Authors: John Blenkush
Tags: #romance, #paranormal, #teen romance, #teen love, #mythical, #vampirism, #mount shasta, #law of one
“Rock,” I said.
“And lots of it.”
“And we have to climb it,
Cherrie smiled. I thought I knew what
she was going to say. I rushed to beat her to the
“Because it’s there?
“Course not, dweeb. Not taking you to
“Because that’s where the boys
“You’re kidding me! I just left a
school full of boys, over two-hundred of them by my
“None like these.”
“And these are?”
“Cough. Sputter. For real? I’m risking
detention at school and grounding at home to see Toby Maguire in
“You haven’t seen these hunks climb
the wall. Pretty impressive stuff. Muscle against mass. Sweat
“Only walls we have in Minnesota are
mounds of snow. No one climbs them but little kids.”
“Reason enough to take you along. To
broaden your horizons.”
Cherrie was right. My horizons could
use some broadening, and I don’t mean through schooling. Sure, I
agree. To make it in this world an education helps. But so do life
skills—in the real world. If broadening my horizons meant climbing
rock in the Castle Crags’ State Park, while taking in some of the
sweat soaked, half-clad male sights, who was I to argue with
Cherrie gave a look up and down the
freeway. “Like you have a choice.”
I chalked up a point for her. Once I
had walked off campus, I was committed.
If the vehicles—or the lack of them—in
the parking lot at the trailhead gave any indication, we were in
for disappointment. By my count there were exactly two; a Ford
Ranger and a BMW, of all things.
Cherrie shrugged off my look of
displeasure. “Most climbers,” she said, “hitchhike their way down
I-5 using the train of semis as their transport. Truckers and
climbers are born with kinship blood.”
I really didn’t expect an answer and I
didn’t get one from Cherrie. Best reason I could up with, as we
stepped onto the rocky trail head, a symbiotic relationship (my
biology teacher would be proud) existed between the two breeds; the
climbers required a ride, the truck drivers a welcomed break from
the monotony of the road. I imagined rock climbers could weave some
harrowing tales from their experiences. And the truck drivers had
listening ears or, at least the look they gave you as you talked
gave you the impression they heard you. I knew this last part
because my father had been a truck driver.
It wasn’t long before we stepped onto
the plateau beneath the rock spires of Castle Crags. The Crags are
made of mammoth towers of rock rising six-thousand feet.
Cherrie sat down. I followed
“See there,” Cherrie said.
My gaze followed her finger. Before
us, but some distance, stood a sheer rock wall. I didn’t realize
just how large it was until Cherrie had me focus on the climbers
crawling on its face.
“Good,” I told her. “This is what you
brought me here for? To watch ants climb rock? Not quite what I had
“Keep your pants on. Wait until they
come down. Then you’ll see.”
“When? Tomorrow morning? Tomorrow’s
Saturday. I hope to be in bed. Sleeping.”
“There will be more coming up the
trail,” Cherrie said, as she took an imaginary drag on her
cigarette. She looked down the trail we had just hiked up. “Just
you wait. They pass right on by here.”
I played along. “And then what? Make
conversation? Hope they will stop and take notice?”
“No.” Cherrie lay back. She rested her
head on a rock. She looked to the darkening sky. “Not much daylight
left. They’ll be in a hurry to climb, so there’s no stopping them,
but it’s the ice breaker. You see them. They see you. Maybe say hi.
Next time, who knows? They see you down town, remember you, and ask
you your name. Next thing you know he’s climbing all over you
instead of rock.”
I lay alongside Cherrie. “Got to tell
you, Cherrie, I think there are easier ways to grab a boy’s
“Not these hunks. Fish in the
shallows, shallow fish you catch.”
“What? Folk wisdom?”
“No. Grandpa wisdom. He says it every
time he sees someone standing on the shore fishing. Says it
pertains to people as well. Want to know someone with depth you’ve
got to troll deep.”
“Well, they look like they have
depth,” I said.
I pointed down the trail.
I really felt I needed to know. But it made good conversation and,
besides, the way Cherrie had said their name she might as well have
Naturally, my curiosity was aroused.
“You don’t want to know.”
“They’re not your kind. They’re
nobody’s kind, actually.”
“What makes them so
“For one, they’re from the other side
of the tracks.”
“Aren’t we being prissy
“You got it wrong. They live on the
upper side of the tracks, the mountain side. We live below, valley
I studied the threesome as they walked
single file, hiking their way up the trail. The boy in the lead
held his head high, his eyes fixed on Castle Dome. The two
following seemed intent at looking at the heels of the hiker in
front. All three of them wore city clothes and slacks. Two wore
white collared shirts, the other a blue collared shirt. All of them
wore shoes one might wear to church, not for hiking. Out on the
street, one might mistake them for church-goers on a mission,
except these guys didn’t carry any books. And they wore their hair
long, shoulder length.
A stiff breeze blew. I turned my face
into it to sweep the hair out of my eyes and to grab Cherrie’s
attention. “You mean they look down on us?”
“Wouldn’t say that. They’re different.
They don’t socialize with anyone I know. Pass them in the street
you’d do good getting a nod, much less a word out of them. They
keep to themselves pretty much.”
I turned my head sideways to the wind
and used my hand to keep the hair out of my eyes. I keyed in on the
Delmon’s hair, blonde, wavy hair flowing like manes down onto their
shoulders. Yet, even from this distance, I could see their hair
wasn’t being blown about by the wind. I wondered why. And then I
noticed nothing on them, their shirt tails or other, was being
moved by the wind.
The threesome moved up the trail with
ease, as though gravity had little or no hold over them.
Hollering from the main
spire drew my attention away from the Delmons. I squinted to get a
clearer look at what the fuss was about. A Spiderman hung like a
fly on a skyscraper from the sheer rock of the spire. He shouted
down instructions to his climbing partner.
I overheard Cherrie say,
As I turned I came face to face with
For more than a second our eyes met
and for more than a second I felt a lift beneath me as though I was
rising up. Guess in actuality I was—rising up so to speak—to step
aside and let the Delmons by.
They said nothing as they
walked by, their eyes focused ahead on their
“Sshh.” I scolded Cherrie. “You could
at least wait until they are out of earshot.”
“They’re always out of earshot. They
never say anything to anybody.”
I suddenly felt chilled
and fatigued as though heat and energy had escaped my body. As I
thought about my sudden exhaustion, I remembered feeling a pull as
the Delmons passed, the same way one feels when the energy created
by emotion is transferred from one to another in the heat of battle
or in making love. (Not that I would know)
A smell tickled my nose. I was at a
loss to describe it. It took a comment from Cherrie to clue me
“Storm coming in,” she said. “I smell
I did too. I smelled lighting, or to
put it more succinctly, I smelled scorched air, but not the
severely pungent odor acquainted with the burnt air molecules my
science teachers had referred to throughout my school years, but a
milder, sweeter scent mixed in with a man’s sweat. It gave me the
shivers, the good kind one feels as they step into the sun on a
warm spring day.
I turned and watched the Delmons march
up and away as though nothing or nobody else existed. They seemed
oblivious to the Spiderman’s hollering echoing across the divide. I
watched them climb up the trail and, just about the time I was
ready to lose interest, the boy in the rear, who was dressed in the
blue shirt, stopped, turned, and stood. He looked out toward the
spire where Spiderman barked another order to his
I poked Cherrie in the
“What?” she said.
“Look”. I pointed to the boy in
For once, Cherrie held her tongue. And
me too. We stood, mesmerized by the sight.
The boy in blue stood high above us,
god like, a force standing strong against the wind. The sun,
hanging low in the western sky, colored his hair gold beyond the
natural blonde hue. His face shone bright to the point of radiance.
His stance held importance, as though he could hush the disturbance
being made by Spiderman, if he was so inclined. And then he turned
his gaze upon us.
For a second or two, I felt
penetrated. As though he had reached out with his thoughts and
invited me to climb with him. I felt the urge to follow in his
footsteps. When he turned to rejoin his climbing partners, the
feeling all but vanished.
I spoke. “Are they Spidermen,
Cherrie guffawed. “Hardly. Not if you
call hiking that,” she pulled the cigarette from her mouth and used
it to point at the dome, “climbing.”
I took a good look at the rock the
Delmons were hiking. Unlike the other spires and sheer cliffs, the
dome was nothing but a weather worn colossus of rock, smooth
granite shaped like a man’s bald head. It stood alone, farther
north than the other peaks. It looked climbable, even for me with
my dilapidated tennis shoes.
We waited until dark. No more
Spidermen came up the trail. None of the climbers came back down by
us. So much for scoring with the hunks.
On our trip back down the trail, I
couldn’t get the vision of the boy in blue, standing god-like, out
of my mind.
“Do you know his name?” I asked
“The boy in blue who looked at
“Us,” she said.
“Okay. Looked at us. Do you know his
Aaron Delmon. A fitting name for a
“I’d sure like to meet
“Imagine you will.”
“What makes you think so?”
“He’s a sophomore in your class at
SHS, but I don’t expect he’s in any hurry to meet you.”
“Maybe not, but I’ve had boys look at
me that way before. Takes them awhile, but sooner or later, they
“Wouldn’t hold my breath if I were
you. Like I told you. Delmons are a different animal. They don’t
socialize with us peons.”
“He will. You watch and
“Sure,” Cherrie said, “and
I’ll find Spiderman waiting in my bed when I get home.”
By the time Cherrie pulled into her
grandfather’s driveway and I walked across the street to the cabin,
it was pushing 9:00 pm. I figured Dierdra would be in bed, asleep
with her glasses on, a book lying in her lap. Her nightly ritual
had become habitual.
Mom would go to bed, tuck herself in,
and attempt to read. I’d finish my homework, get ready for bed, and
then go to her room to remove her glasses, put the book aside, and
turn out her light before retiring.
Tonight was different. I found Dierdra
waiting for me at the front door.
“Where’ve you been?”
“Cherrie and I were out
“Why all the fuss, Mom?”
I held up a hand.
That’s all Dierdra had to
Mr. Roberts is an institution at SHS.
He has worked for the school district for over sixty-two years.
Now, at the age of ninety-two, he volunteers as the school’s
attendance monitor. Shouldn’t a ninety-two year old be taking it
easy in a rocking chair instead of harassing me?
“Okay, Mom. So I skipped a