Wouldn’t it have been better if i had had a better computer when I wrote this? This Chapter has a lot of dialog and I did not have the patience to put in all those quotes! I figured I would put them in later, but alas, my computer at the time did not even have a reliable word processing program. (I actually DID Edit and fix most of the grammatical errors the several months that followed, but , as mentioned previously, could not find the finished final draft. ) I saved the entire thing in WORDPAD. A Fairly USELESS program, but it still allowed me to type what I had to say. So without further adieu…..Chapter 2….and thank you for your understanding . I will try to clean things up more as I post the next few chapters. We shall see if I have the time or the patience.
David nearly sprayed his beer all over the cat. He swallowed hard forcing himself to swallow what he had gulped still feeling the acidic sting of beverage in his nasal cavity. Before he could reply Ethan had hung up. He must be close now. David mind raced as to the significance of the last know phrase of their conversation. Shovel? Why? What for? Were we going to dig up something? David thoughts wandered to the different scenarios that could take place. Other than digging, what was a shovel good for?
The lights flashed in the driveway as David hung up the phone. Ethan had arrived. David downed the last of his beer, grabbed his jacket and opened the door.
“Hey ! That was quick David said as he approached.
Ethan turned off his lights and set the parking brake while keeping his engine running . “told you I would be fast. He grinned.
David looked around, “I see you still have that old jeep eh? He admired. Ethan had a jeep Comanche pickup for well over a decade. It had seen more than its share of action and it showed. The truck was peppered with rust spots and holes as if it had seen combat. David remembered Ethan telling stories of how he got it up a mountain where there was no track or trail to speak of. And then having the 4 wheel drive malfunction so as to have to go back down the mountain in reverse. “ I thought you would have buried this thing by now. He confessed.
“ Are you kidding ? Ole Smokey here still has plenty of life in her. She might be a little unsightly but she still has what it takes. Ethan patted the door. “come on get in we are burning midnight.
David moved to the passenger side to get in
“Wait? You get that shovel I mentioned? Ethan pressed.
David ran over to the side of the house where the yard tools were hung neatly under an open tin roof shed. He fumbled in the dark and grabbed the first shovel he could find. A square pointed pole shovel. David gripped it confidently and tossed it into the back of the pickup. Careful to avoid hitting the large item that filled the box already. A blue tarp concealed it from site.
“What is in the back? David asked
“That is what we are delivering. Ethan explained.
David opened the passenger door and entered the vehicle stil glancing over his shoulder to size up the item. “kind of big isn’t it ? David asked rhetorically
“Kind of. Ethan affirmed shifting the truck in reverse and flicking on the lights.
“Looks almost too big for two people. David speculated then the thought hit him. “ is that what the shovels are for? Leverage or some type of pry bar?
“Uh, Yeah! Ethan confirmed we can use them for that. Don’t worry I got the thing in here solo. Though it was not very easy. Together two of us can handle it trust me. Ethan explained as it trying to calm David’s fears.
David turned around finally to face the front of the vehicle. “So what’s in the back? Eth.
“Well I’m fine thanks for asking and how are you and the kids? Ethan inserted
David grinned “ok ok so what you been up to for the last five years? David asked remembering his manners “ Gees when was the last time we got together? Has it been five years? I remember catching up at your moms funeral. That was the last time I remember seeing you. Was that five years ago.
“ Yeah gees hard to believe mom’s been gone that long Ethan replied.
“How’s your dad doing without her? David asked
“Actually not too bad. He actually talks more now than I ever remember. Now that Mom isn’t yelling at him or interrupting him. You remember how she was.
David remembered all to well. If there was one thing that Ethan’s mom could be remembered for it was that she loved to talk … scratch that. Yell. She had only one volume and that was loud! The entire neighborhood seemed to grow quieter after the Allen’s moved out.
I remember fishing with Your brother and being able to hear your mom yelling for him all the way down at the park. David laughed. “ Well I’m glad to hear that he is doing well. I imagine he has lots of free time on his hands now.
“Yeah but he is getting old too now.. Cant walk much anymore and he is getting senile. I think it is more apparent now that he is not under moms shadow. Ethan glanced down at his watch and pulled onto the highway.
“So where we going? David asked . Where is this delivery?
“Oh Yankee springs by where we used to hunt when we were teenagers. Ethan answered. “You still hunt there?
“No not for a long time. David paused. Yankee springs ? That is kind of out of the way isn’t it? David tried to gather his thoughts
“Well not too far. As I remember it we used to make it there in less than 30 minutes during bow season. And besides there are no cars on the road at this time of night we should be there and back in no time flat. Ethan speculated.
“I hope so I still have to sleep tonight and Tracy and the kids are going to be up in about 5 hours. Lucky for both of us I don’t have to work tomorrow Or else I would have not joined you on this little adventure. David explained.
“Don’t worry, This won’t take long . Ethan assured. We will be done and back in no time and your wife and kids will never be the wiser.
The miles rolled on and David and Ethan exchanged stories both old and new. It was like the good old days when they would explore new hunting or fishing spots. Ethan was right, The lack of traffic along with the excellent conversation made the miles go by faster. It seemed as if only moments had passed when they were pulling off the highway and onto Yankee springs state game area. Ethan slowed on the two lane unlit roads that wound thru the state land. David looked around at the shoulder in the pale moon light scanning for deer or any other animal that might be crossing the road at this time of night.
“Hey this is where I got my first deer Ethan said pointing off the road at an unseen pull off.
David scowled. No its not we were off Shelby road David corrected. At the old abandoned apple orchard.
“No that was Eric he got his in the apple orchard I got mine in the swamp remember? .
David looked up as if trying to sort out his memory. “No really? I thought… he paused hmmm well I guess you should know it was your deer. I got my first one up north on our property in big rapids I never got a clean shot at anything here in Yankee. . Funny I thought it was here.
“ nope in the swamp Ethan reinforced. I remember losing it for three hours and having to find Dad to help me track it .. And we had to pull it thru the mud. I was so damn exhausted and happy at the same time . Ethan grinned.
David glanced around. “Hey where is this place we are going to deliver this thing anyway? David turned in his seat.
“Oh right here. Ethan turned the truck and pulled off into one of the pull outs and down a two track.
David glanced around hastily “Ok ok What exactly are we doing Eth. We are pulling down a two track on a long forgotten area of state land in the middle of the night . I need to be filled in a little bit.
Ethan Sighed. Ok here is the deal. We are making a delivery. But we have to do it under cover of darkness.
“Why? David eyed Ethan skeptically. You in some kind of trouble? Are we making a drug exchange or something.
Ethan laughed. The kind of laugh one makes when someone misses the target by a mile. “ no no we just have to drop something off where no one will find it . I just need you to trust me Dave. This wont take very long. Ethan looked around . In fact this place is as good as any . He pulled to truck off the road and started plowing over small saplings and brush. The engine whined and revved up as the tires dug into the sandy soil. David bounced in his seat and gripped his seat belt.
“Hang on Ethan warned as they took another bump that pushed David’s head into the roof.
“What the hell! David grunted out between bounces.
“This should do nicely the last of the small trees flopped down before the jeep revealing an open field . The Moon illuminated the weeds and dead grass, providing almost enough light to see “ We are here. The moon should give us enough light.
David unbuckled his seat belt and rubbed his head as he opened the door. Ethan turned off the engine and joined David by the back of the truck.
David stretched. “Now what?
Ethan Grabbed a shovel from out of the back. “Now we dig.
“Yeah dig you know take small scoops of dirt with a shovel to form a hole in the ground. Ethan stepped on the shovel head and took out a small bit of earth and tossed it aside.
“I know what dig means I mean what are we digging for?
“Well we have to make a hole that is deep enough to bury the thing in the back and we don’t have much time to get it done. It’s almost 3am now.
David looked over at the blue tarp “This thing is HUGE! We are going to have to make it at least 3 feet deep and what ? 6 feet long?
“Actually 6.5 feet to make it have a comfortable margin and probably 4 feet deep. And we are not going to get it done if you keep whining.
You said this was wasn’t going to take very long.
“It wont! I remember us digging something this deep when we were kids Now common. There are no tree roots that will mess with us out in this field . I want to get this dug and buried before first light. Ethan continued to slice and pry up chunks of earth and toss them aside.
David looked on in confusion as Ethan trudged forth. He glanced up at the moon and then at his watch. If this was going to get done and he was going to get home before the kids woke up , he had better help. Wearily he picked up his shovel and stepped it into the soft soil.
Ethan glanced up. “what kind of shovel is that? He looked over at David’s shovel incredulously.
“it’s a fence pole shovel
“Good lord! Why didn’t you just bring a spoon? Ethan was breathing hard now.
“Look you want me to help or not? seeing as I’m in a position where my options are limited.
“are you mad? Ethan asked
“You sound mad.
“No, well yes ok I’m a little surprised and disappointed that I was not as informed as I feel I should have been before agreeing to this little adventure.
“Adventure! Yeah! That’s the spirit! Ethan grinned and continued to excavate clumps of sod. He began to hum softly
David glanced up with a bothered expression. “lets just get this done and get out of here.
They trudged along removing more and more dirt till they had mined out a fairly large crater . Ethan jumped out of the hole and retrieved a measuring tape from the truck. David grabbed the other end and held it to the far end of the hole.
“7 feet ! not bad for less than two hours. He retrieved the tape and extended it again to the bottom of the hole. “ 3 feet 9 inches! Good enough. Lets bury this thing and go.
David climbed up and walked over to the truck. Sore and tired, yet driven ever so slightly by curiosity as to what was under the tarp.
Ethan picked up one end of the plastic. “Ready?” as if he were a magician about to pull a rabbit out of his hat.
A quick flick and the tarp flew away revealing an old refrigerator.
David’s eyes barely widened. “A refrigerator? He puffed out not really knowing what else to expect. All this to bury an old fridge.
Ethan looked up somewhat disappointed. “well,, yeah. What? Not the ark of the covenant or king Tut’s golden sarcophagus that you were expecting?
Dave looked up complacent. “let’s just bury it and go. He said wearily. He pulled the rest of the tarp clear when the smell hit him.
“Whoa! He ripped away from the back of the truck
“ Yeah it smells pretty bad Ethan acknowledged. Try not to breath as we move it .
David noticed the duck tape surrounding and sealing the door of the fridge shut. The stench filtered thru in spite of the barrier. What is the duck tape for?
“To keep the door shut. Imagine what it would smell like it the door flew open. Not to mention it would be tough to handle. Ethan tugged on one end of the large object. “ look we don’t have to be gentle with this thing, just pull it out and drop it to the ground then we will roll it into the hole. Luckily it is so big it shouldn’t take too long to bury it. Ethan pulled his shirt over his nose to shield him from the fumes.
“You know I don’t even want to ask what is in the thing that is causing it to stink so bad. Lets just get this over with. David pulled up his shirt in a similar fashion. He grabbed the end opposite Ethan. “On three! One , two , THREE!
The two men gave a quick heave and pulled the monstrosity out of the box. Once to the ground they tipped and rolled it to its final resting place. With the hard part out of the way Ethan picked up his shovel and began tossing scoops of dirt back over the refridge. David picked up his and wearily helped choosing to use his shovel as a plow to push rather than toss.
Finally they last glimmer of rust and dull white were covered and the mound of unused earth was flattened to hide any hint of crime scene. David leaned his shovel against the back of the truck and began to jump up and down on the small mound of dirt to pack it down Ethan tossed his shovel into the back and opened his door.
“Let’s go Dave! Ethan yelled climbing into the drivers side.
David picked up the blue tarp and bunched it into a ball before tossing it into the back and climbing in on the passenger side.
“See that was not so bad and we still have a couple hours before sun light. Ethan grinned
David glared at Ethan wearily. “what ever. Lets just go home. David glanced at his hands noting two small blisters and a sore spot. “ I should have brought gloves” he noted in passing.
“Well Dave I have to hand it to ya. I actually thought that you would not go through with it. I’m impressed.
“I probably wouldn’t have if I had know what was all involved. You sure have a interesting idea of the meaning of ’catching up!”
Ethan started the truck and slipped it in 4 wheel drive. “hold on again” he warned.
David gripped the seat tightly paying special attention to his head this time. “Just don’t get stuck now.”
“Are you kidding? We’re in a Jeep! Ethan proclaimed proudly, “And not just any jeep, we are in the world famous ghost bear! He let off on the clutch and revved the engine.
“The truck that traveled the AlCan Twice,! The truck lurched forward with a sharp grown.
“Traveled the Dalton highway 4 times! The truck jerked forward pushing and uprooting more small trees as the engine whined at over 4000 rpms.
“And climbed many unnamed mountains off delta junction”
The last trees crushed as the truck dropped once again onto the two track. Ethan let off on the gas and shifted the 4 wheel drive off “ Yeah baby! Yeah!” He glanced over to David proudly.
David was still gripping the seat with one hand and protecting his head from further damage with the other. “Didn’t you drop your transmission on the Dalton Highway? Blow a alternator in Canada, and get stuck on a mountain because your 4 wheel would not engage? “
“Well yeah, but those were hard roads man. Any lesser truck would have not made it either.
“That’s my point.
“What? What you mean by that? Ethan glanced down at the dashboard stroking it gently. “ Don’t listen to him baby I know you were pushed beyond normal limits.
In no time they were back on the road heading back to the highway. First light was upon them at last and the darkness of the night gave way to blotches of varying shades of gray. The sun still had several minutes before making it’s grand emergence over the horizon line to announce the coming of dawn.
“Ok then I promised you breakfast. Ethan motioned at the passing McDonald’s sign. “what do you say?
David groaned. “No thanks. I’m too tired to enjoy it anyway, and besides I have to get home Tracy will be waking soon and I don’t want to have to explain this. It would be better if we just go right home and I am in bed before she wakes up. He glanced over to Ethan. “Know what I mean?
“Absolutely! Ethan beamed. “Ill just get a quick value meal from the drive through.
“I mean we are not going to stop for any drive through. We have got to get home now
“I was just kidding fine! Fine! Lets get you home then. Even though my stomach is growling I guess I can get something later after I drop you off. “Good ! David seemed indifferent concerning Ethan’s starvation issues.
Ethan frowned, “If you had dug a little faster we would not be in such a hurry ya know.
“I’m warning you , don’t go there ! David motioned with his hand
“I’m not necessarily complaining about your digging , just that little play shovel you brought. Did you think we were going to build sand castles?
“I didn’t know what to think since you didn’t tell me anything.
“Yeah, yeah but common. Some where you have a real shovel at home a Man shovel?
“Yes I do I just couldn’t see it in the dark. Now lay off the shovel thing and get your breakfast later, I’m sure you’ll survive until then.
The miles passed by with traffic levels picking up slightly as the morning rush began. The sun was up a full inch above the horizon now and colors replaced the different shades of gray. David began to look at his watch more nervously now. They were mere minutes from his house but he was still anxious to get there not a second later than necessary. At last they pulled into the driveway.
David unbuckled the seatbelt and opened the door wearily. He climbed out and closed the door being careful not to slam it. He searched for his missing shovel under the blue tarp. He lifted the tarp completely before the harsh reality hit him. His Puny specialty shovel was missing!
“Son-Of-a “ David trailed off
“Left my shovel. David fumed. His voice raised slightly but he was too weary at this point to care.
“Ha, No big deal. You’re probably better off without that little garden trowel anyway. It’s not like it was one of your best ones. Ethan tried to wave it away.
Realizing there was nothing to be done and being too tired to do anything about it anyway, David conceded the loss of the shovel. He never really used it much anyway. He grabbed his jacket off the front seat and walked toward the house.
“By the way Eth, You now owe me big time! David turned slowly with a large evil grin. Next time I need to paint my house, move any furniture or build on an addition and need an extra hand. I will be expecting you to ready, willing and able. And free of complaints. Got it?
“Absolutely! Ethan confirmed without hesitation. “ In fact! I’ll even bring the beer.”
David began to turn around to head back to the house.
“Oh one last thing Dave.
David stopped and looked back
“Ok I know that any lesser friend would have never gotten out of bed, let alone actually help me do the thing we just did. So let me start off by saying thank you from the bottom of my heart. And yes I do owe you and I promise I won’t so much as whimper at any task you call me up on.
David nodded in agreement
“But there is one last thing concerning this little thing we just did. This should be just between us. You and me man. Our little secret.
“Why’s that? David asked reflexively
“Well, I worked for the DNR and I know that although people dump sofas and tables and garbage on state land all the time, That does not make it very legal. So the fewer people who can rat us out, the better if you catch my drift.
David paused for a moment thinking of how he could possibly explain this all to Tracy or anyone else for that matter. Tracy would most likely be more upset that he spent the entire night out with Ethan without telling her. The guys at the fire station probably wouldn’t care either so there was no sense in mentioning it to them. In either case he doubted anyone would report him to the DNR but there was no need to take any chances. He was happy knowing that he would have a slave to help him next spring with all the home improvements he had planned.
“Sounds good to me” David proclaimed.
With a nod, Ethan rolled up his window and pulled out of the driveway. With a wave he drove off into the distance, and was gone. Nothing left of his presents except some sandy pants, a pair of sore hands and a missing shovel.
David climbed the steps and opened his door. He was home once again. He was ready for a shower and then sleep. He crept in and kicked off his dirty boots, spilling sand and small clumps of dirt all around the kitchen. He paused.
“Perhaps I should undress here before tracking sand and mud all over the house.” he thought.
He quietly undressed to his underwear and tossed the soiled clothes down the basement steps toward the washer. He glanced down to see the cat batting around one of many suspicious clumps of dirt scattered all around the kitchen floor. Grabbing a broom, he swept up all he could find. batting the cat gently after he had finished. The cat ran out playfully.
With all the evidence of the dirty affair removed, David ran into the shower and quickly rinsed off. He was not in the mood for a long soaker. Just enough to remove the grime and sweat and allow his hair to smell like coconuts and vanilla. A few moments later and he was out and dry wrapping the towel around his waist he headed for the bedroom and hoped Tracy was still sleeping.
He opened the door quietly and entered. Floorboards creaked with a loud revealing alarm of his presents. Tracy was still in bed and facing the other way. He removed the towel and slid under the covers in one swift motion. His head hit the pillow and the weight of the world at last seemed to give way.
“You home late. Tracy’s groggy voice came from the reclining form
“Hmm? Oh yeah kinda late yeah David’s voice trailed off bordering on the abyss.
“Why so late? Or should I say early? Tracy pressed, still half asleep herself. She must have hit the snooze and was waiting for the next alarm before she got up.
‘Something came up with a friend at work. I was awake so I helped him out. Since I don’t have to work tomorrow. Now he owes me a favor.
Tracy moved a little. David and the other firemen were always switching days with each other so they could add to their vacation time or make three day weekends. It was a standard practice. She seemed satisfied with the explanation.
“I’m getting up soon if you want some breakfast, She offered “the kids will be up. You can say goodbye before they go to school.
Normally this was a generous offer. David loved the kids and loved breakfast. But right now, sleep trumped all.
“No thanks hon., Wanna sleep. The darkness was almost on him.