Our Great Summer Novel — Chapter 6: The Monk Returns, Early
“It’s for you,” Boots said, handing the letter to Davis.
Davis gently took it, he’d already seen the name in the return address and it unnerved him: Truman Cooper, in black ink.
Questions ran through Davis’ head. He turned the envelope over. It wasn’t sealed. The flap was tucked.
“You’re not saying it, but this is weird. Doesn’t feel right, and I don’t just mean the letter,” Boots said. He was looking inside the trunk again, reaching for the bottle.
“You might want to leave that alone,” Tater said, rubbing his side along the trunk as he moved in front of Boots. “Those boys I mentioned just a bit ago were a few French fries short of a Happy Meal — I’m not sure what a Happy Meal is, but it sounds good — and I don’t think their condition improved after opening that bottle.”
“How did you get a Texas accent? Actually, don’t answer that. I have a feeling it would take you too long to explain,” Boots said, but took his hand out of the trunk and shut the lid. “Davis, I don’t like this.”
Davis was still standing looking at the letter in his hands. He couldn’t make his himself open it.
Boots stood up and moved over to the hole in the treehouse floor, gauging how the trunk could be taken down. “Uh, we’ve got company,” he said in a low voice.
Out of instinct, Davis turned, folding the letter and sticking it in his back pocket. He knew who was coming and he didn’t feel like sharing the letter with the monk.
“I should have known he wouldn’t wait until tomorrow. He probably followed me and has been watching the house,” Davis said. “For now, we play nice. I don’t care about the trunk. He can have it.”
“Hello, gentlemen,” the monk’s voice rose through the hole in the floor. “Please bring that trunk down with you.”
Davis glanced down. The monk had changed into his red and saffron robes. So much for Friar Tuck, Davis thought.
“I wish I could read his mind,” Tater whispered, sitting down next to Davis’ boots.
“Me too,” Davis sighed. “I’ll go down first. Can you lock the trunk again, Boots? Take your time.”
Davis stepped on a wooden rung and began descending the trunk. “I’ve got to get a rope,” he said over the shoulder to the monk, keeping an eye on the monk’s hands. No sign of the knife, yet. “That trunk isn’t coming down without one.”
Davis jumped down the last few feet, looked the monk in the eye for a moment then brushed by him. There was a rope in the shed.
But the shed’s door was already opened. Davis hadn’t taken two steps when a too-familiar voice called out, “I think this is the one you want.”
Davis jolted to a stop mid-stride. His mind screamed “NO!” and his anger combined with nervous adrenaline.
“Sorry, pardner, I didn’t hear her coming. Distracted,” Tater said, suddenly at Davis’ side.
Lina came around the shed door holding a climbing rope. “God, you haven’t changed,” she said, and shoved the rope at him.
“Neither have you,” Tater responded with a slight purr, turning to watch Lina walk by Davis.
“I wasn’t talking to you, cat,” Lina said with an icy edge Davis hadn’t heard except right at the end of their relationship, right before she walked out the door.
Tater’s purr froze and his back arched.
“What the heck is going on here!” Davis said, dropping the rope and turning.
Lina stood by the monk. Wait, she wasn’t just standing, she was leaning. She was with him. Oh, some things become so clear, sooo clear, Davis thought.
Purity, the monasteries, simplicity, beauty … after Laos, Lina had gone on and on about how wonderful it was. She was in love with it. But actually she was in love with him, the monk.
“So who are you really?” Davis said to the monk or to Lina. It didn’t matter.
“I just want what’s mine,” the monk said.
“And what’s so special about that trunk?” Davis asked.
“What’s that rattling sound?” the monk’s face turned slightly, then he continued. “I’m a scientist and …” the monk said.
“Oh, great. Here we go. The not-so-peace-loving-knife-weilding-mad-scientist-Buddhist-monk story.” Davis could hardly spit the sarcasm out of his mouth fast enough.
“I’m not really a monk.”
“You don’t say?” Davis could feel the mix of adrenaline and anger rushing through him.
In a flash, the knife was in the monk’s hand.
“Honey, he doesn’t know,” Lina said. She gently put her hand around the monk’s shoulder and that was too much.
Davis was mad. The training he received during those years in the Philippines coursed through him as the monk squared off, then came at him. The monk didn’t know he didn’t have a chance. When it was over, the knife had sunk with a twang into the wood in the side of the shed and the monk was on the ground, out cold.
Lina was nowhere in sight. So much for stand by your man, Davis thought. Well, she could just come back to her monk later and take care of the massive headache he would have when he woke up.
“Let’s get out of here,” Davis yelled to Boots, grabbing the rope, climbing part way to the treehouse and throwing the rope in.
“That was awesome!” Boots’ head appeared over the treehouse hole. “I will never, ever cross you. That was like the Hulk coming out.”
“Yeah, that …” Tater began.
“Shut it.” Davis shot at the Tater, who snootily sat and began licking himself.
“I’m going to grab my keys and lock up the house,” Davis told Boots. “Get the trunk ready. We’re taking it with us.”