Shannon beat Heller to the job-site by almost two hours.
She craved getting to see him through the eyes of his family. She had met his sister, Suzanna, who had convinced Heller to re-enter the dating scene. Consequently, Shannon owed Suzanna a debt.
But Suzanna was now completely absorbed in getting to know one Garth, one of Shannon’s “buddies” from her group of professional friends.
There was no way in hell that Shannon was going to let the chance to spend some one-on-one time with Heller’s cousin slip by.
Shannon pulled into the farm-yard and saw that Clayton was still moving dirt with the skid steer. Off to the side, she saw a young woman who was holding a small child.
Parking, Shannon walked over to the young woman and introduced herself. “I am Shannon who…”
And the woman lit up like a Christmas tree “...who is dating Heller” she finished for Shannon.
“I have heard so much about you. I was hoping to meet you!” Krystal said.
And within a minute it was if Shannon and Krystal were life-long friends. The unspoken bond was that both women had rejected the path that had been put before them. Krystal came from a very affluent family and the default path was that she would marry, or at least become the “companion” of a doctor or lawyer. Shannon had been lower-middle class and been educated through the public education system and got her Bachelor’s degree. Her default was to pair up with a salary-man who was another interchangeable cog in the system.
Both women had rejected those paths and chosen men who radiated primal, male energy. And though the path had sometimes been bumpy, neither woman regretted their choices.
“What’s he doing” Shannon asked.
“He is shaving the ground. He wants a 1” in 20’ grade for drainage” Krystal said with a slight roll of the eyes.
“How can anybody see that?” Shannon asked, mystified.
“Don’t ask me” Krystal said. “But he can do it if anybody can.”
Heller pulled into the job-site ninety minutes later. “Wow! That looks great!” Heller exclaimed.
Clayton had been able to rough-grade, trench, dig footings and then finish grade between the footings with ten times more precision and in half the time that it would have taken Heller. Clayton had also strategically piled the fill so it would be efficient to push it back against the cinderblock walls after the mortar had set.
“I am curious about the footings you had sketched out” Clayton said. “But I dug-um like you drew-em.”
“Yeah, about that” Heller explained. “Mister Bockbeck was afraid that a 24’ long, cinder-block wall might buckle inward without a buttress about half-way. That is why there is an interior footing at the 12’ mark.”
“He says he plans to put potatoes in one half and apples in the other. Actually, I think he plans to ferment sour-mash in the back-half, but it ain’t mine to criticize” Heller said.
Bockbeck wouldn’t be the first to distill a little white-lightning on the side, nor would he be the last.
“How long do you think it will take you to finish the job?” Clayton asked. “Price of food shooting up like it is...and getting hard to come by, too. I know a butt-load of people who would be interested in putting up a root-cellar.”
“Crap. It will probably take me three weeks, if I am lucky” Heller said.
Clayton’s face grew thoughtful. It was a look Heller knew well since they had pretty much grown up together, taking turns week-by-week spending nights at each others’ homes through the summer.
“You know you could speed that up if you let Uncle Ed make the roof sections. You could lay up the block in about the time it would take Uncle Ed to bang-out the roof sections. Move them here on your flat-bed trailer and use the skid-steer to position them on the walls.”
Heller considered the idea. Uncle Ed was a pretty fair hand with a hammer. Even better if he had a template to position and hold the two-bys for the trusses.
And just-like-that, the idea of a business where he made and installed root-cellars in 8-by-8, 8-by-12, 8-by-16, 8-by-20 and 8-by-24 increments popped into his head. Just like LEGOS.
Heller mulled the idea over in his head. “Would you be willing to do the grading and moving the roof sections?”
“Hell ya” Clayton said. “As long as you pay decent and you work close to Uncle Ed’s”
“Lemme think about it for a while” Heller said. His current job paid “per-diem” but it involved four-hours-a-day driving to the job-site that was not on-the-clock.
Talk turned to other things. Shannon and Krystal and Madison had moved in closer after Clayton had shut down the diesel powered skid-steer.
Heller started playing rough with Madison. Shannon was alarmed but Clayton told her “Mattie loves it. And Heller would never drop her, so I’m not worried.”
Krystal had obviously watched Heller and Mattie play and she didn’t seem to worried.
“So, what’s it like out there?” Clayton asked.
“Its getting worse” Heller informed him.
“It was my turn to drive to Livonia on Tuesday. I went back to my truck fifteen minutes after I parked it at the job-site and there were crack-heads in the back going through my tools. I told them to get off my truck, or else!” Heller said.
“Did they get off the truck?” Shannon asked, horrified.
“Damned straight they did” Heller said, smugly. “I was pointing my Glock at them.” *
“Would you have shot them?” Shannon asked, horrified.
That is when Clayton chimed in. “You have to make the decision that you WILL use it when the time comes BEFORE you strap on your gun. You have to decide that you will use it without hesitation when circumstances force you to. The worst thing you can do is to pull your gun and then not have the guts to use it.”
“If you carry without the will to use it, then somebody will take your gun and use it on you. And then they will probably use it on innocent victims” Clayton said.
Shannon looked over at Heller who was nodding his agreement.
“There are a lot of places in a big construction site to dump bodies. Lots of deep holes in the ground. Lots of concrete being poured. Lots of buddies who have been ripped off or mugged and beaten within an inch of their lives when they fought back” Heller said.
"They got outta my truck but I'll tell-ya, I parked it in inside the fence right after that even though my foreman gave me hell about it. I didn't need them sneaking back and slashing my tires, me being 110 miles from home."
*Heller was guilty of brandishing (a felony) which could have gotten him into trouble if the crack-heads had enough wits to call 911. Another good reason to move the truck as it would make it harder for them to point out which truck they had been pillaging. This is FICTION. Don't use the characters' actions as a substitute for training.