Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Part 63


I fell to my knees and pulled the small pistol out of my pocket that I had taken from Jace's belongings and was juggling it while trying to hang onto it.  I had used his rifle on the bear but was still trying to figure out why a casing was jammed making the thing a poorer club than my baseball bat.  Mr. Svenson had decided the jam was a teaching moment and I had decided I didn't have the patience for it when I had another gun I could carry.  My bat was still my constant companion so I also grabbed at it as it started to roll as the trailer rocked again.

"What the heck?!" I nearly yelled.

Jamie motioned for me to be quiet.  There was another large bang and a dent appeared in the inside of the trailer but there was a grunting kind of noise followed by lots of snorting and stomping.  Jamie eased over to that side and looked out a window and he nodded.  He jumped back just in time to fall over as the trailer was rocked again.

"Ok, I'm getting just about tired of this," I heard Jamie mutter angrily.  He was shucking some kind of huge bullet into his rifle when the something went stomping and running off into the trees.

I was breathing heavy and trying to figure out if the puss brains in the area had turned into mutants when Jamie said, "Relax, it was just a buffalo."

Of all the things he could have said I'd never imagined hearing that.  "Excuse me?"

"A buff - a - loooooow.  They must have migrated over this way when the Richardson Camp tried to hunt them and made them stampede.  We think they originally came from the big preserve that replicated the life of the Native Americans in this state.  They started a herd about five years ago and they really multiplied."

"Wait.  Did you say buffalo?"

He stopped checking his rifle and glanced up and then chuckled.  "Yeah.  Yeah I guess it does sound kinda crazy now that you mention it.  I guess we've just all gotten used to it after we ran into them last winter.  Now that they aren't fenced in they come here in the winter where there is some protected fodder for them and over the summer word came to us that they migrate to the grasslands south of here and hang out with what's left of the dairy herds.  Something must have set that one off ... or not; they're all half crazy and will charge for the least reason.  I guess maybe we should have said something before now."

"I guess so," I told him in a snotty voice.  "Anything else I should be on the look out for like ... I don't know ... lions or tigers or Martians?"

He shrugged.  "No lions or tigers but we've had lynx and puma sightings.  The moose population has nearly doubled if the number we count is right so be careful when you get near the boggy land as they can kill you with one kick.  And no Martians, but martens can be wicked mean if you aren't paying attention where you are putting your hands.  Uncle Mason and Uncle Noah tangled with one that stripped a whole rack of drying fish.  And you do not want to get on the bad side of a badger.  You remember what happened that year Todd and I accidentally caught one in our experimental hunting pit trap?"

I rolled my eyes remembering vividly the lecture that Fish & Wildlife had given both of them for hunting in the national forest without a permit and without approved methods and out of season which seemed to be the biggest problem.  Getting the badger out had ultimately required tranquilizing it and pulling it up in a net.

I asked, "Did that Richard whatever group catch a buffalo?"

"Richardson Camp and yes, they brought it down only it wasn't dead, just stunned.  When they went over to check it out it got up and gored two of their men to death.  Uncle Carter brought one down in a pit but that was a pain in the butt to butcher and bring up out of there.  I never want to do that again ever.  We were happy to have the meat but there's got to be a better way and the uncles have been thinking on it ever since."

My mouth watered.  "I'd give a lot for a steak or stew meat or anything like that."

Seriously Jamie said, "You shouldn't say stuff like that.  The wrong person might hear you."

I shrugged understanding what he meant.  "I guess.  Besides, I'd never catch a buffalo and even if by some freak of nature I do I haven't got the faintest idea what I do with it except to yell for your grandfather."

"And he'd come running too.  He thinks a lot of you DeeDee.  I think you remind him and Aunt Ava of the little girl they lost."

I hadn't known that.  "They had a little girl?"

He nodded.  "She would have been older than Dad by a couple of years if she had lived.  Her name was Delores only they called her Dee most of the time.  She drowned one summer.  The story goes she'd made a raft for her doll to float on and the string she had tied to it broke.  She went in after it and got too far from shore or got tangled up in lake weeds or something.  She hadn't been gone long when she was found but there was no resuscitating her.  Its one of the reasons why the swimming rules are so strict in camp.  You have to pass the swim test and get a wrist band or you have to wear a life jacket if you are near the water.  We used to catch flack from some of the guests but ... oh you remember how it was."

"Yeah.  I just never knew why."  Funny the things you find out.  I still don't know how I feel about it.  I'm me, not some lost little girl.  But at the same time I never wanted to disappoint Mr. and Mrs. Svenson.

Jamie said, "If you want to do something, send something back for them special.  Even if it is completely useless it will make them feel like you are thinking of them."

I knew exactly what I could do.  I sent a pair of really nice kitchen shears to Mrs. Svenson instead of taking them like I had meant to and for Mr. Svenson I sent one of those pillows filled with that stuff that you could warm up and then put in the small of your back or around your neck.  I had found that in the storage closet with some spare bath towels.

A while later, the offending drugs and booze packed away or destroyed in a small fire, we were standing outside the trailer when Jamie said, "I really gotta get back.  They'll be worried that something happened to one or the other of us.  This haul will explain things but I still don't like to worry the folks.  Plus, if you really aren't claiming it all, I know the uncles will want to strip the trailer and truck for anything usable like glass and pipes and such."

I heard a crunch and turned fast and had tossed a rock to hit when Jamie spoiled my aim.  "Hey!"

"Ease up.  It's Uncle Noah and Shane."

It took me a moment but I remembered that Shane was Mr. Noah's son and older than Jamie by a few years.  "How do you know?"

"I can tell by the way they walk.  It's ... I don't know ... different.  They're both a little club-footed on the right side so they roll when they take a step."

Jamie whistled and the two men came on in.  "Woulda let you know sooner but we run into some ..."

"Buffalo?" I asked in a foul mood.

"Ayup.  And didn't want to startle any more that might be lurking about.  Take it they were up here too."

Jamie goes, "Ayup."  And then it was like I wasn't even there.  Fine by me was my thought and I took one last look through everything before declaring myself done.  I was stuffing my pack with the linens I had come for and preparing to leave when they finally got back to noticing me.

"Hang on DeeDee and we'll walk back with you."

I shook my head and said, "It's the long way around for you.  I'll be fine.  Besides, look at those clouds."

All three ignored me and after filling their packs and securing what remained followed me all the way back to my cabin.

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for all the chapters. And critters too.

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  2. If that were me I would have at least tried to take the buffalo for meat and its hide. Thanks for the new chapter Kathy, have a great day.
    Wayne

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