FREE FOR A LIMITED TIME Whispers of the Wakinyan Chapter 2

Posted: April 4, 2018 in Novels
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Hey faithful readers,

Here is chapter 2 of Whispers of the Wakinyan, offered at the low-low price of free for your reading enjoyment. Stay tuned for a couple more chapters leading up to an epic amazon promotion on the full book.

 

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2

            The car ride back to California was awkward and mostly silent. Hank or Theresa would occasionally try to say something funny or start some light-hearted banter, but the solemnity in the car always made the efforts fall flat. This, in addition to the unsure glances the two shared every few minutes confirmed to Joey that his parents had no idea what to say to them about the unspeakable tragedy that they had all witnessed. The truth was, Hank and Theresa Gordon could barely keep the images from their own minds.

“Maybe we can throw a little party when we get home. You two can invite all of your friends, get a jump house, maybe even a clown,” Theresa smiled so wide that the kids could see all of her teeth when she turned to them in the back seat.

Joey didn’t like this smile, not one bit. He was sure it was because her mouth was smiling, but her eyes were still sad. There were no tears, sure, but the sadness was there all the same. A type of hollowness that he was beginning recognize in his sister’s eyes too. He looked over at Addie who wore a similar smile while making her favorite doll jump at the mention of a jump house. The doll’s oversized head and sassy hair bounced as Addie made little swoosh sounds every time she made her jump.

“A clown?” Joey asked, “Do kids even like clowns anymore? They’re creepy.”

Theresa took a deep breath and nodded her head. Her ponytail bounced almost like the jumping doll’s hair, “okay no clowns. You can’t tell me you don’t like jump houses though,” Theresa turned again to the back seat. The newly formed tears in her eyes made them look like they were made of fine glass, again making Joey think of one of his sister’s dolls.

“A jump house sounds great,” Joey said. He realized now that he was smiling too, “Can I invite Les and Frank?” He was really looking forward to seeing his friends, but he knew the smile he was wearing was not for them. It was for his mom. He wondered if she could notice that his eyes weren’t smiling like he could on her.

“You know, Joey, there is still enough summer left that you three could make a tree house in the back yard,” Hank chimed in, “maybe we can make a lumber run when we get back.”

Joey did brighten at this, “I’ll have to talk design with the guys first.”

Hank laughed and put a hand on Theresa’s thigh. When she turned back to look at them this time, Joey was happy to see that her smile was actually real.

“Well Addie, I guess that means we are going to have to think of something fun for us girls to do,” Theresa reached a hand back behind her seat and tickled Addie’s leg.

Addie laughed like she had never been tickled before. Joey hoped inside that this is what it was going to be like from now on; laughing, building forts, and making good memories to erase the bad ones.

Joey thought that everything seemed normal enough when the family arrived home. They even pulled through their favorite local drive-thru a few blocks away from the house to celebrate their homecoming. This trip had a little bit more car time than they all were used to, so the thought of getting home and unwrapping pre-made food that had almost certainly spent most of the day under a heat lamp was bittersweet. Joey had always thought that his parents made this stop as some kind of homecoming ritual, but looking at his mother’s face he decided it was more likely that she just did not want to think about cooking for at least another day or two. This thought would be confirmed if they had cold cereal for breakfast the next day.

Addie’s face seemed to brighten as she looked at familiar treetops and street signs from her perch atop her booster seat. Joey wondered how much longer his poor little sister would have to be strapped into the tattered monstrosity, he remembered how uncomfortable it was from when it was his years ago, and even then it had a plastic pokey thing on the back. He remembered how the plastic would occasionally prick him through his clothes and how his parents just thought he was trying to talk his way out of having to sit in it. With the new California car seat laws, poor Addie might have to be in the damned thing until her freshman year of high school.

“There’s my school,” Addie exclaimed as a steep pitched red roof trailed outside the windows of the mini-van.

“That wasn’t your school, Addie that was a Weinerschnitzel,” Joey said with a smirk, “they make wieners there.”

“No, Joey that was my school. I know it!”

Theresa turned her head around so fast that her pony-tail almost cracked like a whip. Joey knew what was coming even before his mother had opened her mouth. She was going to try to keep the grin off of her face as she scolded him. This made Joey hold back a grin of his own. He loved the Weinerschnitzel joke; it never got old.

“Joey! Stop teasing your sister.” She ordered, softened, and then turned to Addie, “and you’re right Addie that was your school. Joey is just jealous because he didn’t have the head start you do with Little Academy, huh Joey?” Theresa said this in such a way that answering was not an option.

“Yeah, Addie. I wish I could have gone to Little Academy,” Joey said.

Addie smiled a Cheshire grin and nodded. Her mind moving right back to getting home and planning their little party. She gathered her doll with the bouncy hair and a handful of other toys and games. Joey thought he should probably do the same, because when they pulled into the driveway he knew he wouldn’t want to spend another second inside of the van. Apparently neither did any of the rest of the family, because as soon as Hank set the parking break and pulled the key from the ignition, all four members of the Gordon family were out of their seats and on their way into the house.

Joey looked up at the house that they had all shared for as long as he could remember and experienced such a feeling of relief. The two story white stucco house with red tile sat in brilliant contrast against a cloudless blue sky. The Santa Ana winds were in full force causing the tall eucalyptus tree next to the house to bow and sway. People visiting from elsewhere may ask how Riverside, California’s dusty, allergy inducing gales could even be tolerable. The truth was you get used to them; that’s what Hank and Theresa Gordon had done years ago and Joey and Addie had never known any different.

“We can get the luggage later, let’s get inside, take a load off, and eat,” Hank said as he crossed the yard and opened the front door.

As the family crossed the threshold, all of them had nearly forgotten the terror that had happened in the Arizona desert. Getting home, sitting down, and eating their favorite takeout certainly had a way of pulling them away from the horror, at least for the moment. A dark spark of recollection still glowed in all of their hearts. It probably always would, but for now at least they could accept the reprieve and enjoy the light-heartedness, as short-lived as it may be.

The almost supernatural force of travel fatigue overcame them all as they consumed their greasy burgers and over-salted fries. Joey and Addie sucked happily at their thick, hand-spun milk shakes, which both children knew to be an added bit of comfort provided by their parents because of what had happened. Joey thought that he would be okay with that, at least for a little while. Inside, he and Addie thought that it helped, if only just a bit.

Hank yawned deeply, covering the half chewed food in his mouth with the back of his hand to rescue the rest of the Gordons from a real ‘see food special’.

“I want you two to get your stuff out of the van right after you finish your food,” Hank said shaking his last french fry at them from across the elevated pub style table, “after that I think we could all use some rest. Tomorrow we’ll go pick up Benjamin and then get that jumper we talked about ordered for this weekend. Is that going to be enough notice for your buddies, Joe?”

“Joey, Dad.”

Hank nodded and patted his son on the shoulder, “sure, pal.”

“Should be enough time. Would it be okay if they stayed the night?” Joey asked before a final gurgling slurp from his milkshake.

Theresa gave Hank a shrug and a subtle nod, “If it’s okay with their parents it’s fine with us,” Hank said.

“Awesome!” Joey jumped down from his pub chair and started for the door. He grabbed the van keys off the counter as he passed, “I’ll get your bags too, Addie, but you will have to take them to your room.”

“Thanks, Joey,” Addie replied through a chocolaty smile.

Theresa, Hank, and Addie all looked at Joey as he exited the kitchen and headed to the front door. He had changed somehow. Theresa thought that maybe some of her little boy’s innocence had been lost in the Grand Canyon, Hank thought that his boy was turning into a fine man, and Addie was just glad to have him as a big brother.

Joey closed the front door behind him abruptly. He was so used to his cat, Benjamin Diez, trying to make a break for it every time the door was left open. Even a crack and Ben Diez would be off. Joey couldn’t recall how many afternoons he had spent trying to wrangle the cat back into the house, he would always joke that he should have named him after Gary the snail from SpongeBob instead of the dynamic morphing superhero of his old favorite show, Ben 10.  Maybe then he would have a better chance at catching him.

The lush grass of the front yard left little drops of dew on Joey’s Converse as he ran out to the driveway. He knew that as soon as they had settled down and before the party this weekend that he would be out here mowing the yard at his father’s request. He didn’t mind though, if his dad mowed the yard the house would be filled with the echoes of cataclysmic sneezes for at least a couple of days. Joey had gotten many of his genetic traits from his father, but he was thankful that a resistance to seasonal allergies had apparently come from his mother’s side.

The van chirped when Joey hit one of the three buttons on the rounded black key fob. As Joey approached the vehicle, a large shadow loomed from overhead. At first Joey had written the anomaly off as some stray cloud being tossed and carried by the wind, but then he saw the shape of the thing. It was a bird with a giant wing span; the sprawling and terrible shadow engulfed the van as it circled overhead. Joey’s mind was eerily clear for an instant and then terrible images of circling scavengers and the canals of spilled blood in the dry cracks of Arizona earth clawed their way in.

He saw the image of the mounted hunter and his blood spear, but this time he saw another image: a gargantuan bird with talons like samurai swords coming down from the sky and piercing his little body. He could almost hear the thunderous whoosh of air beating against his semi-conscious mind as the bird carried him higher and higher into the air only to let him go. Then came the fall. A seemingly infinite and continuous freefall, he looked down on his neighborhood like one of those maps in school. Faster and faster he fell until his house loomed large below him, as ominous as a semi-truck on a collision course. Then the house passed over his right shoulder and he was still falling, he forced himself to look at the point where he was going to splat like a bug on the windshield. He expected to see concrete or dirt or grass, but it was worse than that. It was an image of his own body leaning against the van. He closed his eyes a split second before he collided with his displaced doppelganger and hoped that this would not be the last image he would see in this world.

Joey gasped as he opened his eyes. He was leaning against the van just as he had seen in the terrible vision. He was covered in sweat and even worse, he was pretty sure that he had pissed his pants. Without missing a beat, Joey opened the sliding side door of the van and got in. He opened his right hand and saw that he was still gripping the keys, in fact he was gripping them so damn tight that they had pressed little white creases into his palm. Joey looked at them for a second, slammed the door shut, and then pushed the button that activated the alarm. He saw the shadow pass over the van again and felt his heart stall in his chest; he was pretty sure if the bird thing wanted him that a set alarm would do little to dissuade it, but still, he tried to cling on to the illusion of safety.

“What is happening to me?” He pondered.

Joey steeled himself, looked out the window, and then up to the sky. It was a bird that was circling above, but not nearly of the scale that he had imagined. Joey squinted against the last moments of afternoon sunlight and zeroed in on an ordinary hawk. He was fairly certain it was a red tail if memory of his fourth grade field trip to the nature preserve served him, either way it was not some hulking air beast that could fling him into oblivion. The adrenaline rush was abating and Joey remembered the wetness in his jeans.

“It might have been a regular hawk, but you still peed your pants like a baby,” Joey said to himself with frustration.

He reached over the back seat, opened his bag, and pulled out another pair of pants.

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