The Secret Path
For Adam Freeman, moving to Spooksville wasn’t something he’d planned. But being only twelve, he hadn’t a lot to say in the matter. They had to move, his parents said, because of his father’s job. Of course, when they told him about Spooksville, they didn’t call it that. Springville was the proper name of the small oceanside town. It was only the local kids who called it by the scarier, but more accurate, title. It was only kids who knew how weird the place could get after dark.
Or even during the day.
That was the thing about Spooksville.
Not all its monsters waited until the sun went down to appear.
Unpacking the moving van and carrying his stuff up to his new room, Adam wasn’t thinking of monsters or the supernatural. But that was soon to change. Oh, yes, in a big way.
“Adam,” his father called from inside the truck. “Can you give me a hand with this love seat?”
“Sure,” Adam replied, setting down the box of clothes he was carrying. He enjoyed helping, even though his muscles were still sore from loading the truck two days ago in Kansas City, Missouri. His father, who was something of a nerd, had driven straight through to the West Coast town. Adam had slept on a rubber mat in the back of the truck. The road had been rough.
Adam was small for his age, but he was growing steadily and figured he’d catch up soon. The problem was he had no one in particular to catch up to now that all his friends were over a thousand miles away. Adam thought of
Sammy and Mike as he climbed into the truck. He wondered what they were doing right now. His father paused to stare at him.
“What’s that look?” his dad asked. “Are you homesick already?”
Adam shrugged. “I’m OK.”
His dad ruffled his hair. “Don’t worry. You’ll make new friends soon. Not all the cool guys live in the Midwest.” He smiled as he added, “Not all the cool girls live there, either.”
Adam frowned as he leaned over to pick up his end of the short sofa. “I’m not interested in girls. And they’re definitely not interested in me.”
“It’s when you’re not interested in them that they start to chase you.”
“Is that true?”
“Some of the time, if you’re lucky.” His father leaned over and picked up his end. “Let’s lift on the count of three. One—two—”
“Why is it called a love seat?” Adam asked. He was curious about many things, even things he pretended to have no interest in.
“Because it’s only big enough to fit two lovers. Are you ready? One—two—”
“You know I didn’t really know any girls in Kansas City,” Adam added hastily.
His father stood up again and stretched. “What about Denise? You saw her all the time.”
Adam felt his cheeks redden. “Yes. But she was just a friend. She wasn’t a . . .” He struggled to find the right word. “She wasn’t a girl girl.”
“Thank God for that.” His father leaned over again. “Let’s just lift this thing and get it over with. One—two—”
“Three!” Adam said as he yanked up hard, catching his father by surprise.
“Ahh!” his father exclaimed and dropped his end. He clutched his lower back and his face twisted with pain.
“Did you hurt yourself?” Adam asked, thinking what a stupid question it was. His father waved him away as he limped down the ramp of the truck.
“I’m all right. Don’t worry. Just a pulled muscle. We need a break anyway.”
“It wasn’t your fault.”
Adam was concerned. “Are you sure you’re
all right?” His father wasn’t exactly in perfect shape. In the last couple of years he had grown a fair-size belly. Too many doughnuts and sodas, Adam thought, even though those were two of his favorite foods, too. That was one of the things that made his dad sort of a nerd—he liked junk food as much as kids.
“I’m fine,” his dad said. “Let’s stop and have a drink. What would you like?”
“A Coke,” Adam replied, following him down the ramp.
“I don’t think we have any Cokes in the refrigerator.”
“I don’t think we have a refrigerator,” Adam said. He pointed to the large white container at the rear of the truck. “We haven’t unloaded it yet.”
“Good point,” his father said, sitting down on the lawn.
“Should I tell Mom you’re hurt?”
“Leave her, she’s busy.” He pulled a twenty from his back pocket and handed it to Adam. “Why don’t you run down to the 7-Eleven on the corner and get us a cold six-pack.”
Adam pocketed the bill. “Yeah, I’ll just tell
them I forgot my ID, but I really am over twenty-one.”
“I meant a six-pack of Coke.”
“I know.” Adam turned away, “I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
His dad groaned as he leaned back on his elbows and stared up at the sky. “Take your time. I don’t think I’ll be going anywhere anytime soon.”