- Just got back from Idaho
- Turn that up, will you
- Complex in its simplicity
It was about three o’clock in the afternoon when I turned my truck up the recently graded dirt track that led to my cousin’s cabin in Eastern Oregon. She lives just outside The Narrows on about 30 acres of land. The house is modest, she’s not rich, but she is paranoid. As I pulled close I saw her on the porch waiting. She must have heard me coming from pretty far away. She had her shotgun broke open and lying across her left arm. I knew she had shot in both barrels and I would have bet that there were more shells in the pockets of her coat. I stopped about 50 feet away from the house, set the brake and got out of the truck with my hands up where she could see them. She doesn’t like to wear her glasses much, says they make her dizzy.
“Lila, it’s me; Gerald. Gerald Templeton. Your cousin. Your Aunt Clint’s boy.” I wasn’t sure if she could see me this far away or not so I opted to provide too much information, just in case.
She snapped the barrel of her piece back in place and I bent my knees; ready to run if I had to, but she set it down on the porch and leaned it next to the door. She was wearing a brown leather jacket over a flowered cotton shirt and a blue jean skirt with cowboy boots. A straw hat with a red bandana tied around, as a band, finished off her outfit. Her blonde hair was pulled back in a loose pony tail and fell down her back.
“Come on up Gerry,” she hollered, “The hell are you doin’ in these parts?”
I got back in the truck and pulled up to a DG pad next to the house; slotted in next to her Jeep. I could hear old songs from Credence wafting from the house.
We hugged when I got out of the truck and she invited me in. “Good to see you Jerry. Whatcha doin’ here. Somebody die?”
“Nah, I just got back from Idaho, on my way home and thought I should stop and pay my respects. Haven’t seen you in what? Three or four years?” I thought it was funny the way I slipped into her vernacular so easily.
“Choo doin’ in Idaho?” she asked.
“Mostly fishin’. Got a cooler fulla keepers, thought you might like some of ‘um.”
“Nice ‘o you,” she said, “hungry? I snared a mess ‘o rabbits earlier in the week and I got a stew goin’. You’re welcome to stay the night. I could use the company. Got any whiskey?”
“Matter of fact,” I pulled a bottle of Jack Daniels from behind the seat of my truck and tossed it to her. She grinned as she caught it and I slammed the driver’s door on the truck. I went around back, dropped the tailgate and pulled a cooler out of the bed. “I got some nice steelhead here. Figure I should leave you a couple.”
She held the whiskey in her left hand and hefted one side of the cooler with her right. I took the other side and we moved up to the house. It smelled rich with rabbit stew. Lila’s cabin was a single room, for the most part but the bathroom was attached. The front of the cabin was taken up by the kitchen and the dining table. There were a couple of recliners on the wall behind the kitchen pointed at the fireplace and her bed was behind that, close to the bathroom door. The sheets were a mess but that was just Lila. The rest of the house was neat as a pin.
I had the fish on ice and there was a nice one on top he was at least 36” and she immediately said that that one would be enough for her, thank you very much! “You gonna have to share with yo Momma and Marlene as well, ain’t cha? This here’ll be plenty for me and I ‘preciate it.”
She pulled the fish out of the cooler and set him on the counter, next to the sink. “Don’t mind if I fillet him before I throw the good bits in the ice box do ya?” She moved to the counter opened a drawer and pulled out a fillet knife. She opened an upper cabinet and took out a couple of glasses. She set the knife down next to the fish, opened the bottle and poured a couple of fingers of whiskey in each glass. She handed one to me. “Here’s to family,” she said and drank it down.
I pointed to the tape player she had sitting on top of the refrigerator. John Fogarty’s voice was telling me that someday never comes.
“Turn that up, will you?” I asked her.
30 minutes. Edited in real time as I wrote, so it’s still a little rough.
I just went back and read this. “little rough” is a bit of an understatement. I won’t change this one but I may revisit this story with a red pen soon. Hope not to bore you if you have to read it again. Gosh, thanks for reading it the first time!