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Charlie's Key

De
264 pages
When Charlie Sykes wakes up in hospital in St. John's, he learns that he and his father have been in a car accident and that his father is dying. Charlie inherits little more than the brass key that his father pressed into his hand before he passed away. As far as Charlie knows, he has no family in Newfoundland. But then Uncle Nick shows up and is keen to meet his nephew-not because of who Charlie is, but rather because of what Charlie has: the key. That key will unlock a treasure Uncle Nick began searching for more than thirty years earlier. And he would have found it all those years ago if he hadn't been arrested and sent away for murder. But Charlie isn't convinced he should give up the key. He leads Uncle Nick on a wild chase through old St. John's, across Signal Hill and out to the coast. There, high above the rugged Atlantic, Charlie finally comes face-to-face with Uncle Nick, the treasure, and a family history that will leave him with a new understanding of where he comes from and where he's going.
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ChArLiE’S KeY rob mills
ChArLiE’S KeY rob mills
Text copyright ©2011Rob Mills
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Mills, Rob,1961Charlie’s key / Rob Mills.
Issued also in electronic formats. isbn 9781554698721
I. Title. ps8626.i4566c43 2011 jc813’.6 c20119035081
First published in the United States,2011Library of Congress Control Number:2011907484
Summary: A young orphan struggles to unlock the significance of an old key left by his dying father.
Orca Book Publishers is dedicated to preserving the environment and has printed this book on paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. ®
Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund and the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit. Design by Teresa Bubela Cover photography by Michael Richard Crotty Author photo by Miranda Studios
orca book publishers orca book publishers poBox5626,Stn. BpoBox468 Victoria,bcCanadaCuster,wa usav8r 6s4 982400468 www.orcabook.com Printed and bound in Canada.
14 13 12 11 4 3 2 1
For Kelly and Hannah, and for my irsT reader, LydIa, who looked In The poT each day ater school.
ONE
My dàd never sàw wà ked —eàswàys, à’s wà e çops sàd. No à ey ever sàd  o y àçe. ï eàrd e àkng wen ï wàs yng n e ospà bed. Wen ey îgûred ï wàs s knoçked oû. ïn àç ’s e îrs ng ï çàn reeber àter e àççden—ose çops àkng. One nûe ï’ n e bàçkseà o e çàr, y oreeàd çoo àgàns e wndow, wàçng e broken yeow nes làs pàs. he nex, ere’s ose wo çops àkng n e àwày, yànkng e ûp oûà soewere grày ànd sot. “Never seen wà e ,” sàys one. “Never do,” sàys e oer. “No à ng. Jûs çoe oûà e woods àndbang—yoû’re on op o ’e.” “Coe roûg e wndsed—neàry ore  n à— en sàed rg over e kd seepng n e bàçk.” “S àve?” “he kd?”
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“No, e dàd.” “Bàrey. Hàsn’ sàd à word, àsn’ opened s eyes. Nong.” “No good.” he one çop ddn’ sày ànyng o à, so ï îgûred e ûsà jûs sook s eàd. “Nex o kn?” one àsked e oer. “Don’ know. Dàd çàn’ e ûs, kd s s ûnçonsçoûs, nong n e çàr.” “Nong?” “Nope. No pàpers, no per, no nsûrànçe.” “Jûs oose.” hey àûg à à. Wç s wen ï deçde o sày soe-ng. Or ry o sày soeng. Ony nong çoes oû exçep à oàn—oûd enoûg, oûg, or e çops o eàr. ï open y eyes bû çàn’ see ûç—jûs sàdows. Bû ï çàn eàr peny. “Doç,” one o e çops yes. “Doç—kd’s àwàke.” he sàdows ove owàrd e, ànds on y eàd ànd y wrs; en  à goes bànk,  ere’s à new voçe çàng oû, “Son, son.” ï çoûd be y dàd, so ï work àrd o open y eyes. Bû ’s no y dàd. ï’s soe doçor, à bûrry we çoà ànd god gàsses. He’s eànng over e w s àçe às bg ànd we às e sûn ûp n e sûer sky wen yoû e on e gràss ookng ûp. Exçep yoû çàn’ ook à e sûn or à ong e, ’çàûse ’ bûrn e renàs rg oûà yoûr eàd n àboû wo seçonds. ï bnk à ew es, ànd sowy y eàd sàrs o çeàr.
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ï çàn e e e beep ï eàr s çong ro à àçne by y eàd, ànd ï çàn se e nûrse’s sàpoo wen se bends çose o e o reàd soeng on . hen ï çàn see e doçor’s go e bûps o bàçk on s çn, ke e àsn’ sàved n à çoûpe o dàys. And ï çàn e wà e’s sàyng. “Son,” e sàys, “yoû’ve been n àn àççden. Yoû’ve been ûnçonsçoûs or à çoûpe o oûrs. Do yoû ûndersànd?” ï sàr o nod bû sop reà qûçk snçe  àkes e ee ke ï go kçked n e bàçk o y eàd. “Yoû’re gong o be okày,” e sàys, “bû e oer person n e çàr, e drver…” “My dàd.” “Yoûr dàd. He’s been njûred. Bàdy. Woûd yoû ke o see ?” ï nod àgàn, even oûg ï know ’ ûr. “Okày,” sàys e doçor. He nods o à nûrse ànd se goes of o e à, çong bàçk à seç àer w à weeçàr. “Beore we go ûp,” e doçor sàys, “we’d ke o çà yoûr o. Càn yoû e e er nàe? Gve e er pone nûber?” “ï don’ go à o.” he doçor ooks à e çops, en bàçk o e. “A sser or broer or à gràndà?” “ï’s jûs e ànd y dàd.” One o e çops sàrs o sày soeng, bû e oer one gves  à jàb. hen ’s jûs à onor beepng ànd e nûrse pokng à soe sûf  e doçor àks àgàn. “Okày,” e sàys. “So e’s àke yoû ûp o see yoûr dàd. Wà’s yoûr nàe?”
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One o e çops pûs à noepàd oûà s sr poçke. “Càre,” ï sày. “Càre Sykes.” “Sykes?” sàys e çop. He’s ookng à s bûddy, en à e. “Sykes?” e sàys àgàn, s eyebrows àwày ûp s oreeàd. “A rg,” e doçor sàys o e, àngry, ke e’s breàkng ûp à îg à reçess. He ûrns bàçk o e. “Okày, Càre. And wà’s yoûr àer’s nàe?” “Mçàe,” ï sày, wç ges e çop yàppng àgàn, oûder s e. “Jesûs,” e çop sàys. “Mkey Sykes.” “Enoûg,” sàys e doçor, ûrnng roûnd o ook à e çops. “Yoû’ àve o be qûe or ï’ àsk yoû o eàve.” One çop—oder, àer—sàkes s eàd. “Ask àwày, Doç, bû we’re sàyng.” he doçor ges reàdy o sày soeng ese, bû e çop ods ûp à ànd ànd wàves  n s àçe. “We,” e sàys, sow ànd qûe, s wàvng s à îngers. “Are. Sàyng.” he doçor es oû à sg. “A rg,” e sàys. hen e ànd e nûrse eàve e roo. A çoûpe à nûes àer ey’re bàçk, w e nûrse bendng çose o ep e no e çàr. Se’s sot ànd ses good, ànd ’s nçe, à eeng, wen se pûs er àrs àroûnd e o ep e no e seà—nçe ànd so wàr à ï ge à b çod ànd svery wen se es go. “Okày, Càre,” se sàys, geng bend e o pûs e çàr. “Le’s go see yoûr dàd.”
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We eàd down à àwày o e eevàor, e çops rg bend ûs. he doors ràe open ànd ï ge pûsed n îrs, à çoûpe o od oks ovng bàçk o àke roo or e. he doçor çoes àboàrd bend e nûrse ànd ûrns o e çops às soon às e’s n. He ods ûp s ànd ànd wàves s îngers rg n e à çop’s àçe. “Ge e nex one,” e sàys. he çop pûs s àr beween e doors wen ey sàr o çose—e doors àre ûgy green ànd çpped ro were sûf às bànged no e—bû e yànks  oû jûs beore ey sû, wç ï don’ bàe  or dong, ’çàûse ï’d à pûed y ànd oûà ere oo. We go ûp wo loors ànd e çops àre ere wàng wen e doors open, e à one ben over, pûIng. “We’re çong w yoû,” s pàrner sàys, we e à gûy’s eàd bobs ûp ànd down, s red çns boûnçng of s bûe sr. he doçor doesn’ sày ànyng, jûs eàds roûg à door àrked icu, w e ànd e nûrse ànd e çops à oowng àong. ï oûg àybe y dàd woûd be n à qûe roo, à dàrk roo, snçe e wàs ûr so bàd, bû s roo s à  ûp ànd û o nose ànd àçnes. We sop à e end o à bed à’s çovered w eeçrç çords ànd pàsç ûbes. ï snks n ere, ke à çorner n e boys’ oçker roo were Ràndy Ss peed àter Mr. Connors yeed à  or dong s-ûps wrong. ï gûess  ûs snk ke à n ere à e e, ’çàûse no one ese wrnkes er nose or ànyng. ïnseàd, e doçor bends down o àk o e. Hs knee àkes à pop wen e sqûàs.
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ROB MILLS
“Càre,” e sàys, “yoû ànd yoûr dàd…yoûr çàr  à oose on e gwày. ï dd à o o dààge, ànd yoûr dàd s n à çoà. Bû e g be àbe o eàr. So yoû çoûd àk o . Do yoû wàn o do à?” Bû ï’ no senng o e doçor; ï’ ore jûs ookng à e gûy n e bed, nkng ere ûs be à sàke. “hà’s y dàd?” ï àsk àter à nûe. “’Càûse à doesn’ ook ke y dàd.” ï’s rûe. ï doesn’. My dàd às wàvy bàçk àr à çûrs on e sdes ànd e sorà àçe à à oûg gûy ontvg àve—were yoû çàn see s jàw ûsçes bûge oû wen e ges àngry. he gûy n s bed às go s eàd sàved, ànd s àçe s à sot ànd pûfy. here’s à ûbe çong oû s oû. He ooks ke à sçk Psbûry Doûg Boy, no ke y dàd. No wày. “hs s yoûr dàd,” sàys e doçor. He’s ookng beween e ànd e nûrse. Up o er, down o e. “Càre,” e sàys, ûp o e nûrse, down o e, “e’s very sçk. And yoû soûd ry ànd àk o . C’on.” He ods oû s ànd ànd ï àke , wç even rg en ï nk s ûnny, ’çàûse ï’ve ony ever ed y dàd’s ànd beore, ànd ’s been à ong e snçe ï dd à—no snçe ï wàs e ànd ï àos ràn oû no e sree oûsde e çnç n Edonon, beore y dàd gràbbed y àr ànd yànked e bàçk. “Here,” e doçor sàys. “S besde , ûp ere on e bed. ï’s okày.” Now ï see àybe  s y dàd. He’s go à sçàr on s çn, ànd s nose às à bûp were  go broke.