Chapter 3 – Sliding Beneath the Surface

February 5, 2013

Sliding - blog

The St.Augustine Trilogy: Book I

Young adult, paranormal/historical


Weapons and Poltergeists

“You’re something else,” I said to Carla as we neared Lobo’s house. “I can’t believe how quickly you turned that old guy around.”

She just shrugged her shoulders and said, “A girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do. Besides, underneath all that big bad gruffness, he’s really pretty soft.”

“Uh huh, right.” Carla sometimes tends to make excuses for people, as you can see. “The problem is he doesn’t like me.”

Carla snorted. “Lobo rarely shows he likes anybody. Out there,” she said, changing the subject, and pointing at the dock about fifty feet from where we stood, “is where I go fishing when I come here to—”

Before she could finish her sentence, a big flapping of wings made us both look back towards the workshop. I ducked as a big crow swooped down and dove at my head. The stupid bird came so close I felt air fanning down from its wings. Flying past us, it landed on the balcony over Lobo’s front porch facing the bay.

“Caaa,” the thing said as it balanced somehow on a single leg. He didn’t seem to have two. Yeah, I know. Animals can’t say anything, but I felt like that crazy bird had said, “No Trespassing.”

“Meet Edgar.” Carla laughed. “He’s Lobo’s one and only pet.” The crow stared at me with its little black eyes. The thing looked like it was defending the house or something.

“Yeah, well, Edgar was aiming for my head.”

“I noticed. Sorry, but he’s about as hospitable to new people at first as Lobo is.

“No kidding.”

“He named him after Edgar Allen Poe,” she said, changing the subject.

“So that’s a raven and not a crow?” I asked, trying to show Carla I at least knew about “The Raven.” That was the only one of Poe’s writings I had read.

“No, he’s a crow. Lobo found him late one night on his porch after a bad storm, half-dead. Poor bird lost a leg that night.”

Edgar moved his head side-to-side. I figured he was getting a good look at me with each of his dark eyes in order to plan a more accurate attack.

“So you fish, huh?” I asked, doing my best to ignore Edgar. “I never knew that.”

“Catch ‘em, and release ‘em.” She flashed one of her great smiles as we stepped onto Lobo’s wood porch under Edgar’s watchful gaze. “What about you?”

“What, me fish? Nah, I’m a city kid all the way through.”

“Well, Golden Boy, I’ll have to teach you one of these days.”

In front of us, most of Mr. Lobo’s front door looked a lot like a church window. An oval stained glass picture, taking up about half the space, showed a wolf on a cliff at night, howling under a full moon with the Orion constellation in the background. Surrounding that was a strip of individual mirrors and around those, another strip of clear glass. An oval inside an oval, inside an oval.

“Nice door.” I caught a glimpse of our multiple reflections in the mirrored pieces. There was small, slender Carla in her short, black leather coat and big old chunky me in my orange and blue Florida Gator jacket. My shaggy blond mop on a square head versus Carla’s perfect oval face peeking out from long, shiny black hair. Another oval to fit with the stained glass door.

It seemed like I could see Carla’s light brown eyes and my blue ones in those mirrors, but it was probably more my imagination. Those reflections weren’t really big enough to show such detail unless maybe you got up real close. The only thing similar about us, really, was that we both wore the same washed out color of blue jeans. The two of us. What a contrast. Not as much of a contrast though, as watching Carla standing toe-to-toe with big old Lobo.

“That glass door panel is not only nice,” Carla corrected “it’s an original Tiffany. Very valuable.”

“A what?” Valuable? In that old house?

“A Tiffany. Stained glass designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany from New York sometime near the end of the nineteenth century or the beginning of the twentieth. It was his company that did all the stained glass in both the old Ponce de Leon and Alcazar Hotels here in town. Lobo says a rich friend gave it to him as well as three Tiffany stained glass lamps in his house.”

“It must be nice to have rich friends.” At times like that, Carla’s understanding of history and architecture really overwhelms me. “Why would your friend want a wolf on his front door?” I asked, pointing at it, glad I could at least say something, if only to ask a question.

“You just said it. His name,” she replied as if I should understand. I must have given her one of my blank stares. “Lobo means wolf in Spanish.” She followed this explanation by another sentence, also in Spanish.

“Which means?” I asked, only recognizing a few of the words. Yes, I knew what the word lobo meant wolf, but I hadn’t made the connection, nor did I know what else she had said to me.

“I told you to be more observant of the world around you and you’ll learn a lot.” With a wink and a grin, she tapped the wolf on the stained glass door with a fingernail.

“Showoff,” I said, looking through the clear outer oval of the door into the house. Couldn’t really see much in there except an archway to the left and a dark hall in line with the door. On the other side of the archway looked like a living room.

As if I hadn’t spoken at all, Carla grabbed my arm, opened the door, and pulled me into the house. “When I teach you to fish, I’m also going to give you some Spanish lessons.” That’s what you get for having a friend who’s lived in Mexico. And who’s father was Puerto Rican.

Being with her some more sounded great, but not the lessons part. “What would I ever do without your guidance?” I asked as she shut the door once Spock joined us inside.

“Oh Lord, you might fall apart into little tiny pieces,” she teased.

The house smelled musty. Large hand-cut beams and wood planks made up the ceiling. The floor? Nothing but smooth, but old looking, cement. No carpets or rugs anywhere. The dark hall I had seen before went past stairs leading to the second floor and ran straight to the back of the house with rooms on each side. Through the archway on the left, I could see furniture, including a couple of stained glass lamps like Carla said. Instead of going in there, we took a quick right turn into a tiny kitchen. There we raided the fridge, grabbed some drinks, and then walked across the hall into the room with the furniture.

When we entered, Carla flipped a switch turning on the two stained glass lamps I had seen before, and one other—all old-fashioned things, like you would see in a museum or something. Expensive, maybe, but not very impressive. To our left, a picture window showed a nice view of Matanzas Bay.

In front of the picture window sat a small dining room table—dark wood of some kind. Over it, hung one of the stained glass lamps. On the floor to the right of the window, a large alligator curled around itself—one of Lobo’s realistic carvings, I figured. The thing looked like it might whip its tail around at any minute, smashing anything in its way.

The rest of that room though, made me think of museums again, and even libraries, places like that. It was clean too, not like the man’s truck and workshop. Except for a huge fireplace made out of bare, grey coquina opposite the arched doorway, dark wood paneling covered the walls. On those walls were book and display cases painted white. The three display cases surrounded the unlighted fireplace, a circular one above it and two long rectangular ones on each side.

“How cool,” I said, walking over to the case to the left of the fireplace. It contained old weapons. I mean there were old-time revolvers, muskets, rifles, spears, knives, bayonets and even bullets. “How cool,” I kept saying until I realized what an idiot I must sound like. When I touched the case, an icy chill ran its way up my spine and my head started throbbing even more. I jerked my hand away as if I the case had burned me. What the hell?

“Boys and their toys,” Carla called from somewhere behind me as if she hadn’t seen what happened. “And you keep saying you could care less about history.” I heard her pop the top of her Coke can.

“Uh, well, there’s … some fascinating stuff here all right.” As I stepped back from the case and turned around, my headache eased a little.

“There you go, Jeff. You and Lobo really do share some interests.”

“Yeah, sure,” I replied vaguely, trying to shake off the effect of that spike in my headache and those chills in order to focus on what Carla had said to me. “With your buddy’s attitude, I’m sure we’ll end up the best of friends.”

Carla just laughed. Seated on the light brown leather couch facing the fireplace, she still wore her coat. The house was a little chilly, but tolerable, so I took my jacket off and flipped it over my shoulder. Cold doesn’t bother me as much as it does Carla. I wondered if Mr. Lobo would light the fire for her when he arrived.

In front of where Carla sat, stood a low, rectangular, wood coffee table, almost the same color as the couch. Dead center on its high gloss top rested a white ball about six inches across set on a small, cup-shaped holder. It, the ball, had holes and designs carved all over its surface. The thing looked familiar, but I didn’t bother trying to figure out where I’d seen one like it before.

Facing each other on opposite sides of the coffee table were two matching black leather recliners. On the floor near Carla’s feet, Spock had somehow wedged himself between the couch and the coffee table. Carla, I noticed, had placed her friend’s bottle of water on the coffee table in front of the recliner to her left.

“Carla,” I asked, after opening my own Coke and taking a swallow. “Back there in the workshop you reminded Lobo that he helped you with a problem once. What kind of problem?”

“Oh, that,” she answered and looked down at her drink. “Let’s talk about it later,” she suggested.

“Aw, come on,” I pushed. “Your pal’s not here yet. We have time.”

Closing her eyes for a few seconds and then nodding, Carla began her story. “Well, it was soon after my parents died a couple of years ago. That’s when I started living with Grandma full time. We both got freaked out when … well things started happening.” Her eyes kept darting back and forth between her Coke and me. I had never seen Carla that uncertain about what to say.

“Things started happening like what?” I prompted.

“Well … objects … moved around without me or Grandma touching them. Not only that, but we’d get up in the morning and find furniture all over the house had shifted out of place. Then books, dishes, all kinds of things, started crashing to the floor, sometimes even flying through the air.” While she talked, Carla hugged herself, like she was getting colder. “We could even sit there and watch that all happen. It was really scary.”

“So, somebody was playing tricks on you, right?” This wasn’t sounding like the Carla I knew.

She looked up at me with this dead serious expression. “No, no tricks. Some people said we were haunted. They called it poltergeists. That’s German for ‘noisy ghosts.’ ”

“Yeah, OK, but you don’t mean like on those old poltergeist movies on TV do you? A family fighting evil spirits and things like that?”

“You’re talking about Hollywood fiction.” She spoke in a firm, but quiet voice. “What happened to us was very real. It got so bad my grandma even thought about having a priest come in and bless the house.”

“Really?” I had seen that done on TV shows for houses being haunted and all, but I didn’t think good old logical, history-loving Carla could accept such a thing. “So did you? Have the priest come in?”

“No, somehow, Lobo showed up at our place before that could happen. The three of us talked for the longest time.”

“So what did he say?”

“To make a really long story short, he told us we weren’t being haunted. Instead, he said all of those things moved because of me.”

“You? No way. How could that be?”

“He said everybody and everything are … connected in ways you really can’t see. For some people in the world, like me, that connection is so strong at certain times in their lives they can … well, make things move sort of like remote control.”

“Come on Carla,” I said, “you didn’t believe him did you?” Her story had gotten a little too weird for me. Wouldn’t you have thought the same thing? Anyway, after what she said, I started getting nervous. At that moment, talking to this Lobo guy about my dream didn’t seem like such a good idea, and my head responded by again aching a little more.

“No, I didn’t believe him at first,” she replied. “To me, his words made no sense. He went on to explain though, that when some teenagers with this ability get upset about something, they can move things without touching them at times and not really understanding what’s going on. It also has to do with hormones and certain types of energy levels, he said. In my case, he told me I had a lot of anger and sorrow about my parents’ death all bottled up inside. My moving things was just my mind and spirit’s way to, well, let those feelings out in the last place I saw my parents.”

At that point, I absolutely didn’t know what to say. Instead, I chugged a couple of cold swallows of Coke. As Carla continued talking, she looked like she was going to cry. Her eyes glistened and when she spoke again, her voice sounded soft and small. Quite a contrast to her usual way of expressing herself.

“When Lobo talked about the feelings I had for my parents, I, well … burst into tears. He had it right. I was super angry and sad because of losing them, but I needed to stay strong for my grandma. You know, keep my feelings to myself and all. I had lost a mother and a father, but she had also lost a daughter and a son-in-law she loved a lot.”

After saying all that, Carla took a deep breath, wiped her eyes with her fingers and said in a stronger voice, “My crying made me feel better. Lobo told us my inner healing had already begun and things should start getting back to normal if grandma would talk to me more about my feelings.”

“So, did they? Get back to normal?”

“Yup,” she replied with a little smile, “but slowly. After Lobo’s visit, I started coming over here more often. We fished and talked a lot. He worked with me on controlling my ability to move things without touching them. Finally, after about a month or so, no more weird happenings in Grandma’s house.”

Before I could say anything, I heard heavy footsteps on the porch that made us both turn and look towards the hallway. I could see Lobo approaching through all that clear and stained glass in his front door.

Quickly, Carla looked back at me and said, “Look, I got you in here, but now it’s up to you to work with the man. From here on, you’re pretty much on your own.”

As I watched the front door open, I started feeling like I had just stepped into some very deep water.


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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