This novel was published a few months back. Fig Street is a combination of Crime – Sci-Fi – Fantasy and childhood memories of my home town. In the book Watertown is renamed to Glennville. I did that years ago when this whole story-line was first written back in the mid eighties.
At that time the internet was still new to a great extent and you couldn’t really do a search for, say, towns in Northern New York and get good answers. So, I didn’t know there was actually a town of Glennville in Northern New York. Sigh. So this is not that town. This is a thinly disguised version of Watertown New York a small city about 30 miles from the Canadian border in Northern New York where I spent childhood
The story is a foray into an area that reminds me of the book Dreamers that I wrote. That sort of almost real place. Maybe it leaves you wondering if it is real.
Fig Street is Copyright © W. G. Sweet 2020
All rights foreign and domestic reserved in their entirety.
Cover Art © Copyright 2020 Wendell G. Sweet
Some text copyright 1984, 2010, 2014, 2015 W. G. Sweet
This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual living person’s places, situations or events is purely coincidental.
This novel is Copyright © 2020 Wendell G. Sweet. Dell Sweet, W. G. Sweet and Geo Dell are publishing constructs owned by Wendell G. Sweet. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and, or distributed without the author’s permission.
Permission is granted to use short sections of text in reviews or critiques in standard or electronic print.
Christine woke up abruptly. It took her a few minutes to remember where she was. She tried to sit up straight and was painfully reminded of the events of the past two days. It all came back in a rush, the beating, running away, and finding herself in this strange basement.
She must have been asleep for hours. It was now light enough for her to see most of the basement clearly. Sunlight streamed in through the two windows at one end, and she could clearly see the stairs leading up to the first floor. It didn’t look right though. It didn’t look like morning sunlight at all.
The basement was huge, but mostly empty, except for the boxes and some furniture stacked up in the front across from the stairs.
From where she was sitting-facing the stairs-she could just make out the furnace and the water heater towards the back end of the basement. Next to the stairs, on the right, was still all in shadows. But it looked as though part of the basement was partitioned off there, she could make out a shadowed door, and nothing more. It suddenly occurred to her to make sure she still had all her stuff, had she seen her backpack earlier?
She had, she decided.
She started to get up and her hand hit a plate on the floor next to her. Someone had brought down some kind of sandwiches and there was a glass of milk next to the plate. Seeing the food, she realized she was very hungry, but she pushed it aside momentarily
It was painful to move, she had stiffened up while she slept. She found her pack where it had been before; she went to check out the boxes and quickly opened it and checked the contents. Everything was still there and she breathed a sigh of relief. Taking the pack with her, she went back and sat down next to the plate.
Thirst and hunger were equally aggressive. Thirst won out first. She picked up the glass and drank down half of it in one gulp. It had a funny, metallic taste, but she barely noticed. She picked up one of the sandwiches and opened the top to see what it was: Peanut butter and jelly; not one of her favorites, but it would do in a pinch. Besides, she told herself, beggars weren’t choosers, and at least there was food.
She made short work of both sandwiches and finished the milk in record time. It wasn’t enough to satisfy her, but there wasn’t anything else to eat so it would have to do. And it did help a little.
Remembering the books she had found, she turned to the box she’d opened and began looking through it. Most of the books were old and slightly mildewed. She opened a couple of them to see if maybe someone had written their name in them but all she found was one with two letters, looked like initials, written on the hard cover.
Taking the book over into the light, she made out M. L., she didn’t know anyone with those initials did she?
Shrugging her shoulders, she returned the book to the box and chose another box to open. Still nothing, just old clothes, she sat down on the dirt floor and burst into frustrated tears. How in the world was she going to get out of here? She didn’t even know where here was, and… Suddenly she felt tired. So tired, in fact, that it made her feel slightly dizzy.
She lay down, putting her pack under her head like a pillow, hoping only to stop the dizziness. The tears were still coming, and the dizziness made it hard to think through them. Within a very few minutes she cried herself to sleep.
An hour later, she was sleeping deeply. The door at the top of the stairs opened silently on its well oiled hinges, and a shadowy figure walked slowly down the stairs. Christine slept on.
The figure came closer to her and leaned over to make sure she was still asleep. Satisfied that she was, and knowing she wouldn’t wake up anytime soon, the figure went about opening the door at the bottom of the stairs and making up the bed inside. It had been a long time since this room had been used. It wasn’t very clean, but it would do for the short time it was needed. Christine was picked up by strong hands and carried into the room, laid on the bed, and locked in. The figure left the cellar, and locked the door at the top of the stairs with a shiny new padlock.
Jake sat quietly in the darkness of the living room upstairs. He was a very strong individual, and he prided himself on taking care of his body and working out every day.
He’d spent all of his young life protecting Millie. It wasn’t anything he was forced to do, it was just that Millie needed someone to help her when things got tough and she couldn’t handle them on her own. Like when her mother hurt her. Christine couldn’t take the pain, but Jake could, when bad things happened, he was there to handle it for her.
Whenever her mother had locked her up in the room down cellar, Jake was there, talking her out of her fear of the dark. He was the only friend she’d ever had and she depended on him, most of the time.
Now she’d brought this girl home and had forgotten all about it. Well, not her exactly, Jake knew, it had been Emma. And Emma was not the same as Millie. Emma had a bad habit of doing things and not knowing that she’d done them, and Millie knew about Emma, Jake had told her, but it hadn’t helped.
Jake wasn’t quite sure how Emma had gotten the girl past him, but now that she had, he’d have to figure out what to do with her. For now, she’d sleep. He’d put enough Valium in her milk to knock out a full grown adult for two days. He listened for a moment. It was still quiet in the basement.
Quietly he crept into the kitchen, unlocked the door and tiptoed down to make sure she was still asleep. She was. He stood watching her, thinking to himself.
He knew that no one would ever think to look for her here. Or at least the last time Emma had done this, no one had ever come asking questions or poking around, so it was reasonable to assume they wouldn’t this time either. He knew that they thought Millie was eccentric but he was sure they also thought she was harmless.
The stories about her being wicked and a witch were laughable. The only time she had to be watched was when she had one of her spells, which were coming more frequently all of a sudden.
Shaking his head, he took one last look at the girl on the bed. When he was satisfied that he’d not forgotten anything, he went back upstairs, re-locked the door, and sat quietly in the darkness. He needed to think, and he needed quiet to think. Sitting in the dark always helped him clear his head and he needed a clear head to fix the mess Millie had gotten them into.
Maybe he would talk to Emma about it, he decided. Emma had a friend out by the river, and…
A half mile behind the Jefferies farm, Bobby and Moon decided they had found the place they wanted. It was a small natural clearing in the woods; a small creek ran close by, and better than that, the rotted remains of an old logging shed stood at the edge of the clearing.
They walked over and both boys waited for the other to step inside first. It was late afternoon, there was still plenty of light, but the inside of the old shed was cast in shadows despite the sunlight that streamed in through the roof.
“It’d be a good place to sleep,” Moon ventured. “You know, in case it rains or something, you think?”
“Yeah… Prob’ly,” Bobby said quietly. He stepped closer and peered inside. It was musty with wood rot, the pungent scent wafted out of the old shed, and slipped up Bobby’s nose. “Yech! It stinks, Moony.”
“Think there’s, like… Like a dead body in it or somethin’?”
“You’re a real ass-hole, Moony, you know that? Like somebody would just leave a dead body lying around in an old shack. It smells like it’s old, is all. Like the garage out behind my house, or old man Campbell’s wood pile.”
“Yeah? Well, in the movies that’s what they always do, see? They leave bodies where they know they’ll scare some kid. They do it on purpose, I think. And they’re always, like, really gross, like, worms, and, like…”
“Moony,” Bobby said calmly, “you’re gonna do it again.” Every time they went camping, Moon always managed to scare himself. “You watch too many of those movies, Moony.”
“Yeah, okay, I guess, but, if something ever does happen like that, I’ll be ready, and you won’t be. Fuck it. I ain’t scared a no friggin’ shed,” Moon said, as he turned his large round eyes to Bobby. He stepped quickly inside before he could change his mind. Reluctantly, Bobby followed.
“The shed was all but empty. A leaning group of old shelves on one wall, a small warped table pushed up against the other wall, and three moldy chairs. Only one of which had all of its legs.
“See?” Moon whispered, “I told ya there wasn’t nothin’ to worry about. You were chicken to come in.”
Bobby just shook his head.
“Well?” Moon asked in an even quieter whisper.
“Well means, if we’re gonna clean it out and sleep in it; we should do it now, before it gets dark.”
“I guess,” Bobby agreed, looking up at the many holes that inhabited the roof. If it did rain, they’d probably be just as well off outside, as in here, he thought. But, bears didn’t like to come inside buildings, so…
They worked together to clean up the old shed, and by nightfall they had done a fairly decent job. Moon was good with his hands. He was always tinkering with something. He was the only kid on Fig street who had double forks on his bike, and he had done that himself. Some of the other kids thought it looked weird, but Bobby liked it, and so did, Moon, and that was all that mattered to them. He found a rusted length of wire, and managed to make one whole chair, from the parts of the two that were broken. It leaned a little, Bobby noticed, but all in all it wasn’t bad.
Together they dragged the table over closer to the door, and plopped the chairs down next to it. Bobby built a small fire under one of the larger holes in the roof, while Moon went searching around for more wood to keep the fire going through the night, or at least until they fell asleep.
Bobby finished with the fire, just as the sun began to set, and the forest around them began to quiet down.
Moon came back with firewood, and two long sharp sticks. He handed them to Bobby; he couldn’t cook things the way Bobby could. Bobby could do it without burning it too bad, and besides, he told himself, it always tasted better when Bobby cooked it. You couldn’t tell it was just Surplus Food for some reason, it tasted real.
Bobby panicked for a moment, until he found the can opener in the bottom of the bag. Once they’d gone camping without one, and they’d had to walk all the way back to Fig Street to get one, before they could eat. His mother had remembered this time.
Bobby cut the meat into thick chunks, and strung it on one of the sticks. The frying pan went close to the fire on some hot coals, a little powdered egg, and some water from the creek, and some grease from the meat worked just fine. The stick went side to side, across the fire, on two sticks Bobby had pushed into the ground. It wasn’t the greatest setup, but it worked just fine for them.
Once it was going well, the meat sizzling, the eggs starting to look real, Bobby strung some bread on the other stick, and held it carefully over the coals until it browned. It did for the most part. Sure it was a little blackened around the edges, but it was campin’ out, Bobby thought. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.
“I bet this is the way the Indians did it too,” Moon said around a bite of sandwich.
“Probably,” Bobby agreed. Bobby had made the mistake of telling Moon that his father was Native American. Now Moon seemed to think that Bobby knew everything there was to know about them. He didn’t mind, not really, it was sorta cool, in a way.
“So, you think they did?” Moon asked. Probably wasn’t a good enough answer for Moony, Bobby knew.
“Yeah. I do. For real, you know, my dad told me once that they did,” he lied.
“Yeah, but, like, with surplus food?”
“Sure. Indians got surplus food too, you know. Didn’t you know that?”
“Uh uh, I thought, you know, that only poor people got it,” Moon said seriously.
“Well, that’s true, but there are poor Indians too, Moony, for real.”
“Hey, I believe ya, I just never saw one is all.”
“Well, you saw my old man before, right?”
“Well, sure, of course, so have you.”
“He’s an Indian, right?”
“Well, yeah, but he don’t dress like one or nothin’, so… Does that count?”
“I think so,” Bobby said, equally serious. “I think so, ‘cause I think it’s like this, see. The Indians wear regular clothes when they’re not, like, on the war path, or somethin’, get it?”
Moon nodded. “Yeah, okay, cause like your old man wears regular clothes, and like he’s a real Indian, so I guess you’re right, Man.”
“He even drives a car,” Bobby pointed out.
“Well, yeah, but they didn’t have cars a long time ago, so Indians back then, couldn’t have drove ’em.”
“Uh huh. You’re right, they had horses that they, like, stole from the white man, I think.”
“Right,” Moon agreed, as he finished his first sandwich and built another. “These are really good, Bobby, you wouldn’t know, well, like, we would, cause we’re eatin’ them, but if it wasn’t us, you wouldn’t know they was surplus stuff. You ever… Like, think about runnin’ away?”
“Lots a times,” Bobby admitted.
“You gonna? Run away, I mean… Ever?”
“I asked first, man, fair is fair.”
“Okay… Yeah, someday… I might.”
Moon nodded. “So, like, if you did, could we, like, do it together?”
“Sure… I mean, I guess I thought you would wanna come anyway,” Bobby said. He reached into the bag and liberated two of the beers. They were warm and sudsy, and they both hated the taste, but they sipped at them as they continued to talk.
“Well, I would, of course I would, I just… Well, I didn’t know if it would be cool or not, is all.”
“Well it would,” Bobby assured him.
Moon smiled, and reached into his pocket as he finished the last of his sandwich. “Pall Mall’s, it’s all I could get. They suck sorta, cause they ain’t got no filters, but my dad says the best time for a smoke is after you eat… Want one?”
Bobby took one, and they both lit them from the fire. Moon nearly caught his hair on fire doing it, and then they both pretended not to notice the other wasn’t inhaling. It was cool with Moon, Bobby thought, he wouldn’t tell he didn’t inhale, but if Dickie was around, or maybe Tommy, you had to inhale, or look like a chicken-shit.
They talked back and forth for the next hour, go-carts, they were building one they planned to race down Sinton Park Hill. Girls, they had both discovered that girls were a lot more interesting than they had been just a few months ago, especially girls with boobs, as Moon called them. And of course baseball. By the time they finished they were both tired, and they curled up around the fire to go to sleep.
“So, like, you really meant it when you said if you ran away I could come?” Moon asked in a sleepy whisper.
“Yeah, I did,” Bobby whispered back.
“Cool,” Moon said. They both fell asleep a short time later, Moon, with a large smile plastered across his face.