Ben straddled the bannister and slid down headfirst. He gripped the rail with both hands to control his speed and then flung one leg over at just the right moment to avoid plowing headlong into the post at the bottom. With the agility of a cat, while still half asleep, he made a perfectly graceful ninja-like landing at the bottom.
Ten o’clock seemed a little late for breakfast but it was the first day of summer–no school. His mom had already run a load of clothes in the washer and was sipping coffee while reading the newspaper. Although Tali liked coffee, he could not understand why anyone would drink that nasty stuff. She looked up for a moment, “Tali is sitting on the porch, she’s been waiting for you.”
He grabbed two bowls, a couple of spoons, the half-full box of Cheerios and a quart of milk. Hands full, he turned his back to the screen door on the porch and pushed. The door swung hard open banging against the stop, announcing his presence to Tali followed by a loud “really!” from mom. He sat down next to her on the top step.
“Hungry?” he asked. Tali smiled, took one of the bowls and filled it to the brim, she knew Ben well. He inhaled the first bowl and was finishing up what was left in the box before Tali had taken three bites. Ninjas never waste food or much time eating it.
“So, should we ride to the hangar and see if Grandpa Jimmy is there?” asked Tali. “I’m kind of anxious to know how much the pottery is worth.”
“Yeah, sounds like a plan, let’s go,” he said as he jumped to his feet.
“When I’m finished eating, okay?”
“Yeah, sure… I’ll just call Kate and the guys and ask them to meet us here, that should give you time to finish.”
A few minutes later, Bandit and the rest of the gang rode up. “Are you guys ready to go?” asked Kate.
“Yeah, give me a minute to put these bowls in the dishwasher. Mom gets kind of mad if I leave dishes laying around.”
Seconds later Ben burst through the front screen door slamming it against the stops once again. In one motion he leaped from the porch to the yard where his bike was parked. They were all ready to hit the road when they heard that familiar backfire. The old faded blue pickup was coming around the corner.
Grandpa Jimmy pulled into Tali’s driveway. They looked at each other in surprise then hopped off their bikes and ran to greet him. “Hi Jimmy,” said Tali, “what are you doing here?” “Yeah, what’s up?” asked Willy.
“Came to visit with your mom for a minute, Tali, if that’s okay.”
“I’ll let her know you’re here,” she replied.
Tali’s mom invited Grandpa Jimmy in. When the gang tried to follow, he turned and held his hand out, like a school crossing guard. “Appreciate it if you all would wait out here, this is grown-up talk, okay?”
“Yeah, sure, okay.”
The gang ran around to the side of the house where they could hide behind the bushes and sneak a peek through the kitchen window. Jimmy and Tali’s mom were sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee. “Everyone, hush; I want to hear what they’re saying,” said Kate. Unfortunately, they were speaking far too quietly for the gang to hear.
Tali watched her mom through the kitchen window as she leaned her head down and covered her face with her hands. She was sobbing. Tali wanted to run to her but knew it was not the time.
Jimmy slid his chair back, smiled and walked toward the front door. The gang made a beeline to the front porch. When he came out, all he said was, “see ya at the hangar.” With a grin on his face, he jumped in the old truck and drove away.
They sprinted for the front door, all five trying to crowd through at once. Tali’s mom met them as they came in.
“Are you okay, mom?”
“I’m fine, the best I’ve felt in months, thanks to you kids. At least that is what Jimmy says.”
“What did he say?” asked Tali.
“Well, he said you guys followed an old treasure map to a cave in the hills. When you explored it, you found an old pistol and a pottery bowl and brought them back to the hangar. He told me the pistol wasn’t worth much, but he immediately recognized the pottery. He said it was incredibly old and resembled pottery made by the Hopi Indians.
He also said that if it was worth anything, all of you wanted the money to be used to keep Tali and me in our house. Is that true?”
“Yeah, mom.” “Yes, Mrs. Harrison, that’s right,” said Kate.
“Maybe I shouldn’t have, but I told them and Grandpa Jimmy that we might lose our home soon. They all wanted to help, but none of us knew what to do, except for Grandpa Jimmy. He gave us the map and that is how we found the pottery in a cave. When we learned the bowl might be worth something, everyone agreed the money should be used to help us with our house payments. I guess Grandpa Jimmy told you about that.”
“Yes, he did. He sold the bowl to a museum in Denver and gave me this check. The check is made out to Mrs. Aiyana Harrison and Miss Tali Harrison. It’s enough money to make our back payments and keep us in our home for at least another year.”
“Wow!” “Cool!” “That awesome!” remarked the gang.
“All I know to do is thank God and you kids, this is really a miracle.” She sat down on the sofa, covered her face with her hands and wept.
Tali sat next to her on one side and Kate took a seat on the other. All three hugged and cried. Ben, Willy and Jold weren’t sure what to do. They looked at each other for a moment, then almost on queue, gave each other a quiet high five with a whisper, “yeah.” Bandit wasn’t as polite. He let out a loud bark, which he always did when he witnessed a high five.
When Mrs. Harrison regained her composure, she looked at the boys and said, “come over here and sit with us, you all have some explaining to do. I want to know what has been going on with Grandpa Jimmy. There must be more to this story than what you have told me, right?”
Tali looked her mother in he eyes. “Yes, there is mom, but there is no way you’ll ever believe us. We can’t hardly believe it ourselves.” “She’s right, Mrs. Harrison, you’ll never believe it.”
“All is Not Lost” Jold and Willy turned to look; they too could see the sun reflecting off something shiny. “Let’s run for it before the sun completely disappears,” said Willy. “Yeah, run for it!” said Ben. The two of them, along with Bandit, sprinted off. Ben hung...
“Raging Water” For Tali, the imagined stories of the missing loot just made her sad. Her hopes of helping her mom save their home were dying. “I’ll be glad when we get back, my mom needs me now,” she said. “Are you going to have to move?” asked Jold. “Probably,...
“The Foolish Enter…None Return” A full moon and flickering fire made reading the map feel even more like a long-kept secret was about to be revealed. They studied it while whispering their thoughts as if someone were listening through the wall in another room. Not a...
“Eeek! It's a Rattler!” Within minutes they were airborne. Bandit settled down in one of the captain’s chairs, Ben and Willy took their seats in the cockpit with Jold scrunched down on his knees between them, while Kate and Tali sat next to each other on the sofa in...
“A For Real Treasure” Ben called Kate, Willy and Jold to let them know what was up with Tali and that Grandpa Jimmy had a plan. It would be an adventure and it might help Tali and her mom keep their home. No doubt, the inseparable gang would rally behind Tali. Nothing...
“How's That Possible?” The gang climbed aboard the Shirley Ann and locked the door. The windows fogged over, and the engines started. They felt her throttle up, swing around, then stop. The motors shut down and the fog evaporated. Peering through the windows, it was...
“This is Just Weird” “Are you related to Grandpa Jimmy, ‘cause you kind of look like him, only a lot younger.” said Ben. “Nope, not related, I am Grandpa Jimmy.” “That’s impossible!” said Kate. As if to confirm Grandpa Jimmy’s identity, Bandit trotted over,...
“Back to the Shirley Ann” Early the next morning there was a knock. The elder, Tukkuttok, opened the door, it was Cheryl. He motioned her in. She looked at the boys, “Mark's going be OK, he will have to be in the hospital for a few weeks, but he’ll be fine.”...
“We Can Make It” Ben looked at the broken runner. “I’ve got an idea.” He unzipped his backpack and pulled out a tightly wound ten-foot nylon cord that was rated for 250 pounds. He tied one end to the side rail behind the broken stanchion. Then he made a loop on the...
“Danger at the Cabin” “We won’t let the wolves get you April, I promise,” said Kate. “That’s right,” said Tali. “It’ll be okay, Bandit will let us know if something is wrong. What do ya say we keep reading, the story’s just getting interesting.” April nodded...