Saturday, January 01, 2011

Zanter Klauzen (Part 7)

Stranded in a cabin deep in a Minnesota wood, a woman and her two children face an uncertain Christmas. With their supplies dwindling she began to pray that they would survive to see the new year. Then he appeared, a strange man lurking in the shadows of the snow covered firs. How long would he watch them before making his move?

The story begins HERE

Although his friends, all of them long dead, had advised him against it, he had filed the deed to the property in the name of his beloved Norma. To him, it would have been the ultimate gift to the woman he planned to wed. Surely her parents, who had been against their relationship, would have seen that he was worthy of their daughter's hand.

Alas, that would never happen. He had been devastated two months later to learn that the Jorgensen family had pulled up stakes and had moved to somewhere in the southeast. Norma had made no attempt to contact him.

He had made up his mind to burn the cabin to the ground and he would have done so had he not received news that Norma had given birth to a child. With only faith to guide him, he knew the child was his.

So it was that he'd built another cabin deeper in the woods. He had vowed to himself to watch over the land that he hoped would someday belong to his daughter. To keep himself busy, he'd set up a small shop to make toys in the structure. He had dreamt that one day his daughter might play with his creations.

It hadn't taken him long to learn that there was a small market for his toys. In time his products supplemented his meager firewood business and brought in enough money for him to subsist.

He had been mildly amused when his toy-making prowess and the similarity of his name had many of the local children thinking he was a certain mythical figured associated with Christmas. That was when his troubles began in earnest.

She didn't know where she'd found the courage, but Marilee began to crawl from the hiding place in the back of the closet. Before opening the panel she looked back over shoulder at her frightened children.

"Remember what I told you. No matter what happens, stay put and be quiet," she whispered to Rebecca and Jon. Whimpering they huddled together and nodded in solemn obedience.

She froze and held her breath when a piece of flooring creaked under the weight of her hand.

Billy spun around and shouted, "What was that?"

"What was what?" the other man asked.

"You didn't hear that?" queried the more nervous of the two intruders.

Jim frowned at his friend, "Nope. You must be hearing things."

To her horror when Marilee lifted her hand from the suspect floorboard, it creaked again in protest to her shifting weight. She had been so worried about her kids giving away their presence, that it was she who had made the only sounds.

"There it is again!" Billy uttered. "Tell me you didn't hear that?"

"You wuss!" his partner scolded. "It's an old cabin. It could be the wind, the snow on the roof, just about anything could make the timbers creak." He grinned and pointed to the sofa and the objects upon it. "Why don't you sit down over there with those coloring books and crayons?"

"No!" Jon moaned. Rebecca was quick to cover his mouth with her hand.

Jim twisted his head in the direction of what sounded like a voice. He glanced at Billy to see if he'd heard it also.

"Creaking timber? I never heard of timber talking!" Billy snapped at his companion.

Raising his hand to quieten the other Jim said, "We're not alone. There's someone else in this cabin." He reached beneath his jacket and produced a pistol he'd used in the bank heist. "Come out. I know you're here. I've got a gun and I know how to use it!"

Panic setting in, Marilee pushed aside the panel. She couldn't let them find the kids. Her welfare was of little consequence if she could at least protect Rebecca and Jon.

Norma's thoughts were taking her back to a past she had been suppressing far too long. Her past was rife with mistakes. She knew that with her stubborn resolve she had ruined too many lives. This was her chance to make things right with her daughter ... and with the grandchildren she'd never known.

A sob escaped her throat as she realized she could never hope to atone for what she'd done to poor Zanter. She was overcome with shame that it had taken nearly all of her life for her to feel any remorse whatsoever. When she'd returned to Minnesota, she had been stunned to find that the cabin he'd built was on record at city hall in her name.

Tears began to well up in the corners of her eyes. Her parents had been wrong about Zanter Klauzen. He was worthy of her. Had she learned from her parents' misguided control? No, she had not. She had tried to do the same thing to her own daughter. Her daughter, however, had been stronger than she had been. She had gone against her mother's will and had followed her heart. If only she had been as strong.

Years before, she'd heard talk in town that the local kids believed that Santa Claus lived in the forest. There were many reports of a strange man being seen in those woods.

One little girl, sincerity glowing in her eyes, had told her that she'd seen him one Christmas Eve. According to her he was carrying a large sack full of toys. An urban legend perhaps, but the little girl was only one of many local children who believed in him and his presence in the deep woods.

Norma had no doubt in her mind that the mysterious figure had to be none other than one Zanter Klauzen. She had spent one summer exploring the woods near her cabin hoping to find the man. If he had been out there, she'd never found him. She sighed and accepted the fact that he must have been avoiding her.


( To be continued ... the conclusion. )

2079

7 comments:

Hale McKay said...

Except for the opening images of the cabin in the woods and the pine garlands separating the scenes, the rest of the images appearing in the story are scanned images of my own original artwork.

The "Zanter Klauzen" figure was hand drawn and hand painted onto a piece of 3/4-inch pine board. It has been used as a holiday decoration in our house for several years.

Sandee said...

Oh this is turning out to be delightful and scary at the same time. Will mother make it back to the cabin? Will Zanter save the day? Will mom and Zanter make amends? I'm looking for a happy ending here, but first we have to take care of the bad guys.

Thanks for your comment. Helps clear up even more. I had no idea you did your own artwork. Way cool.

Have a terrific day. :)

Jack K. said...

You do have wonderful artistic skill. The images are absolutely beautiful.

I suspect that Zanter & Norma will save the day.

Being an Optimist I am sure that the tale will turn out happily. After all, it is the Christmas season.

Great story.

kidz_pets said...

I LOVE this story. Have been gone for awhile and just got caught up with it. You have a wonderful talent and once again I am very grateful to you for sharing it.

Hope you had a terrific Christmas and New Year.

Hale McKay said...

Sandee,

Would you believe that the wooden cut (the image of Zanter Klauzen) inspired the entire story.

I was looking at the piece and began to imagine this man trudging through a wooded forest ...

...You are reading the result of that imagination.

Hale McKay said...

Jack,

I hope the ending I have in store won't be to your disliking...

Hale McKay said...

Kidz,

I'm glad you are enjoying the story and my artwork.