Chapter Nine - " FOUR LEAF CLOVER "
| 9 |
" Four Leaf Clover "
The morning flew by as I unloaded the trim bid the driver off and stacked the trim off to one side of the living room- dining room. I set up the saw horses for my work table and Dewalt chop saw and prepared to dive into the job with a vengeance. New thoughts swirled in my head now as every once and a while I grabbed hold of the stones, reinspected them, shook my head and returned them back to my pocket. I was well past the crows; past vanishing Indians and walks to the tree in the middle of the night. My head whirled wondering what new things lie ahead in this journey. What the stones meant and what was I to do with them. And the name, Onaquacome? What did it mean? Was it my name? Questions and more questions troubled me as I worked. I couldn't wait for night fall now as I tore into the trimming job. Although it had become secondary as I hurried through the day. I was anxious to find the answers to this mystery. I wasn't leaving this place without knowing.
By two o'clock my mind caught up with my feverish pace of work and molded together to form a knot in my stomach. It was time for a break and some food. Time for a pit stop before the race started over again.
I was well into my second tuna fish sandwich when a strange feeling came over me. What was it now that I was feeling? Something was not right here. It was like something out of that movie Star Wars where Obwan-Kenobe had felt a tremor in the force. With that thought I placed the dish aside, rose up from the couch and ventured toward the back door.
Slowly I drew the musty smelling curtain tacked up to the back door and peered out not knowing what I was feeling. My answer was immediate. There sitting cross-legged in the middle of the yard was a boy about ten maybe eleven years old intently combing the grass searching for something. But what? I pulled the door back open and slowly forced the old frozen screen door back to life. My teeth once again gnashed as the hinges cried out.
"How you doing?" I called out the half open screen door, sure he heard me.
"OK." He answered. His gaze never left the grass.
"You lose something?" I stepped out the door the rest of the way.unsure about his inattentiveness toward me.
"No." Still no eye contact.
"Well, what are you looking for then?" I queried.
"Four leaf clovers!" He answered.
"You ever find any?" I stepped out closer as he answered again never looking up.
"Here's one." He held it up above his head for my inspection as his constant downward gaze began to unnerve me.
"Wow.They are hard to find." Hoping to ease the tension I felt.
"Not really. Here you can have this one." His arm extended up and outward toward me as he looked directly into my eyes.
"No. you keep it." I stepped within arms reach and knelt down to his level.
"No please, take it. I have plenty of them. This is for you. It's number 50." He transfered it to my hand.
As I took it jaw slack eyes growing wide in awe he returned to his search. I had just turned 50 the other day. This seemed like an awful funny coincidence to me. Before I could digest the whole thing he spoke again.
"Have you ever seen a five leaf clover?" He queried as he stared through me.
"Never even heard of such a thing." I watched carefully now in case he had some magic trick to perform.
"Want to see one?" He smiled.
"Sure!." I sat now sure he had it in his possession.
"I'll be right back. Stay right here."
He scrambled to his feet and ran across the street out of sight. After siting and examining the clover for a minute I got up to see where he went. And as I got to the end of the driveway he reappeared out a door three houses up and across the street. Scrapbook placed firmly under his arm and broke into a happy trot.
The closer he got I could see he had already began to thumb through the pages. I pulled down the tailgate of my pickup just in time for his arrival as he flung the scrapbook down and open.⁰
"See? This whole page is five leaf clovers!" He pointed as he twitched back and forth the way kids do when excited.
"No kidding!" I grabbed the book in disbelief studying in detail ever one. Five leaf clovers in all sizes stared back off the page.
"Where did you find them?" I handed the book back.
"Everywhere.Turn the next page!" He shoved it back still doing his tap dance.
"Holy cow. That's a lot of four leaf clovers." I wanted to say holy shit but held back. It was that impressive.
"Turn the page there are more! Forty-nine. You can count them."
"I see." I pretended to count them as I gazed trying hard to digest what was happening.
" How do you know where to look for them?" I set the book aside.
"Oh, different places.Your yard has a lot of them." He grabbed the book to admire all his finds.
"I've never found on in my whole life. Thank you very much." Admiring his gift to me.
" So you live over there across the street?" I inquired.
"Sometimes." His answer was flat, puzzling. His dance and smile had gone somewhere with my question.
"What do you mean?" I pressed for an answer, confused.
"Sometimes I stay with my Grandmother for the summer." He looked around as he spoke unsure of his surrounding.
" You live here now?" Looking at the house.
"No. I'm just fixing it up for someone else." The question had caused pause within me. I joined him now as we both stared at the house. Hell, it began to feel like itshould be my house. I wanted to say it was my house. Strange!
" Are you an Indian?" Before the question sunk in I was staring at him studying his face. Who was this kid? Time stopped as I searched for an answer.Thoughts now racing in my head.
"Why do you ask?"
" I don't know. Just thought you might be one? His tap danced returned. He was getting fidgety.
"I have to go now." Before I could respond he had book in hand and skipped away toward the house across the street.
"Hey. Wait a minute! You have a name boy?"
"Johnnie, Johnnie Applegate. What's yours?" He stopped and turned.
"Sam Gebben, nice to meet you." I stretched my hand out. He returned quickly grabbed it and was off again.
OK, Bye." He returned to a half trot as I watched him go inside, waiting to see what he would do next.
I fell back to the tailgate arm still in mid air; smiled and re-examined the gift he gave. Reached back into my pocket and side by side compared the stones with the four leaf clover. Nice kid. Not like the typical kid his age.
I don't know whether to shit or go blind. I laughed because it was one of my dad's favorite expressions. He never let mom hear it around me but when ever we went fishing dad was full of expressions for me to learn. Some to just make me laugh. Others perhaps to make me feel like a man. A little man. Dad took delight in cussing and saying funny things to me. His eyes would grow wide as quarters, tilt his head back and let her fly. I'd laugh and stare at the crows feet around his cracked face and think that he was the best dad in the world and to me he was you know.
Dad had spun a few yarns in his day. When we were growing up my brother and I expected the tall tales dad would tell when we went fishing together. But nothing even remotely like this adventure. I wondered if dad ever heard about things like this when he was a boy growing up in Oklahoma. I half wished he was alive to explaing things. After all I really hadn't had much of an explanation about this so far at least not to my satisfaction. Maybe that was all I needed to know.
I drifted from room to room looking around for something to do even thought there was plenty to do. I had cut all the sills for the windows and set each one in it's respective opening so as not to mix them up. Each one had to be scribed to the opening since none were alike. Next I cut the side pieces and tacked them in place, before cutting the tops.
Before I went back at it I found a resting place for my four leaf clover in an empty spot where a picture could be placed in my wallet. I thought about the young boy and his luck at finding all of them. I decided that maybe it was not as hard as it seemed after all. But then again the five leaf clover was a whole other matter. I had truly never even heard of such a thing. Guess I wasn't up on clover picking.
My mind wandered about the clovers long enough to allow thoughts of greed to slip in. Maybe this kid was full of luck. He could pick me some winning numbers for the daily pick three or pick four on the lottery. Hell I thought, why not the lotto itself! One and done.The more those greedy thoughts took hold the more it became absurd. This kid could be my lucky charm. Definitely I would have to call on him and have some more discussion about it.
A familiar sound from outside reminded me that there were more important things to attend to. I glanced out the upstairs window facing up the street to find his location. The truck and porch roof were empty but his second caw drew my attention to half way up the street to that kid's house. There on the chimney standing sentry was a crow staring back at me. I wanted to open the window enough to holler up the street to him and let him know that it wouldn't hurt my feelings if he and his entourage followed the kid for now on. At the very least deposit their bird shit somewhere else instead of my truck.
Farther up the street I could see someone sitting at my 'thinking tree'. It was visible enough to see that I could make out a figure of a man sitting on the root where I sat when I paid my visit to the tree.
"Hell that looks like Reddog!" I mumbled and rose for the front door.
"He won't get away from me this time." My pace quickened as my questions began to line up in my head.
I slowed my pace a bit as I got closer to the top of the street. It was him alright and by the looks of it he hadn't spotted me yet to make an exit. He looked solemn sitting there on the root deep in thought. Then again he was a hard one to read. His stone face always expressionless. Those short answers to my questions were flat but somehow full of meaning.
"How's it going?" I lit up a smoke as he caught sight of me.
"He stared right though me and for a moment his face seemed to have a hint of fear in it. I had startled him perhaps from whatever occupied his mind. Just then a crow landed on the ground 15 feet directly in front of him. Reddog picked a stone up and flung it at him. However the bird did a little hop walked to where the stone came to rest; stroked his beak upon it a few times, looked back at the both of us then went airborne.
"Seems you got crows following you too, huh?" He wasn't amused so I discontinued the grin.
"Your crows, not mine. Why are you following me?" He seemed angered as he looked my way again.
"Hey. I'm not following you. I saw you from the window down the street where I was working and decided to come up and say hi." He didn't buy into it by his cold look.
"Look Reddog I just wanted to ask you a few things that's all. I'm not looking for any trouble. Your.."
"I'm what? His massive frame tensed as he shot back.
"Well, if you let me finish you would understand why I am asking."
He rose up and seemed even larger then I first thought. I took a step back eyeing the two bear paws attached to the tree limb arms. I was sure I was a safe distance from his grip. Still I imagined that I might get clocked at that very moment.
"You ask too many questions white boy. Anyone ever tell you that?" He made a beeline for the road.
"Why the hell is everyone so tight lipped around here anyway?"
I blurted it out half out of fear the other half frustration. It worked. He stopped dead turned and approached Stopping short as if he was making a mistake and knew he took the bait. He glanced around and continued.
"Alright. What kind of dream did you have? Tell me." His tone changed to wonder.
"I heard a voice. It told me that he was the father of two sons that were murdered a long time ago."
"Murdered, you say?" Then tensions returned.
"That's what the father said. I started hearing these things and I couldn't move or wake up it seemed. And when I thought of something in my mind the father seemed to be able to read my thoughts. All I could do was lay there unable to move. Everything in the room looked like it was made of glass and if I could reach out and hit it, it would break.
With that Reddog stepped closer crouched down grabbing a stick and began doodling in the dirt like a kid as he listened intently.
"What else did the father say?" Not looking up at me this time.
"The voice said that I was meant to come to this place. Told me I would be the one to release his two sons spirit so they could go to the spirit world." My mind was now racing as I recalled the events that had taken place. I wanted to get it all out before Reddog changed his mind or lost interest and wandered off again.
" Did you see them?" He queried.
"Who? The boys? No.I haven't seen anyone. At least not that I know of. I could only hear his voice and see them damn crows that he said were a sign for me so I would believe him."
"You must have been drunk." He rose to leave again this time laughing.
"The hell I was! It was real!" Now annoyed.
"Look. The father gave me these stones." I pulled the two stones out of my pocket as he turned,still half grinning he stopped and froze at their sight.
" Where did you get these?" He demanded.
"In the back yard. The father told me to get up in the middle of the night and go out back. Told me to reach down in the pitch black night and the first thing my hand touched, to pick them up. That's just what I did and came back inside, opened my hand and there they were. One black and one white stone, just like he told me."
Reddog's face focused on my grip his hand reaching out for them but then stopped short. A silence fell for a moment until he looked back up in disbelief.
"Bad medicine!" He turned and beat his way back towards the road.
"Wait. Come back dammit. What the hell do they mean? Where are you going? Just tell me what this all means?"
He was close to a rage now as he turned back once again.
"It means leave it alone. Leave me alone. Go back to where you came from."
"Man! This is bullshit! It's just a couple of stones. I don't care what you say. This whole thing was real and someone is going to explain this crap! I'm not leaving until I get the answers I want!" Determined not to be deterred even by him.
My volume increased with his every step. Now I was pissed for sure. Rational thoughts about what this large Indian might have done to me had he grabbed hold of me were replaced with anger. Before the words "screw you" shot out of my mouth he stopped again and looked back. The two stones were in the ball of my fist mid air as I was shaking them during my tirade. I met his gaze. Suddenly it sunk in. He meant business. Perhaps I had better leave well enough alone.