Cover design, interior book design, and eBook design by Blue Harvest Creative www.blueharvestcreative.com
BLUE Copyright ÂŠ 2017 Judith Blevins & Carroll Multz All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without prior written permission of the publisher. This book is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, and dialogue are drawn from the authorâ€™s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Published by Barking Frog an imprint of BHC Press Library of Congress Control Number: 2017932136 ISBN-13: 978-1-946006-50-9 ISBN-10: 1-946006-50-5 Visit the authors at: www.bhcpress.com
other books in TM
by judith blevins & carroll multz Operation Cat Tale One Frightful Day
These Titles Coming Soon
The Ghost of Bradbury Mansion White Out
A Flash of Red Back in Time
table of contents 19
prologue 23 Chapter One
A Closely Held Secret 32 Chapter two
The Plot Thickens 46 Chapter three
Twitterpatted 59 Chapter four
71 Chapter five
Dodging a Bullet 90 Chapter six
A Star is Born 100 Chapter seven
The Litmus test
114 Chapter eight
Out With the Old, In With the New 120 Chapter nine
School Daze 147 Chapter ten
whatever happened to blue?
he undernourished five-year-old boy in tattered jeans entered the garage unimpeded. His cunning and shrewdness allowed him unimpeded passage since having been on his own and on the run for the past several months. He had become separated from his mother when they had reached the Florida shore after arriving in a refugee boat from Cuba. When they landed, it was dark and there was a lot of chaos and confusion. His mother, trying to hang onto their meager belongings, inadvertently had let go of his hand. The other passengers were pushing and shoving, and with the constant press of bodies, he soon became separated and lost in the eerie darkness of his surroundings. He called out for his mother with frustrated repetition time-after-time but received no response or any incliâ€˘ 19 â€˘
• judith blevins & carroll multz •
nation that she heard him. After searching for a child’s eternity, he finally gave up. Exhausted and frustrated, he found sanctuary under the branches of a palm tree. Soon he was enveloped in a fitful, dreamless sleep. As the sun rose high in the blue expanse of sky the following day, other migrants, seeing his plight, took him under their wings and shepherded him through the travails of the next several weeks. Knowing it was not safe for immigrants to stay in Florida, they had prevailed upon a sympathetic trucker to transport them further up the coast and further inland. Unable to locate his mother, who apparently had been whisked away the previous night, they took him with them. It was not long before he became an unwanted burden and the migrants who had befriended him quickly abandoned him. He was left to his own devices and innate determination to survive. He foraged discarded clothing and resorted to eating from the surrounding gardens and trash receptacles behind supermarkets, convenience stores and restaurants. And so it was when he entered old Henry Harden’s garage on Melrose Lane in Jefferson City, Iowa, on that cool, overcast June day. Once inside, he quickly looked around, hoping to find something he could use to shore up his survival. He spotted a rickety ladder and looked up to where it was resting against a shelf. With child-like curiosity, he wondered what was on the shelf that contained cans and jars, so he began to climb. When he reached the top, he put his hand out to steady himself and caught the bail on a paint can, toppling it in his direction. Before he knew it, he was covered with paint. Not just any paint but blue paint. The ladder became slick, and losing his grip, he slid clumsily down the ladder landing in the puddle of spilled paint now covering the garage floor. • 20 •
• blue •
Stunned and dripping with blue paint, he moaned for several agonizing minutes. When he regained his composure, he found he was covered from head to toe with blue paint. As he rose, he frantically searched around for something to extricate himself from the dripping paint. He located a barrel with a supply of cleaning rags and began trying haphazardly to clean the paint first from his face and then from his arms and hands. This resulted in merely smearing it. With no little effort, he was able to remove some of the paint from his eyes, nose and mouth. Surveying the mess he had created, he became worried about the trouble he would be in should he be detected. Surely, the noise would attract the curious. He made a bee-line for the door but was inhibited by the clinging mass that engulfed him. Looking back he could see the trail of blue footprints he was leaving behind. He didn’t have the resources, the energy or the time to try to clean up the mess in the garage though he knew he should. He was in survival mode and he could only hear and pay attention to the cry of the wild that had befriended him until now and that beckoned to him from beyond.
• 21 •
a closely held secret
t just so happened that Rhymin’ Sally and I were taking a shortcut past Henry Harden’s garage when we heard the clatter of metal as it hit the floor and then a dull thud. We pressed our faces against the window of the garage door and peered in. We could scarcely believe what we observed. There in plain view glimmering in a ray of light was a small lad dazed and lying on the garage floor drenched in blue paint. We watched as he began to move about and then attempt to wipe the blue paint from his face and hands. Not having much success, we watched as he retrieved some rags from a barrel and repeated the routine. He then headed for the door. Sally and I quickly ducked behind some bushes so we wouldn’t be seen. • 23 •
• judith blevins & carroll multz •
Sally whispered to me, “Little Boy Blue.” Her mother had apparently read her the story by that name. Ironically, it fit the description of the boy now drenched in blue paint.
My name is Shacoo Bandaris. I’m twelve years old and in the eighth
grade. I live with my parents in a town with a population of about thirty-five thousand called Jefferson City. There is another Jefferson City, only that one is located in Missouri. My home town is located in Iowa. Both, no doubt, were named after our third president, Thomas Jefferson. Every Friday afternoon Sally took piano lessons from my mother. She was barely five and had not yet started school. Since I don’t have a little sister and Sally doesn’t have a big sister, we adopted each other. Rhymin’ Sally is the youngest member of the R*U*1*2s, a club we formed consisting of classmates and neighborhood kids. Sally’s father provided our clubhouse which sits in the middle of his apple orchard. His name is Lloyd Pearson and Sally’s mother’s name is Rosemary. My mother’s name, by the way, is Katrina, and my father’s name is Carlo. Our parents had gone to school together and were good friends. Sally acquired her nickname because she had the habit of talking in rhymes. If you hang around Rhymin’ Sally long enough, you soon find yourself speaking in rhyme. It seems to be contagious. Sally’s mother opined that Sally was probably influenced by Dr. Seuss since all his stories were written in rhyme and were Sally’s favorites.
• 24 •
• blue •
As we watched, Little Boy Blue slowly and cautiously exited the ga-
rage, then darted around the corner of the building and headed toward the alley. We followed close behind, but for the most part, we stayed in the shadows to avoid detection and we soon lost sight of him. Some distance away we spotted him again. He was rummaging through a trash can so we boldly approached him and asked what he was doing. It was obvious we had startled him. His eyes got big and he just froze in his tracks. Dropping a loaf of stale bread, he attempted to run away. Determined to get an answer, we ran alongside of him. As we did so, Sally blurted, Do not fear, I live near. We won’t cause you any harm, nor sound an alarm. We can be trusted and won’t get you busted. The boy just stared at her in what I would call “startled amazement.” It was apparent he didn’t understand what she was saying. He then said something we were unable to understand and continued running. Well, we were just as stubborn. Being fleet of foot, we kept right on his heels. We were now in the orchard behind Sally’s home and close to the R*U*1*2’s clubhouse. I pointed to the clubhouse indicating that we should go there. Sally grabbed the boy’s hand and pointed. The boy understood the sign and nodded his head. He looked tired and forlorn. Once inside the clubhouse, and no doubt feeling a little more secure, the boy calmed down. He sat on a crate and buried his head in his hands. I asked him some questions but he remained silent and confused. Since he was rummaging in the trash, we sensed he was hungry. We went to the upturned crate the R*U*1*2s used as a pantry and retrieved a jar of peanut butter, • 25 •
• judith blevins & carroll multz •
some crackers and a bottle of juice. The boy looked longingly at the food and nodded his head in approval. We set the snacks in front of him but before he could take a bite, we attempted to rid his hands of the blue paint with some paper towels but gave up after a few tries and let him go ahead and eat and drink. After the respite, I signaled to him that he needed to rid himself of the blue paint. He eagerly complied and appeared grateful. We did the best we could considering that the paint was almost dry. Realizing that sign language was the only way to communicate with the tot, I folded my hands together and turned my head and rested my cheek on my hands in a sleeping pose. I then pointed to a sleeping bag rolled up in the corner of the clubhouse. The boy nodded his head in apparent acceptance. Unrolling the sleeping bag, I retrieved some of the R*U*1*2’s old blankets and covered the bag to protect it from the blue paint. I pointed to the bag and then to the boy and then back to the bag. The boy curled up in typical cocoon fashion, his eyelids closed and he fell instantly asleep. Satisfied the boy was secure, we exited the clubhouse.
My first instinct was to summon Genius. Genius was also a twelve year old and close friend of mine. He was nicknamed Genius because the R*U*1*2s considered him the smartest kid in school. I told Sally I was going to find Genius and asked her to stay with the stranger. She agreed to do so. I sprinted to Genius’ house. He lived but a short distance from our clubhouse. Fortunately, when I arrived, he was home. After a few rings and a frantic knock, Genius came to the door. He said later that he knew something was • 26 •
• blue •
amiss when he observed me trying to catch my breath. Genius came out onto the porch and asked anxiously, “What’s wrong? Are you hurt? Come sit on the glider…” I began gesturing with my hands, and still out of breath, managed to say, “Sally and I found…, we found a little boy, Little…Little Boy Blue. He…he’s at the clubhouse…Genius, you must come with me. You…you’ll know what to do.” Genius just stood there for a minute obviously trying to make sense out of my utterances. Even though my speech was fragmented, he said later he realized I was in a desperate state so he took my hand and followed as I led him in the direction of the clubhouse. When we entered the clubhouse, Sally put a finger to her lips indicating we should be quiet. I whispered to Genius: “He was hungry and needed sleep. Please try not to wake him.” Genius nodded and gave me the okay sign with his forefinger and thumb. In a hushed tone, I continued my narration. “Sally and I were passing Henry Harden’s garage and heard a clatter. We looked in the window and saw a little boy covered in blue paint. When he saw us, he started to run and we followed. He was scared and ran down the alley but he could not out run us. We stayed close on his heels. Poor little kid, he was scared out of his wits. Sally tried to talk to him but he wouldn’t stop. Finally, we motioned for him to follow our lead and we led him directly to the clubhouse. We gave him a snack and settled him down. There he is sound asleep,” I said pointing to the little blue bundle curled up on a sleeping bag. When we approached the refugee, he jerked wide awake and sat upright. He saw me with Genius and looked startled. I signaled with my hand that everything was all right and he calmed down. I began to ask him questions but he just looked bewildered and at a loss to reply. I looked around and found a tablet and a pencil, and poising the pencil momentarily on the tablet, • 27 •
• judith blevins & carroll multz •
began to draw some stick figures: a man, a woman and a child, hoping the drawings would spark a form of recognition and thus something he could understand. I pointed to the man. The boy shook his head. I pointed to the woman. The boy looked quizzical. I then pointed to the child and he began to cry. Realizing the boy was probably an orphan, I patted him on the head and began drawing again. I drew a car, an airplane and a train and pointed to them one at a time. The boy appeared to understand what I was attempting to do, and taking the pencil and pad, began drawing. He fashioned a crude boat and loaded it with stick figures. One figure stood out from the rest and the boy pointed to it and then to himself. The three of us immediately connected the dots. The boy had come to the United States on a boat, probably from Cuba. But how did he get to Jefferson City from, say the Florida shores? I again took the pencil and drew a circle around the boat and then pointed to the car, plane and train and then a makeshift replica of the clubhouse where we were sitting. The boy correctly interpreted that I was asking how he came to be in Jefferson City. He drew a circle around the car and drew several stick figures. Thinking he probably spoke Spanish, I asked in my limited Spanish: “Madre?” The boy started crying again. He took the pencil and drew a circle around one of the stick figures in the boat, one wearing what looked like a triangle, obviously depicting a skirt, and then nodded his head. It was apparent that the boy had been separated from his mother at some point and was brought to Jefferson City and there became stranded. Genius turned to me. He had been following the interaction, he would say later, with piqued interest. “We have to get him cleaned up,” he declared as he tried to peel the dried paint from our little boy blue’s hands. Sally offered, • 28 •
• blue •
Mommy has gone to the mall to shop. We can use the shower in the guest room at the top. With Mommy’s cleaning supplies we can remove all the paint–every single drop. Sally and I each took one of the boy’s hands and trudged through the dense orchard that surrounded Sally’s home trying to keep paint off ourselves though by now it was dry to the touch. Genius followed behind close. When we arrived at Sally’s home, we hastened to the bathroom adjacent to the guest room and removed the outer clothing from the boy and started scrubbing him. Neither the soap nor the scouring powder seemed to work. Sally then remembered that her father had some paint brushes sitting in some paint thinner on his workbench in the garage that he claimed dissolved paint. I went into the garage and retrieved the can in which the brushes were soaking. Removing the brushes and leaving them on the workbench, I returned to the house and gently applied the solution to the paint still stuck to the boy. It worked. However, we had trouble removing the now dried paint from the boy’s hair. I also noticed the boy was about Sally’s size and I surmised he must be five or six years old. I said: “Sally, please get me some scissors. If you have an extra pair of jeans and a plain T-shirt we can substitute them for his paint stained clothes.” Sally nodded and said, From the stack in the back I’ll get some old clothes and be right back. She stopped as she started through the doorway and added, I don’t think they will be missed. Grab what you want, I insist. • 29 •
• judith blevins & carroll multz •
Within minutes, Sally returned with the scissors. “Perfect,” I said and started to cut the boy’s hair. The boy flinched and protested by frowning and putting his hands to his head. I picked up a clump of cut hair and displayed it. He looked at it and cringed-it was streaked with blue paint. He removed his hands from his head and shrugged his shoulders. I took that as a signal that it was all right for me to continue. After the haircut, Genius took a rag from the bundle Sally indicated was earmarked for recycling and set the boy on the edge of the bathtub. There, with soap and water, he was able to remove the paint from the boy’s face, arms and hands. Luckily, the paint was the kind that could be cleaned off with soap and water. Fortunately, the boy was wearing long pants, and at the time of the spill, none had seeped through. When we finished, we fitted him with Sally’s discards. I collected the paint-covered clothing and cut hair and headed for the kitchen. I placed the items in the trash but put them in the bottom so they wouldn’t be discovered. As soon as I closed the lid, I heard the roar of Sally’s mother’s car as it pulled into the drive next to the house. Frantically, I told Sally to stay while Genius and I took the boy out the back door through the orchard and to the clubhouse. We grabbed the transformed boy’s hands and rushed out. We had barely closed the back door when Sally’s mother came through the side door adjacent the drive with an armload of groceries. We learned later from Sally what then transpired. “Sally,” she called as she set the overflowing grocery bags on the counter. “Yes, Mommy.” “I just saw Shacoo and Genius and some strange lad running through the orchard. Do you know who the boy was that was with them? I’ve never seen him before.” • 30 •
• blue •
Ah, oh, yeah, that’s a new kid who just moved here. We saw him wandering and full of fear. They are helping him find his home. We think he was lost and left alone. “Perhaps we should call the authorities,” Sally’s mother reportedly said as she placed the milk and butter in the refrigerator. Ah, no. I think Shacoo and Genius will take him in tow. They’re like that, you know. Sally said as she crossed her fingers behind her back hoping it would excuse her fibbing. “Okay, if you think it’s all right. I have much to do before your father gets home. You know how impatient he becomes if dinner isn’t ready when he arrives?” I’ll help. We don’t want Daddy to yelp. Are there any more groceries? That’s something I… “Thank you, Sally. I appreciate your help,” Mrs. Pearson interrupted. We learned later that she was concerned more by Sally’s inability to find a word to rhyme with “groceries” than the stranger she saw disappear into the orchard with Genius and me.
• 31 •
about the authors
udith Blevinsâ€™ whole professional life has been centered in and around the courts and the criminal justice system. Her experience in having been a court clerk and having served under five consecutive district attorneys in Grand Junction, Colorado, has provided the fodder for her novels. She has had a daily dose of mystery, intrigue and courtroom drama over the years and her novels share all with her readers.
arroll Multz, a trial lawyer for over forty years, a former twoterm district attorney, assistant attorney general, and judge, has been involved in cases ranging from municipal courts to and including the United States Supreme Court. His high profile cases have been reported in the New York Times, Redbook Magazine and various police magazines. He was one of the attorneys in the Columbine Copycat Case that occurred in Fort Collins, Colorado, in 2001 that was featured by Barbara Walters on ABCâ€™s 20/20. Now retired, he is an Adjunct Professor at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, Colorado, teaching law-related courses at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.