The Karl Warren Series
Coming late 2019
The Stone Harvest
Karl Warren was done with his past life and ready to leave it all behind. Too many dead bodies, death notifications, and threats to his own safety left him tired of life as a US Army soldier and Kansas City police officer. All he wanted to do now was heal himself by healing his newly-purchased land in northern Idaho.
Death and human greed had other plans.
Based on mostly true events from my personal history, The Stone Harvest highlights Karl Warren’s journey through emotional pain, nightmares, PTSD, and addiction brought about by his former life as he struggles to make sense of the death and loss he encounters in his new home.
The first novel in the series will be released later this year soon to be followed by a serialized podcast. Details, updates, and links will be posted here as they become available.
Chapter 1 - This year, Early Spring
The stones came up every year, like mushrooms. They crept up bit by bit with the annual frost heaves as the earth chilled and thawed. Left alone long enough, perhaps the field would end up being littered in the type of stones that would elsewhere cost a couple hundred dollars per ton at a landscape supplier.
This field had been left alone long enough, though. For the second time in as many springs, Karl Warren used his not-quite-antique, red and grey tractor to ride over every square inch of the field dragging his harrow.
Last year, his first on the property, he paid the neighbor to disc up the field and broadcast a native wildflower/fescue seed mix Having been ignored for near twenty years, the forty acre patch had turned mainly to knapweed, vetch, tansy, and oxeye daisy. It hadn't been grazed or mowed or burned or sprayed. Nothing. Perfect! An excellent five-year project.
After the seed broadcast was the first time he had harrowed the lonely field. Harrowing knocked down any furrows caused by the discs, filled any low spots and gave the seeds a good covering of earth in which to try and take root. It also educated Warren on just how many stones there were in this soil. On all the other properties nearby, he had seen huge piles or long rows of the stones dumped after they had been gathered from the fields. A farmer would work the soil then send his son out with the pick-up or 4-wheeler and trailer to gather them. The rock harvest would usually take longer than any other aspect of the growing cycle. Nothing was growing yet and the kids needed a chore to keep them out of trouble. Hence, this part of the country has lots of fields with four foot tall stone boundaries.
It was during this, his second season of stone harvesting that the problems began. In this same spot the year before, he had noticed an unusually large collection of stones, or rather, so many in one tight spot. It didn’t seem like the rest of the field but he didn’t give it too much thought. Plenty of stones to deal with. No use getting too worked up over these. The second year, this year, the same problem in the same area. The harrow grabbed just enough of one or two of the buried nuggets that they dislodged the others, exposing ten or twelve to the grey sky.
Warren didn’t return to that spot for two days. He had been harvesting from other parts of his field and had started a fine collection for the stone wall he was planning to build. By the time he returned, oddly enough, the rocks hadn’t moved. One by one they went into the back of the truck. BAM! BAM! The low clouds and the closeness of the mountains seemed to make the din of granite on metal echo more loudly than normal. A rich, satisfying tone.
As he cleared the first few stones, he could see that there were several more just below the surface. “Might as well.”, he thought. By the twenty-third stone (he was odd about counting things) he began to ignore his suspicion that the stones were in a neat oblong shape.
“Nope. Perfectly natural.”, he thought to no one in particular.
It was rock number 37 that did the trick. Nothing special about it. Mostly grey, a few flecks of black and two ribbons of white going the center. Its uniqueness was what lay beneath it. The man could see the cuff on the sleeve from the remnants of what was probably a long-sleeve, perhaps blue t-shirt. And with it, the shriveled remnants of a hand in the cuff.
Though not a surprise at this point, the man did have to take a step back to collect his thoughts. It’s not everyday that you find a dead body. Rarer still to find an old one buried on your property; property you bought and moved to for the express purpose of not finding dead bodies anymore.
Despite the apparent age of the body and its long-term exposure to the elements, it still had traces of that smell, that goddamn smell of death and decay. Warren uttered his first words of the day, “Well … Fuck!”
Karl Gustav Warren was going to have to alter some his expectations of his new life in Westwood, Idaho.