Pasayten Pete

Chapter Twenty-One: Transitions

"My name is Michael Peterson. My friends call me Mike. I've lived in the valley for many years, but it's a remote area and other than a few close friends, I've pretty much kept to myself."

Mike sipped his second cup of coffee, leaning back and thinking to himself that Madeline Jacobs baked a fine pie. He'd savored that slice. Good home cooking never escaped his appreciation. Like most elderly bachelors, Mike cooked to survive but he didn't often take time to turn out a gourmet meal. Madeline's pie qualified as gourmet.

"Your daughter has become very important to a special young man who is a student of mine. Her well-being, her safety, her happiness has become as important to him as his own. I've no doubt he'd offer his life in her defense, as young as he is. Of course there's no such threat to either of them, but I think it's important that you understand how deep his feelings go."

Frank shifted uneasily in his chair. Madeline glanced nervously from her husband to Mike and back, then stared into her cup for a moment before lifting her eyes back to Mike with a hard look.

"Just what is this young man's interest in our daughter? How old is he?"

"No, no, nothing like that! You misunderstand. I forget how differently things appear outside the valley," Mike explained. "I'll try to explain in words you may appreciate. Consider his interest as more brotherly than friendly. He is a special soul, very caring and sensitive. For a young man, still a teenager, he has a sense of ethics and morality that defies description. His concern for your daughter is nothing unwholesome, I assure you. In fact, I'd urge that you consider her as being well protected, well looked after."

Mike palmed and studied his coffee cup, ordering his thoughts. Frank and Madeline, more relaxed now, waited for Mike to continue.

"She is a very lucky girl, actually. She loves your sister, her Aunt Helen, and she's developed a case of hero worship for her Uncle Ken. He's a witty, charming character as well as being an exceptionally talented naturalist. She's totally enchanted with the home he's built, his collection of exotic birds, and the valley's wildlife that gathers around the grounds like a nature preserve.

"For Graydon Williams, that young apprentice of mine, she feels a special companionship and trust in him that is well deserved. They strike me as soul mates. I hope that doesn't make you uncomfortable. For two people so young, they've had life experiences that make them much more mature than their years. They've been forced to face life and rely on their inner strengths well beyond their peers."

"I can accept that," Frank responded, "but you understand that she is much too young to be developing any interests in young men, right?"

"Of course," Mike agreed. "But that certainly isn't the case with those two. Their bond, their friendship, is not based on any sexual interest. You may be more concerned when I tell you that their interest in each other seems to go much deeper than that. I was serious when I said soul mates. I think you'll find they'll not be easily separated. She from him, especially. She looks to him as a source of assurance, safety, trust, all the positive elements that she very much needs during her recovery."

"But does she miss us?" Madeline interjected, almost too loudly. She was missing her daughter. She was not comforted knowing that Marilee had adjusted so quickly into her new home, so far away. She wanted to be with her daughter, as much as it seemed impossible that Marilee might return to her in Kansas City.

"Oh, be assured, she very much misses both of you. She wants her parents. Oh yes, she does. But she's also aware how difficult it might be for you. She cannot return here, and that is a closed subject. So the choice becomes one of two very difficult options: stay separated until she becomes of age and is perhaps able to put the horrors behind her, or you will have to relocate. Find new employment, transfer to a new office; sell this home and find a new one in whatever new location you choose. I can offer this counsel: she'll want to stay very near the valley. I don't think she'll agree to sever the new ties she's made. I'm thinking she'd settle for visits to Ken and Helen, but as much as this might upset you, she'll not stand for being separated by any distance from her young soul mate.

"We hadn't foreseen this, and it wasn't something any of us promoted. It happened. Her emotional need, and his innate sensitivity and protective nature caused the bond. Now that they've found each other, you'll not easily separate them. Nor would it be in anyone's interest to force it."

Frank's paternal instincts were warring with his intellectual decisions. He'd already lost a heart-breaking battle he'd never known was happening until it was too late. He had trusted and been betrayed. Now he was being asked to trust again. His emotions raged within, urging a cynical distrust, but his intelligence knew that this new friend had somehow exacted justice on their behalf and was now offering reassurance. Mike's judgment deserved to be trusted; his counsel offered a positive outcome for all of them. Included in that was a need to evaluate this young man, this apprentice, Mike had called him. He should evaluate this young man as something far different than a typical teenage male.

Madeline was much more conflicted. She felt waves of assurance and power coming from their strange new friend, but her world had been turned inside out and shaken apart. She'd barely held herself together through the aftermath of Marilee's revelation and flight. Yes, she'd supported her daughter by providing money and a ticket, and by arranging for her sister to take Marilee into their home. But those were matters of necessity. Her heart was sorrowing. She felt deeply wounded and now all she wanted was to be with her daughter again as a loving family, whole and unhurt. Yet she feared the prospect of giving up their home, their security, and moving to a new job in a new area far from the midwest which she'd known her entire life, away from friends and family and roots, to what? Could they really start over and rebuild what had been viciously ripped away from them?

A torrent of thoughts and emotions raced through her as she stood, gathered up the empty plates and coffee carafe, and busied herself with making another pot of coffee. It was apparent that much remained to be discussed between herself and her husband.

A new thought illumined her mind as bright and warm as summer sunshine:

"Yes! Yes, we can do this! We will do whatever needs doing to be with her, to make a new life in a new home. We can do this, and be stronger than before!"

She felt a calm certitude. Her emotions grew warm and positive, and she knew resolutely that this needed to happen, could happen, and without doubt would happen. She smiled at her husband, knowing that he would be strong and steady and a pillar of support while building a new life for his family, for all of them.

She didn't notice Mike smiling, looking down into his coffee cup, nor did she notice the waves of reassurance and guidance coming from him. If she could have seen or sensed his aura, she'd have seen herself and Frank wrapped in the soft golden glow of his calming spirit.

Mike excused himself, explaining that he needed to return to the valley, but they would not be alone. He was only a telephone call away and if any serious problems arose, help would quickly be at hand.

"I really must go back," he advised. "My young apprentice has been through a wearying trial. Although he is much stronger than he knows, he has been exposed to a side of life that no one should see. For one who has grown and flourished in the pure elements of the natural world, the dark side of human nature has weighed heavily on his spirit. I would do well to return and lend him my strength and support. He could survive on his own, but it will be much better if I am there to ease this period of his growth. And as I said earlier, he is devoting much of his attention and healing influence to his soul mate, your daughter. It will be better for both young spirits if I am there."

And with that, Mike left as quickly as he'd come. He stepped from the front porch, turned down the walk and seemed to melt into the shadows between the neighborhood streetlights. He slipped into the shadow and was not seen to emerge further down the street. He was more than anxious to leave the miasma of this city behind. He missed the healing environs of his mountain valley far more than any city dweller could know.

Unseen by the Jacobs as they stood in their doorway watching Mike walk away, a dark figure in a black suit reclined in the leather upholstery of a luxury sedan. The car was powerful, heavy, foreign-made, black without chrome. He watch their house from a neighbor's drive across the street. Nor did they notice when he raised a camera with a long lens to take a succession of photographs of Mike when he turned from Frank's handshake and Madeline's grateful hug. Mike's face was briefly exposed in the glare of the porch light; the camera captured several good exposures before Mike turned down the street.

A moment after Frank and Madeline closed the door behind them, the dark sedan slipped from the drive across the street and drove away, without headlights, unheard and unseen by anyone but Mike. He had been expecting that his actions would not go unnoticed. This was an ancient enemy that had been stirred by his visit. It was an enemy that rarely slept, and never forgot. A hatred burned within that enemy that sometimes smoldered, had sometimes flared up in a flash of violence, and had many times exploded in bloody repression and destruction.

Its hatred and violence for Mike's kind had slumbered and smoldered for hundreds of years. The church had long thought itself victorious and rid of any insult to its dominant authority. But this was a watchful hatred, ever suspicious that some day their ancient nemesis might appear again. Mike had been noticed.

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Pasayten Pete © Graybyrd 2010

Last modification: 2016/8/25 at 19:21