Monday, December 8, 2014

Part 101


A voice from behind me on the path had me spinning around.  "Sgt. Bryers sends his regards."

"Cochran!"

He smiled at my surprise and welcome.  "You hurting for company or something?"

I turned my nose up and said, "Maybe.  And who is Sgt. Bryers?"

"The guy you were working with that day you came to the work detail."  He started walking with me back towards the cabin.  I'd been down the forestry road looking for the remains of the dogs and the men.  It has been bothering me that neither got proper burials.

"Oh, ok.  I knew I didn't recognize him from any of the lake camps.  He seemed all right, just quiet."

"Yeah.  He lost his family when a refugee camp got overrun.  Their remains were never located so ..."

"So ... he has to wonder where they are."

"Yeah," he admitted quietly.

"Sometimes I wonder about my brother and mother.  I try not to but if I try too hard all it will do is cause a nightmare.  So I try to balance it out by admitting that they could be out there but that it is also likely that they aren't ... at least not anymore."  Not wanting to start that up I asked, "How did you find me anyway?"

"My grandfather loved to hunt and he taught me to track when I was little.  He said I was a natural."  I could hear the pride in his voice.  "You're small and light so your tracks aren't the easiest to follow when you aren't walking in snow or mud but now that I know the directions you travel I can usually pick out a fresh trail."

"Geez, I'm not an animal."

Startled he said, "I don't mean it that way."

I smiled to let him know I was just kidding and he relaxed in relief.  I asked him, "How has the work detail thing been going?"

"All the quotas were met and surpassed.  Yesterday was the last one until the horde gets here."  We were almost to the cabin, walking in companionable silence, when he asked me, "Can I ask you something?"

"Yeah, I guess."

"Why didn't you come back?  Was it the work or the people or ... or what?"

I sighed.  "Being around that many people was kind of strange but when it started to bother me I just ignored them.  My Mom used to love this old musical and one of the lines in it was 'peoples is peoples'.  She said it alot and I never knew what she meant but I think I'm beginning to.  As for the work ... it was just work."  I shrugged.  "Yeah, maybe it was the work.  But not because it was too hard or anything.  I just ... I just don't want those kinds of memories running around and making babies with the memories I already have.  I've got enough demented dust bunnies trying to crawl out of my ears and escape."

He gave me a strange look.  "The way you put things ... memories making babies and demented dust bunnies."

"Sorry.  I'm just kind of ... visual I guess."

"No, it's ok.  I guess it is how you cope.  It just makes me want to laugh only I'm not sure if I should."

I shrugged again and then banged into him with my shoulder.  "It's ok to laugh.  Just don't start laughing if you think you won't be able to stop.  People kind of give you strange looks for that and threaten medication, straight jackets and stuff."

He smiled and shook his head.  "I've already been there.  I think I'll stick with you demented dust bunny visualization techniques.  It makes me feel better than the crap they tried to spoon into me before."

I tripped and he grabbed me to keep me from falling.  He asked, "You ok?"

"Yeah but ... I guess my mouth really is an unlicensed weapon.  I didn't mean to bring up that bad stuff for you."

He shook his head.  "You didn't.  It's always in the back of my head.  Not paying any attention to it is just as bad as paying too much attention.  Kinda like you wondering about your family.  I gotta remind myself not to get hung up in a thought loop."  He looked at me and said, "That time during the storm, that's the worst I've been in a long time.  Mostly I let some of the guys I had to bunk with get to me and I started cycling but right now I don't feel it."  He sighed.  "The Major and everyone else keeps waiting for me to go bonkers again but for some reason I don't.  I think knowing that there is someone out there that really does understand helps me not to feel so ... so disconnected."

"Me?  You mean me?"

"Yeah you.  Who else?  Even if you do have hang ups about rabbits."

"Not rabbits ... dust bunnies ... evil, procreating dust bunnies."

We reached the clearing where the cabin was on a smile but then stopped in shock.

2 comments:

  1. Wow it's great that google got it's act together so we can visit with Cliff again. "stopped in shock" : the horde has arrived? the clearing is filled with elk? "Sarge" is there with his arms full of flowers?

    Seriously, thanks for the additions and the great visuals. I've always suspected that dust bunnies and hangers were alien life forms. .... evil, procreating dust bunnies..... like that one.

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  2. Thanks Kathy great story and a great chapter.
    Wayne

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