Friday, August 22, 2014
I couldn't believe it. I'd come so far and been turned away at the gate. I could have gone all Biblical but something felt too wiggy about that ... it being blasphemous or something. Besides their family and their friends came first. I'd seen it all before, in the city and in my town. But in both of those places I'd fit someplace, been part of some group of belonging, been part of the "inside" or had inside knowledge. When I got here I found out I didn't just not belong but that I wasn't wanted ... wasn't wanted inside or outside the camp despite how Mr. Svenson had tried to treat me; he was the exception, not the rule.
Not even Moses or Jerry had been that harsh; they made you work for your place but they always let people try for a place in the group. One more body meant two more hands to fight the fight, one more person meant two more eyes to help cover everyone's backs. As messed up as all the people in our group were I'd never felt unwanted; wanted for the wrong reasons yes but never totally unwanted or unwelcome. What had just happened was like a slap in the face or a bucket of ice water; especially after all that I had gone through and had done to get there.
But it was reality. I'd sucked it all up before and I knew it was time I sucked it up again. I was also determined not to let my feelings get involved. That was the next step down the road I took to freezing out the hurt about anything. It was too late in the day for me to do anything else constructive; I didn't have any choice but to do like Mr. Svenson suggested. In my mind I realized that at least the USFS cabin would be a place to stop for the night, a roof over my head and four walls between me and to the puss brains, as well as a place that would give me some room to think.
I would have missed the cabin completely if the forestry road hadn't ended less than a hundred yards from my destination. The path to the cabin sat back away from the road and was hidden by a lot of brush that had grown up in the formerly cleared space. Cautiously I left the truck and checked the place out; now was not the time for another surprise. The temperature was really dropping and my brain felt like it was coated with cold tar. Finally, after confirming there was no one else close by and that the cabin wasn't falling apart, I accepted that I could have wound up a lot worse off. The cabin was old and of whole logs rather than faced wood framing but the USFS had obviously done a lot to keep it maintained. Inside it had both a fireplace and franklin stove. However, neither would do me any good without wood to burn in them.
The lean to where the wood would have normally been stored was empty. The Singing Waters camp probably took it last year I hypothesized and it turned out I was correct but I didn't find that out until later. I took advantage of what Toddie had always called tree trash that was down all over the place and I started gathering it by the arm full. There were a couple of larger branches about as big around as my wrist and forearm that had also fallen to the ground and I put the ax, the small one that Jace had taught me to sharpen, to good use.
About an hour before dark I looked at the wood that I had stacked inside the cabin and knew it wouldn't be enough, but that it would have to do until I could come up with a plan B. I quickly started bringing in from the trailer what I would need for the next couple of days. It was then I admitted that one, there wasn't enough fuel to get me any place else and two, I was afraid someone was going to come along and steal what we'd worked so hard to gather. So, before I lit the fire, I did my best to accept my situation and empty the truck and most of the trailer and drag it up to the cabin. The only thing that remained when it got too dark for me to see was Sunny and Jace's clothes and grateful I was that that was all that was left.
I nearly tripped on a fallen limb on the way back to the cabin so I dragged it back with me and left it by the steps. Consequently it destroyed the evidence of how many times I'd gone back and forth between the truck and trailer. I filed that bit of information in the back of my head and vowed to use that technique as often as needed.
I went inside the cabin, found the item I wanted, and fumbled with the lantern with cold fingers. After getting the wind up lantern going, I started a fire in the franklin. It was so cold that to move away from the stove was nearly torture for me. Then I heard something outside and quickly and quietly walked to the front of the cabin and made certain I had remembered to bar the door. It was there that I could hear voices carried to me on the wind.
"This ain't right John. Uncle Joseph is going to have my head. You heard him, we're to leave the girl alone."
"Your uncle don't have no say about nothing, its your brother that runs this outfit and you know he isn't happy with what went down."
"You ain't reading this the way it is. Owen and the Phillips' girl's father were friends. We all knew him and his family from the time we were little. Him and his family were regulars every summer from before I was even born. And Owen is mad at why Uncle Joseph pitched more a fit about having her stay in the camp. You heard him ... 'Young girl like that, she'd get eaten alive by some that you've invited in like they're family.' And ... and I'm ... I'm kinda agreeing with the old man on this one. When we come out here the trailer ain't all you talked about checking out."
I heard a growl but the only animal it came out of was the guy named John. "We need some new flavor in camp. Your family keeps their girls too close and watches them too much. Some of us are getting tired of doing without and having to watch that we don't offend your brother's so-called hospitality too much."
"You know what Owen and the rest'll do to you or anyone that messes with the Svenson and Durant females. Has it been so long since they kicked Gary out that you've forgotten what happened to him?"
I heard a snort but some caution had entered the voice though he still threatened a bit. "One of these days there will be more of us than there are of you. Then we'll see who gets thrown out." I heard the trailer open. "Dammit, there's hardly anything in here."
"I told you that's what Uncle Joseph said. And Owen and Carter both said there is no way she could have driven all that way, not her. You don't know what she's like ... she's teacup sized in every way except her mouth. I swear her tongue was hinged in the middle and ran at both ends. Uncle Joseph loved it, looked forward to seeing her every summer, 'cause she never got tired of listening to his blasted tall tales and loved to ask him questions, followed him everywhere he went even the out house. She'd drive a saint to drink with the number of times she'd ask why about something ... and wouldn't stop until she got the answer she was looking for. There were only four people I know of that could ever shut her up ... that was her mom and dad, and Uncle Joseph and Aunt Ava and even her mom and Aunt Ava threw a wet dish rag at her every once in a while."
"You're exaggerating. You always do. You just don't want me to get interested and maybe get something over on you since you seem to think you got first pick."
"You're an idiot John and I don't know why I still hang out with you. I might be exaggerating about how much she talked ... but not by much unless something's occurred to change her ... but I ain't ever gonna be so hard up I have to go sniffing around some poor kid. Damn, you turning into a pedophile or something?"
"She ain't no kid. She might be small but she fills out the front of her coat real good."
"Damn man, you're sick."
John snickered but then they both fell quiet as I heard them move around. "Ain't nothing much in this truck either and its got two broke out windows. Shine that light here ... yep, and there's blood in here too. Wonder when that happened."
"Uncle Joseph will find out. For now we better get back to the camp. If Owen finds out what we've been up to ... I don't need him making my life any harder than it already is. After what Lucy let slip what she saw he might not care that we're brothers and might boot me out too. I don't want no trouble like that, not right here at winter."
"We need to syphon this gas tank."
"Can't. Nothing to put it in. Besides the snow is starting to come down."
"Then we'll come back after the storm and do it. And ..."
Their voices faded but I was already making a list of things to do. First off was to drive the truck as far into the trees as I could get it and then cover it with a tarp or branches or something. I decided to turn it into what Jace had called a fall back position. Next I'd syphon that fuel myself and conceal it out in the woods. After a while it wouldn't be any good for operating a machine but it would still light a fire if I needed to. Or it would make homemade napalm if I could find enough styrofoam to dissolve into it. There were two ful sleeves of styrofoam plates in the supplies that could work for that if I needed them to.
I also knew that I'd have to watch my back. Best way to do that since I was on my own was to stay away from Singing Waters and everyone associated with it. As a plan it wasn't much but it was a start. It was also the first layer of the wall that I've built up around myself. That wall is as thick as the one that surrounded Jericho these days. I'm not sure I even know how to pull it down anymore.