Chapter 1: The Move to Adel


Parker was scared…really scared! The alligators were closing in on him as he raced through the old tunnel. 

“How do these things happen to me?” he wondered. 

The tunnel veered to the right, so he aimed to the right. 
Suddenly, a brick wall appeared in front of him. No way to go left! No way to go to right! 
There was an open space overhead, but with no stairs, ladder or rope, what was he to do? 

He turned around to face his doom and watched the 'gators come toward him… 
“I’m sunk.” he moaned in despair. 
And then he woke with a start. 
It was a dream. 

"Oh my gosh!" He lay on his mattress with his heart pounding hard as he struggled to breathe. 
He was so scared. 
Parker thought back on what caused the dream. 

He learned about a hidden tunnel at the Courthouse today. That news, a spicy sandwich for supper 
and seeing his uncle’s alligator souvenir must have fueled the super-charged nightmare he just had. 

It was so real, he was still shaking as he tried to orient himself to his new surroundings. 

That morning, their moving truck pulled into the alley behind this downtown building in Adel. It would be home for Sophie and her parents. Sophie was an only child, but she had a first-cousin named Parker, who was adopted. 
Parker and Sophie were like brother and sister. 
Parker rode with his Uncle Jon (Sophie’s dad) in the rented moving truck and Sophie rode with her mom in their car. 
They pulled into the alley behind the building. 

“This is neater than Sophie said!” Parker exclaimed. "You get to live downtown, 
so close to food places and across the street from a huge clock! 

Sophie saw the place when her parents bought it, and planned out where each of their bedrooms would be. 
The apartment had three bedrooms. Parker would use mom’s sewing room as his bedroom when he was there. 
It was kind of cool to be moving into a three-story downtown building. 

The upstairs was the living quarters. The basement was a storage area with a laundry room. The main floor was a commercial area. In the back of the building was an interior stair case that connected the three floors with locking doors on each floor, so each floor could have independent access. 
Yet the upper floor had an outside stairs too, for a fire escape. 

Sophie’s dad hired men from Adel to carry the furniture upstairs into the apartment. Earlier, Dad had the outside staircase rebuilt to make sure it could hold the weight of the movers and furniture. Mom directed the movers. Dad, Sophie and Parker carried the smaller stuff. 

The entire building was empty when they bought the place. The main floor had been rented throughout the years to various businesses, but now was empty. The living quarters upstairs had been empty for about two years. 
Sophie’s parents had the apartment cleaned, painted, new carpet and countertops installed. The place was quite livable. 

After a while, the kids went through the empty building looking for hiding places, where treasure might be hidden or someone might have left something behind. The basement also had three jail cells in it. Sophie told Parker about the jail cells earlier. The building used to be the Sheriff's office and county jail. 

Though the jail cells fascinated Parker, nothing else in the building looked too mysterious or spooky, much to their disappointment. There were no hidden Spanish doubloons or pieces of eight, because no Spanish galleon ships ever made it up the  North Raccoon River for the crew to bury its treasure there. 

But little did they know the secrets this building held, and how it would be their gateway to a special adventure. 
They did find a 20-year-old calendar in the basement near the jail cells. 

“I have a joke, since we're in an old jail." Parker said, “What did the man get that stole a calendar?” 

“I don’t know…” said Sophie warily. “What?” 

“Twelve months!" said Parker. 

But…while the kids explore (when they should be carrying boxes,) let me begin to tell you about a few people who lived long ago and how their lives would cross paths with Parker and Sophie in a curious way. 

Eric J. Rose
middlegrademysteries.com
photo: https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/1950s-florida-souvenir-stuffed-alligator-bowler
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