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Chaordia - A Novel of Transformation Ch. 2

Because of climate change a man wants to transform an old farm into a new colony

In the kitchen, my dad put the book down on the old maple table, filled up the red kettle with water and turned on the flame. "You and Alice were so quiet in the car. Is something wrong?"

"Not really," I answered.

"Not really? That means there is, but you don’t want to talk about it."

"Nothing’s wrong ... really."

"How about some hot chocolate?"

I was anxious to get up to my room to call Alice, but I could tell he felt like talking. "No thanks. Think I'll pass."

"Were you upset by the talk?” he asked, probing. 

"It’s kind of scary," I answered, glancing down at Alan Bigalow’s photo on the back of the book and thought he looked much younger when that picture was taken.

"Sure you don’t want some hot chocolate?" He had two mugs and scooped some into one. "I know it’s probably not the best thing to drink before you go to bed, but it’s a chilly night. Let’s talk about what’s happening."

I opened the book and saw it was dedicated to his children, Adrian and Rebecca and remembered how upset he seemed about the world they were growing up in. I closed the book and ran my fingers over the cover.

"What good does it do to talk?" I said. "Anyway, Alice wants me to call her, so I think I’ll go up to my room and see what she wants."

"I wanted to tell you about this project I might be working on for a client who has an old farm in Vermont. I don’t know much about it. He’s a pretty interesting guy. You would like him."

"I’d like to hear about it, maybe later. I’m going upstairs."

"He’s coming over for dinner tomorrow night to talk about it. Tell you what, why don’t you invite Alice over for dinner tomorrow. I think he’s someone you two should meet. His farm project sounds unusual, that’s all I know."

"That’s sounds cool, I’ll ask her."

I rushed upstairs to my room and heard my cell phone buzz. I never liked the chimes or stupid music some of them play. I took it out of my pocket and saw it was Alice.

"Hi, sorry I didn’t call right away. My dad wanted to talk."

"I figured that’s what happened. So what do you think?"

"I don’t know. How could she know about the Bendula if she didn’t read the books?"

"I wonder who she is." I glanced at my laptop on my desk.

"She seemed sad," Alice said.

"Right and she made it seem like there really was an Atlantis but doesn’t want to talk about it. This is really weird."

"Did you say anything to your dad?"

"No, not yet, I wanted to, but I needed to think more, except I don’t even know what to think." I paced and then sat on my bed to take off my sneakers.

"I should study for that stupid Biology test tomorrow, but I can’t," Alice said, sighing.

"My dad said he might be working on a special project for some guy he thinks we should meet, and he’s coming over for dinner tomorrow. He said you should come for dinner. Do you want to? He said it was really unusual."

"Sure. Sounds interesting, anyway my mom’s going to her AA meeting, thank God."

"My dad said this guy wants to do something different on this old farm in Vermont."

"Different, what do you mean?" Alice asked, then she did what she often does, not wait for an answer, "Hey, I have an idea."

"You always have ideas, now what?"

"I think we should find out where that woman lives."

"How can we do that? We don’t have a clue where she lives."

"I have the license number of her car. I wrote it down on my hand when they drove out of the parking lot."

"You did, wow, you’re amazing," I said, remembering her writing something on her hand.

"You’re right. I’m definitely amazing. You seem surprised."

"But how will we find out where she lives? The police won’t give us her address."

"I’ll find a way. You know me," she responded, and again I thought how lucky I was to have Alice for a friend.

She always said and did things that surprised me. She was smart, really pretty and really different than most of the girls at school. I often wondered if she liked me the way I liked her. It’s hard to tell, but she sometimes gave little hints. It’s like we didn’t want anything to spoil our friendship. It’s hard to explain. We just really like each other. I remember how she came to Ridgway two years ago when her mother moved after the divorce, and we kept looking at each other. I knew her name, and we had one class together, and then one day she sat down at my table in the cafeteria, plopped down her tray with a salad and just said, "Hi. Alex, I’m Alice."

While I was talking to Alice, my dad tapped on my door, even though it was open. He had the book under his arm, and I knew he was going to get into bed and read. He put up his finger, indicating he wanted to say something, so I told Alice to hold on a minute.

"Mom called and wanted you to come to her place tomorrow for dinner and stay over. She’ll drive you to school the next day. I told her we have a guest tomorrow but would ask you and call her back."

"I don’t know," I said. "I think I’d like to meet this guy, and Alice wants to come over."

At first, I didn’t know what to say. This is one of the hard things about having divorced parents and not wanting to hurt their feelings when one of them wants you to do something with them, and you just want to be left alone.

"What should I tell her?" he asked.

"Tell her I’ll call her."

When my dad nodded, I put the phone back to my ear, "Back. My mom wants me to come to her place tomorrow for dinner, so I have to call her and tell her I’ll do it some other time. I want to meet my dad's client."

"It’s hard sometimes being a kid with divorced parents. Believe me, I know," Alice said. "I feel bad for my mom, but she drives me up the wall, and I just want to say, ‘get a life,’ but I never do."

"Okay, so if we find out where this old woman lives, then what?" I asked. "It sounds like she doesn’t want to talk about Atlantis."

"I don’t know. I bet if we visit her and say it’s important, maybe she'll change her mind."

"I don’t know. Maybe. I guess it’s worth a try, but it’s weird. I don’t understand what’s going on. I mean, those books really got to me, and I see how people like the Bendula are making things bad, and she seemed to know about the Bendula and never read those books. How could that be?"

"That’s why we have to talk to her," Alice said. "We have to."

"Well, I hope we can find out where she lives, but I don’t know how we will."

"We will. My dad’s a lawyer, and he knows some detectives where he lives, maybe he will help."

"Really, you think you can get your dad to help. Why would he do that? Won’t he think it’s strange that you want to find an address. Won’t he ask why?"

"Good question. I know he will. He’s a lawyer, and he’s always cross-examining me like I’m some suspicious character. I wish he would trust me. It really sucks. Anyway, I'll make up some story, and he'll get her address if he can."

"Well, I better go and call my mom," I said, not really wanting to, but knowing I should.

"See you in school," Alice said. "Bye."

"Right, see you tomorrow."

I closed down my phone and tossed it onto the bed. I wasn’t ready to talk to my mom yet and thought about the idea of visiting the old woman, wondering if she would tell us anything. I looked around my room at the posters on the wall. One was the Salvador Dali painting of a melted clock I really liked, and the other was a poster of Robert Johnson, an old blues musician my dad got me because he loved the blues and had a collection of old vinyl records and some newer CDs. I remember a movie based on Robert Johnson’s life called, “Cross Roads” and how he sold his soul to the devil, and there was this kid who loved his music and wanted to play the blues and visited him in the hospital. I don’t know why he fascinated me. I looked at my guitar leaning up against the wall, wishing I could play it better, but I never practiced. I wanted to play as some of the blues musicians my dad and I listened to in the car, but I knew that would never happen, even though lately, I felt like the sad sound in their music. It’s hard to explain.

I looked at a photograph of my mom, dad and me when I was ten. It was two or three years before they divorced. We were on the beach, and they got someone to take our picture with the ocean behind us. We had our arms around each other, and we looked happy. I thought about how simple my life was then compared to now. I’ve been trying not to be cynical, but it’s hard not to feel bitter about stuff. I’m stuck in my boring school. It feels like the world is falling apart around me. My dad's really upset about these drones that are killing people by remote control like it’s a video game. It’s all so sick, and I want to tune it out and not think about it, and then I hear this talk about the worst is yet to come, and I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like. It seems the only thing I can count on these days is Alice, and even that’s shaky since she’s been talking about going away to college next year.

I went back to my bed and called my mom, knowing she would be upset that I didn’t want to go to her place for dinner. She’s a really good cook and can be fun. She has a great sense of humor, and when she tells me about people she’s working with at the public relations firm, she puts on a show and imitates their voices, and I’m amazed what a good actress she is. I know that’s what she wanted to do when she was in college but got pregnant with me right after they got married. Dad encouraged her to join a local theater group, and she kept saying she would but never did. I know she was not content being a mom, but didn’t know what to do, so she didn’t do anything except talk on the phone a lot, or have friends over for dinner and entertain them with her funny stories. I guess the dinner table became her stage. She kept a journal, and I know she tried writing a novel and gave it to friends to read, but she never did anything with it.

When I told her I couldn’t come over for dinner because Dad thought I should meet this guy, she said that was fine, I should do what I want, but I could tell she didn’t really think it was fine by the way she said, "Oh, I see," then she asked me what was new, how was Alice. I told her we just got back from the library and heard an interesting talk about climate change, but I didn’t say much, and she didn’t ask anything. I was hoping she wouldn’t bring up school and say she wished I took school more seriously, but she did.

I hate it when she says, "Alex, I’m worried about you." That’s when I have to hold back being sarcastic and want to say, "Mom, that’s your problem," but I don’t say anything, and I just close my eyes, take a breath and hold it all in, and then I lie and say I’m working harder in school and think I might get an A on the history test, I think I really nailed it, which would be impossible since I can’t stand that class and never study, but I wanted to cheer her up. Sometimes a little lie goes a long way to get her off my back, but then when I end up flunking, I have to make up some other story just to make her feel good. I hate it.

I wanted to get off the phone and told her I would come over on Saturday and stay over, and she liked that. I usually spend every other weekend with her. That’s the arrangement my parents made when they separated, and she moved downtown. I’m not sure of all the details, but I know she moved because Dad refused to leave the house. He didn’t want the separation or divorce, but she was so unhappy. It took a long time, but eventually that’s what happened. I’m glad they get along, and they never put the other one down, at least in front of me, so I guess, it’s as good as it can be. Sometimes, I don’t understand adults and Alice and me often say we think our parents are ridiculous. I have it a lot better than she does because her mother became a drunk and her father had an affair with this woman at his law firm, and she hardly sees him.

After I got undressed and ready for bed, I walked down the hall to the bathroom to pee and brush my teeth, but glanced into my dad’s room and saw he had fallen asleep with the book on his chest. I went in to turn off his lamp and glanced at the book lying half open. I picked up the book and dog-eared the page the way my dad always did, placed it on the table and read the back where there were a few blurbs. When I read one that said, "Everyone should read this profound and shocking book," I thought about the Atlantis books I had just read and thought everyone should read those books too, and how I couldn’t wait to tell Gabe and Tim about them. I thought they would love the books, too.

In the bathroom, while I brushed my teeth and noticed the Dr. Bronner’s soap on the small shelf next to the sink, my dad’s razor next to mine, the scissors he used to trim his beard, and thought how I liked that it was just the two of us two living in the house. I missed my mom, but the house felt different with two guys. I looked at myself in the mirror, noticing how long my hair was, how it curled just above my shoulders, how, though it was brown, it still had a little of the blond I had when I was younger. I looked into my blue eyes, liking how they looked back at me and how Alice always said they twinkled when I smiled, so I smiled to see if I could see them twinkle, but then noticed a few pimples on my forehead and my chin and hated them. I brushed my teeth, running the water and cupped some in my hand to wash the toothpaste away, then turned off the light and went back to my room. It took me awhile to fall asleep. I thought about Alice and wondered if we would find out where the old woman lived and would she even talk to us. I was really baffled by all that was happening, then wondered about my dad’s client coming for dinner and why he thought he was someone Alice and I should meet.

Dad made pasta with meatballs and the sweet and sour tomato sauce he learned from my grandmother. He added a can of jellied cranberries to it, and it was really different. He made garlic bread and a big salad with olives and feta cheese. Alice and I were in my room waiting for our guest to arrive. She told me she might have flunked the Biology test and was bummed out that it was going to hurt her average. I listened and thought so what, but didn’t say anything because I knew she was upset.

When the doorbell rang, we came downstairs, and Dad introduced us to Glenn McCormick. He was tall, definitely over six feet, thin with broad shoulders, but it was the grip of his hand and the way his blue eyes looked into mine and his big smile when he said he was happy to meet us that excited me. He seemed gentle but also intense like he was holding back a lot of energy. It’s hard to explain. He wore faded jeans, a red and black flannel shirt and I noticed he had boots that were pretty scuffed up. His long graying hair was tied in a ponytail, and I immediately wondered if he was a hippie from the sixties or seventies.

"You have an accent," Alice said.

"Right, I’m Irish and can’t get rid of the brogue, even though I’ve been in this country since I was a twelve, almost thirteen."

"I like it," Alice said. "I’ve always wanted to go to Ireland, and I love that song, 'Danny Boy' and my mom used to sing me this song when I was little about cockles and mussels."

"Ah, yes….' Alive alive Oh, Alive, Alive Ohhhhhh.'''

I couldn’t believe he just started singing.

"Yes, that’s the song," Alice said. "Hey, you have a good voice."

Glenn chuckled and thanked her, then turned to my dad, "Thanks for inviting me to dinner. I think we'll have a splendid evening."

"I think so," my dad said. "I wanted Alex and Alice to meet you and hear your ideas."

Glenn nodded and glanced around the house. He looked up at the exposed beams, the two skylights, the wood stove in the corner and how open everything was. Dad eliminated walls so that heat could circulate and the house is super insulated. We’re off the grid and have two solar panels on the roof, but we’re hooked into the electric company, and we end up selling back electricity, so we don’t pay anything except a small charge for the hookup. The upstairs is open, too with a spiral staircase he designed. In the winter, we keep the bedroom doors open, so the heat from the stove keeps the upstairs warm.

"Now, I know why I want to talk to you about my project in Vermont," he said while looking around. "I’m glad my friend, Tammy told me about you."

"Yes, Tammy. I designed her house a few years ago, but I haven’t seen her for awhile." He chuckled. "She’s a character. I wonder how she’s doing."

"You’re right. She’s a character," Glenn said. "She knows about my project, so when I saw her house a week or so ago, she said, ‘You have to meet Eric,’ so here we are meeting."

I liked hearing how people talked about my dad, even though he’s pretty controversial in our town. People think he’s kind of nuts for always talking about ways of eliminating cars and planning for the future. That’s why he works more at home and doesn’t go to his office downtown as much. He uses our old Subaru as little as possible and usually bikes most places.

When we sat down at the maple table next to the kitchen area, he brought over the bowl of pasta, the salad and a bottle of wine. He poured Glenn a glass, then poured some into our glasses, then into his glass and we clicked glasses. My dad doesn’t think a little wine once in awhile will hurt me and told me how kids in France and Italy and some other places drink wine with their parents.

"To happiness." Glenn raised his glass.

"Yes, to happiness," my dad repeated.

When everyone shouted out, "To happiness," I wanted to say those words, but didn’t. I just clicked Alice’s glass. She frowned at me when she noticed I didn’t say anything. I wish I could be more like her, but I can’t fake it.

We took sips and put our glasses down, and Alice leaned over to me, "Don’t be such a jerk," she whispered. "There’s nothing wrong with wanting happiness."

I shrugged my shoulders and didn‘t say anything. Damn, what’s wrong with me?

We helped ourselves to the pasta and salad and started eating. "Good sauce," Glenn said. "It’s different than I’m used to."

"It’s my mother’s recipe," my dad said, "Sweet and Sour meatballs."

"Cool. I still remember my grandmother’s stew in Ireland. She made it with lamb, turnips, potatoes and you name it. I wish I knew how she made it, but she died and never taught my mom the recipe, so her secret went with her."

Glenn finished his wine and poured himself another glass and turned to my dad, "So, here’s what I’ve been thinking about and why I want to talk to you," he said, then turned to Alice and me. "I hope this doesn’t bore you two."

"If it does, I’ll leave." Alice laughed. "No, I won’t. I’ll just try not to yawn."

Glenn laughed then paused before speaking. The expression on his face suddenly got serious like he was thinking about what he wanted to say. He took a deep breath before speaking.

"Fifteen years ago or so, I inherited my grandfather’s farm in Vermont, not far from the Canadian Border and near the northern tip of Lake Champlain. He had a small dairy farm. That’s where my mom and her brother grew up, but they went off to college and didn’t really want anything to do with the farm. He worked hard and cranked out a living, but he loved that farm and worried what would happen to it when he died. He didn’t want to sell it and see some rich people from New York or Connecticut come up and use it for a vacation spot, so he left it to me. At the time, I wasn’t sure why he didn’t leave it to his son, Derrick and my mother, but learned he had a life insurance policy and they were the beneficiaries. Anyway, just before he died he wrote me a letter."

"Wait a minute," Alice interrupted. "I thought you said you lived in Ireland and came here when you were twelve."

"Yes, that's true.My mom married my dad when she was studying at the University of Dublin getting her masters in classics. He was a professor and she was his student and she got pregnant with me, so for the first twelve years of my life, that’s where I lived. Anyway, they broke up and she came back to the states, and for a while went back to their farm, but then got a teaching job at NYU in the Classics Department. I didn’t have much choice when I was a kid. I didn’t want to leave Ireland and my friends, and I only went back once to see him, but that’s another story."

"So what did this letter from your grandfather say?" I asked, fascinated by his story and how his life was so different than mine.

"He said he wanted me to have the farm and that one day, I would know how special it is, and I will know what to do with it. He said it should never be sold."

"Wow," Alice said. "What do you think he meant it was special and you would know what to do with it?"

"I didn’t know what he meant, but there I was the owner of a farm in Vermont. I was thirty-seven when he died and got the letter. I really loved the farm when I was a kid and visited my grandparents in the summer. I helped him with the cows and baling hay in the summer. He worked hard and he’d tell me stories, but I never really knew much about him or his childhood. I went away to college but never graduated. I didn’t know what I wanted to be or do. I got married, divorced, traveled, and actually, to be honest, drifted from place to place. I did some stupid things. I even went to India and Tibet trying to get enlightened but didn’t. All I did was get fucked up," he said, looking at Alice and me. "I was a mess. Lucky, I didn’t have kids to screw up."

"Did you ever visit the farm?" my dad asked. "I’m curious what kind of shape it’s in."

"I went there about two years ago. I was on my way to Maine to visit and old friend and decided to check it out. I’d been paying the taxes on it, sometimes late, but I managed to keep it from being taken over by the town. I was tempted to put it on the market when I was really broke, despite my grandfather’s wishes not to sell it, but just couldn’t do it, so it’s still there, but not like I remembered it. The pastures are covered with trees and overgrown with brush and high grass. The farmhouse looks pretty dilapidated, but at least, the roof hasn’t fallen in and the barn is still standing."

"Well, that’s good," my dad said.

"It was late September when I was there and the leaves were changing color. The apple trees needed pruning, but they were filled with apples. I could see deer had been there getting the apples on the ground. I picked some and took a big bag to Maine with me." He paused and sighed. "Actually, it was pretty sad to see the farm empty and it brought back memories."

"Sounds like it sat empty for over fifteen years," my dad said. "That must have been hard."

"It was and I wondered if I could live there since I was between jobs and girlfriends, but tossed that idea away. I didn’t think I could handle not living in the city, and I knew I had to get a job. I was a carpenter and built sets for Broadway shows, but got laid off. I also painted and shared a studio in Soho, but never made much money at that. I was upset with what was happening with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and I was really upset when the banks got bailed out in 2008 and people started losing their houses. I had been reading about climate change and could see what was happening. I was close to fifty and hadn’t done much with my life except build sets when I could and paint when I could. My mother is a full professor at NYU and is planning on retiring next year. She’s been working on a book for years but has written a lot of articles and is highly respected as a scholar and teacher. She’s going to be seventy-two and is not doing that well. I’m not sure what’s wrong because she won’t tell me, but she’s been losing weight and I can see she’s not as energetic as she used to be. She never remarried but has had a few relationships. It’s another thing she doesn’t talk about.

"Anyway, when I was visiting her two years ago after I got back from living in San Francisco, Occupy Wall Street was happening and got really excited. I wanted to do something but didn’t know what. Anyway, I joined them in Zuccotti Park and met a lot of great people, and we’d sit up at night and talk about how we’re going to take back the country. I was there when it got raided by the cops and broken up. I wondered what would happen to the movement, but it seemed to be fizzling out. I was glad to see they helped people when Hurricane Sandy hit and I got into that. It was really cool setting up soup kitchens and getting clothes and helping people. We did more than the Red Cross. Man, the Jersey shore really got hit. Anyway, it was when I was doing that with the Occupy people and we were all concerned about climate change and the future that I started thinking about the farm again. I remembered reading how a lot of Vermont got flooded when Hurricane Irene hit a few years ago, and then Sandy hit and right after that another big storm hit and that was a wake-up call that nothing would ever be the same."

He stopped talking and poured himself another glass of wine and my dad asked if anyone wanted coffee. Glenn said he did.

"I do," Alice said, then turned to Glenn. "We just went to a talk at the library last night and heard this guy who wrote a book, ‘The Worst is Yet to Come’ and it’s pretty scary."

"I know about that book because this woman I know from Occupy told me about it and said there was a chapter about what happened after Sandy hit. I haven’t read it, but I’ve read a lot of articles. Finally, people who have been denying it's happening are changing their tune. I know the oil companies have been paying scientists to write reports saying it has nothing to do with fossil fuels and how we’re living."

"Well, the guy last night said the military has been studying it, and they aren’t denying it’s happening," I said. "They’re working on national security plans because they think there’s going to be mass migrations and revolts."

"That’s right, and that brings me to why I’m here to talk to your dad," Glenn said, turning to look at him at the counter, making coffee.

"Is it about your farm?" Alice asked.

"Yes, and I’m glad Tammy told me about Eric. She showed me an article he wrote and I saw her house. Anyway, I’ve had this idea brewing over the last year, and now I want to brainstorm with him. I now think I understand what my grandfather meant when he said his farm was special, and that one day I would know what to do with it. I didn’t have a clue what he meant at the time, but when I visited there a few years ago and felt this sadness and wondered if I could ever live there, I shoved it aside. I guess I wasn’t ready, but now I’m inspired to work on this project there."

"Inspired," Alice asked. "What do you mean?"

"It’s hard to explain, but it’s amazing how ideas come to you," he said, picking up the mug of coffee my father placed in front of him. He took a sip and said, " Ahhhhh"   just like my dad does when he drinks coffee in the morning.

My dad brought his cup to the table and passed one to Alice. I didn’t really like coffee, so I got up and made myself a hot chocolate, but I could hear everything.

"Like I said before," he began, "I was out of work and between girlfriends and upset with nothing being done at all these climate change summits…just talk and avoidance. It‘s pretty disgusting and I remembered this poster with Gandhi's saying, 'Be the change you want,' and I suddenly realized the government isn’t going to do anything. The oil companies and other corporations have Congress by the balls, and if anything is going to change, I have to change and people have to change."

When I came back to the table with my hot chocolate, he stopped talking and looked at each of us before continuing. "One night, I had this vivid dream and it woke me up. It was like an epiphany, a vision. I suddenly saw my farm in Vermont with people working, men, women, children and fields growing food, fruit trees, sharing the land. I knew I had to go there and make something happen, something new. I wasn’t sure how, but I was inspired. I felt that was what my grandfather would have wanted. I wanted to be as independent of this country as I could be. I wanted to make something new."

"Wow, that’s so wild," Alice said. "That’s a great dream."

I was surprised that Alice responded that way, but for some reason, I liked the idea, too. I wasn’t sure why, but it reminded me of the way people once lived on Atlantis.

Glenn smiled and chuckled at Alice, then continued. "Anyway, I told my mother about the dream and she’s pretty cool. She might be a classics professor, but she’s really special. That’s why she’s such a good teacher, and I’ve met students who have been in her classes, and they said she changed their lives just by the way she taught the Odyssey and Virgil. She also said her father was a lot more than a farmer. He was a poet and dreamer, and she understood why he could never sell his farm and wanted me to have it."

"That’s quite a story,” my dad said. "It feels like what has come to you was meant to be."

"I don’t know. Who knows why I had that dream, but I did and I want to follow it. That’s something my mother always said, ‘Follow your dreams.’ I thought it was kind of trite and know that’s what speakers at graduations always say. Maybe I thought it was trite because I never really had a dream, so I never took that idea seriously."

We were all silent after he said that and just looked at him. I took a sip of my hot chocolate and thought about his dream and the farm. I liked the way he spoke with that slight Irish brogue. I noticed Alice nodding and looking at him, her eyebrows scrunched like she was thinking hard about his idea. My father rubbed his chin and tugged at his beard the way he always does when he’s thinking, and Glenn sighed deeply, then finished his coffee in one big gulp.

"So how are you going to make your dream come true," my dad asked. "It’s fun to have dreams and I have plenty of ideas, but how to make your dreams real is what counts. It‘s easy to dream."

"I know, but listen to this," he said, pausing. "My mother has money from all the years being a full professor and she made some investments and saved. She’s pretty frugal, and she wants to help me make her father’s farm come back to life. That’s what she said. She said she has all this money sitting in various accounts that would become my inheritance, and she wants to be here and see it do something before she dies."

"Really. Wow!" my father said. "Your mother sounds really interesting. That’s unusual to leave an inheritance before you die."

"I wish my mom were like your mom," Alice said. "She’s afraid of everything."

Glenn nodded. "I’m lucky. She’s definitely unusual. Anyway, she loves the farm, and she knew her father would love seeing it flourish. She said he really worked hard all of his life to hold onto the farm and scraped by with his dairy, and it would break his heart to see it empty and falling apart, and then she said a word I had never heard before." He paused, took a breath and said, "Chaordic."

"Chaordic?" my dad repeated.

"She told me about the Chaordic Principle and said it’s a blending of the words chaos and order. Out of chaos grows a new order and compared it to the Phoenix rising from the ashes. She said the world has gone through many periods of destruction, collapse and that climate change is nothing new, but that there is a creative force that brings something new out of what decays or falls apart."

"That’s really interesting," I said and repeated the word to myself.

"Chaordic," my dad said again, nodding, and I could see him thinking about the word.

"And that’s why I want to talk to you," Glenn said. "I want to know what you think about what‘s possible to do with the farm to prepare for the future."

"Do you have pictures?" he asked.

"My mother does in New York, but I don’t have any."

"I would really need to see the place before I could really give you my thoughts, but I’m intrigued and think this could be really something special."

"I thought you would and I want you to go there with me as soon as you can."

"You’re serious, aren’t you? When can we go?"

"Can I come?" I asked.

"I want to go, too," Alice said.

Both my father and Glenn looked at us, surprised and then uncertain.

"Let me think about that," my dad said. "You guys have school and I don’t know how long we’d be away and your mom might not approve."

"Dad, school’s a waste of my time. You know that."

"My mom wouldn’t want me to go and miss school," Alice said, "but I love your idea, and after hearing that talk last night, I’m not sure how relevant school is."

Hearing Alice say that really surprised me since she was planning on applying to three colleges and was determined to get into Princeton because of its prestige or Oberlin because of its dance program.

"You would really miss school?" I asked. "How can you do that with your plans?"

"I don’t know," she shrugged her shoulders. "I’m just interested in Glenn’s idea for the farm, so what if I miss a few days of school."

"Can you go this weekend?" Glenn asked. "It’s a six-hour drive."

"Yes, I think so. I need to see the place before I can really know what I think."

"Cool," Glenn said. "I might invite Tammy. I think she would have a lot to offer."

My dad chuckled. "She’s a character, but I think you’re right. She thinks outside of the box, that’s for sure."

Glenn stood up and stretched. "I better get going."

We all got up, but Alice’s cell phone rang and she answered and turned to me, "It’s my dad."

I walked to the door with Glenn and my dad. He waved to Alice talking on the phone and she waved back.

"I’ll be here at seven on Saturday morning and we’ll take off. I hope the kids can come."

"Okay," my dad said. “If we leave early Saturday, sounds like we should get there in the early afternoon.”

"I don’t know if we’ll be able to stay in the house or not, so we’ll make it a camping trip just in case. Maybe we can sleep in the barn. We’ll have to play it by ear. I haven’t been there in two years."

When he left, my dad cleared the table, and Alice rushed over to me with a piece of paper in her hand. I could see she was excited.

"This is that old lady’s address," she said. “I was surprised my dad got it for me that fast from one of his detective friends. It’s so unlike him."

I looked at the address--139 Meadow Lark Drive.

"I think we should go there tomorrow," Alice said.

"I don’t know where this is and how will we get there?"

"Good question," she said. "I have an idea. Maybe Gabe or Tim will take us. They have cars.”

"Right and I already told him about the Atlantis books, and they both said they were going to read them. Hearing about Elizabeth will fascinate them."

My dad came in and asked if I would wash the dishes while he drove Alice home.

When they left, I went into the kitchen, filled the sink with soapy water, but before washing, I called Tim to see if he would drive us to this old woman’s house tomorrow. I didn’t say much except it was really important.

"Why not?" he said and didn’t ask questions.

"Great, thanks," I said, then hung up and thought about the old woman and how weird it was and couldn't wait to see what we would find out.

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