“So, are you having fun yet?” asked a man’s voice from behind me, as I knelt beside my old truck, fixing the flat.
Well, I was trying to fix the flat but whoever tightened the lug nuts had used an air wrench and enjoyed his work.
I’m not a little girl, so I stood on the star wrench and rocked back and forth, then jumped from side to side and eventually, it came loose. Only 5 more to go. Damn. At least I have them loosened.
I turned around to see who thought he was a comedian and decided he probably could be whatever he wanted, he was just that good looking.
“Okay, so are you offering to help or just stand there and watch?” I sorta snarled back. It is hot and I am already tired. This has not been one of my better days and it doesn’t appear to be going to get much better as it goes along.
The client I was supposed to pick up at the airport didn’t show and when I called the contact number for him, a lady answered saying he was unavailable. If I got my hands on him, he certainly wouldn’t be. Not getting a refund, either.
Did he think I would enjoy a little trip to town from hunt camp during my busiest season? Who wouldn’t enjoy taking a 150 mile road trip on a gravel road in hot weather with all the dust and rocks? Probably a good thing he didn’t show, if this was an example of his common sense and thoughtfulness for others.
Back at the flat tire, my audience decided he would lend a hand and the rest of the lug nuts just gave up and practically fell off. Yeah, not my day.
My spare is low on air, so I will have to head directly to a tire shop. Then the guy introduces himself and says my no-show sent him in his place. Okaaaay. I ask if he has the rest of the payment for the hunt and where is his gear? He says his friend was supposed to send the rest of the payment. When and how? He doesn’t know.
“Uh, you do know there is no hunt with no payment, right?”
“You can just let me come on out now and the money will be here when we come back in, can‘t you?”
“No, it don’t work that way, sorry.” I start to climb back into my pickup and he grabs my shoulder. Big mistake.
He looks up at me from under my foot and asks politely for his arm back, please?
Oops, first rule in camp, don’t touch me. Second rule is, don’t touch me.
I let go of his arm and he slowly gets up and brushes himself off.
“How did you do that? That first lug nut must have been on there a lot harder than the rest.”
“Of course, did you think I hadn’t already loosened all of them before taking one completely off? Do you have a vehicle or are you hiking?”
He grabs his backpack and throws it and a duffle bag into the back of my truck and I head for the nearest tire shop.
While waiting for service, I check my laptop to see if No-Show has sent anything. Nope, nothing. I turn the screen so the Flat Changer can see his buddy has ignored sending any notice about him or cash for the rest of the hunt.
“If you are planning on going hunting, you better contact him and get it settled or you are not riding on out with me.” I tell him.
He looks all hurt that I don’t trust him for the money and pulls out his cell phone. Soon it sounds like he is getting the same answers I got from the guy’s Secretary, Personal Assistant or whoever she is.
Finally he says something to her that gets her attention and soon he is talking to someone else, but still not the man he wanted to talk to.
While he is talking on the cell, someone changes the channel on the TV in the tire shop waiting room and we hear the name of the man he is trying to get in touch with, mentioned on the News.
Well, it seems we won’t be getting the balance due on the hunt from him, he is dead. Then another picture flashes on the screen as someone they would like to talk to and my Tire Changing guy is shown, big as life and twice as handsome, right there, on the screen.
His plane ticket is sticking out of his jacket pocket, so I sorta just ease it out to see when he got here and where he came in, from.
According to this ticket stub, he came in last night and left from the Dallas/Fort Worth airport, sometime during the day, yesterday. So he isn’t guilty of his friend’s death. The news report is saying it happened sometime during the night and he was found in his office this morning.
I suggest this guy go directly to the State police here in Fairbanks with his ticket and get the police in Texas looking for someone else besides him. He agrees and then gives me a hard look for having his ticket in my hand.
He didn’t have to leave the tire shop, having given his name to the person in Texas, they evidently called our police and they were already here to talk to him. Whoever the man in Texas had been, he must have been important to someone.
I still have his ticket when the police grab onto him and cuff him. They read him his Rights immediately. I recognize one of the police officers and ask to speak to him.
We step outside and I ask why they cuffed and read him his Rights, thought they only wanted to talk to him from the report on the news.
Officer Reed tells me he can’t talk about the case. I ask if he knows when this guy got here, when he left Texas and when the victim was killed. He says he has only the last part of that information, so I hand over the ticket I have. He looks at me and asks how I got it, so I tell him. He hands it back after looking at it. He did write down the information on it to check and make sure that really is when this guy got here. I would imagine there is a hotel listing him as an overnight guest somewhere here in town, also.
When we walk back in, Officer Reed tells the others to let him go. He has a pretty good alibi for the time involved. One of the men snickers and makes a rather crude remark about me and the guy’s alibi, I take a step toward him. His eyes widen and Officer Reed tells him he WILL apologize and immediately or he will let me teach him some manners. He apologizes.
Tire Dude tells him to just pat me on the shoulder and snickers. Officer Reed gives him a hard look, too.
Okay, Tire Dude has a name. He is Cary Lowny. His deceased friend is none other than William Garrison The Third. Everyone always spoke of him in capitols. Didn’t help, he is still dead. When he made the reservation for our hunt, he just said Will Garrison, so I didn’t even think The William Garrison The Third would be booking a hunt with me.
I don’t advertise full service hunting trips, I just advertise primitive hunt camps and the chance to see a bear. No promises on getting one. Usually folks like The Third want better facilities and practically someone to pull the trigger for them, which I don’t do, either. Okay, that isn’t fair. I never met the man and have preconceived notions. Not nice, even, he can’t defend himself.
After the police leave, Cary pulls out his wallet and asks how much is still owed for the hunt. He doesn’t even blink and just starts signing over travelers checks. The shop guy comes in and says my pickup is ready to go, so we head on out to it.
I pull in at my bank and deposit the travelers checks. They won’t do me much good out in the Bush.
I pull out the standard guide client form and waiver for Cary to sign and also take him in to buy his license and tags. He signs the hunt contract I have to turn in to the State, also.
He is laughing as he reads the waiver I have included at the bottom of the client form. I tell him it isn’t so funny when some snooty client wants to sue me for getting his butt bit by bugs while using the outhouse. So I try to cover all bases in the waiver.