Chapter 2 – Sliding Beneath the Surface

January 31, 2013


Sliding Beneath the Surface

Sliding Beneath the Surface

The St. Augustine Trilogy: Book I

Young adult, paranormal & historical.

Chapter 2

Automatically balling up my fists, I braced for the attack. Karate kicks a friend taught me flashed through my mind as that dog noise rang in my ears. Glancing down at Spock, I reminded myself he was good-sized, and I hoped he might jump in to help us.

Spock? In that split second as I looked at him, I realized something was not quite what it was supposed to be, but I didn’t know what. Then it hit me. Old Spock was doing nothing but standing there calmly at Carla’s feet, as if nothing was happening. Obviously, the possibility of being ripped apart didn’t concern him at all.

Startled, I looked at Carla and saw her trying to stifle a giggle as she pointed towards the edge of the bamboo forest. Amazed at how she could find anything funny about our situation, I frantically tried to find what she wanted me to see. “Son of a …” I really wanted to add the word “bitch” in there, but I stopped myself even though I felt very justified. You see, Carla doesn’t like what she calls “foul language,” and I had been really trying hard to change my ways in that area of my life. Actually, even now as I’m talking to you, I’m watching what I say, believe it or not, sort of practicing. What did I find that stimulated such a reaction? A huge speaker hidden in the branches of a large oak tree.

When I looked back at Carla, she chuckled and pointed out a tall platform back in the bamboo. Uh huh, another stupid speaker. I had no idea what type of sensor I had activated, nor did I care.

After the snarling, growling, and yapping dog sounds stopped completely a few seconds later, she burst into laughter. I usually love it when she laughs, deep and rich sounding, but not at that moment. I mean, I couldn’t believe she had tricked me. The headache I had been fighting the past couple of days throbbed even more. I hadn’t told Carla about it. “Thanks a lot,” I shouted at her. I was really embarrassed she had seen me so scared for no good reason.

“No, no, no.” She wagged her finger at me with a more or less serious face. Her almond shaped eyes were wide with determination, even as she continued trying to stifle another burst of laughter. “Don’t you go venting that famous Jeffrey anger on this girl. Look, I’m sorry, really I am. I was just about to warn you when you walked ahead of me and triggered the system before I could say anything. With what’s going on inside your head today, you didn’t need a scare like that.”

“Oh,” I said. As quickly as it arrived, my hot temper drained away. No matter what, I couldn’t stay mad at Carla for long. “Apology accepted, but if you’re so sorry, how come you’re still laughing?”

“I’m trying hard not to, but I wish you could have seen your face when the dogs sounds started.” Then she lost it, and laughed her way through her next sentence so hard she could barely say the words. “Really … for a white boy … I swear … you got … ten shades lighter.”

With a final laugh, Carla coughed, caught her breath, and said, “That alarm system is Lobo’s way of scaring off unwanted visitors without actually having to use real dogs. So, are you finally ready to meet him?”

“Anything to get away from you letting me get attacked by wild dogs,” I said, trying to sound serious, even though I realized I probably had looked pretty silly.

“Oh poor baby,” Carla said with one of her sly, sexy smiles.

God she looks so good when she smiles. I mean she looks good all the time, but her smiles are something else, like a flash of warm sunshine. Ruining the moment, the screech of a power saw sliced the air for a short time and stopped. It sounded like it came from the small, unpainted building. I remembered hearing that saw noise from Carla’s back yard.

“He’s in his workshop,” she said. “Not good. He doesn’t like being interrupted when he’s concentrating on his carvings. He might even be a little grumpier than usual, so try not to be offended.”

“Great, can’t wait.” I groaned, massaging my left temple with the tips of my fingers when Carla turned away. “Sounds like so much freakin’ fun.” The idea of facing some bad tempered old man was not really how I wanted to end my day, you know? Bad dream or no bad dream. By then though, we were approaching Mr. Lobo’s beat-up truck. To the left of the truck, light shown between the blinds of the two large windows in the workshop, but I couldn’t really see anything inside.

“Being sarcastic isn’t going to make things any better,” Carla said. “We’re not here to have fun, we’re here to get you some help, OK?” She sounded like a mother taking her child to see the doctor for the first time.

“Yes, momma,” I kidded, using a squeaky child’s voice, “I promise I’ll be good.”

Carla rolled her eyes, shook her head and punched me in the arm. “You are absolutely hopeless sometimes.” When I say punch, I mean punch! For a small person, she packs a wallop.

As we walked past Lobo’s battered truck, I stopped, stuck a finger in one of its many rusty holes and felt the rough, crumbling metal give way when I pressed down. It didn’t seem possible something so old could possibly run. Inside, I saw pure mess. There was stuff everywhere—Styrofoam cups, bags from fast food places, stained rags, notebooks, what looked like balled up clothes, and all kinds of tools.

“Come on,” Carla called. She and Spock were already standing in front of the workshop door.

“Well, at least he’s not a neat freak.” I whispered those words, jerking a thumb back towards the truck as I joined her at the door. “Anybody that messy can’t be all bad.”

“Wonderful,” she whispered back, smiling and putting her hand on the doorknob. “You both have something in common. Isn’t that nice?”

Ignoring her question and hint of sarcasm, I tried looking through the partially opened blinds. All I could see were long, thin slices of equipment, wood, carvings and someone moving around.

Again, the high-pitched whine of an electric saw shattered the silence making poor Spock tremble. Carla gave him a hand signal to stay where he was, and then waved for me to follow as she entered the workshop. Once we stepped inside, that piercing noise blasted us full in the face causing us to cover our ears. With each step, wood shavings on the concrete floor crunched beneath my feet. The air smelled strongly of sawdust Mr. R. Lobo was creating. He stood opposite the front door close to the building’s back wall, bent over. He had his back to us, his bare, muscular arms moving forward ever so slightly. Even so, I could tell the guy was big, way bigger than me, and I’m close to six feet tall.

A workbench covered with tools sat against the wall to our right. Stacked up on the floor to our left were wood blocks and tree trunk sections of varying sizes. A large table in front of all those dead tree parts held carvings of people and animals. One of them, a large head of a realistic looking eagle, stared at me from its tree trunk base. Carla’s friend had talent all right.

The guy wore a dark blue, sleeveless shirt and faded black jeans. Both his belt and badly scuffed work boots looked like they might have been brown at one point in time. A thin strip of leather kept his long steel grey hair pulled together at the base of his neck, creating a thick strand that ran down between his shoulders.

When I took another crunching step, he straightened, flipped a switch on the table saw in front of him, and pulled a rag out of his back jeans pocket to wipe his hands. There was no way he could have heard that one footstep, but it sure seemed like it. A wonderful silence slowly filled the workshop as the saw motor ground to a halt.

“Lobo,” Carla said before the man could turn around, “this is my friend Jeff Golden and he—”

“You know better than that!” The man scolded. What a voice. A deep one, like a big old Harley cranking up. While using the rag to wipe sawdust off his hands and arms, he turned around and faced us. “Nobody comes here unless they’re invited by me personally, especially this boy who has problems buzzing around him like angry yellow jackets.”

Angry yellow jackets? The guy’s attitude reminded me of a crappy teacher I had last year. Hated the man. Not a good beginning.

Lobo didn’t have a big belly like a lot of older guys. A broad chest matched his big shoulders, but the man’s face is what really made me stare. It looked like the front of a ship, as if it could cut through water. A large thin nose stuck out above a small mouth with full lips that puckered just a little. From those lips on each side, a permanent frown sliced down to a sharp chin. Other deep lines across the rest of his face and neck showed the man did have some age on him, like Carla said.

His eyes though, are what really caught my attention. Deep set under thick, bushy brows the color of his hair, the pupils looked completely black. Even so, they glittered as if a tiny powerful light inside each one kept trying to get out. I swear, when he looked at me, I thought for a second I was seeing twin lasers rapidly firing in my direction. Talk about weird.

Carla walked over to him, placed her hands on her hips and slowly raised her head so that Mr. Lobo couldn’t help but look at her. I tell you what, all five foot four inches of Miss Carla Rodriguez was poised like a little snake ready to strike. I wanted to smile, knowing Lobo was in for it, but I didn’t. The guy deserved it.

“You Lobo are my friend,” she said in a level but firm voice. “Jeff is also my friend. I help my friends and I expect them to do the same for each other and me. You worked with me when I had a special problem at my house and now Jeff needs some help. Maybe you can even get rid of those yellow jackets you mentioned for him. Now how about it?”

For at least ten seconds, Carla and Lobo stood staring at each other before the man shifted his gaze back in my direction. This time, he not only looked directly into my eyes, he also looked all around me—like he was scanning the air or something. Really strange. Then he threw the rag in his hands onto the table saw behind him causing a little soft sounding eruption of sawdust.

“Take him up to the house,” he finally said, still staring down at Carla. “Pull some drinks out of the fridge for us when you get there. I’ll clean up and be with you shortly, but we do this on my terms, got it?”

“Of course,” Carla agreed with the sweet little smile she gives people when she gets her way. Without waiting for any more discussion, she grabbed me by the arm, and in no time, we were on the way to Lobo’s house. I didn’t say a word until we were outside.


Trilogy Graphic - blogFor a brief description of The St. Augustine Trilogy, click here.

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©  2011 By Doug Dillon. All Rights Reserved.

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