Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Part 61


The pull-down aluminum stairs were rusted in the upright position so I had to hike my leg up to climb inside.  I stayed squatted low, prepared to jump back out; a job Moses had given me because he said I was small, young, and limber.  What he didn't say but meant was that I was also expendable, like a canary in a coal mine.  I was useful but replaceable.

My eyes adjusted to the gloom and I saw that  the coast was clear, at least so far.  Lots of dust stirring as I moved about but that was the only thing that appeared to have life.  The center of the trailer was a kitchen/dinette set up; small compared to a house but still serviceable.  Under the grime I could tell the cabinets and countertops were the kind that Mom always dreamed of.  They looked pretty schnazzy which told me that it was one of the more expensive vacation models.  It wasn't all that clean, but I wasn't sure until I looked into the bedroom - which you got to by stepping to the right - that it was the habits of the inhabitants rather than abandonment that got it that way.  Turning to the left I was met with a solid wall of stuff in garbage bags and boxes.  I just stood staring at it then turned away to look around the rest of the trailer a little more.

In the bedroom was where I spotted it.  It looked out of place amongst the cigarette butts and empty liquor bottles.  I picked it up, the binding cracked with age and poor handling, and a piece of paper fell out.

Told Clarence it was bad luck to steal this thing from them old white people.  They was so scart.  But God fourgive me, I had to get my babies away from them kaniballs.  Now my babies are dead an buryd out under them dark scary trees in this hell I followed the wrong man into.  Clarence gave them something so they wud stop crying and carrying on cause there wusn't no tv to watch.  They went to sleep oney they never waked up.  I killd Clarence for what he dun now I do not no what to do.  I cant figger out how to get the trailer off and I cant get the truck out of the mud.  I am stuck forever.  I wisht I was dead.  God come take me like you dun took my babies.

I suppose for a suicide note it wasn't any worse than Jace's.  I don't even know it was a real suicide note when it was written or just someone trying to bleed off bad feelings.  Whatever the note was meant to be, or however long it was written before she did what she did, I felt bad for the woman.  Her suffering must have been real for her to end it the way she did.  And though I knew she was long gone to meet her Creator I still cut down what was left in the rope and then knocked that and what was on the ground together into a single pile.  Didn't do much good, an animal came along and dragged bits and pieces away and made a general mess of what I'd tried to make neat, but at least I tried.

I looked at the sky measuring the amount of daylight I had left and decided it was worth digging through the stuff piled in the back but it took me a while to think with something less than disgust and irritation at wasted time.

Cigarettes - useless to me
Liquor - possibly interesting though there were a lot more empties than there were filled
Prescription pills - for a brief moment I wished for Doc and then shuddered at the thought
Wads of cash - good for toilet paper but little else and even then new bills were scratchy and could hurt unless you took the time to crinkle them up enough to make them soft and pliable.


Then I found some kids clothes, kind of nasty and not just because they'd been packed away for months either, and then some other adult clothes all bagged in the kind of cheap black trash bags that tore if you looked at them the wrong way.  The odor wafting out of the bags was one of bad hygiene and mildew.

I was ready to give up and head to the kitchen when things turned interesting.  My hand touched touched a door knob and by the time I dug the door out that it belonged to I had discovered a small storage room.  The stuff in that closet sized room was much neater.  First off there was real luggage, the expensive kind.  I struggled to pull it out and over the other mess but when I finally opened it I found good men's clothes like the kind you would buy online from specialty clothing stores.  Some of the brand names were Patagonia, Denali, and North Face.  Same for the suitcases of women's clothing I found.  There was also normal stuff like t-shirts, socks, and everyday clothes like my parents would have worn.  There was a shoe rack of sensible shoes for both sexes as well.  Whoever had packed that part of the trailer was practical but able to afford better than wallyworld or tar-jay.

Further in I found other household goods, camping gear, but the thing that really made me smile was two large crates of books ... mostly classics but there were some of the cowboy books Dad enjoyed reading when he had the time.  There was other stuff too but it was the books that I pulled out in the the kitchen area.  I went back for the second crate when the garbage bags decided to fall on me and something raked my face and really hurt.

After I dug myself out I discovered I'd been literally run over by a runaway mountain bike.  It was kid-sized and a little on the scratched up side so I doubted it belonged to the rightful owners of the fifth wheel.  The hard rubber of the bike's tires torn up my nose and cheek so I went scavenging in the kitchen for a rag and realized there was another place that might prove fruitful and interesting.

I just started dumping things into the canvas shopping totes that I found under the sink.  It mostly wasn't food ... the cans and jars that were left bulged and looked dangerous ... but there were some condiments in plastic bottles, two boxes of salt (one regular, one sea), a metal canister set with packets of raw sugar, packets of pepper, and similar items like they'd raided a restuarant, some jugs of cooking oil (only one was rancid and I buried the smelly stuff well away from my cabin to be used only if I got really hard up for some kind of oil lamp), and boxes and boxes of pastas and flavored rice dishes.  I'd never seen so much rice-a-roni and mac-n-cheese in one place since I'd helped to stock the shelves at the Salvation Army Christmas food drive when I was twelve years old.

I couldn't get it all in one trip and had to come back to the spot three days running.  On the last day I ran into Jamie who'd been sent by Mr. Svenson to see why I hadn't been around when he wanted to see me.

I had nearly everything out of the trailer that I thought I wanted except for the spare linens and after debating I finally asked him if he had an hour to hike with me to a site I'd found.

"Found you something interesting have you?" he asked.  At my nod he said, "Must be something good or big if you need my help with it."

"Both.  And it isn't that I need your help.  I just want you to say whether the camp would want what I don't take."

"So what is it?"

"Fifth wheel," I told him after stopping to blow my still sore nose.

"That where you got the shiner from?"

I nodded.  "Something fell on me.  Inside is a mess.  Note left in a Bible seemed to say that the woman involved was sorry that she'd helped to steal it from 'old white people'."

"And?"

"And what?"

"Where are the people that did the stealing?  Did you kill them?"

I looked at him and glared, especially after I realized he was serious.  "No."

"Well?"

"Well what?"

He stopped and grabbed my arm.  "Look, spit it out.  I know I'm not your favorite person in the world but I'm getting tired of having to drag everything out of you."

A nasty laugh escaped me surprising us both.  I mumbled, "Sorry.  Didn't mean to laugh it is just ... just strange.  Everyone has told me my whole life I talk too much and now here you are suddenly telling me I don't talk enough."

He tilted his head and looked at me.  "Well, I guess you've changed and we are still getting used to it.  But to be honest, so long as we aren't hunting I don't mind it if you want to yack.  If I don't want to listen I'll just tune you out; its what I do with Belinda.  At least if you are talking I don't have to guess what you are getting into."

I held my tongue but just barely.  Instead I explained what I'd found.

"Well, that's something now.  And you sure it hasn't been disturbed?"

"It has ... by me.  There's just stuff in there I don't want but might be useful to someone else.  You look at it, see if it is worth the trouble otherwise I'm just going to shut it up after this next pile and forget about it."

We walked the rest of the way in relative quiet but once we got there and he looked around he said, "Houston, we have us a situation."

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