The Winter of ’79


Published June 1, 2018.



 Victory Garden, beautiful but remote.

Enjoy this sample from Part Two of SLEEPING MOOSE SAGA


When breakup had completed its onslaught and their road was roughly passable, Tim went into town to get water and supplies. While he was gone Kate went out to collect a bouquet of spring wildflowers and a few rays of sunshine. It was such a beautiful day that she wanted Attie to get a gander at all the grandness around them. The new mother saddled her little one in a backpack, and they headed out for an Alpine denizen’s afternoon delight.

They were back in less than an hour. Kate opened the big basement door, and stopped dead in her tracks! There was a stranger standing in the kitchen. He had on a black leather vest, leather pants, and a beaded leather headband. He wore no shirt under his open vest, and his long hair was dirty and stringy.

“Who are you?” Kate demanded, startled to open the door and find the scary-looking apparition in her home.

“I am called ‘Splashing Waterfall,’” the intruder answered. Kate struggled with his name. Had he said, “Splashing Water?” He seemed to think he was an Indian, but he was nearly as blond as she was. So what was his story? The guy looked less Native American than native Venice Beach, California. Kate’s eye fixed on a gigantic knife that hung from his belt. It was alarming.

“And why are you in my kitchen, sir?”

“I walked up to sit on the rounded mountaintop, and I grew thirsty while on the road. I thought this place might have water for me to drink.”

Extremely lean and stringy, he had the physique of someone acquainted with hard drugs. Perhaps he’d even been in prison. Kate began scanning his veins and knuckles to confirm her suspicions, then she snuck a peek at their loaded shotgun hanging by the bed. It might as well be a million miles away. She’d never be able to get to it before he got to her with his knife if things went that way.

“Are you from around here?”

“No. I’m from the Dakotas. Adopted by the Sioux and raised on the Reservation. It is my Sioux name that I use.”


“They call me ‘Splashing Stones in Falling Water’ because I splash at the river and fight against the current.”

“Oh.” Kate doubted his whole story. If he’d been raised by the Sioux, then she’d married Prince Rainier. “If you’ll wait outside, I’ll bring you a drink; but I’m not comfortable with you coming into my house uninvited,” Kate said.

Mr. Waterfall nodded, walked across their family fortress to the front door, and ducked out below the lintel. “I will be thankful,” he said.

Kate laid her flowers on the table and filled a tin cup with water. She handed it to him where he stood, at the base of their pillbox-strength steps; but she stayed just inside, her hands at the ready to slam and bolt the door if he made any threatening moves.

He didn’t. Instead, he shook out the empty cup and handed it back to the woman.

“Many thanks,” he said, and he climbed up the steps.

The bush wife nodded, then shut and locked the portal.

After unpacking baby Attie and setting her down in her playpen, Kate stood the new flowers up in an old ice cream churn and poured a few cupfuls of water to cover the stem bottoms. Then she crossed the room to check that the shotgun was loaded.

While she was near the bed, she looked out the little window that faced west. There was Mr. Splashing Water pacing out measurements of some kind! He was only a few yards south of the hen house. What did he think he was doing?

This felt like the unanticipated arrival of Fram and his instant family, all over again. What was it Fram had said? “What say, we build right there, Ruth?” Kate’s gut reaction that time had been the same as now. This stranger, and his humongous knife, had to go.

* * *