This book is now out of print. For copies of this book, contact author  at: info@clairerudolfmurphy,  check out your local library or find a used copy at an online bookseller.

Excerpt from the book:

Chapter One

When I was six years old I figured out there wasn’t a Santa Claus. Pretty young, huh? This kid Ted Callahan was talking about how stupid it was to believe in Santa Claus. But my neighbor Curt Perry said it was smart because you could get more Christmas presents that way.

At dinner that night I said to my mom, “There isn’t a Santa Claus. How come you pretended there was?” “Oh, honey.” That’s what she said – “Oh, honey.” Right then I should have learned that you can’t believe in things straight out. But no. It took me eight more years.

Maybe that’s because all I thought about was baseball. I’d played it every summer since I was six years old. The same year I learned about Santa Claus.

In summer, Alaskans go wild. Hunting, fishing, boating – you name it. For me, summer spells baseball. Our season may be short, but in Fairbanks, where I live, you can play baseball all night long because of the midnight sun that never sets.

I’d played Little League ever since I was a little kid when I started out hitting that stupid ball off the stand in Tee Ball. I’d moved up through the ranks in Minors, Majors, and now my second and last year in Juniors. But in all that time, I’d never made a post-season All Star team. This was going to be my year. And it was – until Mom’s thirty-one-year-old secret blasted across the headlines.

Alaska is the perfect place to hide – far away from the lower 48 states and full of people who don’t care where you came from if you can handle the weather.

Mom’s changed her name back but I can’t. I’ve been Luke McHenry for fifteen years.

I think I first started wondering the day of the bomb scare at my middle school. But as I look back, there were signs all along the way. I just didn’t read them.

The day before school let out, kids were wired, and the teachers had long since given up on getting any work done, except Ms. Simmons in algebra. She had us graphing fractions until the last bell rang.

Anyway, right in the middle of social studies, the fire alarm went off. Kids actually started applauding until Mr. Taylor glared at them. “It could be a real fire.”

I grabbed my yearbook, the one with me making the game-winning basket against Denali Middle School, and started out the door. In the hallway the assistant principal waved us away from the exit we usually use and down another hallway. Once we were outside the teachers directed us out onto the field, far away from the building. The whole school stood jammed together. But people were strangely quiet. This was not your usual fire drill. The principal, Mr. Shepherd, stood on a wooden box and started speaking through a bullhorn. Unlike a school assembly, he didn’t need to wait for silence.

“Students and teachers, I need your complete and undivided attention. An object, which police suspect could be a bomb, has been found in the girls’ restroom. Right now the police department’s SWAT team is removing it from the building.” At that, everybody started talking, and it took awhile for the kids to quiet down again.

“No one will be allowed back in the building until it has been completely checked out. You are to leave immediately for home by bus or on foot.” Just then a fleet of buses pulled into the parking lot. “Unfortunately we regret that tonight’s eighth grade graduation dance has had to be cancelled. Please listen to the news for information about school tomorrow. Thank you, students, for your cooperation.” By now some of the girls were crying.

We used to joke about stuff like that, but not since all the real school shootings. I was glad to go home. I didn’t care about the dance. Everybody just stands around until a slow song comes on once an hour.

Talk about a bomb. That first game was a disaster, with us losing 15-5. Back on the Padres, I wouldn’t have a prayer of making All Stars if we weren’t any better than last year. It didn’t look promising. Hardly anybody could hit. Dan’s pitching was way off. I played catcher and nobody could handle my throws.

 

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