Saturday, March 07, 2009


After Kick achieved the top of the hill above Lavallee road he turned west and followed the high ground through woods that were predominantly comprised of hickories. The thin soil at the top of the ridge was interrupted regularly by shale ledges, which broke up the dense forest and allowed sunshine to pour in. Occasionally the woods would thin enough to afford Kick a view of the distant lake, and at times he thought he could hear a stream somewhere to his right.

Kick felt awful. He staggered along through the woods, stopping frequently to rest with his head between his hands. He had a splitting headache, he looked shaky and he was sweating profusely. Suddenly he stopped, bent over, and vomited. With a groan Kick wiped his mouth on the sleeve of his sweater before continuing in a westerly direction.

After another ten minutes of making his way through the woods he stumbled out into a clearing. On the far side of the clearing juxtaposed against the backdrop of the woods was a fireplace and chimney. The sunken foundation of a house which had once been attached to it could be traced underneath the accumulated forest litter. Pine needles and leaves had softened its lines over the quiet years, but it was obvious that a house approximately twenty-five by thirty feet had stood on the spot. A collection of forgotten apple trees stood off to one side testifying to the fact that someone, long ago, had made an attempt to make a home out of the spot. Kick crossed the clearing and examined the fireplace more closely. It had been constructed carefully out of cut-stone. The fireplace was unusually large- maybe five feet wide, three feet tall, and three feet deep.

With his hand, Kick brushed away the accumulated layers of damp leaves until he revealed the charcoal remnants of the last fire that had graced the hearth. Lying flat on his back he looked up through the chimney. A bulge near the top, which Kick assumed to be a bee hive, obscured the opening. Reaching high up into the chimney he ran his hand carefully along the smooth cut-stone surfaces until he felt a metal plate. With his hand, Kick traced the plate which had a rectangular shape. In one corner there was a small semicircular notch just large enough to get a finger into. He hooked his finger behind the plate and gave a tug. A drawer slid out from the wall of the fireplace, and being surprised by its weight, he was unable to catch it before it slammed into his head, knocking him unconscious.

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