Out the front door and......... flight for a split second. Landing with his feet still moving, Jack looked back at the six short wooden steps he'd just flown over and then quickly back again towards the neighborhood and the big tree that sat near the middle of it.
Jack was always pretending to be pursued by some imagined predator, just inches behind him licking at his heels, gaining slowly. At eight years old, he had a big thirst for daredevil exploits and a knack for scaring himself with imagined enemies.
That night at supper, his heart began beating an extra thump or two more per minute as he overheard something ouside the kitchen window just below the family chit chat. He heard the wind climb swiftly sideways through the leaves of the big maple tree next door. It sounded like the evil winged monkeys from the Wizard of Oz moving in on the neighbors next door. It was going to get windy.
It was fall and the wind brought with it not only the sounds but also the intoxicating aroma of burning leaves.
"Boy, I like the smell of leaves burning." Jack suddenly announced.
"It is a nice smell Jack," replied his mother. "But it does make my clothes smell like burnt leaves when I hang them out to dry."
Maybe there was some previous event in Jack's short history that conditioned him to react as he did to the smell of leaves burning and the sound a stiff west wind makes as it moves through his neighborhood. Maybe there's something inside each of us that pulls us back in time in very subtle ways. We could still have a shadow of a memory formed over millenniums during a prehistoric time when fall was met with wonder and awe. All life prepared for the semi-lifeless cold onslaught of winter.
Whatever the reason, fall was an exhilerating time for Jack Taylor and he loved it, spending many early fall afternoons looking out the classroom window hatching ideas for later.
Tonight he was headed for one of the most exciting and forbidden places in the neighborhood. From this location he could see everything worth seeing and more.