For Casey Raymond, a 13-year old living with his family in the sprawling countryside of Marlborough, Massachusetts, life is about having fun. Casey, his tame crow Sammy, Bandit his checker playing pet raccoon, and Casey’s best friend Tim, get into one adventure and disastrous mishap after another. Whether he’s giving his parents and teacher a headache, outwitting the blind gun toting rag lady, outsmarting his trick-ster big brother, scaring his little sister with a bear rug, or solving the mystery behind Dammit, his archenemy, Casey can not imagine a more perfect life. Then, his life starts to change when he discovers his first armpit hair and a girl named Katz…
CASEY in No Time to Duck is now being offered in Paper Back for those that prefer a fiscal book and a three part Kindle eBook for the techno savvy.
An excerpt from Goran k. king’s novel
Arriving home Casey ran upstairs. “PJ. Get up, we’re gonna ride our bikes to church, and Tim’s gonna meet us at the Four Corners.”
PJ knuckled his eyes into consciousness. “Did his cousins,” yawn, “show up from Texas yet?”
“Dunno. But if we don’t leave soon Mom is gonna make us go to church in the car with her.”
In just a few minutes, Casey and PJ arrived at the Four Corners crossroad where Tim was waiting for them.
“Hey, Tim – Where’s Katz and Snort…ah, I mean Lucky?” Casey grinned.
“Aw, they got in real late last night, so they’re sleepin’ in this mornin’.”
“We have some time to kill, so let’s do some explorin’” suggested Casey. “Mr. Beasley might be collectin’ honey today,” They set off in search of new adventure, with PJ in the lead.
Approaching a long forgotten and neglected cemetery, PJ, ( obviously frightened of the evil he imagined lurking there ), veered to the far side of the road. Of course, Casey couldn’t pass up an opportunity like this.
“Hey look! It looks like some of ‘em have been diggin’ their way out!”
Tim took Casey’s lead. “Or, it could be grave robbers!”
“That crypt in the side of the hill is cracked open. Remember the huge padlock it used to have on it?” said, Casey giving PJ his best-scared look.
“Don’t you guys go and do somethin’ stupid, now.” PJ’s eyes were opened so wide that Casey was afraid they might fall out. “It’s sacrilegious to go messin’ around with the dead.”
“Come on, Tim, ol’ chicken PJ can stay here with the bikes.”
Casey and Tim walked over to the crypt and peered inside. It sure was eerie all right.
Casey pushed the door open a little further.
“There isn’t enough light to see all the way to the back. Are those drawers what they put dead bodies in?”
By now, Tim’s eyes were bugging right out of his head, and Casey suspected it wasn’t just because of the lack of light.
“I guess’o, Tim. What do ya say we slam the door behind us, start screamin’ bloody murder, and see how long it takes PJ to skeedaddle?”
“Lets do it! I hope PJ brought a clean pair of skivvies,” snickered Tim.
They entered the crypt and quickly slammed the door into total darkness. The silence was deafening.
“Why did’ja do that?” A loud and demanding voice echoed through the silence.
“T-Tim. T-Tell me that was you.”
“I-I was hopin’ it was you, C-Casey.”
They both leaped for the door, groveling for a handle that had rotted and fallen off long ago. During all the loud confusion it became quite apparent that the door wasn’t going to open.
“Oh golly, ya oughterent a done that, ‘cause yestidy it took Nubs all day ta git out when he done it.”
Casey Said, “That you, Nubs?” to the dark.
“Oh mercy, I spect so, that’s who I was when I waked up this mornin’ anyhow. You’re Casey and that Tim feller. I seen ya when ya come in. Ya see, Nubs don’t gotta ask. Nubs’ smart. Casey and Tim, uh-huh uh- huh, that’s you alright.”
Nubs was an awesome spectacle to observe – a gentle, yet powerful man with the mentality of a small child. Weighing over two hundred and fifty pounds, at the age of fifty-five he was as agile as a man in his twenties. He had one solid thick brow that hung over his eyes like a balcony at an opera house.
His nickname was due to his right hand missing the three last fingers from a shotgun blast many years ago, when he had grabbed a shotgun barrel in defense of a squirrel.
His little niece had once told him how dashing he looked in his Sunday-go-to-meetin’ suit, and he’d been wearing it almost everyday since, even now, while digging up one hundred-year-old graves.
“Nubs,” Tim asked, “how did ya get out yesterday when the door closed?”
“Nubs pried the door, uh-huh, he did – with his shovel. Yep. Yep. He did that.”
“Could ya do it again?” Casey asked.
“Sure, sure, Nubs just needs his shovel.” Nubs pushed his way past the boys eager to help.
There was a shattering blast, and the sound of splintering wood and creaking metal, as Nubs slammed through the two-inch thick, iron strapped, oak plank door.
“Here’s Nubs’ shovel. Nubs left it outside. It digs good, uh-huh, uh-huh.”
“What the…gees, Casey, did ya see that? How’d he –”
“I don’t want to know. Let’s just be glad he’s our friend.”
After stepping over the oak kindling to safety, Casey said, “Well, our plan must have worked, because PJ skedaddled. I sure hope he brought two extra skivvies.”
“Casey, I was so scared, I forgot all about PJ.”
“Yep. This almost has a PJ twist to it.”
Casey and Tim looked at each other as the hair rose on the back of their necks, and then they both looked over at Nubs suspiciously.
“Nah,” they said, in unison.
“Why are ya diggin’ up this old grave yard, Nubs?” Tim asked as he examined a stack of gravestones.
“The mayor his-self ask Nubs. I gotta put the bones in bags. Yep. They’re gonna name the new road after my great Grampa. He came in a wagon. He’s in here. We’re gonna move him and all his frens – the mayor said so. He did. Uh-huh, uh-huh.”
All the while Nubs was talking, his palms were rubbing up and down on his hips with his fingers curled back, and his feet were going up and down as if he was climbing stairs. When he was speaking, he did everything he could to avoid eye contact, but when someone else was talking he watched their lips, following them with his own.
“You’re not gonna miss church are ya, Nubs?” Tim was looking at his pocket watch.
Nubs no sooner got the words out, than a weather beaten thirty-five Plymouth came bouncing across the cemetery, sliding to a halt in a cloud of dust. Casey could just see the top of the passenger’s head through the window. The passenger door opened and a tiny woman emerged to open the back door. It was Nubs’ mother.
Mrs. Carpenter strutted right over to Nubs, reached up, grabbed a handful of ear, and marched him over to the car. Actually, he bent over so she could reach his ear.
“I’d bet a nickel to a donut if he stood up straight, her feet would come right up off the ground,” Tim whispered.
“We best not be late for church for the likes of you. God will punish us all, and it will be all your fault, Nubs.” She slammed his door and climbed up into the front seat.
They watched as the Plymouth bounced back over the uneven ground until it reached the pavement; it then swung right, and disappeared out of sight.
“Gosh, that was a mean thing to say. Do ya s’pose she’s the reason he’s the way he is?”
“Dunno, Tim. I heard of kids fallin’ out of high chairs and –”
“So, that’s what happened to you!”
Tim jumped on his bike and took off as Casey took a swat at him.
“It’s just as well Mr. Beasley wasn’t out tendin’ his bees this mornin’, ‘cause we didn’t have time to watch,” said Casey as they pedaled into the dirt parking lot of the Way Side Chapel.
“Hi Casey. Hi Tim. Nubs’ glad ya made it so’s God won’t hafta punish ya or nothin’ – uh-huh, uh-huh.”
They couldn’t believe their eyes! Nubs was sitting in the outhouse by the church, with the outhouse door wide open. His suit pants were down around his ankles along with his boxer shorts.
“H’lo, Mrs. Granger, uh- huh, uh-huh.”
Nubs was waving to people as they got out of their cars. Meanwhile, he made all the bathroom noises necessary for getting the job done.
Tim and Casey ran into the church trying to keep a straight face. It was down right disrespectful to laugh in church unless the preacher said something funny.
In the six pews on either side of the aisle were seated maybe twenty-five people.
“Please, all rise while we sing the eulogy.”
“Praise God from whom all blessings flow…”
Next came the announcements. The one that struck Casey and Tim as funny, was that the pastor was seeking volunteers to build an indoor bathroom. The Carpenters had generously donated a genuine flush-toilet.
“Now would the choir please come forward and sing for us, ‘The Old Rugged Cross’.”
The whole congregation got up on the stage and faced the near empty pews, just as the out of tune piano started clunking out the hymn. The Carpenters felt there ought to be someone for the choir to sing to, besides God himself, so they remained in a pew.
That old piano might have sounded a might bit better if the pianist, Mrs. Farkas, had washed her hands after cleaning out her cats sandbox. She had been pounding sand into that keyboard for years and years.
Mrs. Farkas – now there was an example of one of God’s masterpieces gone askew. There she sat at the piano, ‘doing God’s work’, as she called it, in a bathrobe and curlers. And just as always, her stockings, looking like donuts, were rolled down to her ankles
Everyone suddenly stopped and gasped as they looked down the aisle –and saw Nubs standing there holding his pants up just above his knees.
“Nubs’ got no paper. Nubs’ sorry he’s late. Mercy, yes. Is God mad at Nubs?”
Casey and Tim dashed out the back door in gales of laughter. They figured they wouldn’t be missed in all the confusion. As the boys hopped on their bikes, the local beekeeper came to mind
“Maybe old man Beasley will be workin’ the bees, Tim.”
“Look, Tim, he’s puttin’ on his rubber bands.” Casey was watching Mr. Beasley intently. The only protection Mr. Beasley wore were rubber bands around the cuffs of his long sleeves.
“Ya know, Tim, no matter how many times I watch him with those bees, it still seems like it’s some kinda magic or somethin’.
“Remember when we had your dad’s canoe, and we bumped into that bush with the hornets nest in it?”
“Jeez! We almost lost the canoe over that one. Oh-h-h, yeah, I remember all right. I’m the only one that got stung. Boy, I really panicked. It’s a good thing ya tipped the canoe over when ya did; seventeen stings. Oh, yeah, I remember.”
Mr. Beasley went about his business of collecting honey, while the boys watched with avid interest.
“I’ve been watchin’ him for years now, Tim. Look at his hands and arms – they’re covered with bees. Even his eyebrows, for Pete’s-sake. Why don’t they sting him?”
“You’re askin’ me?”
“Because, he believes they won’t. That’s why!”
“Oh Jeez. Here we go again. What are ya—”?
“ —Now, wait a minute. Wait a minute.” Casey put his hand up like a traffic cop, and closed his eyes to let Tim know that he wasn’t going to listen to another word until he had his say. “Tim, what happens when ya go fishin’, and ya don’t believe you’re gonna catch anything?”
“That’s easy. Look at PJ – has he ever caught a fish?”
“Now you’re catchin’ on. I’m goin’ down there to help Mr. Beasley.”
“What!? Casey, that old man shoots trespassers. You can’t just go walkin’ down there and start grabbin’ honey and—”
“—I’ve gotta do this, Tim.”
Tim knew there was no sense in arguing. He shook his head as Casey walked away.
Casey watched Mr. Beasley lift the top off one of the little white wooden beehives with one hand, and lift out a rack of honeycomb with the other. Mr. Beasley turned, handed the rack full of honey to Casey, and nodded towards the makeshift carrying container made out of Coca-Cola cases and a Radio Flyer red wagon. It was as though Mr. Beasley had been expecting him.
Casey took the rack and gently swept the bees off the edges, as he had seen Mr. Beasley do many times before. Then he placed it gently into the case on the wagon.
By now, bees covered Casey’s arms, hands, and chest. And, what a sensation that was. The fuzzy little critters just went about business as usual. Casey took an empty rack out of the wagon and handed it to Mr. Beasley, who then put it into the slot he had just emptied in the beehive. Soon they had all the cases filled. As Casey and Mr. Beasley walked some fifty feet away from the hives, fewer bees remained around the wagon and on them.
Casey and Mr. Beasley sat on a log and waited for the rest of the bees to take flight.
“What’s yoah name, son?” The old man squinted.
“Casey. Casey Raymond, sir.”
“Well, now, Casey Raymond, I seen ya watchin’ old Beasly for years now. What made ya decide to come and give me a hand today?”
With that said, Mr. Beasley turned his head and spat tobacco juice at a dandelion.
“Just today I figured why the bees don’t sting ya, sir.”
“Oh? And why’s that?”
At that moment, his idea seemed ridiculous, but there was no turning back, “Because ya really believe they won’t.” At that profound statement, Mr. Beasley stood up with the most astonished look on his face. “That’s amazin’. My old man told me nigh unta forty years ago that the bees would never turn on me, and I believed him. Turns out, yer right!” He turned away from Casey for what seemed like a long time. When he faced Casey again he had a big smile on his face. Casey had never seen him smile before. In fact, he didn’t realize Mr. Beasley had a permanent scowl on his face until he smiled. Even the nicotine stains in the corners of his mouth cracked.
“I can’t give ya no money for yer help, son, but I can pay ya in honey. But, before I will let ya help agin, ya gotta pass the test of courage. We got a deal or not?” And so saying, he spat on his hand and held it out to Casey.
Casey did the same and grabbed Mr. Beasley’s hand, saying, “Deal!”
That not only brought on a smile, but a hardy guffaw. Mr. Beasley walked over to the Radio Flyer, selected two of the remaining bees and held them out for Casey to take. Casey gently cupped them in his hands.
“Put ‘em both on yoah arm. That’s right. Now squish one slowly with yoah finger till it stings ya.”
That seemed mighty strange, but Casey had been stung before and lived through it, his curiosity wouldn’t let him stop now. “Ouch!”
Suddenly out of nowhere, a Bowie knife appeared in Mr. Beasley’s hand. With swiftness normally reserved for a much younger man, he grabbed Casey’s wrist and dragged the razor sharp blade across his forearm.