Below you will find the first chapter for The Portal in the Attic, the first book in the Revel Street series:
Zeke Munro heard someone shouting as soon as he and his brother Jay got off the bus. The three girls ahead of them screamed and ran. Startled, Zeke turned and saw an older man with an angry face barreling toward him. A woman followed close behind and shouted, “David! Come back here!”
Jay sputtered, “Uh-oh. Here comes the guy in the window.”
Zeke bellowed, “Hey! Back off–”
Whumph! The guy plowed Zeke to the ground and swung his fist at Zeke’s face but missed. Zeke blocked the next swing and flipped him over. Zeke grabbed the man’s arm and pulled it behind his back. “Jay, get his feet.”
Jay dove for the man’s feet and held tight. “Got him.”
“Ouch! Let me go, Ezekiel. I don’t like you!” The man struggled to free himself.
The woman pleaded, “Don’t hurt him. David, this boy is not Ezekiel Bathis.”
A police car pulled to the curb and two officers leaped out.
Jay yelled, “This guy jumped us!”
The middle-aged woman wrung her hands. “Officers, he’s just upset. I am so sorry, boys.”
Zeke rolled away, and the lady and one cop helped the man from the ground.
“Ezekiel is bad!” The man accused, and he pointed a gnarly finger at Zeke.
“That’s not Ezekiel Bathis, David. Now let’s go home.” The lady and one officer led the old man toward a yellow house, four doors down from Zeke and Jay’s.
Zeke overheard her say that she was his care-giver. One of the girls must have called the police. The bus was long gone. Zeke brushed dirt and old grass from his winter coat and black stocking cap.
The other cop looked at Zeke and Jay and said, “We were just around the corner when we got the call. It’s been about a year since we’ve been out here because of him. His name is David Mellon, and he has Alzheimer’s. He’s harmless, but I’ve never seen him that worked up. You okay?”
Zeke objected, “Yeah, I’m okay. I wouldn’t say he was harmless.”
Jay fumed, “You gonna arrest him?”
“You can press charges if you want, but they won’t stick. I need to get your names and some information. Come sit in the cruiser.”
Once inside the car, Jay offered, “I’m Jay Munro. I’m 13. We live at 2212 Revel Street, right there.” He pointed at the cream-colored house a few doors down. “Nice car. This is my first time in a police car.”
“If you’re lucky, it will be your last,” the cop joked. “You two boys related?”
“We’re brothers,” Zeke replied.
“I’ll need a phone number, your name, age, and statements.” He looked to Zeke.
“Zeke. Ezekiel Munro. I’m 15 today, actually. I’m having a great birthday.”
The cop smiled. “Ezekiel? What a coincidence.”
Zeke sighed, “I have no clue. I have never seen him before in my life, except through his window. He shoots me daggers when I get off the bus every day. Don’t know how he knows my name, either.”
The officer replied, “Strange you say you never met him before. What do you think he has against you, and how did he know your name?”
“We’ve been here only five weeks. I haven’t gotten to know any neighbors, especially someone four houses away.” Zeke shrugged.
The cop asked him, “What’s your phone number?”
Zeke answered, “602-998-5857.”
“What’s with the area code?”
Zeke explained, “It’s an Arizona area code. We just moved Indiana.”
The front passenger door opened and the other cop got in. He looked toward them. “The caregiver, Mrs. French, watches that guy. She said that he must have you mixed up with a boy he knew when he was a kid. She thinks you must look a lot like a teen who he used to know at least fifty years ago, named Ezekiel Bathis. David Mellon says this Ezekiel was mean to him when he was a boy. He’s calmed down and is working on a puzzle. Mrs. French said that from now on when the bus stops, she’ll keep closer tabs on him, and try to distract him so this doesn’t happen again.”
The first cop told the second one, “You aren’t going to believe this, but this kid’s name is also Ezekiel. Fancy that.”
Zeke asked, “Are we free to go now?” He did not like sitting in the police car.
“Yes. And fellas, keep your eyes open when you’re coming and going.”
Zeke muttered, “Sure, just one more thing to like about Indiana.”
“Thanks, officers!” Jay seemed happy to have been in a cop car.
They were home within a minute, and wonderful warmth hit Zeke’s face as he slammed winter behind him. Static crackled when he pulled off his hat and tried to smooth his long blond hair.
Jay snorted, “Hey, your hair is standing up like five inches!”
Zeke narrowed his blue-green eyes. “If yours wasn’t loaded with gel, it would have static, too.”
Jay’s palm tapped his own short, stiff, brown spikes and he smiled. “What a rush. Most excitement we’ve seen in a while.”
“I have no idea about that guy back there. None.” Zeke kicked off his shoes and grabbed pretzels from the pantry. “Remember, Mom’s picking up a cake when she gets off work. Dad won’t be home until seven, so we have to wait to eat.”
The phone rang and Zeke got it. “Hi Mom –we know. Thanks. Okay, see you when you get home.”
Jay asked, “’Sup?”
“Nothing. She’ll be home about 5:30. I need cardboard to put under the Honda while I work on it. I’m going to the attic to get a piece.”
Zeke climbed the steps and searched for an empty box among the unpacked ones from their move. He grabbed one and ripped the tape off the bottom. He heard a thump, and a gust of air hit the back of his neck. He whirled so fast he knocked over a floor lamp. A girl was sprawled out on the floor! What the heck? It’s Sam Larson from next door! First I get jumped, now this?!
“Zeke? Where are we?” Short brown curls moved as she scrambled to her feet.
Zeke felt like exploding. “What are you doing jumping out at me? How did you get up here?”
Samantha wrinkled her nose. “I don’t know. I didn’t jump. I fell. I was upstairs —at my house— when I tripped . . . and fell against the wall. We’re in your house?”
“You’re darn right you’re in my house. How did you get here?” Zeke was confused and furious.
Samantha went toward the door. “I told you I was at home. In the attic.”
“Where are you going? You can’t just go walking through this house and out the front door like you live here.”
Samantha had her hands on her hips. “Well then, how do I get out?”
Zeke fumed, “This is just not right. Breaking and entering is against the law.”
Samantha moved past him and snapped, “I told you what happened.”
Zeke followed her as she hurried downstairs. “You’ve got a ton of nerve!” he shouted as she fled to her house next door. He stood in the open doorway with his wide jaw clenched so tight his teeth hurt. Unbelievable. What’s next? He slammed his hand on the door. As he turned, he almost ran into Jay.
“Whoa, hey, was that Samantha?” Jay frowned as he bit off a piece of black licorice.
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