Chapter 4

The Unexpected Divvy

“I don’t understand why we can’t stay here anymore,” Mattie said as she threw herself on top of the overstuffed suitcase; compressing it enough to zip it shut.  “Nobody knows anything about what’s happened here and we’ll only look guilty if we leave now.”

“You don’t understand, Mattie.  We won’t be able to explain your mother’s disappearance to our friends and her sister; not to mention Fran’s nose for trouble.  We’ll be in over our heads,” Kash tried to convince her.

“No one believes old lady Schnettle anymore.  She’s started so many rumors with so many people that she hasn’t got a shred of credibility left.  You know that, Dad!”

“I do know that, but we can’t take any chances.  If the police search our house, and you know they‘ll have to if your mother comes up missing, they’ll find the time keeper. We can’t allow that to happen.”

“So what are we going to do…just disappear?”

“We have no choice, Mattie!”

“Are we going to burn down the house and everything in it?”

“No, of course not!  I’m going to give the house to your Aunt Lila and we’re going to move to the coast.”

“Aunt Lila?”

“Yes, and we’ll tell her that you’ve been accepted into Stanford and have to leave right away to get you into the next term or maybe… oh, I don’t know what I’ll say.  I’ll think of something.”

“Why, Aunt Lila?” Mattie questioned.

“Because she always wanted this house after your grandparents disappeared ten years ago.  She thought it should have been hers anyway, since she was the oldest.  Lila was pretty bitter about the fact that the old house had been willed to your mother.  She never understood why your grandparents would do that to her and she’s never forgiven us for accepting it,” her father explained.

Mattie pushed the suitcase aside and sat down on the edge of the bed.  “So, that’s why she stopped talking to us.  I never could figure out why she disappeared from our lives.  She was always my favorite aunt, too.  Gosh, I haven’t seen her since I was nine.”

“She’s never had a place of her own and since she’s still working down at the library; it’ll be perfect.  I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have this house other than her.  I’ll seal up the wall behind the refrigerator and block off the tunnel.  We’ll leave tonight.”

“Tunnel…what tunnel?” Mattie asked, but was side tracked by a knock on the door.  Mattie’s eyes became fixed on her dad.  She stood breathlessly silent, not knowing what to do.

“I’ll get it,” whispered Kash. “You keep packing.”

Kash crept quietly down the staircase hugging the wall, making a concerted effort not to be seen through the sheer curtains that covered the small glass panes of the front door.  As he drew closer he could see a man on the porch pacing back and forth, nervously talking to himself as he marched.  The man turned abruptly towards the door again and knocked.  Kash jumped into the living room to get out of sight.  He couldn’t tell whether it was the police or not, but he didn’t want to take any chances.  To his surprise the man started calling out for Mattie.

“Mattie, answer the door!  I know you’re in there…answer the door! I’m not leaving until you talk to me!   Mattie!”

Kash couldn’t afford to have the neighbors become aware of the scene that was playing out on his front porch.  He hurried over to the door, trying to collect his thoughts and gain some composure before opening it.  He opened it at a slow, cautious pace as to not arouse suspicion.

“Can I help you, young man?”  Kash said as calmly as he could.  He didn’t know who the man was, but he could see that he had a kind face that revealed a few gentle character lines of concern.

“Yes sir. I’m Trevor Karington,” the young man said politely. “I wonder if I could talk to your daughter?”  He shifted his weight nervously from side to side as if he could hardly bear standing still for even a moment.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Karington.  Mattie isn’t taking any visitors today.  She’s busy packing for school and doesn’t have a lot of time to spare right now.”

“Packing for school?  What school?  Where?  What do you mean?”  The frustration began to show on Trevor’s face as he awaited an explanation.   After all, he was in the same Ancient Civilizations class for students last term where he was sure she had given him the “come hither” look; the look that made his heart leap inside.  Long before that, in their senior year of high school, he became intrigued with her when he saw her chew out a fellow classmate for trying to steal answers off of her paper during a test.  To his surprise and delight, she fearlessly popped the guy on the side of his head with her opened hand and stared straight into his eyes until he turned and walked away.  At that moment, he knew she was the girl for him.   He’d never seen that much passion in a woman before and after such an incredible afternoon with her yesterday he couldn’t lose her now!

Kash, sensing the young man’s increasing frustration, moved back a couple of steps into the house.  “Look, young man…this just isn’t a good time! I’ll tell her you came by.  Good day!”  Being the gentleman he was, he courteously bowed his head and began to close the door.

Trevor stuttered a few “but…Sirs” and at the last second thrust his foot forward, stopping the door from closing.

Kash was torn between two camps of thought.  His first inclination, though very short lived, was to admire the tenacity of this total stranger who was obviously smitten with his daughter.  It was no mystery to him why this boy would be so taken with Mattie’s spunk and beauty; all the boys were, though this one was obviously different because he had some spunk himself!   Yet, as far as Kash was concerned, no man could ever really be worthy of what his precious daughter was destined to become which led him to his main reaction.  His next thought was more of a feeling of outrage at the audacity this kid had to push his way inside his house.  “What do you think you’re doing, boy?”  Kash snapped as he lowered his shoulder into the door to force it shut.

Trevor automatically lowered his shoulder into the door in response and started pushing back with all he had.  Being young and strong, Trevor immediately had the strength advantage and Kash was starting to lose ground.  However, Kash, being experienced with strategic moves through years of Splitting, released some of his pressure against the door, throwing Trevor completely off balance.  Then, to Trevor’s surprise, Kash threw his entire weight back into the door, jamming the edge into Trevor’s forehead, opening a small cut above his eyebrow.  Trevor fell back against the door frame and blood began flying all over the place.  For some reason that struck Kash as funny and, unable to resist, he blurted out a couple of hearty chuckles, which made Trevor absolutely determined that the old guy was not going to get the best of him.  He groped backwards with his foot, trying to find a stronghold to push against for balance.  Finally, he found the corner of the footboard, which gave him the leverage he needed to push back, and caught Kash off guard this time.  The powerful response smacked the edge of the door squarely into Kash’s knee.  Kash let out a loud yelp, grabbed his knee, and lifted it towards his chest in pain while hopping up and down on his good leg.  Without the opposing pressure on the door it flew open with the weight of Trevor still on it.  Trevor’s body angle continued to fling him forward, out of control, toppling them both to the floor.  Trevor found himself face down on top of Kash who was still writhing in pain.  Blood was pumping out of the minute cut over his eye, making it appear as though his whole head was split open.  Kash also looked like he was bleeding from somewhere because there was so much blood on everything.

Kash tried to push Trevor off to the side, but was too tangled up with him.  “Get…off…me…boy!” he grunted as he continue to try and free himself.

Hearing all of the commotion downstairs, Mattie came running from her room.  She appeared at the top of the staircase with a boot in her hand.  “What on earth is going on down there?”  At first glance, all she could see was an entanglement of arms and legs everywhere, covered with splatters of blood.  Her fight and flight instincts took over.  She threw the boot at the man that was on top of her father, ran down the stairs until she was within jumping distance and dove head first onto Trevor’s back. The weight of her body knocked the wind out of both men whose priority turned immediately to gasping for air.  Mattie started kicking her bare feet in hopes of landing a lucky hit anywhere that might count.

“Get your toe out of my ear!”  Trevor yelled as he blocked Mattie’s other foot from landing a stunning blow to his already damaged face,  “Mattie…it’s me…Trevor!”

Mattie stopped moving immediately.  She was horrified by her behavior and thought she was going to die of embarrassment.  Never before had she wished this hard for a hole close enough to climb into and disappear. It took some effort to untangle everyone from the knotted mess they had become in the confusion.  One by one they sat back on the floor, facing each other in a daze.  No one spoke for several seconds.

Finally Mattie broke the silence.  “What are you doing here?”

Trevor spoke quickly, “What school is he talking about?”

Kash blurted out immediately, “You’ve got nerve, boy!” then dropped his head back and burst into laughter.  He could see himself in this spirited young man and for a moment completely forgot about the predicament they were in.  The unpredictable behavior of Kash started Mattie and Trevor laughing which continued until all three of them were rolling on the floor, wiping away the tears.

“Dad,” Mattie sputtered between laughs, “this is Trevor Karington.  Trevor, this is my father, Kash Bott.”

“Yes,” both Kash and Trevor said simultaneously, “we’ve met.”

Mattie sat up again with renewed composure. “Now what?”

“Go get something to clean up this mess and our messy guest, too.” Kash pointed to the living room and offered Trevor a chair.  “See if you can keep from bleeding all over my couch until Mattie can get you cleaned up.”

Trevor pressed the palm of his hand tightly over the cut, crawled over to the staircase and sat down on the steps.  “This will be fine, sir.”

“You’ve come at a bad time son.”

“I can see that, sir, but I…something happened to Mattie yesterday and I care for your daughter, sir.”

“Yes, I can see you do and that’s unfortunate.  You’re just going to have to get over her; because we’re moving!”

“Where?   Why?”  Trevor was visibly upset at the news.

Kash stood up and casually brushed off his slacks with the back of his hand. “I don’t see that it’s any of your business, young man.”

Trevor immediately stood up to face Kash, “I’m making it my business, sir, whether you like it or not!  I can’t help myself! ” He threw his hands up and said, “She’s all I can think about.  I can’t get her off of my mind!”

Kash squinted in a sudden rush of irritation and grabbed Trevor by the collar with the intention of throwing him out of his house, again.  When he yanked him in close, almost nose to nose, he could see Trevor’s puzzled face which brought back a flood of memories about his own experiences when he was dating Amber.  The signs and symptoms were obvious and Kash’s instincts revealed to him that Trevor was destined to be Mattie’s Splitter.  He released his grip.  “My boy…you’re in for quite a ride.”

“Sir?” Trevor’s face was displaying fluctuating signs of bewilderment, frustration, confusion and love sickness, all rolled into one.

“Never mind,” Kash said, dangling a new tone in his voice that carried the sound of compassion and humor.  “If you want to go with us, you need to go pack your bags; we leave tonight.  I hope you’re ready for ‘Mr. Toad’s wild ride!’”

“Do you really mean that, sir?”

“Well…do you want to go with us or not?”

Trevor stammered excitedly, “Yah…yes…I do.”

“Then go get your things.  We have to hurry!”

Mattie entered the room in time to see Trevor trip over his own feet as he ran out the front door.  She dropped the tray on the coffee table and snapped, “What did you say to him, Dad?”

“I told him that…”

“You had no right to drive him away…”

“…that he should…”

“I love him, Dad, and you just ruined my life…”

“…that he should go and get packed…”

“I don’t know if I can ever forgive you for…”

“…because he’s going with us.”

Mattie froze with astonishment.   “What?”

“Close your mouth, Mattie, there’s a fly in the house.”  Kash chuckled softly to himself. “We don’t have a lot of time to prepare ourselves for the trip.  Let’s get back to work, OK?”   He went into the garage to get the plaster and paint while Mattie stood by herself in the living room in disbelief.

“Hey, Mattie!” Kash called to her from inside the garage.  “Don’t just stand there; you’ve got to finish packing!”

Mattie shook her head side-to-side gently as a smile slowly widened across her face.  She darted towards the staircase, springing up three steps at a time in excitement to get back to her room.  “Pack, pack, pack…” she said happily, anxious to return to the task that was utterly depressing only ten minutes earlier.  The split second before her foot planted itself on the top step, a blue, glowing footprint appeared out of nowhere.  Mattie wouldn’t know what it meant even if she had seen it.  Her foot touched down squarely on the print and she disappeared.

Kash was unaware that Mattie had been swept into a divvy and continued to the kitchen to close the opening to the chamber.  He worked diligently all morning to fill in the passageway.  By early afternoon he was ready to paint.   It was time to take a break and go visit with Lila before she left the library.  If he could catch her at the library she would have to talk to him in a calm, rational manner because of her surroundings.  If he waited until she got off work she would never talk to him no matter what he had to say.

Kash slipped his overalls down to his ankles and kicked them off in a pile near the front door.  “Mattie,” Kash yelled up to her, “I’m going to go and talk to Lila.  I’ll be back in an hour. I’ll grab us something to eat on the way back.”  He picked up the deed to the house and left, without waiting for an answer.


Leave a Reply

Like this page?

Beyond the Map's Boundary

Follow NibiSoto on Twitter