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CHAPTER 2

 

 

The next week was even worse. They talked about putting the house up for sale. John wanted to wait tell he heard from Ben about are offer, but Evelyn wanted to do it right away. John was afraid that they would have their house up for sale, and not get the property. She kept telling him what does it mater we have no choice but sell it or lose it. The next day John called some realtors, and put the house up for sale. As soon as he did that, Evelyn got some boxes and started packing.

 

John asked, “What are you doing we haven’t even had one person look at the house yet, and don’t know how much we’ll get for it. We might not get enough to get that piece of property.”

 

She replied, “So, we still have to move, and we don’t need over half of this to live here. This way I can take my time, and mark all the boxes with what is in them. Then we won’t have to open a bunch of boxes to find one little thing we might need.”

 

Then she was going around the house for the next two weeks packing boxes, marking them, and stacking the boxes in the garage. Soon all that was left was the dishes we would eat off of, the furniture, TV, and their computer. Things were still the same, and John didn’t even miss the stuff. The house was easier to keep clean, because there was nothing to live out. John was sitting there thinking about what it would take to build a house. It will be more like a little shack, he thought. Then Evelyn came to him and told him about a friend she talked to on the phone that day. Saying that her friend told her about a web sight that had repo-homes on it, and that they were reel cheep.

 

John questioned, “What do you want to look at homes for, I thought you wanted to get that property.”

 

Evelyn gave him a mean look and said, “Not that kind of home. A manufactured home, you know the trailer kind. We could have it moved up to the property. Then it wouldn’t take so long to get a house on the property. Besides, you can’t build a house by yourself it would take years and cost too much.”

 

John was thinking to himself, I can see it now living up there in some old 1970’s trailer like a hillbilly. Then the phone rang, and snapped him out of it. He garbed the phone, “Hello.”

 

“Is this John?”

 

“Yes it is.”

 

 “Hi this is Ben. I have good news for you. The farmer that has the property for sale, said he would give you a lease option to buy. You give him two thousand for the first six months. Then it would be $350.00 a mouth after that, if you still want the property, or your house sales. The good thing about this is that 100 percent goes to the purchase price.”

 

“That sounds good to me” John said, “I will have to talk it over with my wife.”

 

“Well” Ben questioned, “If you want to do it. We could do the paper work tomorrow.”

 

“No I can’t do it tomorrow my wife has to work, maybe Thursday. I will call you to tomorrow and let you know. Ok”

 

Ben insisted, “But let me know, so I can have the paper work ready when you get here. That is if you decide you want the deal.”

 

“Ok” John replied, “I will call you tomorrow, and let you know.” Then he hung up the phone.

 

Evelyn asked, “Was that Ben?”

 

“Yes” John replied, and told her what Ben said.

 

Evelyn agreed, “Good I like that offer. Now let’s go log on to the web, and check out that repo sight.”

 

She seamed excited to try to find a home. So they logged on, and went to the sight. On the home page was a search engine for the sight. You could type in where you wanted to look, or search the whole Northwest. It had a place to pick the price range, how many bedrooms, bathrooms, singlewide, doublewide, or triple-wide. Then there was an option to list all in that price range. They talked about how much they could spend on the home. Then they had to think about how much it would cost to move the home to the property. John saw a link on the page for moving quotes, so he picked it and bingo. Right there on the top of the page it said average cost for tear down move and setup. Singlewide within 100 miles is about $3,000 and $6,000 for doublewide. He clicked the back button and said, “Now we need to figure how much we’ll have left for the home.” John started putting down the cost of what it would cost for power, put in the well, do the excavation, move all are their stuff, ect.

 

“Wow” he complained, “It looks like we would be lucky to have ten thousand to buy a house. We will never get a double wide for that.”

 

Evelyn said with a demanding voice, “Well put it in there, and see what comes up.”

 

So John put in ten thousand and clicked on search. Thinking, It is going to be some real junk for that price. Then the page started loading slowly, and he saw 1 through 20 of 123. As the page loaded, he could see a little picture of the home in a box on the right. Then in the next box was the location, the next was how many bedrooms, then how many bathrooms, and so on tell you get to the far side of the screen, and there was the price. The first home was just as he thought a 1976 Fleetwood doublewide. Then the next one popped up it was a 1995 singlewide three bed two bath home for ten thousand. Wow he thought to himself, that looks nice, but Evelyn had her heart set on a double wide, so John didn’t say anything. After the page loaded, they started going down the page picking out the ones they liked. Then on about the third page, she spotted one that was just down the road from where they lived. She wasted no time saying, “Let’s go and look at that one. It is just down the road.”

 

Evelyn was telling John how to get there. She had a friend that use to live in the park, so she knew where it was. They pulled in the park, and Evelyn announced, “Its space 135.” After driving up and down a few roads they were at space 135, and there was nothing there. Just bare ground and some gravel.

 

John asked, “Are you sure that it is space 135?”

 

Looking at the page they printed out she insisted, “Yes that is what it says.”

 

“Well I guess it is gone, must have been an old listing,” John informed.

 

They drove home, and on the way, Evelyn asked if John wanted some ice cream. Knowing her well, that meant she was unhappy about the trailer being gone. It didn’t matter that it was gone. They didn’t have any money to buy it yet, so to help cheer her up John questioned, “DQ or the store.”

 

“The store,” she requested. “Then we can go home, and look some more on the web. Then we can eat our ice cream while we look.”

 

They stopped at the store on the way home, got some ice cream, and went home to surf the web. Then they went to bed.

 

John went to sleep and had the dream again.

 

“It was early in the morning when I walked out into the meadow. There was a little rabbit eating the grass, and a small dear drinking from the river. I stopped and listened. I could hear the wind carrying the songs of the morning bird’s, and the water flowing over the rocks, the sound of the grass swishing in the wind. All was at peace in my sole. My mind was in a far off place. Then I was snapped out of the peace by a fish jumping in the river with a big splash. Yes, that is why I came here to get fish to feed my family.

 

Then the next thing I know I’m on top of a mountain, and I’m looking down at the valley wandering how I got here. When something makes me look to my side, and I see there is an Indian on a horse with a spear. The horse was brown with tan patch on the front and back. The spear had what looked like two large feathers hanging from a strap tied to the spear. He was strong and muscular with long hair. Then his eyes looked into mine. It made me fill with fear, and I could feel a Burning going through me. Like my blood was pumping it through my body. Then he took the spear and pointed it at the valley. I turned and looked and It all looked different somehow. Then I noticed that all the trees were dead. Looking into the valley I did not see any animals. Slowly looking across the meadow to the river the water looked different. Looking hard I could see, that the top of the water was covered with dead fish. It looked like a river of dead fish not water.

 

Then like a flash, I was standing in a big grocery store, in the cleaning isle with all the soap and cleaner supplies. I started walking around the store, and I could see I was the only one there. I looked around the store, and all the isles were empty with nothing on the shelves. The only stuff in the store was what was in the cleaning isle. Then I would wake up scared like I had a nightmare.”

 

The dream has been happening to John for years. First, it would only happen about two or three times a year. Now it happens about two to three times a mouth. At first, he thought it was to do with the environment. Then as time went by, he thought it was a warning, but I didn’t know what of. Now John just doesn’t know what it means. John never tells anyone about this dream. He did told his brother one time, and he told him that it was something to do with stress or his work. Now John life has changed many times since then, and the dream is still just the same right down to the smallest detail.

 

At one time, he thought it was about food, because of the first part being about trying to feed my family. Then in the second part all the animals are gone and the fish are dead. Then in the third part, there is no food in the store. Then when the Y2K thing came, it made him stock up on food. That came and went, but the dream just kept coming.

 

At this point, John didn’t know what to think. The dream starts out so nice and peaceful, and then turns into a nightmare. When the dream starts he knows how it will end, and every detail of what will happen. It is hard to deal with something that you have no control over. He’s tried can’t change any part of the dream. Even after all this time, he still wake up scared. Even though he know how it ends.

 

Every time he have this dream. he know that it is a dream, and he know how it will end. This never changes the way it goes, or the outcome. He still wakes up scared thinking, how will I feed my family. He doesn’t know what this dream is trying to tell him, but what ever it is he haven’t dealt with it yet. He thinks that when he deals with what ever it is. The dream will stop, but that hasn’t happened yet.

 

When he woke he went to the kitchen, and got something to drink. Then went in and sat on the couch. He turned on the TV, and Evelyn got to go to the bathroom. When she came out, she asked John what was the mater. He told her that he had a bad dream, and couldn’t sleep. She said, “It is three A.M. I need more sleep for work tomorrow. I’m going back to bed.” John told her that he would come back to bed in a little bit. Then he sat there thinking about the dream, and all the stuff that was going on in his life. he thought, maybe my brother is right it’s stress. There was no doubt that this is a stressful time in my life. After a while he went to bed, and fell right back to sleep.

 

Then buzz buzz buzz the alarm was going off. Evelyn shut it off, and got up. John just laid there tired from the bad night he had. he could here her in the kitchen making the coffee. Then he fell back to sleep. Evelyn came in and woke him up whispering, “The coffee is ready. Are you going to get up?”

 

“Yes” John whined, “I just didn’t sleep very good last night.”

 

“Probably the worrying about the house,” she suggested.

 

John got up and got a cup of coffee. Then sat next to her on the couch, and told her he would call Ben about the property.

 

She suggested, “Why don’t you call the repro home place on the web while I’m at work today. Maybe you can find one to look at when I get off work.”

 

After they had their coffee, and ate breakfast, John took Evelyn to work. When he got back home, he called Ben. Told him they would be up tomorrow to do the paper work. He asked me to bring a cashier check for $2,100 when we come up. John said, “Ok” as he thought to himself, well that will just about wipe out what we have in savings. He hung up the phone, and called the repo home place.

 

A lady answered the phone “Home sells.”

 

“Yes, I’m calling about your web site,” John said. “My wife and I went to look at one of the homes last night, and it was gone.”

 

“Yes they sell fast. Sometimes you need to call first, and see if the one you are looking at has sold.”

 

“Is there a way I can get a more updated list I asked?”

 

“Let me transfer you to Rick,” she said.

 

“This is Rick, how can I help you?”

 

“Yeah Rick can I get an updated list of what has not sold yet.”

 

“Sure, if you want to come in and pick it up, but it changes from day to day. Do you want me to print you out a copy?” Rick asked.

 

“It would be nice,” John informed. “I will be into pick it up sometime later today.”

 

“Ok, I will leave it at the front disk. What’s your name?”

 

“Oh I’m John,” he said.

 

“Thanks John, I’ll have it waiting for you. If you need anything else just call and ask for me.”

 

John said, “Thanks, I sure will” and hung up the phone.

 

He went to the bank, and got the cashiers check.  Then he drove across town to the real-estate office, and picked up the list. By the time he got home, it was 1:00 o’clock, and he was starved. He made a sandwich, and got a glass of milk. Then went in and sat at the computer. he ate the sandwich well he was waiting for the computer to boot. he looked at the list, and saw right away that the listings were by date not price. he went through three pages before finding one in their price range. He put in the listing number, and waited for the page to load. After finding two that he knew Evelyn might like he checked the time. Wow where did the time go? He thought. It was time to pick up Evelyn so he printed the page, and went to pick her up.

 

When he pulled up Evelyn was waiting out side for him. She jumped in the Jimmy, and asked if he found a home to look at. He told here about the two that he had found, and that they where both in Beaverton.

 

Evelyn responded, “That is clear across town, and traffic is really bad this time of night. Maybe we should get something to eat first, and wait for the traffic to die down,”

 

“When I got the list from Rick at the real-estate office, he told me if I called he would see about getting me a key. Maybe we should give him a call, and see if we can get a key,” John mentioned.

 

“You want to go home and call, or stop at a pay-phone?” Evelyn asked.

 

“At a pay- phone,” John replied.

 

He stopped at a pay phone, and made the call. Rick was there, and said he would have the keys waiting for him. John got back in the Jimmy, and told Evelyn that they where on our way to pick up the key. he could tell she was getting excited about looking at homes. For some reason he was having fear that this was all going to fast. After fighting heavy traffic, he pulled up in front of the real-estate office. They walked inside, and told the gal at the desk that Rick said he would leave a key for them. She handed them some keys, and said, “Good luck.”

 

“Thank you,” Evelyn responded, as they left.

 

On the way out to the Jimmy, she asked if John wanted to go out to eat. It would kill some time, and the traffic would have died down by the time we where done. He told her that was a good idea, and there was a good place a few blocks down the road. We ordered our food, and Evelyn was looking over the pages John printed. One page was a two-bedroom home, and the other was a four-bedroom home with a family room. She told John that the two bedroom home looked really nice, and she wanted to look at it first. Then asked me why I picked out the big home. It didn’t even look very nice. He told her that it was just by the price. He just picked the first two under $10,000 that where newer. There is a lot of old junk in this price range. He didn’t want their place to look like some of the hillbilly places they saw up there.

 

Our food came, and we where eating. When I noticed that Evelyn was eating faster than I was. In all the years we have been to gather, she never finished before me. I was always the one to finished first. I looked at her and asked, “I have never seen you eat so fast. Are you ok?”

 

“Yes,” she replied. “I’m just excited about all this, and want to go look at the houses.”

 

“I’m excited to, and a little worried at the same time.” John replied.

 

We went and looked at the two homes. The 2-bedroom one was real nice, but smaller than we thought. The other one did not look very good from the out side, but the inside was like new. It was big with 4-bedrooms, and a family room. It had a cook top wood stove in the livening room that Evelyn liked it a lot. She told me that it would be nice to have extra bedrooms for when people came to visit. Like your brother and his wife. John thought it was nice to, and was thinking about what they could do to get it. He thought about using the last of their savings for the property. He also knew with out money to put down on the home, there was no way to hold it for them. He knew these homes sale fast, and if they were to get it. They would have to move fast. He told Evelyn that he like the house, but he didn’t think there was any way to get it. The only way they could get it was if their house sold tomorrow, and they know that wasn’t going to happen. She told John, they would just have to wait and see. You never know what is going to happen until it happens. There might be a way. We’re getting the property, and we haven’t even put our house up for sale yet. You thought that wouldn’t happen either.

 

 

The next morning John awoke to the smell of something cooking. He got up and followed the smell of apple pie to the kitchen.

 

“What are you cooking?” He asked.

 

“Apple and cinnamon pancakes,” she replied. “Have a seat. Your coffee is on the table, and the pancakes are almost done.”

 

He sat at the table, and took a sip of his coffee. Looked up at Evelyn and questioned, “I was thinking of taking the Jimmy up to the property. It seams to be a good runner, and we need to check it out on a long trip. What do you think?”

 

“I’d like that a lot.” She informed, as she set a plate of pancakes in front of John.

 

They ate breakfast. Then they left for Goldendale to see Ben. The drive seamed faster than before, probably because they didn’t stop anywhere along the way.

 

They pulled in and parked by the door of Ben’s office. Then went inside, and found Ben on the phone. He pointed for them to sit-down, so they had a seat, as he finished his call.

 

“Good to see you,” he said. “Bill is out at the property, and wanted you to meet him there. I can’t do the paper work until you go see him.”

 

This is odd, John thought. “Is there a problem?” He asked.

 

“I don’t know,” Ben replied. “I just know he won’t sign unless you go see him.”

 

“Let’s go,” Evelyn said. Then took my arm and gave it a tug. They went out and got in the Jimmy, and John told Evelyn that there must be something wrong. Maybe he doesn’t want to sell the property now. She told him that she thought he just wanted to meet them. By growing up in the country, Evelyn knew how country people think. “Just look how far apart the houses are out here. They’re about a mile apart. That means that everyone within five miles is a neighbor, and you want to know what kind of people your neighbors are.”

 

John thought about it, and she might be right. Then he thought, what if she wasn’t. They were getting close to the property when John saw something. He told her to look there is something on the property. Then they could tell it was a tractor, and something was on the other side of it.

 

John pulled in the stub of a driveway, and saw a flatbed truck. There was a big tank on the truck, and some plastic pipe. There was an older man probably in his early fifties. He was a big build man, and looked like he had worked hard all his life. Evelyn told me that must be Bill. John wondered what he was doing. All kinds of things were going through his head. He was sitting there in a daze, as Evelyn got out of the Jimmy, and walked over to the man. Seeing her snapped him out of it, and he got out of the Jimmy. John could hear her ask, “Are you Bill.

 

“Yes,” he replied. “You must be Evelyn.” Then looking over at John, and questioned, “You must be John?”

 

“Yes,” John informed, as he stepped next to Evelyn.

 

“I got the stuff for your septic system, but that is not what I wanted to talk to you about.” Bill informed. Then looking right at John, he asked, “What are you doing for work John?”

 

With out even thinking John answered, “I’m not working right now.” Then thought, what would he want to know that for?

 

“Maybe we could help each other out,” Bill insisted. “You need a job, and I need a ranch and farm hand. I’m sure we could work out something that would help both of us.”

 

John just stood there with a puzzled look on his face. He did not say a thing. Evelyn took his hand, and informed. “I think we need to talk about this. Let’s take a walk down to the pond.”

 

Bill said, “I’ll unload the pipe wile you two talk this over.” 

 

 They walked down to the pond, and Evelyn implied, “I think it would be a good job, and you should take it.”

 

John admitted, “This whole thing is weird. What is he doing with all the stuff up there for the septic system? You think he is putting that in to get more out of us for the property? I just don’t know what to think.”

 

“Think of him as a neighbor.” She advised, “The kind that want’s to help you do everything. Then think of him always wanting you to owe him something, so when he needs help with something you can’t say no. That is the way it works out here, everyone helps each other.”

 

“I don’t know anything about farm work. I don’t even know if I could do the work.” John insisted.

 

“You can do it,” Evelyn declared. “I know you can stack hay, and feed cows. I’m sure you can drive a tractor, and mend a fence. I’m sure he will show you how he wants things done. Just talk to him, and see what he wants. Then you can decide, unless you are afraid of hard work.”

 

“Your right,” John agreed. “Let’s go talk to Bill.” Then they went back up the hill.

 

Bill was pulling a bundle of stakes off the truck when they walked up.

 

Looking over at John he asked, “What do you think? Do you want the job?”

 

“I never done this kind of work before,” John informed.

 

“That’s ok,” Bill insisted. “I’ll show you how I do it, and you can take it from there. So what do you think? You want the job?”

 

He made John a little nervous. It was like he was pushing him to take the job, but Evelyn was right. If they move up there, he will need a job. John agreed, “If you think I can do the job. I will take it.”

 

“Good. Then pick up some of those stakes, and we will stake out this septic system. Bill declared.

 

“I don’t understand what is going on here. I thought I came up here to close a deal on this property. You give me a job, and now you want me to help put a septic system on it. How much more is this going to cost me?” John questioned.

 

Bill laughed. Then he informed, “It comes with the property, and besides I’m your neighbor now. I might want you to help me on your day off. Now puck up those stakes, and let’s get to work.”

 

John picked up the stakes, and they staked out where the septic system would go.

 

Then Bill looked around, and informed. “Guess the house goes about there. It is the only place up hill from the septic system.”

 

John agreed. “It looks like a good place to me.”

 

Evelyn questioned. “Don’t I get a say in where the house goes?”

 

John smiled and informed, “Well when you flush the toilet it has to flow down hill to the septic system. That is the only place it will do that.”

 

Evelyn answered, “Then the house is going there.”

 

Bill looked at Evelyn and questioned. “Where do you want the garden? You can pick any place on the twenty acres. Just so it isn’t on the septic system or under the house.”

 

“Why are we worrying about the garden now?” She asked Bill.

 

Bill gave her a smile and said, “We need to turn the ground at least twice, before you can plant. Then you have to wait a couple weeks and turn it again. I got the tractor here now, so now would be a good time.”

 

Evelyn admitted, “I would like it close to the house, so I don’t have to go too far to work on it.”

 

Bill said, “Ok. Then we put it on the south side of the house. That way the house won’t cast a shadow on it.”

 

Then Bill climbed up in the tractor and started it. He came back down, and told John to get in. He climbed up in the tractor, and Bill climbed up and stood next to him, hanging off the side. Bill pointed to a lever. Then told John that was the throttle. Pointing to another lever, he told him that it raised and lowered the plow. When you lower the plow, you might have to give it some gas. Just pull it back until it comes up to about 2000 rpm, as he pointed to a gage. The pedal on the left is the clutch, and the one on the right is the brake. Now put it in secant gear, that’s the one we are going to use. Then drive it over there and point it to the back of the property.

 

John put it in gear and drove it over to ware Bill was pointing. Bill told him to drop the plow, and drive in a strait line. He would go down to the other end, John was to make a U turn when he got to him. Bill jumped down off the tractor, and started walking down the field. John put the plow down, and let out the clutch. The tractor was just chugging a long. Bill stopped about 200 feet down the field. I saw Evelyn run down to where he was standing.

 

“Bill this is to big,” Evelyn insisted.

 

Bill looked around and said, “Nope just about right. Let’s see, 52 weeks in a year. That means you would need about 60 jars of green beans. That would give you one a week. Yep this is about how long the row would have to be.”

 

Evelyn insisted, “But Bill I don’t have enough Jars to can a garden this size.”

 

Bill smiled and said, “Then we will have to get you more jars.”

 

John made the turn by Bill and Evelyn, then Bill walked over to a spot, and pointed for him to turn. He nodded ok, and Bill walked down to the other end. John plowed his way down to him. Then he waved his arms for John to stop. He stopped, and Bill climbed up on the tractor. He told John to turn and go up right next to the first row. Then come back on the far side of the row he just did. Then just keep doing that until you work your way to the second row. Then we’re done. He jumped down, and John went back to plowing. It didn’t go very fast. On his way back down the garden, he saw a car pull up. Bill and Evelyn walked over to the car, and stood there talking for a few minutes. Then Evelyn got in the car and left. Laving John wondering what was going on.

 

He made the last pass around the garden, and Bill was waiting for him at the end. Bill climbed up on the tractor, and told John to raise the plow. Then told him to drive out to the road and take a left. Go down the road about a mile to the first driveway, and turn in. We need to take off the plow, and put on the backhoe attachment. John asked where Evelyn went, and he told him she went to town with his wife. Then he told John to use Forth gear on the road, and jumped down and went to his truck. John drove the tractor out on to the road, and Bill followed him with his four-way flashers on. Driving down the road was a lot harder than plowing. The tractor waved from side to side, and the plow on the back was almost as wide as the road. It was taking all John had to keep it going straight down the road. He saw the driveway up ahead and slowed down, and turned into it slow, He was looking around the whole time. The tractor seamed to be bigger on the small driveway. This was nothing like driving around open land, or down the road. John passed the house, and saw a big barn at the end of the driveway. There was another tractor, and a lot of farm attachments lined up next to the barn. Bill had parked his truck, and walked over to where the attachments were. He was pointing to a spot between two of them. John pull around and back it in, to get it there. Bill ran his finger accost his throat. John turned off the key, but the tractor was still running. he through my arms up in the air, and could see Bill laughing. Bill came over and climbed up on the tractor. He told John you have to push the throttle all the way forward. He did and the motor stopped.

 

They took off the plow, and moved the tractor over to the backhoe attachment. They hooked it up, and went back down to the property. Bill ran the tractor, and started digging the hole for the septic tank. John was standing and watching when he saw a car coming down the road. When it got closer, he saw it was Bill’s wife and Evelyn. He waved his hand to get Bills attention, then pointed at the car. Bill shock his head to let John know he knew. Then he just kept digging. Evelyn and Bills wife had walked over to the garden, and were standing there talking. Bill put the bucket up in the air. Then moved the tractor over by his truck, and he set the bucket on top of the tank. Then he shut off the tractor.

 

Climbing down off the tractor, Bill said. “Hope they brought us something to eat. I’m starved.”

 

Evelyn and Bills wife came over from the garden. Evelyn looked at me and said, “This is Barbara Bills wife.”

Looking at her John exclaimed, “Hi, Pleased to meet you.”

 

Barbara said, “Nice to meet you John.”

 

Barbara was in her late fortes or early fifties. She was about medium height, and had big strong arms. John thought to himself, If you made her mad she would probably knock you out. Her long black hair was pulled back into a pony tale. She was warring a brown and tan flannel shirt, blue jeans, and boots. John thought about living in the city. You would never see a woman that looked this way there.

 

Bill asked Barbara, “Did you bring something for us to eat?”

 

“Yes,” she replied. “Evelyn and I ate at the house wile we packed something for you guys.”

 

She walked over to the car, and pulled out a basket. It was a picnic basket like the one John’s mom had when he was little.  It was made of wicker with a wicker lid that opened on both sides. She set it on the hood of the car, and opened one side. Then she folded out a red and white checkered cloth. John was having flash backs of an old movie as Barbara pulled out a sandwich, and handed it to Bill. Then she handed one to John, and pulled out some Oranges and chips. Bill and John ate while Evelyn and Barbara told them about their trip to town. They told them that they stopped and saw Dan, and he was going to bring out the paper work.

 

Bill shook his head, “Good.” Then he asked, “What kind of house are you two going to put on this property?”

 

Evelyn informed, “We have been looking at manufactured homes. They’re a lot of them that people have lost to the banks, because of the bad economy. We were hoping to get a good deal on one.”

 

Bill asked, “Have you been looking at any of them?”

 

“Yes” John replied. “We found a nice one, but we probably won’t get it. We don’t have the money to get one until we sale our house.”

 

Bill suggested, “We might be able to help you with that. We’ll see what Ben says when he gets here. He is real good at putting things to gather.”

 

“I’ve been meaning to ask, but a little afraid of what you might say.” John announced, “It is about this job. I don’t know how I’m going to work out this job. With me living in Portland and with the job up here, I don’t know what to do. I can’t drive up from Portland everyday, because I can’t afford the gas to do that. I don’t have any place to stay up here. I just don’t know what to do.”

 

Bill gave a little chuckle and insisted, “You worry too much about the little things. What days does Evelyn work?”

 

Evelyn interjected, “Mondays and Tuesdays.”

 

“Then that will be your days off,” Bill said, “You can stay up here the rest of the week, and go down to Portland on Mondays and Tuesdays. That is if Evelyn will help Barbara set up a room in our house for you.”

 

John didn’t know what to say. He had only known them for a few hours, and he was treating them like family. He seamed to have complete trust in them like they were old friends. John had never had someone treat him this way. Maybe it was because of living in the city. That made him that way. You would never trust someone you just met this way, but maybe Evelyn was right. Things are a lot different in the country. People just think different out here. John just stared at him for a long time well thinking of this. Then he asked, “How can you trust us like this? You don’t even know us. We could rob you and leave in the middle of the night. I could be a real wacko.”

 

Bill was taking a drink of his coffee when John was telling him this. At the word wacko, the coffee came spraying out of his mouth.

 

John jumped back, as Bill started laughing. Then he heard Evelyn say, “John,” in a scolding tone.

 

John looked over at her. She had a mean look on her face, and looking at Barbara she was smiling. He felt out of place, and just stood there looking at everyone. Bill was wiping off his face with his shirt.

 

Then when he quit laughing he announced, “You know it is a good thing you aren’t a crook. You wouldn’t make it too far. Heck, I know your name, and where you live. It is all on the paper work for the land, so what are you going to do after you rob us. Give up your home in Portland, and go hide in the woods. I don’t think so. I think you are good people. What do you think Barbara?” He asked as he looked at her.

 

“I’m not sure about John,” she replied with a laugh, “But Evelyn is all right. Her and I have gotten to know each other pretty good already. We pretty much think the same way on things. Guess you are just going to have to see what you can do with wacko over there.”

 

Looking at me Bill and Barbara laughed. John looked to the road, and saw someone was coming. Bill turned his head to see what John was looking at.

 

“Looks like Ben is coming,” Bill announced.

 

Ben pulled up and parked next to my Jimmy. He got out carrying a folder in his hand. Looking around he commented, “Boy you guys don’t waste anytime. Don’t you think we should get the paperwork done before there’s a house here?”

 

Bill informed, “We might need to change the contract. We need to tie a house on to the deal.”

 

“What kind of a house?” Ben questioned.

 

“A manufactured home, Bill replied. “You know one of those trailer kind.”

 

Looking at John Bill questioned, “John do you have any info on the one you two picked out?”

Evelyn chimed in, “I’ll get it,” then went to the Jimmy and got the list. She took it to Bill, and showed him witch one it was. Ben was looking at it when Evelyn pointed it out.

 

Ben told Bill let me have that. He took the list and went to his truck, and got a cell-phone. Then he called the number on the list. He gave them the listing number, and told them he had a buyer.

 

“Their going to fax me the paperwork,” Ben said. “What am I going to do about the earnest money?”

 

“Take it out of the money John and Evelyn are putting down on my property,” Bill replied. Then he asked John, “Do you have the check?”

 

“No,” he replied. “Evelyn has it. She don’t trust me with that much money.”

 

Looking at Evelyn Bill informed, “Good girl. I wouldn’t trust a guy that might rob me, and run off in the woods either.”

 

Evelyn, Bill, and Barbara laughed. Ben probably thought they were nuts, but didn’t say a word. Evelyn handed Ben the check.

 

Ben whined, “I got to go back and redo all this paperwork. Maybe you guys can come in tomorrow afternoon and sign them. Hopefully I will have the home tied to it by then.”

 

As Ben got into his truck Bill shouted, “We will see you tomorrow.”

 

Barbara picked up the picnic basket and said. “Evelyn let’s go fix up that room for you two.” Then looking over at Bill and John, she informed, “See you guys at dinner.” Then she got in the car with Evelyn and left.

 

Bill and John hooked a chain to the bucket. Then to the tank, and set it in the hole. Then they spent the rest of the day digging the trenches for the drain filed. Bill dug with the tractor, while John leveled out the bottom of them with a shovel. After they were done, Bill told John they’d call it a day. He took his truck, and John followed him in his Jimmy. They pulled up to Bill’s old two-story house. It had a porch that warped around three sides of house, and big tall windows with fancy woodwork all around the house. There was a porch swing, and Evelyn and Barbara were siting on the swing talking. Bill stopped and waited for John at the steps of the porch. When he got there, they went up to where their wives were sitting.

 

Barbara looked up and announced, “If you guys go and clean up. We will go put dinner on the table.”

 

Bill suggested, “Come on John, I will show you where we can wash up at.”

 

John spoke as he walked with Bill, “I like the covered porch that wraps around your house. It must be nice on those hot summer days.”

 

Bill replied as they went in the back door, ‘Yes it is, and it is nice when it’s snows in the winter to.”

 

John was standing in a little room kind of like a back porch, but it was in the house. There was a bench next to the wall with boots and shoes under it. The bench had coat hooks on the wall over it, and some had coats hanging on them. Looking to his right there was on open doorway. Bill sat on the bench and started taking off his boots. John sat next to him, and undid his bootlaces. He could see the kitchen through the open doorway. It was a large kitchen with a round table at the far end. The kitchen was on the corner of the house, so there were windows on two walls. This let a lot of light into the room. At the end of the room was a door, and Bill had opened it. John saw it was a bathroom, and watched as Bill went inside and washed his hands. Then he went inside and washed up. He was drying his hands and could hear Barbara and Evelyn in the kitchen.

 

He walked in the kitchen, and Bill was siting at the table drinking a cup of coffee. John went over and sat in the chair next to him.

 

Bill asked, “Do you want something to drink? We have coffee, pop, milk, and even a beer if you want.”

 

John informed, “Coffee would be fine.”

 

Barbara got a cup out of a cupboard. Then set the coffee in front of John, and sat at the table. John looked around for Evelyn as Barbara informed, “You guys have to go into the Next Time Around tomorrow. Evelyn and I bought her a couple hundred jars, and you need to pick them up.”

 

“We’ll do it after we water the cows,” Bill replied.

 

Evelyn came in carrying a jar of peaches asking, “Will these work?”

 

“Looks good to me,” Barbara said, “Just set them on the counter.”

 

Evelyn sat at the table looked at John and remarked. “You wouldn’t believe the pantry that Barbara has. It is about twice what we have, and she canned most of the stuff herself. She has a milk cow out back, and even has homemade cheeses that she made from the milk.  She told me she would teach me how to make it.”

 

Evelyn seamed so happy, and her and Barbara were getting along like old friends. It was as if she was at home, but this was not true for John. He felt kind of out of place. Everything was happing so fast. Here he was staying in these peoples home, and he had only known them one day. They all acted as if they have known him for years. Could they need a farm hand that bad? He thought, this is going way to fast.

 

Then he heard Bill ask, “What are you thinking about?” it snapped John out of his thoughts. he looked up and everyone was looking at him. Now he relay felt out of place.

 

He insisted, “It is just all that has happened today. This is all like a dream. I have never meet people as nice and carrying as you and Barbara. People just don’t have trust like this theses days.”

 

Bill smiled and informed, “Well things aren’t always what you think. You work for me now, and you are going to be my neighbor. What can I hide from you? You are going to know all about us anyway.”

 

Barbara spoke up, “I all ready know a lot about you to Wacko.”

 

Then everyone laughed, and Evelyn said, “I told Barbara about your brother calling you wacko, and about our pantry. They’re a lot like us when it comes to being prepared.

 

John broke in, “I was hoping to leave the name Wacko down in the big city. Now it has followed me up here.”

 

Bill insisted. “I don’t think you’re a wacko John. I think you just use good sense to stay prepared. We only get money once a year. Most of the time it is in the fall when we sell the cows, so we have to plan and prepare for the next year. If we don’t plan for over a year ahead, we would not make it, and then we would lose everything. You see we think what you have been doing is a good thing. Now you will have to live that way, or win the lottery”

 

John laughed, “Not much of a chance of that happening.”

 

John could smell the chicken cooking in the oven, and was getting hungry.

 

Barbara show Evelyn where the plates were, and had her set the table. Then Barbara and Evelyn put the food on the table. They ate while Bill told a story about a milk cow he had. After dinner, Bill told John they needed to load up a generator for tomorrow. Barbara told us to go do it, and they would cleanup in here.

 

Bill and John went out to the barn. He gave John a tour around, and showed him where he kept things. After showing John around, he took him to the generator. Bill took the handle on one side, and John took the one on the other. They carried it out, and put it on the truck then walked back to the house.

 

Barbara and Evelyn were siting on the porch swing again. Bill and John went up and sat in a couple of chairs next to them. Evelyn told about all the things she did in town and after they got back. Then said she was ready to go to bed, it had been a long day, and five o’clock comes early. John thought, oh no these people get up at five. He told them that he better go to if he want to know where to sleep. It is either that or sleep here in this chair.

 

John followed Evelyn into the house. The room was up stares. They went through the front door into an entry room. There was a large arched doorway to the living room on one side, and a stairway on the other side. The stairway had fancy turned spokes in-between large rounded rails, and large pillars with big rounded knobs on top of them. Evelyn started up the stairs, and John followed her. At the top of the stairs was a hallway with a door on each side, and one at the end. The floor was hard wood with a green carpet down the middle. John was looking at the flower pattern on the carpet, when Evelyn opened the door on the right.

 

He stepped into the room, and felt like he had stepped back in time. The room was furnished with antiques. Over by the window was a table with an old water pitcher and bowl. The bed looked like an old brass bed, but it wasn’t, it was painted. The bedspread was what looked like a handmade quilt.

 

Evelyn went over, sat in an old rocking chair, and started to get ready for bed. She told John, there where some coveralls hanging in the closest, and that he should ware them tomorrow. Then she can wash his clothes. John’s clothes were pretty dirty form digging the trenches.                  

 

Evelyn went over and pushed the door most of the way closed. She left it so that there was a gap of a few inches. Then John got into the bed next to her, and she was telling him about her day with Barbara. John laid there listening to her, and could hear the old windup alarm clock ticking. She was telling him that her and Barbara were going to Portland tomorrow. Her voice started fading, as John fall asleep.

 

The next thing John knew Barbara was standing outside the door calling Evelyn's name. He heard Evelyn say I’ll be there in a minute. John looked over at the clock, and it was 4:30 in the morning. He thought she said five, and rolled over. Evelyn got dressed, and gave him a kiss on the check. Then whispered you can sleep a little more. It seamed like John had just fallen back to sleep when the alarm clock went off. He rolled over and tried to find the button on the back of it. After a few tries, it was off.

 

Down the stairs, and to the kitchen he went. When he got their Bill was sitting at the table eating. Evelyn set a plate at the table. It had eggs, sausage, and hash browns on it. She told him you better sit down and eat, or Bill will leave with out you. Then you will be walking, because Barbara and I are taking the Jimmy today.

 

Barbara set a cup of coffee in front of John, and told him not to worry, Bill don’t move real fast. Bill gave a little laugh. Then he winked at John. Barbara told them the cow had been milked, and the chickens had been fed. You guys will have to milk the cow, because Evelyn and I probably won’t be back from Portland in time. Oh, don’t forget to pick up the jars. Then you might want to stop and see Pete. Evelyn needs some chickens, and I think Pete said he had some to sale. Don’t let him cheat you, or get into some wild trading scam.

 

Bill looked at John and informed, “See how it is. This is why I’m so slow, because I have to do half of her work to.”

 

John whispered, “I don’t think I should say anything. Most of that stuff is because me.”

 

Bill and John were done eating, so Bill told him lets get out of here, or they will just add more to are list of things to do. He grabbed a thermos form the counter, and they went out the door. John got in the truck, and Bill drove around to the back of the barn. Then told him to get out, and open the door. John opened the door, and Bill backed in the truck. He got out. Then told John they need to put ten bales of hay on the truck. He climbed up on the back of the truck. John put the bales of Hay on the truck, and Bill stacked them. Then they drove out to where the cows were. It was about a half-mile from Bill’s house. When they got close, the cows started running up the fence line. John got out and opened the gate, and Bill pulled in with cows gathering around the truck. Bill gave John a knife and told him to cut the twine on the bales, and throw the hay off the side of the truck. After all the hay was off, they took the generator off the truck, and carried it over by two large water troughs. Bill started it up, and plugged in a cord. Then water started coming out of a pipe filling the troughs. Bill told John now it is time to have a cup of coffee. He got the thermos and two cups. They sat on the back of the truck, and drank their coffee.

 

A few minutes later Evelyn and Barbara drove by in the Jimmy, waving as they passed. Bill told John they probably think all they did, was drive out here and drink coffee. John laughed, and told him you are probably right.

 

Evelyn pulled in the driveway, and told Barbara this is our house. Well, until it sells anyway. She took Barbara inside and over to the door for the spare bedroom. Standing at the door where they had all of their food stored she looked at Barbara and informed, “I never show this to anyone. The only ones that know about it is John and I, and his brother and his wife.” Then she opened the door.

 

Barbara just stood there looking into the room. Then said, “You have done good girl, but there is something I need to tell you. First you have to promise you won’t tell John.”

 

“Is this like a girl thing? Something we just keep between us.”  Evelyn inquired.

 

“No,” Barbara insisted, “It has to do with John and Bill to, but Bill wants to tell John in his own way. I need you to promise you won’t tell John. Can you do that?”

 

Evelyn felt a little strange. She didn’t know what to say. She had never kept secrets from John. Looking into Barbara’s eyes she informed, “I’ve never kept anything from John. I don’t know that I can make a promise like that.”

 

Barbara looked at Evelyn, and paused for a moment. Then she said, “I’m Ranchers wife.”

 

Evelyn smiled and said, “I know Bill is a rancher.”

 

Barbara turned her head and said, “No I’m Ranchers wife from the prep board. Bill is Rancher on the board.” Barbara looked back at Evelyn, and she was staring at her in a daze.

 

Then she jumped at Barbara, and warped her arms around her. Giving Barbara a hug and jumping up and down at the same time. With tears running down her cheeks she whispered, “How could I not know it was you? Your house, your pantry, everything is just the way you put them in your post.”

 

Barbara stepped back, and wiped a tear from Evelyn’s cheek. Then she asked, “Are you going to tell John?”

 

Evelyn smiled and said, “Nope, if John don’t figure it out. Then that is his loss. I think he will though.”

 

“Thank you Evelyn,” Barbara said. “Bill would never forgive me if he wasn’t the one to tell John.”

 

“Then that is how it will be, Bill tells John,” Evelyn agreed, “Now how about a cup of hot chocolate? I have a lot to tell you and a lot to ask”

 

“Evelyn you sweet dear you remembered about my weakness for chocolate. I should not have posted about it so much. Let’s go to the kitchen,” Barbara insisted.

 

They sat for over an hour talking, about what was and wasn’t in their posts on the board. They had five years of caching up to do. Evelyn asked Barbara about how they led them to the property. She knew it wasn’t by chance that she picked it out.

 

Barbara told her that she didn’t know for sure. I knew from your post that you wanted a creek or pond. I told Bill to give you the peace with the pond. We don’t have any property with a creek, so I picked out what I thought you would like. Your neighbors to the north are Pete and Suzie. Pete is Commander on the board. Bill and Pete know other members on the board, and they all set this up. They did the same with the Jimmy. I don’t know who got it for you. Bill didn’t tell me, but we knew about it.

 

After catching up on old times, Evelyn packed some things. Then they headed back

 

 Bill slowed down as they entered town. They were going down Main Street, and Bill was pointing out the business as they passed. The town was over 100 years old, and most of the buildings were from that era. The whole down town was only two blocks long, and had a blinking light in the middle of it. They stopped at the four-way stop, and Bill told John this was the only light in town. Then they drove out the other side of the town. There were a few blocks of homes, and then they were back in the country. About a half-mile out of town, Bill pulled up to a big blue poll-barn. There was a sign on it that said “Next Time Around.” John knew this was where they were picking up the jars. Bill and John got out and went in side.

John stepped in the door, and was shocked by what he saw. The place was a secondhand store shopper’s dream. You name it, and it was probably in there. A man came walking up. He was in his mid thirties with a big beer belly wearing bib overalls, and a full beard. He took off his hat, scratched his balled head, as he announced. “Hi Bill. You must be here to get the jars.”

Bill replied, “Sure am Dave.” 

“You know those women do it to me every time.” Dave whined. “They talk me into giving them something for half what it’s worth, but times aren’t as good as they use to be. I have to take what I can get these days.”

“This is my new ranch hand John,” Bill informed.

“Welcome to nowhere John,” Dave said as he put out his hand.

John shook his hand and said, “I think I’m going to like it here.”

Dave took them back to ware the jars were. It was a big stack of fifteen or twenty boxes. They all took a box, and carried them to the truck. Soon the truck was loaded, and Bill and John left to see Ben. When they pulled up Ben was sitting on the porch smoking a cigar. They went up and talked with him.

 

He told them that he had tied up the home, and no one was going to buy it out from under them. The problem is its Friday, and not much happens in the big city on Friday. It would be next week before he had the paper work ready. Bill told him that they would be in next Wednesday, and Ben told us that would be fine.

 

Bill and John drove back to his house. He backed the truck up to the porch and instructed, “John you can stack the jars on the porch, and I will go call Pet.”

 

John stacked the boxes on the porch. Then Bill came back out and told him that Pet was not home, and he left a massage with his wife. They were going to go down to John’s place, and he could meet them there. Bill and John went down to his place. Then they glued the drainpipe together, and put it in the trenches. They were putting in the last pipe when Pete drove up. He was driving a flatbed one-ton truck. This seemed to be the preferred farm vehicle. Most of the farms seem to have one. Like Bill he was a rough and rugged looking man in his early fifty’s. He walked over to where Bill and John were working.

 

Bill looked up and announced, “This is John my new farm hand.”

 

“Hey good to meet you Wacko,” Pete said as he looked at John. Then he looked at Bill he boasted, “Looks to me like you are working for Wacko. Not the other way around.”

 

Something strange was happing here. How did he know about John being Wacko? Looking him straight in the eyes John asked, “Why did you call me Wacko?”

 

He did not say a word, and broke eye contact to look at Bill. They both were looking at each other with strange looks on their faces. Then Bill informed, well someone must have told him.

 

Pete looked at John and said with a smile, “This is how it is out here. Don’t tell anyone anything you don’t want everyone within fifty miles to know. News travels fast around here, but if you don’t want me to call you that, just say so.”

 

“No it is ok with me,” John said. “I was just surprised to hear it from someone I don’t know.”

 

Bill announced, “John wants to buy some chickens for his wife. Do you have some to sell?

 

“Where you putting them John,” Pete asked as he looked around. “You can’t just leave them out here running around, unless you are planning on feeding them to the coyotes and hawks.”

 

“I plan on building a chicken coop as soon as my house sells,” John replied. “I won’t need them until then.”

 

“Well I will need someone to stack my hay when Bill cuts it,” Pete said. “Maybe we could work out a trade.”

 

Thinking about how much hay was left in Bill barn from last year, and what Barbara said about not getting into some scam of Pete’s. I asked, “How much Hay?”

 

“I was thinking about $8.00 a chicken. That would be about an hour of work per chicken. I would think you’d need ten chickens and a rooster.” Pete said looking at Bill and asking, “What do you think?”

 

Bill agreed, “That sounds about right to me. Ten good layers is about what you would need.”

 

Looking at Bill, John asked. “Do you think this is a good deal. I’m not sure about this trading thing. This is all new to me.” John was wishing Evelyn were here. She knew more about this kind of thing than he did.

 

Bill laughed and said, “I don’t think it makes much difference. I do Pete’s hay every year, and you are going to be stacking it either way. You see it is just whether Pete pays me. Then I pay you, or Pete pays you. It all comes out the same.”

 

John could tell he was not going to get a straight answer from either one of them. He knew Evelyn wanted some good laying hens, so he told Pete he would take the deal. Then Pete asked John where he was going to put the chicken coop, and he told him he would have to let Evelyn decide that. No mater where he decided to put it. It will be the wrong place. “She will be on me for years about why I put it there, John informed. They all laughed and Pete said, “You are a smart man John. You might be the one to figure out women one day.”

 

“I don’t think so,” John replied. “But thanks for thinking I might be a genius someday.”

 

Pete was one of the best guys John had met in a long time, and it felt like he knew him for years. Only a few times in his life had he felt like he belonged somewhere, and this was one of the times. He knew Evelyn and him were going to make it here. The last two days had been like a dream, and it was good. It was like finding family you never knew you had.

 

He heard Bill ask, “What are you thinking about?”

 

John had been just staring off into space. “I don’t know,” John said, “Love, peace, friends. Just all of the things I find here. I’m so happy. If this is a dream don’t wake me up.”

 

Pete broke in, “Well we’ll see how you feel about that when the hundred degree days come, or when the snow fly’s in the winter. You might think this is a nightmare, and more like hell.”

 

With a laugh Bill insisted, “Don’t let Pete scare you like that. When it gets hot in the summer, we work at night when it is cool, and sleep all day when it is hot. In the winter there isn’t that much to do. All you do then is feed the cows in the morning, and chop a hole in the ice so they can get water.”

 

Just then, Evelyn and Barbara pulled up. They got out of the Jimmy, and walked over to where guy’s were.

 

Barbara asked, “What kind of deal did you guys come up with for the chickens.”

 

Pete announced, “John is going to stack my hay for them.”

 

Barbara raised her voice and scolded, “Pete! How could you do that? When I tell Suzy you’ll be sleeping on the porch. That is if you are lucky.”

 

Pete looked at John and winked. Then he insisted, “John thought it was a good deal. Didn’t you John?”

 

John mumbled, “Well Pete and Bill both told me it was a good deal, so I told him I would trade for the work. I have more time than money, so I thought it didn’t matter.” John knew Bill and Pete were Joking, so he played along.

 

Evelyn was not saying a word. She was just giving them all a mean look. Then she looked at Pete and asked, “How many cows do you have Pete?”

 

With a smile Pete replied, “I think somewhere around 200. Not sure just added another calf this morning. You know how it is, the heard gets bigger this time of year.”

 

Evelyn looked at john, and he could tell she was steaming mad. he had only seen her like this twice in his eight years of marriage. He knew the joke had gone to far, but before he could get out a word she laid into him. “You dumb ass! Do you have any idea how much hay it takes to carry 200 cows over the winter? I know you have no idea how much work it will take. I would guess about two months of busting your ass.”

 

John had learned it was best to just let her have her way, especially when she was like this. Then after she calmed down he would talk it over with her.

 

After that Pete confessed, “I think this is my cue to leave.”

 

Knowing that Pete was Commander from the prep board, Evelyn turned to Pete and laid into him next. “So who do you think you are? The Commander of every thing around here, and I suppose this is a concentration camp. You think you can work John like a slave just because he doesn’t know much about farming. I’m driving over to your house right now and talking to Suzy.”

 

Pete started laughing. Then Bill started busting up. He could not hold it in either. John just stood there because he knew she was still steaming mad. Then Pete confessed, “It was a joke. Boy that is one wild mean woman you have their John. No wonder they call you Wacko.”

 

Barbara scolded, “You guys should be ashamed of yourselves. That was mean, and for that, Bill is cooking dinner. Evelyn and I are going to go pick up Suzy, and go to the house. We expect you guy’s to be there by the time we are done milking the cow. Lets go Evelyn.”

 

Then they got in the car and left. Bill looked over at John, and insisted, “Remind me not to pull a stunt like that again, that is about the worst thing a man can do. Get his wife all pissed off at him.”

 

“You’re telling me,” John said, “Barbara didn’t look half as mad as Evelyn.”

 

“Don’t kid yourself. She was just as mad,” Bill replied.

 

Pete ask, “Bill if I’m coming over for dinner, what are we having?”

 

“Damn, I guess I better go take out some stakes, and get the barbecue going.” Bill replied, then added, “Lets go John, we have to get the stakes out of the freezer.”

 

Pete shook his head and informed, “If you think I’m going to my place with a bunch of hostile women there your crazy. I’ll follow you down to your place.”

 

They all went to Bill’s house. Pete pulled in next them, and got out of his truck. Then looking at John asked, “How is that dream going now Wacko? Has it turned into a nightmare yet?”

 

They all went out to the barn, and Bill got some stakes out of the freezer, and took them in the kitchen. Looking through the kitchen window, John saw his Jimmy pull in. He told Bill and Pete that their wife’s were here. Bill told them that they would probably go to the barn and milk the cow. He went to the refrigerator, pulled out a beer, and handed it Pete. Then handed one to John, and popped the top on his beer.

 

“I think we are going to need a few of these to make it through this,” Bill announced as he took a drink.

 

Bill was wrong. John saw Barbara and Evelyn heading to the barn, but Suzy was coming up on the porch. She headed right for the back door. John was looking at the bench with the coat rack over it. Then she stepped in the doorway. She was about five seven or eight with bright red hear, and could not have weighed more than a hundred pounds. She walked right over to Pete. Put her hands on her hips, and just stared at him. Bill and John went out the back door. Then walked around and sat in the chars. They could hear her giving Pete a peace of her mind. They heard her tell him that she was giving Evelyn the chickens, and whatever deal he made was off. That he was going to help John build the chicken coop, and it better be a nice one.

 

Evelyn came walking back from the barn carrying the milk pail. Pete came out and sat with Bill and John. With a little chuckle, Pete insisted, “See what you guys did to me. That Irish temper of hers is up and going.”

 

John admitted, “I’m sorry Pete. I didn’t mean to make so much trouble.”

 

“It is ok John, Pete said. “Two days from now it will be a joke.”

 

Bill pointed out, “We need another beer. Who is going to go in and get them?”

 

“Guess I will,” John said.

 

“Good luck,” Bill informed as Pete gave a little laugh.

 

John walked in the kitchen, and Evelyn was putting a gallon jar of milk in the refrigerator. He walked over and said, “I’m sorry I got you so mad,” as he pulled the beer from the refrigerator.

 

Suzy shouted so Bill and Pete could hear, “At least the wacko one knows how to say he is sorry.”

 

Evelyn didn’t say a word, she just gave him a smile as he went out the door. John handed Bill and Pete their beer and sat down. they talked for a while. Then Bill started the barbecue, and sent John for the steaks. he went and got the steaks, and stood by the barbecue with Pete and Bill. Suzy came out and got a handbag out of the Jimmy. Then went and sat on the porch swing. She pulled out an embroidery hoop, and was sewing on it. Pete shoved his elbow onto John’s shoulder and whispered, “That is a good sign.”

 

The rest of the night went a lot better. Pete and Suzy left in Pete’s truck. John and Evelyn talked with Bill and Barbara for a little bit, and went to bed.

 

The next day it was as if it never happened. Bill and John took care of the cows, and then checked some of the fences for any bad spots. They moved some cows that were ready to have a calf up by the barn, so Bill could keep an eye on them. The days went by fast. It was Sunday, and Evelyn and John were heading home.

 

John pulled in the driveway, and sat there with the motor running listening to the radio. It was a talk show, and the host was talking about Iran. He was blaming China for helping them make Nuclear weapons. This is one of the worst things, because Iran supports Terrorist. We might wake up one day with Nukes going off right here in America.

 

Evelyn put her hand on John’s leg. Then whispered, “Don’t worry about it John. They said the same thing about Iraq, and then we found nothing there. Turn off the Jimmy and lets go in the house.”

 

John leaned over and gave her a kiss on the check, as he turned the key. Slung his arm over the seat, and grabbed his pack. He stopped half way to the door and looked at the for-sale sign in the yard. Thinking, hope it sells fast, as Evelyn took his arm and pulled him towards the door. He slid the key in the lock, and felt Evelyn slip her arms around him. She put her chin on his shoulder as he pushed the door open. Then she whispered. “Everything is going to workout. We are going to be just fine.”

 

John turned around and took her in his arms. Giving her a tight squeeze, he quietly said, “I know, it is just hard to come back here. It is so quiet and peaceful up there. The rest of the world doesn’t seem to matter when I’m there.”

 

She pushed him in the door, and kicked it shut with her foot. Then said, “You better check the prep board, I think there is something there for you.”

 

Then she slipped out of his arms, and went down the hall. John went over and turned on the computer. Then went into the kitchen, and put some water on the stove for Hot Cocoa. When He got back to the computer Evelyn was logging on to the web. He sat in the chair next to her, and ran his fingers through her hair. He was looking at her thinking how lucky he was. A woman like this only comes once in a lifetime. He was thinking about the ducks at the pond when they first looked at the property, and how mad she got about the hay. “Look!” Evelyn yelled. Just about jumping out of his chair, John snapped back at her. “What?”

 

“You have a post from Rancher.” She informed.

 

The title of the post read Wacko. Evelyn opened it and started reading it aloud, but John was ahead of her and was already reading it. Rancher's post said, “How do you like the new Job? You probably think it is great now, but wait until the middle of June. When we start cutting the hay, you will think different. That’s when the real work starts. See you Wednesday.  Rancher.”

 

John looked at Evelyn, she was smiling and swaying back and forth in her chair. he could see she was happy. He was thinking of all that had happened the last few days. Bill had been throwing him so many hints on who he was. John thought he might be rancher a few times, but had been brushing it off. He though it was just him, but now he knew. This was like the joke they pulled on Evelyn and Barbara. Only this time it was on him.

 

John asked Evelyn if she knew. She told him Barbara told her when they came to the house, but Bill wanted to tell you in his own way. She asked if John wanted her to type up a reply. He told her no that two can play this game. “I’ll just act like I never read it. Let him think I’m the dumbest guy on the earth. I just won’t post on the board until his post rolls back a few pages. Some how he knows who we are, and out of all the land for sale out there, how did we pick the one he had for sale? I think this was setup, but I’m not going say a thing. If he wants me to know, he can tell me himself.”

 

Evelyn smiled at John and insisted, “Oh John. Don’t get mad about it. You should be happy. You wanted to meet him for years, and now you are going to live next to him.”

 

“Remember how mad you were about Pete’s hay?” He asked, “Well this is the same thing, it’s a bad joke.”

 

“I think you are wrong,” she replied. “Bill must have gone through a lot to set this up, and he was taking a big chance. We could have been weird people, and all of our posts to the board could have been lies. Barbara didn’t tell me until we came down here, and I showed her our prep room. I think that was a turning point for her. It made all my posts to the board ring true. Then we knew we could trust each other. Now she is like my best friend. I don’t want you to mess this up for us.”

 

John told her not to worry. He wouldn’t let it go that far. Then they called it a night, and went to bed. The next day seemed to drag on and on. John looked through all the notebooks Evelyn had printed out. He saw the plans for a root cellar. He was thinking Endtimer must have thought the members were rich. It would probably cost a couple thousand dollars to build it, and that was if you did all the labor yourself. John thought that maybe next year he could build it for Evelyn. Money was going to be tight for a while. Bill had told him he would think he was rich in the fall, but he had to remember that money would have to last a year.

 

After what seamed like a week, the two days had passed, and they were driving back up to Bill’s place. They turned down Bill’s driveway, and saw Barbara siting on the porch swing. Seeing us she jumped up and walked over to the Jimmy.

 

“Oh Evelyn you got to see this!” Barbara said. “Come on we will take my car.” Then looking at John and she said, “Bill’s in the barn.” John walked out to the barn, as Evelyn got in Barbara’s car. Bill was checking the oil in a four-wheeler. Looking up at John he informed, “We got to brand and ear tag the new calves.”

 

John helped Bill load the four-wheeler. Then they headed out to where the cows were.

 

Barbara pulled in and parked next to Bill’s tractor. Evelyn's eyes lit up with excitement. “Theirs Chickens in there!” She shouted. Then got out and ran over to the chicken coop. It was ten feet wide and twelve long with a fenced in yard the same size. The door was real nice, and had a window. Evelyn looked through the window, and saw two new metal garbage cans. Then she heard Barbara Say, “Don’t just stand there, open the door and go in.”

 

Evelyn opened the door and went inside. She was standing in a little storage room. There was a wall covered with chicken wire to keep the chickens out.

 

Barbara asked, “What do you think?” as she watched Evelyn lift the lid off the can with cracked corn in it.

 

Evelyn put the lid back on the can, and turned to Barbara. Her eyes were watering up and a tear started to run down her cheek. Barbara stepped close to Evelyn and gave her a hug. Then spoke softly into her ear. “Suzy made Pete build it for you. She said it was the lest he could do after what he did. Now I think we should go tell Suzy thanks.

 

Barbara drove down to the highway, and headed east. About a mile and a half down the highway was the road to Suzy’s house. Then they went a little ways and turned into the driveway. Pete and Suzy’s house was just in side the tree line. The house was a newer home. It had a lot of windows, and no curtains. You could see in all the rooms of the house as you drove up. The kitchen was on the front corner of the house with a door off the end. That went out to a large porch with a bench swing on one side. They could see Suzy in the kitchen by the stove. She was putting some cups on the table when they got to the door. She waved for them to come in. Barbara opened the door, and her and Evelyn went in.

 

Evelyn looked at Suzy and said, “You didn’t have to make Pete build me a chicken coop.” Then her eyes started to water up again.

 

Suzy took her arm and sat her in a chair at the table. Put a tea bag in the cup, and poured in the hot water. Then as she poured water in Barbara’s cup, she spoke, “I remember from one of your posts you like spice tea. I think we know all the things you like and dislike. Barbara and I have been friend’s since High School. Over thirty years we’ve been doing everything together. Over the last five years, we found a new friend, and it was you. We have read every post you put on the board. Then we would talk about your post. You see it is like you have been up here for a few years. We talked about you being a country girl stuck in the big city, but there was nothing we could do about it. That is until now. We got you here, and now we are all happy. We know from your post that you grew up on a farm in Kansas, and that your aunt and uncle raised you. They’re gone now, and all you have is John’s brother and wife for family. Pete was in the Army for twenty years, and this was his dad’s ranch. He is gone now, and it is just Pete and I. Were not young anymore and need some help.”

 

Then Barbara spoke up and said, “Bill has a brother back east somewhere, but we have not heard from him in over ten years. We had a son, but we lost him in the first Iraq war. John answered every post Bill made for the last five years. That has meant a lot to him, and I think this is Bill’s way to fill the void of his loss. To me you are like the daughter I never had, so don’t think we are doing this all for you. We are doing it for us to.”

 

Just then, Pete pulled up and parked next to Barbara’s car. He ran up on the porch, and slung the door open. Bursting through trying to talk and laugh at the sometime. He took a deep breath and continued, “I saw the funniest thing I’ve seen in years. I stopped to see Bill, and he had John out on a four-wheeler. He was trying to chase a calf into the shoot, so they could brand it. John was chasing it all over the field, and almost rolled over the four-wheeler a couple times. Bill was sitting on the back of the truck laughing his ass off. I thought he was going to fall off the back of the truck. I told Bill if John don’t run out of gas. The calf will probably drop over from exhaustion. Then you can just walk out there and brand it.”

 

Looking over Pete saw tears running down Evelyn’s checks. He got a straight look on his face, and acknowledged. “I’m sorry Evelyn I didn’t mean to upset you.”

 

Evelyn got up from her chair, and walked over to Pete. She put her arms around him, and gave him a big hug. Then she said, “It’s not you Pete. These are tears of joy. Thank you for the chicken coop.” Then she sat back in the chair, and took a sip of her tea.

 

Pete laughed and said, “Wow I’m lucky that redhead ball of fire didn’t knock me in the head. She will slap me for just looking at another woman.”

 

Suzy said, “My time is coming. Just wait until you go to sleep.”

 

Pete smiled, “I think that is my cue to go back to work.” Then he went out the door and left in his truck.

 

Suzy said, “Thank you Evelyn. This has meant more to me than you will ever know. I haven’t seen Pete like that for years.”

 

Barbara smiled at Evelyn and said, “It sounds like Bill is having the time of his life.”

 

Evelyn revealed, “John knows Bill is Rancher on the prep board.”

 

Barbara said, “Really, Bill told me this morning that Wacko never answered his post, and he thought he hadn’t read it.”

 

Evelyn laughed and informed, “He thinks he’s playing the same joke right back at Bill.”

 

Suzy busted up laughing then said; “This is going to be fun. Both of them acting like they don’t know. When they both know, and don’t know they know. Well something like that. I think it serves them both right for being that way. I’m glad us girls aren’t like that.”

 

It went on like this for the next three weeks. Barbara, Suzy, and Evelyn did everything together. Bill had John plow all their gardens, then the three gals help each other plant their gardens. John and Pete went around to each garden, and put up the poles and string for the green beans and peas. Then the day came that John and Evelyn’s home sold. By this time, there was power on the property and the pump house was in, so they had water. Pete let John and Evelyn use his camper, so they could live on their property.