Monday, April 13, 2020

Quest: Picking up the pieces

The expedition came back to the bridge to collect their belongings.

Walt trotted over and untied Lucky from the tree and led him back to the wagon.

Walt had Steve turn the wagon around and park it fifty yards west of the bridge.

“I can get a lot closer” Steve said. “It would save a lot of carrying.

“Trust me” Walt said “you don’t want to get any closer.

Steve puked once.

Sally could not stop throwing up.

A couple of Walt’s shots had hit the target’s heart or aorta. Blood was sprayed liberally over nearly everything.

Nearly everything was recovered...less a couple of jars of booze and the ham.

Looking around, dispassionately, Walt said “I don’t think it would be out-of-line if we picked up a few firearms in compensation for our time and trouble.”

“Why do we need any more guns. We don’t want to look like an invading army.” Steve objected.

Walt looked up toward the verge of the road grade where Sally was miserably huddled.

“I am thinking she should be armed” Walt said.

“It would be better if she picked out what she wanted.

“Not a chance in hell” Steve said.

Walt was forced to agree.

“OK, I will pick something out” Walt said.

There were many firearms in evidence, a real dogs-breakfast of choices. He found a nicely maintained S&W Shield in 9mm with two magazines and nearly full “White Box” of FMJ ammo. The high-end holster and belt were an additional bonus.

Looking at the collection of long guns, his eyes kept coming back to an SKS with a Coyote Brown, Archangel stock. Maybe half the guns would have been better, more practical choices. There was a 20 gauge like Steve’s and a handful of .22s that would be easy to shoot and shared ammo with Walt’s gun..but something about the rifle shouted “Sally” to him. It had flair, it had panache (a word she had taught him).

He knew better than to fight his intuition. She would either accept it or they could trade if off for something more suitable somewhere further down the road. One thing you could say about the venerable SKS, it was rugged and ammo was easy to come by. The trigger was long and gritty but it was simple and easy for a Billy-Bob gunsmith to slick up.

Getting Sally to carry any firearm was going to be a chore. The weight of the SKS would not be too bad with the proper sling and there was a chance she would WANT to carry the SKS since it looked so thoroughly bad-ass.

He tucked the firearms in the back of the wagon. Now was not the time to give them to Sally. Especially when she was looking at him like he was some kind of ghoul.

Walt wasn’t any too comfortable hanging around the bridge. They moved out as soon as they were loaded up. It was three hours after dark when they made their twenty-five miles.

They were in agreement, they would take half a day off, more to care for the horses and to recharge, emotionally than because they were physically tired.


Dot contacted Tory Hawk via the CB network and asked her to come over for tea and a chat.

Tory wasn’t excited about drinking tea with an old lady but she had been raised to be polite.

“You are probably wondering why I invited you over” Dot said.

Tory nodded in agreement. To her surprise, she was enjoying the tea, flavored with dried black currants, milk and honey. She also adored the tiny, cinnamon swirl cookies.

“I have a little chore I need help with” Dot confided.

“Just for the record, how old are you and what do you weigh?” Dot asked.

Tory was taken aback. It was not uncommon to be asked her age but weight, well, that was personal.

“I just turned sixteen” Tory said. “And the last time I stepped on the scale I weighed ninety-seven pounds.”

Dot nodded her approval.

“Did you know that smaller people make the best pilots?” Dot asked. “Fighter pilots, crop-dusters, bush-pilots...the whole lot of them.”

Tory said “I guess that makes sense.” She had never given it any thought.

“Do you like planes?” Dot asked.

“I don’t really know” Tory answered honestly. “I like going places. I like going fast. My brother had a motorcycle that was totally dope.”

Dot assumed “dope” meant the same thing as “cool”.

Dot squinted at Tory. “Are you a thrill seeker?”

Dot was alarmed that maybe she had misread Tory.

“You mean, do I like roller coasters and bungee jumping? No, not so you would notice.” Tory said.

“So why do you like motorcycles?” Dot persisted.

Tory mulled the question over. Even her mother had never dived so deeply into what turned Tory’s crank.

“I suppose it is because I feel really alive. It is like my mind speeds up. The other girls say everything becomes a blur, but for me, I can see and remember EVERY detail” Tory said.

Tory shrugged apologetically. “I know it sounds stupid. But it is like I can see the world in color when I am on a motorcycle and everything is in shades of gray when I am not on a motorcycle.”

“So, what is the chore you need help with?” Tory asked.

“I have something that needs to be pushed out of the garage” Dot said.

Dot looked critically at Tory’s arms. Yup, it looked like there as enough beef there to swing the wings out of the folded position and lock them down.

“So, did you ever play with Legos or an Erector set?” Dot asked as she passed the dish of cookies.


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