Chapter 10 - Last Weekend
Their snacks and drinks paid for, the couple returns to the truck. She had noticed the trembling in his arm as the old man had addressed them with such malice. She is sure that if it wasn't for the right timing of the clerks greeting, her husband would have lashed out verbally at the old man. Instead, his only comment was, "Glad to see that we are not strangers around here." The old man had snorted at the comment having no idea how he had just barely escaped becoming a possible victim of his own scorn.
She lets Wowi out of the truck and takes the dog to a thin strip of grass next to the two parked cars. The puppy's business now done, the two head back out onto the highway.
Her hand in his, her thoughts revert back to what had just occurred at the gas station and she asks, "What was that all about anyway? I could tell that you were quite upset even before that old geezer opened his mouth."
He pauses a moment, not sure what he should tell her, not wanting her to get overly excited about a death that could be anything and was only heard through hearsay. "It would seem that someone died up here recently and it may have been a murder. From what I heard the old man saying, it must have been a stranger because 'no un' in these parts would do such a thing'." He puts a little Tennessee drag to the last part of the sentence and ends with a hearty laugh. She chuckles a bit, amused more by his impersonation of a back hills hillbilly than at the statement itself, as was his intention. "He must have thought that we might be just the people that the police would be looking for, what with the way we are dressed and all." Again a bit of that southern accent rolls into the sentence.
She gives a good laugh this time, loving how well he can imitate the drawl. "Well, just how might that be? Don't ya think that me cloths of cammy pants an' Metallica T-shirt are worthy of my kin up 'n these parts?" Her accent was TOTALLY off and had both of them laughing with gusto.
Her husbands' attention returning to the task of guiding his truck, she thinks of everything that she has learned from him over the last fifteen some years. The most striking of course comes to mind first. He is only the second person she has ever made love to, and what a difference that was compared to her first real boyfriend, her first time having sex. She doesn't blame the boy, he turned out to be gay and could hardly be blamed for his inept art of love making with a woman. She recalls the first time with her husband and how sore she was after just ten minutes of screwing in the front seat of that little sportster car he had at the time. Her legs twinge and press together for the blink of an eye at the thought, then the feeling is gone. Pain and pleasure all at once, it was an experience that she doubts she will ever forget.
Camping has become something of a love, it was her idea to come up yet again this weekend, already six weekends in row. The park is so beautiful, mainly occupied by weekend campers on their own little lots and dotted by a house every now and again. She thinks of her three babies, her very first ferrets that she and her husband had buried on Angle Beach and the most direct emotional link to the place that keeps her returning. She doesn't want her fuzzies to think that she has forgotten or forsaken them.
Here too she had her first experience on a motorcycle, caught her first fish, baited her own hook for that matter, gone canoeing, and of course the late night campfires under the stars. All of these recreational opportunities combined with the feeling of togetherness with her husband have also contributed to her attachment. That connected feeling has been hitting her every free moment that she finds herself at home or at work and amplifies itself the closer she gets to the campground.
The truck slowly pulls off the highway, the blinker set as their exit sign appears glowing in green and white in the light of the headlights. The pitch black walls of the forests bordering the highway turn to a creepy scene of dying trees shrouded in dull browns and grays along the small road that they now drove. This far north, the Indian summer was already nearing its end, nearly half of the leaves already spread across the ground and dumping onto their windshield with the passing of every light wind.
"Looks like this will be our last weekend up North." She says to no one in particular, a sigh of what seems objection to the end of summer escaping her as the sentence ends.
The truck takes a left turn from the small winding road and slows passing the lighted sign "Black Hills Association" which marks the entrance to the park to pull up to an iron gate flanking both sides of a guard house.
The dog stirs and awakens from her deep sleep on moms lap to sit up and look out the window. "We are almost there baby, just another couple of minutes.", She whispers into the dogs ear.
The code is entered into the metal box next to the entrance and the gate creeps open, they drive through onto a dirt road filled with hundreds of pot holes left by the rain of the last two weeks. The truck bounces along, taking a left, then a right, then another right until they pull up to the camping lot on the left where their fifth wheel is parked. During the summer months one cannot see the RV from the road but with fall nearing its end, its white walls are reflecting the smallest amount of light emitted from the approaching vehicle. The house they just passed to get to their intended driveway was black as night except for the rear porch light, the house across the road, only noticed because of the solar lights bordering its drive way. It is not late so it would seem that the neighbors have gone to town for some entertainment.
Parting the darkness as they weave their way up the drive way at walking tempo into the clearing where the camper is parked a chorus of dog barking and howling begins at full volume.
"Those damn dogs are the only thing that bugs me about this place. They will wake the whole park I am sure." She sneers quietly exiting the truck into the cold of the night all along looking into the direction of the house across the street fully expecting to see a horde of mutts rushing in her direction.
He opens the camper and lets her and the dog in. The barking of the dogs is laced with the howling an ancient gray hair knotted mutt which had to be a majestic dog in its younger days. Now old and frail one can pick its deep gnarled howl from all of the rest, its mixed sound of pain, sorrow and fear of the unknown sending shivers up the backs of all those not familiar with it.
The baggage brought from home is quickly taken from the truck and handed into her to be put in their respective places. Though the fifth wheel is by most standards huge, space is still a commodity that is hard to come by at times. He hands her a heavy a butt pack, one she knows to hold his semi automatic pistol. A Smith and Wesson 1911, 45 caliber military issue, it is a big pistol and one his most loved toys next to the AR-15 he has at home. He always says that he fell in love with them during his time in the military and insisted on buying them some years ago. His enthusiasm has rubbed off on her and she too took an interest in firearms.
"Honey, my .38 is in the glove box, don't forget to bring it in." She says to him just as he turns to grab more stuff from the truck.
She takes his butt pack up into the bedroom and places it on the counter, then pulls her newly bought 9mm from her holster in the middle of her back, an "early Christmas present" he had said when she first held it in her hand. Normally they would not have bought it because it seems that every pistol that she liked had a grip that was made for a man, much too big for her to hold comfortably which is why she has only had revolvers that tend to have a much suppler grip. She has wanted an semi-automatic pistol since she had first shot the 45 and when this small pistol fit so well into her hand, she had to have it.
At first she was afraid of guns and even more of the laughter by those nearby that might ensue her first time trying. Though it had been offered to her often to try shooting, it was always in the presence of others and she had continuously declined to her husband's grief. One day a chance did present itself though and it all started with a twenty two caliber rifle that looked like some old machine gun that might have belonged in the hands of a gangster from the nineteen thirties. Since then, she has aquired her own stainless steel 30-30, a colt .38 special and a Python stub nose .357, all of which she handles quite well, putting lead on the bulls eye at one hundred yards with her rifle and bullets from the pistols on paper at twenty five.
She has become so proficient with her guns, so much so she has even contemplated going deer hunting this year though she is not yet sure. The killing of animals has abhorred her since she could remember, even to the point that her parents had to tell her as a child that the duck, beautifully roasted and steaming on the dining room table "wanted" to be eaten, or the goose, or cow and the list goes on. The company of their avid hunting friends and the infrequent question of whether or not he may join them has gotten her somewhat interested, if not to actually shoot a deer at least to be out there with them and experience that which has all of them as hooked as they are.
"Did you turn on the heater?" He asks as he closes the door behind him. "It is going to be a chilly one tonight since there seems to be no cloud cover."
"Already done, I have turned on the blanket heater on the bed too. You know how cold it comes up from below, I am going to need it tonight."
"Did you see if the dog went pee before you came in?" he asks.
"No, she didn't."
"We better let her out now or she will be waking us up in the middle of the night." He opens the door again. "Come on baby, let's go pee. Come on!"
The dog had perked up her ears and slanted her head to the side but didn't seem in any way anxious to relieve herself. Tired of waiting he grabs her to his chest, turns on the outside lighting, grabs a cigarette and heads outside one last time for the night with her.
He sets her down then lights his cigarettes, the smoke floating into the nearly still night to linger with the steam of his breathe.
Looking down he can see his pup searching the surroundings with downward held head and ears laid back. Her bulging eyes scanning the nearby woods and then turning to look up at him as if begging to be let back inside. "Go on, go pee." He says in a gentle voice.
The closing of the door had caused a couple of the neighbors dogs to let out a few yaps of disapproval but they had gone still within seconds. The silence of the night was penetrating, nearly eerie and sends chills down his spine. Though he has been in the outdoors all of his life, the night has never been a friend to him but more a silent fiend that is harboring his most lethal foes. He pulls two more deep puffs from his cigarette and tosses the half smoked butt to the ground near the dual wheels of the RV thinking that he can throw it away in the morning, trying to convince himself that he is too tired to walk to the fire pit.
The dog runs straight into the bedroom as the door is opened and flies onto the bed. The door locked behind him, he too heads to the bedroom and is met by a sight the sends all thoughts of fear far from his mind. She is standing in front of the mirror next to the shower brushing out her long blond hair. Her shirt and pants have been thrown to the floor in corner of the bedroom and she is standing there only in her camouflage panties, her gorgeously small round buttocks only partially covered. Her arms high above her head and her hair flowing over her shoulders, she brushes to remove the tangles of the day, each sweep of her arms rolling her taut perky breasts from left to right.
"Are you ready for a little night cap Darlin" Her words float out to him like kisses on a satin breeze.