Innocence (Hedges & Fireflies)

I know a bank whereon the wild thyme blows. Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows. Quite canopied over with luscious woodbine. With sweet muskroses and with eglantine. There sleeps Titania sometime of the night. Lulled in these flowers with dances and delights.” – Shakespeare

“But I know a place where we can go and wash away these sins.”- Henley & Hornsby

Titania watches him with interest before the dawn breaks, a round of leaves within her mussed hair. She thinks to let him go might be a good thing, but she cannot. He has come to her on a mid-summers night, at the end of his innocence and he is alone.

Oh his childhood, cries his childhood, stolen by the name of ruin. Hips withdrawing, pants still falling, injustice by these fates not bloomed. Oh his childhood, cries his childhood, finite too soon. Find the hedges for your hiding for the nighttime is coming soon.

He hid among the hedges, in a tunnel of which rabbits made, a long leaf filled burrow between the house and the gravel roadway. In his mind, he pictured safety, a sanctuary of play, and though he hid his body, his soul was on display. The world of summer was risen, with the night falling in, and somewhere there were angels. Watching in interest over his boyhood den. He looked through tiny windows at the darkness. A world so warm in gloom. He interlaced his fingers, and felt himself traveling further outside his self-induced cocoon. So, it was there in the twilight, far from his desert moon. He thought of all that had happened, an indiscretion born so soon.

For he hid among the hedges, in a tunnel made of thought, watching fireflies dance outside, for in truth they are more than spark. Near the point of total nighttime, when monsters bare their teeth. Silent shadows, silent wisdom, all is hidden beyond display. Not a sound in all creation, like the very first day. He lays himself still burdened lost in thoughts of the afternoon. Oh his childhood, cries his childhood, stolen by the name of ruin. Hips withdrawing, pants still falling, injustice by these fates not bloomed. Oh his childhood, cries his childhood, finite too soon. Find the hedges for your hiding for the nighttime is coming soon.

He hid among the hedges in a place of hideaway, watching fireflies go to heaven for a purpose in which they stayed. In the glooming, in the hedges, came the silence of the break. Just a moment there is reason, nothing happens by fair mistake. He wraps his arms in loneliness and watches his soul begin to fade. For the want of its own amusement, it hides away. Softly crying to the nighttime such a movement of a score. Led by mercy, thoughts emotions and the life we are purposed for. In the hedges, in the hedges, a place of no mistakes. In the hedges under fireflies, asleep as the dawn breaks. – 08.01.2019 – דָנִיֵּאל

Nenahnezad (Navajo Moon)


When I was a child, I saw as a child, all things beautiful all life bright. Colors, especially at night, those moving shapes like dancers under the high desert rite, and there was no dark valley, in that world where a boy dwelled, laying in darkness, where the moon fell, listening to voices, at last for you I’ll tell….

Under the spells of the harvest in September, it could be October too, the smell of sand waiting for winter, the tide of the sky rolls out the moon. And see there a boy that looks kind of awkward, that wishes he lived what he knew, walking outside his house in the desert, the reservation around him so new. And spirits they fly in ever endeavor from up off the river to bring him clues, to inhabit his soul and tell him to look up at the Navajo moon. He walks on into the night of November, colder frost from mesa’s in view, if his parents knew he was wandering out in the darkness what would they do? What should they do?  A car with lights it comes gliding so slowly, down the dirt road, rolling by, its faces in view, dancers their faces reeling, for some sing of healing, their faces painted, they do what they do. They leave that boy alone by the pathway, that road, that leads straight up to the moon.

December’s a dream, and on into winter, it could be he’s crazy, but what should he do. Walking around the school, and the playground, at Nenahnezad under the moon. That Navajo moon.  And time and again when he’s going solo, out on the dirt road, the desert in view, he hears a car, driving so slowly, right by his elbow what should he do. Those yeibichai fellows, ghostly eyes staring, silent in wisdom, drive by, and disappear into the hue.

When I was a child, I saw as a child, all things beautiful all life bright. Colors, especially at night, those moving shapes like dancers under the high desert rite, and there was no dark valley, in that world where a boy dwelled, laying in darkness, where the moon fell, listening to voices, at last for you I’ll tell….

Over a period of five months in the fall and winter of 1969 and 1970, near Nenahnezad, New Mexico, I saw on three different occasions the same dark blue car full of Yeibichai dancers headed into the full moon. What I was doing wandering around in the dark by myself, on those various occasions is known only to that younger self that was me. Maybe I’ll learn more as time goes by, there might even be a part II. – 01.29.2016 – דָּנִיֵּאל

Treehouse (An Attic Adventure)


Do you ever forget your first attic adventure, do you? It’s like a treehouse in a home. It’s a world all its own. What if Deep Purple is playing in the background? Do you let your imagination run free? Do you let your clothes loosen and follow the pictures in your mind? It’s hot you know. Really hot!

Climbing on up to my treehouse, a place without rhythm and blues, its old glory road, with mystery of host, and sprites that come called when their due. Sailing the world all around me, here and beyond what is new, developing war on ancient shores, I’m asleep but in truth I am you. Climbing each step of a ladder, the bark fills like part of my shoe, am I so old, that what fog does hold, will still be a naked view. Feeling the beat of Deep Purple, a back door knocking woo hoo, a 16th in time, a Mozart of time, I’m hard, a man still stuck in G_D’s youth. Thinking a ladder is needed, to climb to the top of the roof, I want higher still to seek a strange thrill to dream and know I’m alive.

Climbing on up to my treehouse, where circles light when I smile, a deadly a dew my fortune a strew, I’m naked, in search of the ark. If I open the back door of heaven, a strange and beautiful way. Alive at last, the stars fly past, the strings of eternity, stay, and Ritchie plays in such a baroque, weird kind of way, “it’s not the kill, it’s the thrill of the chase“.

You see up here in my treehouse, adventure comes quickly and free, for far and spread wide, horizons abide, by wishes and magic and creed. It seems I found the mystic, a pleasure not found by speed, in sinewy grace, my hair all misplaced, the world all crawls under this tree. I climb to reach now this backdoor, now older but younger in me, while deep in the gloom, the purple blooms, my imagination is wild and free.

Come scale your mind in my treehouse, bring your body for free, loosen your clothes, let yourself go, and be yourself beauty in need. Come hear the 1/16th beat beating, the hammer of music and tongue, as Deep Purple plays, let yourself stray, to the backdoor of heaven’s gate. The backdoor of heaven’s gate. The backdoor of heaven’s gate.

Climbing on up to my treehouse, a place without rhythm and blues, its old glory road with mystery of host, and sprites that come called when their due.

Do you ever forget your first attic adventure, do you? It’s like a treehouse in a home. It’s a world all its own. What if Deep Purple is playing in the background? Do you let your imagination run free? Do you let your clothes loosen and follow the pictures in your mind? It’s hot you know. Really hot! – 06.04.2015 –דָּנִיֵּאל

(It’s not the kill, it’s the thrill of the chase) – Knocking At Your Back Door lyrics © EMI Music Publishing, BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

The Mysterious Caravan

“Oh let the sun beat down upon my face, stars to fill my dream

I am a traveler of both time and space, to be where I have been

To sit with elders of the gentle race, this world has seldom seen

They talk of days for which they sit and wait and all will be revealed”.

Jimmy Page/Robert Plant

Previously on “A Figure in Hiding

Sunday May 18, 1975 2:30 AM

I’m there again, waking again, the rotors turning, the deep bass, and the melodic sound of the wilderness outside my walls. The house itself so silent inside, maybe the occasional parental snore tumbling down the tri level stairs of the yellow house, the house on the hill. The house that sits next to the wilderness, that stretches wooing the vibrations, the ground swelling with the beating of sound.

I’m fourteen, nearing the end of all boys seeking adventure, closing the portal of the unknown, withdrawing from the cloak of mystery. I am less a boy, and no more a man, caught as it were between joy and wisdom, lacking in adolescence, void of want. But this. This! The hammer of the gods, drawing life from the ground. The thudding, and the undertaking of heaviness, and then the bugle, the charge, so much closer.

I’m moving from my bed, shoving the strips of cut cassette tape aside that divide my lower level room from the lower entryway to the downstairs door, my yellow patterned pajamas too long, nearly tripping me as I reach for the handle on the outer screen door. The mid May New Mexico night is chilly, and I instinctively wrap my arms encircling my hands on opposite shoulders, as if this in itself will warm me. I lean against the brick planter to my right, its cold rough exterior balancing me as I listen. The sound is much louder now, and nearer, blades whipping air, and music fainter but recognizable, coming from the east, coming from the wilderness.

The concrete from the sidewalk feels cold and raw on my bare feet, and I tiptoe as if a need for secrecy is near. I am being beckoned, the sound, the heaviness, the music. I move across the double carport opening, the sloped trunk of my parents green Pontiac Lemans, and Ford pickup truck greeting me silently as I pass by. I stand there, greeting the wilderness, stretching before me east to the darkened points of Twin Peaks, the desert reverberating with mood and sound. And then I see it, my vision mixing with sound. The half-moon stretched across the cold dry New Mexico sky, the military helicopter flying low, dipping as it were in prayer to the night. The music booming from its open darkened side door distinguishable moving in rhythm to the stars, so high in the desert sky. The light of the moon dances but for a brief moment on the lower nose of the flying craft, as it bends and turns toward the east, and I see it there. Like the music, it is distinguishable. I watch as the helicopter moves towards Twin Peaks. It hovers there, a red lone bulb blinking from near where the rotor spins on its tail. And, then it’s gone, moving on eastward, toward Farmington, leaving its memory, and secret, and I’m there again.


Sunday May 18, 1975 1:45 PM

“I can see it was right here”! Jason’s excited voice doing its level best to enter adult hood, ascends an octave higher. He’s surveying the whipped up sand, lying almost in a perfect circle around where we stand. “It was cavalry, right”, he’s nodding his head up and down in convincing fashion. “It was cavalry”, I have told it all, word for word relaying to my best friend, my early morning adventure. “They were playing Zeppelin”, Jason’s almost reverent, his eyes opening wide and blue. “Uh huh, Kashmir”, I say, “and they had a bugle, they kept playing the charge over and over”. We stand there for a moment studying each other, like it all might make sense, if we stare each other down. We are the Hardy Boys, sleuths, investigators of odd mystery’s, friends and brothers. I am Frank Hardy, the older one, dark haired, thoughtful, Jason is Joe Hardy, the younger one, impetuous, and bright. The truth is, we are growing apart, we don’t realize it yet, but this is our last adventure together. This will be our final summer together. No, we don’t know it yet, but we are embarking, into a mystery, that will seal the covenant, between us for eternity.

Jason is over to visit, on my excited invitation on a bright, warm, Sunday afternoon. He comes prepared for adventure, waving his copy of the latest Hardy Boy Book, “The Mysterious Caravan“. The book is published in January, of 1975, and both of us have sworn an oath to save reading it till June, when school was over. It was May however, close enough, and neither of us could wait a second longer. Now as we stand here, the desert widening around us, the book becoming a pointer, with Jason shoving it over my right shoulder, looking to the Northeast. “Did they land on the peaks”, his voice is almost hoarse with excitement. I turn and look, the pyramid shaped desert mounds molded against the horizon. “I’m not sure”, I say, trying to get the early morning picture straight in my mind. “They seemed to be looking for something”, I’m almost whispering, “Or someplace”, Jason finishes, his eyelids squinting against the distant sky.

“He who does not travel will not know the value of men”, Jason’s voice rings out, proudly, pronouncing, pontificating! I look at him without having to say what. He grins, and points at the Hardy Boy book he has clutched tightly in his right hand. “Remember, on page nineteen”, he announces proudly, “it’s an old Moorish proverb, and I say we should put it to use”. I know he’s talking about a trip to the peaks. It’s almost two fifteen, the peaks are close to a mile and a half away through a myriad of dry washes, and sage brush. I’m feeling lazy, I’m not up for hoofing it out there. “Let’s”, I start to say, but Jason’s tugging my arm, leading me toward the house. “Let’s get your dad’s binoculars”, he says, he’s pointing with the book again, and the decision has been made.

Sunday May 18, 1975 2:40 PM

The wind has picked up outside, as it often does in the spring. The sand is blowing throwing curtains of torment, all around our yellow house on the hill. I have just about talked my younger brother, out of a tortuous hike. I have this earnest look on my face, “We should wait Jason, we should go another time”. He knows we are growing apart, I see it still, to this very day I see it, a small dot of trust missing, the disappointment. His big brother, is growing more distant. Frank Hardy is losing his way.

It is at that moment that second in time, when two friends, young detective brothers, began to shift apart, to lose their way that the spirits that guide us all, can intervene. The magic that imparts gifts upon the gifted, can be summoned, and I did just tell you now dear reader, oh yes I did, the wind was blowing. Indeed what was too happen at that moment my friends, was to convince me that throughout my coming life, no matter what prevailed, destiny always stood taller.

“Vera, did you see the story on the Taylor kid”, my dad is reading the Sunday paper, something he seldom does. He’s a man who’s more interested in the ads. Jason and I are perched morosely in the living room floor, treading the gold carpet, pretending to study the cover of “The Mysterious Caravan”. Its yellow cover lies still between us refusing to open all by itself. “You mean the janitor from the school that was so sad”, my mom’s leaning against the opening that leads from the kitchen into the living room. “He took his own life you know”, mom’s voice down a notch, softer and sadder. “It says here he was a war hero, in Vietnam”, my dad’s sounding interested, “First Cavalry”, dad’s reading, “credited with saving over forty-five lives in the Cambodian Incursion”, in June of 1970″. Jason and I are staring at each other, my right hand is on his left hand, positioned tightly upon the cover of the Hardy Boy book between us, as a calling begins to speak. “I never would have dreamed”, my mom is saying, somewhere close to us, but sounding so far away. “Says here his name was Katz, is that Polish”, my dad is losing interest, as the seismic plates begin to shift around him, and the wind in the wilderness begins to wail. “Good nickname, they gave him”, dad’s saying, “called him Kashmir, because it says here he would climb any peak in Kashmir to save a cavalry man”.

Sunday May 18, 1975 4:10 PM

Most of our journey finds us seeking cover from the blowing sand, in the many arroyo’s that labyrinth the landscape. I carry my dad’s binoculars in their plastic case, making sure they stay hidden under my red jean jacket. Jason holds his Hardy Boy book carefully under his arm, our thinking not extending far enough to visualize what necessity it might possibly have to us on our expedition. It has taken us, an hour to hike to the peaks, and scale their sandy rounded west flank. It is as if our arrival at the tall desert peaks, has announced an armistice between our mission and the wind. In my right back pocket, carefully folded, is the front page of the Farmington Daily Times. We want to keep the story of “Kaz (Kashmir) Taylor close to us. It has summoned us from somewhere, by eyes that deem it necessary for us to know more. So it is that two young men, nearing their own ages of accountability, stand together on a bare sandy peak, looking to the west. The late afternoon sun shines its charge across the high barren plateau, striking Shiprock some twenty-five miles to the west, and casting a shadow of much awaited mystery on our two lads.

“He was gunner and medic, First Cavalry”, my voice sounds small, with the whole world below me. “He was a hero, and saved forty-five lives”, Jason continues his voice sounding stronger, than mine. “He was alone an orphan, nobody knows where he came from or if he has any family”, I continue, my voice doing its best to sound stronger. I’m taking the binoculars out of their plastic case, and taking the thick white plastic lens covers off. “He is a stranger to us”, Jason sounds almost ethereal. “He is known by his brother’s”, I finish, my voice a little higher than it needs to be, “and they are here”, I am whispering, almost at a perfect pitch, with the binoculars, making contact with my eyes.

“The horses, and the riders are over a mile away to the southwest of us. Even with my dad’s powerful binoculars, they look small but not insignificant. Jason is pulling on my left arm, demanding to see, his sleuthing instincts on high alert, and I give in to him. It is a time to share, to watch his face taunt and pale, his glasses tight against the black wide rims of the binoculars. “They’re cavalry”, he gasp, his voice once again adolescent strained and losing pitch. “Real cavalry”, he repeats in a smaller voice, as he hands the tubed glasses back to me. I look again, the horses and men are gathered around the fence near 550 highway. They are “real cavalry” as Jason said. I can make out their blues, and their stripes. I count them, and as if reading my thoughts, my younger brother, Joe Hardy, speaks, “there are seven”, he says.

We take turns watching them. The horses stand as a barrier as the cavalrymen pay attention to something by the fence. Along the shoulder of 550 highway we can make out two pickup trucks, both government green, behind them two horse trailers, empty of their cargo. It seems forever, the binoculars going back and forth between us, and as Jason is taking his turn, I realize we are laying side by side. Our stomachs are mashed into the gravel and sand of Twin Peaks, our elbows churned into the soil, Jason resting his left elbow, on the yellow cover of, “The Mysterious Caravan”. I study him for a moment, it seems I have known him my whole life. We have climbed mesas in the dead of night, entered houses unbeknown, risked life and limb above water, investigated haunted forts that we did not build. Yet he doesn’t know me, he doesn’t….”I’m flunking Mr. Ellison’s Algebra class”, I spit out. It comes out with a weak rasp, sounding anything but noble. I stare at him hard, I’m thinking maybe I have breached the vale, and this is the end, for us. The binoculars are still tightly pressed against his glasses, but it doesn’t stop the lone tear that falls, that drops onto the thirsty sand of Twin Peaks. I hear him alright, it’s a shame for me but I hear him. “I have to get an A in Ellison’s class he whispers”.

Sunday May 18, 1975 4:55 PM

The wind has picked up again, blowing from the north. Dark angry clouds are rolling to the back of us, there’s a distant rumble of thunder, and it smells like rain. “They’re moving”, Jason’s lips are barely moving as he whispers, he has the binoculars held out, may be a half inch from his glasses. I take the field glasses from him, and take a quick glance, as I climb to my feet. The seven men on horseback are riding at breakneck speed and they are making a direct beeline for the peaks. I can see the lead rider of the column, he’s carrying a pole with a red and white flag on it. The other’s riding behind him, have their swords drawn, all except for the one bringing up the tail position. The rear rider has a pair of binoculars pressed to his eyes as he rides, and they are aimed up to the top of the peaks where Jason and I now stand. “They’ve seen us”, I gasp, I’m pulling Jason back from the rounded edge of the west peak, “let’s get out of here”. I’m ashamed, not sounding very Hardy like at all. Jason and I look at each other, for a moment, I see the same uncertainty, reflecting in his eyes. It’s just a split moment, the skies darker, and the thunder louder. Armed danger against us, a mystery. It’s just a split moment, and in that second, for things have indeed changed, we lock souls. Everything becomes one from our childhood adventures, to our future destiny. It’s just a split moment. “The Vault” we say it together, our voices even, and we are running to the east following the terrain downward. My dad’s binoculars clumsily packed in their plastic case tightly held in my right hand, Jason’s Hardy Boy book in his left, and we are jumping, are faces held high to the darkened sky, our free hands joined. We are falling, as the first bolt of lightning parts the sky.

Throughout the spring and summer, and early fall of 1974, Jason and I had spent much time, in what we called the wilderness, a large tract of barren land to the east of my family’s home, that overlooked Kirtland, New Mexico. The only inhabitants of the land, was an abandoned oil tanker, a couple of hollowed out old sedans from the fifties, and Twin Peaks. Throughout the summer we had mapped out the labyrinth of dry washes, rattlesnake havens and had roamed each sandy square inch of Twin Peaks, mapping its distinctions, and the best ways to ascend or descend it. One could climb it from any direction, but the best trail was on the north side. From that side two boys filled with adventure seeking skills could switchback above a rocky ledge, and then a gentle climb to the top. The eastern peak had a moderate slope, with a shallow dry wash careening down its flank, that we has nicknamed the descent. After a hard days play in the hot New Mexico sun, our choice was always to descend the east side in the shade, and its calmness, and head for home. Between the two peaks, and their shared ridge, was a large washed out square arena that dropped some fifteen feet into a four-sided sand bed of brush and gravel. The profound drop off connected to a deep narrow arroyo that wiggled down the south side between the peaks and continued on some five hundred feet before playing out behind an east to west running ridge. Jason and I had named the area “The Vault” because of its sudden steep sides. Truth be known we had always felt that somewhere within “The Vault”, we would find hidden treasure. Now we used it as an escape route.

Perhaps you can join me, my reader, as we watch Frank and Joe Hardy, alias Danny Swearingen and Jason Waite, fall. Fifteen feet against a rocky wall, the ground coming up fast and hard, as the dark sky overhead makes its way closer. The warm air rising, passing the young lads as they fall, on its way upwards, past the peaks to meet its cold relation. You can watch as the boys hit the sandy earth, may be a scratch or two from the twisted sharp tumbleweeds caught in “The Vault”. They are boys however, and they are scared. You know how tough scared young lads can be. No doubt scared, like young “Kaz (Kashmir) Taylor” a young man whom we heard of his heroics earlier this very day. Now we digress, here perhaps, as we watch our young boys run down the narrow arroyo. Would it surprise you to know, that they too are thinking of Mr. Taylor as they run, among many other things, I’m sure. They recognize they must beat the charging horseman unseen, and then they know, they must solve this mystery upon them. For indeed, they know there are connections, and clues, gifted upon them this very Sunday, and it is their last mystery they will ever solve together. Let’s rejoin them now, shall we. It looks like they have reached the safety of the ridge, no worse for wear. I am concerned about the weather however. Perhaps somewhat more than the cavalry that this way rides.

We watch them from the ridge as the rain begins to fall. We see them circle to the west of our position, going to the north side of the peaks. The clouds above us are growing darker by the moment. “I think we should head out before they get to the top” I whisper to Jason. “They’ll be able to see us from up there”, I’m Frank Hardy, the careful one. Joe Hardy’s having none of it however. “We have to see what they’re doing”, Jason’s voice sounds raspy, excited, full of fear and life. We watch the top of the peaks for several minutes through the binoculars, waiting to burrow down under the ridge at the first sign of movement above us. I have just begun, to think the cavalry has gone on to the north of our position, when they come riding around the base of the eastern peak, they are no more than four hundred feet from us. “What are they doing”, I’m whispering to Jason crouching down behind the sand bank that makes up the top of the ridge. It’s his turn at the field glasses, he’s beckoning me to take a look, his finger up in the shush position. I have just pressed my eyes to the binoculars when the lightning hits.

The world explodes both in and out of sound, white fire coming down, separating Twin Peaks. The force of electricity flows into “The Vault”, and then floods the arroyo, branching out to the left and the right. I can’t hear anything for a moment, only see, horses reeling, raring, For a brief moment as Jason is pulling me down behind the sandy embankment I see the frightened well lit faces of seven men in blue U.S. cavalry uniforms. Jason’s eyes are wide and blue, scared behind the shield of his glasses, and then I can hear him, “let’s go, let’s go, come on, let’s go”, he’s yelling. We are in movement running to the south and then along a wash to the west, somewhere further to the west of us in the now pelting rain, I hear the sound of horses, and men shouting.

Tuesday May 20, 1975 4:40 PM

Jason’s mom brings us both a tall thick glass of homemade root beer. She is a kind German woman with a thick accent that always takes time to ask about my family, even distant relatives. She leaves us alone in the family’s dining room to talk. It is a day and time in which drinks and snacks far and few between are not allowed outside dining areas. It seems forever since I have been there, and it feels good to be around Jason’s family again. Over the course of the past year, Jason and I have drifted to hanging out with others, with occasional sleepovers, with other friends, and then there are the girls. All distractions to our detective years and history together, but a sad reality, that is soon to make its final decision known. Today though we talk of mystery, for upon us is an incredible puzzle. We sit and discuss the mystery of what we know of “Kaz (Kashmir) Taylor” and how it connects to the helicopter, that I saw early Sunday morning, and the mounted cavalry that we both experienced Sunday evening. “Maybe there is gold hidden in “The Vault”, and their trying to find it”, Jason says. He’s sitting up straight, his eyes dancing, excited, he goes on, and “it could be just like in “The Mysterious Caravan”, where the thieves are looking for hidden gold in the Moroccan Desert. “Really, I’m surprised Jason”, I’m talking down to him, something I have never done, “what does that have to do with dead Kashmir dude”? Jason’s not to be deterred though, “look they are looking for something out there, and I admit I don’t know what Kaz has to do with it, but there’s a secret out there”. We sit there for a moment, like we used to do, studying the complex, being Hardy Boys, and then it dawns on us both at the same time. “What were they”, we both start to say, and then get the giggles over it, like a couple of girls, even that’s funny. “Doing down by the fence line”, Jason finishes the sentence. “It looked like they were putting a sign up”, I’m kind of proud of myself for getting the actual clue spoken out loud first. “Let’s go see what it says”, Jason is already standing up, when his mom comes in to tell him, of the serious chores he has waiting for him. I offer to help, but Irma Waite is a strong believer in one doing their own work, so Jason and I agree to go Wednesday after school. “Remember to ride your bike tomorrow”, Jason says as my dad arrives to pick me up, “you remember to get your chores all done”, I’m smiling as I leave with my dad, happy I don’t have chores, or have to get an A in Ellison’s class.

Wednesday May 21, 1975 3:50 PM

Jason and I, don’t fully comprehend the magnitude of what we are involved in, but we appreciate it. Our bikes rest on their kickstands up the embankment well off of highway 550 both are facing west. We stand in awe before the nailed U.S. Cavalry hat sitting atop the old fencepost that holds part of a tattered bob wire gate. There are deep hoof prints mingled all around us in the dried mud. Underneath the hat nailed to the post is the first cryptic clue, Jason and I have ever seen in real life. A series of numbers and words written in a foreign language occupy the sign. Of particular notice and interest to Jason and I, are the two black circles we see, one above the number four, and the other encircling the number six. I’m so excited I can’t let myself believe what I see before me is real. “I’m thinking somebodies jerkin are chain here”, my voice sounds paranoid, and not at all as happy as I feel inside. “Uh, I don’t think so”, Jason’s voice is reassuring, much more calm than usual. “Nobody in Kirtland would know how to write like this”, he’s bringing out his notebook, and a #2. Something I’m glad he remembered, because I forgot mine. He’s bent down low against, the sign, squinting, he’s trying to balance the wide two inch pale notebook, in his hand and write at the same time. I lean over and take the notebook from him, and hold it, my palms open balancing it, like an altar boy does the Bible for a priest. “Make sure you get the black circles”, I’m Frank Hardy again, studious, making sure all the shoestrings are tied, and doors closed. Jason, sometimes known as Joe Hardy, my younger brother looks up at me and smiles, and then continues his copying.

Wednesday May 21, 1975 4:30 PM

We leave the hat and the sign posted to the fence as we found it. Jason and I sit on the embankment by the side of 550 highway, studying the copy he has made. The traffic from east to west has increased, early clock out for some fortunate Kirtland and Shiprock, workers, who are employed in Farmington. The sky over head has taken on a late cold spring blue, and a light breeze has kicked up coming from out of the west, blowing dry cold air over the barren landscape. I look over my shoulder, they sit there, a mile to the northwest, the peaks, a time, a place, for the rest of my life, feelings I can’t ever forget, for you see my reader, there in that barren and dry, place, there a mile away from “The Vault” I left Camelot. My friend, my dearest friend, sitting right here next to me, studying, talking, putting the pieces together, “its Vietnamese you know Danny, I’m sure of it, and the numbers they’re directions, its code, I told you, it’s “The Mysterious Caravan”, their looking for treasure”. “I bet Kaz hid it” Jason’s voice has reached a high peak of excitement, his eyes dancing from positions of high upper right visual knowledge to lower left feeling. I agree with him, I have too. He is right, for the most part I suppose, but then I have gone forward, I have left Camelot, and the mystery, the clues, the code, it is telling me more, and my excitement has turned to ashes, it descended like a descant to grief, for in some part of me the boy has gone hunting, and seen the first blood of the kill.

Thursday May 22, 1975 12:15 PM

Mrs. Shari Groves, librarian at Central Junior High in Kirtland New Mexico, stares suspiciously at the two boys who use their lunch hour to study foreign language dictionary’s and maps in the back of the small library. They sit there, the libraries globe before them, surrounded by books on far eastern language alphabets and their characteristics. It is uncommon, and those of you who our familiar with the habits, and pathways of young men ages thirteen and fourteen, recognize that Mrs. Groves with her usually cheerful disposition, no doubt has good cause, to keep a keen eye on the two lads. If you have a bird’s eye view, and in this particular story you do, you would notice that the boys have mapped out numbers on a sheet of paper to the right of them. Those numbers are “36749906.5” followed by the letter “N“. The number 6 has been circled with a dark imprinted line, as if someone has taken a pencil around it multiple times. Beneath this line of numbers you will see another series of numbers reading “1083096.8” followed by the letter “W“. To the left of our young sleuths is another sheet of letter and number filled paper. You have the privilege of studying it for yourself now. From the top left hand corner now shall we. “Mt Troop 4 Squadron 12 Đoàn 1 K Binh M Birgade 052.475“, stare closer and you will see that the number 4 has another dark imprinted circle above it. Following this line of carefully printed letters and numbers, you will see a final line that reads, “024 Trm Kashmir Chúng ta quên bn không“.

“Its latitude and longitude, it has to be the location of where the treasure is”, I’m talking loud enough to get an ssshhh from both Jason and Mrs. Groves. I take the ruler from Jason and starting with the degree of longitude given, I begin the reversal process of mapping the numbers of the equations. “Thirty-six degrees out of 360°” I’m talking too loud again which gets me a stern look of rebuke from both librarian and Joe Hardy. Numbers are not my strong point but neither is language, so I dig in to calculating the distance, and bearing between my latitude and longitude points. I have the general area on the globe but I need a map, and as I’m about to let out a scream of sleuthing frustration, Mrs. Groves, soft voice whispers in my ear, “look on the wall”. I nearly let out a scream anyway. Jason is staring at me his mouth open in a big toothy grin, that makes me what to loosen some of his teeth. He has seen Mrs. Groves approaching and taken great care to cover his work, while watching me get the big scare. I look at the west wall of the library, the large USGS map of the area, framed by oak, a gift to the school, by some unknown benefactor. I walk to it, my paper and ruler in hand, and begin to measure points. I can hear Jason and Mrs. Groves whispering in the background, but for me I am alone. I am working, the first clue in my young life, that will lead me someday to scrub millions of points of data for one of the world’s largest corporations. My right brain has met my left. “Wow, just wow, LOOK AT THIS”, I’m nearly shouting forgetting my station and location. Forgetting Mrs. Groves and Jason’s stern stare. I turn to announce my news, to an empty library.

“The Vault” on Twin Peaks holds the direct crosshairs of the latitude and longitude measurements given by the cavalry’s sign on the highway. I have to tell Jason if I can figure out where he’s off to. My heart misses a beat for a moment, perhaps, Mrs. Groves is on to us. May be she’s in league with the mysterious caravan of cavalry, looking for Kashmir’s treasure. Why at this moment Jason is no doubt sitting under the torturous gaze of Principal Carl Schmitt being grilled on what he knows, while Mrs. Groves holds his paper of findings. Schmitt’s probably in on it too. The whole darn school staff is probably in on it, they’re always talking about teachers don’t make enough. A little of Kashmir’s gold to grease their pockets would probably make them all succumb to torturing a kid. They do it on a daily basis anyway. I stand there for a few minutes bewildered, wondering at how I might form a rescue for poor Jason. I’m marching to the door of the library, paper in hand, ready to do business, when the door is flung open by none other than Principal Carl Schmitt.

Thursday May 22, 1975 12:45 PM

Our position above the library, allows us the benefit of watching Mrs. Shari Groves converse quietly with young Jason, as his friend furiously studies the USGS map on the western wall of the library. It would seem my reader that Mrs. Groves recognizes, the script at hand, and also knows whom might be able to help decipher. You see my friends, she is aware that Principal Carl Schmitt, began his tenure as a vocational agriculture teacher. Indeed one of Mr. Schmitt’s crowning achievements in his agricultural past was to learn the Vietnamese art of irrigation in order to bring water to rice fields inland. The fact is folks, Mr. Schmitt had to learn some of the Vietnamese language in order to learn about some of their farming methods. That in itself not an easy task in a small New Mexico community at the height of the Vietnam War. We can all understand young Danny’s concerns at turning to find his accomplice missing, along with their findings, but rest assured no foul play is at hand. Frank and Joe Hardy, may have gotten their first big break in their case.

“My guess is this is a summons of some sort”, Mr. Schmitt, has one of those reasonable, “can’t we gather together kind of voices”. “If you look here gentlemen, and Mrs. Groves”, he gives the grinning librarian a nod of acknowledgment, “Mt is one or a, than there is troop, Mỹ Đoàn 1 K Binh all goes together as U.S. 1st Cavalry”. “I speculate that top line is saying a gathering for 1st U.S. Cavalry 12th brigade”. Mr. Schmitt is looking over the top of his glasses, at us, and I gather he is doing some other speculation he is not telling us of. “What about the bottom line”? Jason almost forgets his manners in his excitement, “uh Mr. Schmitt”. “That one is easier boys”, Mr. Schmitt has gone from reasonable to a businessman sound. That line is saying, “Our Kashmir we will not forget you”, “I can’t tell you what the numbers are for”, Mr. Schmitt finishes with a sniff, looking even further over his glasses at Jason and I. There is a silence in the library that last forever. No one speaks, then the fourth period bell sounds. “You gentlemen better get to class”, Mr. Schmitt is standing up dismissing us, we are already gathering papers, leaving no evidence behind. Mrs. Groves, is calling out after us, before we can get our lowered gazes out the door, “tell Mr. Schmitt thank you boys”.

Thursday May 22, 1975 3:45 PM

We are at the fence post again. The hat and sign are undisturbed, just as we had left them on Wednesday. The flow of traffic along 550 highway hums in the background, a reminder that we are in between the worlds of mystery, and man. The sun hangs high in the light blue sky, its brilliance a reminder of a summer that is almost at hand. A light breeze has picked up out of the south crossing the San Juan River and is making its way up the long slope from the village of Kirtland to the northern high plain. There is one more day of school left, which is of no concern to me, outside of one failed Algebra class. Jason and I have talked nonstop since the final school bell rang, and what was unknown about our mystery is now partially known. The 12th brigade of the 1st U.S. Cavalry is among us. They are gathering to honor one of their own that has fallen, and they have chosen “The Vault” of Twin Peaks to meet at. Why and when is still a mystery, but as we stare at the sign, the numbers swarming around us, something so simple, that has been staring at us all day is summoned forth. Like the hieroglyphics that melted in Frank and Joe Hardy’s hands in “The Mysterious Caravan, the puzzle comes together. “052.475 is” Jason begins, “the date”, I interrupt, Jason looks at me grinning, “that’s Saturday”, he say’s and before I can interrupt again with the obvious question and answer, he blurts out, “024 is military time for midnight”, he’s so excited he’s almost hyperventilating, “they are doing this Saturday at midnight”.

We stand there, Frank and Joe Hardy, alias Danny Swearingen and Jason Waite, integrated in time. The ghost of mystery, and childhood, struggling with the realities of adolescence and change. The sun becoming ever brighter, as it tilts towards Shiprock, our time together so fragile now, so limited, and defined, and nearing a place of goodbye.

“Why do you think the number 4 has a circle above it”, Jason’s inquisitive voice, one I hear to this day in a sweeter dream. “Yea, and why is number 6 circled in the longitude”, I’m trying to imagine my voice sounding more like Frank Hardy, but it comes out nasal sounding and small. We study the numbers on the sign for a bit, the sound of traffic on 550 growing denser in the background. “They are meeting on the 26th at midnight not the 24th“, Jason’s soft voice carries the solving of the riddle, the final clue, the missing puzzle piece. I look at him amazed. Something so obvious, concealed in plain sight. It has all come together, all of our lives to this moment, and suddenly we both are laughing, I reach over and grab him, and hug him. Nobody sees us. “Let’s go see what they do”, I’m whispering loudly in his ear”. “We have too”, he whispers back.

Saturday May 24, 1975 3:00 PM

Jason and I have spent a good deal of the day fashioning djellabas out of two moth eaten black army blankets he has found in his families garage. No doubt at some point Mr. Waite will come looking for them, but winter is a few months away, and young detectives are aware that an adults mind grows weary with the characteristics of life. One’s memory can fade, with were one might have placed blankets, or chords, and in the day to day activities such things are soon forgotten. In “The Mysterious Caravan” Frank and Joe Hardy travel to Morocco in search of an ancient treasure hidden in the desert. Their mode of wear while dealing with thieves, and smarmy characters in the North African wilderness is a hooded Berber garment called a djellaba. While we are not seamstresses, we have a tiny spot of creativity between us, and our final product while not authentic in nature to the desert wear, has us at least looking like characters from a future movie, two years hence called Star Wars. Our plan is to scale Twin Peaks Monday evening, in the darkness, concealed by our wear, and see exactly what kind of mysterious rite the U.S. 1st Cavalry has planned for their deceased comrade. We talk as we sew, with questions of death and the living. Will we see the body of “Katz (Kashmir) Taylor”? Will there be guns fired? Will treasure be found or buried with the body? Most of all we want our plan to be perfect, without the slightest chance that we will be seen, or caught. We are sleuths, and we have solved a mystery, it is time to reap our reward.

It seems reasonable to us that the cavalry will be on horses, since the landscape is difficult for any type of motorized vehicle, unless they are all on dirt bikes. That doesn’t seem likely, as even a dirt bike might have difficulty with some of the larger arroyos, especially at night. To us their best approach on horseback, is the north side of Twin Peaks, and so as I observe, Jason caringly labels the caravan trail, on our map. We have a decision to make, on where our best vantage point might be. We consider the east trail, up which we have renamed the “Kashmir Descent”, but even in darkness it is too open and we might be seen. Our only choice it seems is to assail “The Vault” in darkness, and hope that we are not seen or trapped in the narrow arroyo on our way to the top.

We walk outside the yellow house, the house that sits on the hill. The wind has picked up, blowing sand across our concrete driveway, along with two small tumbleweeds from the wilderness to the east. I walk over to the edge of the driveway, standing next to the white decorative metal stand that holds up the right front of the carport. Jason follows me over both hands in his pockets, a serious look on his face. Twin Peaks stares blankly at us across the space of brush, tumbleweeds, and dry washes. “I finished “The Mysterious Caravan” last night”, Jason’s talking to me, or maybe to the wilderness. I look over at him, “I’m almost done, with it, don’t tell me what the next one’s called”. I’m referring to the next Hardy Boy title, which is always put in the last paragraph of each book. “Okay, suit yourself, it’s really out there” he says. The afternoon has cooled off considerably with the strong wind. We stand there a little longer, two boys, on the edge of forever, staring out at the wilderness. Somewhere, a little beyond Twin Peaks we see a helicopter flying.

Monday May 26, 1975 10:15 PM

I bring you back with me, my reader, as I have done so many times before. Our age, and experiences in life, our gains and losses, our loves and fears, make us anticipate this night, as well as dread it. Frank and Joe Hardy, alias Danny Swearingen and Jason Waite, are waiting for us, as they have waited on so many adventures before. You see them there don’t you. The Swearingen family’s yellow and blue tent pitched behind the yellow house on the hill. It’s thick canvas exterior rocking in the gentle breeze blowing from the wilderness, from the northeast. Above this scene a star filled sky, a universe of treasure and mystery, and beneath it, those boys, with clear eyes, and strong hearts, and such curious minds, they wait, dressed already in their black hooded djellabas, they wait. It’s a full moon tonight, my friends, the fullest, and it shines a pathway over the wilderness, lighting the brush, and the dry arroyo’s, and making Twin Peaks glow, like two worlds arisen from the past, for that they are tonight. If you listen, if you draw your subconscious open to hear, you will hear the sound of the ground swelling with the beating of sound, and you will hear a bugle. At first distant, and then closer, near the desert peaks, and then like our dear boys laying there open eyed and waiting, you will hear the hammer of the gods, drawing life from the ground. It is time!

I’m on my knees unzipping the netted opening of the tent, my black robe slipping over my hand, making my efforts difficult. Jason’s pushing me from behind, impatient to be free of our canvas quarters. At last we are free of the tent, at first on our knees and then sprinting to a run. We are passing the corral that makes up the back of our property, my brother’s horse, “Babe”, staring wide eyed at us as we run, the moonlight shining off of her brown coat, giving her an ethereal glow. We stop for a moment at the edge of the property looking with wonder across the span of the wilderness. The helicopter hovers in the distance above the peaks, a light shining down, bathing the entire expanse of the summit. “Do you hear it”, my voice is out of breath, excited. “Kashmir, its, its, its, ZEPPLIN”, Jason is beside himself reaching to pull his hood up and on, “let’s go, come on”, he’s has my left hand jerking me forward. I’m running, trailing behind my younger sleuthing brother, trying to keep my hood on. We are stumbling, falling and tripping. Our excitement is uncontrollable. Those moments! Those high flying jumps, over desert yucca, the whole of the moon to light our way. Our black robes flying open, heavy woolen hoods, bouncing off of our backs. We are forever the same as we have always been, since that first meeting over a Hardy Boy book in the Grace B. Wilson Elementary School library. We are the Hardy Boys.


Monday May 26, 1975 11:05 PM

The U.S. 1st Cavalry, 12th Division gathers nearby. The sound of horses, and the whispers of men, seem to surround us, although to our best estimation we have moved to their east, and they are behind us. The helicopter is no longer hovering above Twin Peaks, having moved on around the time we passed the abandoned oil tanker, and hollowed out sedans. Our knowledge of the wilderness, and countless hours spent mapping the labyrinth of arroyos in the wilderness, has paid off, as we have made good time under the light of the moon. In our excitement in leaving we have forgotten our flashlights. The last ridge before Twin Peaks stands before us. We are close to the same place we encountered the cavalry and the lightning over a week ago. The moon is so low, it’s as if you could reach up and touch it. I’m staring at it in wonder, Jason’s climbing ahead of me, pulling his hood up over his head for the hundredth time, cresting the ridge, “Oh”, it’s a whisper, almost prayer like. I look up, he’s on his knees, desperately signaling me forward with his left arm behind his back. “What”, I start to say, but Jason’s looking back his finger lit by the moon, going up to the shadow of his face under the hood, a plea for my silence. I instinctively bring my own hood up, as I reach the crest of the ridge, and then I too am sinking to my knees, amazed at the sight that unfolds before me.

“The Mysterious Caravan”, a hundred, a thousand dress blue. The moon is speaking to the earth, the night is singing to the sky, and we are witness. Brass and swords, black arm bands, stripes and solemn faces, and we are witness. They ride from the southwest following the narrow trail from 550 Highway, to the northeast following the trail that Jason and I had put to paper, around the Twin Peaks, the caravan trail. The light of the moon fills the wilderness, the solemnity of man, invades our young souls, and in that moment we are witness. I take Jason’s hand, gently, pulling him back down from the ridge, “we better head up to The Vault”, I whisper. He nods in agreement and we back our way down the sand embankment, making our way toward the dark narrow arroyo that leads to “The Vault”.

Monday May 26, 1975 11:50 PM

There are stories that you follow, that become you. I know it’s true for you my reader. Would it be unbecoming of me, to say that you have come to cherish these boys? They are you, male or female, they are you, from the explosion of birth, to the investigation of life, to the finality of breath, they are you. I am you also, and I take you with me now, to the end. The arroyo it’s dark, so little light, twisting and narrow, turning, following the pattern of thunderstorm water. Like spirits they levitate upward. They run in darkness, their dark robes floating behind them. Their breath in ancient air, pulling it from the New Mexico sky, exhaling with life. You see them there. “The Vault”, and you see the dress blues lying there upon the naked stone, the hat, and the sword, of “Katz (Kashmir) Taylor” as they see it. From above them, from fifteen feet of stone and sand above them, you hear it, oh I know you hear it. The sound of many boots, the sound of many boots.

I am beside my brother you see. He is beside me, and it is the end. We climb “The Vault”. Strange that we have never climbed “The Vault”. Our black robes have encumbered us, and so we disrobe leaving the black blankets in the southeast corner of “The Vault” underneath a large sage bush. The moon is shining down, the light exposing the upper half of “The Vault”, and as we begin to climb, we see the uniform, hat and sword. Seven feet up a rock outcropping holds, the dress blues and side weapon of Kashmir. We climb to each side of it, grasping stone and brush, our eyes alight with adventure. We can hear the movement and the sounds of men so close to us, just above us. Many men, and then I feel the edge, the top. I look over at Jason, one foot behind me, and then he looks at me. Together we raise our heads above “The Vault” to see what we will see.

The boots, the many boots, a hundred, a thousand, and they come together, upon this place they come together. The moon falls upon the stone faces, the looks of war. The silence of life, of darkness, under the moon, on Twin Peaks, and Kashmir is here, his remains so near to our very faces.

And it was that Jason and I saw, “The Mysterious Caravan” from life unto death, and its sight, will never leave me! – 02.13.2015 – דָּנִיֵּאל

Hardy Boy Characters, and Title “The Mysterious Caravan” All Rights – Grosset & Dunlap

Kashmir – All Rights – Jimmy Page & Robert Plant


The Cabin

Come along with me , let me take you there, where the children play, writing mystery to air, it’s not so far away, that your never free, disturb your darker life, train your heart to see. In an older wood, that laughs at finery, while the sun grows hot, in transparency, where lost boys do play, with strange spark, this day, shroud my heart in the cabin, okay. Bring your pens along, bring some color too, we will write strange words, sing if what we could, oh there’s guns and dolls, and a mind or three, we will build this dream in this older tree.

And were spinning in the cabin, speaking spells upon free time, making magic out of fodder, books of shadows out of rhyme, well were walking reflective waters, to the charm that never dies.

We are crafting canon letters in the cabin of our life, oh my friend we found a secret, of a brilliance in disguise, look it talks just like an angel, tea doll words they always rhyme. Wendy will you take us higher through the upper window back, oh it’s just a little secret, to guard the pirate front attack. For you know we hide a treasure, that no witch has ever seen, it’s the cabin in Missouri, sometimes myths are built on dreams.

And were spinning in the cabin, speaking spells upon free time, making magic out of fodder, books of shadows out of rhyme, well were walking reflective waters, to the charm that never dies.

Gray eyed spy that looks for coding, in the codex that we spin, secret agents, in the nighttime, when you hide beneath roof tin. For I think I heard a story, that was transferred by these walls, we will spy upon the neighbors, when our cabin leader calls. For this cabin reaches unkempt gates, where children hide their fates, and they sell their souls to hidden thoughts, that life initiates. Oh this cabin celebrates a time, when play it ruled the earth, when the genius of that unseen brought forth a richer birth. Well it seems I found a wooden source, that sparkles like a dream, and who would have thought, we found the way, to live what was unseen.

And were spinning in the cabin, speaking spells upon free time, making magic out of fodder, books of shadows out of rhyme, well were walking reflective waters, to the charm that never dies.

The cabin has disappeared now, a victim of progress, and development, much in a sad way like the imagination and play of so many, both young and old. The cabin is dedicated to Diane, (whom I have always loved) the Wendy to many of us lost lads, tearing through the fields in summertime, and finding rejuvenation for our unconquered spirits and minds, in the cabin. – 01.20.2015 – דָּנִיֵּאל

A Figure in Hiding


Music by Nightwish all rights

Previously on “Mystery of the Desert Giant

Let those stars guide you, as you see them slipping by, faster now then you have ever traveled, so quick a spell throughout the night. If you die young Mr. Hardy’s, know that you die so very high, for in the end, there is a figure hiding, awaiting you so deep inside. For want of mystery Mr. Hardy’s, for want of spell, to know why. In this childhood, now Mr. Hardy’s know it now that we did fly. Know it now that we did fly!

Thursday October 11, 1973

Its picture day for the little league football teams of Kirtland, New Mexico. The sun is setting lower in the sky, considering its daily goodbye, while a gathering storm brews over the river bluffs to the south of the practice field that belongs to the LDS Church. Danny Swearingen, and Jason Waite, alias Frank and Joe Hardy, are playing football, howbeit, for different teams and weight divisions. Looking back on the situation, it’s a wonder I wasn’t maimed, playing in the heavy weight division for the Kirtland, Colts. I am barely ninety pounds sopping wet. Jason my younger detective brother in spirit, a skinny blonde haired lightweight, is grinning at me across the field. The Kirtland Cardinals are finished with their pictures, and well before the first drops of rain, are starting to fall. I wave at Jason, but he’s already taking off across the field toward the north, his football helmet under his left arm. He’s headed across the street to the Blankenship’s to wait on his Mom to pick him up. It’s their designated pick up spot. Sparky Spangler one of our coaches is yelling at me to get in line for pictures. It’s starting to rain, its cold, and I wish I was sitting on the Blankenship porch, where it’s dry, talking with Jason.

By the time, my Dad picks me up, the cold rain has stopped. A mist has moved in, unusual for New Mexico even with rain. Its eventide, almost dark, as my Dad turns west on the old Kirtland highway. I look out the pickup window, toward the northeast, seeing the Blankenship house sitting back from the highway.

Charles and Elda Blankenship were taking a long needed rest at their home in Orem, Utah. In February of 1972, the Blankenship’s had moved to Kirtland, to assist in the care of Charles’s father, who was suffering horribly from dementia. Their initial assessment that the old man would not last through the spring, had been in error, as he had hung on to precious moments of life through August of 1973. Exhausted, both physically and emotionally, the Blankenship’s had locked up, the old man’s home with the intention of returning another day to determine its destiny. Now it sits there, swimming in mist, between its two Oak guardians, it’s gloomy, and I wonder if Jason’s Mom has picked him up yet.

Friday October 12, 1973

My locker at Kirtland Central Junior High, is on the northwest corner of intersecting halls. I am accustomed to entering it gingerly as fast moving students late for class are always colliding with me when I have the door open. Even so, I am unprepared to have Jason swing around the corner knocking me into the open metal door frame. His deep blue eyes are shining, almost silver. His wire framed glasses are cocked back on his head, and he is talking, as he moves them down onto the bridge of his nose. “The Blankenship’s house is haunted, there’s something inside there”, Jason’s sputtering, so unlike him, so uncalculating, not Hardy Boy like at all. I have to be looking at him, like a lost marble, because he stops blathering for a moment. Uncharacteristically he gets in my face his lips puckered like he could place a smooch on me, “Look I saw a ghost inside the Blankenship’s last night, the lights, they just came on by themselves”. “WE HAVE TO FIND OUT WHAT”S GOING ON”! Jason’s voice reverberates above the din in the hallway. Kelly Van Camp an overgrown freshman who has a locker, three down from me, brushes by pushing Jason even further into me, “Queers” he mutters as he saunters by. Jason and I just look at each other for a moment, suddenly grinning. The five minute buzzer sounds, and at the same time we say “NOON”! We part ways, to make our morning classes our faces vibrant like dawn.

The long front lawn of the school by the line of pear trees to the east is a perfect meeting ground for young sleuths. The sunny setting seems a poor backdrop to Jason’s story, taking the edge off of the fear, and deflating the mystery somewhat. Young Joe Hardy is persistent however, and as he talks, the clouds roll in from the south, crossing the muddy San Juan, throwing wind and stirring dust, hovering, and casting strange lots. My eyes are easels my mind a canvas, and Jason’s story is indeed a hidden work of art. “It’s just like “Doc Grafton’s” house in “A Figure in Hiding“, Jason begins! It’s the Hardy Boy book he’s been reading as of late. He’s been thinking about it since last night. So it is faithful reader, to the best of my knowledge the story unfolds, something like this.

Irma Waite is late to pick up her fourth child from football practice. Coordinating a family of five children, and a busy husband, is taxing work, and the occasion does present itself for certain appointments to be met at a tardy rate. Jason had found himself pacing the Blankenship porch, as the late afternoon rain storm moved in, and just as quickly as the rain had begun it dissipated. In its stead came a mist, in Jason’s words, “thicker than any the Hardy’s had ever encountered on Barmet Bay“. He watches as parents pick up their sons from football practice, wishing his mom would hurry along. He sees my dad’s long bedded olive green Ford turning, and he lifts a hand, his farewell, knowing I don’t see him. He turns, and sighs, and the lights flash on suddenly inside the Blankenship house, illuminating the front porch where he stands.

In “A Figure in Hiding“, the Hardy Boys, along with their chum Chet Morton come across a two story house in the woods outside of Bayport, where the gangster Doc Grafton and his Eye Syndicate Gang are in hiding. The young detectives face many harrowing events in their attempts to help a young kidnapped girl escape from the gangs two story hideout. Now you dear reader can understand a young lad’s mind full of figure’s in hiding, shadows and mysteries, investigations and clues. Indeed you might would want to place yourself upon that mist shrouded porch. Watching light suddenly seep out through heavy curtains from an abandoned home, and then you like young Jason those many years ago, might hear a door open from deep inside the house.

So softly the sound, but distinguishable, with the wind retreating, the fissure of air, as a door releases its latch and opens with a slight squeak. Jason told me he was intrigued, mystified, everyone in Kirtland knew the Blankenship’s were out of town. With his brother Frank Hardy not around to caution patience, and his Hardy Boys Detective Handbook not at hand, our young Joe Hardy pitched caution to the wind and mist. Racing around the west side of the house, seeking the first curtain less window or entryway he could find. Now we can all see it so clearly now, ah reader you know, a young sleuths passion to see, to know. The first window, it is, no more than six feet from the southwest corner of the house. The large oak nearby, swaying casting reaching arms in shades upon the greyish white siding. The neglected treehouse cast aside by neighborhood children some years earlier, capping the top of the shadows near the roof line, like a hat, a witches cap. You see him don’t you, our young Jason pulling himself up to the near, curtain less window, just a light shade between the glass and the interior, and from deep in the house, by the stairs, the hooded figure, the tall dark faceless figure. Staring at our Jason, as the lights go out.

It was a time to retreat, a time to run in haste, through the mist and shadows, off of the Blankenship property. Jason ran his football helmet, and shoulder pads left on the front porch, in the darkness, with the figure. Jason ran east down the old Kirtland highway until at some moment the headlights from the family station wagon picked him up. Irma Waite, admonishing, and late, turned the car around, telling her young scared son he would have to get his football equipment later, she had a late supper to fix. Our Joe Hardy had sat in silence, his heart racing, a mystery at hand, “A Figure in Hiding“, waiting.

Saturday October 13, 1973 (Morning)

It’s a chilly October morning, I can feel the frost, biting my lips, the suns up and bright, but still not warm enough to keep the shivers away. My bike is gathering speed, rolling southward down into the valley on 6th Street. I’m at that point where a bike and a twelve year old boy are legend. Between that, the cold air, and the mystery of a hidden figure, mortality treads softly, for it cannot quench a young sleuths flame. From a different direction on this reserved morn, my detective brother also rides, and our hearts meld together, our determination like song. It will be just minutes from now. Come away with me my reader, now seconds, pedals moving. Excitement building into the LDS Church parking lot. Lift your right hand with me, and strike it high against my detective brother’s sweaty palm. Know what it feels like to turn your bike, in broad daylight, and stare across the empty pavement, the long lawn. See the Oak sentinels, those dark praetorians in color on this beautiful morning, and then look downward to the house, and wonder what or who resides there.

We park our bikes up against the side of the church, the light tan bricks feeling safe against the unknown, lying in wait across the street. The plan made on the previous day, is to approach the Blankenship house in daylight, and gather Jason’s football equipment. Once it is safely in our possession we will do a brief inspection to gather clues. “What if he comes out in the daylight”, my voice has a little tremor to it, perhaps more from the cold, or maybe I’m just scared. We’re crossing the street now, already on the Blankenship’s lawn, the sun hitting the east side of the house throwing a minor shadow against the oak on the west side. Jason looks over his left shoulder, he’s grinning, “There’s two of us”. We’re almost running now, and I can see Jason’s football helmet turned over on its side, near the front door, and as mystery descends upon us, I find I am afraid no more.

We gather Jason’s helmet and shoulder pads, examining them, as if the mysterious hooded figure might have donned them for a night time scrimmage with other villains in the Blankenship’s front yard. The front windows still curtained stare quietly back at us, and with a wave of his hand, Jason jumps off the porch leading me around the left side of the house. The window is there quietly waiting and in our excitement to look into it, we bump into each other. The light shade pulled makes it hard to see anything in the darkened interior of the house, and the room beyond to the staircase shows no dark figures or swarthy characters lurking about. The slump in our young shoulders is only matched by the collapse in our excitement. “You believe me don’t you”, Jason’s blue eyes are watery, his pupils large, he’s never been unsure before, not like this. I don’t like him like that, it puts holes in my security blanket. “Come on”, I say, let’s see what else we can find. This time I’m leading as we head on down the west side of the house.

“Nothing, there’s nothing”, Jason’s angry voice carries out, reverberating off the east side of the house. We have circled the entire house and found nothing. The silence on this cold Saturday morning seems to be mocking us. There has been no figure in hiding, no Doc Grafton, and no Eye Syndicate Gang. We are walking dejectedly across the front lawn of the Blankenship house, our shoes crunching down on the frosty grass. Almost to the street dear reader, when a slight noise catches my ear. A whisper if you will. The sound that silk makes when it catches a rough wood, and I turn so slowly, and then I’m turning Joe Hardy, my sleuthing brother, and we stand in awe. The east front upper window above the porch awning is open, and curtains blacker than night are whipping the outer edges of the window ledge. The street behind us stands empty and still.

Saturday October 13, 1973 (Evening)

I have played my last game as a Kirtland Colt. The late afternoon sun is casting long rays across the western edge of the Kirtland High School football field. The Aztec Stars run by us, victorious, goading, their coaches silent and smirking. Jason is standing with my parents, the Cardinals game played, and won earlier in the afternoon. His eyes meet mine, they are alive, I start to laugh, football, with its wins and losses is forgotten. Jason has begged his parents to stay and watch me play. They have consented, when my parents agree to drive him home. It gives us a few minutes longer to talk about the Blankenship house.

We had felt it best to leave well enough alone earlier in the day. Jason had to be home. We figured if anyone caught us climbing on top of the porch in broad daylight, with an open window in front of us, it would complicate us being able to solve the case. We were sure we had a real mystery on our hands, and we wanted to crack it ourselves. We had stared for some time at the open window watching the dark curtains flutter around, hoping to see but just a trace of “The Figure in Hiding”. You know of course my reader that we didn’t see him, I’m certain you also know what we were thinking.

As my dad drives slowly by the Blankenship house, the family car grows silent. My mom who has been discussing late dinner plans just stops talking. Jason and I instinctively sink lower into the backseat of the car, our eyes wide, peeled northward staring at the darkened house. It’s as if we left our scent there, and the figure knows we are near. The trees, the guardians of the house, they’re moving, catching the wind which has picked up, throwing shadows. “I can’t see the window, it’s too dark”, I whisper, even so my words carry. “What window”, my mom calls from the front seat. “Nothing mom”, doing my best to sound not interested, I look over at Jason, he’s still staring out the back window, his eyes moving back and forth, and I know he has a plan.

Jason, doesn’t say much when we drop him off, he gives me his A OK signal, extending his right index finger, and then pointing toward the roof of his house. I give him a thumbs up, and then a high five. I watch him as he heads for the sliding glass door nearest the families outside pantry. He bends down and looks at something on the ground studying it intently. “Is that boy ever going to make it inside”, my dad sounds impatient, ready to get home. Jason straightens up suddenly, holding what looks like a coil of wire, it’s hard to see exactly what he is holding, he looks back at the car, and waves and then he’s inside, with his plan. The ride home is quieter still. Usually not one for music in the car, my dad turns on the radio, skipping from one long distant crackling AM station to another, until my mom takes over and turns it off. We are passing the Blankenship house faster this time. I look out the back window to see if I can see anything or anyone, and the I see the lights come on, and then blink off again as we drive out of sight.

Wednesday October 17, 1973

It’s a clear day, with low wind, the skies above Kirtland spartanly clear, honest, and if one were to look from north to south or east to west, they would see goodness, to a fault, almost everywhere. Two boys, there by the pear trees, on the east side of the Kirtland Central Junior High campus, one dark hair, one blonde. Danny Swearingen and Jason Waite, alias Frank and Joe Hardy. You see them don’t you reader, crouched there in the dormant grass, talking, earnestly. Papers before them, held down by once grass stained knees, planning, a compass there, you see it don’t you reader, angles, and judgments of weight, speed, dexterity, fulcrums, balances and pulleys. Measurements and gravity, what does it take to make a boy fly? What about two? Yes, it’s a clear day, an honest clear day, blemished by only one spot, a hidden figure, a mystery that plays with a young boys mind until discovered. Criminals and “Eye Syndicates” that must be brought into the light of day. What about falling from skies, what about falling at night? The older one, the dark haired one, the one who ask, the impetuous one. He’s the younger one, the blonde haired one. He’s scribbling now, making notations around angles and percentages, and gauges of wire and height, and he writes an answer. Look closer dear reader, you might see what young Jason wrote. It’s there close to the bottom of the paper. “If we die, we die high”.

We will string the 1/4 galvanized cable from fifteen feet above the porch level on the western Oak, the one we are now referring to as Charlie’s Oak. It will serve as our launch pad. The other end of the wire will be stretched and tied approximately five feet above the Blankenship’s porch roof on the eastern Oak knotted and anchored on the split, in the mammoth Y of the tree. We will build two chain anchors each with a turnbuckle and two metal thimbles to hold and tighten the wire once in place. We will be flying at night, holding onto homemade wooden spindles with holes drilled by our careful hands. We will have rope knotted and slipped up through a chain link connected to a pulley that will slide on the wire. Jason’s father has contributed without his knowledge, at least as of yet. U.S Army surplus zip line, turnbuckles, thimbles and pulleys, used in ordinary days to pull a jeep stuck in spring river mud. Now its purpose to propel the Hardy Boys through the night air.

“How do we stop”, the questions out of my mouth, it has to be asked. We will be sliding at breakneck speed from west to east, at a 30% angle, and we have no way of braking. Jason figures if we lift our legs high enough, we will slow our own momentum, and as we enter the target zone above the porch top we will jump. The estimated distance from our height to landing is twenty-six inches. The porch roof is at an incline, and we will have our football pants on, our knees will be padded. We still have a week to turn them in. The thinking is we will come in from, the air. Not something that “A Figure in Hiding” will be expecting. Our greatest concern is how to get the zip line in place between the two trees without the gang inside the house seeing us. All great plans come with a risk, and it is the one peril that we have failed to mitigate. The chance of surprise will depend heavily on deftness and size.

Friday October 19, 1973

We wait, he waits, the entire world shutters and refuses to go to sleep. The bikes sit outside the Waite home. It is a time when bikes can be left outside, unlocked, alone. It is a time when dark figures reach without hands, with mystery, across time and space and grab the thoughts of young minds who pretend to read, and wait for the human world to go to sleep. My mind takes an inventory filled with rolls of wire, and spindles, football pants, and flashlights, and friendship. I look up from “The Secret Panel” which I have been pretending to read. Jason is studying the diagram of our path into the Blankenship home, he has adjusted the incoming angle up, five more degrees. Our dithering is brought to a quick close with the entrance into the shared bedroom of Jason’s older brother Bert. “Time for night, night, buttheads, he smirks, throwing a dislodged hot wheel track at us. For once we don’t argue with him. I will never forget the look of mistrust on his face, or the smiles on ours, as Jason turns off the light, and we say goodnight.

Saturday October 20, 1973 1:48 AM

We change into our football pants, hidden deep in the Waite pantry behind barrels of Irma Waite’s homemade root beer. The wind has picked up, coming from the south, down the river bluffs whipping the muddy San Juan, disturbing the alkaline soil, breaking cattails causing strange shadows upon the land. We are headed away from the river, pedaling fast down road 6317, with the sound of Bert Waite’s snores echoing in our ears. It is cold, and I am thankful that the wind is at our backs. The stars are shaking overhead, perhaps in concern for our adventure, no doubt trying to remind us, that there are some adventures that even the heavens cannot quench. My bike sits lower toward the back. Tied to it, is a small spool, of two hundred feet of ¼ inch cable, weighing but five pounds, with strength enough to hold well over half a ton. I can feel the links of cold chain wrapped about me, securing me, as it will soon be securing our flight line. I am breathing heavy in the cold air, and I can hear my lighter weight friend next to me laboring to catch his breath. I look over at him one quick time, I can see him still in the darkness, the stars upon his face, the wind pushing his thin blonde hair forward so that it tips and whips at his forehead. His glasses tied to his face. The spindles with their adjoining hardware making clinking noises bound to his back looking like small smokestacks reaching into the air. His blue backpack carries the metal hardware and a pipe wrench for tightening and anchoring the wire between the Oaks. For a moment, it’s a snapshot of immortality, and then we ride on.

The old Kirtland Highway is dark and empty as we turn to the west, the wind now blowing against our left side. In truth it is under a mile from Jason’s house to the Blankenship property, but the minutes seem to drag out and our pace seems to slow, the bikes moving in protest, as if wishing not to be a part of this nightly venture. The highway remains empty for indeed it is small town America in 1973, and even those late night dates, have been expected home for over an hour. As if sensing the jeopardy of our mission the wind has begun to pick up strength, and what images that are created in my mind on that dark night, from the occasional blowing leaves, I leave now in haste, for it could be another boyhood story, yet to be told.


Saturday October 20, 1973 2:13 AM

We are there dear reader. The boys, you see them don’t you. I know it’s dark, and very windy, but your concern and watchfulness throughout this night is truly appreciated. You see, I’m afraid one or both of these young sleuths, might face harm tonight, if not careful. There is the risk of the wind, and the trees, the house itself, and the dark figure. The question has to be asked, what if the “Eye Syndicate” exists, what if Doc Grafton holds a kidnapped victim in that house. What better place than this small hamlet, this decent rural community. My reader, you watch them, the stars moving overhead, the slight sliver of a moon already disappeared into the molten sky. You watch them, those two young boys, one dark haired, and one blonde, parking their bicycles so carefully against the LDS church, behind those shrubs there to the east side. The feel of the cold brick resting against the metal of two bikes. Go with them as they move now, bent over at a run to the street, one holding a bundle, as if it’s a treasure, the other two spindles and a blue backpack that jingles as he runs. And for a moment they stop my reader, and they look to where they go. There in the waving shadows dark, the limbs swinging as if summoning someone or something. “A Figure in Hiding” perhaps. It is here you must stop also my reader, for in order for the veil to be lifted, and the mystery summoned, we must send the two boys forward alone.

Saturday October 20, 1973 2:30 AM

It does not take long, faster than my young mind would have imagined. Up the east Oak, I take the lead, my mittens tearing on the rough winter bark. Up we climb, eighteen feet from the ground, Joe Hardy pushing me, to climb higher to the Y of the tree. The Blankenship house dark. That figure that would be waiting is asleep, as we planned. The chain comes off of me, my pale chest gleaming under the cold stars but for a moment, and then we are pulling it around the Oak, relieved that it fits. Jason has the pipe wrench out, and we are twisting the wire into the thimbles, then the turnbuckle, securing it with our virgin fingers, tightening it with our lives. The wind is increasing, the branches of the east praetorian at war, with the early morning rites, and we are descending, the small spool of wire unraveling, as we slide, our football pants ripping in such rough plight. I look up at the open window as we cross the latent grass, dead against the season. It looks hollow, the dark curtains blowing deep inside it, and we are shadows, moving in tandem within the night. Still no light, no dark figure, and we move as investigators, our minds set on flight.

The west Oak provides the adversity. The wind has changed direction, coming out of the north, the full branches of the tree whipping backwards. We climb, guarding our pure faces, and our lives. I am carrying the spool of wire, Jason in the lead, pulling branches aside, allowing me safe passage up the darkened bark. The decaying treehouse, so far above us is our destination, it shadows us now, attempting to fall, a victim of the wind. The cold wire running through my torn mittens keeps snagging on errant branches, as if telling us, our mission is naught, and our glory is doomed. “Do you think he is watching us”, Jason’s whisper downwards, a bit of doubt perhaps, but it sounds more like curiosity. I look up at him above me, almost to the treehouse, its rotting floor sagging, noticeable in the dim light. “Doesn’t matter, I hiss, we know he’s there”!

Saturday October 20, 1973 3:05 AM

The wire is anchored above the rooftop of the treehouse where the Oak pauses and separates heading in one direction toward the Blankenship rooftop, and the other toward the sky. Jason has emptied his upper body of his bearing of chain, the thimbles and anchors tightened, the wire cold and taunt. We have mounted the pulleys and handles, the wind has come, and we are ready to fly.

From twenty-eight feet in the air, the stars receding, I plunge, like the morning star before daybreak, the wind from behind. The ground rushes to meet me, as the sound of my pulley moves gushing sparks overhead, and then it goes taunt as my body jerks upwards, I am flying. My brother he plunges behind me, his gasp audible with life, and as we fly twisting, our upper limbs stretched, our feet brought up before the sky. I look below, and the earth is moving, the side of the Blankenship home changing, and as we glide the lights are blinking on in the house below. The figure is waiting.

I am falling, quietly in a rush of icy air and by count, I am releasing and jumping, my moments close, the sloping roof closer, and my feet are touching, and then I go forward, toward the rough shingles, my hands scrapping and sliding, and then a weight is upon me. Joe Hardy has fallen on top of his older brother.

Saturday October 20, 1973 3:11 AM

We are through the window, moving fast, the cold air inside the house harboring days and nights, of apparition, and wind. The dark curtains are torn, ripped, from the constant elemental changes of the past two months. Glass glows luminescent, a thousand shards of a broken lamp, scattered across the braided quilt that tops the single bed. The childhood room of Charles Blankenship, has been torn asunder by wind. I move too fast and feel my foot breaking glass, the sound echoing throughout the room. Jason grabs me, his finger to his lips. I reach down and pull up the bent and shattered picture frame. Even in the darkness, I can recognize Dick Barwegan’s face, his shoulder pads expanding outwards to meet the twisted metal. The light from the open bedroom doorway opposite of where we stand, goes dark, and as a heavy gust of wind charts its way through the open window, from deep in the house a door opens. “A Figure in Hiding” is home!

We are tiptoeing around the bed in darkness, Jason leading, the slight sound of broken glass crushing under our tiptoed feet. I have Jason’s shoulder with my left hand, my right searching my pocket, for my small flashlight. From downstairs not a sound, save the continuing wind howling through the room, and to points further throughout the house. “I’m using my flashlight“, my hoarse whisper in Jason’s ear seems to echo throughout the house. “Point it down”, he hisses, the light on, appearing like a spotlight at the Academy awards. I signal with the light toward the open door, my light catching the picture on the north wall of the 1940’s Blankenship Family. It’s hanging askew, plaintive eyes in black and white staring at young intruders who have come to rid them of a villain. We are nearing the open bedroom door, the darkness, leaking through it as from a vault, when the lights flash on again from points below.

It is our time, from all the time that we have been given, to study, to laugh and to cry, to breathe and to fly, it is our time. It is our time, as brothers that seek, who have flown in darkness, a figure to beat, it is our time. We are brothers, we are Hardy’s, and together through the bedroom door we race, side by side, in our ripped and torn apparel, the light powerful now, down the small hallway, to the upper landing. It is there, the stairs, down, down to the open doorway, light pouring through, and we are moving, side by side. I can feel the iron cold bannister in my hand, Jason, holding tightly to my other, down and together we go, it is our time!

We jump, panting and snarling, hand in hand into the light, into the Blankenship’s, living room, our eyes wide, and our free arms ready for combat. The room dimly lit, neat and uncluttered, so different from the upstairs bedroom, stares blankly back at us, sterile, and unharmed. The couch cushions placed neatly, where they have been residing for now, these past two months, and there, over there, you can come forward now my reader, and you can see him over THERE!

The closet door, the one against the east wall, near the door, that leads to the stairs. You see that don’t you dear reader. The one that has come unlatched, the one that opens with the wind and catches the horizontal light switch. The bathrobe hanging on the hook. My dear reader, you see that don’t you, and the dark unzipped hood hanging on the hook above it, surely you see that too. It could be that if you stay awhile, you will see that the door is not level, and when the wind does not blow, that door will slowly edge its natural way, and that robe that has found its long flow caught upon that light switch will tug, oh but such a small bit, and the lights will go out.

Postscript – The Blankenship home burned to the ground, in the fall of 1980. According to the Kirtland Fire Department’s assessment, the cause of the fire was due to an electrical short. I would say perhaps in a light switch. This story is kindly dedicated to Sparky Spangler, my little league football coach. – 01/14/2015 – דָּנִיֵּאל

Hardy Boy Characters, and Title “A Figure in Hiding” All Rights – Grosset & Dunlap


The Mystery of the Desert Giant


Hotel California All Rights Don Felder

Previously on “What Happened at Midnight

The mystery is there young Hardy’s. The cave is there too. No doubt left, as you found it, one dark night. The broken compass buried in rich sediment upon the darkened floor. Burnham is there too, the mesa top glowing luminescent under that waning November moon. Dare we mention he is there too, his arms open, almost beckoning.

In the waning hours of nightfall, you must leave your comfort zone. In adventure, your concentration robust, you must cross the darkened non excavated Richey Pit. Look skyward at Burnham, young Hardy’s, and hold your faces from the sparse lights, twinkling from the girl’s dormitory at Nenahnezad, and only then must you scale, the Old Five Hundred, the illuminations waiting, climb higher to him.

Tuesday, October 31, 1972

The Beech 35 flying out of Aztec, New Mexico with its v-tail had been missing since Sunday evening. According to the Farmington Daily Times, the two men aboard the small aircraft had filed a flight plan, for Gallup, and then once in the air, had simply disappeared around 9:49 PM. Their further destination, remained of some mystery, as did the names of the aircraft’s occupants. The budding reporter had speculated that the missing passengers were employed by the BLM (Bureau of Land Management). His story further implied that the men might have been taking a closer look at the mining operations, at the Navajo Mine, and how those processes were impacting Navajo land. The mystery was being discussed a plenty by the staff at the Nenahnezad reservation school where my father was employed, as well as between my parents. The local government compound where we lived near the school was abuzz with what criminality might be afloat at the mine, hardly a mile away as the crow flew.

Two young imaginations had their own thoughts as well, on the mysterious misplaced plane. Indeed, my faithful reader, Joe and Frank Hardy, alias Jason Waite, and Danny Swearingen, were already setting the bar high for their next great adventure. It might do well to just leave them here on a Tuesday, in 1972. It’s Halloween you know, much different in those days from present. A time of homemade paper sack mask, popcorn balls in the classroom, and pillow cases for candy. That in itself would have provided our young sleuths with enough adventure, but this particular lunch hour, we find them discussing wiles of a different treat. The Grace B. Wilson Elementary playground has become the young detective’s lab, and yes, our young lads are discussing a great adventure. For you see, they feel sure they know where they might look for the missing Beech 35 and its lost passengers, for they have charted its flight. Using young Jason’s compass, they have sketched mathematical equations in the playground soil near the west chain-link fence. Their debate has centered on possible locations for air strips, and secret caverns where kidnappers might do ill will. They have discussed what treacherous signal might have been sent from the ground to the errant pilots. While the playground moves around our young lads, with a rough and tumble game, of recess football, they turn their eyes to the Southwest. Across the school rooftop, the tree line, the bluff across the river, the dark mesa. Burnham!

Thursday, November 2, 1972

Jason and I have both been reading “Mystery of the Desert Giant“. I don’t remember which one of us it belonged to, it doesn’t matter, we share all mystery, and its final revelation anyway. Our recesses, over the past two days have been filled with the Farmington Daily Times stories, of the missing Beech, and the government men. Guesses and hypothesis from letters to the editor are to be found in abundance. I bring the newspaper from home. Jason and I ignore the giggles, and stares of our classmates. Mystery consumes us. The Hardy Boys and the “Mystery of the Desert Giant“, we read in between our discussions, on the missing BLM plane. It all relates, in our boyhood thoughts, as does our knowledge, of the playground calculations we have completed. Clues imagined or real, and we know where the plane, and its missing passengers might be.

Jason and I first climbed Burnham together on Saturday, September 16, 1972. It was his eleventh birthday, and as a gift I wanted to show him a mystery that would surpass any gift, I could think of to give. I had been introduced to the mesa two years before by Navajo kids who attended the BIA school at Nenahnezad. The dark mesa with its one steep side facing west, was long and narrow, with a sheer trail switch backing its west side up to its slender flat top. The east side sloped down to a flat plain that yielded little but dried washes and scrub. The west side of the mesa was the mystery. The sand was dark, rich sediment, and at the top of the steep trail, some one hundred feet from the summit, was the holiest of holies. A cave that went into the plateau some fifty feet in length. The cavern was hidden from the ledge trail by a massive steeple shaped rock that allowed access to the deep cavity from either side of it. The gift for Jason that day was not the adventure of the climb, or the cave however. It was the walls of the chamber. Embedded deep into the rock, holding multiple colors, were Anasazi petroglyphs, scribes of giants and winged creatures. Ancient demons, in flight. Massive walls of story, that only a Hardy Boy possessed young investigator, could appreciate.

My friend’s eyes had been wide that day. His white taped glasses riding low on his nose, he had run his hand along the outline of each petroglyph, frowning and serious, looking at me his blue eyes wide, “so many clues”, he said, “it’s like a hotel cave, for something passing through”. Jason’s mysterious premise was more likely true than not, no greater words conducted from boyhood spirit have I ever heard.

We named the trail leading to the top of the mesa the “Old 500”. We had calculated the distance from the base of the butte to the summit to be approximately 500 feet, and the name seemed to be a fair entitlement for a trail, that at times was nothing more than a narrow ledge, with no accountability, or support to speak of. Though the ensuing weeks, the dark mesa and the mysterious cave had birthed many conversations between my young friend and I. The ancient drawings in the cave held clues, of that much we were certain, and after six long weeks of discussion, we were certain destiny had finally revealed to us where the mysterious signs of yesteryear might be leading us.

According to the Farmington Daily Times, the Beech 35 had set due west by southwest out of Aztec, moving to the north of Farmington due west before taking a sharp turn to the south near Hutch Canyon. The control tower at the Farmington airport had lost contact with the Beech right as it crossed the San Juan River near Fruitland. The last radio contact from the pilot of the plane to the Farmington tower, had been to request a location identification. Shortly after the radio contact, the plane had disappeared from the Farmington’s controller’s radar view.

Jason and I had taken turns over the last forty-eight hours reading the “Mystery of the Desert Giant. We had discussed the similarities with our own mystery, in great detail. Combined with calculations involving Jason’s compass, the Farmington Daily Times reporting, and our explorations of the local land we were convinced that the missing BLM men were to be found in the cave below the Burnham plateau. No doubt, they were bound and gagged, fed once a day by their swarthy unshaved kidnappers, awaiting some ransom that upon our discovery we could claim as just reward. So it was to be as that late afternoon recess concluded, in 1972 that two young sleuths, planned a rescue, and a solving of a great mystery, their eyes furtively trained toward the west. Toward Burnham! It was also to be that their lives would be forever changed.

Friday, November 3, 1972

It’s my birthday, an exciting time for any twelve year old boy, acne and adolescent girls still to the future, a heartbeat away in the scheme of life. The day means more to me than usual, this Friday in 1972. I have plans you see, great plans. The school day slows to a snail’s pace, each minute agonizing and morphing into one more. Mrs. Retha Moore’s 6th Grade classroom appears caught in a time warp. I look over at Jason who sits two rows to my right. I have to lean forward, by passing Janelle Bond, who sits between us. Janelle is busy edifying herself from an orange tabbed 6.3 SRA reading lab card. Jason is busy, studiously drawing, his thick glasses dropped to the end of his nose, shielding his work with his left arm, from Mrs. Moore’s watchful gaze. I know what Jason is doing. He is drawing out the master plan for the scaling of a mesa, the assumption of mystery and the finality of knowing the unknown. For as I am sure you know dear reader, I am certain you are already well aware. This night on my twelfth birthday, Frank and Joe Hardy, alias Danny Swearingen and Jason Waite, propose to join the realms of investigation and myth and solve a mystery.

Jason rides the bus home with me after school. He holds a paper sack, inside it my wrapped birthday gift. “The Hardy Boys”, “The Secret of Pirates’ Hill“, the original 1956 edition, a gift I will keep and treasure for the rest of my days. We barely speak, our silence in the crowded frenzied school bus, like an island of silent electricity in a water tempest. We are both staring at the open drawn map in my hands. It charts our evening, and our entry into the storm.

Jack and Vera Swearingen believe in a strong birthday festivity for their children. Each birthday is donned with a rich homemade German chocolate cake with coconut icing, hamburgers, and plenty of gifts. My twelfth birthday has been no exception, and yet every exception. My brother Joe Hardy, is there to share it with me, along with my family. I open his gift to me, and it occurs to me if only for a brief moment, that this is the most exciting day of my young life. I wonder what it will be like when we rescue the lost government pilots this night, how will we evade the kidnappers, what will be our reward? I look across the decorated dining table and see Jason’s eyes alive with the unknown, smiling, he gives me the thumbs up, and it is time for us to begin.

While it is still light, we have stacked the volcanic rocks. They are piled to the side of the house facing the alfalfa field. Lightweight they stack against each other locking together, like ancient steps leading to my high bedroom window. We test them climbing, carefully, and then cautiously remove the screen from the window, hoping that neither of my parents takes a notion to investigate the side of the house before nightfall. We have made careful preparation for our nightly journey, with two small flashlights, Jason’s compass and self-drawn schematic of the mesa. I am bringing a pocket knife to saw through the ropes that bind the kidnapped pilots, and lastly a baseball bat in case Jason and I should come face to face with the criminals themselves. The lights are turning dimmer in the Nenahnezad community.  Nightfall is at hand on the Navajo Reservation, the sky is filling with cold stars, and Burnham beckons with a dark hand.

Friday, November 3, 1972, 10:40 PM

Jason and I leave through my bedroom window, our shoes grasping the rough texture of the volcanic rock. I dare not look at my parents darkened bedroom window as we are moving faster now at a light run, exiting the safety of the back yard. There is a light cold breeze blowing as we cross the street cutting through the Nenahnezad School property. The fallen leaves from the cottonwoods that line the school’s boundary crunch underneath our running feet, the sound making us move even quicker. The waning crescent moon, is overhead, providing no assistance, but it is as if, a million blue stars have been created in the heavens to take the moons place. I lead Jason past the large concrete block whitewashed building that serves as the school’s gymnasium, and sometimes movie theatre. We move past its large shadowy exterior, slowing somewhat, as we reach the boarding school’s northern boundary. We head east on the paved road until it turns to dirt and then to wilderness. The stars are dancing madly overhead as we turn to the northeast, toward the dark object in the distance, when the first explosion hits.

The distant sky above Burnham is alive with color and dust mixing in with the stars from the heavens above. Lights sweep the mesa’s horizon from its northeastern tip following its flat top to the southwest. Jason and I are frozen in shock at what we see. I do not recall fear. We are in awe of the wavering beauty in the heights before us. We are young, and we are detectives, and it would come as no surprise to anyone, I suppose, that we declare at the same moment, “They’re blasting at the mine“!

Living at Nenahnezad one could become familiar with the sometimes nightly distant tremors, of the earth shaking, as the mine used blasting to loosen coal, and make the ever widening pit deeper. This, however was the first time I had ever witnessed the effects of earth, being disturbed in such a violent way. For Jason and I the effects ever mesmerizing, are not enough to keep us from moving forward. Our small flashlights out, the air around us growing ever colder. We move to avoid the occasional scrub and brush, and find ourselves moving downward into the vault of the Richey Pit, the air taking on a dampness. I remember looking back one more time as we moved toward our dark destiny. I could see a few lights from the girl’s dormitory at Nenahnezad for a few moments, and then they disappeared.

Friday, November 3, 1972, 11:15 PM

The small cinder block house has several pickups parked around it, and even from a distance, Jason and I can see the large flame from the bonfire on the backside of the house. We can see the moving shapes of the dancers too, and hear the falsetto sound of the singing. The high chanting, octave up, minor key down. The dancers look odd, misshapen, even from a distance, and for a moment we stop, our curiosity, nearly drawing our attention away from our mission, and the dark mesa so very close to us now. Our mission is saved by the barking of one of the dancers’ dogs, picking up our scent. We turn quickly, as the ground once again shakes beneath us from another explosion, and the sky overhead is lit by a fresh plume of dust. This time closer still to us, but not as close as Burnham, which we are beginning our ascent to.

“What were they doing back there”? Jason’s voice had a timid sound to it, not a tone I had ever heard before. “It was some kind of an Indian dance”, I say, “I think I heard my Dad call it a “Yeibichai Night Dance“, they’re probably trying to bring healing to something or the other”. “May be it’s to help find the pilot’s”, Jason says. I remember thinking maybe it’s to help us, because truth be known, I remember feeling a bit of uncertainty for the first time about our mission. Looking back it could have been the sound I had heard in Jason’s voice. It could have been because I had forgotten my baseball bat. I think we would have turned back at that moment, but fate was afloat under the stars, and we had arrived at the dark foreboding roots of Burnham.

We had accessed the mesa too far to the southwest of the trailhead in the dark, and with the excitement of the explosions and the “Yeibichai” dance both Jason and I were somewhat disoriented. Jason pulled his compass from his right pocket and carefully removed it from the blue felt wallet he kept it in. I held my flashlight on it, the light reflecting off of the glass surface. Jason turned it slowly until the needle pointed due north, we calculated according to Jason’s roughly drawn map that we had missed the trailhead, by about one hundred feet. Turning to the Northwest we began to walk, taking turns sounding out numbers, counting, moving around the occasional small tree. At the sound of Jason’s voice calling out ninety-two, we were there, the white rock base of the trail standing out luminescent against the dark earth of Burnham. “I can’t believe we under estimated”, Jason said, sounding disappointed. I laughed then, for he was back to sounding like the Jason that I knew. I led the way onto the rock face trail holding my light downward. “Come on Joe Hardy”, I was smiling, it would be awhile before I smiled again.

Friday, November 3, 1972, 11:45 PM

The third explosion of the night, hits as the trail narrows. I drop my flashlight, as I reflexively go to grab the mesa wall. The world seems to be spinning. I hear Jason grunt and the sound of breaking glass, as he pushes into the rock wall. We are about one hundred feet up the side of the mesa. The darkness below us cannot compare to the light of the swimming stars breathing dust so far above us. I reach down to grab my flashlight, before it can roll off the trail. To lose our sources of light up here would doom us and the rescued pilots. “Oh shoot, I broke my compass”, Jason is reaching into his pocket, feeling through the felt barrier, the broken shards of glass. He carefully tucks the pieces back into the soft sack, and puts it back in his pocket. We wait for a moment longer, not wanting to be startled on the trail up ahead by another explosion. I look far below us feeling like, I am in a plane seeing only darkness, and then I see a light. It’s a small light, but it seems to be moving, going off at times and then coming back on. Jason has seen it too! “I bet that’s a signal to the kidnappers in the cave”, he’s excited his voice a whisper. Agreeing, I tell Jason I think it’s a signal too, “I just hope someone is not warning them we are coming”, I whisper back.

We continue upwards into the steep darkness, and the path narrows even further. There are times we have to strategically place our feet in footholds and boost ourselves up onto an upper ledge to continue the trail. We haven’t spoken for a few minutes now, my fear building, as we venture closer to the “hotel cave”. The air surrounding us has grown almost bitterly cold. We are nearing the second and last switchback on the long trail, when I look and see the light again so far below. It appears to be closer to the mesa. I nudge Jason and point to it. “I think we better turn off our light’s”, Jason’s voice is low, almost to a whisper, “I think they’re following us”. I have to admit, if even for a small moment, I had hoped that the light bobbing so far below us, might be carried by my dad. The hour is late, and my sense of adventure is starting to wear thin. The trail is now a whisper of stability, it’s width in places only two feet wide, and with our flashlights off we are down to a snail’s pace. Feeling the cold rock wall of the mesa for stability, the rock smelling ancient and musty, spins my senses, intoxicating me, reviving me, I look back at my friend, and I can see his eyes glowing in the darkness. The trail widens suddenly, room for a small Pinion tree by the ledge, and we are there the cave entrance, but a few feet to the southwest of us.

The stars are falling from the sky, blue and intense, the top of steeple rock, aflame with light. The dark left entrance into the cavern beckoning to the trail, its invitation, a whisper of entrapment. Jason pushes ahead of me, I can see he is walking on his toes, looking like a danseur, he looks back at me his finger to his lips, the gravity of the moment almost unable to compete with its future grandeur. We are at the edge of the cave, our bodies pressed against the earth, we listen, making hand gestures to each other to be quieter. We hear, nothing, but the darkness, and then we are through the narrow fissure between the tall rock and the mesa, and as we enter the blackness, the earth moves, and the explosions begin. An eternity, and we are falling, rolling into a greater darkness still.

Friday, November 4, 1972, 12:10 PM

A portal, a hotel cave, it’s built there for things passing through, in the night, when the earth is moving. When blue stars are falling from the desert sky, fire built on ice, becoming one with rock, obscuring legend, making life, building boyhood, summoning, beckoning, inviting, never letting go. The dirt on the cave floor taste like ash, sputtering slightly confused, I am reaching for my flashlight, but Jason has beat me to it. His blonde hair looking wild and dirty in the dim light, his eyes darting deep into the cavern, I see his compass has fallen from its felt case in his pocket onto the cave floor. The cavern is full of dust, from deep in the interior, the sound of earth shifting. The surreal phenomena surrounds us, but it’s not what registers on our mind. “The pilots aren’t here”, Jason’s voice is filled with a deeper gloom than the deepest part of the dusty chamber. He looks at me suddenly, his eyes darting upward to the left, deducting, “I bet the crooks moved them, when they saw us coming, I bet that’s what the signal was all about”! I shine my flashlight past Jason looking into the depths of the cave, and then down toward the earth floor. Near Jason’s compass two small metal plates lie in the dirt. “What are those”? I’m pointing with my index finger, looking much darker, than it should be, covered with dirt. Jason leans forward, picking up the metal pieces and shining his light directly into the palm of his hand. “RA66 dash 105 FAA PMA”, Jason’s voice echoing in the rear dusty darkness of the cavern. “What is”, I start to say, when the side of the cavern farthest from us lets loose with a couple of bowling size boulders. The larger of the two rocks rolls to within three feet of where I’m standing. Jason and I scramble to the far wall, huddled within the cold arm grasp of an ancient sketched Anasazi hunter. The voice questioning, heavy with disapproval, thunders from the left side of the steeple rock, “What are you boys doing here“?

The Yeibichai, is swimming in the moonlight, but there is no moon, no air, just blue stars falling, strange mask shining, Jason’s heart pounding against my own, and it is the end, the final end. I hear something small hit the earth between us, it clinks. Jason has dropped the metal pieces from his hand. The Yeibichai steps forward moving the large flashlight in his right hand shining it into our eyes, Jason and I are holding each other, and I can fill the tears starting to rise in my eyes. “You boys should go home, it is dangerous here, you do not need to be here“, the mask is bowing moving, forward around to the right side of the steeple opening, bowing, moving, and retreating. The air from the caverns openings is frostlike, still, refreshing. Jason and I have moved ourselves apart closer to the left entrance of the cave. We can hear the Yeibichai walking his footsteps surprisingly heavy, moving toward the mesa summit. We stand there five, may be ten minutes, and then in silent agreement, we leave through the left vestibule of the hotel cave and turn to begin our descent home.

I turned before the first switchback on the Old 500 leading off of Burnham, I turned like Lot’s wife turned, and I saw him there, standing there, at the summit of Burnham. The sky raining blue fire, mixing and percolating dust with the thin high air. He stood there bowing and moving, like the desert giant, like the desert giant.

Postscript: I do not know if the two BLM men were ever found, I do know that a RA66-105 FAA PMA was found by two boys who likened themselves as the Hardy Boys, one night in a cave on Burnham. – 12.16.2014 – דָּנִיֵּאל

This story is kindly dedicated to Ms. Retha Gillespie Moore (Jason Waite and Danny Swearingen’s sixth grade teacher), Janelle (Bond) Davis, childhood friend who bore witness, and still faithfully reads to this day, and throughout it all Jack and Vera Swearingen, wonderful gifts as parents, who always put on a good birthday!

Hardy Boy Characters, and Title “Mystery of the Desert Giant” All Rights – Grosset & Dunlap



What Happened at Midnight

Previously on “The Secret Panel

Post Nocturne

It happens now more frequently for me, undue and without reason. A certain deep minor chord from Elton’s Ticking, a ghost speaking trivialities, and dreams of the shadow of Harper Hill, foreboding and dark against its western skyline with two ten year old boys standing quiet before its incline. The La Plata River trickling southward to meet the muddy dark waves of the San Juan, breathing “sister” as she churns the ground, and it is midnight, always midnight. Merriam-Webster tells us that the word secret, has many parts to its definition. Among its many quantities a secret can be held to be, hidden, undercover, discrete, confidential, and certainly not of the least of all adjectives, esoteric, revealed only to the initiated. This is a story that stands tall and unwavering before us. In it, perhaps we find ourselves most interested in the impenetrable. It is there that all boys between the ages of 10 to 14, destined with extraordinary spirit might find themselves upon a dark and chilly night awaiting midnight. Two boys, uninitiated, Joe and Frank Hardy, alias Jason Waite, and Danny Swearingen, those two young stalwart lads brought to you by “The Secret Panel“, on such a night, in October of 1971, found to be disappointed, traversing the lonely highway from childhood to discovery, locked between adventure and the first taste of a woman’s lips. Two lads sealed between discovery and life, lost as it were between taped glasses, and immortality, timidity and fame. Still, now almost silent in the visions of discovery, as there it has been for now these forty-three years, and it is there, that I take you, for it is as if the angel moves these waters, waves now muted these many days, those tides that can be soundless no longer. From those currents, those times lost now found, I will tell you what happened at midnight. The Hardy Boys are no more, they have been lost upon the cold reality of harsh facts. Our young friends, as we had left them, startled, not bemused, indeed having discovered that the Secret Panel holds no more than a girl. One dark haired sibling with arched eyebrows and a button nose, related to one Mr. Frank Hardy playing in the Connie Mack World Series, on a chilly October night in Farmington New Mexico. The relationship is undeniable, the darkness to the psyche unstoppable, and as we left our young friends in our last tale they were indeed in a somber, one might say disagreeable mood.

10:00 P.M.

Bert Waite, was enjoying all the wonders of his golden high school years, including having a pretty miss to take on a proper date to an amateur baseball game. I don’t remember her name, or the names of the other couple, that had accompanied Bert and his girl, on this wondrous evening in Americana history. Suffice to say, the parent dictated entry, and tag along of his younger ten year old brother, and friend would not have been the most welcome addition to an evening of gaiety and hand holding, at America’s favorite pastime. For Jason and I, we could have cared less about the angst brought on by our presence. For us the evening, was to be the genesis of the greatest certification of boyhood ever known. Our eyes were set upon the prize, of meeting our alter egos in life, and for that, no amount of glares, or snooty remarks coming from the older teenagers, in the vehicle pregame, could dissuade. Alas, postgame was to be of another matter entirely. As the crowds dispersed, and the stadium lights were extinguished, four flushed and boisterous teenagers arrived at the family vehicle to find two disheartened, disillusioned and dare I say sullen ten year old boys. Once self-esteemed as those preteen sleuths, we Hardy’s had become simple youth, not yet at the age of voice changes and awry thoughts, instead demoted to pouty lads. Indeed Jason and I were not open to diverse teenage dialogue and laughter, that now filtered through the darkened streets of Farmington as Bert maneuvered the family sedan onto Main Street toward home. The quarrels between siblings can be full of catastrophic semantics. It is thus among brothers, especially when one is a young lad, reaching for station in the waning hours of frustration and disappointment. It was such, on that October evening in 1971 when Bert Waite made the decision that he and his young lady and their accompanying duo date, would take of nourishment at the local Pizza Hut, located at 657 W. Main Street. Jason having no money, and knowing his young friend’s wallet was barren as well, suggested that the true course for the conclusion of the evening should be homeward bound. A bitter argument ensued. Words were tossed between brothers, those tidings of which for thoughtfulness, and respectability, will go unmentioned here. The conclusion of strife, has but of three courses it can take. The dominion of one party over another, a commitment to a lopsided peace, or an agreement of differences with a retreat to engage on another day. To my chagrin, the third option was my best friend’s choice. As the teenage foursome exited the vehicle, to enjoy their fare of thick cheese, and supreme toppings, two ten year boys, also exited the car, faces flushed, a hungrier destination at plan. The announcement by my young friend, to his older sibling was spoken thus and thus, and our intention to walk home, was met by a smirk and the unmoving, unbelieving face, of one Bert Waite. So it was, that as the night closed in, two young boys, angered and bereaved, turned to the West, and began their long passage home.

10:15 P.M.

Home in Kirtland, was a robust nine and a half miles west, of the Farmington, Main Street locale, Jason and I found ourselves standing at, that chilly October night in 1971. I remember looking at my best friend, as he pushed his taped dark framed glasses, toward the bridge of his nose. His front wave of blonde hair had shaken loose in the mild breeze, and the fierceness of his anger toward his older brother had begun to subside. In its place deep behind his glasses in his spacious blue eyes a curious shine was glowing. Any thoughts I had maintained about a cautious approach, and perhaps a warm ride home with Bert and gang quickly disappeared. Stubborn pride drew a close second to my young buddy’s genius, and with the confidence, I had witnessed so many Friday nights before, one Jason Waite, took on the exploratory alias of his alter ego, Joe Hardy, and with a wave of knowledge toward the west, he began to walk. Without deliberation, his older brother Frank Hardy loyally followed. West on the left side of the road we hiked, two lads homeward bound. My eyes tentatively looking over my left shoulder hoping against hope, for but a sign of Master Bert and the family wagon, and it’s chorus of teasing teens. Jason’s eye’s set solidly, as his face, ever west. One step and then many others, by the Safeway to the North, its lights dimming, closing, in small town America. The traffic to our backs beginning to thin, as Main Street’s cruising young lovers, headed to the bluffs to the South, for a private location, in search of snipes never to be found. We walked on, forward, without talking, side by side, the occasional street lamp as our guide, our young private thoughts, exclusive, summing mystery in the light wind. The lighted sign of the Chef Bernie’s Cafeteria, was glowing eerily, as we neared the parking lot of the restaurant. The lights for the t and the r in cafeteria were burnt out, giving the sign an almost ethereal look. I still remember the sounds of the shorted circuits talking to the night. Jason and I, had almost passed, the nearly empty parking lot, when we saw the man. The long haired Albino, was standing near the open door of his white pickup truck, near the base of the sign. He was smoking a cigarette, and just watching us, the sign above him sending strange reflections off of his pale hair. We hurried on, picking up our pace, now both of us looking over our shoulders, until we had walked up the incline of the road and were out of sight. At that moment, we began to talk, and our disappointments from earlier in the evening melted away. We were the Hardy Boys again. Taffy Marr was the greatest villain that Frank and Joe Hardy had ever encountered, as far as Jason and I were concerned. He was sinister, and his lack of conscience as a jewel thief and smuggler, ranked him as one of our favorites in many a discussion. His role in causing mischief and mayhem, for the Hardy Boys in their case, “What Happened at Midnight“, made him, in our combined opinions, enemy number one, in our investigator world. We were also convinced that we had just seen Taffy, or at least a member of his infamous thieving gang. As the night air grew chilled, and we walked on, we talked about the possibility that the man we had witnessed, in the Chef Bernie’s parking lot might be a criminal. His appearance, his demeanor, and most of all his pale eyes, skin and hair had spoken mystery to us. The more we talked of the possibilities of mystery, the more our excitement grew. We walked on talking possibilities, the street grew darker around us, the traffic sparse, and you dear reader, would not have noticed the white pickup approaching slowly from behind us either.

11:04 P.M.

The Apache Twin drive in theatre owned by the Allen family had been dutifully entertaining the citizens of the Northwest New Mexico area since 1952. Positioned between West Apache Street and Main Street, the finest that Hollywood had to offer, had been presented at one time or another, on each of its mammoth screens. As Jason and I walked by its seasonally shuttered gates, the massive double screens appeared to glow in the dark, the luminosity, casting a moonlike shadow across the vacant lot from the south screen closest to where we hiked. Our discussion on Taffy Marr, had just shifted, to what it might take, to track down and solve our own pending case, when one or the other of us, noticed the lights from a car, pulling slowly up behind us. I would expect that we turned in unison. Our minds foreseeing Bert Waite, his anger abated, his pizza sated passengers jeering two youngsters, foolishly walking homeward alone. The white pickup truck pulled abreast of us, its passenger window lowered, its driver’s pale face, absent of shadow. The cigarette hanging from the man’s mouth was lit, casting a waning shadow across his pastel chin. It was our own Taffy Marr. I remember looking down, thinking perhaps that there might be a stick, a lost revolver, a paper, with a written plan, on how to deal with villains. Jason next to me, was doing his own share of wild eyed observation. As I looked down, I noticed the tiny stenciled black letters on the door of the truck. It read, JR Ticking Ranch, Mancos, Co. “It’s kind of late for you young boys to be out by yourself”, Taffy’s voice was high, almost with the lilt of a woman’s tongue. When he spoke the cigarette stayed in his mouth, and his eyes never moved off of us. We took turns giving Taffy our story, lying, telling untruths, to a criminal. We lived close by, our parents were waiting, why anytime, our father who was a local police chief would be looking for us. Our words, and worlds stumbled together, talking faster, frantically looking for friendly headlights any savior would do. Taffy, his voice, softly making its way into the atmosphere, never moving the cigarette in his mouth, offered to give us a ride home. After all it was late, we were young children, he was sure our parents would be concerned. We declined, rapidly and politely, backing away from the rolled down window of Taffy’s truck, and then a miracle happened. Phenomena is based, on unconscious awareness, of a reality created line, that is exceeded beyond the limits, of what our neurotransmitter synapses, are prepared to have happen. It was a wonder, for two young boys that traffic seemed to spring up from nowhere, on a dark and lonely street in October of 1971. From east to west it flowed, from west to east it rolled. Headlights filled the street, the space around Taffy’s white pickup truck becoming brighter than under the noonday sun, and from the east it came, from the near east, the sound of a siren. Jason and I were still backing from the Albino’s truck, our eyes wide and glued to his pale face. The white eyes stirring, abruptly in discomfort, the cigarette, at last showing movement, in the headlights that were appearing, as if from the abyss of the desert night. I felt my back hitting the support of the Apache Twins, bordering fence, realizing Jason’s hand was held by mine. Taffy it seems, had realized that he had other opportunity’s to attend to. His composure broken if only for a moment, seemed to kick into a state of self-survival. As the sound of the siren neared, Taffy lifted his pale white hand to us as if in some solemn salute, and putting the truck into gear, he roared westward bound into the night. “He was smarmy”, I said, my favorite description to describe villains from my Hardy Boy investigative training. We were walking again, the traffic disappearing as quickly as it had appeared. The siren too. Jason was hunched over studying his once new white Adidas Athens, now dingy, his right big toe punching a small hole through the canvas top. “I don’t think he’s a jewel thief though”, he said. We were walking without the aid of street lamps now, the only light to be seen rolled across the highway from the children’s home at the Navajo Ministry complex. Our discussion full of dangerous curiosity. Taffy, or JR Ticking, was a scoundrel that much we were sure of. The nature of his background, was what we were uncertain of. His description fit the profile of every criminal, we had ever dreamed of investigating, but our close encounter with him, had given us few clues. “I think he’s a bad man” Jason said, the somber analysis, brought a silence, the only sound being our feet crunching the gravel, as we walked. “I wonder where he went”, I said? The speculative question brought further silence between us. Young detectives lost in thought, weariness, and if truth be known a growing fear.

12:00 A.M.

In 1971, Farmington, New Mexico, was a long narrow town with the majority of the new growth centered to the east and northeast of the city. The western edge, that took the city boundary out to where the La Plata River crossed underneath 550 Highway, was quiet. The last bastion of any commercial or residential life disappeared, once past the westbound Y of West Apache and Main Street. It is, this very location that we find our young sleuths, eyes perhaps not so full of adventure, upon this eve, a few minutes before the midnight hour. Jason and I, walking, the soft hills rising to our right, but a stone’s throw to the north. To the south, the plain drifting downward to meet the San Juan’s, rolling darkness. We are homeward bound now. Are young minds, committed to the long walk ahead, five, maybe six more miles. The disenchantment of the earlier evening already forgotten. Bert Waite and his pizza nourished friends no doubt already home, their young wards forgotten. In the original edition (1931) of What Happened at Midnight, Frank and Joe Hardy are tracking down Taffy Marr, in New York City, when they are the victims of a thief. Having no funds available to them, they end up sleeping in a park, and hitchhiking back to their home in Bayport. For Jason and I, that chilly October night in 1971, we entered the matrix, and fiction entered authenticity. Without money, swindled by reality, we were on foot, homeward bound. There we would find a place, a harbor, to regroup, to rest. We would find Taffy upon another day, when it was light, and reason and facts would prevail, or perhaps the following Friday evening, at Jason’s house, or my own, we would seek clues, we would chase the shadows in a known darkness, and then our world would be safe. Our breath in the darkness, I can still see Jason’s, as he see’s mine. We are at that place, the one place, where the highway tilts forward, downward slightly. The moon, a waning crescent, hiding really, not interested in our times or these ways of this earth. The shadow of Harper Hill, foreboding and dark against its western skyline with two ten year old boys standing quiet before its incline. The La Plata River trickling southward to meet the muddy dark waves of the San Juan, breathing “sister” as she churns the ground, and it is midnight. The white pickup truck waits, there, resting it would seem, where the La Plata highway joins our pathway home. Taffy waits there too. Standing by the tailgate, his long white hair floating down. Staring, eastward it seems, in search of something or someone, the cigarette glowing and unmoving.

Ticking

Very little has been changed in the truth of what you just read. For most that will bring questions, and for even more, sighs of relief. For it is that place in the human heart, that quality of the human condition, that longs for a childhood adventure, that glistens with innocence, and thrills with natural fear. – For Jason – 10.25.2014 – דָּנִיֵּאל   Hardy Boy Characters, and Title’s “The Secret Panel” and “What Happened at Midnight” All Rights – Grosset & Dunlap

Emory’s Barn

We watched him for hours as summer roamed on, a young boy devoured by legend of old, we led him on purpose to Emory’s barn to detail a wonder and fulfill his hours. A young man may venture and find a wild home, through doorways where hay stands, and omens do roam, and find leather saddles and tack that smells old, a medicine cabinet with salve, nails and comb. Look further young spirit toward rafters above with spiders and sparrows and may be a dove. The wooden floor opens towards shadows of old, his mind all a wonder a secret unfolds. We watched his gaze falter right there by the chair, is it really rocking, is some ghost still there. What now his eye’s flashing, ablaze with gay light, he’s seen the shell casing, so large with its might, from World War glory and Argonne blight, the smell of dark powder, his Papa’s barn this day will bring him new sight.

We are like a council, a grey flock in black, that tenders a young mind to always look back, but it not about us, so quietly defined, it’s more what this young boy in summer did find. We possessed him to wander in Emory’s barn to find a large bullet to hear such a yarn, but there his mind rambled and it did see more, we lost him in Verdun where he did see war, with trench’s and bayonets and blood flowing gore, in Marne we are ready, to fight all the more. What then he moved quicker across the barn floor and there he did find it a blade for a sword. What claymore of Scotland with blood on its rack that spoke of a time entered a Bosch to his back. A edge that saw action near Somme on a bank, when Rawlinson did order attack with the tanks, and one million perished on Ancre soil, their blood spilling over as G-d did recoil.

In Emory’s barn we hosted control, we lost it in summertime, from what he did sow, a young man with vision that entered a ditch,in faraway journeys with freedoms intent. We watched something happen as vision did whirl, a young boy found greatness as image unfurled. Come down now dark Eden, we’ve watched you birth boy, alone in his kingdom while summertime broils, we’ve watched him look distant and see us enflamed, the warriors of Mon’s, retreat with disdain, and yes those light footprints that start from the hay are worlds from lost shadows, now anchoring this boys new day. – 08.24.2014 – דָּנִיֵּאל

Many a happy summer did find me investigating my Papa Emory’s barn which rested itself in the Arkansas Ozarks. Among the many beautiful trophy’s I did investigate and find were shell casings, a claymore blade, and many other spoils of war that my grandfather had gathered in France as he served with Pershing’s “Dogs of War” that had returned to favor Lafayette in payment of war debt for his kind service toward America some one hundred and forty five years previously. There in that barn on the upper level alone in the Arkansas heat, my mind did see many things. J


Matinee Mice


Some came to be frightened, a four wizened few, the creatures of darkness, that matinee crew. We stitched our own stories of plot, scripts anew, twelve movies of summer, the acts we boys knew. Red balcony cushions and arm chair delights, the clandestine features of lovers wrapped tight. On now with this scripture of tales of the brood. That Friday of summer, ghost entered the Allen as sharp as a Shrew. What four boys in mischief, mixed life for the giving, on bar stools they still sing, of that troubled day scheme, the beauty of mind games, the day we rose matinee mice.

One Friday in August, the thirteenth seven one, our plan in the making we watched the dawn come. The prince of all darkness his scar making teeth, was entering the Allen for a long August feast. As lads we were pupils of what ole Lee did, his movies were golden, we watched his teeth kiss. The maidens had rich blood that spilled from sized cups, caused trouble in waiting with an R rating, the issue determined, what we boys should do.

On Larry, and Jacob, myself and Trey too, the whole plot in waiting to do what lads do. The Allen has Showtime’s of two and of four, the Hammer of Dracula offers you more. There was still this matter of age to view sin, we were boys most craven to enter the den. It was then a bright youth, myself so indeed, mentioned the exit vent from theatre to street. I bet in conjecture no one would know why, the large door was open with four boys inside. It could be were mice like, Trey said with a grin, avoiding capture, we’ll say that we’ve been. And so it was whispered with giggles and glee four boys, would crawl inward to see a movie for free.

What dark clouds swarmed inward with full guts of rain, at ten before two, four shadows did play, upon alley walls toward trouble did they creep, four lads with a mission a movie to see. Like mice we did make stealth, removing a door, as lightning crackled and rain soon did pour. We crawled into darkness, a tunneled abyss, behind Jacobs’s movement we moved as a list. Up on a ladder we soon made our way, the tunnel grew wider, our excitement at play. Beyond some veiled wall the undead did speak, our goal of fulfillment would soon find its peak. The door stood between us and rapture of sin, no longer as mice we moved forward as men. Into the pale we strode one as in four, the thunder of Vlad Tepes upon us did roar. Four boys with ambition, adventure and game moved in front of watchers onto a theatre…..

Stage….. 07.01.2014 – דָּנִיֵּאל