Monday, January 07, 2008


The farm fields thinned out as they approached Diamond Lake. The land got hilly with small marshes in the low places. There were a few shacks and a couple houses on the North Side of Diamond Lake. And the Diamond Lake Hill, which rose about two hundred feet above the lake itself. There was a gravel pit near the top of the hill.

“What do you think is the best way to find the Door,” Nathaniel said.

No one offered a prompt answer. So Nathaniel spoke again.

“I figure we should find the old man’s lean-to and start looking around from there. ‘Member he said that he was sleeping and heard some people talking and then he went through the Door. So I figure the Door must be close to that lean-to,” Nathaniel said.

Isaac stopped walking and the other boys stopped.

“That makes sense. I kind of remember the old feller talking about his lean-to and then finding the Door,’ Isaac offered.

“Yeah, me too, “Tom said, “I heard him say that he was waking up from sleeping and heard the people from the Door talkin’. I think startin’ at the lean-to is the way to go.”

They saw the lake as they approached it. The leaves were just budding out on the trees and it was easy to see through them. The lake was deep blue in color with shiny reflections. A south wind was rippling up the water.

At the base of Diamond Lake Hill was the rutted road leading up the hill to the pit and a couple of side trails. The boys decided to split up, with Johnny and Isaac taking the road and Tom and Nathaniel taking each side trail. If one of them found the lean-to, they would yell out.

It didn’t take long to find the lean-to. It was about a hundred feet east of the pit road. Isaac found it and called out to the other boys.

The lean-to was more leaning than standing. There was a fire pit out front of it, a few old newspapers inside on the ground, and some oiled paper tacked up on some of the logs. Not much to recommend it. The boys had seen nicer houses for dogs in the Sears and Roebuck catalogs.

“No wonder the old scutter was swapping stories for fish,” Isaac said, “Mighty poor looking place to spend the winter. Mighty poor. It would seem like that feller would have found him a Door to a more prosperous place.”

The boys agreed that they would each go in a different direction, walk slow and just look around. The old man said it was cold around the doors and that sometimes you could see through them. It wasn’t much to go on, but it was all they had.

Nathaniel walked very slow, watching for the slightest evidence of the Door. He was careful and measured in his steps, treading as lightly as he could across the dried leaves, downed tree branches and the occasional maypole plant that sprouted early in the spring. He could hear Johnny tromping along to his left, but the sounds faded as they separated.

He figured he would concentrate close to the lean-to, making several loops north for a ways and then back to the lean-to. He didn’t have much faith that they could find the Diamond Lake Door. A musket ball could probably disturb a man’s mind so that he could believe he was seeing something that wasn’t really there. He’d seen crazy people talk to themselves like they were talking to other people, so it seemed possible that the old man had the same thing wrong with him.

But if they could find the Door, they’d be famous. It would be in the newspapers and on the newswire. They might report it all around the world. England, France, maybe China even. They might even make up a book about it and go on a tour like so many book writers did. His dad would surely put a story about the Diamond Lake Door in the “Lincoln Banner.”

Crack! Thunder slammed through the air. A cold wind powered through the branches on the trees. Nathaniel looked up and saw that the sky was still clear. There had been no lighting. He heard Isaac yelling over to the east of him.

Johnny and Tom were also across the forest. Nathaniel ran toward Isaac’s voice and he could hear Johnny and Tom running and yelling behind him.

“I found it. I damn well found it,” Isaac yelled.

About thirty-feet away from Isaac was the Door. It would shine one minute and then dim. Its edges wiggled around. But if you looked straight into it, you could see someplace else, just like another room behind an open door.

And it was cold around the Door, just like the old man said.

“That’s it,” hooted Johnny, “You found that Door that crazy feller was talkin’ about!”

“Yeah,” replied Isaac, “but the old scutter don’t seem so crazy now.”

The boys slowly approached the Door.

“Where do you think it goes,” Tom asked.

“Don’t know,” Isaac said, “But it looks like a dusty road on the other side.”

Johnny threw a stick into the Door. The stick landed on the other side of the Door. It kicked up some dust on the other side of the Door. A little bit of the dust blew back through the Door towards the boys.

“Damn, you see that? We could reach through there and fetch that stick back,” Johnny said.

“Do it,” said Isaac.

Johnny approached the Door and gingerly placed his hand into the Door. His arm appeared on the other side of the Door, but he was not close enough to reach the stick. He waved his arm around a little through the Door.

“What’s it like,” asked Nathaniel.

“Feels a little warmer. Like it might be summertime,” Johnny replied. Then he stepped through. He picked up the stick and looked around. The remaining three boys could see Johnny on the other side of the door. Then he stepped back through the Door with the stick in hand.

“Damn, that was easy.”

“What was it like over there,” Nathaniel asked again.

“Well, it was warm and sunny. Like summer time. I looked up the road and there was a town just up the way. It looked like I was on the edge of town,” Johnny explained.

“Did you see anybody,” Isaac asked.

“No, but I could see a couple horses in a field by the road. They was behind an old split-rail fence. And there was a lot of fresh tracks and wagon wheel ruts on the road,” Johnny said.

“What do you think, fellas? Should we go through it,” Isaac asked.

“Yeah,” Nathaniel said and walked through.

Johnny followed quickly, then Isaac. Only Tom remained, standing hesitantly near the Door.

“Come on Tom, come on”, the boys said, motioning to Tom. But he would not move. And he did not respond or otherwise say anything.

The three boys on the other side of the Diamond Lake Door looked at each other wondering what to do next.

“Let him stay back there,” Isaac said, “He can stand there and make sure we can get back.”

They nodded and Isaac said, “Tom, just stay put and wait for us. Okay? Okay?”

When Tom finally nodded “yes”, Isaac said, “Let’s go into town and see where we’re at.”