FREE THIRD CHAPTER of Whispers of the Wakinyan

Posted: April 5, 2018 in Uncategorized

Hey everyone,

Let’s keep this party moving! Please enjoy chapter three of my novel, Whispers of the Wakinyan. Keep in mind that the full book is available at and as always REVIEWS ARE APPRECIATED!



The late summer get together was a huge success. Joey, Les, and Frank had assembled prior to the delivery of the jump house so they could tell the delivery guys exactly where to put it. The two Latinos carrying the colorful folds of vinyl didn’t seem to care where they left it after they had received a small fan of neatly folded bills from Hank.

“Thanks guys. I really appreciate it, “Hank said as the two men squeezed through the narrow side gate of the yard.

The two dark men looked at Hank with wide eyes and empty expressions as he continued to try and spark up some polite banter, “Would you gentlemen like something to drink?”

The two men continued to smile and nod as they navigated the well kempt stone lined path on the side of the Gordon’s house. A look of realization lit Hank’s face, “Cervezas?”

The language of beer was one that all men understood. As the two workers rounded the corner, Joey tapped one of the men on the shoulder and pointed to the back corner of the yard. Les and Frank worked tirelessly with wide plastic rakes making sure that the grass was free of any obscured sharp objects.

“Bueno,” the lead man said. The two carried the folded jumper to the center of the area where Joey’s friends had been working and dropped it to the ground with a loud and leathery thud.

The three boys watched the workers leave through the side gate to get more equipment. As soon as the men had disappeared around the corner of the house, Les and Frank slapped each other a high five.

“I can’t believe that shit worked,” Frank said through a wide smile. He lifted his Mighty Ducks cap and tucked his long dirty blonde hair under the sweatband. He was the tallest of the three and he had the lean build of a high school athlete although he was just in middle school like the other boys.

Joey could no longer hear the scrape of Hank’s grill brush on the smoking wire rack, and when he looked over his shoulder toward the barbeque area he saw that his father had stepped inside. He breathed a sigh of relief, “Watch it, Frank. If my dad hears you cussing he’ll make you go home for sure.”

“Take it easy, man. I knew he was gone,” Frank fired back without missing a breath.

“Gentlemen, please don’t lose sight of what is really important here,” Les said in his best adult voice. He pointed a chubby finger up to the tall eucalyptus that loomed above. A fat braided rope hung from a thick horizontal branch and extended up the back yard slope. The boys had tucked the thing behind the rung of a wooden ladder that they had nailed directly into the trunk of the tree earlier.

Les’ freckled cheeks flexed as he smiled and the three friends laughed aloud.

Joey looked over his shoulder at the barbeque island once again and saw that Hank still hadn’t returned, “This is going to be pretty badass.”

Frank smirked and punched Joey in the arm, “damn straight.”

Addie sat on the white built-in bench beneath her bedroom window. She smiled when she saw her brother and his friends positioning the thick braided rope behind the tree at the top of the hill. She couldn’t wait to see which of the boys would attempt the daring swing first, she thought it might be Joey, but Frank had a way about always being the center of attention.

“Addie, honey aren’t you going to come downstairs? I talked to Sarah’s mom and they should be here any minute,” Theresa said from Addie’s pink-stenciled doorway.

The little girl brightened at the mention of her friend’s name, but she seemed to deflate as she jumped down from the bench and thudded across her lushly carpeted floor. Addie paused before she reached the doorway and looked back to the bench below the window. In the corner beneath the sill, she saw the glass eyes of her old favorite toy staring back at her.

“Do you think Sarah would think I was a baby if I brought Suzie down to play with us?” Addie asked in a voice that was even smaller than normal.

“You seem to be clinging to Suzie an awful lot since we’ve been home. Is everything okay, honey?”

“Yeah, she just makes me feel safe.”

Theresa looked at her daughter solemnly. The terror in the desert had left its mark on each member of the Gordon Family, but she knew that it must be even harder on the children. Worse yet, she had caught Addie sucking her thumb when she was looking out the window. The lightning fast movement of Addie’s arm when she had announced her presence in the room also suggested that Addie was aware of her regression. “I think that it would be great for you to bring Suzie down,” Theresa grabbed her daughter’s tiny hand and grimaced when she felt the cold wetness on Addie’s right thumb, “sometimes even adults need the comfort of an old friend like Suzie.”

Addie smiled, squeezed her mother’s hand, and snatched Suzie up in her arms. The doorbell chimed from below and Addie was off in a flash. Theresa moved to the side to allow her daughter past, and was instantly relieved when she saw the brightness and genuine excitement in Addie’s face. For the first time since they had returned from the trip she was a kid again, free of the weight and darkness that had befallen them.

Theresa trailed Addie down the stairs, but couldn’t keep up with Addie’s rapid descent. Addie threw the front door open and was delighted to see her friend Sarah and her mother, Cassidy, waiting for her.

“Hey, hun, are we in time for the party?” Cassidy asked with a fake southern accent and an animated look on her face.

Theresa approached a half-instant later, put an arm around Addie, and welcomed their newly arrived guests, “Just in time.”

Theresa was ecstatic that Cassidy could bring Sarah today and was hoping that her feeling of elation was not embarrassingly obvious to the other woman. She liked Cassidy. Not just because she was the mother of Addie’s best friend, but also because she felt like they had a good connection. Ever since college, Theresa Gordon was not the type to socialize and devoting her life to family did not offer her many opportunities to make new friends.

“Is the jumper here?” Sarah asked excitedly. “Come on!” Addie grabbed her friend’s hand and pushed past her mother. The two girls scampered toward the sliding glass door at the rear of the house.

Theresa guided Cassidy in, taking the woman’s sheer half-sleeve sweater from her and hanging it on the coat rack next to the door.

“You have anything in the kitchen for us big kids, Tessy?” Cassidy grinned.


Cassidy laughed sweetly. “That’ll work.”



Theresa poured another glass of wine for herself and then reached over for Cassidy’s glass. She filled each almost to the brim and when she sat the bottle down on the counter it made the high and hollow sound that a mostly empty bottle makes upon contact with a countertop. When Theresa leaned back and placed her elbows on the countertop on the opposite side of the kitchen, the mood was darker. Heavier.

“Holy shit, Tessy,” Cassidy gasped. Her large blue eyes were open and alert; her respiration began to quicken, “he just died?”

Theresa’s eyes were wide also and she knew it wasn’t just from the wine. She found that telling the story of the Grand Canyon did feel good, but also got her emotions stirring. She looked outside the window to the back yard and could see the kids having a great time in the jump house at the rear of the yard. On the back patio just a dozen or so feet from the kitchen window, Hank stood in front of the grill, meticulously seasoning steak and chicken between swigs of his beer. She was surprised to notice the six or seven empties he had lined up neatly on the edge of the barbeque and sighed. In a way it made her feel better that she wasn’t the only one that needed to let some of this out. She was just glad to talk about what happened. She stole another glance at the line of empty bottles before answering, she would have to talk to Hank later to see how he was doing, he usually didn’t drink this much.

Theresa nodded, “the donkey too, that wasn’t the worst part though. I could hear them from around the corner. The canyon wall was in my way and all I could see was Hank trying to get back to the kids. When I saw that it wasn’t Joey or Addie that had gone over the side,” she interrupted herself with a long drink from her now half empty wine glass and then shook her head shamefully, “I was happy.”

Cassidy reached out and covered her friends hand with her own, “I can only imagine, hun,” Cassidy smiled a wide and warm smile lined with perfect teeth. She flipped her frosted hair to one side, walked around the counter, and pulled Theresa in for a hug.

“I was glad that he was dead,” Theresa said, tears rolling over her wine flushed cheeks. She had been keeping those words inside since that day in Arizona. Never in her life did she think that she would feel thankful that a person was dead, but now she was. Of course, if the disaster could have been averted completely that would have been preferable, but seeing the man’s body in place of that of her sweet Addie’s was a relief that she was ashamed of.  She glanced out the window and saw that the kids were still having fun and that Hank was still seasoning the food. She took a deep breath, turned to Cassidy, and began to sob.


            Joey, Frank, and Les sat in the back of the jump house watching the exchange between the women in the kitchen window. Addie and Sarah bounced and ran around the multi-colored inflatable, when the girls got too close to the back one of the boys would give them a shove back into the center. The whole dynamic resembled some type of back alley pit fight where the on-lookers would throw the contenders back into the fray if they got too close to the edge of the circle.

“What’s wrong with your mom, man?” Les asked.

Addie stopped jumping for a second waiting to hear her big brother’s response.

“Nothing. It was just a long trip I guess,” Joey lied.

Addie began jumping again, her light and pleasant face only temporarily darkened by the increasingly familiar shadow of worry.

“Are you sure man? I think she’s crying on that hot mom’s shoulder,” Frank said pointing at the kitchen window.

“That’s my mommy,” Sarah laughed, “her name is Cassidy.”

“Franky and Cassidy sitting in a tr—“Les started only to be cut off by a swift punch in the arm.

“What are you, five, bro?” Frank laughed.

Everyone laughed for a second. Joey was thankful for Sarah’s lighthearted interjection. He knew that he would tell the guys everything, but not now, and not in front of Addie. He thought that his little sister might be young enough to forget the whole thing if she was lucky. He wished that he could have that same luxury, but knew better. Just as Joey prepared himself to deliver another false response, his father’s voice interrupted the conversation.

“Time to eat, kids!” Hank called. He removed the meat from the grill, placed it on a large platter, and sat it on the side of the grill. He reached under the grill and turned off the propane tank before he went inside, “finish up and come on in”. Addie and Sarah grabbed each other’s hands and plopped down on the jumper, flat on their backs like a couple of kids about to make snow angels. The two girls slid across the vinyl and out of the slit in the netting.

Joey and his friends still lounged in the back of the jumper. They looked at each other with wide maniacal grins. This was the moment they had all been waiting for. Frank stood up and pulled up the netted mesh wall. Thread after nylon thread slid smoothly out of the tiny metal eyelets that lined the outer perimeter of the jumper. Frank was glad to see that Joey’s plan had worked, so glad in fact, that his frustration against Joey’s insistence that the threads were not to be cut or permanently damaged was starting to subside. The nylon threads would have been no match for his Swiss Army knife.

“It worked!” Les exclaimed.

Joey smiled, “Alright, we all have time to get one jump in before my parents come out yelling. By that time we’ll have the fact that we’re all still alive to argue that this is all perfectly safe.”

“Sounds good to me,” Frank yelled from half way up the hill. In the few seconds of conversation between Les and Joey, the tall boy had slid down from the jumper and covered some serious ground. Les jumped down to follow while Joey tucked the few remaining threads up onto the roof of the vinyl apparatus. Joey started up the hill, but took a moment to look back at the boys’ handy work. The entire back portion of the jumper that faced the slope was now wide open, and by the looks of it, could more than accommodate the extreme and heroic entrances of him and his friends.

“Hurry up Joey, before I go all Tarzan on you!” Frank laughed.

Just as Joey got to the top of the hill Frank sprinted a short ways and sprung off the side of the slope, clutching the rope tightly. Les and Joey looked on, mouths agape, Joey swore that he could hear the hiss of the rope through the still summer sky. Frank looked like a pirate or some swashbuckling avenger as his long hair whipped and whooshed from beneath his baseball cap.

“Incoming!” Frank bellowed as he let go of the rope and came rocketing into the waiting open mouth of the inflated landing zone. He landed with a loud leathery slap and the sound of his light boyish laughter reverberated up the slope. If Les and Joey had not been excited enough by the mere idea of the kickass rope descent, the idealistic and expert descent Frank had just made put them over the top.

The marching order had been determined as the boys had worked tirelessly throughout the afternoon, punishing their fingertips on the thin threads and the angular metal eyelets: Frank had already gone because it was his idea, Les was next up because he had untied most of the threads, and Joey was last because he had not let Frank chop the threads with his pocket knife. This last point was voted on unanimously by all three boys.

Les did not miss a beat, he was down the hill and received the rope on its second backswing which apexed at about half way down the slope.  He ran back to the top. Without speaking a word to Joey, Les took a couple of strides across the top of the slope and bounded off with the rope pulled tight to his chest. Frank hooted chuckles of approval from down below as Les swung down the hill in a wide arch. He had chosen to do a more rounded approach rather than the straight-in style that Frank had taken. Very cool.

Joey heard himself laughing, he knew he was having a great time, but he had not realized that he was laughing so hard that tears had started to slide down his cheeks. He also noticed something else, his mom and dad were looking out of the kitchen window. They were desperately scanning the side of the slope. It looked like his mom was trying to yell something, but no sound made it through the double glass panes of the window. Joey didn’t know for sure if they could see him since the setting sun was directly at his back, but he was sure that they could see the guys in the jumper and it was most likely the impact noise of one their jumps that originally drew them to the window.

He heard the sliding glass door skid along the tracks.

“Joey!” Theresa’s voice boomed over the hum of the jump house’s air pump. “Stop!”

Frank pretended not to hear or get caught up in Theresa’s fury. All he could think of was that all three of them had to complete the jump. He slid out the back of the jumper, grabbed the rope and sprinted up the hillside.

He passed the thick hairy braid to Joey and patted him on the back so hard that it may have crossed the line from pat to shove, “go man!”

Joey did. He clinched the rope tight to his chest opting for the more secure and level headed technique Les had employed than the extended arm wild man style that Frank had used. When Joey was half way down the slope, the wind pushing at his squinting face. He could still hear his mother yelling, but when he saw the terror that awaited him below he realized she wasn’t yelling “stop” anymore. The reality of her words sunk in just an instant before he made impact.

“Joey, it’s deflating!”

And it was.

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