Chapter 11: Opening the Tunnel


The months went by.  Sophie finished her first year at ADM school, and it seemed to go well for her there.
It was June again, and Parker was back in town for a month. 

The first morning, he woke up under his aunt’s sewing machine table; another crazy dream. He had slithered off his cot and under the table. Kind of like an alligator, eh?

He was ready to start on the tunnel. 

Sophie’s dad went to work and her mom went grocery shopping. Sophie and Parker started on the bricks as soon as they heard her mom’s car start. Behind the first layer of bricks was a second layer. That’s how brick walls are made. They worked on the top part first. They couldn’t wait to get a hole made all the way through, but it took time. Not only did they have to quit making noise when the adults came home, they also had to put things away and get cleaned up. 

They devised plans to get Sophie’s parents out of the house. They would look in the local paper for events and leave the paper on the kitchen table to be seen. Her parents would see the ads, and then sometimes plan to go.

A Tuesday evening book reading at the library gave Sophie and Parker some parent-less time to get through the top of the opening. They removed the inside bricks and tapped on the outside bricks. The bricks began to come out without a lot of resistance. 

Then, two bricks dropped on the other side with a thud, meaning there was empty space behind that area of wall. 
Parker stood on a step ladder and shined his flashlight through the hole. He could see way inside. It was the tunnel! 

“Sophie! It’s for real! We have a tunnel!” 

He got down off the ladder so Sophie could look. They were both so excited. . 
They lost track of time, imagining where the tunnel might lead to. Suddenly…they heard Sophie’s parents come in. 
They knew they had to scramble. Sophie wiped the dust off her face and hands, brushed off her jeans, then ran upstairs to distract her mom. 

Mom asked, “Where is Parker, buried up to his ankles in the fridge?” 

“No Mom, he’s cleaning up a mess in the craft room.” Parker came upstairs in a bit and gave Sophie an ‘all-is–well’ sign. 

Each of the kids went to their beds that night, knowing they were about to embark on a great adventure. Neither Parker nor Sophie could sleep at first. Each lay in their bed thinking about how to get all the way into the tunnel. Sophie was a detail person, trying to figure out how long it would take to dispose of all the bricks to the doorway of the tunnel. 

Parker came to the answer quicker, not being as tidy as Sophie. While Sophie was lying in bed fussing about discreetly moving the loose bricks, it occurred to Parker to just push the bricks inside and stack them up in the tunnel, and sweep the mortar into a pile along one wall. (the mortar is the thin line of adhesive between the bricks that hold them together).

Parker then went to sleep while Sophie continued to lay awake and stew. 
Sophie would be unhappy at Parker when she knew he had a solution, but let her stay awake for so long. 

Sophie got up the next morning, exhausted. Parker was bright as a new penny. 

Parker smugly asked Sophie, Why do you look so tired?” 

Sophie replied, “I’m worn out from working out details for our days. Why do you look so rested?” 

“Oh, I had it figured out by 9:30.” 

“Thanks for letting me know, so I could sleep, dork.” Sophie said. 

Parker relied, “I'm rubber, you’re glue...whatever you say, bounces off me and sticks to you.” 

As Parker suspected, Sophie was mad at him for thinking up such as easy plan, though she was secretly relieved. 

They became impatient and found new ways to get Sophie's mom out of the house while Sophe's dad was at work. 
The duo went down to the basement after breakfast, when her mom left, and they slid the bookcase out from the wall. Sophie decided go back and forth between the worshop and the stairs, checking ocassionally for her parents' return.  

They didn’t want the parents to stop the excitement, since they were so close to the real fun part. Parker scooted through the crawl-hole they had made and dropped to the floor with a thud and a grunt. (He had looked-in first, to make sure there were no alligators). 
Sophie pushed the hammer and chisel to him. He tapped the bricks loose, then stacked them up against one wall. 
Sophie made him promise that he wouldn’t go down into the tunnel until they could go together. 

“How are you doing in there?” Sophie asked. She couldn’t see any progress. 

He was working on the layer she couldn’t see. “I’m almost done in here, and then we can push your side of the brick wall towards me.” 

Sophie and Parker didn’t consider themselves to be deceitful. They were just afraid the  adults would put a halt to their fun before they uncovered everything there was to learn about this. (yes, they were a Secret Society and had a conspiracy going) After all, since Sophie was seven, she had imagined finding secret places with tunnels and hidden rooms filled with cool things she had never seen before. 

Parker worked for another two hours, getting enough bricks out that they could pass through without a problem. He decided not to take out all the bricks because they would probably have to go back in some day. He left a little wall of bricks about two feet tall off the floor, just in case rain leaked into the tunnel, even though it looked dry now. 
So the bricks were stacked up on one side of the tunnel and the loose mortar and plaster was swept into a pile beside the bricks. 

It was late enough that Parker needed to call it a day and get cleaned up before Sophie’s parents came home . 
There was a downstairs bathroom and Parker showered and changed clothes and then went upstairs. 

Sophie’s dad arrived home and started grilling brats for supper.   Perhaps I should say, 'bratwurst sausages'.

Eric J. Rose
middlegrademysteries.com
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