by Carl E. Burke
The Fathers of Tomorrow is a tale of adventure, murder, love and friendship. It is the story of men who overcome great challenges, whose troubled lives find meaning and purpose in their sons and the bonds they share through time.
First Place Winner: Maryland Writers' Association 2007 Novel Contest
ISBN 1-59431-632-5 Historical, Mainstream, Fiction
Also available in HTML and RTF Formats.
Fathers of Tomorrow
A Novel of the Chesapeake
by Carl E. Burke
“Lawrence Arrowsmith Vickers, you best get yourself in here right now, child, and get some shoes on them feet! Come on now, baby, do like Momma Lou done told ya now. You know good and well there’s worms in that dirt. And that ol’ hippy music has got to go!” Louise Hynson yelled from the patio above the pool, a wet dish towel in her hand. “Um, um, um, if that boy ain’t a mess,” she said to herself, shaking her head as she went inside the house.
“Okay, Momma Lou, I’ll be there in a sec,” the boy replied to his parents’ housekeeper. As soon as she went inside, though, he forgot all about her and returned his attention to his cousin. “Lee, Johnny U. gonna drop the bomb on ya…go deep,” L.A., as he was informally known, yelled to the other boy.
Lee Jay Harman hated football, but for L.A.’s sake, he ran the pattern as his cousin had taught him. L.A. ran too, preparing to throw the ball. But, when his bare right foot came down hard on the ground just as he drew his arm back, a sharp object bit into it.
“Ow, ow, ow!” the blond boy yelled and grimaced, falling to the ground in pain.
“L.A., what’s wrong?” Lee came running toward him.
“Gawd damn, Lee. My foot’s bleedin’ bad,” he said. “I stepped on a piece of glass or somethin’.”
“Push down on it with your other hand. That’ll stop the bleeding, if you keep doing it,” Lee told him.
After the bleeding slowed and as Lee went inside in search of a Band-Aid, L.A. looked for the piece of glass that cut him. He found no glass, only the sharp point of a white stone sticking up through the ground. He tried to pull it from the packed dirt, but it was stuck fast.
Lee returned with the Band-Aid, which L.A. taped to his dirty foot.
“Lee, your pocket knife…get it and pry out that rock there, it’s what cut me,” L.A. said to the taller boy.
Lee worked the blade of the knife under the stone. Once he pried it from the soil and brushed it clean with his fingers, he held it up for his cousin to see. It was a two-inch long quartz projectile point, perfectly shaped like an elongated diamond. Its edges were serrated, the result of long and careful attention by human hands nearly seven hundred years earlier.
“Holy shit, look at that!” L.A. said.
The two twelve year-old boys, one of them limping, went to an old tree that overhung the Bohemia River below them. They sat beneath it and marveled at the relic.
“An Indian made this a long time ago. It mighta killed a deer or even a person, Lee,” L.A. said, awed by the object. His fingers moved back and forth over its edges as he imagined what its maker had looked like. “Lee, I wanna to be an archeologist when I grow up,” he said, adding, “You know, like the dudes that discovered King Tut.”
“Not me. I wanna be a teacher,” his cousin said to him.
“Hey, fellas, let’s eat some crabs,” Jared Vickers, L.A.’s father, yelled down from the elegant screened porch.
“We’re coming, Dad,” L.A. said as he put the object into his pocket. Turning to his cousin, he said, “I’m sorry your Dad couldn’t come today.”
“He never does anything ‘cept sit in his chair and watch TV,” Lee Jay lamented.
Both boys left their seats on the ground and slowly made their way back to house.
“Lee, we’re already cousins, but we’re gonna be best friends for life too, okay?” the blond boy said, leaning on the other’s shoulder as he limped.