I was falling asleep on my way home, but I was excited at the same time. I got cleaned up and went into work early. I was in a hurry for a change and walked right by Sheila, on my way to the manager’s booth.
She walked up to me pouting and said, “You didn’t even say hi to me, Steven.”
I didn’t even realize it until she said it and was about to say hi when I stopped myself and thought, in the last four years I have said hi to her every day, and she didn’t even act like I was alive. Eze was only half-right about her, she was a bitch too.
I looked at her and said, “I’m good, I don’t have time for you right now, I’m going to the mountains. Oh yeah, I heard that you left the party in a hurry last night, are you feeling better?”
“What? Oh, yeah, I’m fine. Who told you that? Never mind, I think I have a customer.” She said, clearly embarrassed as she ran back to her register.
I finished my paperwork and the store manager told me to start my vacation now. I had ten weeks saved and he said that I could stay gone as long as I wanted. He was training an intern, and had more than enough help.
I couldn’t leave the store fast enough. I was ready to get back out to Eze and Tuck’s place. That was strange. I spent most of my life in that store over the last five years whenever I wasn’t in school, and now I didn’t want to be there.
I pulled up to the trailer about 9:00 am. It was smoky and very quiet. I got out and started walking to the back where the fire was. There were beer cans, bottles, cups and bodies everywhere. If I had a camera and could take a picture, it would look like a bomb blew up, and everyone was dead.
I bent over to look closer at one of the guys lying on his face on the deck. I put my hand lightly on his back and was looking at him when his chest rose slightly to an inhale, and then fell on the exhale. Okay, he was alive, I just had to make sure.
Ashley and Christina were just waking up when I walked up to the fire. “Oh, there you are. That was sweet of you to cover us up with the blanket. We need to go to class.” Ashley said as she stood up and shook her hair out. She smiled and gave me a quick kiss.
Christina followed with the same, “I want a hug too!”
“Yes ma’am. Thank you both for a wonderful evening, and thank you for all of the kisses too!” I said, blushing.
“Maybe you should kiss more often Pooh, you’re a quick learner!” Ashley winked, and they walked away.
“Pooh, are you ready? We have a lot to do if we’re gonna get out of here.” Eze shouted.
“I picked up some plywood and lumber while you were gone. Here’s my idea that I sketched out. We’re gonna build a sub-frame in the bed of the truck. Then we can cut the plywood into three pieces to fit the width and length of the bed. The front piece will hinge back for spare fuel. The middle will be attached to the sub-frame and the back will be hinged to the middle and be big enough to put our gear in. I was thinking we could put some black boat carpet on top, and that’s where we can sleep. We can build a collapsible frame that will fit in each corner, and throw a tarp over to keep the rain and snow off.”
“That all sounds great, but do you really think we’re going to find snow, in the summer?” I asked.
“That’s what I truly love about the mountains. If you remember anything that I tell you, remember this, always, and I emphasize always, expect the unexpected! We’re going to take a lot of gear with us, and we probably won’t use half of it, if we’re successful. It’s when the unexpected happens, you can make it through, most of the time with the right gear and frame of mind, and yes, there will be snow!”
“I‘m excited about this trip. I’ve never seen real snow before.”
“It’s beautiful if you’re prepared for it, and deadly if you’re not!” Eze said, as he started cutting the first 2×4.
It only took about an hour to cut and assemble everything. The hinges and doors worked perfectly. We both stood on top and jumped up and down. It was sturdy.
We stretched the black boat carpet over the top. We needed a way to lift up the front and back flaps for access to the bed. Eze didn’t want anything sticking up so we cut four pieces of one inch black rope about sixteen inches long and drilled holes in each corner. After we slipped the rope through the holes we tied knots in each end so that the rope would be flush with the bed until you need it, and when you pulled, the rope slid through the hole until the inside knot caught and raised the flap. It worked out great.
He took me around the truck explaining where everything was and how it worked. None of the gauges worked like the speedometer or fuel gauge. He said that we were going to mount a speedometer to the steering column with an odometer, and fuel up every even hundred miles. If we didn’t we would run out of gas about twenty miles later.
He showed me how the four wheel drive worked. There was no air conditioning or heater. The windshield wipers didn’t work. There were no mirrors, not even a rear view mirror. I asked about the seat belts, and when he stopped laughing he told me they weren’t invented when the truck was built in 1950, so we would have to “make do!”
The party from the night before was still going on strong. It looked like there were about 200-300 people still here. People were going to class and then coming back with their friends. We left to go into town and get new tires and wheels for the trip.
Everything was going pretty smooth. Eze bought five brand new mud tires, two new tow chains, and two new tow straps. We also bought three six-gallon gas cans, and a six-gallon water can. He told me all of the gas cans were for when we ran out of gas. I guess he knew that it would happen, so I didn’t have a problem with it.
I noticed that the passenger door was missing the handle for the window. Eze had replaced it with a pair of vice grips so that he always had a pair handy.
We got back to the trailer a few hours later and mounted the speedometer. There was a saddle blanket seat cover on the bench seat. It had a rifle scabbard for the .44 Magnum Browning Lever Action Carbine that he talked about the night before. There were also several pockets on the front where he kept a twelve inch Cold Steel Bowie knife, a Glock-17, 9mm plastic looking pistol, and his .44 Magnum Ruger Super Blackhawk Six-Gun.
I thought that he had too many weapons in the front seat, but I wasn’t about to question him, especially on that.
Tuck finally woke up and came outside drinking a bottle of beer and burping really loud. “Hey Pooh, helluva night huh? Man those were two cuties that you had all over you!”
“Hey Tuck,” I said. “I appreciate what you guys said about me last night, just don’t kiss me anymore.”
“Oh hell no, but it worked, didn’t it?” He laughed.
“It really did. How’s your hand?”
“Oh man, it hurts like hell. I need some more weed, but it should be okay once the swelling goes down. Oh, yeah, hey Eze, a girl from your insurance office called. She said it was pretty important, and they needed you to come into their office before you left town.” Tuck said while scratching himself.
“Maybe you should throw some jeans on, or go back to bed Amigo. I’ll call them in a minute.”
Tuck looked down and realized that he was standing in the front yard completely naked.
“Hey, you might have a point. I think that I’ll just climb back in bed with whatever her name was.”