sycamore until a good opportunity presented itself. One crow would become very bold and almost as it taunting the hawk to swoop down out of it's perch to attack. One such bird, probably a young one miscalculated and the hawk and it's superior eyesight at work sped down from the top of that tree and it's talons struck home. The now helpless crow shrieked in surprise and pain, not able to free itself, was about to be carried off. The hawk lost it's grip through the young bird's last efforts and the crow tumbled over and over until falling into the dust right in front of Sander awkwardly in front of the hotel. It flopped about, obviously in pain and trying to fly away to safety, when the hawk and it's majestic wingspan latched onto the helpless crow once again. Sander knew from his studies that this was a female of the species, whose wings were about twenty five per cent wider than a male's, evident by the four feet of the spread. He had never seen something so amazing and it was happening right in front of him. The hawk's next move was bold and not it's usual behavior. Normally it would transport the dead crow back to the nest to feed it's young, from one to three eyasses ( the name for young birds ) , but the hawk started to feed itself right in the street, the crow still was moving about. All of a sudden the other crows in the area, who had been making their usual racket at seeing one of their brethren lost, started to up the volume of that noise because ethe white raven swooped down on the hawk, attacking it viciously. In  the blink of an eye, the hawk flew off, nowhere to be seen, and there was an eerie silence for two to three minutes. The raven paced all around the now lifeless bird, as if it were a sentry. Sander is watching all of this in awe,anxiously waiting to see the outcome. In a short while, the raven seemed that it had done all it could possible do.. It's feet were not capable of removing the crow to a private place of mourning or it surely would have. She flew up onto the edge of the hotel, looked in all directions, landed briefly one more time in front of the crow as if to show her sympathy, and then she abruptly flew away. Almost immediately, all of the other crows came back in twos and threes. It seemed like there was almost a crow's version of a New Orleans Second Line as they all strutted back and forth in a formation to a silent band. This was more of a celebration of the crow's death than an act or mourning.

Sander had watched the goings on in it's entirety and started to think, " she is the eyes ". There is somehow a connection between the white raven's sudden arrival and  how all the forest animals respond. The more he considered it, the more Sander was sure that those answers would be revealed after meeting with Unai in a few days at the cemetery. Could this really be something significant? Ever since Unai said ,: She is the eyes," it had been on his mind. Then, when Eleanor had stared him in the eye at breakfast so intently and repeated the same words! Eleanor was an Indian who had grown up on the reservation close by. Her people had lived here for thousands of years. Was there a history of these mysterious white ravens in Compass Point?  He had seen Big Melvin sitting in front of his garage the day before, smoking his pipe and listening to Bob Wills on his little radio while taking an afternoon break, and asked him why the town was named Compass Point. He smiled slyly, asked Sander to wait a minute, and left to go inside to his room behind the main garage. He soon returned and handed him a well made, small, old brass compass. Sander got a clear look at Melvin's left hand, most specifically the ring finger, which was missing the first two joints. The results of a lost battle with a 3/4 ton Model A Ford rear axle changeover some years back. Mental images of that experience and the resulting pain of that digit missing temporarily took his mind off the story about learning the the origin of the name of Compass Point. " This here compass was a treasure of my daddy when i was a kid back home  in West Virginnie, afore we moved the family to Kentucky ta work them God damn coal killer mines, an' his daddy afore him. S'pose to be a good'n. Got me 'cross these here United States,  navigatin' all them washed out roads, condemned bridges,  hollers, creeks, boulders in roads and such. Know how ta use it?", he inquired. " Yes, my Daddy showed me when I was going to go on a camping trip one weekend , just he and I." " OK,mister. You all show ol' Melvin due north on this here o' mine." " Sure, " he answered. Sander held it firmly in his hand, loosened the clasp and opened the cover slowly. He squinted in the sunshine to find due north on the dial. His eyes adjusted even more, he turned and faced to the right, then 180 degrees to the left, gave it a gentle shake. " It is broken. It is not working. I think I broke it, Big Melvin," remorse creeping into his voice. " You all didn't break this here compass. That ol' dial was a spinnin', wasn't it? Just spinning 'round like you'd spin yer gal at the Satidday night hoe down where they is a playin' ol' Bob Wills on the Edison. Did it spin around real fast-like?" " Yes, it just kept spinning. Are you sure I didn't break it? " " Son. You grab up any ol' compass you kin find and it'll be a spinnin'. This here town and dees mountains has got them selves an Injun curse. I heared all 'bout it when I come here a long time ago. I jes don't use me no compass no more in dees mountains," he said laughing. " They all sez it's on account of some Injun prince a gettin' his throat slit by the Spanish soldiers a couple hunert yars ago and his sister, a princess name of Mala Rosie an' her ladies a waitin', went off and caught up with that Spaniard some bitch and quick gave him an extra big smile he shore didn't have afore. Then the tribe medicine woman put a curse on her 'n dem gals of hern, sent 'em off to the mountains forever. They is a still hidin' in these here woods some where, who knows. I shore don't, even today. It seems like dem gals of hern was turnt inta some big ol' cats and wolves of some such. One of 'em got tunt inta a white raven. I ain't a never seen any of dem cats or no Injun princess name of Mala Rosie, but I shore sees that white raven, right regler. You seen her too, ain't ya? " " I jes don't think 'bout it much, myself. Some folks in town thinks it's a might bit creepy an' such, other folks figger it fer a bunch of hog wash. Yer guess is as good as mine on dat subject."

It may be that Big Melvin was not thinking about the story of the Indian curse, but Sander had been thinking about little else. Last night he had not slept well at all, tossing and turning in his bed. He awoke with a start several times in the night, imagining he had heard the growls and roars of big cats in the direction of the forest, staring out his window in the direction of the path that leads to the forest. he saw nothing. He felt that his imagination was playing tricks on him. He just wished that Tuesday would appear magically so he could find out what was going to transpire his talk with Unai.

Meanwhile, he was occupying himself going to class at the chapel with Preacher Ryan. He what been studying far more advanced subject matter and interesting topics than what the kids were learning at Compass Point. Unai and his aunt suggested he would be better off going to the reservation school to have the best opportunities for eventually being able to get into a good college. At least they had a fairly good library. Sander very much missed the solitude of being surrounded by stacks of books. He would spend hours at his local library, where it gave him comfort. He hoped that he would be able to make the change soon. To say that he was bored at the church school would be a simple statement. Most other boys would be taking advantage of the surroundings and exploring the hiking trails, going fishing and hunting deer or other wildlife in the surrounding mountains and the arid, rocky desert. He really liked to fish, but only with his Daddy and on an old , but solidly made wooden boat his Daddy's friend from the Coast Guard kept moored off Coronado Island. He had fond memories of a group of four out on a fishing trip, when their lines caught several dangerous barracuda after running into a school of the sharp toothed monsters. It was especially fun for Sander, since he was the only kid with three adults on board and they treated him like one of them, even though he was only nine years old. At the end of the fishing trip, they split up the catch. The owner of the boat had built a crude smoker out of old concrete blocks, but it worked quite well. Apple branches, well aged and dry, and the resulting smoke from the coals, flavored their barracuda into a delicious treat after about four hours of controlled heat in the smoker. It was the first time he had tasted this delicious delicacy. Add some mayonnaise  on some home made bread from his Mommy, and that simple combination proved to be very tasty and satisfying. Unai promised that he would take him surf fishing again. Even though Sander had only done it that one time when they caught that big halibut on the trip down California coming to Compass Point, he was eager to go back again and again. Unai promised that soon he would  take Sander  to one of his favorite spots, Sunset Cliffs, off Ocean Beach on the Pacific Ocean side of Point Loma.  Sander had also never been hunting and had always wanted to join the Boy Scouts, so he could learn how to fire a 22 cal rifle for hunting trips to bag some squirrels and rabbits with his Daddy.

"Well, I do not know about joining the Boy Scouts, we do not have a troop formed in the mountains, but there are plenty of places to do some target practicing before safely graduating to hunting for quarry to eat, '" Unai informed him. Sander found that idea very attractive. His daddy was not much of a hunter, even though he was  crack shot at the rifle range. "Come with me, I want you to meet someone who I have not introduced you to who lives about ten miles from Compass Point, down the old highway on a ranch. He is the probably the most famous resident of the area. He will be over at Willie's place. I want to get there before he is too drunk to be hospitable. He gets pretty loud and boisterous once he has had too much whiskey in him." " Who is he. have I heard of him before, Unai?, " " Yes, I am sure that you have. OK. It is Howdy Epps. The famous Western silent movie star." " How wonderful! Over at Willie's? In person, really?  Hurry up, let's get moving, Unai," Sander said in his excitement Sander had broken into a dead run, while Unai,sporting a slight grin, just sauntered at his usual measured pace. Sander got to the steps of Willie's about five minutes ahead of Unai, but waited impatiently, as if he had to pee immediately. " Come on. can we go inside?, he shouted way back up the street, Unai being just a stick figure farther away." He did not want to go inside without a proper introduction, feeling that he might make a fool of himself if he walked up to Howdy Epps alone. His Daddy's favorite movie star when he was his age. No one knew what had happened to him after the talking movies put many stars out of work. There had been a rumor that Howdy's voice was extemely high pitched, much like a young girl's and not at all conducive to the new talking movies sound tracks. He had the handsome and rugged cowboy looks that had been his trademark for many years of box office success, even though he was born Howard Pincus Rollo Durdridge to a wealthy New York City businessman and socialite mother  in Schenectady, New York in 1890. The wealth came to Howdy and his wife,  many years later with movie success, after he had run away from home ay fourteen and joined the circus, which always sounded like a phony PR story, but happened to be really the truth. "  Mmmmm, Buckshot, his horse in all of his movies," thought Sander as he waited for Unai to catch up. Buckshot was always a handsome specimen [presented  in his trademark fancy, hand tooled black leather saddle and tack. Especially the wider than usual breastplate in front of  Buckshot, across and under the horse's neck. It was highly decorated, tooled intricately with all the animals of a circus and set with a real ruby in the middle for maximum show. Howdy was proud of his buckskin horse and his handlers kept the black mane and tail combed, shiny and sleek.

Some said he had set aside the biggest part of his heart for Buckshot than he did for his wife Lorraine, but most considered this just a rumor started by a former manager who had embellished the content after quitting Howdy's employ due to several bounced checks. Howdy had continuing attraction to bottled in bond Bourbon and the daily racing form, both of which he ended up on the botom of the stack, much like those day old newspapers that printed story after story of spurious facts. Lorraine LeSeur, born Agness Firness, then Fridell, was a widow when she married Howdy. Her husband, Augustus Fridell, perished in a horse barn fire at a very young age. He had inherited an 800 acre working thoroughbred horse ranch and continued to build it's worth and success until his demise. Agness,distraught over the tragedy, changed her name, sold the property and invested the money so well that it's value was hardly affected by the 1929 stock market tragedy. She invested the money in Canadian distilleries which she had no idea would be so well insultated globally. She met Howdy in the south of France on a cruise after changing her name to wipe the slate clean, and give her a new emotional start. She changed everything in her life she possibly could. the one thing close to her heart that she kept is her love of clothes and fabrics. Her mother had been a working class young woman. She toiled in a New York City garment factory when she met Howdy's father when out on the town with some friends. He was smitten with the tiny attractive lady with the golden curls and the sharp clothes,which she had in total made herself, and they were married three months later. Six months later, Howdy arrived on the scene. Agness Firness now had a new name, a new family, lived in a new 37 room mansion on Long island with servants to handle all of the household tasks, a chauffeur, a nanny, but she had an elaborate sewing room with industrial sewing machines and she still made elegant stylish clothes for her old friends. However, now she did not tear down old garments or shop at the thrift stores for items to redesign. She shopped at the prestigious wholesale fabric houses in the city, with access to the latest textiles from France and Italy.

As Howdy chipped away at his fortune when talkies diminished his demand for movie parts, it was his wife Lorraine who bankrolled his crazy schemes. His failed movie, where he was director and writer, it was Lorraine writing the checks. She refused to let him know the extent of her wealth or give him free rain with shared accounts. There was not much he could do. When he failed or became frustrated, he would retire to his den, drink in solitude for several days until Lorraine would dig him out, make him take a shower, put clean clothes on him and go out and sit in the sunshine. She was the one who bankrolled his failed circus which he swore would be so different that European booking agents and promotional companies would have them booked for 250 days of the year. It failed and she pulled the plug, sold the equipment and trucks to pay back wages of the workers and performers. Howdy begged her to let him keep Sweet Pea, his favorite elephant and her calf, Petunia. During his heyday he had an I.O.U. for 125 acres of land on the highway just east of Compass Point. Lorraine came to the rescue one last time, and she was adamant about this one last effort, so they packed up Sweet Pea and her daughter in one van, the animals-Buckshot and the elephants in another and their belongings in a third van, followed by their 1931 Dusenberg Model J driven by Lorraine with Howdy in the back seat, drunk most of the way with their three Scottish terriers. Howdy had begged her to keep Chauncey, their chauffeur of ten years, but Lorraine was trimming costs. She pointed out that she was already footing the bill for the expenses and wages, 24 hours a day, for the five wen who drove the vans and were there to handle emergencies and unpack at arrival. They would hire new employees at their new venture, Howdy Epp's Wild Western Town and Wild Animal Show. What was of great humor was that their wild animal show consisted of Sweet pea and her daughter, were about as wild as a cat and her kitten! The " caravan " arrived safely, three dirty and dusty vehicles, with five animals, after fording creeks and rivers and dodging boulders on washed out dirt roads, nine tire blow outs, and two nights spent in a New Mexico Motor Court with a roof made of materials best described as woven grass mats driving over 2900 miles from Long Island to Compass Point, California.

You took so long to get here, Unai," he said while sitting on Willie's steps and not going in.  Sander did not know that the last person he wanted to see today was Howdy Epps because it was a good bet that Lorraine would be with him at Willie's. Unai and Lorraine had reconnected and had been seeing each other intimately and with out Howdy's knowledge,  ever since they had relocated to Compass Point. Lorraine and Howdy lived at the hotel for six months while she designed their new home that they had built on the acreage just a short way from Howdy's Western Town project.Howdy was passed out from drink and Lorraine knocked on his door one night at 1 AM. The affair continues with meetings under the same circumstances. Howdy's affections were limited to Buckshot and and a bottle of Bourbon.

"I think you and I need to have our meeting right now and not wait any longer" Unai said to Sander abruptly. Sander was taken by surprise at his sudden urgency. He was anticipating the night time meeting at the cemetery in the five days as was agreed. " I want you to go over to the cemetery right now and wait for me over there. It may be some time before I arrive there, so you will have to be patient.' Sander nodded that he understood. The advent of a confrontation with Howdy and Lorraine at Willie's had prompted Unai to change his plans so quickly. he knew that the chance to meet a famous western movie star was going to be a disappointment to Sander. There would be other opportunities. Even though it was improbable anything confrontational would have happened or been said in the middle of Willie's with people all about, he did not want Sander in the midst of this part of his life at this moment. The minute he arrives at the cemetery, he notices the white raven perched on a leading broken limb in the old dead scrub oak  at the edge of the chapel, adjacent to the cemetery. It was then that the statement unai had repeated many time, She is The Eyes, really made an impact. It was no longer a curiosity to have the bird around so often.The fact that all other wildlife was non existent when the raven was in the area was still very strange. who was the " She"?  Sander now felt quite strange and off center. He felt self conscious and found this time extremly  unsettling as he sat on a stack of old fence beams that had been part of a long planned fence upgrade and waited for Unai. The time soon stretched into an hour and then an hour and then into two hours. He had occupied his mind by memorizing all of the dates of the past souls born and died on the gravestones in the small cemetery when he heard voices that interrupted his mental exercises. He heard a single man's and a woman's voice that broke the eerie silence that all graveyards seem to possess. He was startled when he saw Unai finally return with Grace striding alongside. She was scrubbed, bright faced and without makeup. She was dressed in tailored khaki slacks, a plain light blue blouse, a bright red scarf and wearing a pair of men's hiking boots laced quite hig above her ankles. Her usually elegantly styled long black hair was tied up on the top of her head in a matching red ribbon.

"Sander, this is Grace Suarez. I do not believe that you have been introduced properly." " Nice to meet you, Grace," he said short of stuttering as he put out his hand to shake hers. She responded with a calm demeanor and her words were in kind. He noticed that she was gentle and reserved, not assertive and brash like the other times he had seen her at Willie's. "Sander, do you remember our talk on the highway by the ocean when I told you that you would have a test in the forest overnight? " " Yes, I do," he answered. " The day has come for that test. The one I spoke about that day.Grace will be going with you, as it is really a test for the pair of you. You are both connected closely and have been so since you were both born. It may not make any sense to you now, but all that has happened in both of  your lives was as it should be now, i this place and time.I will not explain why or how this is the case and any other details of this dual connection. That information will unfold in a way for you both. Much like the dawn of a new day brightens the sky for the animals and creatures of the forest. It must occur as i have said, it will not make any sense to you unless the unfolding runs it's true course." They both just stood quietly and listened, much like obedient little children being instructed on the proper way to do their homework by their aged tutor. In some ways, this is exactly what was taking place, there in that empty cemetery.  The eerie lack of sound was now ever so evident. The sky was quickly growing dark and cloudy, abruptly interrupting the brightly lit skies that the sun had dominated just a few minutes prior. In addition the temperature had dropped almost 20 degrees, drastically changing the mood of the day. All around was completely empty of people or animals or birds or even the sound of crickets, just a weathered, old Yaqui Indian man offering wisdom from another place in time, empty except for the white raven whose eyes and the expressions of those eyes were taking in every word as if it were human. An empty place except for two children meeting for the first time, scared and confident at the same time, being given tasks they know not if they will succeed, yet they are ready to follow as instructed. The scene could easily be taken for a time two hundred years before that day. Grace sensed to herself that all of these happenoings were almost moving in slow motion,like a trick of the movie camera she had seen at the movies. She knew that was not the case, but more important were these feelings within her were strangely new. They seemed right and permanent. She was still apprehensive, but no longer was scared.....concerned about the outcome. How would this ten year old boy be on this test was the question that concerned her most as they were about to set out..

"Here is a knife. one that I also mentioned that day you would have." Sander and Grace stood at attention and listened intently and silently, even though both wanted to ask many questions. You must work together to make it through the night. To find water to drink, food to eat, shelter and fire keep warm, because it will become very cold in that forest tonight. The path is not easy. Use your gifts. Gifts that both of you have, but have not used to date like you will from here on, " he continued talking, clearly and firmly. " Before the night is over you will find a small cabin. It will appear where it was not, from the trees and bushes. May perils and setbacks will have you wanting to stop and turn back. You may not turn back, under any circumstances. Dangerous wild beasts and The Curse of Mala Rosa are calling to you clearly on this journey of only one night, an important night to you both, and at the same time, they are hindrances for you both to succeed." They both continued to be still and just stood there, motionless, looking at the sinister looking knife in the tooled native scabbard. It was more of a sword than a knife. Unai had handed it to Grace, each wondering why he had not given it to Sander. " I will see you when the dawn breaks,." And he left them to their difficult and unknown task. Confused and feeling out of place, without saying a word, Sander looked up at the flapping motion of the white raven, which flew off to the east towards the end of town and the path that led into the woods. Grace motioned to Sander and they turned up the forest path at the edge of town and followed the white raven.

 

 

Sander's New Home Chapter 7 When The White Raven Flies

Chap7The bright sun was shining in Sander's eyes through the bedroom window. He awoke with a start, catching his breath. He raised upright in the bed pushing back the covers, ready for the noisy running about of a room full of boisterous boys. In a few seconds, he realized where he was. He wasn't at the Home, he was in Aunt Mo's hotel in Compass Point. The bed was almost as nice as his own at home and he was alone in his own room. Sander jumped up and looked out of the window at the edge of the main street for the first time in the daylight, saw a well traveled forest trail at the end of the street. A few people were quickly moving about like they had every day destinations for their early mornings. Three older men were meeting and talking, laughing and then walked up the steps to Willie's Place. His bare feet felt cold and good on the floor. He looked around the room and saw that he had a bathroom of his own, but no shower or bath tub. His clothes were hung in his very own closet, and when he looked inside, he saw some of his familiar things from home. Peering high to the top shelf, he saw his picture album with the newspaper and magazine drawings and photos of his collection of favorite airplanes. Just to the right, he made out the shape of his black treasure chest. He got the chair from beside the bed, scooted it over to the closet, climbed up and retrieved his box. He took it over to the bed, got his key from his pants pocket and opened it. After a quick inventory, he gave a sigh. All of his treasures were there. Marta had made sure that he had gotten both of them safe to Compass Point. She had either given them to Unai or sent them in the mail to his Aunt Maureen. Sander carefully inspected each of the contents, as if he was taking inventory, almost like he had never seen them before. He vowed that he would hide them in a safe and secure place before anyone could take them from him again.

A quiet knock at the door, then he heard, " Senor. You are sleeping more?"  Sander quickly closed the lid, locked it, secured the key around his neck so it would be close and slid it under the bed. "Hello, I am awake. The door is open," he said in a clear voice. In walked a short, young Hispanic woman wearing a crisp black and white uniform. She spoke with a strong accent and said," My name Juana. I work for Miss Mo here in hotel." she said with a big and easy smile. Her eyes and her hair were as shiny and black as the night. " Nice to meet you, Juana, " he responded softly. "You are the Master Lysander,no?, " she quizzed. "Yes, I am, Juana. I am coming to clean the rooms." You can coming to me. Senor Unai, he is in the cucinero cooking the breakfast for you and we go to dining room. I am coming back for cleaning your room." He panicked. He wanted to secure his treasure chest safely. He knew that Juana would not take anything, but he wanted it back in the closet on the high shelf. It would make him feel better if it was back up there. Finding a better hiding place would be a priority later. " I want to wash up first, " he asked as he made the motions of rubbing his face. "Si.....si senor. You just coming downstairs to dining room. You can see easy when you are coming downstairs. I tell Senor Unai. I am back here later to cleaning room. OK?, " she said with that big smile again.

Lysander glanced at the old grandmother clock on the hallway wall as he headed downstairs. He had found his favorite striped T shirt in a bureau drawer, the one with the red, black and white stripes to wear. He hoped to bring his Brownie out today to take some pictures of his new town, but it was nowhere to be found. He knew that it was in his things that Marta had taken back to Palo Alto from St. Catherine's. Maybe he could borrow one from Aunt Mo or get another somewhere to take some pictures to send to Marta, and to his mother. They probably had film at Willie's Place. He would ask Unai later. "Over here, Sander," motioned Aunt Mo as he walked into the dining room. " Here is a good seat by the window and the sunshine. We haven't seen each other in a long while, have we Lysander? " she asked. He nervously said hello and nodded his head at her question. " The Yaqui is cooking up breakfast for everyone and he found out from Marta and Hanna how you liked your oatmeal prepared. I'll bring it right out. We open our dining room at six am every morning, except on Sundays, " she said firmly, as if to inform Sander for breakfasts in his future. He glanced around the pleasant, brightly painted room. The walls were a shiny white with pale yellow doors and windows. The curtains were pale yellow and ordinary, but matching. There were five other people in the bright and airy dining room having breakfast. One disheveled older man with uncombed, thinning gray hair, was huddled intently, clutching his coffee cup, and chain smoking while he read the newspaper. There was a middle aged couple with a young girl about his age sitting across from the man. The girl was chattering away, her parents not paying much attention to what she was saying, except for an occasional "Yes Dear". In the far corner was a young couple in their twenties, holding hands off and on. Mo arrived with an elegant, lace tablecloth covered cart and served them their order. She placed three plates in front of the young man, and a doughnut in front of the young woman. She poured her a fresh cup of coffee and the woman tore off pieces of the pastry while smoking, drinking coffee, all the while  smiling at him while watching him eat his breakfast with animated and quick motions, as if he had not had any food to eat in three days, fork after fork rapidly entering into his eager mouth. She finally grabbed his fork hand and stopped the action. She said something quietly and he stood up, leaned over the table and pecked her on the cheek, sat back down and scooped up more forkfuls.. Sander thought for sure that the young man would order more food before he was through with the food he had in front of him.

Aunt Mo rolled the cart over to his table, after serving the couple, and set his large bowl of oatmeal in front of him. She also placed a deep bowl of brown sugar, some warm cooked raisins, and a big glass pitcher of cold milk. Finally a large glass of orange juice was in front of him and announced very formally and with a big grin, knowing that Unai had gotten it all right, " Is everything satisfactory sir. " "Sander replied excitedly, " Oh, Aunt Mo. It is perfect. Thank you very much. Just how I like my breakfast! " " Please don't thank me, The Yaqui does the cookin' and he's the one who found out what you liked." Sander put as much brown sugar as he wanted on the oatmeal, which Unai had made a little thick, just like his Mommy fixed for him. Two heaping spoons of raisins, lots of cold milk almost to the rim and then he took his spoon and make 'rivers' through the cereal, like he had always done since he could remember. After taking the first bite, he thought briefly about that first morning at the Home. When everything had been so wrong. When he had felt so sad and helpless, and had wondered what he had done wrong that his own grandpa should make him stay in that terrible place. Thanks to Marta, Aunt Mo and Unai, he was now in a wonderful new place. He didn't have his mother there, but he felt that it would not be too long before he would see her again. Even the bed was comfortable, almost as comfortable as his own at home.All the food was heaven and he dug in for another big spoonful of his favorite. He stopped  mid spoonful, and pondered," Maybe this was his new home now? "

He decided that he it would be a good thing to learn about Compass Point and the all people that lived here. After all, learning was his favorite thing to do. He also wondered about his new school. He would ask Unai all of these questions and more, when he saw him later that day, which he hoped he would. Aunt Mo stopped by his table, " Lysander, I have a really busy day. We have almost all of our rooms booked tonight and I need to make sure everything is handled, all details are covered.. I'll find some time to sit and talk later today, maybe after dinner? That all right with you? " " Sure, Aunt Mo. That's fine," he answered." The Yaqui will meet up with you in about an hour to show you around, meet some of our town folks and see the sights. There is not much to do for youngsters in Compass Point, but you like to learn and he knows everything about the forest, the trails to hike on, the trees, the animals, the fish and the......" All of a sudden she stopped in mid sentence, and the look on her face was pained. " Yes. Well, ah. Everything about what goes on around here that you should know about, he knows it all.  I gotta get movin' and help out in the kitchen so he has the time to spend with you for part of the day. Just meet him on the front steps....in about an hour will be good." She turned away quickly and disappeared into the kitchen. What did she think of that would give her that look on her face and act like that?," he thought to himself. " Maybe it had something to do with that ever present White Raven, or those strange low growls and animal sounds he had heard when he first arrived last night. It was surely about all of the things that Unai had talked to him about at that gas station." He was determined to find out what was going on in Compass Point. This is where his life was going to be lived from here onward.

He finished his breakfast and went to his room and looked to see if Juana was was still in his room. The bed was made neatly and  clean towels were folded neatly on the racks. The place smelled clean and fresh. He searched every nook and cranny for a safe hiding place for his box. Finally, he saw a small door above the top shelf in the closet that he pushed open after much effort. He looked up into the darkness while balancing himself on the chair. The door hadn't opened easily, so he assumed it had been sealed shut for a long time. Without a flashlight, he could not see well, but it qualified as a good spot, safe enough for his treasures. He finished and went down the steps, out into the sunshine to wait for his meeting with Unai. He still had about one half hour until he was supposed to connect with Unai, so he decided to explore the sights and see some of the  new places in Compass Point. He looked all about and decided to head out of town a short way, around a bend on the main street and see where it went. He walked a short distance, the main street was not very long, past a little old white church and steeple with a small cemetery behind, past some empty ramshackle wooden buildings with boarded up windows, next door to a row of four buildings with a large white sign and peeling paint propped askew over the top of two of the buildings. The sign read," Compass Point Garage and Repair. We Wreck or Salvage Anything That Rolls . Heavy Towing Available 24 Hours a Day- Call Eucalyptus 46- If It Can't Move We Will Give It A Push"  As he walked by the big wooden, padlocked gates, he could see and hear a loud barking, a dog's nose was snorting and it was feverishly scratching at the bottom of the gate, desperately trying to dig under the gates that were partially moving to and fro. The garage door in the next space was open and a big fancy yellow roadster was on a lift, Big Melvin was working on a rear wheel, dirty rag in hand, applying grease to the axle. "Good morning, Sander," he said loudly as he waved hello. " Gettin' to know the town, are ya?" " Hello, Big Melvin," he answered. Melvin had noticed his hesitance at coming closer to the garage and he said," Don't worry about Crankshaft none. He's a protectin' his home, that's all he's a doin'. But don'cha go comin' over that fence and I ain't bein' 'round. I'm 'fraid he'd be doin' some terrible damage to ya limbs and such. Otherwise, it's OK." Sander smiled meekly, as if to agree with the information, kept on walking, waving good bye as he continued down the street.

At the end of the short road opposite the forest trail he had first seen this morning, the hard packed gravel under foot ended and a vast jumbled dump lay before him. Every imaginable piece of household or vehicle cast off, used up or damaged debris and rubble from many years was there. In the middle of the almost one half acre of land, were two metal barrels, black, smelly smoke arose from where anything that would fit was burned. Farther on the other side of the huge lot, he saw a crude patchwork tent made of some various shades of canvas, with patches from what appeared to be a discarded pair of blue denim jeans, some old soiled sofas with the cotton stuffing protruding from  rips and tears and an odd collection of chairs set around a well laid-out stone campfire topped by an old dented coffee pot and a cast iron pan with the handle missing.  Sander could smell meat cooking, was curious and walked towards the scent coming from the permanent but odd encampment. As he approached, someone shouted ,"Who goes there? Who's a comin' into my camp, God damn it?" A dirty, scruffy, wiry and bearded little man emerged from the tent. He took a defensive stance from just outside the entrance of the beat up old tent, battered baseball bat in hand, ready to defend his territory, just as Crankshaft had done ten minutes before up the street. " Who the fuck are you? I ain't got nuttin' to steal. Ain't got nuttin' but some old fat squirrel meat to eat and you ain't a gonna get that." "Please don't be afraid, I am not going to take anything from your camp, " Sander pleaded. " I am Sander Urquhart. My Aunt Mo owns the hotel. I just moved here yesterday, " he continued, still frightened. "Oh, shit. You is Mo's nephew, is you? That's OK with me. Folks around here call me The Wheelbarrow Man. Mo and Unai, now they is good folks. They is real good to me. I sometimes does bits of odd jobs and they has give me left over food afore too. " he said proudly, scratching his scraggly gray , curly beard." You gotta 'nounce yer self comin' in ta camp like that. You gotta member that, now. Unnerstand?  Some old fucker'd throw some buckshot yer direction ifen ya don't. Ya got me?,  " he said firmly. "You had breakfast? Ya want some squirrel, do ya? Ain't got no bread , no other fixins neither.. They's pretty fat and sassy 'round here, lots ta eat fer the little fuckers." " Thank you very much, Mr. Wheelbarrow Man. Unai fixed me my favorite oatmeal this morning." "Oatmeal, ya say? I likes me some oatmeal, ifen it gits cooked up right 'n proper. Won't eat it fixed soupy- like though." Sander smiled and said. " That how I like it cooked. Not soupy." The old man found that hilarious and was grabbing his sides. "I ain't a had me no good oatmeal fer a long time now. You 'n I got somethin' da same 'bout us, good lumpy oatmeal. That's a good'n, that is, youngster," he said breathless from his prolonged laughing "Well, I have to go and meet Unai now. He is going to show me the town and meet people. I can tell him I met my first Compass Point resident, " "You bet you can, 'cept that my 'dress is Number 1, Town Dump. " With that he busted out in gales of laughter again, nodding his head at his own humor. Sander waved good bye as he continued to roar with another laughing fit, he also nodded as Sander ran back towards the hotel, knowing he was late for his meeting with Unai. He proceeded to break down his camp. Folding up his tattered tent, dousing the fire pit, packing all of his collection of odd belongings and piling everything on his wheelbarrow, tied down securely for the day's travels up on the highway, while looking for more " highway treasure " as he like to call his findings that are tossed from the cars and trucks that sped on their way east and west, most drivers never having a clue that they are passing by Compass Point. He always made a point to wave and wish them a safe journey, although he never had a conversation with any of them. He even picked up the litter because he was proud of his job and what he did to live another day.

Unai was sittin in the middle of the street, facing the sun, eyes closed and seemed oblivious to the world around him. "I am so sorry for making you wait, Unai. I met The Wheelbarrow Man and we were talking at his camp." Unai said nothing as Sander stood there by him, breathless from running to the meeting. He was quiet, eyes still shut , for what seemed like a long time. Finally he opened his eyes, smiled, squinting from the bright motning sun and said," Curious. This man is not an easy person to get to know. His history is one that is quite remarkable. It is a good sign that you and he were talking. Did he laugh profusely?, " he questioned, not even mentioning Sander's tardiness. "Why, yes he did. He seemed to laugh at everything, " he answered. " That is very good. He has accepted you. You may now consider him a trusted friend. He is much maligned around town, they do not understand him, which is understandable. It is unlikeable that you will hear a good word repeated about this man. He can be very difficult and irascible, he often threatens to "throw some buckshot" in a person's direction. I do not believe he even has a firearm, and his eyesight would unlikely support any action such as that. His demeanor is not one laced with positive social graces and motives. You will come to need this person at some future time."  Sander did not really understand what Unai meant by needing him at 'at some future time', but then he was learning that Unai knew things that one did not learn by normal channels.

They proceed back up the main street a short distance, walking casually, and Sander remarked, " What are those odd shaped buildings, that collection farther up at the end, all jumbled together, Unai? " " That my young friend is Fong's. It is Compass Point's  little Chinatown. We won't be going there today. You will learn about that place and be meeting the people that are there in good time. One young woman that you will meet works there. You must not judge her because of her endeavors are not accepted in normal society, but here in Compass Point, what she does is a necessity for her at this time in her life. She will have a strong presence in your life, but that will unfold naturally." " I do not understand, Unai," he answered while sensing the importance of Unai's strong statement. " Let me just say this. Her name is Grace Suarez. Her mother has always called her Gracie, but ever since they both moved to Compass Point Gracie has preferred to be known as Grace. Guess it goes hand in hand with her job here at Fong's. She works as a whore because life has dealt her a difficult path. Her mother works there with her., but again, you can not judge these women. You will learn about them later.

Their path found them at Willie's Place, as they stood at the bottom of the steps, looking up at the big wraparound porch and rows of windows in front, Sander remembered that this was the hub of social action in town. It obviously had been an elegant home in the past, and Sander remembered when they had arrived. The building was well maintained, seemed to have a new white paint job, the windows were clean and the porch did not have any unnecessary clutter strewn about. Next to the main house were several out buildings and a large barn out behind, where, several neat, large stacks of lumber, piles of roofing materials and rolls of wire fencing was arranged orderly beside the barn. He remembered how Willie had opened a second story window, when he and Unai had arrived from Northern California, and brusquely inquired about who was out front so early in the morning. Sander and Unai walked up the steps, opened the door and at first it was the smell that caught their nostrils, then a tall, shapely woman with dark hair, bright red lipstick wearing a much too tight red dress and high heels, reeling from a bit too much drink and smoking a cigarette brushed past them. She stopped for a moment, grabbing the hand rail to steady herself and glanced back briefly and said with slurred words, "Good mornin' Yaqui. How's tricks?" With a toothsome smile, she continued on toward Fong's, her stylish black and white high heels maneuvering the gravel. They both stood there and looked after her. Sander was speechless, and Unai saw the effect she had had on him. " Who was that, Unai?," Sander said finally, when he could speak again clearly. "That, young Sander, was Grace Suarez. It appears as though she had gotten off work at Fong's, and several shots of Four Rose's became her breakfast here with Willie and the gang, and is now heading to her rooms that she shares with her mother at Fong's. Old Man Fong takes care of his women, that he does."  Sander went back into a lack of speech mode and Unai had to grab his arm and said, " I was not planning on your meeting Grace for the first time quite like that, Sander. Now, let us meet your new friends inside." "Huh? Oh, yes. OK., " he answered, the picture of her walking away permanently in his mind to bring up another time.

Willie is a large robust man, quick with a sarcastic quip or a practical joke. He carries many an account for people who come up short on money when purchasing , especially the more impoverished individuals. Not able to walk easily without the aid of a cane, he holds fort at the end of the counter comfortably in his big brown leather chair. He has created an interesting type of place. Auto parts store, hardware and building supplies, gifts, household and clothing. In addition, one can buy a good selection of anything that  the J.C. Penney or Montgomery Wards catalogs have to offer. The most popular activities that take place are as an all day diner and bar, closing at 11 pm and opening again at 530 am for the U.S. Forest Service workers and the men who are building the highway heading east. Cal Sorley has a minor ownership in the diner and can be seen here manning the grill and stove everyday but Christmas and his birthday, which is the only day of the year he has some of his favorite Booth's High and Dry gin, in fact, quite a lot of High and Dry, straight up several bottles of cold 7 UP to accompany.. Folks who come in for a meal the day after his birthday are likely to get some food that doesn't measure up to Cal's normal high standards. Dotty O'Shea is the waitress, although she does get some part time help from a few of the working girls from Fong's. There is a warren of rooms behind the front counter and the diner, some of which not everyone can enter easily without Willie's OK or the price of admission. Much of Willie's profits come from the ongoing poker game , some evenings still operating until the wee hours of the AM. You will find Willie visible and in charge, his pearl handled and nickel plated Colt .45 close at hand to quickly solve any extreme disputes that may arise.

Dotty has an independent, part time business in the far, back corner room, which is really the liquor and beer storage space. It has a small window on the outside wall , about eye level, protected  by heavy bars that were welded securely by Big Melvin. It was rumored that Melvin's welding fees for the window were paid for happily by Dotty in that room. Dotty makes her extra money on an old Army cot of Willie's from WWI. At least it is well padded and is covered with an old heirloom quilt sewn by his Mother, that she keeps nice and fresh. Many of the guys in the bar have dared to suggest sneaking a peek in the window when Dotty takes one of her breaks and retires with a bar or diner customer, maybe a traveling salesman or a sailor from the eastbound bus that stops in Compass Point briefly for a quick bite or to pick up passengers. Willie either encourages her side business or turns a blind eye while she makes two or three dollars for her fifteen minute break, money that she then slips into the slot in a green big piggy bank on a shelf she keeps over the back counter by the toaster. The regulars call it her " Cash Hog " behind her back.

"Good morning everyone, " Unai announces cheerfully, as the two come through the door. "I want you to meet my young friend, Mo's nephew, Sander." The Hello's, Hi's and greetings were almost all in unison by the few people sitting around, acknowledging young Sander's arrival in Compass Point. Willie got down from his perch behind his precious row of tattered auto parts catalogs and firmly extends his left hand, " Welcome, my young friend. I was the one bellowing at you two this morning from my apartment upstairs. Name's Willie and this is my place." A large imposing man, his presence made more dramatic from the sight of the prominent  mustard gas scars on the right side his face, arm and neck from WWI. This injury also left him with the loss of his right eye, where he now had a glass eye that often has a mind of it's own and will work itself around in his skull where he is looking in the opposite direction than his good eye, consequently giving him an odd, almost comedic look. He always shakes with his left hand, still self conscious about the large scars,especially to new people he meets. He hobbled back to his chair, in obvious pain from shrapnel still floating around in his leg from the same attack as the mustard gas injury. Willie has a water glass filled not with Coco-Cola, but with Four Roses, his pain medication of choice. Front and center at a wobbly round table sits a quite elderly large man, his aging eyes are clear, blue and sharp. It seems he is deaf in one ear because he  faces you with the left side of his face when conversing. At the table with him is a man wearing a tattered Chicago Cubs baseball cap, a day old beard and dressed as if ready to fell tall timber all day, about fifty years old who announces, " Name's Phil. They call me ' Doomsday Phil ' . This here is the real boss of the joint, Old Bill," he said with a sly smile as he nudged the elderly man with his elbow. " That's right, youngster. I'm the real boss here. Everbody knows it, but you ain't a gonna hear Willie say it. " Evidently the rumor was that Old Bill is actually Willie's father. He has been in Compass Point for at least seventy years and had worked with The Wheelbarrow Man when the gold rush was bringing thousands of fortune hunters to that part of the mountains. Most would also agree that Old Bill has made a chest full of money from those days, buried safely in the foothills, but his cohort from the gold rush days did not, or he would not be searching the highway daily for cast offs and junk to sell.He would not be going to bed hungry many night either. He wouldn't be sorting through the trash dump and the town's trash cans at night looking for food every day. None of the parties will offer any details of their relationships or the events of past days, hence the stories and rumors are many. "We have been rude to our new friend, " chimed in Dotty, interrupting the introductions. I'm Dotty, head waitress and baby sitter for this bunch of misfits." This statement brings reluctant laughter all around, except from Doomsday Phil, who seems to have a perpetual grouchy nature about him. " Do you like pie Sander? Cal makes some damn fine pies and we have three kinds today,"  she said as she motioned to Cal Sorley, who then waves hello from the pass through window, but says nothing being while busy getting ready for lunch customers. "Yes, I do. Do you have chocolate cream pie? I like chocolate cream, " he answered enthusiastically. "You are in luck. We got custard, chocolate cream and peach from peaches Cal and I put up last summer. She took the whole pie from the case and started to cut a big slice when Old Bill spoke up loudly, compensating for his one deaf ear," Get the boy some milk, fer Christ's sakes, Dotty." " Hold on to your drawers Bill, I'm not lettin' the boy go thirsty!" Sander then responded, " Can I get a cherry Pepsi cola with my pie?" " You'll have ta settle for Coca Cola. Is cherry Coke OK." " Yes please,"  he said to Dolly politely.

Sander sat on a stool at the end of the counter enjoying his pie and cherry Coke while dotty smoked a cigarette. Unai excused himself, explaining he had duties back at the hotel to attend to and he would see Sander later in the day. No one was asking sander any questions, preferring to answer any that he had about the town, the people or any other goings on that Sander may be curious about. " Dotty, what about a school? Are there many kids in town and where do they go to school." " Responsibility Ryan is the man your aunt needs to talk to about school. He is the preacher and he has set up a pretty damn good school over to the church. Did you see it this morning? " she inquired. " That is an odd name for a man. He is the preacher too? How many kids in town. Are there any my age?, he continued. " Hold on there, buster, Willie joined in." I know a little about that. There are about five of us in Compass Point that keep things in line, you know-run the show so to speak, and this fella shows up in town about seven years ago. On his way to San Diego from the Midwest, his car is busted and he was just about broke, out of money. He sells that old beat up car to Big Melvin just for the scrap value and he was pretty much stuck here. That was back in the middle of the depression. No jobs to speak of to be had. Next thing we know he starts a church in the old abandoned chapel. Just pulls the boards off the windows off the place, sweeps it out and has services the next Sunday. Folks in town have him over for dinner or bring him a casserole, Cal and I contribute and we got a preacher in Compass Point." "No one really knows much about what he did or where he comes from but he was pretty popular with the families who didn't want to drive all the way to El Cajon to go to church," offered Dotty to the conversation. " Is that his real name," Sander asks. Willie adds, " Evidently it is. His parents saddled him with it and I think in his early years he didn't do a very good job living up to the meaning of that name. Now, he does a damn fine job, if you ask me. We all asked him to get the school going about five years ago. Had a meeting. The county decided a long time ago that because of the eleven miles of dirt road, we didn't deserve a school with such a small population. Hell, we don't get any services at all that any normal town receives.. If it weren't for Ryan, Joe Martin, Old Fong , Mo and myself, this God damn place would probably be a ghost town in two weeks." " Hey, don't forget, I'm the boss here,"  Old Bill loudly blurted out, hearing more than people gave him credit for." Quiet you old bastard, Phil interupted,"  " No one wants to hear that more than one time a day." Enough of all of this, all of you. This bunch would go on and on about the state of affairs in Compass Point if you let them, Sander. At least we have a pretty good school and your aunt will follow up on that I am sure. But if you want to learn about the world and life in general, The Yaqui is your man. You probably got a taste of that already since you both drove down from Northern California yesterday, " Dotty said as he decided that Sander had had enoug of the town gossip and stories for one morning. " Dotty, may I ask you a question? " Yes you can, honey. What is your question? " " When were coming up the steps, a young and pretty dark haired woman was leaving, Unai said her name was Grace. She seemed to be an important person for me to meet. I think she was drunk and Unai said she worked at Fong's.

"Well, honey, I guess the Yaqui wouldn't mind me telling you about her if he has mentioned these facts already about her. First of all, she is not a woman. Grace is only twelve years old!" Dotty noticed the surprised response that this information got from Sander immediately, his face was stunned into a blank stare.. " Yes, I know. Twelve years old. She looks all of eighteen, bein' so tall and all. She hasn't been here long. Came on the bus with her mother, who had worked as a whore in San Diego. For some reason they will not talk about, they had to leave town quickly, but her mother got jobs for both of them at Fong's where they have become very popular.Now it's old Fong's practice to only hire young Oriental women, and Grace and her mother are of only a few who have worked here that are not Oriental, of some type or another. I believe they are originally from Hawaii and they both have an exotic look, which is very popular with the forest service and the cutomers that are building the new highway. The Mexicans that sneak over the border after dark, that ones that have the price of admission, so to speak, are part of their regular clientele, even for such a short time here, probably about four months." All the time Dotty is explaining about Grace and her mother, Sander's face stays in that same blank stare, barely blinking an eye. " You OK, honey? " " Huh....oh, yeah. I am fine, Really. I am fine," as he finally has some expression back in his face after the shock of learning that person is not a woman, but a girl about his age. " Anyway, we don't judge nobody 'round here. Fong's provides too many jobs for the town and him being here brings in a mighty large amount of greenbacks for just about everyone in town. You got any more questions, honey? I gotta get cleaned up and ready for lunch. We do a pretty good business at Willie's at lunch, she said. " Hey Cal, what's the special today. Gotta write 'em up on the blackboard with the three pies." " Today we have my wonderful stuffed peppers. You get two and got 'em topped with a slice of American cheese, all melted and runnin' down the sides, just like always. Got two specials today. The Yaqui got me some calves liver. His Mexican buddy with the ranch over the border knows I like liver. Grillin' it up with a bunch of onions and some mushrooms The Yaqui brought me from back in the forest. Those damn injuns can find 'em when no one else can," as Cal proudly describes his creations. " How much do I charge?", she shouts back trying to be heard over Old Bill,  who is having a tirade discussion with Phil over the Nazis and Hitler invading and taking over France. " Best charge six bits for the liver. That old Mexican wanted a lot for it from an animal that he had to shoot after it broke a leg, fallin' into an old fence post hole. Thirty five cents for the peppers,"  he responds, as Dotty is writing in a elegant script on the chalkboard.

Sander said his goodbye's to his new friends at Willie's Place. He had spent so much time there  that it was already time for lunch. He would have liked to have the stuffed peppers that Cal had as a special today, but Mo said that he was to have his meals at the hotel and since she was so kind to let him stay there, he felt that it was a good practice and best to listen to her instructions. Besides, he knew that he would be spending more time at Willie's in the future. As he walked the short distance back to the hotel, he couldn't help but think about Grace once again. He would ask Unai if there was a chance to meet her some time, since for some strange reason, there was a connection between them which he felt very strongly about. The sun had traveled high in the blue sky overhead and he noticed that it was now very hot. He noticed in the middle of the street a dark shadow overhead, casting it's image as much larger than it could possibly be. He looked for the source of the shape and there perched on the highest corner of the roof was that white raven again. Sander stopped and  looked intently at the big bird. It just stared right back. It was as if those dark eyes would stare right through a person. He thought he would get a rock and see if he could hit it. That was his first inclination, but thought better of it. What if he missed or the rock slipped from his sweaty hand and it broke a window? Trouble would be coming his way for sure. Without realizing it he has picked up a rock, but when he looked at it in his hand to discard it back in the road, the raven flew off with a dramatic and elegant flapping of it's wings and landed high up at the top of a huge sycamore at the entrance to the forest trail. It was if he was now spying on him from that lofty perch. Sander stopped on the steps to the hotel, turned and sat on the bottom one. He kept looking at this voyeur of a bird intenely. Unai's words were echoing and he was remembering at that gas station where they had stopped under the trees, sitting on the picnic table were coming back to him now, more vividly than anytime since, and those words kept circling around in his brain. Before they went to bed after arriving yesterday Unai had said, "She is the eyes." Those words were haunting him now. He must find a time for Unai to explain further about what he had shared. After all, the answers had a overwhelming influence on his future life. He could not tell anyone else about these things. They would not understand. All this was just too fantastic for anyone to believe.

He stopped in the rest room off the lobby to wash his hands. After drying his hands, he entered the dining room and saw that his table from this morning was open. He sat down and soon aunt Mo came and gave him the one sheet luncheon menu. "Did you have a good morning? The Yaqui said he left you at Willie's and you were listening to their stories and meeting that bunch over there. I really don't approve of what goes on over there, other than the legitimate things they sell and such, but they are pretty good people, all in all." He looked at the menu as his aunt was serving other diners. Soon she returned and asked,"Anything look good to you, Lysander?" He made a mental note to make sure he told her that he preferred to be called Sander, not Lysander. "I think I'd like a grilled ham and Swiss sandwich on rye bread with French fries. Can I get some potato salad too?" "You want french fries and potato salad? " Sander nodded yes with hesitation, knowing that his Mom would have made him get one or the other. "Is there anything else. A glass of milk?" "Yes. I would like some milk. Do you have chocolate cream pie today?," he inquired. "No, not today. We have butterscotch, lemon meringue, wild mountain gooseberry and apple. Do you want to pick one of those?" she asked,wanting to get to her other tables. "I'll have the wild gooseberry, that is new to me," he answered. She wrote the choices on her pad, stuck the pencil in her hair behind her ear and quickly went to help other diners. As he was eating his sandwich and then his pie, he could not get the morning's happenings out of his mind. Grace Suarez was only twelve years old!  But she looked just like a real woman. He did not like the fact that she did the same things to make money that her mother did.. Why did she do that? What happened that made them both leave San Diego quickly? The mystery of it all was daunting to him, and scary too. He could not get this real woman off his mind. He needed to learn something, that would surely help him to focus better. He would find out all about the school, and this preacher Responsibility Ryan, when the lunch crowd was gone from his aunt Mo. Right now, whe would see if there were any newspapers or magazines in the hotel to search through for some articles and pictures of airplanes for his album. Maybe there would be one he did not have. He hoped that would help him not continue to think about Grace so much. He suddenly wanted to get her off his mind and then he did not want that at the same time. He was only eleven years old, but she was so beautiful. He couldn't really understand what that meant to him now. He had to ask the only person he could ask, Unai. In other times in his life, he would ask his Daddy, but he was not there. All of a sudden he was very, very sad. Better not cry, not here in front of people. Had to be strong. Had to be very strong he kept repeating to himself, but he was not very convincing at all. The articles and pictures would have to wait. Finishing his glass of milk, he left the dining room without saying anything to aunt Mo or Unai and ran quickly upstairs, threw open his door and fell onto his bed, sobbing. He was a very, very sad eleven year old boy in a strange place. He wanted to go home.

 

 

Bound for Home Chapter 6 When The White Raven Flies

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.

 

Lysander And The Sadness Chapter 5 When The White Raven Flies

Chapter 5"Lysander! You hafta come with me," Kathryn, his mother, her face streaked with tears, mumbled in despair. "Something terrible has happened. We're gonna to be OK. I know we are. I promise, my dear little boy- I promise you," she repeated while searching in her purse for a Kleenex to wipe her bleary eyes. She finds a wrinkled used one at the bottom, wipes some tears away from both eyes, then looks at all of the of the mascara residue on it. "Shit, now I look terrible, just hideous, " as she peers into the mirror from her compact. " Not you, my sweet boy. Mommy's makeup is smeared and all messed up now." It was ten AM and a hall monitor had pulled Lysander Urquhart from his class, and walked him back to the front office, just before the teacher was to give everyone the results of the American history test from last week. He was sure that he had gotten a good grade, probably an A. He has always received a A grade on his American history tests and quizzes. "Let's go outside to the car," she said just as she pushed open the big door and the bright morning sun caught them in their eyes. Lysander stopped momentarily and shielded his eyes with his history book. "Where the hell are they? I can't find a damn thing. Here they are," she exclaimed as she unfolded her sunglasses and started enjoying the muted results the glasses offered. He skipped down the steps, two at a time. Kathryn looked into the bright sun, searching  for her car, difficult to find easily in the glaring San Diego, early summer sun when most of the cars in the school parking lot were black. She pauses, looks back in her purse and there again at the bottom is the key to their seven year old Ford sedan.

Sitting in the car, there was a moment of silence. "How come you got me out of class, Mom?" he asked. " What happened that is so terrible. Is it Daddy? Did something happen to Daddy?" he inquired thinking the worse. Kathryn had been finally able to stop crying when they gotten into the car,  but now she burst into tears again, not able to answer Lysander quickly. There was a box of Kleenex on the back seat and Lysander hurriedly jumped up on his knees, reached over the seat and retrieved it, passing the box to his mother, trying to be of some help. He thought," Did I make her start crying again? I didn't mean to."

She looked into his now sad eyes and knew what he was thinking, "You are not the reason I am crying so much, Lysander, " she pleaded. "Mom, could you not call me Lysander? I am Sander. Just like Daddy is. I like Sander, OK?"  he reasoned. " I know you are going to be eleven later this summer and that you now like Sander, like your Daddy, for your name, " she responded in an understanding tone. "I am Sander forever. Daddy calls me Sander. How come you don't, Mom?, " he quizzed.

Kathryn immediately burst into tears once more, reached for the box and yanked out four tissues quickly. Sander was bewildered. She had just told him it was not his fault, and there she was, bawling like a baby again. He did not understand. It had to be something about his Daddy, that is the only answer for her crying so much. She didn't seem to cry much more than anyone else's  Mom, except for today. "Move over here and sit closer to me, Sander. I want to tell you something extremely important. " she said thinking to herself that she had to be strong for Lysander. She owed her husband that. She caressed his face in her hands, those long lashes and those big green eyes, the same as his father had, looking back at her. " Your Daddy is gone. His plane went down in the fog. He dove in the cold water and saved his buddy that was with him. He did not come back up. They searched for hours, until it became night. " Sander just sat there with a blank stare. He was calm and quiet. He did not cry, pound his fists into the seats or get angry. He reacted exactly like his father would have done in the same situation. Kathryn found herself wishing she had him do some of those things, after all, he was her son, but he was his Daddy's boy and it was obvious.. It was more apparent now than ever in all of his ten years, at this moment. He said quietly and in disbelief, " But the J2 Duck was now all changed so it wouldn't crash anymore." Those words of his left Kathryn feeling more empty than she had been before the accident. A little boy believed so strongly.

"Is there anything you want?, " she asked gently. " I want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I gotta have some milk too. Can we go home now, Mom? ", his little body, calm and almost lifeless. His eyes now staring out the window as she put the Ford in gear, backed out of the space in the parking lot and turned out into the street in front of the school. She pointed it towards home and that sandwich. She would make him the best damn sandwich he had ever had. She was going to open that last jar of his favorite apricot preserves she was saving for a special occasion. This seemed like a special occasion. He sat quietly on the drive home, touching each finger of his left hand to each fingertip of the right hand, all the while quietly counting and not looking in any particular direction. She had seen him doing this often when he was nervous and uncomfortable.

Sander stayed home from school for the rest of the week and the next. The following week, Kathryn was busy handling all of the Coast Guard's requests, the memorial details, writing letters to family and friends and attending a meeting with the commanding officer at U.S. Coast Guard Air Station San Diego, all while trying to keep her emotions together. She was not sure if she would be successful in the long run. She was not sleeping well,  living off three packs of cigarettes, too much black coffee and practically no food to speak of except for a piece or two of morning toast. She wanted her husband's older sister from Compass Point to come up and stay for a while, look after Sander, while she tried to pull herself together. Mo said she could not leave the hotel, and they would talk about what should be done later. Mo and she had never been very close, but then again Mo was not one of the warmest of people to deal with about crisis issues. She pulled up to the  guard house, as she had done so many times before, the sharply dressed sentry asked her name, checked the lists on his clipboard and pointed her towards the main office,then saluted crisply. The minute she had said her name, a softness crept into his eyes. She knew he wanted to say something about Lysander, for he was well loved and respected on the base by everyone. She was to be escorted for the luncheon in the officer's dining room by a freshly scrubbed young officer. he introduced himself as Ensign Baumann. The table was clear to the back corner of the room, somewhat shielded from the rest of the tables. The room was full of military men as was usual, and most all turned and their eyes followed this strikingly beautiful woman as she followed the Ensign as he weaved through to the table. He then gestured as the right one. Not all of the men in the dining room recognized her as the Master Chief's widow.  A few other important officials, some from Washington D.C., were at the table as an important looking officer pulled out the chair and she sat slowly down. They had all stood up in unison and remained mast-high tall until she was seated comfortably. She was presented with the menu as introductions were made. She smiled and acknowledged each as his name was offered to be polite. She would never remember these men's names. She looked at the menu, and as she did, Capt. Hastings,the Coast Guard Air Station commanding officer, spoke up," Mrs. Urquhart. The staff has mentioned that the swordfish is fresh, was caught down the coast by Ensenada and is quite delicious." She smiled and thanked him. She acknowledged to the waiter she would have the swordfish and a simple salad. During the meal she had three cups of coffee, but did not finish her meal. As luncheon progressed and conversations about her husband continued, she seemed to finally relax. She asked if she could smoke and all at once four fancy gold lighters appeared which resulted in some laughing and relaxed smiles. Several told detailed stories of how special her husband, Master Chief Urquhart, was to everyone connected to the development and advancement of the Grumman JF-2 Duck amphibious aircraft, a plane that was part of the inventory on the USS Saratoga. He was piloting that aircraft that day during maneuvers and testing off Point Loma outside San Diego Bay. Captain Knorr from the 5 TH Coast Guard District in Washington, D.C. was very determined to make it known that the decision for her husband being chosen to be part of Commander "Archie" Stone's team to develop the JF-2 Duck to a high level support and reconnaissance aircraft for the Coast Guard was a significant achievement in his career. He went into detail about the fact that Commander Stone was the most famous aviator in Coast Guard history, held many flight records and was himself  awarded numerous important medals including the Medal of Honor. He also was quite clear that Sander was being considered to be also awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his deeds that day. The craft had been recovered by a special salvage crew based in Long Beach from the sea four days later and it was slowly brought back to the San Diego Air Station hangar for inspection. A team of military aircraft experts had gone thoroughly over the plane for three days, and it was determined that it was mechanical error and not pilot error that caused the accidental crash, offered Captain Knorr. Kathryn started looking in her purse again for a Kleenex as she did that day when she gave Sander the news, as Captain Knorr gave her the investigation team results. It had not sunk in about the potential awarding of the medal as yet;  his reputation was a much more important issue to her for her son's future when stories are told about his father that day off Point Loma.

Some weeks had gone by, weeks that, day by day, were torture to Kathryn. Daily life had gotten so difficult, and her habit of too many cigarettes and black coffee had not changed. She had started drinking some of Lysander's whiskey from his shelf in the kitchen at night when Sander was asleep, then trying to cover it up with too much mouthwash and by chewing two pieces of Double Mint gum. Soon she was making trips to the liquor store, telling the owner, Mr. Mooney, it was just for the many old friends that kept stopping by the house to offer condolences. Maybe the new drinking was just a way to be close to him again. Several times she had already stood for what like seemed like hours in his part of the closet, smelling his clothes, running her hands over his uniform coats.  Her best girl friend Phyllis had urged her to have her mother come and stay, as it was surely obvious that Mo would not be coming any time soon from Compass Point. Her mother Viola did come to live with her and Sander, over Asa's vehement protests. Ada Insley Orvar Egberg was a very successful man. He owned one of the most in demand civil engineering firms on all of the west coast, based in South San Francisco. Their family home was a sprawling estate in Palo Alto with horse stables,an indoor swimming pool, elegant and well groomed gardens, rolling manicured lawns, and a drive way that would rival any east coast mansion. The Georgian style house had eight bedrooms, six bathrooms, servants quarters, and had an immense ballroom to accommodate  the many society, charity and political gatherings that were held there during the year. Her father was a stern man, not at all warm and gentle. Those were the traits of her mother. He ruled with an iron fist and was not at all pleased when his only child announced that she was marrying an ordinary enlisted Marine sergeant. "I am now eighteen father, and I love this man," she announced sternly while stamping her foot. "I will disown you. A Marine!  And an enlisted man at that! You will marry a man of my choosing and none other. He will be a man of education, breeding and from the proper stock. Do you understand me, Kathryn? " he bellowed. She knew her mother would not let him cast her from their lives, no matter how much he fumed and protested. All she had to do was call him Orvar, and he would quiet down. Her husband disliked that name with a fervent passion. Kathryn and Lysander Urquhart were married in a simple ceremony at his base at North Island Naval Station chapel. None of her family or friends were in attendance. Mo, his sister, and some of his marine buddies were there. They all went out to a downtown Chinese restaurant to celebrate. Their wedding night was at The US Grant Hotel and kathryn couldn't have been happier.

The passing of time would dictate a change in her father. He seemed to soften as the years went by.  He saw the progress of his son in law becoming more involved in the development of the Navy's new aircraft carriers. However, when Lysander decided to leave the Marines, where he had become proficient as a carpenter repairing the damaged carrier-based biplanes, then enlist in the Coast Guard, Asa Egberg was completely sure that not only was this still the wrong man for his daughter, but that he was a total flake and a complete failure, as he had predicted when his daughter had brought him home to meet the family. Even after Lysander Jr. was born in 1929, Kathryn saw little that was changed with her father. She was sure he would become proud of their family and especially of his only grandson, but his demeanor appeared set in stone. Her attempts to please her father had been a complete failure. She was conditioned to his temperament and his often disagreeable attitudes; however, her efforts were not successful. Kathryn sometimes thought it was so very hopeless,  becoming completely desperate. She could only find solace in her mother's excitement and joy at Lysander's arrival in their world.

About a month later, Sander saw his mother getting more and more sad. She slept during the day and no longer got up to fix him breakfast before school. Phyllis and her son Keith, Sander's friend, would come and take him to school and return to pick him up after class. He would run into the house to say hello, and her bedroom door would still be closed. Kathryn would finally get up about six pm and would fix him a simple dinner, maybe a grilled cheese sandwich or reheat some left over spaghetti Phyllis had kindly left in the ice box. Much of the time she didn't speak or ask him about his day in school. She also continued to drank whiskey more than ever before.

"Master Lysander! Over here, Master Lysander." Sander had just gotten out of school, was standing on the front steps scanning all the cars, looking for Phyllis' maroon Plymouth coupe with the dent in the right  front fender, when he heard his grandfather's chauffeur Charles calling to him. "Master Lysander, your grandfather has sent me to pick you up from school today,"  Charles said in his professional manner. Sander liked Charles. Whenever he and his mother visited the mansion, sometimes he would go beyond the main house to the huge garage where all of his grandfather's cars were kept and talk about them with Charles. Charles would tell him stories about the different models that his grandfather owned, while he polished some chrome or was brushing the upholstery. He liked the fact that Charles had installed a very elegant varnished board, marked clearly with little white and black porcelain signs for each car and a brass hook below with the keys for that car, hanging in perfect order, so he would know where each car was parked in the garage.

"How come you are here today at my school, Charles?" "Master Lysander, Marta and I have come to collect you. You are to come and live at the big house with your grandmother and grandfather. We have a long journey back to Palo Alto and we must get started as soon as possible. I have taken the liberty of gathering some of your clothing and personal items. I hope you will not mind my bold intrusion into your sleeping quarters. I am under instructions from your grandfather. "  "Hello Lysander," said Marta from the big back seat, where she was all but invisible. She was a petite, somewhat conservative dresser. A youngish woman, who was a personal assistant to Mr. Egberg. " We will have a nice talk while Charles drives us north on Highway One. It is quite picturesque with the Pacific Ocean on the left and the rolling hills and countryside on the right to enjoy." He liked riding in the big black La Salle limousine that had been especially built for Mr. Egberg. He got seated comfortably by the window and was wondering about his mother. He would ask Marta about her, but not now. He was enjoying looking out of the window, like Marta has stated. "We will stop when you choose to and get some dinner. Please let me know when you get hungry, Lysander. Charles stopped on the way here and purchased some bottles of your favorite Pepsi Cola and they are in the boot, chilling on dry ice, if you want to have one." Marta said in her soft Norwegian accent. "I had him make sure to gather your lovely black treasure box and that wonderful album of aeroplanes that you have compiled so thoroughly. I so enjoyed you showing me them, last we spoke. I am sure you have added some recent new photographs and drawings to it. You are so very talented, Lysander. One day you must go to university and become an illustrator." Lysander remembered that she told him the same thing when he showed her his album once before. It was nice of her to remember that fact. " I told Charles that you kept the little silver key with you at all times, the one that opens your black treasure box, when he asked how you would be able to open it. So feel comfortable knowing they are both safe in the boot as well, " she reassured him. Charles was from England and his manner of speaking was very proper and educated and direct. Mr. Egberg preferred to have people work for him that came from Europe, especially his home country of Norway. "Only these people have the learned the strong work ethic that I need and know their place in the employ of a properly run household," he often would was heard to boast.

"Lysander," Marta said gently waking him from his nap on the seat where he had drifted off while looking out at the rows of crops and farm stands along the way. He had been vividly dreaming of flying with his Daddy in the Grumman Duck JF-2 while he landed smoothly in San Diego Bay, the splash and huge spray of refreshing sea water feeling cold and clean on his face. " Wake up, dear boy. Charles has suggested we stop in this little town at the Andersen Valley Inn and have some dinner before we continue home. He has said they are famous for their split pea soup. The owners are from the old country, from Denmark, so I am sure their soup is quite good." "I am hungry. My stomach is growling back at me," Sander responded rubbing his eyes.  "She laughed out loud and said,"I have not heard that said before, but I know what you mean."May I take your order. Yes you may, my dear. By the way,what is your name,? " asked Charles of their waitress, even though she had a little hand painted name tag on her blue and white uniform. "Yes sir, name's Susan, " she replied with a welcoming smile. She was a buxom older woman and not very tall. It was obvious by her demeanor that she loved her job. Charles had asked what our choices were, then we all ordered our food from Susan. Charles ordered Swedish meatballs, boiled potatoes with creamed green peas and a pot of hot Earl Grey tea with lemon. Marta asked for a small cup of split pea soup. Within a short time, Susan brought all of the plates. Marta was nervously smoking one of several cigarettes while she ate, watching Sander enjoy two bowls of split pea soup, and a big glass of cold milk. "Are you full, Lysander, or is there something else you would like?," she asked gently. Marta took her job seriously and wanted to make sure good reports of her handling of Lysander's needs got back to Mr. Egberg. Charles had finished his meal, was having a second cup of tea and reading the newspaper. " Can I have some pie?, " he inquired. "I'll call Susan over and you can ask what kind they have, " she answered eagerly, wanting to please him. "Well honey, what kind of pie would you like. Our baker Olga here at Andersen's makes most wonderful desserts. Her pies are world famous, just like our split pea soup is," she questioned as she informed. "Can I get a piece of chocolate cream pie,......um, a big glass of cherry Pepsi Cola. Not too much ice, please?, " he said with the big grin of a ten year old. "Of course, honey. But I'll have to make that a cherry Coca Cola.  Is that is OK with you? " Charles looked up from his paper and said,"Please serve the young gentleman whatever he chooses, madam, if it is offered on your menu, please. We have had a sumptuous meal so far, quite acceptable. It will be much appreciated. Marta, is there anything else that you would care to order?", he asked in his proper British manner. "I am fine for now, Charles. It is very kind of you to ask. The soup was marvelous," she said. "Sir, can I bring you another pot of tea?", Susan added, her cheeks rosy from the welcomed praise. Charles had gone back to reading his newspaper, looked up momentarily, smiled, then nodded yes."And that will be all. You may bring the bill, if you please," he responded realizing they had a long drive ahead.

The bill had been paid, and everyone was sated and happy. Charles has gone over the car and seemed exasperated at the amount of road dirt on the black shiny paint. He did take time to retrieve some cleaning rags and a solution to clean all of the windows thoroughly, while Marta and Lysander talked about some of the gift shop items they had seen. Marta told him she was familiar with the same kind of hand carved wooden Scandinavian nut crackers the shop had for sale. She said they were just the kind she knew from her childhood. Charles finished polishing the windows, rinsed and dried his hands, put his tailored black jacket on and the big La Salle finally pulled out onto the highway heading north. It was a long and dark drive back to Palo Alto. The massive car turned up the long drive in Palo Alto finally at four am in the morning. Sander had been asleep for hours, as had Marta, in the roomy back seat of the huge luxury automobile, both covered with cashmere car robes made just for the La Salle. Charles was a professional, but he was extremely tired and had used all of his many mental exercises to maintain his being awake and sharply aware on the trip up Highway One. The last two hours were especially tiring, the roads were treacherous in the dark, curving and winding, coming from Santa Cruz. It reminded him of his days in France in WWI when he was the staff driver for an important British general of the Royal Flying Corps. They would often travel at night which was extremely dangerous, and he would be wrestling the huge Peugeot touring car over impassable muddy roads, rock strewn bridges and make shift pathways with the lights off, all the while dodging livestock and invisible, centuries old stone walls. This trip of 500 miles up the picturesque California coast some 20 plus years later was quite a bit easier, to be sure. Upon arrival in Palo Alto in the early morning hours, the household staff immediately filed out of the house, having stayed up, waiting for their arrival, out to the car as it pulled to a stop. The smell of the overworked engine was evident to all. Marta said to Sims, the butler, not to wake Lysander , but to carry him gently up to bed and she would come along to tuck him in. She motioned for the others to retrieve his things from the boot, especially his black treasure box and the precious album of aeroplanes, as she likes to put it.

"Where is my Mommy? Where is she," Sander demanded as he bounded into the huge white kitchen. Hanna, the cook answered,"Master Lysander. Don't you want some breakfast? You must be hungry this day," she answered in her thick Norwegian accent. "I have prepared fresh hot bread with caraway seeds. I have some lovely sausage I made here and strawberry preserves I also have made myself from our garden last summer. Can I get some of these for you? If not, I can make you some lovely oatmeal, if you like. Carline, our milk cow, has presented me with some fresh milk that I got from her at five am, " she said, dodging the original question about his mother. For a moment he answered, "OK. I am hungry. I want some sausage. Can you toast the bread too?, "  " Wait a minute, I want to see my Mommy. Is she still asleep? She has been sleeping a lot ." Hanna stuttered with her words and said,"  Marta can tell you where your mother is today, Lysander. She will be coming down any moment. It is only seven am and you all were very late coming in so early this morning. Now sit right down here please, Master Lysander. This is your napkin. I'll toast the bread for you right now. Do you want one or two pieces with your sausage?, she asked, seeing that he had calmed down and was waiting for Marta to give him the news about his mother. "I'd like two pieces. Your bread is really good, Hanna. I don't have this bread anywhere else.And a big glass of milk too please." " Would you like some fresh orange juice? I squeezed it just a short time ago. Bjorn brought in a big basket from our trees this morning, " she added, smiling at pleasing her breakfast guest. "Yes. That sounds good too. I like O. J. That's what my Daddy called orange juice. He called it O. J. I'll have some O.J., " he answered recalling a fond memory about his Daddy.

He was mopping up the last drops of Hanna's strawberry preserves from the plate with his finger where he had just finished the sausage and three pieces of toast. Hanna had toasted him an extra piece, knowing he would eat it. She liked to see a boy eat with gusto. She was the oldest and on the little farm in a remote Norwegian village where she grew up, she did all of the cooking in the family. Her sisters were much to young, but helped her nevertheless.. It reminded her of fixing a hearty breakfast for her four brothers before they started to work with their father on the farm, milking the dairy cattle, the goats and the other chores for their day. "There you are, Lysander, " Marta said cheerfully as she entered the kitchen. She had been practicing putting on her best face. Marta had not been able to sleep after they had arrived. Mr. Egberg had given her the job of telling Lysander, not he or Mrs. Egberg, which Marta thought was the proper thing to do. After all, they were the grandparents of this poor child, yet she was given the duty to pass on this tough personal family information. She was Mr. Egberg's loyal employee and did was asked of her, no questions asked. He knew she would so it, and do it well. Marta thought in this situation that it was wrong. One day when she was younger, she had hoped to have a wonderful son like Lysander, but entering into Mr. Egberg's service, she had agreed to stay unmarried and, in exchange, all her needs would be provided for her for the rest of her life. "Hanna, please send in some coffee, you know how I like it, to my office. I'll take it in there." Lysander, are you through with your breakfast?, she  asked directly and with an expressionless practiced face."Come with me to my office and we will have a little chat." He thought to himself,"Here we go again. Is there something wrong with my Mommy? This is much worse. No one is crying and carrying on. I hope my Mommy is OK. I hope she is safe and all right."

" Have a seat beside me, Lysander and get comfortable," Marta said in a businesslike manner as she folded leg legs and settled into the burgundy leather loveseat facing the big picture window in her office. The morning sun from the east was streaming through the fancy wooden blinds. He waited what seemed like an eternity while she put some milk and one sugar cube in her coffee cup. She was still silent. She nervously stirred the dainty purple floral bone china cup over and over with a very small silver spoon.. Sander was not getting any more comfortable as she had asked him to be.

"Master Lysander. I have been asked by your grandfather to inform you that your mother has gone away for an extended stay. She is at a wonderful place in the country, close to the ocean and the mountains. The air is clean and the sunshine is pleasant for her. She has her own private bungalow with all of her things that she likes to have around her. She will want for nothing." she noticed him getting all wound up and about to blurt out. Marta wanted to keep on talking and finish before she lost her nerve and started to cry in front of him. "Before you ask me, I do not know when you will see her again. It may be a few weeks or it may be a much longer time-perhaps several months. As you know, better than most, she took your father's accident quite hard. Not eating, and smoking too many cigarettes, plus sleeping all the time, have taken their toll," she said coldly, as she lit one herself nervously. Marta continued while smoking," She was obviously becoming more and more nervous while being very unhappy.Your grandfather believes that your care was also suffering as a result." He wondered what else she was going to tell him. He was now getting really scared and started to cry openly.

"I am so sorry, Lysander," she said quietly when she saw his tears. She reached into a drawer of her desk and gave him two Kleenex. He wiped his eyes, blew his nose and tossed them in the leather waste basket beside her desk. Marta slowly sat upright and moved to her desk chair, put her arms on the polished top, opened the cigarette box and lit another cigarette with the silver matching lighter that sat next to the box. She looked squarely at Sander and said in a firm and businesslike tone," Lysander. Your grandfather has recommended that you .....um, I mean. Because of your mother's situation. Her living at this country facility has deemed it necessary," Marta is speaking and not at all comfortable. She feels she is scaring the little boy more than she has already. She finds her composure and looks him in the eyes again,"Lysander. You will be living at a wonderful place with children your age for some time. They have lots of land and orchards and gardens. You will live in a big room with all boys your age. I will come and visit you every weekend." She let out a big sigh, not knowing she was going to drive the one hundred miles every week to see him. His grandparents were going to be in Europe for four months,traveling all around. Mr.Egberg did not ask her to visit, but he is so very insensitive to do this to his own grandson, the son of his only daughter, that she thought it was the best she could do. She knew that Charles would want to come too, but he will be on the trip with Mr. and Mrs. Egberg.

She handed Sander the whole box of Kleenex as at this point he was sobbing profusely and she was sure that the others could hear him and become concerned about him. None had been made aware of the task she had had to perform that morning. She sat back down beside him and took him into her arms, put his head on her chest and let him sob quietly. For that moment Lysander was her own little boy. He raised his head and with red, swollen eyes he asked,"Where is this place I have to go to? How come I just can't stay here with you and Charles and grandma?," his eyes and his voice, cracking into a whimper again, pleaded.

"St. Catherine's Lutheran Home for Boys and Girls is about two or three hours drive  from here, in Sonoma County. It may be farther, I have not been there. You can be assured, Lysander, that I will be coming to visit you on the week ends. Charles will be traveling with your grandparents on their trip to Europe and Scandinavia. I will just drive one of the cars from the garage. The trip is for business and to visit the family, I believe. I am to stay here and be ready to use Western Union if there are any important issues to address, either at the firm or here in Palo Alto. I will also be giving them any news about you and your mother." "Is this home a nice place? Is it close to my Mommy? When do I have to go? Is the food any good there? Couldn't you take me to see her when you come to see me? What car are you going to drive?, " he rattled off in succession. "Wait a moment and let me answer for you," she said with a quick smile. It is the first time the room has had a lighter air  since they first sat down. She knew that he had a thousand thoughts running around in his head at that moment. She reflected to herself and wanted some time to gather the next moves and a to make sure she answered his queries the best way she could."Let's take a break. How about I take you back to the kitchen. It is Monday and I know that Hanna always bakes Norwegian cinnamon kanelkake to have with coffee. We all love it, especially those that come from our homeland. Hanna is legendary here with her kanelkake cake and all of our staff can't wait until Mondays. If you haven't had it, we must get you some with a big glass of milk. Would you like that, Lysander?," she inquired, hoping to get his mind distracted to give her some time to regroup. She glanced at the antique grandmothers clock hanging on the wall just inside her office door, and noted that it was almost ten am. "Let's come back here after lunch, at about one thirty or so and we can get all of your questions answered. Hanna can give you some of her cake and some milk. After that, you can go outside and play with the dogs, go visit Bjorn at the gardens or just explore. Please do not go to the garages, since Charles is not here to supervise or answer any questions you may have. Does that sound OK to you?"

The next morning Lysander was ready to go. Marta came into the kitchen and was about fifteen minutes late. They were to leave at nine am. She had allowed him to pick the car she would drive when they had met after lunch to answer his questions the day before. She promised to stay with him for as long as it took when they got to the Home. She wanted him to be as comfortable as possible, although she knew that was an unlikely thing to happen. That morning she had been unable to sleep well again and was thinking to herself," This dear little boy had had his world turned completely upside down in just a short few months. His father was taken from him in a tragic accident and there was not even a body for a proper church burial. Instead there was a plain marker shaped like all the rest, as is the military practice, with appropriate markings, at the Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery overlooking San Diego Bay and, oddly enough, within sight of the location of his aircraft accident. She considered the worse thing he had to deal with. His mother's difficulty at coping with the tragedy was followed by his cold-hearted grandfather's decisions to locate her abruptly, and with Lysander not being able to say goodbye. In the same wave of the hand, he was being banished to some unknown remote place with complete strangers, people he did not know and he was going to feel totally alone. He would miss his room, his playmates, familiar surroundings, Keith and all of his other friends. What about his history class. He liked the teacher and he made good grades. What kind of school would he be going to. A Lutheran school? No familiar surroundings to give a person some solace She was sure it would scar him for life. She knew that this happy and inquisitive youngster, who always liked school may be headed for some days and years that he may not be able to handle. The least she could do was to visit him as often as possible. She felt so useless,wishing there was more she could do for him.

His one suitcase with his treasure box and album were stowed in the rumble seat. Lysander had picked the 1935 Packard Twelve Roadster as Marta had agreed to let him do. It was a rich cream color with red wire wheels and a flying chrome lady with flowing hair ornament on the top of the radiator that sparkled as you drove along. These were the words that Lysander used to describe the massively beautiful motor car. Some of that was probably Charles' words being paraphrased by a ten year old. "I don't know if I can drive this big car, Lysander," she said when it was brought around by the mechanic, Henrik. He gave her some tips in his strong Dutch voice and assured her that it "was driving like a droom". She thought to herself knowing that he meant dream," I hope so. I surely do no want it to drive like a nightmare!" They warmed up the car as Henrik looked on. The look on Marta's face was one of uncertainty and the one on Sander's was one of wonder, a look that he was sure he that if she could not make it to their destination, he could most surely take over and drive this lovely car himself. She eased it into gear, the big wheels started to make a solid sound rolling over the gravel and they were on their way out the drive. Henrik looked at them leaving, took off his dark blue sweat stained cap, smiled in their direction, fully expecting her to turn around and bring the big Packard back to the garage. She had it up to about twenty miles an hour quickly, for the drive was about one half mile to the road and Lysander glanced over to his right. Flying lazily along with them was an extremely large white crow. "Marta, do you see that?, he asked pointing at the bird flying beside the Packard. "Please Lysander, I must make every move with extreme caution until I master driving this car. You have given me such a task," she responded uneasily. The bird continued to follow as they turned onto the highway and headed north. He thought about it for a moment and since birds being one of his favorite subjects to study, he was sure this was a very rare white raven, and not a crow as he had at first considered. He wished he had a chance to look it up in the Encyclopedia Britannica to make sure he was right. As soon as he could go to a library, that was what he planned to do. Then he noticed that there were no other birds around. That was odd, because there were always dozens of sea gulls, flapping their wings, squawking, making a mess and looking around for food. In fact, there were no other birds at all. None on the ground, flying about or anywhere one could see. He glanced over at Marta and her face was sternly focused on the road. This little woman was doing quite well, wrestling the huge steering wheel, and it looked like she would get them to their destination safely.

The ride to the St. Catherine's Home was a quiet one for both of them. Marta was making sure that she was maneuvering the big roadster along the picturesque highway properly, while Sander was quiet and self absorbed. She had to ask him if he needed a rest room break when they got into Marin County across the Golden Gate Bridge. Right after crossing the bridge, he abruptly announced that the bridge was the world's longest suspension bridge and it was 4200 feet in length, construction was started in 1933 and cost $35 million. She loved that about his nature. He wanted to learn. He would do great things some day, she often thought. "Yes, Marta, I do have to go. Please stop when you can." They soon were driving through Sausalito and she pulled into the gravel drive of a small, old fashioned diner that had a welcoming feel to it. The big red sign above the door, paint peeling, spelled out "Lou's Diner". " I will get us a seat inside. I see that the outhouse is out behind the restaurant. I will ask the waitress for a hot cloth for your hands when you return". She found a small open booth. It had a well worn red leather seat and she sat down. There was a counter of about ten stools facing the hubbub of activity the one cook was creating, and four booths in front of the windows facing the road. Sander came in and sat down. "The menu is up on the chalk board over the counter.The lunch special is Boston baked beans and wieners. I think I am going to have the chicken salad sandwich." The smiling waitress came over and said, "What can I get you and your son, ma'am?" Marta was startled, but did not correct her. Sander was looking about and didn't seem to notice. I would like a chicken salad sandwich on white toast....and a cup of coffee with cream please. Lysander?," she said, looking towards him. "Huh? Oh, sorry. Beans and wieners. Do you have Pepsi, maam?, " he asked. "No, young man, we have Coca Cola. Is that OK? " " Sure. Thank you, Ma'am." Marta did not finish her sandwich, managed to drink three cups of coffee and smoke several cigarettes, still reeling from the events of the last days. Sander finished his beans and wieners,then had a jelly doughnut and some milk. The waitress made note that Lou, the cook and the owner, got up at four am every morning to make the doughnuts and the pies that they sold and that they were famous all over Marin County. " Some people drive all the way over the bridge for our food," she boasted proudly.

Back on the road, Sander fell asleep almost immediately with the drone of the big engine vibrating through the car and the rumble of the tires on the highway. The trip took much longer than Marta had calculated, but then she drove below the speed limit generally, which often demanded she shift into second gear on some of the winding and narrow roads in rural Sonoma County. She felt that they were very close and pulled off onto the dirt shoulder and looked at her directions. Sander awoke and said,"We there yet?" "Just about. I believe it is just ahead to the right. See that large old gray building with lots of windows,  surrounded by the small trees? I believe that is it. I will know as soon as I drive a little way up this road. It has big stone pillars and an iron archway at the front over the road with the name in fancy ironwork on it." she said. They turned in and Sander started to become very scared. What if he could never leave this place. It looked awfully big, just like a prison in the movies. She stopped the car in front of the stone steps that led up to the front door. Some children were filing past in single file, with a military straight, stern woman leading them. "Some of the kids furtively glanced his way, but quickly looked straight ahead again as if they would be punished for being different,"  Sander thought as he saw them go by.

"You must be Marta Ringstad. I asked my assistant to watch for you and to tell me immediately upon your arrival." "Yes, I am Marta." "I am Mrs. Cowpens. I am the assistant director here. I was in attendance at the original meeting with Mr. Egberg and Mr. Wonsley, our director. Mr. Wonsley asked me to pass on his regrets that he could not meet you upon arrival but he is busy with a maintenance issue with our water well. Evidently the pump is malfunctioning. "That is very kind of him, Mrs. Cowpens. This is Lysander. Mr. Egberg's grandson who will be spending some time here with you." Sander scuffed his feet, looked down at the gravel, then up at the straight laced woman and growled," How do you do," feeling so scared he started to tremble. This is June Bea, one of our older young women here. A gangly girl of perhaps thirteen with shaggy straight brown hair stepped forward and grabbed his hand. " Say your goodbyes to this fine young lady. She will take you and your suit case up to your new home to meet Mrs. Dovers and the other children you will get to know," commanded Mrs. Cowpens. Marta shook Sander's hand and held it firmly for a minute. She wanted to pick him up and hold him and kiss him one last time before she left, she felt so sad. "Good bye," he said as big tears started rolling down his cheeks. He did not look back as her trailed June Bea up the stone steps and disappeared through the big doors.

Marta climbed into the car, pushed the starter and the engine roared to life. She looked at the gauge and made a mental note,"Got to get some gasoline before heading back. I remember  passing a Flying A station on the way here just a short drive down the highway." After driving about two miles,  she slammed on the brakes, and the Packard slid onto the dirt shoulder sending up a thick cloud. She sat there stunned. Glancing to her right, she noticed a big cow with soft brown eyes looking back at her through the wire fence. It was as if the cow was saying," You should have not driven Lysander here."Marta then burst into tears and sat sobbing for what seemed like a half an hour. In reality it was only about five minutes. She blew her nose with her handkerchief from her purse, wiped her face and adjusted her makeup. She took out and lit a cigarette, made a promise that she was going to figure something out for Lysander. She stabbed the accelerator and roared onto the pavement with new confidence, the massive piece of machinery picked up speed quickly, and she headed south. All the way home she was deep in thought, trying to work out how she was going to make it up to this little boy and all that he has had to endure in such a short time. At one point, she thought she saw a rather large white crow flying alongside with the Packard. She seemed to remember Lysander talking about such a bird on their trip north. "It just must be someone's pet," she thought and discounted the sighting. She drove much faster on the return trip, it made her feel powerful for a change. Her ability to drive the big car had improved. She smoked, thought and drove, not stopping until arriving back at the house. Sims met her after she had parked the car in the garage and was walking towards her office. He asked her if she wanted some supper, "Hanna saved some of her wonderful pot roast and stewed tomatoes for you, my dear."  One look at her face and he just slowly turned and walked away. It was best if he did not talk to her just now after her ordeal that day. The staff had all been discussing about what a difficult thing Mr. Egberg had asked Marta to do and  Sims mentioned that he didn't think she would ever be the same again. They were worried about how Lysander would fare living in that strange new place. He had no familiar friends and even though the surroundings were beautiful and serene, how does a little boy deal with all that had befell him in such a short time? This was the topic of conversation at meal times for many days after  he left.

 

 

 

 

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Next Stop For Gracie Chapter 4 When The White Raven Flies

Chap4In downtown San Diego, lower Broadway is a busy and crowded place, it has always been so. Close to the waterfront where several powerful Navy ships, working harbor tugs and a myriad of tuna clippers moor. They attract furious activity, and noisy lumbering trucks, forklifts and assorted stacks of goods and cargoes await their distribution.  It is the summer of 1940.  Gutters are not as clean as they should be, filled with cigarette butts, litter of all types, the debris, and muck a big city generates. It seems that in every block, one can find a sailor or a Marine who has had too much to drink, is in potential distress and about to succumb to his liquid induced unsteadiness. The smells wafting from many bar and lounge doorways of sour beer, spilt spirits, and cigarette smoke hit your nostrils in full force. The flavor of the landscape changes in the later part of the evening. Those fresh faced sailors and Marines start to stagger and walk even more unsteadily. Their starched,  crisp and well smoothed uniforms have become wrinkled and disheveled, hats and caps askew, kerchiefs and ties now loosened. They are obvious marks for the many  pimps and their women who ply their trade on these sidewalks and in the black, shadowy alleys, deep in alcoves,  foul smelling of piss and cheap perfume. Also in the dark corners of nondescript buildings only inhabited by rows of dented trash cans, a city's discards and piles of broken glass bottles.  The seedy bars and the loud music, the shrill laughter of women who have set their eyes on an unwary quarry, eerily blast into the street with the opening of every grimy and worn, leather padded cocktail lounge door. Some nights you can catch a live combo, pounding out  poor renditions of the day's popular tunes with out of tune horns, a half drunk crooner and a set of worn out drums. A brightly lit street corner is the perfect place to transact the business of lower Broadway most evenings.

"I'll bet you got what I want, girly," asked the Iowa youngster with remnants of peach fuzz on his chin.

"I sure do, handsome. You bring me lots of dough, did you, on your liberty tonight? Huh sweetie," she replies with a phony bright red smile.

"Enough, I got enough, " he exclaims lowering his voice while trying to appear much older than his years. He is wants to cover up the fact that his 18th birthday was just a recent memory.

"Well, doll face," she chirps sweetly as she strokes his face with one hand while feeling his butt gingerly for his wallet, tucked into his bell bottoms, with the other. "Are you gonna give little ol' Cecilia some of that liberty money tonight? I think you an' me gonna have one helluva time. One that you will remember for a long time, Sugar." Coupled arm and arm, they soon walked. Even if all he did was nod his shaky head as a vague approval, the girl in the loud red and blue flower print dress named Cecilia (if that is her real name),  he unsteady from cheap too many Bourbon and Cokes and she attempting to hold him up, now vigorously feeling around for that liberty wad. While they stroll to her room, before long down that dark side street, an unwanted chaperone steps out of the shadows, dressed in a pea coat and hat pulled down to cover his face, following closely behind. This sailor may get rolled tonight without ever having the fun he is fantasizing about with Cecilia on his arm. Cecilia with the red hair, the good times he plans on bragging about to his buddies back on shipboard, but most likely, a far worse fate will befall him before the bosun's piercing whistle calls for the end of liberty at 7 AM tomorrow.

The next time his family hears about this young man, in his hometown of Buffalo Center, Iowa, he has finally been discovered, luckily he's still barely alive. He has been severely beaten, bones are broken and twisted, his boyish face now swollen and jaw shattered, black and blue and one eye is shut, where he has been tossed in a lifeless heap on some wet, debris strewn mud under a waterfront pier. Instead of the chance telling vivid stories about his first liberty night in San Diego, he will feel ashamed and foolish. He has several months of confinement at Navy Hospital in San Diego to endure as his buddies will be deployed to their next station. He'll have to be happy with a liquid diet, endless games of boring cribbage, poker with matchsticks and sitting idly in a wheelchair in the hospital gardens. The unseen culprits have stolen his uniform and all of his money. His prized gold class ring, the one with the chip of a real diamond in the center, is already sitting in a pawn shop display case somewhere on lower Broadway. He was so proud of being the first in his family to graduate from high school. He saved that $56.74 over six months especially for a big night to remember in the best liberty town on the west coast. Six months to save the money and a lifetime to pay for the bad memories his first night of liberty brought him in San Diego, the town all of the old salts had talked up as "the best liberty town" as they steamed across the Pacific, where the only thing to see was the next sunrise, sunsets after an exhausting day of work and a bare endless horizon on the huge ocean. Such a fate was the chance these men and young boys took while looking for companionship by paying for a girl's time, being away from home for their first experience in a big seaport. The emotional impact on his mind is never to be healed, even though the body will. He is young. Next leave after his recovery will be embarrasing. He thinks to himself, "what will I say when I get back home in Buffalo Center and my friends, Mr. Nofziger, my baseball coach and Mr. Trask at Trask's Hardware, my first job, ask me about what happened in the Navy?"

 

She glances at the wall clock in the lobby, it is 7:55, as she races up to the third floor of the rundown hotel. "Oh shit," she thinks to herself.

"Gracie, I am so sorry. I am late. I know that I said after work that I would come back home in time for you and I to get some coffee and a doughnut before you had to walk to school," shouted her mother, out of breath, as she pushed open the door and hurriedly burst into the dingy hotel room. "Ramon, what are you doing up already? Where the hell is Gracie,"  she asked her man and pimp.

"Hold it down, God damn it,  Madeline,"  Ramon said in a low whisper. "We got some business goin' on here. We is makin' some money right now. Money,  you know, that green stuff you don't seem to be able to bring home anymore, " he said as he glared at her.

"You son of a bitch! Did you go out and get another girl?  I told you I would stay out all night and bring home more cash."

"I didn't have to go too far for this one, baby.  This one is going to pay me twice what an old tired whore like you can bring in, " Ramon snarled curtly. Just at that moment, Grace came in from the other room, straightening her skirt, walked to the table and shook a cigarette from the half empty pack, struck a match and lit it. "We can go after school, Mama. I'm sorry. That'll be OK. Right, Mama?"  she asked as she grabbed the pack of Chesterfields and the box of matches, shoving  them into her sad khaki canvas book bag. She quickly kissed her and headed for the door. "Me too," Ramon demanded with a wry grin as he pointed to his lips. She brushed his cheek casually with closed lips, her face in a grimace and skipped out the door.

Madeline Suarez has seen the years starting to leave their marks with lines around her eyes and at the corners of her mouth, even though she is only twenty-eight years old. Her jet dark curly hair, which she now has to dye from time to time, came from her Polynesian mother and she still believes is her best asset. Very proud that she spends twenty minutes every night brushing it religiously. Her pale olive skin lets the viewer know she was, like many people born in Hawaii, of many bloods. Her Dad, long gone, was a tall Filipino. This is where she got her height of almost five foot eight inches. Last night has turned into early morning and bringing home that extra money did not happen. "Why you mother fucker. Did you put my Gracie to work? I told you never, never! That would never, ever  happen. You fuckin' asshole, she is only twelve years old."

"Hold your horses, she agreed to help you out, " he blurted out in defense as if it had been agreed between them both. At that point,  the door opened and Chief 'Shoe' Shoemaker scuffled into the room, smoothing his tie and straightening his cap.

"What's all the fuckin' hollerin' about in here, Ramon? Hey Madeline? That daughter of yours is pretty fuckin' sweet in the sack, for some young pussy, let me tell you. I never thought Ramon would let you to put her ass on the street,  as she bein' only twelve. Nice titties too, kinda big! I was surprised. I got to say, more than a mouth full. I'm glad to pay double, anytime," he continued, not seeing Madeline's face growing redder. "I got some buddies who will do the same thing, any time. Hell,  Ramon, you gotta little fuckin' gold mine walkin' around in that crotch. I'll be back on pay day," he said with a big satisfied grin, his one gold front tooth sparkling. 

"If I ever see you around my Gracie again, Shoe, I will slit your fuckin' throat, ear to ear, with my straight razor, slice your dick off and shove it down your windpipe. Now try braggin' about that to any your bosun mate buddies on that fuckin' beat up assed bucket of rust  you call a sub tender." His eyes widened and he looked shocked. He glanced quickly at Ramon, and Ramon just nodded and his eyes seemed to say, "don't worry about it, she'll calm down by tomorrow." Madeline grabbed her pocketbook, dumped it out on the table, and pushing aside all of the greasy Chinese take out containers, odd pieces of clothing, day old newspapers and full ashtrays with her hand.

"I got to have a cigarette," she said desperately. "Your daughter just took the only pack I had. Listen here, calm down baby. I'll go down to Lefty's and get you and us a pack or two, grab a fifth of Old Overholt and we will forget this whole morning happened. What do you say to that, huh? "

" You are trying to please me and you are going to get some shitty, fuckin' rye whiskey? You know I don't like rye whiskey, you self centered asshole."

"All right, have it your way. I was just tryin' to be a nice guy. I'll get a fifth of Old Fitzgerald, your favorite. That make you happy, bitch," he said with a mean spirited snarl. With a swift motion,  she picked up the heavy crystal ash tray, from the debris strewn table . With a pitcher's motion butts, ashes and gum wrappers flew across the room as she hurled it at Ramon's head. It hit solidly, and then glanced off his right temple. The blood started to stream down his face almost immediately. "You fuckin' whore. You hit me with that God damn ashtray." he mumbled, his face covered with ashes and blood, it starting to trickle into his eyes and it stung. "Now look at my good shirt."  He then reached into the right front pocket of his expensive brown worsted trousers that Madeline had gotten him on his birthday last,  and at the same time he was starting to move towards her.  She knew he kept that nickel plated .25 caliber Colt pistol in that front pocket. He had promised her many times that if she ever crossed him,  he would use it on her and promised Madeline that her mother in Hawaii would never know what happened to body. He'd bury out on the Silver Strand, naked and he would cut off her hands so there would be no fingerprints. Suddenly the thought rushed through her mind.

She now knew that Ramon must have taken her daughter's virginity that day, before selling her to Shoe. If she didn't stop him now, Gracie would be tormented by him, she would take her place in his bed from this day on, let alone having to turn tricks nightly for him like she herself has done for the last, lousy and miserable seven years. As he was stepping towards her, she grabbed the top of one of the chairs from around the table, tilted it back and shoved the front legs into his advancing skinny shins. His eyes being full of blood, he didn't see her clearly and he tripped forward, and while falling, hitting his head on the heavy mahogany table edge. He landed face down on the grimy fake Oriental carpet, and tried one time to lift himself up with his arms, stopped, gasped and then let out an audible shudder, slumping back down to the floor. He lied there among the trash from the table, lifeless - motionless.  She kicked him hard in the ribs, fueled from her pent up frustrations and it felt really good. She was crying and shaking after all that had just occurred. Ramon still did not make a move.  She checked his pulse. Picking up her compact from the table, she opened it, and held it to his bloody mouth to see if it would fog over, like she had seen done in a gangster picture. None at all. No breath was showing in the mirror. The little man lying there was really dead. She wiped her face on his coat sleeve after picking it up off the floor.  She looked at Ramon's lifeless body again.  She hastily fumbled through her pocketbook contents that was scattered on the table and found the straight razor. She opened it, grabbed a handful of his bloody hair and yanked his head back. She wanted to slit his throat. "He deserves it ," she thought to herself.  She started  to make a cut from the left ear and had  just broken the skin close to his Adam's apple. She stopped. Wiping the blood off her hands and the blade on his coat again,  she folded the razor blade back into the handle. She had stopped sobbing, stood there over his body, finally feeling powerful for the first time in front of Ramon and decided the fact that the asshole was dead was enough. She liked that feeling. No pimp was ever going to do what he had done to her again. The son of a bitch sure wasn't going to get at her Gracie again.

Exhausted, she sat down, tired and still wanting a cigarette. "Get a hold of yourself, Maddy," she said out loud. "You didn't kill the little fuckin' prick. It was an accident."  She also realized that no one on earth would buy that story. She now was surely in big trouble! "Get a grip. What would Mama do," she asked out loud. Her mother, Kailani, was a remarkable woman, resourceful and had always made clever decisions, while living in a man's world. The beauty that Madeline had as a young woman came straight from her mother, one half pure Hawaiian on her mother's side of the twosome. Her father, one half Chinese and one half Hawaiian,  had died on a fishing boat. An accident during a storm going after big eye tuna. Her father was an excellent fisherman, well respected by his peers. They will never know the circumstances or how he died that day. Had he been thrown overboard? He was a strong swimmer and had competed when a young boy in school, but the rough surf off that part of the island was no match for any man. The lure of a big payday, plus he took out the boat without his friend and fellow fisherman, Cootie Joe, as was always their practice. The boat was found, smashed on the rocks, by some surfers early the next day. Her father's body was never found. The whole family, fellow fishermen,and all of his friends gathered at dawn the next day at the spot where the boat was found. His wife's sister Koko, who had a marvelous young singing voice at just fourteen years old, presented a song of her own composition in her native language, as everyone tossed vibrant orchid leis off the cliffs, into the crashing waves as a memory and tribute to Holokai, Kailani's father.  Madeline's mother, being only six years old at the time of her father's death, just remembers getting to stay up late, drinking hot chocolate, and helping everyone make all the of the leis for the ceremony.

She seemed to always make decisions that Madeline found were as clear and right as any man would make. Her mother had worked as a madame for one of the top houses in old Honolulu for many years from the turn of the century. After her father's accident, then her mother was killed in a freak street car accident while shopping in downtown Honolulu. Being a country woman, she never trusted the city and it took her life. Now a teenager, it wasn't long before Kailani was recruited by persuasive people to make some "easy money." Many years passed and the lifestyle took it's toll on her. In later life, arthritic hips made her quit the life altogether. Luckily, she has saved money enough to live comfortably, if not simply. When Madeline had brought home the handsome dark haired sailor from New Jersey and announced to all that they were going to get married, her mother was shocked, warning her that this man was not right for her, and never would be the right man. He would break her heart and only misfortune would be ahead for her. She also said she would not pay for their upkeep. If this guy didn't provide, then Maddy would have to go to work in one of the Honolulu houses. Her mother had been prophetic. Gracie was born six months later. The husband, a second class gunners mate, Freddy Dyson from Hoboken, New Jersey, was drummed out of the Navy right after Gracie's birth, his rate being reduced to seaman.  His pay was docked three months and he was given a General Discharge. Madeline never told her mother what charges were the reason Freddy was kicked out of the Navy, her only explanation was, "well, at least he didn't get a dishonorable discharge." Kailani didn't really care about any of that, but she knew what would happen next. Obviously that all came true. It was never stated, but inferred, that she was not an "I told you so" kind of woman. Freddy started drinking heavily, not coming home until late, always from the bad parts of Honolulu. He claimed that a he had a disability to anyone who would listen, while trying to borrow five or ten dollars from all of their friends, but there was no check coming every month from the Navy to pay those loans back as he would promise them. One day Madeline came home, the apartment empty, Gracie was at the neighbors and Freddie had gone back to New jersey or some other unknown destination. Good riddance was Madeline's feeling at the time. Her mother said his only disabilities were that he was born in the first place and then had come into Madeline's life. Quietly, she knew her prediction of Madeline turning tricks, like she had done herself when her father and mother both died from accidents before she was fifteen, would be the same.

Before leaving the room, she searched Ramon's pockets and only found thirty seven dollars in his wallet. In the front pocket, she retrieved his pride and joy, that nickel plated Colt .25 caliber pistol. She knew a bartender that might give her ten bucks for it. If not, maybe she could get a pawn shop to give her a few bucks for it. After all, it was a favorite of pimps and hookers. She was determined to find his stash of money.  Ramon did not know that she knew his hiding places. She went to the dresser,  checked behind the mirror, and nothing! Angrily she yanked all of the drawers out, and found a wrinkled yellow envelope heavily taped under the large bottom drawer. " Must be five hundred bucks in here," she exclaimed while thumbing through the contents of the envelope, not taking time to count it all.  She grabbed her pocketbook, and shoved the money in a zippered side pocket, then scooped her all of her things from the table into that tattered fake brown alligator pocketbook. "You son of a bitch! Now I will buy Madeline a nice pocketbook. Maybe I will even get one from Walker Scott's," she said out loud defiantly while taking a last look at Ramon. In the closet, she pulled the battered suitcase down from the shelf, grabbed some of her and Gracie's clothes, went over to the drawers on the floor and picked up stockings and lingerie. She quickly went into the bathroom,after all of this she needed to pee. She washed the blood from her hands and wiped them dry on one of the ragged gray towels hanging on a nail that were formerly white in another life. A quick look around and she double checked the zipper pocket to see that her money was still there,  and then out the door. "I better go down the back staircase, " she said while rushing down the hall to the stairs and then out to the back alley, hoping that no one who knew her saw her leaving. She caught the street car heading up Broadway to pick up Gracie at school. Only when sitting in a seat did she finally start to calm down and the morning's events start to be clear in her mind.

 

"Mama, what are you doing here," Grace asked as she came out into the hall from third period American history. "Mrs. Pace said you were in the hall and that there was family emergency."

"Gracie, quiet please!  Come away from the door and I'll tell you what happened."

"Well, what is it, Mama? "

"Ramon is dead."  

"Dead! Ramon is dead?  Mama, what the fuck happened? Did some pimp shoot him? I always knew..." she trailed off as she looked into her mother's eyes. "Mother? Did you kill Ramon," she whispered and did not even realize she had called her Mother.

"No, no I didn't kill him, of course not. Well,ah... well I. It was an argument. Just an argument. We were fightin' about you turnin' tricks and he hit his head on the table." 

"Hit his head on the table? Are you kiddin? What really happened, Mama?" 

"OK. I threw an ashtray at him and it hit him in the head. He was going to shoot me, for Christ's sake, with that little fancy fuckin' pistol of his. He was always threatening me with it. You heard him a hundred times,  the little fuckin' Filipino asshole. I am so glad he's dead. I am so relieved.  He tripped on a chair and hit his head as he was coming for me. Honest, Gracie. You gotta believe me. It was an accident." Frantic, but not showing it, Grace said with a calm tone, "What do we do now, Mother? "

"Go back inside and get your pocketbook and your bag. Tell your teacher there is a family emergency and you won't be in school for a few days. We have to get out of town,now!"Grace was seeing a strength she had not seen in her mother before, and she wasn't acting this time. "I got his money and that damn little pistol. We can sell it at Uncle Buster's Pawn Shop before we leave."

"Where are we going," she asked her Mother concerned. "How are we going? On a bus or a train?"

"I don't know yet, probably Trailways," she assured Grace. Madeline was really scared, but she needed to appear strong and secure, especially now. Usually Gracie was the much stronger one, much more than she could ever be. Gracie was her hero. She had never told her this fact, maybe because she thought she would not understand, but Gracie surely didn't behave like any twelve year old she had ever known. She was glad for that. Madeline's only memories seemed to be of when Gracie loved her doll collection given to her by her grandmother. Drunk one night, Ramon sold them for $3.00 to a barmaid on Broadway. Only $3.00! In these times, a woman had to be really strong willed to make it. The world was changing. The US would probably be in a war soon, either the Japs or the Nazis were stirring up terrible trouble, killing thousands of people all over the globe, and even though the Roosevelt government kept denying any future involvement, only offering support for other countries in strife, war seemed imminent. The people knew it. You heard them talking about it everywhere.

They got to the Trailways depot. Madeline nervously looked all about for any friends of Ramon, even though none of them would know he was dead for hours. They were all still in bed, either drunk or getting in one about now. It was 9 AM. "Here is five dollars, Gracie. Go get us a booth over at the snack bar. I'll buy some tickets and be over soon. Get me a newspaper too."

"Paranoid thinking, Madeline. No one has found his body and there wasn't any noise, except for the fight, which no one would have paid any attention to. They cleaned the rooms only on Mondays, yesterday was Monday, so why the hell are you getting in a tizzy for nothing?  Where the hell are we going to go," she thought out loud as she rummaged through her pocketbook for that envelope with the town name scribbled on it. Finding the envelope, she remembered when Jennie left her pimp so quickly that day last summer, at least she didn't kill him. She gave Madeline the name of the town where she had a for sure job. Jennie was a sexy Chinese gal, born in San Francisco and brought to San Diego to work by a really nasty pimp, Joey Chinn, who beat her so violently that she often couldn't work, then beat her when she didn't bring in enough money because she was sore and bruised. She was always in a cheerful mood, had dark and dancing eyes, and a figure that belied her young age. Madeline had known her for about a year and she called her a good friend. Once they had done a twosome, when a Marine Lieutenant had told Ramon that he wanted two Oriental babes, one young and one old, and stated he was willing to pay big for the experience, especially if the gals were a bit nasty. That surely was Madeline's style, and it seemed Jennie loved the kinky action too. Jennie had only been fifteen at the time.  It was the first time they had met. The two sat in McGill's on Broadway, drinking Pink Squirrels and bitching about their lots in life, smoking cigarettes, laughing and gossiping about most everything. Jennie was only sixteen, had a real sailor's potty mouth on her, but like Gracie, she looked much older than her age. She was quite a sight when all made up, her hair in the latest style and decked out in a tight Chinese red silk dress with a golden dragon motif, winding down the side of the dress that did a superb job of showing off her sharp figure.

"Madeline! I'm tired of this fuckin' shit. I'm not gettin' beat up any more by some asshole named Joey Chinn. Let him beat up some other whore, but not me. I am leaving this shitty town. It's not too far from here. Compass Point is where I am goin'."

"I've got an old envelope somewhere here in my pocketbook, write that name down for me, Jennie." After she handed the tattered envelope back, Madeline folded it twice, unzipped the side slot in her pocketbook, zipped it back up for safekeeping. She had a feeling that she may need to know what the name of that town is at some point. "It's up in the mountains just east of San Diego. They get some snow in the winter. That should be fun. It's just some little lawless town, got no cops, run by a crooked junk yard owner who is never around and an old Chinese war lord transplant from San Francisco. Name of Freddie Fong. He has a regular little crooked Chinatown empire going on there. You can get anything you want in that town, and I mean anything. They promised there was plenty of customers too." Madeline had been thinking about that day Jennie left, when two weeks ago she happened to run into Doris Wu, who had originally told Jennie about Compass Point on an earlier shopping trip to San Diego. The network in the trade is pretty active. They walked over to Newberry's and had a cup of coffee and a cigarette. Several of the gals came down with Doris from Compass Point and were shopping for clothes. Doris was sure that she and Jennie could talk the head Madame, Mrs. Lim, into getting her a job at Fong's. She talked about this damn little town that operates just like it didn't exist. Much like Jennie had said, seems it is off the highway, some distance down a dirt road and is in a pretty remote location, partially hidden by the forest. Only traveling salesmen, forest workers with fat paychecks, some curious lost travelers and Mexicans with pesos in their pockets, from over the border, end up in Compass Point. Some have been there before, but many find it strange. Soon they find the action, if they are looking for it. All the women get to keep a good portion of the money from the tricks they turn, Fong provides good protection and they can have all the opium they want. Doris said, she herself was averaging about $25 a week and the opium was free. "I only tried it once myself, in Honolulu, when a fat, rich Chinese trick took her to the local den. Madeline had always thought that she could get used to the stuff, it made a person forget their worries.

"So Mom, where have you been? I've  already read the paper, smoked four cigarettes, and drank three cups of coffee. Watch my stuff. I have to pee." Grace said, relieved that her mother had finally gotten to the snack bar. All of a sudden, Madeline was energized. She ordered orange juice, two eggs with hash browns and some rye toast with strawberry jam. The waitress was humming "Begin the Beguine" as she set the plates down at the table. It had been playing on the juke box earlier, and Madeline assumed this woman probably was an Artie Shaw fan as much as she was. She was spreading some of the jam on her toast, and glanced to her left. Gracie was slowly meandering back towards their booth. She was such a beautiful girl, and not just because she was her daughter, Madeline thought. Her long silky, black hair that hadn't been cut since she was a little girl, just trimmed occasionally, was swaying with every measured step. Already taller than herself, her figure was all woman and she would have to get her some new bras. She had been growing lately. Madeline's skin was dusky olive, but Gracie's was more pale and she had those vibrant green eyes, just  like her long, gone dad. "So, Mama, where the hell are we going? When does the bus leave? Do we have time to get some clothes, because I need some things?"

"Too many questions," answered her Mother with a mouth half full of toast. "Yes, we have time to shop, but not much. Gotta be quick about it. I still have to peddle that pistol. I'll need the money it'll bring. Our bus leaves at 11:45," She said, looking at the big round clock on the wall and ignoring the question about the destination.

"Well, Mama! Where the hell are we going," she repeated while nervously lighting another cigarette and asking for a refill of coffee from the waitress who was still enjoying "Begin the Beguine." Madeline took a big swallow of coffee, set the cup down. Lit herself a cigarette slowly and pushed the plate of half eaten eggs and potatoes away from her. "So,where?" Grace demanded with a direct stare.

"We're going to Compass Point."

"Compass Point? Where the hell is Compass Point? I figured we were at least going to Phoenix or San Francisco, or somewhere interesting that had people. Does this Compass Point have any people in it, " she asked sarcastically.

"Yes, it has people. All towns have people, Gracie. Do you remember Jennie, that left town about a year ago? I ran into her girl friend Doris Wu two weeks ago. She said we can get..." She mumbled and stopped herself. "I can get a job there at a place called Fong's. It's like a small Chinatown, and she said I look Oriental enough that I'll have no problem getting a good job. She's makin' $25 bucks a week!"

"Why did you stutter... just now," she questioned her mother.

"Because you are not going to be a whore like your mother when we get there. No discussions and that is final!, she said defiantly."

"We will see about that, when we get there," shot back Grace. "

"Final, I said." They gathered up their things to go shopping, paid the check and left 75 cents tip for the humming waitress. Grace had a queer feeling in her stomach as they walked out of the door. As they turned towards the stores uptown, Grace swore she saw a big white crow perched on the light post on the corner. She just passed it off to coming out in the bright sunlight and said to herself, "that's just another fucking seagull," as she squinted and again glanced back at the light post again. No, it was a big white crow. Just sitting there and staring right back at her. The unpleasant feeling in her stomach was not going away. Grace glared at the big crow and thought, "too much damn coffee and cigarettes at once."

"Come on Mama, hurry it up. The bus is going to leave without us," Grace urged her mother. Grace was half running and half walking, while wobbling in her new patent leather black high heels. They hurt her feet, but she didn't care. The cute shoe salesman at Walker Scott  assured that they would have a "break in time," and then they would be very comfortable. Madeline and grace had finished their shopping just in time to get to the bus. The diesel engine was loud and spewing gray, smelly exhaust as the driver revved the accelerator on and off, on and off. They clamored into the open doorway and Madeline said,"this the bus to Indio?" The driver looked at her and quickly finished the huge bite of his sandwich, almost choking and said in a labored and raspy voice,"yes'm. Going to Indio, with connections to Phoenix, Tucson, Albuquerque, Tulsa and on to Dallas. Got your tickets," he asked finally after swallowing his big bite of ham and Swiss and taking a big swig of cold coffee from his Thermos.

She was rummaging through her pocketbook, and looking pained at not finding them. "Here," Grace said while handing him the two tickets. He tore off the receipt, punched it with his tool from his belt and handed them back. Madeline just looked bewildered. She had not remembered that Gracie was keeping the tickets with her. She was growing up faster than she could believe. "How far is Compass Point? When will we get there," asked Grace. He was slipping the tickets into his leather pouch, didn't look up and replied,"it is not too far, but the roads are windy and there are some pretty rough gravel shoulders with some big rocks, maybe even boulders. Sometimes it's pretty slippery. This little shit ass of a town is off the main highway, down a bumpy dirt road. We should get there about 5 PM or so, if nothing crazy happens," he offered. Both wondered what he meant by that. Madeline shrugged her shoulders, moved towards the rear and found two seats without passengers around them so they could stretch out. She still had not been to sleep and getting some shut eye was going to be great, she thought to herself. They put all of their shopping bags and the suitcase she had traded for the pistol and $20 bucks in the top shelves above the seats. Grace immediately reached up and brought down two bags, set them on the space beside her seat. The look on her face was one of a child's Christmas morning. She wanted to admire of of  her treasures from the day's shopping. Grace looked over at her mother, across the aisle stretched out on the shabby brown leather seat. Clutching her pocketbook as a giant shiny fake alligator pillow. She was already sound asleep before the bus driver had even pulled from the covered garage and pointed the noisy metal beast in the direction of their escape.

"Mama, wake up. I wanna talk to you, " said Grace, her manner overly agitated.

"I'm awake. I'm awake. What do you want? Are we there yet," Madeline asked sleepily. It was getting dark and they had been in the mountains for some time, the bus laboring up the winding narrow road, the driver working feverishly, grinding and shifting gears to keep the machine up to a decent speed. "I want to talk to you, Mama. I do not want to live in the fuckin' Compass Point. I want to stay on the bus and go to Phoenix, or Tulsa, or somewhere. just not here in these deserted and lonely mountains. I'll bet they don't have Newberry's, a Woolworth's or a department store. I couldn't live without those," she complained.

"Look, Gracie. I am too tired to argue right now. How's about this? We get to Compass Point. Meet some new people and take a look around. We'll stay a day or two, or maybe longer. I can get some rest, then we can still move on if that is what you want to do," Madeline cajoled with a big smile. "How does that sound?" Grace nodded her head in agreement, reluctantly. Of course, there was no way that was going to happen. Once they were there and Gracie had some money in her pocket, she would feel different; department store, Woolworth's or not.

At that, they soon noticed that the bus had slowed to a crawl. He made a hard right turn down a dusty and narrow dirt road, full of pot holes and an odd boulder that had rolled from the cliffs on the left side. The big rolling box swayed from side to side and he had to slow to 5 mph. as he encountered washouts on the shoulders along the way. Grace got up from her seat, walked unsteadily up to the front of the bus, holding onto the backs of the seats of sleeping and snoring passengers, some had been jarred awake and were asking the same question she was thinking. "Mr. bus driver, is this the road to Compass Point, " she asked directly. His tight gray uniform shirt was soaked now with sweat, and not because he was a big man. He nodded a yes, his face dripping with perspiration and grimmacing in a look of determination at the same time.

"How much farther is it? "

"Look Missy, can't you see I'm working pretty hard here driving this thing?" He answered, "we will get there when we get there." Suddenly feeling that he had been to harsh, he added, "won't be too long now. This road is 17 miles from the turnoff to Compass Point. Use 'ta be all paved. In the old days, the highway went right through town, but they built, the WPA done it, the new highway and it pretty much killed this burg off. That's why it's such a rough place to be now." She said thanks and smiled at him. He had seemed to calm down now and was working less hard turning the huge steering wheel. "Mama, we will be there soon. It's 17 miles from the highway. He said it is a rough place to live now. I am convinced. I do not want to stay here," she said with resolve. She looked just like a little girl stamping her foot on the sticky rubber floor, littered with cigarette butts. "Look. Here we are, Gracie," Madeline shrieked as her voice raised. It seemed like a weight was lifted. The past was gone, finally. The events of that morning, hell-the last seven years could be washed away after she had a hot bath, some Old Fitzgerald and lots of sleep.

The bus came to stop, sliding in the dusty street and raising a cloud of dust that floated up so it was difficult to see out of the windows on the right side of the bus. The sign over the jumbled collection of buildings with one roof of many colors stated in large red letters on a white board, Willie's Place. A huge bearded man wearing worn and patched greasy overalls, smoking a pipe, was animated and talking to the driver at the back of the bus. There was an ever rising cloud of steam coming from the rear of the bus where the engine bay was located. Grace was all excited. She had to see what was going on outside, now that they had arrived. "I'll be back to help you with the bags and packages, Mama," she said as she skipped down the narrow aisle, jumping with bare feet into the dusty street. Her new black patent heels were still tucked under her seat, not yet broken in. "Yes sir, Bart. This here bus ain't a goin' no wheres," the huge man said to the driver. You got a water pump down, shore enuff; two hoses that I can see are busted, probably some brackets are gone. Probably fell offen somewheres on the road. That road has a way of tearing' up 'quipment right regular. Won't know til I git her jacked up over ta the shop. It will take about 2 ta 3 days ta git ya a new pump from San Diego. I can make the brackets. Got a welder that works pretty good."

"Big Melvin, that's the best news I have heard all day. Guess I'll be gettin' me a room over ta Mo's and catchin' up on my sleep. Right now, I'm steppin' in right here to say hi ta Willie and havin' me a cold one, maybe two."

"I'll be in there in a while for my supper too, Bart," replied Big Melvin, filling his ever present pipe with a load of fresh tobacco. "Dotty will fix you up, jes like always," he added in his West Virginia drawl. "I'll get the old Hudson wrecker and pull this ol' thing over ta git it off the street." At that moment, he noticed an odd street light reflection in the dust and looked up. "Damn white raven's here again. Up on that sign over ta Willie's. Strange? Ain't seen that varmint around for a long stretch now," he said privately.

Big Melvin Chapter 3 "When The White Raven Flies"

Elk.Mt.StringBand1930The family moved to Jenkins, Kentucky in 1911 from their home in West Virginia. The newly formed town was soon bustling. The jobs in the coal mines were there for the asking, especially for Big Melvin's father, Wesley. It had been an arduous trip for the family. Everything they owned had been piled into one heavy wagon pulled with four mules and Mama, the little ones, her rocking chair and her mother's china safe in a  wood soap box were crammed into the buckboard, wheels bumping along over puddles and ruts in the oft traveled mountain roads. The going was slow, but Irma was excited about having a brand new house to house her growing family. Three rooms, a brand new shiny black cook stove with three ovens and a hot water tank right at the touch of a spigot. There even was a pot belly stove in the bedroom to keep them all warm. The winters would be damn cold in Eastern Kentucky, come November. Her children could hardly hold their excitement while on the journey. Especially Big Melvin, who was six years old. "Can I go to work with Pa when we get to Kentucky,"he asked incessantly. They called him Big Melvin, because he had weighed nearly 12 pounds when the midwife caught him in grandma's quilt after Irma had finally squeezed him out like a new calf. Sister Rose placed him on Irma's bare belly. "He hadn't started just a hollering' afore he was a sniffin' for that teat, jes like an ol' hound dog," boasted Wesley with a grin as wide as the Ohio River. As soon as he was sure all involved in the actions were healthy and safe, sure that Big Melvin had ten working fingers and toes and that his little pink pecker was intact and in the right place, he lit out to meet his fellows and celebrate the doin's with some of good West Virginia moonshine. He was staggering and pretty happy when he finally came home. Irma could not get angry with him. He got tight only on the occasion of the birth of one of his children. There was also the time on November 8, 1904 when Teddy Roosevelt got elected president. That seemed like a proper time also.

Big Melvin was the middle child of twelve. He had five sisters and six brothers. Being six years old, he was expected to help his Mama and the girls get situated in their new company house. It had a big front porch, smelled of fresh paint and had real glass windows, not lard soaked newspaper as was in their old house in West Virginia. Mama made sure the kids kept the windows  spotless and had them clean them daily. She loved sitting in her her new house, comfortable in her old rocking chair, smoking her pipe, while she nursed little Wesley. Gazing out and enjoying the sunlight, the rolling hills and forests, not yet ugly and soot blackened from the mines that would blanket the land, in just a few short years.

 She carefully planted a garden to grow all the favorite greens and vegetables that would supplement the credit she had at the company store. The sweet apple saplings would not bear fruit for pies and Brown Betty for a few years, but she had room for one, and it was hers. That made her proud. The older boys would go back up the hollers with Pa's old 22 single shot. If their aim was true that day, they would bring back some fat squirrels, three or four rabbits or a possum or two for the stew pot. Irma planned to barter for a couple of goats for milk for the children, and the they would eat all of the kitchen scraps and the trimmings from the garden too. It would be some time before they could afford a milk cow. Wesley has sold their old cow, Darla to help pay for their journey to Jenkins.

Rachel was the oldest girl. She did most of the cooking, but Mama made the cornbread, had the final say with all of the seasonings and her turnip and raisin pie was a big favorite of her husband and all of the kids. Irma's garden would contribute all types of vegetables. Mustard greens, sweet potatoes, black eyed peas, fat, sweet white onions, red beet roots, and much more would show up on the Henry table in one dish or another. Her sow did not have her litter yet, so lard and bacon grease was scarce, requiring her to barter with Mrs. Todd for some extra, trading whatever she had extra on hand. Big Wesley had to give the boys a hand with making sure their new smoke house was built straight and true. "If the damn thing falls down, we will lose our hams, all the bacon and hog jowl. That is one thing I ain't a havin'. No way those young 'ins know what they are a coin' with a hammer, some iron nails and a square," he bellowed.

"I believe that you are a askin' a whole bunch from these boys of our'n. How many smoke houses has they built lately," Irma asked while tapping out her pipe on her boot and refilling it with tobacco. He just wrinkled up his nose and bit off another chaw, agreeing with her by saying nothing.

As Melvin got older and the places at the table increased, it became more of a chore to feed everyone. Melvin had a knack for mechanical things. It seemed he could fix most any machine or rig they had around town. Consequently, he was able to earn extra money to put in the big green cookie jar where his Mama kept her household money. He was very excited to bring home that money. "Here is another two bits for the green jar, Mama," he announced proudly. "I helped Mr. Jakes, the company maintenance boss, with some angle iron that needed a sawin'up. I be thinkin' he will soon trust me to do some more. Some  harder tasks that he needs a doin' . When that time comes along, I might be comin' home with a silver dollar, maybe more!" Irma couldn't be more proud of her middle child. Wesley would just grunt when Big Melvin would boast of his new accomplishments, but Irma knew he was just as proud as she was. He may have a gruff manner, but he loved all of his children.

Mr. Jakes continued to have Melvin work on more projects as he was learning, each more complex than the previous ones. Soon heavy trucks came rolling in, replacing the wagons and mules. The crew would show Melvin just once about a new task and he would know the order of each part and how it fit into the whole assembly. It seemed no detail escaped him, soon the other workers were getting him to help them and Melvin was not getting paid for all the work he was performing. He would often stay late when a new manual or a piece of machinery would be delivered to the building, peering over the details, learning the names of the parts, wanting to become more proficient. When the latest equipment got delivered from the rail siding, it was always a big affair in the yards. All of the mechanics and workers in the department would gather and be on hand for the big day. Those were the days that Big Melvin loved the best. Now he was part of the crew and they treated him like he was vital and very important. Melvin quit going to school when he was 12 years old. The eight grade was about all anyone needed, most people would say. He knew his arithmetic, he knew about George Washington and the American Revolution. He scored high with his reading examinations and had learned about the Rocky Mountains, the California gold rush in 1849 and about the Pacific Ocean. He hoped one day to see the Pacific Ocean. That would mean seeing the Rocky Mountains on the way there.

Big Melvin had been working in the maintenance yard full time since he was twelve. He was considered one of the top young mechanics. His family had benefited from that extra money. It was now 1925. During World War I in 1918, his brother Andrew had come home from fighting for the Army in France. He had been horribly disfigured from mustard gas attack by the Germans and he only lived about six months after coming home. He died a very painful death. Big Wesley had had an accident in the mines the previous year and was walking with a cane and a bad limp. He was in pain most of the time, sometimes waking up in the middle of the night screaming. Mama had been especially strong through all of this. Wesley was now 14 and was working in the coal mines to help the family. His Mama and Pa had hoped he would finish high school and get a good job, not have to go into those black hell holes six days a week like his Pa had done for so many years. Jenkins was a much bigger town now and there were many good jobs for a clever boy to take advantage of for his betterment.

Melvin had not ever had a girl friend, although plenty had shown an interest.  They thought he was good husband and family material. He seemed so serious and was always working hard for the company, and that impressed them. He just loved his job, and he was well suited for the tasks. "Hey Melvin, when you gonna git yer self a girl," Jakes was often to ask. "I ain't got no time for  girls an' such, Mr Jakes. I want to have yer job someday. I need to keep a workin' hard to do that," he said firmly. His boss would just get a curious look on his face when Melvin's answer was the same every time he brought up the subject. Big Melvin kept with his habit of coming to work early, and continued to often stay late. Even on Friday night, when all the young fellows in Jenkins were out on the town, looking for a connection to a young lady or going to the weekly dance at the school gymnasium, he was usually toilin' on a twin axle transmission , trying to figure out how to take it apart and put it back together. One night ,he could be seen in the repair garage, shiny gears and gaskets strewn all over the floor,two kerosene lamps turned up bright close by , squinting in the light as he thumbed through the tattered manuals. He was so relieved, when he was finally able to get it back together and there were no odd parts left on the floor. "Yipee! I done it,Mr Jakes. I done it ! , " he directed  quietly as if Mr. Jakes was there to give him a verbal reward for his determined work. That was a time when he wished he had gone to the dance like the others. An Appalachian string band had driven over from Berea way and was a plain' at the dance or maybe it was Hindman, he couldn't remember just which town it was.  A rousing rendition of Barbara Allen or Wings of a Dove would have been the best thing for him that night. He was pleased he did learn about that transmission. He washed the grease from his hands, rubbed the smudges from his face and just tumbled onto an old tattered truck seat the dogs used in the corner of the shop. That is where Jakes found him at sunrise, when he was making a trip to the outhouse from his room. Jakes just shook his head, covered Melvin with an old tarp and let him sleep.

Jakes had a well appointed room in the back of the huge building where he lived. He had a radio and Melvin liked to listen to the string bands from West Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky. Jakes, not being married, often invited Melvin to eat with him. There would be some squirrel stew, boiled potatoes and ham hocks and greens he had made for supper. Of course, the kid would not pass on having some of Doggett's shine that also was offered. Illegal, but everyone knew that Doggett made the best shine in the county. One night he got pretty lit and did not go home. He and Mr. Jakes listened to the radio, sang along and  finished off two or three Mason jars of Doggett's concoction. Melvin woke at dawn and found he was in Jakes' bed, and both were naked. He was startled. He did not remember anything from the night before. Jakes had a hold of his privates and was rubbing on him and making groaning noises. Big Melvin slapped Mr Jakes on the side of the head with powerful force and then leaped to his feet, scrambling to scoop up his clothes and putting them on as fast as he could. His eyes were burning red, he had a terrible headache and he couldn't breathe right. His brain was swirling about from the liquor. No one said a thing. When Melvin finally looked at Jakes, he saw the bright red welt on the side of his face and the look in his eyes was sad and pleading. He started to speak. Big Melvin pursed his lips, put his forefinger to them and said quietly, "shhhh. Quiet, you asshole. It is a good thing I didn't get my hand on a monkey wrench or you would have had your miserable brain splattered all over the that there side wall, right now." Jakes started to speak again. Melvin put his finger to his lips again and repeated, "shhhhh. Say one word and you are a dead man. I don't care if they hang me out in the rail yard fer the whole town to gawk at for a week. You will be a dead man, and fer that I would be glad!"

He pulled on his boots without bothering with stockings or lacing them up. Grabbed his coat and was out the door. Into the bright sunshine, walking briskly away from the repair yards, he started to breath a bit easier. His stomach was turning over and over. He felt sick. His head was still pounding. "Should he head on home? That was not a good choice, for his Mama would keep after and pester him until she found out what trouble had been brewing. Mamas have that knack, especially his. He decided to head out of town,  walk down past the mines and find a spot on the river to do some thinking. The soothing sounds of the water, rushing and gushing over the boulders would bring him some relief. He could rinse off his face. Hell, he would just stick his face in the water like he used to do as a young kid when he got angry and frustrated. All the times when his older brothers would tease him, without giving up, because he had such a big head and giant feet. They would say relentlessly,"you shore 'nuff gots feet like a Barnum and Bailey clown, Melvin. That is a fact to see fer sure.  Ever body knows that. I mean ever body!"

He soon found an inviting boulder, not too jagged and smoothed over by eons of cold, rushing water, that rose above the waterline. He climbed up, slipped of his loose boots and tossed them back on the bank, one by one. He plunged his feet in the freezing torrent all at once.  The shock almost knocked him into the water. His feet felt like your head does when you eat too much Paw Paw ice cream at once. His Mama made the best Paw Paw ice cream around the county he figgered, but she only would make it when she could get some fresh lemons for the juice. "Cider vinegar did not work too well," she would say. At the same time, it felt wonderful. He loosened his shirt, pulled up the top of his long johns and let the sun beams bake and warm his face. It was early fall, and soon the sun would find it's way out of the hollers and valleys,  earlier and earlier every day. Melvin stayed there the rest of the day. He slowly started to feel better. "Ma belly is a growlin' like a treed coon," he thought. He was, all of a sudden, very hungry and he needed to do something about that. His Pa said he could always handle himself in the woods, was a damn good shot with Pa's old double barrel Greener 10 gauge shotgun. That firearm had a kick most grown men could not handle. Pa let him learn early, about six years old or so, with his .22 cal. single shot squirrel rifle, but only his younger brothers used that now. His Pa got that shotgun from a man that owed him money for digging a well back in West Virginia. Pa always said, "that fancy English gun is worth a lot of money. I reckon that feller that I dug that well for, wasn't too durn honest. He used to hang out down by the train station, doin' what for over ta Richmond and figgered he needed that fancy wood case more'n that English feller did. I was plumb surprised when I opened it up after I jumped up into an empty boxcar. I pried open that case with my pocket knife and that's when I saw that gun. All scrolled up, shiny and fancy, it was. Curly hammers shaped like birds a flyin'. Polished stock looked like a slim woman's body, it did. Let me tell ya," he often has repeated the story.

Melvin learned some of the old injun' ways to survive out in the wilderness from that Cherokee drunk, Ol' Bear Paw, who hung around the garbage dump at wintertime in Jenkins, right along side with the coyotes and the crows. Ol' Bear Paw liked his liquor a bit too much and one hot summer evening, happy after stealing a slew of Mason jars full of moonshine from a still up in one of the more remote hollers, the moonshiners caught up to him and they cut off his hand . Two of them held him down over a piece of coal slag , pulled out their big knives and sawed it right off. They tossed it to those happy blue tick hounds that helped them track the old injun down as a just reward, Melvin had heard it told. "I imagine that Ol' Bear Paw didn't make a sound, not a whimper when those fellers were a cuttin'. Probably because he had already downed a jar of their mix before he was found hiding in a lean- to tool shed. They  left him to bleed out and die alone," Melvin surmised. That Cherokee soon pulled himself up with one arm when it seemed all was clear of any offended distillers, staggered back into the woods, loosing balance several times and making sure he fell on his good side, getting back to his feet and moving onward. Soon he found a tree oozing enough fresh sap to do the job. He scooped it up with his good hand and dobbed it all over the bloody stump of his excruciatingly painful right hand. From then on he had to teach himself to do everything with his left hand. One painful night about three weeks later, he woke from a terrible dream, trembling, and out of breath. Like a hound dog running in a dream chasing a squirrel, he was being chased by a mama black bear that had cubs. She was about to swipe viciously at his back a second time with those three inch claws, when he awoke from the nightmare. That was his answer! It was late winter in his dream and the bears would be emerging from hibernation, moving very slow,ravenous and weak. He knew just the right spot and the best type of trap to build to set his plan in motion.. He clamored through the woods to a rocky place just above the river where he knew there was a den full of sleeping, soon to be hungry, bear. Over the next 3 days, he rigged a snare of small saplings, well set in an earthwork well woven with a place for heavy jagged boulders that he had carried up the hill from the river, one by one, placed in the structure, perched just so. When she would come out from her den, he would kick out the bough holding the boulders in place and the bear would be buried under an avalanche of stones. Dead bear, he figured. Hopefully, it would give way with one strong kick, otherwise being just a few feet from the entrance to the den, Ol' Bear Paw would become her first meal! Seemed like the plan had been a success. The next time the townsfolk eyed  Ol' Bear Paw, he was wearing a big black paw, claws and all, where he used to have a right hand. With just one hand working the leather and the severed paw and his teeth pulling things tight, he had fashioned a prosthetic hand from a tanned bear paw, a cast off lace up top from an old high topped shoe and several leather thongs. It was as if he had never been without a hand at all. Many were then heard to say, "Ol'Bear Paw is a tough old bird. I don't know if I coulda gone and done that." Some even wrote songs up in the hills and hollers about Ol' Bear Paw and his ordeal. You can bet he made good use of the rest of that donor bear. Traded the bear skin for some moonshine, made jerky with the meat after  roasting the heart, liver and kidneys over his campfire and kept the skull as a reminder to not get caught stealing shine.

 

"I fashioned a snare, waited about an hour and snagged myself a fat rabbit. Made a substantial fire, and roasted the quarry. It tasted delicious, not like my Mama would put on the table, but good enough to end what had been one of the most miserable days I have ever ever had by filling my belly," Melvin said while he mumbled to himself. He thought about the day, ran the events through his head, as he tore off another leg and started chewing hungrily . Would he go back to his job? That now seemed like a good decision to deal with on Sunday morning. He decided that he would go to church tomorrow. That in itself would give his Mama and sisters a surprise, for darn sure. It had been a long time since he had been in that little chapel. Would God let him back in, he wondered aloud. That was definitely a good plan.  A smart plan. Papa always said that hasty decisions could gather momentum after a good nights sleep on a full belly. Reaching into the pocket of his Dickie's overalls, he pulled out his jack knife, flipped the large blade and locked it in place and cut several boughs in different lengths so he had the right layers in place if it rained, made himself a good soft bed of more boughs for the night. He grinned to himself and agreed that Ol' Bear Paw would nod his approval at it's solid construction. He wondered,"where the hell is that Injun? I could have used some conversation towards the end of this hellacious day." Last task before retiring was to gather a large stack of firewood. He didn't need to have some hungry bear smelling his rabbit supper gettin' to make himself fat for his hibernation after some efficient gnawing on Big Melvin. The golden red rays of the sun were now slipping behind the the lowest ridge. He was damn tired. He slept well and he did not dream, not that night.

A bright crisp and cold day dawned on Jenkins that Monday in October. It had been a month since Big Melvin's overnight ordeal. Work had gone on at the company as in the past. Everyone was looking for the first dusting of snow. When the snow came, work became much harder for everyone not down in the mines. The stifling heat under ground was some relief when the temperature was below freezing for everyone not down below. It was especially uncomfortable for those that worked on equipment not in the repair garage and the sheds. Mr. Jakes had promoted Melvin to maintenance crew on the mine railway - the mine cars and the locomotives that pulled the coal train from under ground. That Monday, new equipment had been delivered to the yards. Not yet in service, Melvin and the crew's responsibility was to inspect all of the wheels and undercarriage that all was properly lubricated and ready for new service in the mines. He was there an hour before anyone else on the crew. He wanted to ask Jakes some questions about the new locomotives that would be running on benzene and alcohol. He walked briskly in the sunshine, his breathe fogging the air in front of his face with every stride, making his way quickly to the repair garage and Jakes office and quarters. Passing behind the building, he glanced into the soot coated windows and was shocked at what he thought he saw. There were odd movements. He stopped and looked around. No one was about or behind him. He pulled down the sleeve of his heavy coat and rubbed a clean spot on a lower pane of the window. There was Jakes, naked as the day he was born, kneeling behind Tommy Watson, the new young kid who worked in the shop after Melvin left. Tommy was also naked and the look on his face, eyes closed and face pained, it was obvious that he was being forced to do something he did not want to do. "What to do," whispered Big Melvin quietly. He could not watch or look one more moment. He thought that if he had stayed in the repair garage, he would have been on that miserable bed where Tommy was now with Jakes.

He was out of breath as he tripped going up the steps. Pa was sipping his morning coffee with chicory . "What is a goin' on, Melvin," he asked. "Slow down now, you will scare your Mama. You got a crazy look in your eyes."

"Pa! I needs the Greener from over the mantle. And some double aught shells,only two , I needs 'em now," he blurted out quickly.

"If you needs the Greener, go ahead. I will get the shells for you, but you better take more'n jes two," he said as he handed him the partially full box. Big Wesley kept the double aught shells for bear, coyote, and mountain lion . He had seen what a 10 gauge would do to a man with a double aught load. "Damn near cut a body in half," he remembered from his past. Wesley did not have a chance to say any more to Melvin. His Mama came out on the porch from taking the biscuits from the oven in time to see him running down the road, stuffing the Greener under his coat and heading back towards work. She thought that odd. It would be hard to run after a bear or a mountain lion with that big gun under a man's coat. "Maybe there's a big 'ol bear causin' trouble up ta Jenkins, Ma."

"He didn't take time to even grab  one of his Mama's biscuits. My Melvin loves my biscuits ," she said wistfully.

Big Melvin cautiously opened the heavy creaky door to the repair garage. "Hello, Melvin," Tommy said with a cheerful smile. He obviously was hiding what he had just endured. "Hi, Tommy. How's it going in here. Mr Jakes around? I would like to speak with him," he said sternly. "I reckon he is back in the office, a doin' some paperwork an' such."

"Tommy," Melvin said looking him coldly in the eye. "I want you to go for a walk for a while. Get some air. Take your dog, Blarney with ya. Go see the new mine cars I looked at this morning."

"But I will get in..."

Melvin stopped him in mid sentence. "Listen to me. There ain't a no trouble here with old man Jakes. I can tell you that, fer sure. No trouble at all. Now grab your coat and that pup and head out to the mines."

"Jakes! Jakes! You in there, you bastard," he hollered as loud as he could. He glanced out the window at Tommy heading to where he sent him towards the mines and the new mine cars. He noticed the sparkle of the first snowflakes falling. The black soot covered town was soon to be covered in a blanket of white,  transformed into a picture worthy of a Christmas postcard. "In here, Melvin. Whatsa matter with you, huh? How come yer a hollerin' that loud. Did you jes now call me  bastard," he asked as he finally looked up from the tally sheets on his desk. Big Melvin slowly pulled the Greener from under his heavy coat where it had been hidden. He carefully leveled it at Jakes midsection." Stand up really cautious like, you little boy fucker." He knew well that Jakes kept a Smith and Wesson break front .44 caliber revolver in his top drawer. It had lost it's former bluing and the ivory handle was broken on one side, but it fired a big bullet straight to it's target. At this close range, it would be a contest to see who got of their rounds the fastest. "Step slowly forward and make sure those arms are up in the air. I remember that big ol' Smith and Wesson ya got hid in that top drawer, " Melvin cautioned. It was cold in the office, but the sweat was rolling down Jakes' face and was stinging his eyes. "Can I take offen ma specs and wipe my eyes? They is a stingin' powerful bad."

"Mr. Jakes, I once promised you that you would be a dead man, even if I had to hang by my sorrowful neck in that yard for all to see for a week. You member that day. Do's ya?"

"Look here Melvin. We has bin friends , hasn't we? I made a big mistake that day. We was both drunk on Doggett's shine. 'Member? I got you a better job an' more money straight from my purse. Didn't I? "

"Mr. Jakes, the time for palaver is a comin' to an end in this here life fer you."

"But, but... Melvin..."

The next sound was the report of that shiny antique English Greener 10 gauge shotgun with a load of double aught balls.  Melvin had aimed right at Jakes' midsection and pulled both triggers from less than eight feet away. The blood, dungaree, and body bits and pieces were splattered all over the office. Jakes' top half of his body was blown back into the metal mullions that separate the window panes on behind his desk .  They were bent where his body hit them and the glass was shattered all over his desk and the tally sheets. Melvin stood there looking at the sight. The lower half of the body had tumbled to the floor, blood was draining out towards his boots from what had been Jakes' privates .

He finally came to his senses, grabbed a clean shop towel, wiped off his face, his coat and the Greener hurriedly and tucked it away. He reached up on the top shelf where the records were kept. He was looking for the pipe tobacco can that Jakes always kept there. He found it and opened it, fumbling at first. He shoved the wad of greenbacks in his overalls and tipped the can up. There were three twenty dollar gold pieces and several silver dollars which he also pocketed. He was thinking clearly now. Tommy would not have to endure this shit again. Melvin would never see his family again. Better grow his beard out real heavy. He will look older than his twenty years. He could sell the Greener for some hard cash. He heard shouting and footsteps running towards the garage. He quickly needed to head for the river, out the back way. Camp for a day or so. "No," he said to himself. "I better keep on a movin' out of these parts. Out of these mountains." He wondered where he would go. That planning had not been part of his day. Mostly, he was not going to let some fool ruin that boy's life. He had accomplished that. What was the price ? Maybe it was the price of his own life. He would keep on moving, only to stop for an hour or two, eat something and move on. Night was the best time to travel. He could hold up during the day. First stop should be to try to find Ol' Bear Paw. For a silver dollar, he would lead him out of the mountains and head... Where? "California," he shouted out loud breathlessly as he was running towards the river right past the mines, ducking in and out of the buildings, hoping no one sees him. The company will surely have their influence and money in play with the county sheriff. He needed all the edge he could muster. Ol' Bear paw was his edge. "How far is California," he thought to himself. "Must be pretty far." He wondered if the trains ran all the way to the Pacific Ocean. He knew it was a fer piece way to the Pacific Ocean. He'd seen that on the old leather globe Jakes had in his office. They must have railroads there, and they will have trucks for sure. And cars too. He could fix all of them. He would have grown out his beard out by then and no one would know him. He would tell people he met was from West Virginia. That wasn't a lie. It was settled. "I 'm a headin' fer California. I wonder if they have string bands in California."

The Curse of Mala Rosa Chapter 2 "When The White Raven Flies"

Lost-Road-RossIt was a bright and sunny day, just after a spectacular  sunrise. The waters off what is San Diego Bay were calm, the breakers foaming, steady and methodical. San Diego de Alcala had been claimed for the Spanish king in 1602 by Vizcaino, even though some sixty years earlier Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo had done the same thing. Vizcaino claimed he did not recognize the bay, even from Cabrillo's detailed logs and descriptions. By 1769 when the Spanish Father Junipero Serra and the Spanish army contingent arrived in San Diego, bent on colonization and established the first of twenty one missions in California, the Mission San Diego de Alcala.

They defeated the native peoples, including the Tipai-Kumayaay people.This had been the practice for some 275 years in the Americas. The Spanish were  firmly entrenched and had enslaved the natives, destroying their crops, their way of life along with their homes and villages. Most devastating of all was their determined efforts to convert the people to Catholicism. Even though they had established advanced agricultural practices,practices that the Spanish had no knowledge of at all, all farming was to be by European methods, with no variation. Their Presidio (fort in Spanish) is known today as Presidio Hill. Built on visually serene, strategic and lush lands, formerly a Kumayaay village. The meadows, valleys, mesas, and creeks had been their home for centuries and had always been well defended. Up on a promontory, one could see all the way to the coast on a clear day, some eleven miles.

In 1778 the Kumayaay rose up and fought the Spanish to drive them out of their homelands. These efforts were futile. The Spanish were to continue to dominate the natives as they had done before the uprising. Before the Spanish had arrived, they lived in harmony in triplets of 300 persons or so ,spread throughout the rich and fruitful lands in villages established years ago. They had hoped to farm, fish, hunt, and trade again like they had for so many generations. After the uprising was was over, four local Chieftains were executed in a public place within Presidio Hill. The natives were required to witness their leaders being murdered. The Spanish were sure that the possibility of future uprisings were slim,and their stronghold and enslavement would be secure for all time.

The ramifications to the triblets and the chieftains families were sure to be severe and heinous in nature. How many of the Chieftain's families would die or suffer terrible retributions?  HAIR THAT SHINES LIKE THE JAGUAR'S father had been a beloved Chieftain and one that led the others to the insurrection. Her brother was now Chief, One Blue Eye was his name. He was also very young, five years younger than HAIR THAT SHINES LIKE THE JAGUAR and had little knowledge of the world and of sensible dealings with people. He was just a boy and not at all yet wise. Their two older brothers had been killed in the battles during the uprising. All of their families, the people of their triblet were terrified of what the soldiers would do now. The talk was  rampant. Most wanted to flee to the mountains to the east, and surely become invisible among the tall pines and the inaccessible rock strewn arroyos. Would they all be beheaded or shot and left to rot in the hot summer sun, their bodies to be picked over by the jaguars, coyotes, wolves, ravens, and the gulls, until their bones were bleached by the sea and the sun? One Blue Eye decreed calmly that they would all stay and that he would speak to the Spanish, that he would convince them that there was no longer any threat to them and they would therefor be safe and secure. Most did not believe their young chieftain. Especially his sister. Even though she was not a man, her father had said many times, privately and within the people of the triblet, that she should be in charge when he is gone, but this could not happen. She was a woman!

The next sunrise found the villagers, frightened with angst and fear. Lookouts ran into the village, warning of a large group of soldiers approaching. Commanded by Captain Pacho Guerrero, the soldiers marched  with a grand show of strength into their village. Villagers that were too close to their formations were prodded with lances or whipped to get to move move aside, others that dared stare back without a look of humbleness in their eyes received similar punishments. Some did not rise from the attacks. "Who is in charge of this pitiful gathering?" Shouted Lt. Macias. One Blue Eye strode forth with confidence, he had dressed in his finest garb and had a proud look on his face,"I am the leader of my people. I answer for them."

"I'll speak to this trash, Lt. Macias," said Captain Guerrero. "You answer for these people,do you? You do not look old enough to have pell on your verga, much less to know what to do with it," scowled Captian Guerrero."I need some answers now, little verga. I need answers for the action you people took against my soldiers," he said now shouting more loudly. Spittle was running down his chin and into his black beard. His eyes were wide and glaring, his cheeks showed red.

Shadow Owl hurriedly ran into her tule and said in a firm voice, "HAIR THAT SHINES LIKE THE JAGUAR, you must listen to me carefully. What I am to ask you now will determine whether you will live or die. Your brother will offer you and your five attendants to this Spanish jellyfish and I feel that none of you will survive being slaves. He will make you lie with him. When he does, you must not resist." Shadow Owl was the elder of their village, no one knew how old he was, they just knew his words were true and wise words and one could know that the sunrise, the ocean tides, the crows in flight, and the sunsets were as true as his words. "When he lies with you and after he has taken you, all of your attendants will change shape. A black jaguar, a wolf, a coyote, a cougar, and a white raven. They are to kill the captors that are holding them, then come to your tent and the Captain must not live. You have seen what these animals can do,their vengeance will be the vengeance of all of your people and for your dead father, our Chieftain. The child you will carry will be a man child. He will become Chieftain of our people."

"Why will he become Chieftain, mOne Blue Eye is our Chieftain?" She asked feeling Shadow Owl and his urgency. "That will be revealed to you soon. After you all have made your escape, you must leave for the mountains where the sun rises and stay until your child is born. Your attendants will protect you on this journey, and the white raven will be the eyes for your journey. I will have several men go with you to build you a safe shelter of tree boughs and limbs. The kind of shelter that as the forest grows, it will become invisible. I will also see what the raven sees and I will know when to send for the boy child."

"I want to stay with my people. I am confused," she meekly responded. "There is no time to be confused.There is only time to be the daughter of your father, our Chieftain. There is something else that I must tell you now," he said with a hard stare as he looked directly at her with his dark eyes."What is it Shadow Owl?"

"You will never return to your people. You will never die. Your child will be the way you have chosen to help your people. I need your answer before you leave the tule to meet the Spanish." She glanced at the five women beside her. The looks in their eyes gave her the answer. "I will do this for my people, Shadow Owl. For this I thank you. I fear that I will not see you again." He nodded and his eyes softened and he lowered his head. He had a look she had never seen in him before, one of relief and sadness at the same time. They all rose and left the tule to go outside. Shadow Owl left quickly to his tule to make ready for the curse.

Seeing the state that the Captain was getting into and knowing he had better do something to impress and calm him, One Blue Eye knew he must do this thing quickly or many would die that day. "HAIR THAT SHINES LIKE THE JAGUAR, my sister, come here to me," he commanded. She gasped as did the crowd. She had been watching from back in by her home, her tule, and she calmly, with her five attendants, walked slowly to where the Captain and her brother stood. The five young women joined behind her. She stood proudly and announced to them both,"I , HAIR THAT SHINES LIKE THE JAGUAR, sister of our Chief and only daughter of my dead father. Brother, what is it that you require of me?"

"The Spanish Captain has come to our village and wants some answers for the actions taken by our father and the other Chieftains."

"Are you asking me what my solutions would be to this question," she said with a quizzical look on her face. He puffed himself up to his maximum height, which was just a fraction over that of her's and said, "no, I am not, sister." He turned to all of the villagers that were formed in front of the armed soldiers, and said clearly and resolutely for all to hear, "I am now decreeing that the Captain will have the gift of my sister, HAIR THAT SHINES LIKE THE JAGUAR, and her five attendants, to do with as he pleases. I only ask his mercy and the continued safety of our people, and my hope is he and the Spanish king will accept this gift and know we have only humbleness to offer."

When the Captain hear the proclamation, a grin came over his face."Hold my horse," he tersely commanded a private standing close. He climbed off his horse, adjusted his sword. With sweeps of his hand he brushed some road dust from his shoulder epaulets, doffed his hat and did the same to it. Casually he pulled an elegant lace kerchief from his tunic and wiped his sweaty brow and the inside brim of his hat. He then carefully folded the lace, replaced it in the tunic, re-buttoned it and put his hat back on. Now feeling a better symbol of his rank and station, he said to One Blue Eye, "my savage friend. You truly amaze me. These gifts, as you call them, are to compensate my King and what your people did to my soldiers? My little verga, you are more of a fool than I thought you were. There is nothing or no one in your filthy little encampment that will ever satisfy the lives you have taken or the time you have robbed us of. Valuable time to develop this land for our sovereign King Carlos III. All of your people will do as we tell you. You will become of the Faith and the loyal subjects of our King," he said his voice rising steadily. "All of your people, my young boy, will work to grow the crops and toil as we demand for all of your days to come."

Everyone was getting more and more nervous, except for HAIR THAT SHINES LIKE THE JAGUAR and her attendants. Their calmness was being noticed by those around them. Captain Guerrero was briskly striding back and forth now in front of the gathering. "As for your gifts. Why would accept these gifts which I had planned to take anyway and do with what I please. As for your sister, she may prove to be an interesting diversion. Her women? My men will surely find tasks for them,during the day and especially at night! Now my little verga, we will talk about you. You have said that you are the Chieftain of these people. I have a plan made perfect for a Chieftain.. It is a very fair plan, and I think you will agree. Nod, if you agree with me that I have a fair plan. One Blue Eye nods his head timidly. My translator has said that you were decreeing the terms of your wishes to atoll for the atrocities your people have committed to the soldiers of my King. Now it is my turn to decree something about you, my little brother."

"Lt. Macias,bind little brothers hands behind him tightly with rawhide. Make the knots especially firm and secure. Splash some water from a canteen on them, they will tighten quickly in this hot sun. I want him to be very uncomfortable. That is another thing,little brother. I do not want to stand here in the heat of the day trifling with you and these wretches you call your people, any longer." Lt. Macias had three soldiers grab One Blue Eye and bind his hands. "Now place him in front of those stones over there. I want the lead to strike the stones as they travel through his body. I have heard it is more painful when that happens," grinning as he gave the commandment.

The soldiers grabbed his arms roughly and dragged him, legs and knees digging furrows into the soft soil,and stood him in front of the stacked stones. There was a stillness within the crowd. No one dared to move, cough, or speak. There were small children sniffling and sobbing quietly, their mothers yanking on their hands and whispering in their ears. This Captain was unpredictable. It could be that they all would die this day. HAIR THAT SHINES LIKE THE JAGUAR, face raised to the sun, eye closed tightly, thought about how brave her brother was being. He was to die a young boy, but he would be remembered. She was also thinking about her fate, and that of her women. What was it going to be like to live forever? For a moment the thought gave her a chill as if the wind has whipped off the surf on a dark and rainy day. She decided that her decision would never allow her to think about this day again. They all had many perilous and dark days ahead to endure, and she must do as Shadow Owl had instructed them to do. The sadness for her people would have to be short lived. They had known this sadness since these invaders had come to their land.

She looked down and saw that a formation of soldiers were being placed in front of her brother. Five kneeling and five standing behind, all with their big guns at the ready. "We are ready my Captain," said Lt. Macias. Captain Guerrero strode triumphantly over the gathering like a peacock. "Little brother, I see that my Lieutenant has added some bindings at your elbows. That must really be painful. I very much hope that it is painful, little brother."

"Lt.Macias," he barked sharply.

"Yes sir,my Captain."

"You are to make sure that all of the shots find their target. understand?"
"Yes,my Captain," he responded with authority.

"One more thing, Lt Macias."

"Yes,My Captain."

"You are to make sure that none of the shots enter his heart or his skull. I want to see him suffer like a rabid dog. If we are fortunate, we can find a place in the shade, have a cool drink of water, and watch the blood drain from the many holes in our little brother's useless body. Do you understand?"

"Yes,my Captain."

"One more thing. Have you put your best marksmen on this squad of death," he asked.

"Yes, I understand, my Captain, and I have placed the very best of our company to perform this task," he boasted proudly.

"Very good, lieutenant. You may proceed  at your own pace." Lt. Macias walked up alongside the men, drew his sword and shouted, "ready. Aim. Fire." The volley echoed through the little arroyo where the village was situated. All of those present shuddered at the roar of the muskets and blinked as the smoke wafted into their eyes and made them sting and water. Some saw the lead hit their Chieftain with a horror on their faces. When the light wind had cleared the smoke away, One Blue Eye's body was still writhing where he had fallen in front of the stones and on the soft dirt. The blood was flowing from his mouth, and the short hollow breaths of  badly punctured lungs were heaving in his mangled chest. His rare antelope skin shirt with the many colored sea shells and abalone sewed on by his mother was now destroyed. His mother had bartered one hundred dried silver fish, that only come at the high moon, for that pelt. The weeping could be heard throughout the crowd. The soldiers had removed their hats. Some were smoking and talking. Others immediately started cleaning their pieces, these were probably the expert marksmen, waiting to be ready for any further orders from the Captain that day.

Captain Guerrero called Lt. Macias over and said something in his ear. "He perked up and looked to the soldiers," Sergeant Villa, get some men and prop up the savage on his knees and hold him there. The sergeant and three men walked over to One Blue Eye and did as ordered. The body was still heaving, not yet quiet. Lt. Macias quickly strode over the them, grabbed One Blue Eye by the hair, lifted his head upright, and with a swift downward movement of his sword, he severed the head cleanly. He held the head high and waved it all about, the blood splattering around. The soldiers cheered and waved their lances, hats, and muskets in the air. Lt. Macias had been given this honor for his good performance that day. He also knew that he may also receive a letter of commendation that would surely help him advance up the ranks. If only his father, also a career soldier, could see him that day. He would be very proud of his son. Captain Guerrero wanted to make sure this act was performed before the body was completely dead. His orders were to make an example of this village, and he was determined to perform as ordered by his superiors. Later the Friars would have a much easier time keeping these people docile and timid.

"Lt. Macias, we have celebrated quite enough. Place that head on a pike firmly in the dirt. Have the translator tell them that if it is removed from the pike, I will return and behead ten of the villagers. Tell them they will be children. That will keep them in line. Put that whore of a sister of this head and her women in irons, and make ready to move the men out. We have another village to go to before sunset. Make sure we fill our skins with water, take any goats or food they have stored. Bring that sister over here for me to look at. Finally before we leave Lt. Macias," he said grinning again. "Have all of the men piss in their water supply, shovel in some horse dung for good measure and set all of these hovels alight. That will finish my example quite well, I am sure." Still proud of his recognition that day he replied clearly,"yes,my Captain."

"Well sister, your day has not turned out too be to good, has it?" He grabbed her by the irons and yanked her to where she was in front of him. "Let me have a closer look at you." He pulled the sweat stained lace kerchief from his tunic again spit in her face two or three times,and rubbed vigorously. "Let's see what is under that filth, little sister." She took the abuse, knowing Captain Guerrero would soon experience his death. Perhaps a fate as terrible as her father had and her brother had suffered that day. She imagined what it would be like to be eaten alive by a black jaguar, a coyote, a wolf, a cougar, and have the eyes pecked out by a raven. She smiled inwardly with a small shred of satisfaction. "The only good thing about you, little sister are the wild roses woven into your hair. Some sort of badge of state, is it, I should imagine? You have a face that is not completely unpleasant, for a savage. The translator said that your name is HAIR LIKE THAT SHINES LIKE THE JAGUAR. You will now forget that name. You are now my little bitch and I will name you MALA ROSA. You have no idea what I am saying, do you? Pvt. Gonzales,I need you to talk to this savage bitch for me."

"Yes sir,Captain. What do you want me to tell her?"

"Inform her that she now belongs to me and that her name is now and forever MALA ROSA. At least as long as I let her live and do for me. Tell her  that the women will do whatever they are asked, at any time of the day they are asked, by whoever asks them. See if she understands." After the translator passed on the orders, the new MALA ROSA glared and nodded her head reluctantly. The Captain saw the acknowledgement and said,"Good. Well done,Private."

"I will beat her tonight before I take her. My father always said that you must make sure that your animal knows who is the master. She will know her master when we get to the other village and make camp."