It is 1964, the Beatles are topping the charts in America while on the other side of the world the Vietnam War is escalating. In a small one-light town in the Hudson Valley of upstate New York lives Danny Fosse, who is an average fourteen-year old kid who is becoming more and more confused and disillusioned by the world around him. His idyllic small-town life takes a dreadful turn when one of his friends is the victim of a brutal attack. Confused and angry over what transpired, Danny and another friend play a prank of sorts for revenge. Things don’t go as planned, setting in motion a series of shocking events which tests beliefs in family, faith, love and friendship. At the same time, young kids go missing from the area without explanation and, just when things could seemingly get no worse, the long bloody tentacles of Vietnam reach half way around the world to tap this small town on the shoulder. All of these events seem to be unrelated. But are they?
In this formative decade of his life, Danny is transformed by the world around him while he searches for something that always seems to be just out of his reach. Ultimately, another singular event occurs which puts everything he has gone through in clear focus and gives his life meaning and purpose.
What would you do for love?
“The story had the unique capability of taking us to another time – the sixties in the USA, where things were far different from today. The insecurity of the times was well brought out in the small community. The story weaves together love, loss, pain and friendship and it makes people understand that they are responsible for the effects of the choices that they make. Thoroughly riveting read.”
“Great read! Very descriptive. I love a book where the author can transport me to another time and place. This book actually brought me back to my childhood experiences in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s with lifelong friends. And delightfully back to the Hudson Valley where I grew up!”
Excerpt From Chapter 5
After much discussion and further inspections, we decide to follow the tunnel to the far left since this is the only one that doesn’t show shale veins. Walking in, the roof of the tunnel tightening above our heads and at our shoulders. The only sound is our echoing footsteps sloshing through the puddles. Reaching out, I touch a wet wall. It is sticky from the limestone. Concerned about the narrowing tunnel and how far into the cave we now are, I am just about to suggest we turn around when Billy yells from in front, “Hey guys! Come look at this!”
Catching up to him, I see that the tunnel has opened into a massive sepulchral cavern that houses a huge lake. A huge blasting mat is stretched across the floor on the rock ledge. Walking on top of it, we come to the end, shining our lights down to the water which is about fifteen feet below us. Our flashlights move back and forth looking like World War II searchlights combing the sky in search of bombers. The water against the limestone is of robin’s eggs blue and the giant stalactites hanging from the ceiling look like colossal, jagged dog teeth.
“Did miners build this lake?” I ask.
“I don’t think so,” says Tommy. “Look up. You see those stalactites on the ceiling? They take thousands of years to form, so this cavern and lake must have been here naturally. The miners must have punched through to this room on accident,” says Tommy.
“Hey guys, look back here!” Jo shouts. We all turn to see a small rivulet of water coming down the tunnel we just emerged from. It makes a burbling sound as it drops lazily over the edge, making a pat-a-pat-pat sound on the water’s surface below.
My stomach sinks, thinking of Tommy’s words about a flash flood.
“We should get out of here now!” cries Tommy.
“Come on! Don’t be such a wuss!” shouts Billy as he shines his light around the cavern. “This is too cool.” The word fear is not in his dictionary.
“Damn it, Billy! We need to get out of here. Come on,” shouts Tommy. Jo and I look at each other and I now see worry in her eyes.
Ignoring us, Billy says, “This looks almost as big as Mirror Lake! That is, without Nag’s Boulder.” Shining his light to the tunnel on our right, he traces up the front end of a loading car that is half way out of the tunnel. The rail tracks that are in front of it go to the rock edge and extend a few feet past, hanging in air unsupported. Addressing Tommy, he says, “I suppose you can explain that also?”
“Easy. That tunnel used to be longer than the one we came out of. Over time, the ground underneath the tracks eroded away until it collapsed and fell into the water, snapping the rails off where you now see them end.”
“Is there anything you don’t know?” teases Billy.
Ignoring him, Tommy says, “Look here, as he shines his light on the walls. “More shale veins. Now, let’s get out of here and fast,” he says as he starts back up the tunnel.
Suddenly the ground vibrates. Before anyone can move, the ledge we are standing on gives way. We all slide down with it into the gloomy water with a grumbling splash. It’s ice cold and when I surface, I spit out a mouthful of it. I still have my flashlight in my hand but it is starting to fade. I can’t touch bottom and start treading water. Holding the light above my head, I shine it around. I spot Billy and Jo but no Tommy.
“Where is Tommy?” I shout.
“Up here guys!”
“Tommy! Thank God,” I say as I turn my weakening light on him. Turning the light around the room I see no other exits. “Tommy, go get help! Quickly!” I yell as I continue to tread water.
“You guys will never be able to last in that cold water. Hypothermia would set in long before I get anyone back here. Hang on,” he says as he disappears from sight.
“Tommy!” I shout. “Where are you going?” Already I feel the cold penetrating my skin, quickly chilling my body as I start to shiver. But I also feel something else, something getting stronger and stronger. Fear.
Shining my light up the rock in front of us, I can see why the ledge we were standing on collapsed. The rock from the water up to the top has eroded away so that it is recessed. Even with the collapse, the ledge that remains still extends well over the water like a diving platform, the blasting mat now hanging over the edge like a panting dog’s tongue.
“Jo,” I say. “Do you still have your flashlight?” I ask.
“No, I dropped it during the fall.”
“Crap,” I say.
“Hey, guys, I can touch bottom over here,” shouts Billy who is about four feet to my right. Both Jo and I swim over until we also can stand, but the water is still up to our waists.
Shining my fading light on Billy and Jo’s faces, I can see alarm and panic building. This is the first time in my life when I have seen Billy afraid. And that makes me even more afraid than I was. Quickly I decide I must do something to keep them focused on survival.