Breaking Camp [13]

I looked up eventually to see Albert trudging back towards camp with an armload of leafy branches. I rose to my feet and asked Grace, “What’s that all about?”
“Oak keeps the canoti off. So we use it to mask our old campsites, keeps them off our trail. Al’s just “freshening up” the masking so’s they don’t figure out we’ve left for a little while.”
Sure enough, all around the campsite were now-withered oak branches that I hadn’t really remarked upon when I’d come in.
“Where are you going to go?” I asked, already knowing, really, but doing the ‘normal’ thing of speaking it out loud.
Grace smiled at me with that Grandma twinkle in her eye again, which was both loving and a little infuriating. I almost expected her to grab my chin in her thumb and forefinger and babytalk at me about how cute I was.
“We’re coming with you. But you already knew that, but you’re still trying to hang on to your ‘normal’. Which is completely understandable, and actually in some ways desirable. But don’t let it interfere with your flexibility of mind or you’re going to have a tougher time.”
She put out the fire with the remains of the coffee and the water from a nearby pail, then turned to pick up a few of the items she’d packed.
Without looking over her shoulder, she extended an arm towards me with a few handles of things for me to carry. I took them, then joined her at lifting/arranging the smaller sacks and packages on our shoulders and in our arms.
Albert then stumped up, done with the branches, and hoisted all the larger stuff.
We three pack mules then made our way back up the trail and across the field to my car. As we approached the field I began to feel the back of my neck tingle, a sign somebody was watching. Evidently feeling my agita mounting, Grace said softly, “Yeah, we know. Breathe, and focus on loading the car.” So I did. Albert grunted in what I thought was an approving way.
We casually got into the car. Al sat in front for the sake of legroom.
There was movement in the trees on the other side of the field we just crossed. I should say, the TOPS of the trees started moving. Not in the way trees move when the wind blows, but in the way they do when being moved by something climbing on them. Or pushing through them. They were moving because something was in them. Or maybe above them, like a helicopter’s chop wash. Either way, Not Normal.
“Okay, we need to get moving now,” Al said, calmly. “Slow and steady, relax. Act natural.”
Whenever somebody says “act natural” to me, my initial response is to instantly display awkward furtiveness. “Cool and casual” was hard-learned behavior as a teenager, for me. But his voice gave me some courage, so I decided not to freak out just for the moment. I treated it like a Driver’s Ed lesson. Put it into reverse, got pointed in the right direction, put it into drive, obeyed all the traffic laws, used my blinkers, and slowly made my way to Ohio street, the way I’d come in.
“Gotta head to Minneapolis for a short bit,” he said, “Need to look into something before we head out.”
I just nodded and kept going.
In my rearview mirror, I could see Grace in the back, was arranging piles of sleeping bags, coats, and the like into some kind of comfy nest. She settled down to snooze. Al started picking through my box of cd’s and eventually put on some Louis Armstrong.
Minneapolis, Kansas, is about 24 miles north of Salina. It’s a small town with a DMV and a hardware store, among other amenities, but it’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere, otherwise.
I had no idea why we’d need to go there, but I knew the most uninhabited roads to get there from where we were, and had most of a tank of gas.
And so off we went.

Published by goddesswest

I'm a painter and am writing something now. People keep asking me to put it together in an easier to access place, so here I am. Plan to get some of my artwork in here too, eventually.

One thought on “Breaking Camp [13]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: