I’m pleased to announce that Foreword Reviews has chosen Looking for Redfeather as a finalist for the YA Book of the Year 2013 Award! Looking for Redfeather is now available through Ingram Spark, for bookstores and libraries. Order it from your local indie bookstore or online from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Read Chapter One here:
Looking for Redfeather
a novel by Linda Collison
copyright 2013 by Linda Collison
Fiction House, Ltd.
Ramie left Cheyenne in a hailstorm, tramping up the on-ramp to Interstate 25, right past the No Hitchhiking sign, his thumb in the air. A raging, purple sky hurled hailstones and forks of lightening at him, but the boy pulled his hat down and kept on walking.
Just as suddenly as it had come on, the fury was spent, leaving the air scrubbed clean, smelling of wet dirt and sage. The sun reappeared like nothing had happened and a southbound semi roared by, throwing a rainbow of slush from its wheels. Ramie shivered, his wet shirt clinging to his back. Tumbleweeds piled up against a barbed wire fence. A shredded Walmart bag caught on a roadside thistle, how I feel. Hail stones, melting, crunching underfoot. His new shoes were rubbing blisters on his toes.
A driving guitar rhythm filled his head from the MP3 player in his pocket. Go on and save yourself, and take it out on me… The thunder of Audioslave had matched the wrathful weather, infusing him with fresh anger and purpose, propelling his feet forward, lifting his thumb even as it lifted his heart. Lifting his thumb was like knocking at a door, it felt hopeful, a question (going my way?) and somehow more potent than lifting the finger he was accustomed to. Fuck you had become a feeble cliché, a defensive gesture, a cheap shot in the dark.
Blue skies now, and fresh-washed chicory. To the west, the Medicine Bow mountains were stark cut-outs on the horizon; a familiar boundary, a fence he was prepared to jump, or break if he had to. Redfeather, had he been in Denver all along? Then again, the name could be a coincidence, but Ramie didn’t care either way. School was out and Cheyenne had become too small to contain him.
Though he had often imagined his exodus, when it came right down to it, Ramie had left on a whim. So many times he had googled Redfeather — Raymond Redfeather — his own name, but it wasn’t himself he was looking for. This time he had come up with a lead, a clue, just a hundred miles south and so he had stuffed a change of clothes in his pack, scribbled his mother a note on the back of a late notice, grabbed a fistful of bills from her tip jar and lit out for the highway.
He was warmed and expanded by his new recklessness. Cornell’s voice and Morello’s thumping guitar drove him, encouraged him, comforted him, gave rhythm to his bones and filled his skull with sound. His own private world spun through the universe like some unnamed comet, a meteorite, a chunk of some asteroid, not yet discovered.
A car passed him, the brake lights flashed red, a squeal of tires, and a spray of gravel as it veered onto the shoulder. A big land yacht, an old Cadillac? Maryland custom classic car plates EL DOR-60. Whoever sees Maryland license plates out here? And where is Maryland anyhow? Somewhere between Rhode Island and Virginia, or maybe Ohio? He remembered the puzzle his mother had gotten him from the thrift store years ago; it had been missing a state, he was pretty sure it was Maryland that had been lost.
How bizarre that he should catch a ride in this collector’s car, a rich old man’s car, a ride from the past, a champagne-colored Cadillac covered with mud and road tar. His breath came in gulps, he tried to gain control of it as he slouched his way toward the vehicle. Like he was in no particular rush. Reaching into his pocket he silenced the MP3.
The driver lowered the window and grinned. His was a young face, a face that hadn’t seen much sun. Wrap-around shades obscured his eyes. A black felt cowboy hat pulled down over his brow screamed poseur.
“Hey dude, where you headed?” the kid said.
Ramie sized him. He wasn’t very big. Unless he had a gun under the seat, Ramie felt sure he could handle him. If it came to that.
“Denver.” Ramie said with a slight shrug. Like, whatever. He wasn’t begging, he wasn’t desperate. Give me a ride or not, I don’t really care. He put on his punk face, as his mother called it; lowering his eyelids lazily and pulling the corner of his shapely bottom lip into a give-a-shit sneer that said, Go on, fuck with me. I dare you. But his fingertips tingled and his heart made itself known to him, shaking the bars of its cage.
“Denver? What luck! Ha! So am I. Hop in!” The driver, surely no more than sixteen or seventeen, swept a mound of ketchup-stained fast food wrappers and empty Red Bull cans from the passenger’s side of the long front seat onto the floor.
“Don’t mind the mess, I’ve been on the road for like, twenty hours straight. Glad you came along, I was getting bored. Hey, you got caught in that hailstorm, didn’t you? You are, like, drenched-ass wet. That was Jesus-freaking awesome! Like being shot at, like being strafed. Insanely loud on the roof of the car, I’m talking incredible.” A flood of words, a wave of exuberance nearly as torrential as the cloudburst had been.
“Uh, sorry I’m wet.”
“No problem-o. Won’t hurt those leather seats, they’re bullet-proof. Throw your shit in the back and hop in.”
Ramie had never ridden in a Cadillac, he felt like he was in a movie, getting into a limousine, a time machine. He put his guitar in the back as instructed then slid onto the expansive leather seat, the smell of cigarette smoke, cold French fries hitting him. He took off his ball cap and ran his hand through his wild shock of hair. Glanced in the rear view mirror at his reflection, can that be me?
Who would have thought it would be so damn easy? The highway had been here his whole life just waiting for him to pack his shit and go stand on the ramp, stick his thumb in the breeze and catch the first carpet ride out of town.
End of Chapter One…
Available from Amazon and your local independent bookstore