Chapter 4: Regarding Trixie
Patricia Leigh Kalbrunner was simply a useless toy that was thrown into a toy box and hidden in a dark closet.
Trixie was 15 years old and was diagnosed with a mental disability in childhood, which limited her social ability and thinking. Many people despised her because of her disability. Her mother, Theresa Nichols, abandoned her when she was 7 months old. She stayed in many foster homes. She would have spent the rest of her life in a mental hospital if the social worker hadn’t called her father, Rajasthan, and forced him to take her in.
Rajasthan Kalbrunner was the recently widowed husband of Bernadine Danton; they had three children named Alexander, Zackery, & Johnny Diaz Kalbrunner. None of them liked Trixie. Rajasthan tried (and failed) to get rid of Trixie by forcing her into a mental hospital. His father, Ardeth Stebbins, refused to allow his oldest son to put his daughter away. Ardeth also requested that Trixie come live with him, but Rajasthan locked Trixie in an upper room and refused to acknowledge her existence.
In fact, the only people who knew about Trixie (next to Ardeth) were Rajasthan’s brother Skylar, Skylar’s daughter Josie, Rajasthan’s sister Sarana Stebbins Mayhew, and her children Amber and Tommy Mayhew. None of them met Trixie. Rajasthan made sure they didn’t tell the rest of the Salmati family about Trixie Leigh Kalbrunner.
(Of course, someone would reveal the secret about Trixie, as nothing lasts forever. Who it was is up for debate.)
It was now Tuesday, January 12, 1988, and Trixie was sitting in her room in the upper part of the Kalbrunner house. This large house had a rustic look to it and in average condition. The interior was done in colors that remind you of the inside of a seashell. The yard was large and neatly trimmed. Also, the house is rumored to be haunted. (But it was only Trixie.)
Trixie’s room was on top of the house; the floor was a set of multicolored rugs, yet the walls were white. There was only one window in her room, one that could never open. The room was filled with worn-out pillows and stuffed animals. Trixie was staring out the window, lost in her own world when she heard a strange sound.
Unknown to her, Josie Tremlett-Kahn, Seth Burke, and Moira Downing had climbed the tree next to her window. There was a tree house built by a family that lived in the house before the Kalbrunner family moved to Monterey during the 1970s. The tree house was huge; it had a roof, two rooms, and filled with carpeted floors, a refrigerator, windows, and some furniture.
Josie said, “We’ve hit the jackpot!”
Seth said, “Won’t anyone notice that we’re not there?”
Moira said, “It’s not like anyone’s going to care we’re not in school right now, right?”
Unknown to them, a man was watching the house next door. Officer Dan McCleary was at the house the McMillan family owned. This enormous house had a futuristic look and in good condition. The interior is done in muted colors. The yard is enormous and looks formal. Also, it was the site of an infamous murder; in 1956, Cameron Cymes was murdered by his wife, Lorraine Nolan Cymes. Many people suspected that witchcraft was the motive behind the killing, but nothing could be proved.
McCleary was watching the house; Sara and Dennis McMillan and their three children 7-year-old Eugene, 8-year-old Lena, and 11-year-old Carter disappeared without a trace the week before. Like most families living in Montagne Beach, the McMillan family went to Santa Cruz to celebrate the New Year. When the family failed to return, with phone calls from Montagne Beach Elementary School and Dennis’ job claiming that Eugene, Lena, Carter, and Dennis didn’t show up for school or work, McCleary was notified. He and his partner, Richard Olson, were given the case.
McCleary was 53 years of age. He had dark skin, straight graying dark brown hair, and dark brown eyes. He was short and heavy. Olson, however, was 26 years of age. He had olive skin, wavy dark brown hair, and dark brown eyes. He is short and pudgy.
McCleary sat in the car watching the house for any suspicious activity; no family would disappear on vacation without arousing suspicion. Olson was listening to the radio. The cops had no idea that the Teen Rebels were watching them.
Josie stared out the window at the car below the tree house. She said, “I think Sheila hired the cops to arrest us.”
“How do you know?” said Seth.
“Why else are they here?” said Moira. “I know Sheila’s family probably has the cops on their payroll, so they can harass us and get away with it. I can’t trust the system.”
“Let’s be real quiet and hide inside the house,” said Seth.
“Uh, this is my uncle Rajasthan’s house,” said Josie. “I don’t think he’ll appreciate it if we invade his house. In fact, he never invites me over to his house, but he’s always coming to mine. Now, what’s up with that?”
Seth said, “The cops are watching the house, so we can’t get out of the tree house.”
Josie said, “There’s an open window, let’s go over.” She pointed to an open window next to the east side of the tree house. The kids climbed out the tree house and through the window. The window led to a room rarely used, save for storage of toys and games. Josie led the others to the house, which was covered with some ugly carpet and the hallways were wallpapered to death.
“Geez, looks like someone went extremely overboard with the deco,” said Moira.
“Now we know why you don’t come here,” said Seth. “This place is ugly!”
“I know,” said Josie. “I never liked my aunt’s sense of style and this is proof that she never would have made it as a fashion designer.”
“I can see why,” said Seth. “Your aunt was an absolute lunatic.”
“That’s why I never come here,” said Josie.
Never let it be said that Trixie’s presence went unnoticed by Josie, Seth, and Moira.
The trio walked down the hallway, not to the stairs or the rooms where Josie’s cousins slept. In fact, they were heading towards a different place.
“What is this bookcase doing in the middle of the hall?” said Moira as she stared at a bookcase that sat in the middle of the hallway.
“Yeah,” said Seth as he too stared at the bookcase. “Why would your aunt have a bookcase in the middle of the hall?”
Josie stared at the bookcase; she saw the books on the bookcase were fake, as were the trinkets on the bookcase. She reached out and touched a fake book titled “The Forgotten Flower”, but the book moved aside to reveal a doorknob. “The bookcase was built INTO the wall!” she cried out. “I’ve seen those when I was on the history of California tour last year! But what is the bookcase hiding?”
“Let’s open the door and find out,” said Moira as she reached for the doorknob. Just then, part of the bookcase swung open to reveal a flight of stairs.
“So, what’s at the top of the stairs?” Seth asked as they stared at a strange door that was on top of the stairs.
“I don’t know, but I guess we’ll have to find out,” said Josie.
The kids climbed the staircase and reached the door. The door swung open and revealed a room that wasn’t like the rooms that Josie saw, and she saw few rooms in her life.
The room was small, with the floor being a set of multicolored rugs, yet the walls were white. There was only one window in the room, one that could never open under any circumstances. The room was filled with worn-out pillows and stuffed animals. There was no furniture or posters of rock singers on the walls.
“Do you see what I see?” said Seth. “This place is a prison. We better get out of here before someone finds us.”
“The only thing we have to worry about is if the cops find us,” said Moira. “When last I checked, Sheila Baines hired cops to arrest any kids who weren’t following her rules. I don’t want to be arrested for anything, if it could be helped.”
“I say we leave now,” said Josie as they turned around and left. Suddenly, Seth’s foot caught itself on a stuffed toy and the kids fell down the stairs, bumping their heads on the wall..
Trixie didn’t ignore the fall; the fall caused her to bump her head on the wall next to the window. She was unconscious for a long time.
After a few hours, Josie woke up and found herself back in the same room that she had tried to leave a few hours earlier. A glance at Moira’s watch said the time was now 4:30 PM. She needed to get out the house immediately.
“Josie?” Seth also woke up. “Where are we?”
“I don’t know,” said Josie, “but what I do know is that my uncle is going to be home soon. I don’t think he’ll like it if he catches us here.”
Just then, a strange girl approached them. She had a fair skin tone, curly golden-blond hair in a short ponytail, and hazel eyes. She was of average height, heavy, and was dressed in shorts and a sweatshirt.
Trixie Kalbrunner slowly got up off the ground andstod up. Upon finding three kids lying unconscious at the foot of the stairs, carried them to her room, and shut the door leading to the stairs and her room. She then sat in a corner, waiting for them to recuperate.
“So, who are you and what are you guys doing here?” Trixie said to the three intruders who dared to sneak into her house and her room.
Josie said, “Well, I’m your cousin Josie and this is Seth Burke and Moira Downing. I understand you are known as Patricia Leigh Kalbrunner. Am I right?”
“Well, I wouldn’t know,” said Trixie, who was shocked to know that after all the years she spent in the top room of the Kalbrunner house, she still had a voice.
“Indeed,” said Josie. “Now, how would you like to be free from this place?”
“I was locked up in here?” Trixie cried out in surprise. “I had no idea I was shoved in here. When did this happen?”
“You’re 16 now, or close to it,” said Josie, “and you came to live with your father when you were 9 years old. You were in a bad car accident, you were badly hurt, and your mother died. Your father didn’t want anyone else to know you existed, so he hid you here.”
Trixie gasped in horror, but Josie’s ears turned red. She knew the truth about Trixie and why Rajasthan hid her from her family (and the world), but she couldn’t bear to tell her cousin the truth. It would crush her.
“You must join with us,” said Moira. “Join us and help us crush the evil in our school that is Sheila Baines. You need to be at school, to get an education. We’ll sort out everything about you later.”
“I do hope you know what you’re doing,” said Seth. “Sheila is dangerous, and she owns the school. She won’t take too kindly to newcomers, especially those who show up at the school and are just as old as she is. We’re taking a huge gamble here.”
“I have heard of people like this Sheila Baines that you speak of,” said Trixie. “I see the things she does on TV. She is in dire need of a strong hand to slap her down so low she can never rise again.”
“Now, we must invent a new name for you and make sure that no one knows who you are,” said Josie. “We can’t have everyone around here knowing that you’re Trixie Kalbrunner, or my cousin. That would be a scandal.”
“A scandal indeed,” said Seth. “Maybe you could go by the name June Tempest? That could work.”
“Maybe,” said Moira, who was jealous as she watched Josie and Trixie nod in agreement. “We need to leave quickly. Who knows how long we have until Josie’s uncle returns.”
“And the cops are still watching the house,” said Seth with a quick glance outside the window.
“Yeah, and that too,” said Moira.
“So what now?” said Josie. “It’s not like we couldn’t go out the window…”
As she spoke, her hand touched a button that was next to the window. The window that could never be opened swung open, revealing a door and some secret stairs. The stairs led to another part of the house, which had been forgotten. The secret part of the house had a living room, a kitchen, and a parlor for entertaining guests.
“Is this what I think it is?” said Moira as she looked into what appeared to be a bathroom.
“It is,” said Josie. “I bet this place was built during the late 1800s. Most of these houses have secret chambers built in them; those chambers were used during the 1920s during the Prohibition Era. I bet my uncle’s house was among those houses that hid beer and the people who liked to drink beer.”
“Indeed,” said Seth. “I think we may have found our new hiding spot. The cops will never find us here.”
“They won’t,” Trixie said as she stared out the window. “They’ve already left.”
The other kids rushed to the window and stared out of it; Officer McCleary and Officer Olson had left the area without seeing anything or anyone. Josie said, “So now that we’re here, I say we go back to school and break some rules!”
“We should,” said Moira. “I’ve had enough with Sheila Baines and her crap. We have a right to learn and she has no right to try and stop us!”
“With Trixie here, we’ll be unstoppable!” said Seth. “Though parents, other students, and even death will make us fall apart as individuals, no one will tear apart the Teen Rebels!”
The kids cheered, not realizing that their union would change not only their lives, but also the lives of the people in Montagne Beach, California…