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Rebel's Tag

128 pages
Sam’s grandfather vanished from his life the day Sam’s father was buried. Now, ten years later, Grandpa Max wants to make amends. He sends letters that lead Sam on a scavenger hunt. Sam follows his grandfather’s bizarre instructions even though he’s still not ready to forgive. Sam copes with his anger at his grandfather by climbing onto roofs and leaving his tag, a spray-painted symbol for the planet Aquarius. It doesn’t take long for Sam to learn that the way of the rebel has a price.
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R ebe
l K.L. Den man s T a g
Rebel’s Tag
K.L. Denman
Copyright ©2007 K.L. Denman
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
Denman, K.L., 1957– Rebel’s tag / written by K.L. Denman. (Orca currents)
isbn 9781551437422(bound) /isbn 9781551437408(pbk.)
I. Title. II. Series. ps8607.e64r42 2007 jc813’.6 c20079027725
First published in the United States,2007 Library of Congress Control Number:2007927585
Summary:After receiving a letter from his estranged grandfather, Samuel begins to learn about forgiveness and knowledge.
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.
Cover photography by Andreas Kindler / Getty Images Author photo by Lynne Woodley
orca book publishers po Box 5626,Stn. B Victoria, bcCanadav8r 6s4
orca book publishers po Box 468 Custerusa, wa 982400468
www.orcabook.com Printed and bound in Canada.
For Ron, with love.
C h a p t e r O n e
I’m late getting home. That sucks because I’ll be in for it. Mom hates it when I’m late, especially when I don’t have a good reason, like now. I was playing street hockey with the guys and didn’t notice the time. No big deal, but I’ll hear about how thoughtless I am. How worried she was. How, at the very least, I should have called.
K.L . Denman
I slip into the living room and switch on the. Once in a while, if she’s on the phone or something, I get away with this ploy. If she isn’t sure how long I’ve been parked on the couch, she lets it go. It doesn’t look good today. I’ve barely landed my butt and Mom’s there. I pretend deep interest in the, which is useless because I’m watching a diaper commercial. I brace myself for the usual, but she says nothing. Instead she drops an envelope onto my lap. It’s one of those big yellow envelopes, and my name is scrawled across the front: Samuel Connor.Mom stands over me, her lips pressed tight, her arms folded across her chest. “What’s this?” I ask. “Some garbage from school?” She shakes her head. “Take a look.” The envelope isn’t sealed, so whatever it is, I’m betting Mom read it. Judging by the look on her face, she didn’t like it.
Rebel’s Tag
But if it’s not a nasty school report, then what else could it be? Oh, man. Someone must have seen Indi and me doing our thing. They recognized me and reported it to the cops. This envelope is from the cops. They write letters? Wouldn’t they just come and hassle me? I keep cool, reach inside, draw out a sheet of paper. It doesn’t have any ofî-cial emblems. It just looks like a letter, starting withDear Samuel. Weird. No one writes me letters. I shoot another glance at Mom but she hasn’t budged. She’s just standing there looking like she’s going to burst. I look down and catch an odd aroma wafting from the sheet of paper. What is that smell? It triggers a hazy memory. The memory wheels around the edge of my mind but refuses to solidify. It circles, and I don’t want it to come closer. Maybe I don’t want to read this letter.
K.L . Denman
Dear Samuel, I want to make it clear from the start, us not knowing each other anymore is my fault—not yours, not your mother’s. This is your grandfather, Max Connor, writing to you. The last time I saw you was at your father’s funeral. You were only four years old, just a little guy. Do you remember me? Because before that day, we were pals and we spent a lot of time together. I believe I owe you an explanation for being absent from your life. You see, I went kind of crazy after your dad’s car accident. Your grandmother Connor died too, just six months before your dad, and I îgured I had enough of losing the ones I loved. I decided I wasn’t going to love anyone ever again. I made myself forget about you and your mom. I’ve written your mom too and told her how sorry I am for being such a fool. If you’re reading this now, it’s because
Rebel’s Tag
your mom is wiser than I ever was. Ten long years have passed and I’ve înally got to the place where I know I made a very big mistake. I’ve asked her to allow me another chance to be part of your life. I want to give you something, Samuel. It’s the most valuable thing I have and I never should have kept it from you. If you’re willing to forgive me and accept my gift, please follow the instructions you’ll find in the second letter. If you want nothing to do with a thickheaded old man like me, well,I understand. Your Grandpa Max
The smell coming from the paper is pipe tobacco. Grandpa Max smoked a pipe. Two images explode from the past. The îrst is Grandpa bending over to scoop me up, swing me round and set me up on his big shoulders. The second is him standing apart from everyone
K.L . Denman
in a graveyard, the pipe clamped in his mouth. I remember how I ran to him, expecting to find his arms reaching down. I caught hold of his leg and he Linched. He shoved me aside, sent me sprawling and marched away. I called after him. He didn’t look back. “Mom?” I say. “Yes?” But I don’t know what to say next. I want to crumple that letter, shred it, burn it. That jerk—who does he think he is? I lift the paper to my nose and inhale. “Sam, we need to talk.” Mom perches on the couch beside me. She shoves both hands into her hair and scrubs her head, a sure sign she’s thinking hard. “So you read the letter?” I ask. She nods. She stops scrubbing but keeps holding her head in her hands. “Do you remember him at all?” I shrug. “Not much.”