Sunday, November 04, 2007


This week’s sample chapter comes from the book, NORTH WOODS POACHERS. I wrote it after producing a couple of films in northern Canada, about 50 miles beyond the last town.

The Washburn families have been coming to the same cabins, on the same lake, catching the same fish, for about as long as Andy can remember. And he's sick of it. This summer would be different he decided. Only he never imagined how different. The story is filled with excitement, danger, humor, and drama. In the end, Andy learns the concepts of family tradition, and it is important to follow the rules.

Readers will enjoy the gigantic, jet-powered floatplane, computers, home made radio transmitter, and naturally, no one will ever forget Big Wally. He’s a fish of course.

Have fun!

Max Elliot Anderson

Chapter 5

The boys ran back to the cabin where C. J.’s family was staying.
“Where is everybody?” he asked.
“Oh, wait a minute, it’s our turn for supper tonight. Yours is tomorrow.”
They flew out the front, letting the screen door slam behind them. When they ran into Andy’s cabin, the rest of their families were waiting.
“Where have you been? It’s after dark.”
“I know,” Andy said. “I’m sorry, but we couldn’t help it. Did you guys see those planes?”
“What planes?” the girls asked.
Andy’s father crossed his arms over his chest. “You mean the black ones?”
“I sure do. We’ve never seen anything like them. Wait. How did you know?”
“The man who sold me our fishing licenses was telling me about them. Seems they come in every few days, always landing at night. Then, the next morning, before the sun comes up, they take off again.”
“Who are they?” C. J. asked.
“Nobody seems to know. Mostly they stay to themselves.”
“Well, where?” Andy demanded.
“Some old private fishing lodge beyond Rocky Point. They probably just like the privacy, like me. That’s all.”
“But Dad. Two planes, all painted black. They only come in at dark and leave the same way. Come on. There has to be more to it than that.” Andy’s mind was racing.
“There sure doesn’t, and if their place is private, then that’s exactly what it means. ‘Leave us alone and we’ll leave you alone.’”
“But Dad.”
“No buts. That’s final.”
“I hate it when you say things like that.”
“Andrew!” his mother scolded.
“Now let’s sit down and eat dinner.”
Andy’s mother served fried chicken, Southern style, mashed potatoes with gravy, corn, and creamed beans.”
“Where have you been hiding all this good stuff?” Andy asked.
“Weren’t you the one complaining when we took time to shop back at the grocery store?” she reminded.
“That was C. J., wasn’t it?”
“Don’t try to hook me into this one. You’re on your own.”
“Dad,” Jessica said. “Could the girls have a spend-the-night party tonight?”
“You mean stay over here with Sarah?”
“Sort of. I mean have her stay in my room, and C. J. can stay here with Andy tonight.”
Andy couldn’t believe what she was saying. Even if he’d tried he couldn’t have come up with a better script for what she should say. His eyes quickly darted over to C. J. who shrugged his shoulders and slightly shook his head, no, as if to say, It wasn’t my idea.
“What do the rest of the parents think?” Uncle Joe asked.
“It’s fine with us, I think,” Andy’s mother answered.
“Then on another night, we could switch cabins and do it again,” Sarah suggested.
“Let’s see how it goes first, then we can decide,” her mother told her.
This was just too perfect. Andy had wondered how he and his cousin were going to find the time to make plans if they were stuck in the fishing boats for the next two days. Now they could start some serious planning right away.
After dinner both families helped with the clean up. Then they sat by the fireplace to talk.
“Did the store owner say anything more about those planes?” Andy asked.
“How long have they been coming up here?” C. J. added.
“He said it started a couple weeks after the ice melted.”
“Have you ever been to the old lodge?”
“No. I’ve seen it from the boat anytime we’ve fished past the point. But fishing isn’t so good over there. That’s why I like to go to a couple spots on the other side of the lake.”
“Could we run past the lodge on our way out tomorrow? Just to see it?”
“I’ll think about it.”
“What else did you find out?” Uncle Dave asked.
“The people around here are a little concerned, mostly because no one ever comes over here from the lodge. And the planes are a bit dangerous, flying in and out in almost total darkness. People think a boat might get hit.”
“Maybe they’re just a bunch of rich people that don’t wanna get to close to people like us.”
“That could be. Sometimes famous people like to be left alone.”
“I know,” Andy laughed. “You aren’t famous, and we come up here to get away from people too.”
“Well, why don’t we make some plans for the days ahead,” Andy’s father began. “Tomorrow evening, after a day of fishing,” Andy and C. J. looked at each other as if they were both in great pain, “dinner will be in Uncle Joe and Aunt Julie’s cabin.”
“What are we having?” Jessica asked.
“You’ll have to wait and see.”
“No fair,” C. J. complained.
Andy’s father continued, “We have to eat breakfast early so we can head to the boats by sunup.”
“Wouldn’t want to let those fish sleep in. Would we dad?”
“That’s right. So kids, go to bed early. It’ll be a short night for all of us.”
“Do you plan to do anything else up here besides fish?” Andy asked.
“I sure don’t,” his father answered.
After everyone was finished with dinner and the table was cleared, Andy’s mother asked, “Who would like some popcorn?”
Not only did the cabins have old furniture, there were other old things, like the popcorn maker hanging from the mantle. It was in the shape of a box with a long handle and a little screen door on top. Andy’s mother put some oil in the bottom, and then dumped in a scoop of popcorn kernels.
“Kinda makes you miss the ol’ microwave, doesn’t it Mom.” Andy teased.
“Not really. When we come up here, I like to think what it must have been like for the pioneers. It makes me feel good to know I can get along without all the modern appliances I have at home.”
Andy’s father took the handle and placed the box over the fire. In less than a minute Andy heard a sizzling sound followed by exploding corn. Soon the smell of fresh popcorn filled the cabin, making it feel a little more friendly. It took almost three batches to make enough for all eight Washburns. Then the families decided to split up for the night. Andy and C. J. went to the kitchen to pump water so they could brush their teeth. After that it was time for bed.
Andy closed the bedroom door behind them. “I think we should do like we said: go fishing and then go on our own.”
“What do you expect to find?” C. J asked.
“Anything but fish. That’s all I need to know.”
“Let’s set our watches so we can get up a little early.”
“What for?” Andy asked.
“Have you forgotten the planes already?”
“That’s right. They leave before the sun comes up.” He set his watch to go off at 4:30 AM. “I was thinking we could go out and mess around in the woods, for one thing.”
“And do what?”
“Who knows? Let’s just go on out and see what we can find.”
“And after that?”
“What do I look like, your camp tour director? We’ll just take things as they come. And who knows? Maybe we’ll find ourselves over by that old lodge or something.”
“You are so sneaky.”
“I know. Don’t you love it?”
“What if the girls decide to get up early and come along too?” C. J. asked.
“Who cares? They’re both okay to be around. I think we could all have fun.”
“I guess. They usually just go off and play together anyway.”
“Tell me some more about the stuff you brought with you on the trip.”
“Mostly wireless technology.”
“You know, using computers and stuff without being connected to telephone lines. The gadgets I have can be used anywhere, as long as I have a generator or solar panels for power.”
“Do you really think we can do that?”
“You forget who you’re talking to. Give me enough time, and I’ll figure out almost anything.”
“That’s what I like about you.”
The boys talked a little longer about the fun things they could do around the lake, but it didn’t take long before they were both asleep. Then Andy heard the most terrible sound. If he hadn’t grabbed hold of the post, he would have fallen to the floor from his top bunk. At the same time he heard a second sound, much like the first.
“C. J., did you hear that?”
“Of course I did. It’s just our alarms doing what we told them to.”
“Morning already. Ugh. I’m not ready for this.”
“Be quiet. Want your parents to hear us?”
Together they sat on the bottom bunk to put on their shoes. Andy found his jacket in the corner. He slipped it on, then crept over to the door. The latch made a loud sound when he turned the knob, but that was nothing compared to the creaking made by the old metal hinges.
“We’re gonna get caught for sure,” C. J. whispered.
It seemed like every board in the floor was just waiting for someone to step on it because when the boys did, each one made a different noise. Almost like, “Ouch! Hey! Get off me! Who do you think you’re walking on?”
Finally the cousins made it to the front door. It had locks on it, but up here, most people didn’t bother. Andy opened it easily, and out they slipped. The air was cold, even colder than at their last campsite. The sky seemed darker than usual. Andy looked up and noticed there were no stars, and the moon was missing. Then he felt the most wonderful thing of all.
“Was that a raindrop?” he asked.
“I think I felt one too.” Rain continued to fall as Andy began jumping up and down. “It’s raining. It’s raining!”
“Do you have to be so loud?”
“But, don’t you know what this means?”
“Yeah. It means it’s raining.”
“And when it rains, we can’t go…”
A feeling of excitement rushed through Andy as the two boys started jumping around. They would have kept on jumping except for what they heard. It was that sound. The same one from the night before.
“Let’s run to the lake,” C. J. called. When they got there the boys could hardly breathe, and when they did, their breath made it look like they were standing outside back home in January.
Andy and C. J. turned to look in the direction of Rocky Point just in time to see the two mysterious sets of lights moving slowly in the water. The low rumble became a loud roar as both planes went to full power. Slowly they began to pick up speed, skimming along the water like champion skiers. If it hadn’t been for their lights, the boys would have only heard the noise and seen nothing. In only minutes the mysterious planes appeared to lift off from the surface of the water and bank into the dark morning sky. Then they were gone.
We gotta get over to that place and find out what’s going on, Andy thought.

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