About Spirits of Oz
- 2014 Community Novel Project of the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library
- Written and illustrated for a younger audience
- Just joining us? Please start reading with Chapter 1
- A new chapter is serialized each week
- A different Topeka author and illustrator featured in each chapter
- Read online or download to your ereader!
Downloading Spirits of Oz Chapter 6 by Roxanna Namey
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Read Online: Spirits of Oz Chapter 6 by Roxanna Namey
The beat of Lola’s bare feet across the wooden floor created an uneven rhythm as she circumnavigated her room. The old boards of the floor squeaked slightly with each step.
Pat, squeak. Pat, squeak. Pause. Pat, squeak.
A scowl creased her young brow as she paced her room. Even in this state of concentration, Lola managed to avoid the one squeaky board which would possibly wake her mother.
The twins had never spent a night apart before. This in addition to the events of the past few days kept Lola awake, her mind racing from one thought to another.
Lola could hear Meriam’s soft purring snores. It was only Lola and her mother in the house as Victor stayed with Nico at the hospital.
Lola decided to make her way downstairs to get a glass of milk, but on the way to the kitchen she passed her parent’s office and suddenly veered into the room and sat at the desk. She and Nico were usually forbidden from using the computer unless it was related to a school assignment, so she held her breath as she powered up the machine, hoping her mother would not hear it come to life. In reality it was very quiet, but in the house at night when it was dark and silent, it sounded very loud to Lola.
She quickly performed a search for a topic on which she wanted some information. It did not take her long to locate the needed data. She printed a copy, folded the paper, and put it into her chenille robe pocket, turned the computer off, and continued on to the kitchen to get her glass of milk. She carried the glass back to her room, drank it, and then crawled under the covers. Within minutes she dropped off to sleep.
Her sleep was not deep, and she twisted and turned throughout the night. At one point she woke to find the tall, strange apparition they had seen the previous day. He was leaning over her nearly bringing his face in contact with hers. She was studying him through eyes that were barely slit. Where his eyes should be were vacant dark pools. The room had become very, very chilly. Lola could see her breath.
She sat up very quickly and the outline of the specter wobbled.
“You don’t scare me,” Lola hissed at the being.
“I am the one who rots your teeth. I pray your bones are mine to keep,” the specter replied.
“Unless you have something new to share, take your infernal riddle and leave my room and this house for that matter. I have no patience for your games,” Lola sneered.
The apparition suddenly evaporated before Lola’s eyes.
In the morning Lola was not sure whether she really had this exchange or if it was just part of her restless night. Both Meriam and Lola slept in late. Lola woke to the sound of her mother moving about downstairs in the kitchen.
“Lola, time to get up,” Meriam called up the stairs. “Zoey will be here soon.”
Lola leapt out of bed, like only a person her age, on only a few hours’ sleep, could manage. She was excited about having Nico back home. She quickly pulled on a pair of denim shorts and a peasant blouse with a pair of flip-flops and raced down the stairs. As she reached the bottom, the doorbell rang.
She threw the door open expecting to see her father and Nico. But it was Zoey and her face gave her disappointment away.
“Why the sad look, chickadee?”
“Oh, don’t take it personally. I thought it was Nico.”
“I understand,” Zoey said as she gave Lola a half hug.
“Hi, Zoey, I’m in the kitchen,” Meriam called out.
Zoey and Lola walked arm-in-arm down the hall and into the kitchen where Meriam stood by the sink sipping a cup of coffee.
“Nico should be home directly. Victor tells me there are no restrictions, but I would like the twins to do activities today which are not overly active. Victor and I may be gone until late tonight. Is that going to be a problem for you, Zoey?”
“No, Mrs. Espiritu. If you don’t have any objections, would you mind if I make a picnic lunch and my friend, Possum, and I take the twins to his house for an indoor picnic?”
“Is Possum the young man I met yesterday?”
“Yes. He is a very competent, responsible driver. I swear.”
“I am sure he is, dear.”
“Possum has a lot of hobbies that the twins would be interested in.”
“I don’t have any problems with those plans, Zoey, except I don’t have much in the way of groceries in the house. Let me give you some money, and you can buy food on your way to Possum’s house. ”
“Great, Mrs. E.”
“Is your phone fully charged, Zoey?”
“Oh, yes, ma’am.”
Lola spotted a cardboard box on the kitchen counter.
“What is this?”
“Oh, it is just some junk we found at the church site yesterday.”
“What are you going to do with it?”
“Probably throw it out. Why?”
“Can I look through it and keep anything I find interesting?”
“Knock yourself out.”
The girls paused as they heard the front doorknob being turned and the oak door creaking on its hinges as it opened.
“Hey, where is everybody?”
“We’re in the kitchen!”
Nico, with his father behind him, filled the kitchen doorway. Lola ran to her brother, grabbed him, and kissed his cheek.
“Whoa, hold on there,” Nico exclaimed as he pantomimed wiping the kiss from his cheek, “I was only gone overnight.”
“That was for scaring us to death yesterday,” Lola replied sticking her tongue out at him.
“Now, that’s the Lola I know!”
“All right, kids, your mom and I are leaving. Zoey, you know how to contact us if you need to.”
“Right you are.”
With that interchange Nico and Lola’s parents turned and left. Meriam gave Nico’s shoulder a little tweak on her way past him.
“Nico, you look tired. Sit down and rest while we wait for Possum,” Zoey said as she led him to a chair and nudged him into it.
“Nico, Zoey talked Mom into letting her and Possum take us to his house for an indoor picnic. Whatever made you think of it, Zoey? It was simply brilliant the way you handled Mom!”
“It was more of a desperation move. I have no desire to spend any more time than I have to in this house, after seeing those creepy mice yesterday! In fact, I think I’ll go call Possum and see how fast he can get here.”
Lola went to the box on the kitchen counter. She pulled out an old cardboard fan with a picture of Jesus on it. If it were not so mildewed it would probably have been worth a couple of bucks. There were several sheets of organ music in the same condition. She pulled out some silverware which she set aside for future examination.
“Nico,” Lola whispered as she sat in a chair beside him, “look at this.”
She handed Nico a teacup. It was white with an elaborate rose design. The roses were different shades of blue. The rim of the cup was painted gold. Nico turned the cup over to examine it further. On the bottom was a stamp consisting of a lion over a crown and the words “Royal Doulton, England,” and beneath that, “Bone China.”
“Is it porcelain?”
“It certainly is.”
“Is it cracked?”
Nico tapped the cup rim on the edge of the table and then handed it to Lola for her inspection.
“It is now.”
“Oh, Nico. That might have been valuable.”
“I know, but we need it. Go put it with the rest of the things while we are waiting for this Possum person.”
“That’s right, you haven’t met him yet. I forgot you were napping during the ride to the hospital,” she teased. “He does taxidermy, and he said he would see if he had any spare eyeballs.”
She gave him a pat on the head and ran for the stairs, avoiding Nico’s grab for her.
As Lola was returning from her room, there was a knock on the door, and Zoey was there to open it. Possum crossed the threshold, and Lola grabbed his hand and dragged him into the kitchen with Zoey trailing behind.
“Nico, this is Possum. Possum, meet Sleeping Beauty,” Lola said and took a small curtsy.
Nico gave her the evil eye and then looked at the tall boy with long black hair standing in front of him and extended his hand. “Thanks for your help yesterday. It sounds like you were the one with the calm head.”
“Glad I could help.”
“Lola tells me you do taxidermy as a hobby.”
“Among other interests. Occasionally I am able to actually land a taxidermy job. Mostly the jobs are for local fishermen who ‘catch the big one’.”
“Well, I look forward to seeing your work.”
Zoey entered the kitchen carrying her handbag.
“Let’s get moving. The sooner I vacate this house, the better I will feel.”
They made their way to Possum’s car, Zoey locking the house as they left. Possum’s car was a 1982 Citroen Visa with a coat of many colors due to the obviously scavenged parts which evidently came from at least four cars of varying hues. The engine, however, turned over smoothly and purred like a kitten.
Lola poked Nico in the ribs and pointed to the house as they pulled from the curb.
“Do you see what I see?”
Standing in front of the house was the tall lean specter they had seen before. It was turned towards them with its hand raised and its bony index finger pointing at them. The specter followed the car with its finger as it turned the corner as if it were aiming a gun in their direction.
Lola and Nico leaned into the backseat once the specter was out of sight. They remained quiet until the car pulled into the parking lot for the Apple Market.
Everyone piled out of Possum’s car and headed into the store. They got lunch meat, cheese, baked beans, macaroni salad, bread, paper plates, plastic forks, and napkins while traveling along the outer wall. They then headed to the aisles for ketchup and mustard.
“What kind of chips do you want?”
“Can we get Art and Mary’s jalapeño chips?” Lola responded.
“I like a spicy girl,” Possum replied as he pulled a bag for her and placed it in the cart.
They got a couple more kinds of chips and headed for the cooler to pick out drinks. Once Zoey had paid for the food they carried it out to Possum’s car and got back on Gage heading towards Gage Park. The mood had loosened up, and they had become quite jovial. Possum passed the park entrance and headed a couple of blocks further east.
“Your mom told me not to let you get too rowdy, Nico. She wants you to rest as much as possible.”
Lola noticed Nico put up no argument so she knew he was still in some pain from his dramatic fall from the tree house.
They only went a couple of more blocks before they pulled up to an old bungalow. It was in need of paint, but otherwise it looked well kept.
“Do you live here by yourself?”
“Yes, I inherited it from my grandmother. It’s old-fashioned, but it has a lot of room, and I have a lot of interests.”
They made it to the porch, and Possum unlocked the door. They went in, and the first room was very large, filled with cozy furniture, and the walls were lined with books.
“Wow!” Lola turned to Possum. “Have you read all of these?”
“Most of them, yeah. A lot of them on this wall are science books because that’s my field of study at Washburn University. This space was onced two separate rooms, the living room and the dining room. I knocked a wall down to make it into one large multi-functional room.”
The next room they entered was the kitchen. It was old-fashioned with white painted cabinets. Lola opened the door and stared at the contents. Unlike the rest of the house, the refrigerator was a mess. It had open carryout containers, items that were out of date, and some unidentifiable lumps covered with mold.
“Do you ever clean this thing out?”
“Yeah, sometimes. When it gets really bad,” Possum replied absently.
Zoey made room for and placed the picnic leftovers in the refrigerator and then followed everyone for the rest of the tour.
At the back of the house were three bedrooms and a bathroom with a claw-foot bathtub. One bedroom was obviously used for that purpose; the second had music instruments in it. There were several guitars, amplifiers, and sheet music. It was well-organized like the rest of the house.
Nico pointed at the row of instruments. “I take it you play guitar.”
“Yeah, I’m in a little combo. I play bass. We mostly do old jazz and blues for small venues in the area. Nothing too big. Mostly we do it for fun. We call ourselves the Brass Covered Ring.”
“That’s really cool.”
The last room held the taxidermy equipment. Displayed on the walls were an owl and a squirrel. Other animals were in various stages of completion.
“Before I forget, Lola, I found I did have a spare one.”
He extended his hand and dropped an object into it. Lola showed it to Nico.
“Thanks, Possum this will really help us. Oh, and you said you’re into science. Do you think you could create this mixture for us?”
Lola withdrew a folded piece of paper from her pocket and handed it to Possum.
“Let me take a look. Let’s see, chlorine, sodium, sulfur, magnesium, calcium and potassium, water. This looks like a formula for sea water.”
“That is exactly what it is. Can you make it?”
“Sure, I’ll drop it by tomorrow. This must be some strange scavenger hunt you two are on.”
The kids spent the day lazing around, eating their picnic, listening to Possum play the guitar, watching television, and playing a few board games. Both boys took about a two-hour nap in the afternoon.
Zoey checked her watch.
“Possum, I think you better take us back to the kids’ house. Nico is looking done in, and it is getting late.”
As they walked to the car Nico said, “I didn’t say before, but your car runs really nice. It’s cool.”
“She’s not much in the looks department yet, but her insides have been updated and refined. Thanks for noticing.” When they reached the house both kids could see the specter standing by the door. Zoey and Possum evidently couldn’t see it.
Lola looked at Nico and whispered, “Don’t look at it. I think I did something last night that’s preventing it from entering the house. I don’t think it can come in unless it is invited.”
Nico nodded his understanding.
Possum walked them to the door where he said goodnight and then turned and loped to his car. He looked back and waved before getting in and driving away.
“Does anyone else feel that chill?” Zoey asked.
“Yeah, make it unanimous.”
Lola and Nico purposely avoided looking directly at the dark figure during the walk up the sidewalk, onto the porch, and as they followed Zoey into the house.
The specter turned to follow, but the door shut and it was left outside on the doorstep.
There was a collective sigh of relief heard from inside.
Chapter 7 will be published next week at https://www.tscpl.org/novel
About Roxanna Namey
Roxanna (Roxie) Namey is a relatively recent retiree from state government. Since retiring she has written a children’s story and a draft novel. She is currently collecting information from family, friends and acquaintances, which is being used to write short fictional remembrances about growing up in southeast Kansas in the 50s and 60s.
An Interview with Roxanna Namey
What is your writing background? What sort of work do you usually write? (Fiction, Poetry, Nonfiction, Genre?)
Most of the writing I have done over the years has been for work. Since retiring a couple of years ago, I have written one fantasy children’s story, a draft mystery novel and am currently working on two research projects about growing up in small town Kansas in the 1960s. I have written about 10 short “fiction” stories based on these childhood memories.
Why did you want to participate in the Community Novel Project?
Any opportunity to write helps to keep me motivated as well as develop as a writer. At this point I would say I have no definitive style which will only come with practice. I really like working to deadline.
Have you ever written fiction in collaboration with other authors before?
I have not. It was one of the things that attracted me to the project. I have found it interesting to see the different writing styles of the other participants.
Do you usually write in a burst of inspiration, or is your work carefully outlined? Did writing for the community novel differ from the norm?
It is a combination. I tend to mull over ideas for extended periods without writing anything. Depending on the project, I may do outlines and notes. This is especially true if the project is of any length.
What do you like about the premise and characters of this year’s Community Novel Project? What challenges you about them?
Although I have always read a wide variety of things over the years, I gravitate more towards mysteries and fantasy for most of my recreational reading. So this story line was interesting for me from the beginning. I like the idea of twins being the protagonists in the story. I also like that the story is set in Topeka. The challenge is, of course, to build upon what other writers have contributed to the characters and storyline before hopefully assisting with moving the story forward without creating too much havoc for the writers who follow.
What was your first reaction when you saw the chapter before yours?
The introduction of a couple of new characters allowed for the possibility of additional assistance for the twins moving forward with their quest.
What do you hope happens or doesn’t happen in the chapters that come after yours?
I hope the ghosts’ storyline is developed so that the reader knows the history of some of those characters before the twins assist them with their plan. I would not mind Possum and maybe Zoey actively helping the twins. I don’t want to see anyone injured seriously.
What sort of writing can we expect from you in future? Are you currently at work on any writing projects?
I anticipate I will spend most of the next year continuing work on stories about the 1960s. I hope to write another mystery in November with the same characters as the previous one, but set at an earlier time in history.
Especially for Our Younger Readers
What was your favorite book as a kid and why?
I was all about the horses. I read all the Walter Farley books about The Black Stallion that had been written at that time.
What are some of your favorite foods?
I was never a picky eater. The only thing I would not eat as a kid was breaded tomatoes. I could not stand the smell. Every year our mother would fix whatever we wanted for our birthdays. I always asked for liver and onions. She would have to make hamburgers or something else for my siblings. Go figure!
What is your favorite animal? Do you have any pets?
Growing up we had both dogs and cats. We tended to have better luck with longevity with the dogs. I have had cats as an adult even though I am allergic. I currently live with a brown tabby female named Sami unless she is hiding under the covers and then I call her Lumpy.
Why did you want to write for kids?
Reading has been a passion of mine since I was a kid. One of my most valued possessions was my library card. Where I lived we had a beautiful Carnegie library. I spent many hours there growing up. Some friends would say I have a case of arrested development. In other words, I am just a big kid at heart.