Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Part 60


After that the days fell into a routine of sorts, most of which was taken up with three things ... finding and chopping firewood, bringing in water and processing it so that I could use it without getting sick, and hunting so that I wouldn't starve. Mr. Svenson was a powerhouse of knowledge. If Jace ... well never mind that, suffice it to say that Jace would have done quite a bit of learning from Mr. Svenson as he hadn't known near as much as he thought he had. I said something to that affect and Mr. Svenson smiled and said not to hold it against his memory as he'd done a fairly good job with the time we'd had together and that Jace had been young enough that he hadn't figured out yet that there is always some new to learn in life. "Little Bit, when you stop learning, you start dying. As much as a couple of them fellas from the other groups grate on my nerves, one or two of 'em have had some good ideas and I was happy to get my brain onto something new and worthwhile. One of 'em got a small water wheel up and running and we were able to share in the grinding of acorns for meal."

I hiked all over many acres to keep from hunting any one place over. That is when I could find something to hunt in the first place. It didn't take but a week before I was holding my nose and eating those pickled turkey gizzards to keep from puking from being so hungry. The cold was like an enemy I was constantly doing battle with. It took a lot of energy to stay warm just sitting still and you could add to that all the calories I used hauling wood and water. Once I did finally get handy at running my own trap line and started bringing in animals to eat things got better. The walls of the cabin soon became covered with frames of stretched hides and furs.

The furs, mostly rabbit though there was one memorable event with the bear and the fruitcake that had me struggling to drag it back so that I could ask Mr. Svenson what to do with it, were tanned and stretched according to the old time ways Mr. Svenson had always used. I did all the work as the arthritis in his hands was painful. I suspect the stroke had also left him with some weakness which I confirmed during one conversation with Jamie, who as promised often came with Mr. Svenson.

I did have the occasional run in with the other guys from Singing Waters but I avoided it when I could and when I couldn't avoided getting tangled up in the situations they tried to engineer. That John fellow was the only exception. He seemed to enjoy pestering me until the day he went too far and I took the bat to his privates one good smack and then kicked him in the butt as he was bent over gasping, sending him head first into the creek. I said nothing to anyone else and neither did he so far as I know, but he didn't mess with me again either.

One day about a month after I had taken up residence in the cabin I was wandering the forestry roads looking for deer tracks when I ran upon a thing called a fifth wheel which is a big camper trailer that is towed around by a large truck; the longer the fifth wheel the bigger the truck needed to pull it. It was off deep into the trees and from its condition I knew it had been there a while; the wheels of both the trailer and truck were duried deep ... deeper than the top of the snow and up to their fenders in the ground, with mud caked deep on the sides of both.

I stayed in the trees until I could tell for sure that the ground around the campsite was not disturbed. In fact there was a tree across the hood of the truck and plenty of tree trash on and around everything else as well. There was a broken plastic lawnchair sitting in front of what I could see, after scuffing around in the snow, was a fire ring of sorts though it was an awful small one.

Still unwilling to just open the trailer I scouted around and listened closely for any telltale noise as if I was back in the city listening for puss brains inside an apartment before entering to salvage it. Nothing. It was when I walking around what was supposed to be the back end that I saw what was left hanging from a tree. I wouldn't have known what it was if I hadn't seen similar things in the city and had them explained to me.

It was a hanging. From the overturned plastic lawnchair directly beneath the mess I gathered it had been a willing one. There wasn't much left in the noose but it gave me enough to think about and play the game of looking for clues. No jacket and what was left was pretty decayed so perhaps back in the summer. The hair was matted and longer than I'd think a guy would wear it but it wasn't beyond impossible that it was a guy.

I was no Sherlock Holmes so that was about all I could come up with. I turned to the trailer and cautiously when to the door on the side. It was locked but I'd seen people do stranger things. Carefully I put my screwdriver into the frame and pried out the door. I stayed low to avoid a booby trap; I'd seen a couple of those in the city too.

I let the door come open and then caught it and secured it against the side of the trailer with a bit of string I took from my pocket. You did not want a door slamming shut or open at a bad moment. Trust me on that one. I could tell a story on a guy that had been in our group in the city but it isn't particularly a short one and the ending is sad. Suffice it to say, you just don't want it happening to you.

The inside of the trailer was dark as a cave - all the blinds were drawn - and there was a musty smell that poured out. I let the interior air out and then slowly made my way inside.

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