Candace was wide awake at four in the morning. After tossing and turning for over an hour,
Candace decided to get up and go make the coffee. She dressed in her most comfortable jeans, a black t-shirt, and her thickest, but most loved, dark grey sweat shirt, and headed down stairs, all without turning on any lights. She had always been comfortable walking around in her home in the dark, and never considered the lights a necessity for maneuvering through the rooms. As she
walked into the kitchen she heard Fancy Cat hissing.
“What’s wrong with you sweetheart? I thought cats were supposed to be able to see in the dark,”
she said as she walked over to the cat.
Fancy Cat ignored her as she continued to look out the kitchen window and hiss. Candace
saw that the hair on Fancy Cat’s back was standing up, and that the cat was looking out the window. “Ok little one, what is it you see out there?”
Candace stood looking out the window, and then she saw what looked like a small subdued
flashlight that was bobbing around near the boat dock.
“Quit being an old scaredy-cat. It’s just one of the guys checking around outside this morning,” she said, as she started towards the stove to put the coffee on.
“Didn’t you pay the light bill, or do you always make coffee in the dark?” Gloria asked as she entered the room.
“Good morning Gloria. Actually, I never turn on the light before sunrise. I love to watch the
sun rise each day. I think of it as one of those glorious gifts that very few people take the time to appreciate.”
“Stacks and I used to watch the sunrise with his father on the weekends. When he passed away…,
we seemed to just stop doing anything that we did when he was with us,” Gloria said pensively.
“Enough about the past; I must be hearing things. I could have sworn I heard you talking to
someone before I came in to the room. I must be getting old, or senile, or both.”
Laughing, Candace said, “You’re not losing it yet Gloria, I was talking to someone, and that someone is sitting in the window making that low hissing growl you hear. It seems that Fancy Cat is upset about one of the guys being out on the dock this morning. I wasn’t up early enough to see which one went out, but I figure whoever it is will be back in soon. I can’t imagine one of them missing breakfast, or the chance to go back into the cavern.”
“That’s for sure. Those boys don’t miss meals, nor do they miss going on any adventures if they can help it. Blaster says that there are a few main lessons you learn in the military…, never miss the chance to eat, sleep, or have fun, because you never know when you will get another chance to enjoy those things again,” Gloria told Candace.
Gloria and Candace sat drinking coffee and watching the sunrise. It was going on six-thirty when Sheila stumbled into the room mumbling something about desperately needing coffee. Candace and Gloria laughed and pointed towards the coffee pot.
After pouring herself a cup of coffee, Sheila walked over to the breakfast bar, and sat next to Gloria.
“What are you two doing up so early? I figured I would be the first one up this morning, being as how it is so early,” Sheila said.
“I don’t know about Gloria, but I always get up early,” Candace told her.
“I think I was just too excited about going back into the caverns this morning. It was hard
for me to get to sleep, and when I did finally fall asleep I dreamed about them, which woke me up. My dream was so vividly real, that I actually dreamed in color,” Gloria said jovially.
“Not me, I fell into the bed and never moved a muscle until a few minutes ago. I am excited
about going back down this morning though. I’m glad that I don’t have to go back with the guys today though. I can’t wait to see everything in the cavern for myself. I swear that I felt we had gone back in time when we went into the cavern,” Sheila said enthusiastically.
“I felt that way myself,” Candace said.
looking at her watch, Candace looked up and asked, “Gloria, do the guys usually get up late?”
“No, they should be up already, however they could have been tired enough to sleep in, I
suppose. Did you want me to go get them up? “
“I’ve been thinking about that light I saw at the dock this morning. You would think that
if it was one of the guys, he would have come back in by now,” Candace said thoughtfully.
“Wait a minute Candace; I could have sworn I heard you say you saw a light down at your dock.
Did you say light, as in flashlight, lantern, or what?
“It looked like a small flashlight to me, but then the dock is a good distance away from here,” Candace told her.
“Gloria, I think you need to go get Stacks, if he is in his room,” Sheila said, looking upset. “If he is there, then tell him to wake up the rest of the guys, we may have had a visitor this morning.”
“What makes you think that?” Candace asked Sheila as Gloria hurriedly left the room.
“When the guys are out doing reconnaissance, they go in true military style. This means that
they use night vision goggles, not flashlights, and they never go alone. With Dubois still out there somewhere, I cannot imagine anyone of them using a flashlight at night,” Sheila said keenly.
Candace stared out the window as she said, “You mean that I could have seen Dubois, or one of his men out there this morning.”
“Yeah, maybe it was him, or it could have been someone who just tied up their boat to your boat
dock early this morning. It is a river after all, and there are a lot of people who like to fish the river at night or early in the morning. You did say that your grandfather made a fresh water faucet for fishermen to use down there didn’t you?”
“Yes, but it’s not close enough that they would tie up to the dock.”
Gloria walked back into the kitchen and sat down again, saying, “They’re all gone. I imagine
they will be back after they finish whatever it is they are up to. I think I’ll get started making breakfast, it does take a while to make homemade biscuits.”
Bacon sizzled in the large skillet, giving off it delectable aroma. The fresh-baked aroma of
bread along with the smell of fresh ground coffee filled the kitchen when all five men came through the kitchen door.
“Oh man, does this smell good or what?” Mead said as he walked into the room.
Everyone agreed with Mead as they followed him in from outside,
Closing the door, and effectively shutting out the chilly air behind him, Stacks said, “It seems we had some visitors this morning, but they weren’t friendly enough to knock on the door. It would seem that Dubois didn’t decide to give up and go home after all. We’ll tell you ladies all about it at breakfast. Give us five minutes to put up our gear, and clean up before breakfast, then we’ll tell you all we know.”
Smiling, Candace said, “I was beginning to get worried about you guys. Breakfast will hold
for five minutes, as we have not started the eggs or my grandmother’s special sausage gravy as of yet. We were waiting for you guys to get back first.”
“Biscuits and gravy for breakfast, i’ll be back in three minutes instead of five,” Blaster
said as he doubled stepped leaving the room.
“Well, I suppose that I cannot technically say Blaster was running in the house, however it would not be far from the truth if I did,” Gloria said playfully.
“What else could you ladies expect from us when you make a breakfast like this?” Stacks
said, as he all but ran from the room.
“I see the old adage of ‘The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,’ is still alive and well,” Gloria mumbled as she opened the oven door and removed the golden brown biscuits from the oven.
“Yeah, too bad they don’t like our cooking. Besides that, Candace won Stacks by simply walking
into the bar. Now that he knows she is a good cook…” Sheila let her words trail off, but fluttered her lashes to indicate her meaning.
Candace’s face turned red with embarrassment. “Sheila please, Stacks was just being nice to me,
especially after what happened with George and Mable Friday night, and then of course I did
throw my drink on Stacks.”
“Now that was funny,” Gloria said laughing at the memory. You know sweetheart,” Gloria said
turning to look at Candace. “I enjoyed Friday night more than I can ever tell you. From the minute you walked in the room, I knew you were going to be a special part of my family. Then I saw the way my son looked at you, and I was certain of it.”
“I don’t know what to say, except I felt the same way about you and Stacks, and Sheila of course,” Candace said when she saw the look Sheila was giving her,
“It’s about time you mentioned me. I was starting to feel pretty much unloved,” Sheila said, with a mock pout on her face.
“You are loved very much, and will be loved by the boys even more, I would venture to guess, if
you were to set the napkins and silverware on the table,” Candace said laughing at Sheila’s antics.
As Gloria finished scrambling the eggs and Candace turned off the burner under the sausage gravy, the men started filing into the room complaining about their growling stomachs.
“I could smell the food cooking all the way into the bathroom. I thought about not showering,
but figured someone would make go back upstairs to bate if I didn’t. I sure didn’t want to have to go back,” Blaster said as he entered the room.
“I hope you ladies fixed enough food, I am so hungry. That fresh cold country air, early in the morning, sure makes a person hungry,” Tommy Collins said.
“Tell me about it, I am so hungry I could eat a hors-,” Edward’s last word was interrupted.
“Horse,” everyone said at once, and laughed. “In that case Rothman, perhaps you need to
start filling your plate, before all the food is gone,” Candace said as she handed him a plate.
After saying grace Candace asked, “When I came into the kitchen this morning Fancy Cat was
sitting in the window growling and hissing. I walk over to her, but she continued to stare out the window and fuss. Would you mind telling me what was going on out there now?” Candace said, directing her question to Stacks.
Stacks took a bite of his biscuit smothered in sausage, and chewed, before he spoke. Taking a
sip of coffee, he said, “Well, the first thing that happened was I woke up hearing a loud scratching noise on my door. When I opened it to see what was going on, Fancy Cat ran into the room, and straight to the bedroom window, then started growling and complaining about something. When I looked out, trying to see what she was looking at, I saw three flashlight beams moving away from the dock, moving into the woods, headed south. That’s when I dressed and went to wake the others up.”
Stacks took another bite of his food, and Justin Mead said, “Once we were dressed, we grabbed our gear and headed out to see what they were up to. We split us, and I went to check out the docks. They had a small engine bass boat, tied up to your dock. It was one of those ten point two Water Quest fishing boats, and it looked new. I suppose they bought it just so that they could make their nocturnal visiting trips here quietly and unobserved.”
Continuing where he had stopped talking, Stacks said, “Rothman and I followed in what
looked to be a straight path, give or take a few trees. Dubois and his men went straight to a large stack of rocks, and started moving them over. It took around two hours to get all the rocks moved, but when they did finish, they immediately started digging. After an hour, and quite a bit of creative French, mixed with English curse words, they hid their shovels and pick axes under a
tree and stacked rocks around to hide them, then headed back to their boat, and left.”
“Blaster and I watched them until they started moving rocks, then we decided to have a look around. It seems that they have searched your property for some time. I think that when they abducted you at the bar Friday night, that they were just tired of looking for whatever it is they’re after. It could be that Dubois thought that you may know something, or they just wanted to be able to keep an eye on you, so that they could look closer to the house,” Tommy Collins said.
“I think Collins is right Candace. I only wish we knew what it is they’re looking for. Have you thought of any more stories your grandmother told you about your ancestors yet?” Stacks asked.
“No, I really can’t think of anything at all. I guess we should probably go through those old
trunks and see what we find. That is of course if we don’t find anything in the
cave today,” Candace said thoughtfully.
After getting the dishwasher filled and started, Stacks said, “I’m excited about going back down this morning. I suggest we clear up this mess and get going. We need to take some food and water with us today, so everyone needs to grab their back packs and whatever else they can think of and meet me back here in the kitchen.”
At eight-fifteen they were walking through the cave entrance from Candace’s bedroom.
“Rothman you and Blaster take the lead. I think we all want to see that Indian village you
told us about,” Stacks told them.
After an hour of walking, and of close walls and then crawling, the cavern opened up displaying the historic and opulent beauty of America’s native Indian past.
“Oh my, would you look at this,” Candace exclaimed when she took her first look at the Indian
“Oh Candace, it’s the most magnificent display of history that I have ever seen. I would be
willing to bet that we are the first to have ever seen an Indian village that is in such perfect shape…, well at least in this century,” Sheila remarked.
Gloria stood there shaking her head and looking shocked, when she said, “I feel as if we have traveled back into time. I keep expecting someone to come out of one of those huts.”
“Let’s hope that doesn’t happen, Gloria. If memory serves me, the last time Indians had a
village in this area, they were not too happy with the pale faces,” Collins told them.
“I wonder how they felt about us black guys. Do you think they left our scalps?” Mead asked.
“Nope, If you were caught with a pale face, you died with that pale face,” Sheila told him.
“Yeah, and I am partial to my scalp,” Blaster jokingly said.
“Gee thanks Blaster. I could have gone all day without hearing something as creepy as that,” Sheila said as she good-naturedly whacked him on the head.
“Alright you guy’s, if you are through goofing around, how about us taking a look around. I
think we should start by looking in the huts, and together, not separately. This does feel as if we are invading someone’s privacy,” Candace told them.
“I agree with Candace. It almost feels as if we are walking into someone’s home uninvited,”
Stacks said as he took Candace by the hand and started walking towards the nearest hut.
Gloria looked and Sheila, winked, and said, “Invited or not…, here we come.”
To be continued…