Saturday, February 4, 2017

Segment Ten - Escape from the Belfry Copyright 2013 Doris Gaines Rapp

Chapter Nineteen

“Yikes!”Adam bolted out of bed the next morning. The bells in the bell tower pealed forth the news that Christmas Day, 1945 had arrived. He slapped his hands over his ears and bent in acoustic torture. The bells hadn’t rung since Adam had taken over the small room directly below the open tower loft. He had no idea that the sound, which was majestic out on the streets, would reverberate in the tower like a blacksmith’s anvil on his ear drums. It had been so many years since the bells had chimed, he would not have remembered the experience in the same intensity as that particular Christmas morning.
            The little hummingbird scratched and chirped in pain. The little one would have flown out of the tower if it had been free.
            “Sorry, sorry,” Adam laughed while he held his ears with one hand and opened the cage with the other. “Do what you have to do.”
            The little hummer hopped up onto Adam’s extended index finger and seemed to pace up and down between the knuckles. The tiny guy was obviously bothered by the chimes.
            Adam smiled at the little bird then opened the tower window. In recent days, he had let the bird out of the cage but not out of the belfry. The window had remained closed for the winter. Adam didn’t know what else to do. The bells were too much for him as a human. Adam knew that birds usually fly out of a tower when the bells begin to chime.
            “Joy to the World,” the melody rang out and the bells in the belfry hit every note with perfect ting on the high ones and deep tonal vibrations in the lower register. Adam hated to see the bird take to the air beyond the tower but he also knew he had no other choice.
            No one would be around. It was Christmas. People would be at home with their families. They would drink hot cocoa, open presents at the base of a brightly lit tree, and sit beside the warm, homey glow of yule logs. At least, that was how Adam remembered Christmas morning to be. That was also how he saw the Breman home, when he allowed himself to think about family Christmas.
            He took his time dressing even though the wind blew through the cracks around the belfry windows. Then he stepped slowly down the ladder. His only luxury for Christmas Day would be that he wouldn’t have to worry about being caught in the Church building.
            Outside, the streets and sidewalks were deserted. There was no one around. He searched, but he could not see his hummingbird in the adjacent trees. His hummingbird—the little guy had been his hummingbird, but now he was gone.
            The weather was bitter cold. Adam worried about the hummer and his heart ached. Hummingbirds aren’t winter birds. The rest of the flock is long gone.
            The little birds would have flown south long before the first snowflakes had shaken like a split feather pillow from the sky. Adam had to get himself together. He didn’t want to think about the bird and he definitely was not going to think about how lonely the tower would feel when he got back. 
            Adam lowered his head and leaned into the cold wind once again as he had so many times in the past. He started walking toward the sanitarium, ten miles away. He arrived an hour later,  owing partly to the wind at his back that pushed him along, and partly to the same wind at his back that froze him to the bone. A fast pace was the only way to build up body heat.
            Some time later, Adam staggered into the hospital on a bumpy blast of north wind. “Let me get you some blankets and hot tea,” a nurse offered. 
            “Thank you.” He shivered through chattering teeth while ice dripped from his eyebrows. 
            The nurse handed him a blanket from a cart in the hallway. He wrapped himself in the wool like an Indian chief. As he warmed, he redirected his thoughts to his mother.
            “Is Bridget Schumacher doing well today?” Adam asked. He had to say something, but hoped he knew the answer. Moms had promised to be up and about by Christmas Day.
            “Bridget?” She pointed to the large gathering room with open stairway and soft lights. “You’re lucky. You can visit her and warm yourself by the fire at the same time.” She pointed again. “Go on in.”
            Adam pulled the blanket even tighter and walked into the open space. “Hi Moms,” Adam smiled as he entered the room full of Holiday music and Christmas peace.
            “Adam,” she stood up and reached out her arms. “You got a ride.”
            “I walked Moms.”
            “Walked? Adam, you could have caught your death of cold.” Bridget put her arms around her son and rubbed some warmth into his back.
            “I’m fine Moms.” He chuckled with a twinkle, “But the back rub sure feels good.” Adam held out the present he had brought. “I kept the comics section of the Sunday newspaper someone had left on a chair at church the other evening and used it for the wrapping paper. There aren’t any Christmas scenes, but the paper is colorful. I wrapped the box with my favorite strip, Dick Tracy square in the middle, found a piece of string and tied the whole package together. I don’t think the wrappings look too bad.”
            “Son, it is wonderful!” Bridget took the present and pressed the gift to her chest.
            “The comics aren’t the gift, Moms. What’s inside is the present.” Adam enjoyed the fun of making his mother smile.
            Bridget Schumacher carefully opened the wrappings and box and lifted out the linen square with the lace border Adam had selected at the five and dime. “Adam, the handkerchief is lovely. Where did you get the money?”
            Adam’s chest puffed out a little. “I earned it, Moms. I shoveled some ice and snow for a lady. . . . And―”
            “You have a job? That is wonderful, Adam.”
            “The sidewalk only took a few minutes to shovel off. But, Moms, I do have another job―”
            “You didn’t quit school, did you Son? If you did, when school starts again after Christmas break, you march yourself right back in there and―”
            “No, no Moms. I’m still in school. I work on Saturdays and for a few hours after school.  This will please you, Moms. Mr. Gunderman said I could have the job as long as I can keep my grades up. Also, I have Fridays off because—” He paused and studied her face. He didn’t want her to think he was shirking work for play. “Because I am on the basketball team at school too.”
            “Basketball? You’re on the team? Oh how I loved to play basketball in high school.”
            “You? Moms, you played basketball?”
            “You think all I’ve ever done is garden and can and cook and do the laundry and clean?” Luckily for Adam, she was chuckling through her litany of chores. 
            “No Moms. You just never talked about playing sports before.”
            “Well then, for that I am sorry. I loved every position of basketball. I was a little short for Center. Now . . . I’m hungry. I’ve made a reservation for you to join me for dinner. They are  serving turkey and dressing.” She sized up his arms and face. “Are you eating all right?”
            “Yes Ma’am.”
            “Mrs. Crammer feeding you well? You look so thin.”
            “I’m not staying with the Crammers, Moms.” Then, before she could ask any questions, he changed the subject. “Speaking of the Crammers, I saw Sidney Crammer yesterday.”
            “Dinner is being served,” a nurse interrupted. “Bridget, you can take your visitor into the large dining room with you.”
            “This is my son, Adam.”
            “Good to meet you, Adam,” the nurse said.
            The dining room was full of flowers and the wonderful aroma of hot food. They could have been serving squirrel for all Adam cared. The food was warm and the plates were served on a white table cloth and that Christmas dinner was his third hot meal in a row.
            “Like I said Moms, I saw Sidney Crammer. He said something about Pops telling him he would sell the creek and bottom land. That doesn’t sound like Pops. Did he ever tell you about selling any land, let alone the land down by the creek?”
            “Sell the creek?” Bridget unfolded her napkin and placed the cloth slowly in her lap. “Your father never spoke to me about selling off any land, and I wouldn’t think the land he would consider would be the creek, if he considered it at all.”
            “Grandpa said, ‘A good farm has good soil. A great farm has great soil and water.’” Adam lifted off a biscuit as the plate was passed and he inhaled the aroma of the golden flaky quick bread. “The biscuit smells so good they should can it and spray the school right before it starts. That would get everybody inside fast.”
            “Adam,” Bridget put her knife and fork down, “you come up with some unusual ideas.”
            “One thing that is not unusual, is indoor plumbing. Moms, how are you going to get to come home any time soon if we don’t have an indoor bathroom?”
            “I’ve wondered about that myself Adam and I just do not know what we will do.”
            “The money Mr. Crammer would pay for the land would put in a new bathroom Moms.” Adam couldn’t believe he was bringing up the sale again. He didn’t want to sell off one foot of the land that had been in Pops’ family since President John Quincy Adams first deeded the parcel  over to the Schumacher ancestors.
            “You know, the fireplace in the parlor is the same one your dad’s great-grandmother cooked over when they first moved into the valley. The cabin was just two rooms with a loft above. As the farm prospered and the family grew, the cabin was enlarged, until the house was as we know it today.” Bridget’s eyes shone. Adam guessed that old scenes danced in her head just as they did in his.
            “Can you imagine baking a pie or cooking Thanksgiving dinner like that? That would be hard.” Adam marveled.
            “Probably, but I doubt they thought it was. That was the way of farm life back then.” She smiled. “That life sounds wonderful to me. My people moved into the hills of New York in much the same way. They cooked over open, outdoor fires and gathered berries. Most of the clan moved on. They never stayed in one place.”
            “You never told me much about them, Moms. We only visited Granny those two summers. Were they farmers too? I don’t remember farm equipment.”
            “Not exactly . . . they were tinkers. They dealt in tin . . . but they traveled all the time.”
            “Why Moms? And, why don’t you ever talk about them?”
            “The clan has traveled for centuries. That was, and is, who they are.”
            “They sound like gypsies,” Adam joked.
            “Your father forbid me to use that word, Adam. We haven’t talked about them since your dad put a stop to our visits. But, they are travelers, Irish travelers.” Bridget cut strips of her turkey and took a bite. “Um, very good.”
            “I would think that life could have been fun, hunting all the time, working with tin . . . to make what?” 
            “Oh, I don’t know. I guess, my great-grandfather loved moving about as a boy. Traveling was who they were and what they did. Grandpa would tell stories about how his father used to play with the Indian children from a nearby village.” Bridget sipped her coffee as she retold the family tale that had been heard before but she never grew tired of the telling.
            “They came into that valley a long time ago didn’t they?”
            “Our settlers were among the first. They made friends with the Indians and Morningstar, an Indian woman, taught my Great-grandmother how to weave.”
            “Did Morningstar teach any of them how to make pots? Pottery, you know, pots.”
            “Why yes, of course, Adam. And what is interesting, your Grandpa Schumacher, out at the farm, also taught you how to throw pots on the wheel out in the barn. He glazed and fired them in the kiln. Don’t you remember?”
            “I didn’t Moms, but someone reminded me.” He put his fork in the potatoes and ate a bite while he thought. Could his memory have been right?
            “I don’t see how you could forget it Adam. The curator at the art gallery said your talent was amazing. He sold a lot of your pots there at the gallery. He even shipped some to Boston and New York where they were sold in fine stores.”
            “How is that possible Moms? I didn’t fall and hit my head. Why didn’t I remember?”
            “I’ve noticed, Adam, that memories are hard for you to come by. I asked my doctor about you. He said that you must be taking all of this very hard, so you hide inside yourself and forget the past that is painful. You can’t just forget the day Pops left. You forget the whole thing, the whole year and maybe a few of those years before.” Bridget’s voice cracked as she tried to talk to her son. “I haven’t been able to be much of a mother for you,” she whispered.
            “Moms,” Adam felt a big lump in his throat and couldn’t swallow, “you have been sick. I know that.”
            “Is everything all right?” One of the nursing attendants asked as she passed.
            “Yes, thanks,” Adam smiled. “We are just happy.” And, that was not a lie. Adam was beginning to remember.
            “Grandpa would take me with him out to the barn. While he cleaned out stalls, I would try to help, but he would say, ‘No, you are an artist. You make some more pots.’ And, I did. One time Pops came out to the barn and I thought I’d get in trouble for not helping with the cleanup. But no. Pops said he was amazed by my art and very proud of me.”
            “Can you make pots fast enough to bring in some money?” Moms was so excited her voice cracked as she whispered the family business in the public dining hall. “I don’t want to sell any of the farm.”
            “Me neither. Selling any of our land would feel like we were betraying the family. I don’t want to sell even a foot of the farm.” Adam whispered.
            “I know, but we need the money so fast. Oh, I wish your father would come home. I can not make a decision like this on my own.”
            “Moms, don’t you think he would have been home by now, if he was alive or if he hadn’t been a deserter.”
            “Deserter?” Bridget’s voice sounded both shocked and angry. She lowered her tone and her chin, as if she were preparing herself for a fight. “Don’t you ever say that again. Never call your father a deserter. How can you even think such a thing?”
            “I don’t know Moms. But . . .” Adam’s head and heart were banging into each other. He had been utterly alone for four months. In the dead of winter, he was living in a church bell tower because he had no family to take him in. He had lied to his mother throughout the entire autumn. If Pops wasn’t dead, why didn’t he come home and make everything right? If he was alive and would not come home . . . Adam was beginning to hate him.
            “Wait a minute,” Bridget gasped. “What about the bank account? I know that money is yours and Pops was saving it for your college. But, maybe we could use a little of it now. Adam―”
            “The bank account?” He dropped his fork on the plate and the metal made an awful clatter.
            “What’s wrong?” Moms saw how startled he was.
            “Then, there is a bank account? That wasn’t a dream or just a wish?”
            “A dream? Of course not, Honey. And, your dad had forbidden you to wish for things. Those are the clan ways.”
            “What do you mean? A wish is just a wish.”
            “Not to the clan. Wishes come true and they always require a price to be paid. The old ways are not our ways, Adam. If the shadows grant the wish, the price is irrevocably everything you hold dear. If the wee ones are responsible, the prize is empty and does not satisfy. It only makes us wish for more. The old clan ways are not for us.”
            “But Moms . . . wait. I have been remembering a funny old man named Mr.  O’Shaughnessy.”
            “Adam, don’t mention his name out loud,” Moms cautioned through clenched teeth.
            “Moms,” Adam was stunned. What was she afraid of. “Why?”
            “The one you mention . . . does have gold . . . but he will trick you, deceive you. Even if you get the money, the cash won’t be for free. The price you will pay will be more than anyone could ever imagine. There will be an unquenchable aching for more, always more, that will never be satisfied.”
            “Moms, but . . . he looks like a . . . leprechaun.”
            “I know Adam.” Bridget nervously pushed the food around on her plate. “We’ll talk of him no more.”
            “Granny said, the only ones I was not to look at were the shadow figures. I was not to look at them as all.”
            “I know. When you told her the shadows talked to you, she was terrified—and so was I. Your father insisted that we come home if Granny filled your head with tales of the travelers. We packed and left on the next bus.” Bridget put her hand to her mouth. “Did the shadow people  actually talk to you?”
            “Yes, I guess. I could hear their words in my head. Granny only said I wasn’t to look at them. Just let them pass.”
            “Have they—have you seen or heard them here?”
            “Yes, sure. You have seen them too, Moms. I’ve seen your eyes follow them as they move around.”
            “That is enough, Adam. Pops always protected you from the gypsy ways.” She sipped her coffee and went on. “No more of that. Let’s talk about something else.” She sipped her coffee.  “Your daddy opened an account for you at a bank over near the gallery in the Capital.” Bridget threw her hands in the air in silent affirmation of a memory once lost but now found.
            “What bank?” Adam jumped on the excitement. He would drop the questions about the O’Hara side of the family—for now.
            “Don’t you know?” Moms dropped her hands in her lap.
            “Did I go with Pops?”
            “Yes, I’m pretty sure you did. You said to me, ‘Pops and I went to the bank on the way home.’ I remember.” She watched Adam’s expression. “Now, just relax.” She reached out and patted his hand. “Relax, relax. Focus on one of the pots you created if you can.”
            “Okay,” Adam closed his eyes and tried to empty his mind of the possibilities that might be there. He didn’t see a pot but he could feel a soft matte glaze on his fingers tips. Then, he saw Pops and a sunny day . . . and paintings.
            “Can you see you and Pops talking to the man at the art gallery?”
            “Yes.” Adam was surprised. He had not thought about that scene for several years, not since Pops left. “The man said something about my being gifted. I didn’t know what he meant but he smiled a lot and touched my pottery very gently.”
            “He was saying that God has given you a gift, a talent for doing something special.”
            Adam opened his eyes and grinned. “I like that.” He closed his eyes again and relaxed. “We celebrated by getting a cola at the drug store near by, across from the National Bank.” His eyes flew open. “The National Bank, that’s the one, Moms. It was the National Bank in the Capital. I know it was.”
            “Great!” She cheered him along. “We’ll have to have the account number.”
            “Maybe the number is in my room at the farm.” He finished his bread and folded his napkin. “I wonder how much is in the account.”
            “You don’t remember?”
            “I was about twelve. I would have been excited if the guy had flipped me a quarter.” He chuckled.
            “I am sure he paid you much more than that or your father would not have opened an account for you. And, I’ll bet, you might have had your name on the account but Pops would have had to sign too since you are a minor.”
            Pops—again. We need Pops and he’s no where around. “If I still have money in that bank account, I should be able to get it out somehow. With Pops gone and the government not knowing where he is, you should be able to sign for me as my only parent.”
            Nothing more was said about the farm or the land or the creek. There was nothing that could be said. Adam was not old enough to sell any land even if he wanted to and Moms was obviously not strong enough to make such a major decision by herself. If they were going to get a bathroom at the farm, the savings account would have to pay for it.
            They talked no more of the shadows, Pops, or Mr. O’Shaughnessy. The day was good, full of mystery that fascinated Adam for the first time in months.
            Adam walked back to town a few hours later with not a single present to distinguish this day from any other. He wasn’t a baby. He understood his mother had no way to shop even if she had the money to do so. If there was a God in heaven, he had not made his presence known to Adam Shoemaker.
            But, there was something else. In the silence of the night air, he began to talk through his options. “That money in that bank is mine. I can spend every dollar—if I can get the information about the bank. There has to be a way. Perhaps that fellow, O’Shaughnessy, can help. I wouldn’t be asking for his money. I just need help getting at mine. So far, Shaddi has helped with powers but not hard cash. Shaddi, what do I do?” The evening wind was silent as he walked back to town.
            Along with the fear and doubt, hope began to stir within Adam. There was money, his own money, somewhere. He felt the pride of work and accomplishment. How long would the good feelings last? They rose and fell like the road that stretched out before him. Somehow, everything was different. Was it really true? Was an artist’s heart buried beneath all the rubble of his life?        Could it really be? Had life taken a turn toward hope and future and goals. Adam continued his walk into town while the sun warmed his face in the icy blue winter sky.

                                                                                Chapter Twenty

Back in town, a young boy called from a front yard lit with multicolored Christmas lights. “Hi Adam.” Then the boy mimicked a jump shot and called out, “Are you going to play in the next game too?”
            “Sure am,” Adam answered but didn’t slow down. He was too cold to stop moving but he was glad to see the boy in the yard. It was late in the afternoon on Christmas Day and it seemed like life in Middletown had fallen asleep after a big meal and had just stretched and awakened. 
            He saw the boy set up a target for what appeared to be new BB gun. Two other children bounded out to the concrete driveway and returned volley for volley with new tennis rackets. It had been snowing all Christmas Day but the never-ending flow of frozen white flakes didn’t seem to keep neighborhood kids from their fun. Adam thrust his hands into his empty pockets to brace himself from the cold, then turned the corner onto Cranberry Street.
            “Adam,” Fritzy giggled, “where are you going?”
            “Fritzy, what are you doing over here? Thought you’d be at home in your nice warm house on a cold day like this. You live blocks away from here.”
            “Today is Christmas, Adam. And, I live just three blocks from here. You know that. I was out for a walk. What’s wrong?”
            “Oh . . . nothing, sorry. It’s just that—never mind.” Adam threw his hands up over
his head, frustrated and angry. He started to walk past the church. He had to lead Fritzy away from the corner. She could not discover his hiding place, his only sanctuary. His heart raced. Was this the moment all his secrets would come tumbled down around him?
            “Are you Adam Shoemaker?” A Middletown policeman pulled his squad car to the corner and leaned out of the window.
            “What’s wrong officer?” Fritzy asked.
              “We’d like to talk to young Mr. Shoemaker. Sorry Miss.” The officer got out of the car and approached the two on the sidewalk.
            “Why?” Fritzy quizzed.
            “Mr. Shoemaker just started working at the church on Cranberry Street, right?”
            “So?” Fritzy tone was puzzled.
            “The Christ Child carving, Ma’am. The statue came up missing just after Mr. Shoemaker started working there. He’s the only outsider.”
            “Outsider?” The bottom fell out of Adam’s heart and lay exposed and bruised on the cold, indifferent street. How could he be an outsider in God’s house? If that were true, he didn’t belong anywhere.
            “I’d like for you to come to the station and answer a few questions.” The officer stepped a little closer and took Adam by the sleeve.
            Adam was dazed as he got into the vehicle, confused and numb. He said nothing. At first, he couldn’t even look at Fritzy but before they pulled away he looked up and caught her gaze.
            Was she disappointed in him? Was she angry?
            “Officer, you have no right—” Fritzy barked as she put her hand on he hip. “He doesn’t have to answer your questions.”
            “Yes, Ma’am—he does,” the officer returned in equally snappy manner.
            Fritzy stomped her foot and clung to Adam’s sleeve as he was placed in the squad care. “Call me when you get back,” Fritzy frantically called after them as the doors were closed.
            Adam was stunned, shocked Nothing made any sense. He sat slumped forward in the back of a police squad car that had no handles on the inside of the doors. What was going on? What strange world did he live in? His life felt like an amusement park ride that went up, then dropped down in free fall, but left his stomach at the summit. All he could do was wait for his body to reconnect to get answers. He had been waiting for answers for years, it seemed.

■ ■ ■

            “Sit down, Son.” The officer pointed to a chair next to an old wooden table in one of the interview rooms at the local precinct.
            The police station was nothing like Adam would have imagined. That is, if he had ever thought about it, which he hadn’t. The truth was, in the wildest fantasies of his make-believe world, he never once thought that he would end up in a police station interrogation room.
            The room was dingy and drab. Gray-green paint peeled from the walls. There weren’t bars on the windows but there might as well have been. They looked like they had been painted closed, over and over, for many years. A whiff of fresh air had not blown through that room in a very long time.
            Adam did what he was told. He couldn’t make sense out of anything anymore. Now, he believed that the very people who had showed him love and acceptance, the people of the
Cranberry Street church, had turned his name into the police as a likely suspect.
            “That statue was hand carved, Boy, by a very famous artist. Now, I’m no art expert, but it seems to me, if a fellow were to steal something of any value, he would want to sell it.”
            Adam said nothing. Not that he was trying to be secretive. He didn’t know the answers to anything anymore. He didn’t even know the questions. He did, however, know who took the carving and he couldn’t say a word. He wasn’t protecting those stupid boys. He was making sure he didn’t end up living with people he didn’t even know, perhaps in another town. If he were very far away, he wouldn’t be able to walk out to visit Moms.
            “You tell me where you hid the carving and I’ll call your dad and have him come pick you up. No more questions. No blame.”
            Dad? Lots of luck with that. Pops is nowhere. Let me know when he gets to town. Adam  thought many things but said nothing. Pops’ name only dredged up more hurtful feelings: anger, fear, homesickness.
            “Where do you live, Son? Does your family have a phone?” Detective Frank Overton didn’t even look at Adam. He studied the paper he was going to write on. That kept him distant, aloof, in charge, in control.
            Son? I’m nobody’s son. Bitter tears started to stream down his face.
            “Look Kid, this doesn’t have to be a problem. The church doesn’t want to press charges. They just want the carving back.” The detective leaned his head on one hand and stifled a yawn.
            Adam closed his eyes. He felt utterly beaten. No one believed him. No one trusted him. His name was ruined. He couldn’t tell anyone where he lived. He felt like he had been running a race for four months. He had finally reached the finish line and he had come in last. There was no one to cheer him on or welcome a triumphant winner. He had lost.     
            “Today is Christmas, Adam. I would like to get back home to my family. If you will not tell me where you live or how to contact your folks, I’ll have to call the County and have them come and get you. However,” he paused and Adam found the silence deafening, “nobody will be there today. So, you will have to sit in the jail over night. I’m not charging you with anything, not yet. We haven’t found the statue in your possession. But, I cannot let a boy, with no home and no way to contact his parents, out on the streets alone.”
            Adam just stared at the table, silently. There were several coffee rings on the surface and on the left, a sticky substance covered a spot about the size of a deck of cards. He studied every
dot and blotch on the gray table top as he tried to stay control the fear, the disappointment and the dreaded feeling of abandonment.
            If I don’t look at Detective Overton, if I can focus on something else, anything else, he will not be in my world. If he’s not in my world, he can’t hurt me.
            The silly image of a baby playing peek-a-boo came into Adam’s mind. The baby always  seemed surprised when his mother’s face appeared after he pulls away the kerchief. If he doesn’t  see her, she isn’t there.
            Am I just a big baby? Adam belittled himself. You will not intimidate me, he spoke to Overton inside his own head. The muscles in his back tightened as he pulled himself up to his full, seated posture and looked at the detective squarely. He said nothing. A night in jail will probably be the warmest I’ve spent in weeks.
            Detective Overton stared at Adam for a moment, shrugged his shoulders, and stood up. “Well then, come along with me, Son.” 
            The detective didn’t handcuff him or try to restrain him in any way. “I’m sorry you’ve chosen this path, Adam. No one wants you to spend the night in jail, but―” He motioned for the boy to walk ahead of him as he led him through the outer office and into the holding area. He motioned for Adam to remove his belt.
            Adam turned his empty pockets inside out and walked into the cell. The door slammed closed. Night had gathered within him regardless of the time of day. Darkness crowded out all hope inside the boy. He knew the shadows would come unless he fought the despair. But, he had a bank account that could not be opened, a talent that had been forgotten, a cherished farm that could to be traded for the price of a bathroom, and friends who turned him in like a bitter foe. He lay down on the bunk and waited for life to completely go out. He resisted the temptation to call out the name O’Shaughnessy.

            Instead, Adam pleaded, “Shaddi, why? What can I do? Spring the lock and set me free.” 

Escape from the Belfry is available in paperback and eBook on, and The sequel, Escape from the Shadows  will be released on April 15 and available on these Internet sites.

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