Chapter Books

Timmy hears things that no one else hears. Is he going crazy or is there something out there? If something is out there why doesn't anyone else hear it?

All work herein is Copyrighted and may not be distributed or published without the prior consent of the author. Copyright 2006, 2007. Kim Bentz. All rights reserved.

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Kim Bentz, Writer and Photographer, living in Viriginia (Washington, D.C. metro area). Graduate of Colorado Springs Christian School, Student at American Military University. Government contractor by day. 

Kim lives with her husband of 30+ years, nearly 2000 books, a great collection of jazz records, and thousands of photographs taken all over.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Chapter Thirty

Tucked behind the kitchen, past the office from which she ruled her small empire, Edna welcomed Benedict into her private quarters. Looking down at her smiling face, he noted the deep lines and new wrinkles, the extra hitch in her step and the slight hesitation and jerky, stiff movements that signaled her age and the arthritis she refused to allow to cripple her.

He watched as she painfully lifted the tea pot and poured out cups for the two of them. When she set down the tea pot, he grasped her hand inside his own. “Why won’t you retire? You could be in Florida, Arizona, or anyplace warm. You could stay here and never have to work again…” he paused, not knowing what else to say.

“Benedict Augustine Strohman. I’ve known you since the day you were born and I will tell you just what I told your parents. I will not retire as long as I can be useful. I will not. And the day I quit being useful is the day you can bury me.” She smiled at him, her eyes sparkling. “I know more about running this place than any of these young kids we hire from town. Don’t mention it again.”

“Edna, I just wish there was some way I could take care of you. You’ve always taken care of me.” He picked up the impossibly delicate tea cup in his huge hands, unable to put a finger through the handle, he grasped it around the edges and brought it to his lips.

“You’ve done it, turning this place into a school. All the kids, the activity, the noise and excitement…it keeps us young!”

They settle down to talk for a while, reminiscing before the subject turned back to Timmy.

“I don’t know what to do, Edna. I can’t let him go like Samantha did.”

“Ah, but he’s different.”

Curious, he looked at her intently. “What makes you say that?”

“Well…” she hesitated, looking for words, “when they sing his song it’s different.”

“How so?”

“Samantha’s song was always kind of sad, it seemed to me. Timmy’s is…well, his is happy or cheerful…no…it’s…well, it’s hopeful. Yea, that’s what it is. It’s hopeful. Makes you feel like you are looking forward to something nice.” She grinned at him in triumph, glad she could describe it properly.

Hmm-m-m-m. He would have to check that out for himself. Thinking back, he remembered the song that used to come from Samantha and thought to himself that she was right. Her song had always been sad or perplexed, with lots of dissonance and feuding melody lines.

Taking his leave from her, he made his way to meet the young man who was causing so much concern.

He found him in a music room on the lower level, surrounded by a coterie of students and teachers, singing his song while Magda, hands waving theatrically while bells tinkled, spoke with him from where she was seated on the floor with him around a game board. Gerard looked up and smiled without faltering a single note.

He stood silently at the door, trying to stay out of sight as he listened, trying to distinguish the voices from the music which emanated from the boy. Closing his eyes he listened intently, thrusting away the lilting voices of the brown-haired girl in denim, the two sandy-haired twins on the far side of the room, the deep baritone of Gerard. Piece by piece he isolated and eliminated all sounds but those of the boy. Indeed what the singers heard and sang could be described as light, fun, cheerful, even hopeful, but as he narrowed into the boy he heard deeper sounds. There was a strain of coldness, of winter.

He stood motionless for an hour or more straining to hear each strand of song until he heard something else, barely there, but wonderful, light and cheerful. It was definitely hopeful and he had heard it before, though he could not place it. Something in the boy seemed to be seeking that sound.

Exhausted, he slumped against the wall for a moment. Looking at his watch, he was surprised to discover the morning had gone and it was well into the lunch hour. Inside the music room there was a slight commotion as new students arrived to take the places of the old. They accompanied the boy to lunch, while Gerard helped his wife up from the floor. As they reached the door Magda turned to him as if she expected to see him there.

“Joining us for lunch are you?” Her eyes were knowing.

How did she always know when he was around?

She leaned close to him and whispered loud enough for even Gerard to hear. “I know your music and you must cloak it if you don’t want to announce yourself to anyone who knows you.”

He laughed as she took his right arm and Gerard’s left, allowing them to escort her to lunch.

Lunch was a raucous affair. Everyone seemed to be letting off some steam, though at times people looked up to see him and ceased their laughter nervously staring anywhere but at him.

The meeting began promptly at three, though there were still some arriving with mute apologies for several minutes. Benedict held copies of the notes from the previous night, which he referred to as he led the discussion.

He read a list of ideas then asked, “Your thoughts ladies and gentlemen?”

The group was silent. Magda joined Benedict at the front. “Listen. We’ve been through this before, but we are not having great success here. These suggestions are a great start, but we need to know what you think. Please help us,” she pleaded. The professor rose to join them. They grew somewhat alarmed by the silence and downcast faces.

Clara cleared her throat nervously before saying quietly, “What does Benedict…er, Mr. Strohman think we should do?” Several others looked at him expectantly.

He looked from face to face, reading their hesitancy to speak their minds. The deference was too much and he grew more and more exasperated as he looked at each face.

“This is getting us nowhere. We all need to be completely forthright and honest here if we’re going to have a chance to help Timmy. We need to know your thoughts, your ideas, what you have noticed, no matter how small it seems. If I knew what to do without your help don’t you think I would already have done it?” Tension filled the room, and if there had been any doubt that he was angry, there was none now, as waves of frustration and anger rolled off him.

He gave an exasperated sigh as he looked at Magda and the professor before turning and pacing back and forth before the fire.

Magda’s voice was soothing and her smile especially warm as she faced the room. “Perhaps before we do this we should break the ice. Has everyone met everyone else? No? Well, that will be a good place to start.”

“I’m Magda McDonough. I was one of the first students in this school many years ago, and in fact attended with my dear friend Ben.” She gestured toward Benedict who had ceased his pacing and was staring at her as if she had grown a third eye. She moved toward him and put an arm around him, gently leading him to stand before the group again.

“When we started at this school, Ben’s parents brought in those Listers they knew from around the world and they developed our style. That was several years ago, as you can tell, and we have come a long way. Ben and I had to struggle along with our teachers to learn what some of you have learned so easily. The school was structured after the great Russian school of Petrovsky which was destroyed in the war. Some of our instructors came from India and from Africa and throughout Europe, each helping to expand our knowledge in how to control our gifts and how to use them for the sake of the planet and for mankind.

“Much of this you all know, but it bears repeating, as sometimes I think it is not clear how recently we come to this knowledge and how much more there is for us to learn.”

“Ben, will you tell everyone a bit about yourself and then we will go around the room and each of you can take a few minutes to tell us about you, so that we can all know each other better.” She smiled and turned from Ben’s glare as if she never saw it.

He knew what she was doing, but his frustration combined with his fatigue and worry made him reluctant to participate. He looked at Magda who looked back at him with a serene expression, though her eyes flashed a warning at him that he had better go along, so he sighed and began to speak.

“I am Benedict Strohman. My friends often call me Ben. You are welcome to do the same.” His posture and words were stiff and formal. He looked around the room. Faces were still reserved and apprehensive. He let out a sigh.

“This is my family home and has been for generations. I was only ten when my parents and grandparents decided to open this school. My father had been schooled in Russia, where he met my mother, but that school had closed. They wanted me to be surrounded by understanding friends and teachers, so they brought in Ivan and Svenga Semenova, Adimu Ahadi, Jenny Cosgrave, and many others and then went to great trouble to identify those who had the gift but had gone unrecognized.

“In those days there were a great many losses, and many who could have been trained had already been institutionalized and weren’t salvageable. Our best successes in those years were with those who had a family connection. Those were the ones whose families helped them and they were ready for further training.” Benedict noted with satisfaction that some had forgotten their hesitance and were leaning forward to hear each word.

“For whatever reason, it seems there aren’t as many Listers as in previous generations. This makes each one even more important. In my family both of my brothers were Listers. Among the children only one, and she has not been able to utilize her gift.” Knowing glances shot between those seated. “This loss of the passing of this gift seems to be more and more commonplace throughout the world. Many of you know that the professor here has spent many years traveling around confirming this.

“Since my niece nearly died, I have spent years in the Arctic, working with her while studying and working on ways to reverse the melting ice cap. It is a battle I am not winning. Still, I am so concerned about Timmy and the possibility of losing him that I have taken a break from my work to come here. I believe that he must be saved. I cannot explain why he is so important. Perhaps each student has the same potential, but I felt Timmy from the arctic. When I arrived and heard you all singing his song I was amazed, because I heard his song and had heard it for months. It has disturbed my sleep and my work.

“I cannot do this alone. You know him better than I do. You have spent time with him. We must work with him, but I must also continue to work with my niece, Samantha, when she arrives in two days.” Shock registered on several faces.

“Those of you I do not know I am looking forward to meeting, and I am looking forward to working with all of you.” He paused, then continued, “but you cannot continue to act as if I am too important or distant or whatever for you to be open and honest. I am convinced that between all of us we will find the answer.” Abruptly he sat down.

Magda smiled approvingly on him.

“Okay, who’s next?”


Blogger Beth said...

Arggh - now I have to wait until you post more . . .

12:47 PM  

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