Title: Indian Rock
Author: Teresa Michael
What really happened on that bright summer day upon Indian Rock? Was it an accident or was it murder?
Childhood innocence is shattered for twelve-year-old Rosalie Weston when she witnesses a frightening incident at her favorite outlook in the lush Appalachian forest around the home where she lives with her mother, grandmother, and aunt.
Past and present intertwine when Rosalie and her friend, Willis, uncover family secrets that will forever impact the course of their young lives.
The first time I saw a dead body, I was twelve years old.
It was the week after school let out in the summer of 1967, and I was sitting at the top of Indian Rock with my best friend, Willis.
With my feet dangling over the edge, I looked to my right and could see up the valley all the way to the bend in the road. A little red car disappeared into the wide curve around the mountain. I wondered where that car was going - maybe Lexington or Louisville or just to Junior’s grocery store down the road. I turned to my left and could see a coal train coming into view. One day, I counted one hundred and four coal cars trudging behind a big black engine. I think there were really more, but Willis kept messing me up by calling out random numbers and then cracking up.
Five years back, Mama and me moved in with Gran and Aunt Dee after Mama and Daddy got a divorce, and then Daddy went up to Cincinnati to work in the Fisher Body automobile plant. Willis lived down the road from Gran, and almost every day during summer vacation, we’d meet up at Indian Rock. Then we’d go fishing or blackberry picking, and most days, we’d walk down the hill to Miss Winchester’s to pick up the mail. Miss Winchester lived in the post office, a big white house with green trim. The post office was on the second floor, and Miss Winchester lived downstairs.
“Rosalie, do you think Mary Alice will get boobs this year?” Willis asked. “After all, she’s thirteen now.”
Mary Alice was the most popular girl in Willis’ class, and I prayed every night that she would get a big, red pimple right on the end of her cute, little, turned-up nose, but unfortunately, she never did.
“I don’t know,” I said, looking down at my flat chest.
“You reckon she would be my girlfriend in the eighth grade?”
“Willis Thompson, you’re crazier than a June bug,” I said. “There’s no way Mary Alice Combs will ever be your girlfriend in the eighth grade or any other grade.”
“Will. My name’s Will,” he reminded me. In the world according to Willis Thompson, Will sounded much cooler than Willis.
“Can’t I be your girlfriend?” I was teasing, but also a little bit serious.
He laughed so hard; I thought he would fall off Indian Rock and roll down the hill. “Rosalie Weston, you can’t be my girlfriend.”
“You’re a girl, and you’re my friend, but you’re not my girlfriend. That’s different.”
“What’s different about it?”
“With girlfriends, you hold hands and go to the movies and stuff. That would just be . . . so. . . so. . .weird with you,” he said, screwing up his face as if he’d just bitten into a lemon.
I thought about it for a minute. Maybe he’s right, I thought. I swallowed hard, then said, “She likes those older boys. Their voices have already changed.”
He shrugged and said, “Do you think your Gran’s baby chicks have come in the mail yet?”
Every year, Gran ordered baby chicks from a mail-order catalog. When they arrived at the post office, it was a big deal. I loved to go with her to pick them up. As soon as we walked up the post office steps, we could hear them “cheep cheep.”
“Maybe. Gran said they’re supposed to come this week.”
“Well, let’s go see,” Willis said, hopping up, motioning me to follow.
As he headed down the path to the gravel lane that wound down our mountain to the post office at the edge of the blacktop road, I ran to catch up.
The chicks came three days later and it was my job to feed them every morning and afternoon. I was proud of how they were growing bigger every day. I loved them all but tried not to name my favorites, because I knew most of them would end up in the deep freeze before winter.
On the day my life changed, I did the chores and fed my chicks before setting out to meet Willis at Indian Rock. I followed the narrow path behind the chicken house and through a thicket headed toward the clearing at the top of the rock.
But before I was out of the woods, I heard angry male voices. My heart began to beat fast, so I crouched in the bushes and peeked through the leaves to see what was going on.
Rollins Fontaine was arguing with another man. Rollins was in high school and had worked on our farm since before Granddaddy passed. Gran knew his mama, Miss Sadie. Granddaddy and Rollins’ daddy worked together in the coal mines until Mr. Fontaine got crushed when a wall caved in. Gran said it didn’t matter that the Fontaines were black. She said they were good people just the same.
The other man’s back was to me. He was white and had shaggy dark hair. Rollins was wide-eyed and shaking his head. Rollins and the man were about the same height, but the man was stocky where Rollins was lanky. The man punched Rollins in the stomach, and he crumpled into the dirt with a groan.
“Who the hell do you think you are?! You trying to cheat me?!” yelled the man.
“I don’t have it!” Rollins yelled, jumping up and raising his fists.
The man circled Rollins. His face was red, and he spit as he started yelling at Rollins some more. “You’d better find it, or you’ll be sorry.”
The man grabbed Rollins by the shirt collar and spun him around so quickly I was startled and fell backward into the bushes. There was a vague familiarity about the man that sent my heart into my throat.
What makes your featured book a must-read?
Was it an accident or was it murder? Indian Rock is a short mystery set deep in the lush Appalachian forest of Eastern Kentucky. Tragedy and family secrets revealed and past and present intertwine in a surprising conclusion. A short page turner that takes the reader into the mind of twelve-year-old Rosalie Weston and how she processes what she’s seen and how the events of her twelfth summer impact her life. A story for all age groups.
Enter to win a $30 Amazon (US) gift card
Runs April 6 – April 12, 2021.
Winner will be drawn on April 15, 2021.
Teresa Michael is the author of the Mariposa Café Mystery Series. She is a fulltime author since recently retiring from a career in health care. She enjoys reading, writing, chocolate chip cookies, nature, planning road trips and travel adventures. She has visited 49 states having spent 9 years on the road working for a healthcare software vendor and many years as the Team Manager for the US Archery Team for the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games and other national and international tournaments. She is a member of Florida Writers Association, Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime and is currently President of the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter of Sisters in Crime. Teresa lives in Sarasota with her husband and two cats and is working on the next Mariposa mystery, developing a new mystery series, and hoping to someday make it to that 50th state.
Social Media Links:
Goodreads Author Page: