(P.S. Formatting issues are my own. Sometimes BlogSpot isn't the most cooperative word processor.)
Excerpts from Don’t Let the Wind Catch You
By Aaron Paul Lazar
I folded my napkin and looked first at my father, then my mother. "Mum? Dad? I have a question."
They both stopped in the middle of their pudding and looked at me with expectant smiles.
"Do you know who lives in the woods in that cabin behind the Ambuscade? He's an old hermit, lives by himself, I think."
My father took a zealous interest in his pudding.
My mother went white. She collected herself, exchanged a worried glance with my father, and lied to me for the first time in my life. "No, darling. We don't know who lives there. But that's private property. You shouldn't trespass in those woods."
I saw her in the distance. She lay huddled on her side near an abandoned old house with broken windows and scores of missing shingles. We hurried to her and jumped to the ground. I reached her first, but Siegfried pushed past me to inspect the damage.
He cradled her head and whispered to her with an urgency born of fear. "What happened?"
On her forehead, a bloody gash congealed in a nasty looking puddle. Her left ankle was swollen, all puffy and purple. She tried to sit up, but couldn't.
"I was scouting around this old house, when we flushed a turkey out of the brush over there." She pointed with a shaky finger toward the woods. "Golden Boy shied–really bad–and I fell. My leg got twisted."
I scooted beside her and laid a hand on her shoulder. "Can you get up? We could boost you onto Golden Boy and get you home. You'll probably need crutches, you know."
She shook her head. "I don't know if I can get up. I feel dizzy."
Something inside me took a step toward manhood. "You'll ride with me, then." I stooped over her, put one hand under her knees and the other around her back. With one swift lunge I picked her up and carried her toward Pancho. Siegfried ran ahead and held him while I managed to slide her onto his back.
I turned to Siegfried. "Give me a boost, will you?"
"Ja. Naturlich." He laced both hands together and offered me a step up. "Up you go."
With a swift upward thrust, he propelled me high in the air. I landed lightly on Pancho's back, snugging behind Elsbeth, and clucked to Pancho. "Okay, boy. Let's go. Walk on, now. Nice and easy."
The sensations I felt while pressed behind Elsbeth confused me. Although I'd always been protective of her, this was different. Sweeter, it coursed through my blood and made me want to lay my head on the soft curls on her shoulder. I didn't, of course. I didn't want them to think I was a nerd.
"Tully! He's coming this way." I pulled Siegfried to the window.
Elsbeth wasn't flustered. "So? He's nice"
Sig brought her back to reality. "Ja. But we're trespassing and he might tell. We could be in big trouble."
Her eyes darkened. Trouble at her house meant beatings. "Mein Gott. We should go, fast."
Tully cut across the field and was heading straight for us. He'd be there in ten minutes, easy. Just as I turned to head for the stairs, I noticed a movement in the mirror over the little girl's vanity. I froze and pointed.
The twins joined me and watched as something drew in the dusty surface. The letters were cumbersome and crude. A "P" appeared first, followed by an "E." With dropped jaws we watched the last two letters form: "N" and "I." The aroma of fresh crushed peppermint leaves filled the air.
Elsbeth looked from Sig to me and back again, excitement unleashed in her eyes. "Penni!"
I didn't wait to investigate, but led them out of the house and back to our horses, fortunately tethered behind the house and out of view of Tully. We scrambled onto their backs and leaned low, squeezing their sides hard. In seconds, we'd streaked into the shelter of the woods.
It started with a soft moan. I sat straight up and threw back the covers. "Who's there?"
With trembling fingers, I turned on my bedside lamp. My mouth and nose filled with the scent of peppermint.
The sound came again, but this time it almost seemed to resonate from inside my skull.
Tully. Help Tully.
Help Tully. Help Tully. Help Tully.
I stood up and looked in the closet, then poked my head out the window. No one stood on the roof or below my window. The words came again, but this time accompanied by a quick flashing vision of the abandoned house. It was as if someone had aimed a super-eight-movie projector on the inside of my eyes, but only for a second.
Blood roared in my ears, and I felt all tingly. "Penni?"
The curtains rose up and took the shape of a young woman, revealing the outline of her lips, nose, and forehead. The fabric moved in and out, as if she were breathing. Right there in my bedroom.
I rubbed my eyes to be sure I wasn't still dreaming, and approached the curtain. "Penni?"
A hand reached out from behind the gauze material, and almost touched mine. Help Tully. Now.
At the water's edge, I walked in four inches of water, avoiding children's colorful metal pails and shovels, sun-bleached curly heads with lobster red shoulders, and an array of mothers and fathers who chased after babies or swung them in the water. When we reached the wharf, we hurried up the sand onto the asphalt and once again I hopped around like a clown with a hotfoot.
Siegfried pushed me toward a shady section where drifts of sand covered the tar. "Stand here. We'll order, and you wait in the shade."
I nodded and handed over my wallet. "I want two hamburgers with the works, onion rings, a root beer float, and a pound of saltwater taffy, assorted flavors." I'd memorized the order all week, dying for the promised day when my mother said we could buy lunch out.
I handed him the wallet, then leaned against the side of the building and watched them stand in line, all tan and sandy and tousled. Siegfried's blond hair looked more like Paul McCartney's mop top every day, except in color, of course. Lanky, yet surprisingly poised, he towered over his sister. She stood petite and pretty, as if she were about to leap on stage in a tutu, flying into the air with unbridled energy. A surge of affection rushed through me for both of them. Siegfried had seen his sister reach for my hand several times, but instead of flipping out, he'd averted his eyes and smiled. I loved him for that.
Don't forget to buy Don't Let The Wind Catch You tomorrow on Amazon!