Waiting For Dusk #2
Call of the Canyon
Call of the Canyon, second of the Waiting for Dusk series, continues the dramatic story of Kate Roberts and Drew Kelly. New challenges face the couple when Drew joins Kate in the present. Nothing is easy. Tyson's still their nemesis, causing trouble whenever he can. Carl, Kate's friend and neighbor, moves back home to Ohio and creates unexpected problems at the canyon. A wedding, a tragic accident, and a family broken by scandal affect both the past and present. And in the end, Kate may pay the ultimate price.
BUY THE BOOK
He should be dead. He knew that. Andrew felt a cold shiver go through his body, the body that should be in a cold, watery grave. She was the one who saved him. Kate. He should be grateful. He wished things could be different, that his other life did not have to end so quickly. He missed his time at the canyon, it had been a big part of his life...he had such big plans. Now he sat there, a junior at a high school in a future he never knew existed until...guilt washed over him for thinking that way. He reminded himself he made a choice on that fateful day, one he did not regret.
* * * *
Arriving by train from New York City, Andrew immediately went to his cabin and unpacked. He was counting the hours until he saw Kate again. He placed the velvet box holding the charm bracelet on his dresser so he wouldn’t forget. It would be placed in his saddle bag as soon as he got to the stable.
He would turn eighteen in January, becoming a man. No one was going to tell him what to do. He would determine his own future. Telling his family he didn’t want to become part of the fashion business back in New York City would be hard, but he planned to do so after the trip. Martin’s Menswear was successful enough without him.
His father, Nicolas, told him he had the talent to design the clothing and run the business, but that didn’t appeal to him. He loved his photography and the study of nature. No matter how hard anyone tried to convince him, he would not give it up. The family didn’t know he was looking at colleges out west and planning to make his final selection soon. No Harvard or Yale for him. As heartbreaking as it might be for the family, he knew he needed to follow his dream and hoped Kate would be part of it, too. He’d ask her to marry him right now if she wasn’t so young. She still had two years of high school to complete, the rest of this year and next. He could wait. Andrew planned to protect and honor her until the time was right for them to marry. And when it was, they could marry at the canyon and live in the cabin.
He gathered his things together and quickly got ready to head over to Grand Canyon Village to meet Kate. Sadly, things went downhill quickly. She told him about dating someone back home. Someone named Tyson. Stunned by the news, he set her free and left the boardinghouse, never looking back. He heard her cries but forced himself to keep going.
Andrew’s anger over the break up haunted him as he readied himself for the hike to the bottom of the canyon the next day. How could she have led him on? This other guy, Tyson, somehow held a place in her life. Otherwise she would not have kissed him. Tyson. The name was a bad taste in his mouth.
The Colorado River was a force to be reckoned with and Andrew knew it was dangerous to go it alone. He was being reckless but forged on, determined to complete the challenge on his own. Kate’s letters were in his bag and he had no idea why he brought them along. As he walked, they felt like a thorn digging into his side or a small stone in his shoe that he couldn’t seem to find.
As the day wore on, he thought less of his upcoming ride down the Colorado rapids and more of those letters. After he reached bottom and checked in at base camp, Andrew found a quiet spot by the river to read the letters. Condors quietly soared above his head and the blue sky was his blanket. It was calming to lie there and contemplate all that had happened in such a short time. He had returned to the canyon just days ago. It felt like an eternity now.
Staring out at the river, Andrew recalled the day Kate gave him the letters and his heart began to flutter. The anger subsided for a moment. He wanted to pour over her every word. It took his breath away…not out of happiness but from pain. Still, he reached for his bag and took them out, shuffling through them. There seemed to be one for every day they were apart. The words were written in beautiful, flowing handwriting and seemed to jump off the page.
Kate never said, “I love you”, although he told her countless times. He now realized Tyson was the reason. She probably couldn’t make up her mind between the two of them. Andrew sighed and threw the letters down. It was useless to read. She had made her choice.
So much time passed while he was daydreaming, the sun was lower in the sky, too late to get started. He’d set off tomorrow instead. He headed to the bunk house and settled in for the night.
* * * *
The next morning Andrew was up bright and early, determined to leave as soon as possible. Last night around a campfire, some of the men tried to talk him out of a solo journey. They told him Jack would be upset he was heading off by himself. Not even the mention of Jack would stop him.
Jack Woods was about ten years older than Andrew and had become a mentor and friend at the canyon. They met the first time he came to the Grand Canyon as a fourteen year old boy. They bonded immediately. Andrew always felt there was something different about him, as if he was hiding a fascinating secret.
As he stepped into the boat and pushed off from shore, he waved to the other men until they disappeared from sight. The water was calm for the first part of the trip. He knew the rapids would be coming soon and made preparations. The main things were to tie himself to the side of the boat with strong rope and get the paddles ready.
The rapids were gentle at first, lapping at the side of the boat, giving it a rocking motion like a baby’s cradle. Then he hit his first big wave. It was a battle between him and the river. Rocks appeared out of nowhere. Andrew pushed off them and back out into the river again. Exhilarated and exhausted, he made it through his first round and could rest.
Andrew lay back in the boat and looked up at the sky. Everything was so peaceful that he felt one with nature, although at times his mind drifted away from that calm setting. Something kept interfering with the perfect day, something kept nagging him. It was like an old wound, the pain could pop up at any given moment. His eyes searched for his bag at the back of the boat and he knew what it was…the letters. If he didn’t read them completely instead of just skimming, he could never let go. The first camp was coming up in a mile so he could stop, read, and throw them in the river. He would cleanse himself of Kate once and for all and be able to continue with his journey.
Tying up the boat and stepping onto dry land, Andrew decided that would be as far as he’d travel for the day. It was getting late and he couldn’t travel much further. Provisions for a fire and a small tent were in a safe area and Andrew began setting up camp. He sat with a cup of black coffee on a large rock near the river’s edge and began to read. He thought he could toss each letter into the water and watch his former life float away. He read:
My dearest Drew,
Today was one of the hardest days being away from you! The sky was as blue as the Arizona sky and had those white puffy clouds Lucinda loves so much. The leaves have started to turn their fall colors of red, orange, and yellow. These colors remind me so much of the canyon my heart aches. Not as much, though, as my heart aches for you. I miss you, Drew. A day like this only reminds me how much.
I love you — across the miles, across time.
Andrew could not believe what he was reading. That didn’t sound like a girl who was preoccupied with another man. He flipped through all of the letters. Each one was signed the same way:
I love you — across the miles, across time.
Andrew was determined to read each and every letter from beginning to end. He became so involved with reading, he never noticed the boat come loose from its post and float away down the river.
When he finally noticed, he realized there was nothing he could do about the boat and made camp for the night. He hoped in a few days the men would think something was wrong and come looking for him. In his heart, Andrew knew Jack would never stop looking.
The next day, Andrew heard his name being called from farther down the river. Jumping up and walking to the water’s edge, he waved his hands over his head, waiting to see who was calling his name. Jack stood in a boat, calling Andrew’s name over and over. When Jack spotted him, he waved back and began to quickly paddle toward the river’s edge. As the boat came closer, Andrew was surprised to see Jack crying, almost sobbing. He kept repeating, “Thank God, you’re alive!” as he climbed across the rocks to solid ground. At that moment, Andrew didn’t understand the meaning of those words.
Jack jumped ashore and grabbed him tightly. It took awhile for him to gain his composure. “You can’t continue this trip. You need to come back with me.” He held Andrew out to get a better look at him. “You look completely fine.”
“Why wouldn’t I be?” Andrew thought it was a strange thing to say but didn’t question the request. He knew he would eventually get the answers he needed. All he knew after reading those letters was Kate loved him. It was all a big misunderstanding.
Jack helped him pack up what little belongings he brought for the return trip. In the boat, he began to explain. “There’s much to tell but it needs to be done privately. As we grow closer to base camp, I plan to wait until evening falls before heading in. We’ll pull off somewhere and wait. When we finally go in, I need you to hide under the tarp. We want to make sure no one sees you. Hopefully, it will be dark by then and no one will see us.”
Thinking it was a strange request, but anxious to get back to Kate, Andrew did as instructed. Worried about her, he wanted to return to the top of the canyon as quickly as possible. She could be looking for him, worried about him. Jack assured him Kate was fine. He would explain everything later.
The two men waited for darkness before coming ashore, setting up camp far from the bunk house. They talked late into the night. Actually, it was Jack who did most of the talking. He began to tell Andrew about a magical book, as if he was weaving a fairytale. Andrew almost expected him to say, “once upon a time” as he started the story.
“There’s a book capable of moving people through time...like a time travel machine. It takes people from 1927 to the 21st century and back after they fall asleep. People who read the book think they’re having a very vivid, realistic dream, but each night as they return, they come to the conclusion it’s not a dream but very real.”
“Wow, that’s a really good tale, Jack. Got any ghost stories?” Andrew gazed up at the night sky.
“Not funny, now pay attention.” Jack rolled his eyes. Andrew saw that as a sign to take it seriously. “Eventually people from the 21st century came to 1927. How did that happen? These people of the future befriended the 1927 travelers and became trusted allies. Books were given to them so they could make the journey back in time, always waking at the Johansson boardinghouse near the Grand Canyon.”
“So now you’re saying there’s more than one book? I thought this fairytale started with, ‘once there was this magical book.’” Andrew chuckled as he put Jack on the spot.
“Okay, there’s more than one book, happy now?” Andrew nodded as he watched Jack throw another pile of brush on the fire. “What you need to know is this. The strangest thing is it’s always 1927 in the past, but the correct year in the present when these people from the future return home.”
“So the 21st century aliens come back to our time, visit, and return home to live happily ever after.”
“No! They visit time and time again, develop long lasting friendships…even some marriages.”
Andrew found that completely absurd and broke into fits of laughter.
“The books are real, Andrew.”
He stopped laughing and stared at Jack. “Real, like in I could travel to this future? This 21st century future?”
That confused him all the more. He had a lot of questions but let Jack continue with the story.
“I have a theory about the books. A set of them was found imbedded in the wall of the boardinghouse Carl Johansson is renovating. It’s as if their power source is coming from somewhere deep in the canyon. It occurs only at this specific time and place in the universe…right here at the Grand Canyon. The books seem grounded in this time period, unable to go back any further in time. The power to travel forward spreads out from this single, original point to countless locations in the future but pulls everyone back to this very spot.” Jack held up a closed fist and then spread his fingers wide. He slowly closed it again to make the point.
“So what you’re saying is time marches on for these people in the future but we’re stuck in time?”
“Something like that.”
“They can come back here year after year?”
“You seem to understand a little better.”
“Not at all, Jack. Wouldn’t they be bumping into their former selves? Multiples? Younger versions of themselves?”
“No, they always come back as one person...the age they were when they first arrived. They revert to that form, so to speak, but still have all their memories.”
Andrew tried to wrap his brain around all he was told. He read many Jules Verne novels and felt like he was living in one. No one could really time travel. He was starting to feel Jack had gone mad. The explanation of how it all worked was something he’d have to experience to really believe it.
“Carl Johansson discovered the books while renovating the boardinghouse and was the original time traveler. I found out about them when I lived there and convinced Carl to take me on his next trip. I trusted the book…and Carl. Waking in a dormitory at Oberlin College, we explored the campus and visited the library where Maya, Carl’s wife, worked.
Since that time, Carl and I worked on the theory of why the book sent us to Ohio, to that spot in Oberlin, but he became ill. We never finished our investigation.” Jack looked down at the ground, picking up a twig, tossing it in the fire. He took a deep breath and continued. “That’s the first time I met Maya, and also the day I met my future wife. Little did I know that one day would change everything.”
“What year was it? In the future?” Andrew couldn’t believe he asked that question.
“Well, it was the 1990’s then. It wasn’t the future to them. It was the present.”
“So we’re living in the past? Living this year over and over?”
“Correct. The people here...in this time...have lived their lives, some have died.”
“No! Stop it, Jack. You’re wrong. This dream you’re telling me can’t be real. There’s no such thing as a magical book. I’ve read stories like that, that’s all they are...stories.”
“What if I told you Katie was living in the future?”
“I wouldn’t believe you. She’s probably up top searching for me right now. She’d never stop looking.”
“You’re right about that. She’d never stop. She begged me to come looking for you.”
“See? I was right. She’s up there, right?”
“No, she’s home in Ohio, living in the 21st century. She better be in school if she knows what’s good for her.”
“Jack, you have no right to talk like that about her.”
“I have every right, Andrew. She’s my daughter. That’s where I live.”
He was startled to learn Jack lived in the 21st century after meeting his wife, Joanna, at the library the very first day he time traveled. An even bigger surprise was Maya was from the future and traveled back in time to help Carl at the boardinghouse. The biggest shock was Kate was Jack’s daughter and used the book to time travel to the canyon.
“How long have you been doing this, Jack?”
“Almost twenty years. You’d be surprised to see how I’ve aged back in Ohio.”
“So take me there! To the future to see Kate. Prove it. You’re telling me she doesn’t hop a train to get home, she time travels to another century.”
“That’s exactly right. Now do you believe me?”
“No, not really, but I’m open to hear more. You can tell me on the climb. Let’s go.”
“Wait, not so fast, there’s more.” Jack said solemnly. “You died on this trip. We didn’t find you. You never made it back. Year after year I tried to stop you but you always got ahead of me. The scenario never changed. You went down the river and were never found.”
“Then how? How is it different this time?” He felt he knew the answer before Jack even said it.
“Katie’s letters stopped you from doing the usual sequence of events. You always went down the river on Friday and this time you left on Saturday. You never were at the first campsite, no evidence you were there. That’s where I found you today. My Katie saved your life. I will be forever grateful.”
“And so am I. I finally read her letters at camp and was a fool to doubt her. I have nothing if she’s not in my life. There’s nothing for me here. I can leave and never look back.”
They waited till dawn and carefully climbed out of the canyon without being seen. The plan was to let everyone think Andrew died, just like years past. He would return to the future with Jack, get a crash course on the 21st century world, and assume his new identity before letting anyone know he was there.
“Technology, that’s the key word.” Jack told Andrew on the climb. “There have been so many advancements they’re too numerous to mention. You’re young, you’ll catch on.” Jack slapped him on the back and smiled. “If I could do it, you’ll be fine. You can visit 1927 whenever you want, but we stay away on December thirty-first. We have no idea what would happen if we woke up in the new year. We’re not sure if we continue our lives in the past, making it impossible to return to the 21st century. We even have that fear for someone like Katie, not just us. I don’t want you or me to ever take the chance.”
“You mean you, me or Carl, don’t you?”
Jack was quiet for a moment. “Carl passed away not long after Katie was born. He’s been gone for quite a while.”
“Then how is he still here?”
“We don’t really know. All I can tell you is the Carl we know here is the 1927 Carl. He has no memory beyond that point. Maya is grateful she can visit him at the canyon. He doesn’t know they have a son or that he lived in the future for almost thirty years.” Andrew was silent. “You okay, Andrew?”
“I feel like I’m mourning his passing and it doesn’t make sense.” He hung his head.
“That’s the beauty of this life. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense but it’s a wonderful world. Where else could you get to see someone that’s already passed on?”
“I see your point.”
“Picture standing up top here.” Jack pointed to the edge of the canyon when they reached the end of their climb. “You’re gazing down at this wondrous canyon and you feel as if there’s something almost mystical about it...a place of power. Trust in that.”
“I think I can do that. I think I can avoid the canyon after Thanksgiving. Not a problem. Makes sense.”
Drew thought back to the very first day he saw Kate. They locked eyes and her bright blue eyes seared right through him. He felt hypnotized and couldn’t look away, falling in love right there behind El Tovar on a sunny, hot day in July 1927.
He had just come out the back door of El Tovar’s kitchen when he heard a scream come from the henhouse. Curious about what happened, he leaned against the building and waited. A lovely vision flew out the door and raced toward the fence. Her light brown hair came undone and was blowing in the wind as she reached for the fence, laughing. To Andrew, it was as if he was watching everything in slow motion.
Kate ungracefully jumped over the fence, all the while juggling a basket of eggs, landing on her backside. Drew laughed along with her, startling her in the process. She quickly overcame her surprise and bantered back and forth with him until they realized there was an attraction. Love at first sight? Drew didn’t believe it could happen but he did now.
Jack’s voice interrupted his thoughts. “Before we head to the boardinghouse, I want to make sure this is what you want to do. There’s no turning back once everyone’s informed you were lost to the river. Your timeline ends right now in 1927 just as it always has. There’s still time to change your mind and live out your life here.”
“If Kate’s in the 21st century, then that’s where I want to be.” Andrew shook Jack’s hand. “Take me to her.”