JACK AND THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH
by HL Carpenter
Ebook ISBN: 978-0-9884095-0-7
Copyright (c) 2012 by Top Drawer Ink Corp.
Continued from Installment 8
Jack turned. A vintage four-door red Chevy stopped in the middle of the clearing, and the throbbing engine went silent. When the heavy-set driver stepped out, Jack smothered a groan. Sylvester Liaberco was the last person he wanted to see. Mr. Newman’s warning about what would happen if the Luminary got the scoop first didn’t worry him. Sly Liaberco’s reputation did. The canny reporter had already shown too much interest in Jack’s background.
Mr. Liaberco closed the door of his antique car and walked toward them. He nudged Jack aside with his elbow and grinned at Nessa. “Ms. Owens? I’m Sylvester Liaberco of the Luminary. I’d like to talk to you.”
“About what?” Nessa raised a hand. “No, wait, don’t tell me. You’re here about the Fountain of Youth, the same as Jack.”
“I sure am.” Mr. Liaberco’s slow smile said he’d learned what he’d wanted to know. “I’d like to interview you, Ms. Owens. I’ll pay twice what this bozo offered for any information you can give me.”
“Hey!” Jack said.
“He didn’t offer to pay me,” Nessa said. “It wouldn’t matter anyway. There’s no way the Fountain of Youth could be on our property—or anywhere else in Florida, for that matter. It’s a legend. It doesn’t exist.”
It does exist, Jack thought.
“Well, well.” Mr. Liaberco surveyed the wilderness surrounding the clearing as Jack clenched his teeth. “On your property, you say.”
“No.” Nessa’s voice was patient. “I didn’t say it was here. I said it doesn’t exist.”
Mr. Liaberco settled his gaze on her face and rocked back on his heels. “Sticking to that, are you? Listen, Ms. Owens, I know Jack wouldn’t be here if it didn’t exist. And the Luminary always gets a story. This one will be big news. I’ll find the Fountain, with or without your help. Why not cooperate, and collect some cash besides?”
“Are you crazy?” Nessa jumped to her feet and glared first at Mr. Liaberco, then at Jack. “Are you both crazy?”
“Of course not.” Mr. Liaberco looked insulted.
“Then I must be. Because it seems I’m the only one who knows there is no Fountain of Youth. It does not exist!”
Jack said, “You’re not crazy, Nessa.”
She huffed out a breath. “So you’re admitting you are?”
“I’m picking up a photographer in a couple of hours,” Mr. Liaberco said, as if neither of them had spoken. “Help me out and you could be famous as well as rich, Ms. Owens. All you have to do is give the Luminary the story.”
“I don’t want to be famous. I don’t want your money either, Mr. Liaberco.” Nessa crossed her arms. “I want you to go away.”
“Hear that?” Jack balled his hands into fists and took a step toward Mr. Liaberco. “She doesn’t want you hanging around. So take a hike.”
“Whatsa matter, Jack? Afraid I’m going to get the story first, just like Bigfoot?” Mr. Liaberco flipped his pudgy fingers as if shooing away a fly. He looked at Nessa. “You’re making a mistake, Ms. Owens. This kid isn’t half the reporter I am.”
“And you’re trespassing, Mr. Liaberco. Unless you’d like to explain yourself to the sheriff, you’d better leave. Now.” Nessa pulled a phone from the holster clipped to the waistband of her shorts and waved it at him.
“All right. No need to call the law.” Mr. Liaberco raised both hands shoulder high, palms outward. “Remember what I said, Ms. Owens. The story is mine, whether you help me or not.”
“Not,” Nessa said.
“Leave,” Jack said.
“I’m going. But I’ll be back.” Mr. Liaberco scowled at Jack. “And I’ll scoop you again, my young friend. This headline belongs to the Luminary.”
He yanked the car door open, climbed in and roared away in a cloud of oily fumes.
***** ABOUT THE AUTHOR *****
HL Carpenter is the pen name of a Florida-based mother/daughter duo who writes from their home in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, the Carpenters enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity.
Also by HL Carpenter:
The SkyHorse.Fourteen year old Tovi thinks finding a flying horse is fabulous luck–until a mysterious stranger says finders aren’t always keepers.
The Demise of Fyne Literature. Who killed Fyne Literature? The Fictional Book Investigation Agency is on the case—and the lead investigator is closer to the culprit than he realizes.
Dream Stealer. Is stealing a dream better than losing your own?
Walled In. When her father is accused of fraud, seventeen year old Vandy Spencer discovers her entire life has been built on a heart-shattering deception.
Taxing Pecksniffery. Flying frizzles! The year is 2176, a rebellion is brewing, and the boss wants a recon report. Ichann Count is all wet as a spy, but she plunges into the fray. Will she emerge with her memory banks intact?