I had my washer and generator loaded in the back of my truck and was hauling out bags of laundry to head to the river when Will and Shari came over from the shed. I asked if they would like to go with me, but they declined. They were going to stop by their house and see if they could start cleaning it up. If not, they would go to town and pick up some clothes and groceries to last until they could go home.
I locked up my house and went on to the river and laundry day. Usually I just used rainwater at home or snow melt, but with the extra use on my rainwater and not much rain, I would just use the river.
After parking the pickup as level as possible, I dumped buckets of water in the washer and started up the generator. After it got going, I packed enough buckets of water over to do the rinse when it was time and relaxed with a good book to read. Usually winter is when I get to do a lot of reading, so it was nice getting a break.
I do 3 loads of laundry, then go home to hang them. I have clothesline stretched between trees all over behind the house. One of these days I will actually set it up better with posts and crossbars holding the lines. I have one line from the porch across a small gully to a tree on the other side with a pulley, so I can hang clothes standing in one spot.
After everything is hung and the washer put away, the generator unloaded and some leftovers for lunch, I weed in the garden and transplant from the sun porch to the greenhouse. The buckets I used at the river are full of river water, and I used it for the transplanting.
Will and Shari came back late in the afternoon. They were still not able to go into their home and after talking to the police in town, they were nervous.
Her ex-husband had flown in to town almost a week ago and 2 other men were with him. They had rented an SUV and it had not been located yet. Neither had the other 2 men. From descriptions, Shari thought one was Rod’s brother, Rob and the other, his best friend, Jeremy. She said Rob was Rod’s shadow and anything he did was fine with Rob. She was surprised Jeremy was with them as he seemed to always be trying to settle them down when they got too extreme in their actions.
So, there was still 1, maybe 2, people on the loose that might harm Shari, although who had taken out her ex was a mystery to all of us. Noah pulled in as we were discussing this. He had not been at his camper since yesterday morning and was just on his way back from meetings in town.
He brought a newspaper and started talking at once about the murder out in the area. The looks on our faces must have clued him in that we were aware. So then Will explained what had happened since yesterday morning to Noah.
He said on his way to town yesterday fairly early, he had seen a rental SUV parked about a mile beyond Will and Shari’s place. He had not thought anything of it, figuring they had vehicle problems and caught a ride to town, which is not unusual out here.
The river was still too high for any type of fishing, although tourists may not be aware of that, so they may have been off fishing, also. We cussed and discussed all the options we could think of from the possible to the improbable and did not reach any decisions except that it was terrible and we all needed to keep an eye out for strangers in the area or anything that did not look right. There was an APB out for the rental SUV so that would probably be found somewhere soon and a vehicle stolen for transportation to get farther away, possibly. Or, they may just be parked off some small side road or unused driveway and biding their time.
I invited everyone in for dinner and rummaged in my pantry for something different to eat for comfort food. I decided on stew with dumplings and opened several jars, dumped everything into a pot on the stove and got it heating while I made dumplings.
While we were eating, Shari asked how I managed to have such a variety of food on hand all the time. So I told her about my canning and buying large cans of fruit and vegetables at the member store in town and re-canning it into smaller jars so I could enjoy it without any waste. Our climate doesn’t make it easy to grow everything in enough quantity to be assured of all I wanted. She said she would like to learn how, so after dinner, we started a list of what she should have, to get started. She wants to have enough supplies on hand that they don’t have to go to town every week for groceries. I tell her she will really appreciate that in the winter when the weather can turn bad easily and fast.
Will and Noah seemed interested also, so we all talked about things they could do now, to make winter easier.
We spent the evening making lists. Clothing, food, wood cutting supplies and tools to make it easier to make what they planned on building. They wanted to fix up their place to have some of the same things I had on mine and that they had noticed at the place down the road. We would look over my place in the morning so they could see how I had managed and I would let them know what I wish I had done differently.
Pal started barking and he wasn’t sounding friendly about it. This was the first time I ever heard him sound mean. I looked out the window, but only saw the dust of some vehicle making a fast exit from my yard. I’m not sure, but I think it is the SUV rented by Shari’s ex.
Sometimes not having a phone is not so good as we have no way to contact the Troopers. I turn on the CB radio I have in the house and we listen for a trucker going by. Maybe we can let him know and he can call the Troopers when he gets to town. None of us know whether the 2 remaining guys want to carry on Rod’s agenda towards Shari or not, or if they know what type of vehicle Will and Shari drive. But if they do, they now know where to find them, since it is parked right in front of my house.
We finally contact a trucker and he agrees to pass along the word to the Troopers.
We are all a little jumpy, so we sit and talk later than we had planned. Finally everyone wanders off to their places to sleep and I check on my chicks one last time. Then Pal and I do a walk around the yard and I am carrying my old shotgun. It should discourage anyone from messing around much.
The next morning, none of us look like we got a very good night’s sleep. I did get my load of firewood cut and hauled before anyone else made an appearance. While I am unloading, I smell bacon cooking and my tummy lets me know I haven’t had breakfast yet. I start toward the house when Shari steps out of the little shed and invites me in for breakfast. Wow, a person could get used to this. She had bacon, eggs and French toast all set out on the little table and we certainly enjoyed it all. It’s really nice eating a meal I didn’t cook and has no part of a bear included in the menu.
After eating way too much breakfast, I start on the weeding. Shari and Will have a million or so questions each about what I am doing and why. I offer to help them get a spot tilled and planted as it is still early enough they could get some fresh salad greens and a few other things growing yet.
So we load up my tiller and head over to their place. We find what may have been a garden area in the past and Will started up the tiller and started making rounds of the area. It was in a very good location and they should have no trouble growing thing there. While we were working the area, Will, tilling, Shari and I throwing rocks, a Trooper pulled in. He came over to where we were working and we all took a break and told him about the SUV in my yard the evening before.
He did give us an update on the murder and told Will and Shari they were free to go back into their home, now. I don’t think Shari was too happy to go back in, knowing 2 of the men were still at large. I offered them the shed until the house could be all cleaned up and things put in order. She jumped at the chance.
Rod wasn’t shot with the rifle, like we had all thought, he had been stabbed in the back. But his prints were all over the rifle. The knife was from her kitchen. It had a partial print, but not matching hers or Will’s. The Trooper sort of looked at me, but I quickly pointed out I had been with them at the time.
The Trooper left and we went back to the garden spot. Will said they had garden tools back in the shed behind the house, so he went to bring some out. After he brought rakes and hoes and shovels out, we got busy making fairly straight rows although there is more planting space in crooked rows. They didn’t buy my idea so we did the string and stakes thing to make straight rows. It did look nice when we were finished.
Will offered us lunch at the Hit & Run, so we headed over there and brought them up to date on what we had learned. Seems Noah’s Dad was hanging out there for the day, working on the old dozer. Rose was working on a small cabin and Kara was running the snack shack.
Roman came walking up the hill while we were still there. He said he needed a couple of tools he couldn’t find in his stuff in his truck. Kara yelled over to her mom and she came over to see what was needed. She wasn’t sure if she had what he needed, either, so they went down to her storage area to see what they could find.
They came back fairly soon, and told us someone had been in the old storage unit she kept things in. Looked like they stayed overnight in it. The storage unit was a section of one of the old pipeline camps, an Atco unit. It wasn’t in good condition, but there was still a bed in one of the rooms and it had been used.
Roman and Rose seemed to be hitting it off fairly well. They had both lost spouses to death and were alone. They both liked to work and got pleasure from a job well done. Hmmmm, seems like maybe we should be edging them together a bit more. Now what to do for her daughter?
“Hey, Noah, do you have a brother?” Oh sheesh, why did I ask that?
“Well, as a matter of fact, I do,” he answered. “Why?”
“Oh, just curious.” Me and my big mouth.
Noah came over where I was sitting on a bench and sat down beside me. He picked up my hand and held it while looking at me with those darn melted chocolate eyes. “I was going to ask you if you minded if my brother came out and joined Dad and I.” he said.
Okay, this was just too perfect. If he was even half as nice as his brother and Dad, they were a bunch of guys just needing pounced on.
Roman said he was heading to town to pick up his tool trailer and just bring it out. He had a lot of supplies that would make repairs on the old dozer and backhoe much easier and he needed a place to park the trailer as he now had it in storage and they were charging him a bundle to store it.
Noah walked over and spoke to his Dad a couple of minutes, they parted and Roman headed to his truck and left.
I figured I had spent more time socializing the last couple of weeks than I had in the last 5 years and had better get home and back to work. Even though we were all stuffed from lunch, Will picked up ice cream for each of us as we started back to his SUV. I’m going to have to get busy or not fit into any of my clothes.
While the tiller was still running after unloading it, I took it around between the rows in my garden. I spotted several plants that needed thinning out a bit, so after parking the tiller, went back with a flat and trowel and dug up a few here and there. These would jump start Shari’s garden for her. As I dug each plant, I labeled with magic marker on a plastic fork handle and stuck it in the flat beside the plant. That should save her being too surprised at what was growing in her garden later.
When she came out of the shed and saw what I had fixed for her, she started to cry and laugh at the same time. I wasn’t sure what to do. She sputtered a bit and said she guessed it was raging PG hormones or something but that was just so nice of me and she was just so happy to be living near so many nice people. Will came over and patted her back a few times and I could tell he was as clueless as I was.
They decided to go right back over and set out the plants so they wouldn’t wilt down. They took a jug of manure tea I had mixed up and I told them to pour a small amount under each one before setting it in the hole and covering the roots, then watering them in.
After they left, I worked some more in the garden and greenhouse. As the afternoon progressed, I started getting a feeling like I was being watched. After the events over at Will and Shari’s, it made me more nervous than usual, so I worked my way toward the house and right on inside. I think I better start keeping Pal with me all the time when I am outdoors now, even if I have to tie him to keep him safe while I am falling trees.