They became legends in my mind.
The few stories my Dad shared as we were growing up.
The Uncle who was shot off his horse in the middle of a creek,
the murderer never found.
Family speculation leaned toward his wife,
for he was a mean bastard.
The time my Grandmother threw ice cold water on him.
He was ten years old , laying in his bed
deathly ill with pneumonia.
Seems his curtains had caught fire from a candle.
He told me how he and his younger brothers loved
to throw rocks against the outhouse
while their ornery Great Grandfather was in there.
He would sit reading for hours
while everyone else in the family had to "hold it".
Later the old man would bide his time,
and crack their legs with his Ninja quick cane,
then laugh at their sharp cries of pain.
Dad told me of his eleven year old cousin
who wriggled up into a narrow tunnel in the mountain,
determined to steal a wolf cub while the mother was out hunting.
When the mountain gave a subtle shift and filled in with barely a whisper,
all the family stood nearby helplessly.
His Father crazy imagining his only son trying to breath dirt.
And the worst story of all. A school bus full of children,
sliding on the ice on the way to school one morning
straight into Lake Chelan.
Not one body recovered because it is one of the deepest lakes in the world.
He told me the lake was so cold that somewhere down in its depths
they were all still perfectly preserved.
Still in the bus. Eyes still open in fright.
Perhaps gazing out the windows at dinosaurs frozen from an earlier age.
My father swam across this lake when he was twelve.
On a dare. My grandmother never knew.
Sometimes during my childhood I would awaken.
I would see those children floating on my bedroom walls,
my father swimming above.