Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Part 62


"Why?"  I asked.  "Did I poach on someone else's territory?"

I was worried until he shook his head.  "No.  Finders keepers is the rule with regard to salvaging.  It's what is in those boxes there."

He was pointing to the crates where I had put the liquor and drugs that I hadn't already taken.  The money no one would find unless they went digging under the cabin.

"And?" I asked him giving him a little bit of attitude back over what he'd given me.

He caught it and gave half a smile then turned very serious.  "We had trouble with a lot of stuff like this for a while, even in Singing Waters.  The only thing that stopped it was that it all disappeared and the best liquor that any of the camps can make is a kind of mead and the women pretty much claim most of the honey that gets found or syrup that gets boiled up for cooking.  Uncle Carter plans on experimenting with maple sap this year but he'll have to do it around Dad's rules.  This ... this will throw a monkey into things."

I shrugged.  "So we dump it and no one has to know."

"No!"

I put my hands on my hips and said, "Why?  Think it is going to get some bear or moose drunk or high?"

He snorted then shook his head.  "I'll let Dad make that decision."

"Why dump it in his lap?"

He opened his mouth then shut it.  Looking at me thoughtfully he said, "It ... it isn't dumping it in his lap.  I've just never kept anything from him.  And he is the leader of our camp.  This stuff is too valuable to toss but it is going to snarl things up somewhat."

"You sound like we are back in the stone ages.  If the drugs and booze are going to cause a problem then destroy them."

"Like I said they could be useful."

"Yeah.  I figured that.  But if ..."

He shook his head and looked at the drugs more thoroughly.  Separating things out into piles, looking at the dates on the bottles.  As he looked I told him, "Or ... divide everything up equally and have the leaders of the six or seven groups ... or however many there are ... come together and let them decide what to do with their share."

He shook his head over that one.  "Only in a perfect world."  He stood up and said, "I'll take some of this stuff to Aunt Paulette - she's the closest thing we've got to a doctor - the rest we'll box up and bury someplace."

"Don't look at me.  I don't want it at the cabin."

"I wouldn't put it there even if you did want it.  You ... you don't know what people can get like when they are forced to do without."

I snorted, "Oh don't I.  I spent a year in the city and saw all sorts of things a heck of a lot worse than people with the DTs.  So forget the drugs.  How about the booze?"

"That's not much better of a problem.  Dad won't be happy but I'll take that stuff to him.  Aunt Paulette might be able to use some of it to sterilize her equipment."

"Not that stuff," I told him.

"And you know this how?"

"Alcohol content isn't high enough.  You need something like Everclear or Vodka or really high test whiskey.  That wine and junk is just for drinking or ... or maybe like I read in a book recently for preserving stuff in."

Carefully he said, "I'll mention it to Dad.  Maybe he won't chew off my leg if I can come up with a way to use it that doesn't involve drinking it."

"Mr. Owen really against liquor that hard?" I asked thinking that I needed to really hide the bottles that I had in the cabin.  I wound up making false bottoms in the footlockers and no one has noticed yet.

Chewing the ends of his mustache for a moment he finally answered, "He wasn't until last year.  Now he has to be so black and white about everything.  There's following the rules.  There's breaking the rules.  You follow the rules you've got no problems.  You break the rules and you got big problems.  Can't be exceptions or favoritism or there are even bigger problems.  Uncle Joe really messed things up by bringing his party crowd friends with him.  Dad has nearly thrown him out twice and one of those just recently when he got caught out paying a couple of women from one of the camps with supplies for ... er ..."

"Oh.  That 'er' will get you in trouble every time."

Since neither one of us was comfortable with the topic we turned away from it and he asked, "How have you been carrying stuff back to the cabin.  And don't tell me you haven't already taken stuff 'cause I see lots of empty space."

Shrugging I told him, "I improvised by making a kind of pull behind sled using a sheet of lumber from the top bunk in the cabin, some rope, and a mountain bike I found with all this other junk.  It was fine while the snow lasted but there's only a couple of inches in places right now.  Besides I've taken most of what I think I want.  Cookware, a couple of dishes, mugs, silverware ... curtains off of some of the windows to make bed curtains with ..."

"Bed curtains?" he asked with a laugh.  "Playing princess are you?"

"No and don't act stupid.  I saw it in a book.  Bed faces the heat source.  Put curtains on the three other sides of the bed.  Heat gets captured and held in.  When you go to bed you pull the last curtain shut trapping that heat and your body heat in.  The bunk above me keeps the heat from floating off to the ceiling and being useless.  I'll split the covers and stuff that are left."

"Naw, go head and take them.  Uncle Joseph and Aunt Ava have been worried you wouldn't have enough.  That's why Uncle Joseph is helping you to work those furs so you can sew them together and have a warm covering for when things get really cold.  That bear skin," and he had to stop and chuckle as everyone apparently now knew the story of the bear and the fruitcake.  "That bear skin will go on the floor by your bed and will keep the cold from coming up through the planks."

I nodded as I knew the plan.  We spent an hour piling things in two different stacks and then he said, "No food left in the place?  Might be why the woman hung herself."

I shrugged.  "You see what there is in those cabinets.  It would have still be good when she was alive but I wouldn't risk touching that stuff now if I were you.  One more freeze and those cans are gonna explode.  There's a few that have already leaked in places."

He shook his head.  "It's criminal to see all this has gone to waste.  People were starving and yet here was a bounty that would have seen them through another couple of weeks anyway."

"Was it that bad over the summer?"

"For us no, for some yes.  A lot of people ate and still starved because of what they were eating.  Rabbit and squirrel - if that's all you're eating - just doesn't have enough fat to keep your brain working.  And fishing only works if you have the equipment."

"What about spear fishing?"

"You know how much work that is?!"

"Better than starving," I told him.

He shook his head.  "When you are only providing for yourself you can get by.  But when you have a family or group depending on you that isn't going to fill too many bellies."

I thought of several questions when there was a noise and then the trailer suddenly rocked.

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