Come home, p.1
Come home, p.1Sheila Jecks
Sheila S. Jecks
Copyright 2016 Sheila S. Jecks
This story is not meant to insinuate anything, about anyone, any ethnic group or any time period. It is mostly fantasy, and one or two small references to information taken from the Newspapers of Quebec and Ontario. However, I would like to thank the First Nations Web site I found for the wealth of general information I found there. This is just for entertainment, and I mean no disservice to anyone.
“Who called this meeting?” one of the ancient medicine men asked, no one answered. They were all told to attend; no one could ask why.
After the allotted time, a hush came over the group. The big doors at the end of the room opened and a group of dressed and painted warriors entered. Behind them, by himself, was a small man robed in the old Algonkin medicine man’s Bearskin robe and Eagle feathers.
The painted warriors sat down in a circle in the middle of the room. The medicine man stood in the centre.
He pulled his medicine robe high about his shoulders and began to chant, a faraway howl was heard, it swirled around the room and the sound increased.
Sweet scented smoke seeped into the room and sat on each of the First Peoples shoulders. The warriors began to chant, until one by one, they stood up and began to dance.
As the sun set in the west, the song grew and grew until it filled every chief and medicine man and they too began to dance.
They danced with the wolf that was circling the floor, his desire became their desire, his will became their will, they became one!
“All right, tell me that again, sir,” said the young Mountie who was writing everything down that early spring day in 1989.
Even though it was before noon, the locals’ gathered around the RCMP cruiser. Not much happened in the sleepy little town of Merriweather, and this was going to be the first item in the gossip mill for weeks to come.
Bill Majors, the senior Mountie was an old friend of the town, the other a new recruit. They’d responded to the early morning emergency call from the towns’ grocery store at the foot of Andover Lake.
“I told you already,” said the shoeless man who was wearing a Tee shirt and pants.
“You know me, Bill,” he said, turning to the senior Mountie. “I’m Jack McKinnon; my summer cabin is at the other end of the lake.
“My boat flipped over yesterday, it sank and all the groceries with it. I dog paddled to shore, broke into a cabin and burned some old curtains because I was so cold. There was an old quilt in one of the bedrooms and I rolled in it and slept in front of the pot-bellied stove. I walked back here to call you and my wife,” he said, as he finally ran out of breath.
“Hold on; I’m going to be sick.”
The on-lookers, who had inched closer to hear what happened, stepped back!
And, sick he was.
Dillon McPhee, the young Mountie, was new to the force. His boyish good looks belied the fact that he held a Black Belt in Martial Arts, and was First Runner Up in the Iron Man race last year in Penticton, BC. His soft brown curly hair hung down over his forehead and no amount of gel or hair spray would make it slick back the way he thought a tough Mountie should look. Friendly brown eyes the color of good dark chocolate made young women quiver and surprised the few offenders he’d encountered in his short career.
This was only the third time he’d taken notes.
He looked at the white-faced man sitting on the sidewalk with his head between his knees and turned to his partner for help. “I’ve never had an interview like this before,” he said, and wasn’t sure, should he be sorry for the man and let him recover or yell at him to get up and answer the questions.
Jack McKinnon didn’t care; he sat unseeing, his head in his hands. What happened, he thought? How could he tell his wife Rikki and his five-year-old son Harry that Big Guy was gone?
Okay, he was only a dog, but he was a big part of the McKinnon family. Jack was confident the standard Rhodesian ridgeback would have protected his little family from everything.
His job at the Jamison Copier/Scanner Company of BC, took him out of town for several days each month. As sales manager of the new Computer Department, Sales & Service, he made sure his staff serviced their out-of-town clients in a prompt and friendly way.
The big dog was a comfort to his wife and son when he was away. What are they going to do now, he thought, and his heart clenched in the tight grip of grief.
“Jack,” said the Sergeant, “do you think you can stand now?”
“Oh yeah, I guess so. I have to call Rikki,” he said as he clumsily got to his feet. “She’ll be frantic; she’s a big time worrier. How am I going to tell her the dog is probably dead, and the boat sank? It wasn’t even that old, it was supposed to be unsinkable. It had foam in the entire hull... I’ve got to call my wife.”
“Later Jack,” said Bill Majors taking his cap off and running his hand through his thick black hair, “First I think we better check on the cabin you slept in last night. Do I remember you saying you know where it is? We didn’t bring a boat so I made arrangements with the grocery store to borrow theirs. But before we leave, I want you to tell me again how you got back to Merriweather with no road on the east side of the lake and no boat.”
“I told everything to the other Mountie, I haven’t eaten since yesterday morning,” he said as he stood shivering. “I’m thirsty; I need hot coffee and some food. Let me get some runners from the grocery store, my feet are so cold they’re frozen. I’ll tell you again when we’re on the water, okay?” And he turned and walked towards the open door of the store.
“I have to call my wife,” he said over his shoulder, “then I’ll take you to the cabin, I’m pretty sure I can find it again. Then I’ll show you where I found the railway tracks.”
“You didn’t mention railway tracks before.”
“I told the other Mountie; I’d never made it back here without them.”
“Okay,” Bill Majors said, turning to his trainee, “were the arrangements I made for the boat okay?”
“Freddy said his dad said it was okay with him; just remember to fill it up with gas when we return it. I said we would.”
They stood outside on the pavement and watched as Jack McKinnon disappeared into the grocery store, “I’ll let him buy some shoes for his feet and get some coffee, where can he go? The key to his van is at the bottom of the lake. How’s he going to get home? I’ll bet he hasn’t thought about that.”
Bill Majors presented a flawless image of the perfect Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman. His steel blue eyes twinkled and laughed at most of what life handed him; yet, when needed, he was calm, resourceful and usually right.
Regulations required a minimum of two sessions a week at the local gym; it kept his shoulders broad, and his stomach flat. Physical standards were high even in the back woods. Bill Majors always hoped he’d get to the big city of Harrisburg someday and play a role in an extraordinary case.
What kind of story was Jack McKinnon selling here, he thought, as he walked back to the launching dock and watched his young partner expertly back the borrowed speedboat into the water. Andover Lake is glacier fed, a person would die of hypothermia before he went a half mile, and Jack said he swam from the middle of it? I don’t think so.
“Hi Freddy,” said Jack as he entered Merriweather’s only grocery store. “Think you could rustle me up a big cup of coffee? And maybe a bun or sandwich, something I could eat on the boat?”
Next to the ‘cash out’ counter was a bin with a ‘Shoe Sale $3.00’ sign. He poked around and finally found a pair of runners, size 13.
They were pink.
Jack turned and looked at the pay phone on the wall by the ice cream freezer; he really didn’t want to make this phone call. He looked down at the floor and then up to the ceiling as though something up there would tell him what to say.
No words of wisdom from above or anywhere else...
I sure don’t want to call home, he thought as he picked up the phone receiver and checked his pockets for change.
Was nothing going to go right?
Now he had to go back to the Check Out and get a quarter from Freddy.
* * * *
The grocery storeowner’s son knew he wouldn’t be going to University, he didn’t mind. He knew he wasn’t smart enough. But, with fiery red hair and freckles everywhere, he was ‘a good kid’ and everyone loved him. Not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he had a big heart.
And, he kept track of everything!
It was a good thing.
If you lost something in town or forgot to lock up or bring up the canoe when you left for the season. You could call the store and he’d go and take a look around, stash the things you left out, close any doors you left open and make sure everything else was battened down for the winter.
He was the one that had the idea to put a peg with folks’ names on the back wall of the store. They were able to leave notes for each other, advertise things for sale and ask for wanted items. The area around the pegs became a way of talking to the neighbors, letting everyone know about an upcoming birthday party, anniversary or any Town news they wanted promoted.
D’Arcy’s residents agreed, when they installed telephones in later years it took the close community feeling away. No more ‘peg notes’.
“Thanks for waiting Bill, I needed this coffee,” Jack said as the speedboat gathered momentum and the noise got louder. They were going up lake to find the spot where his boat turned over.
“No problem, Jack,” shouted Bill Majors over the throb of the speedboat, “but I need to see where you went down. When we come to it, there’ll be some debris, things float. We’ll check the shore on both sides too. Just in case. Your red ice chest must be floating; we’ll find where ever it landed after the storm. There’ll be something somewhere, I’m sure BG will be found too. Sorry about the dog though, he was a good one.”
Jack turned away; he didn’t want his friend to see the tears in his eyes. Poor Rikki was so upset; she didn’t want to tell Harry his dog was dead, or even missing.
As he sat in the passenger seats behind the Mountie, he looked out the windshield, and tried to remember where he was when the wave hit.
It must have been huge, he thought. His boat was big, not a yacht, but at 19 ft., big enough.
The three men watched the water; nothing was floating. Nor was there anything in the lake debris they could see on the near shore.
They decided to go up the east side of the lake and return down the west. It made sense to cover both sides, you never knew with Andover Lake, it was 13 miles long and the wind blew from every direction.
“Must be getting close Jack, it’s been quite a while, we’re almost at your place.”
“No, this isn’t where it happened. I remember seeing the big snowy mountain on my right.”
“A mountain with snow on it?”
“Yea, you know, up ahead.”
“Take your time Jack, think about it, where is the big mountain with snow on it.”
“What are you saying, Bill? I remember looking at it and thinking it was going to be cold at the cabin and a good thing I laid in extra wood before we left in fall. I remember clear as day.”
“Look around Jack.”
“It was getting dark early; I remember the haze on the water, and the big mountain coming up through it. There was lightening making the snow sparkle, and I remember thinking it looked kind of creepy.”
“Look around Jack, which mountain?”
“This can’t be why would I remember a mountain on my right if there wasn’t one there? What’s going on here?”
“We’re almost at your place and there hasn’t been a float cushion, bottle or anything, where do you think you were? Do you think maybe you were confused, and headed across the lake? That would account for the big snowy mountain, but I can’t believe you wouldn’t know where your cabin was, even if it was dark.”
“I feel funny,” said Jack, and promptly threw up over the side of the moving speedboat. Good thing they weren’t going fast.
Good Boating Practice taught, don’t throw up over the side of a travelling speedboat, it comes back in faster than it goes out.
Rikki McKinnon with her young son in tow, knocked at the back door of her good friend and neighbor Carol Adler’s home in the small town of Langley Township, just outside the city of Harrisburg.
“Hi there, come in, sit down, I’ll make a cup of tea. Say, you look terrible,” said Carol. Looking closer she saw the tension on the face of her pretty neighbor. Her long dark chestnut hair was usually neat; today it looked straggly and caught up in a floppy ponytail. Her eyes were red; you could see she’d been crying.
“I can’t... I can’t tell you right now.”
“Are you alright? Have you been crying, what’s wrong?”
“Can Harry watch the cartoons on your TV?”
Turning to her young son, she said, “You’ll be a good boy, won’t you Harry, don’t touch the dials, just watch. Maybe Mrs. Adler can find you a cookie?”
Carol took the little boy by the hand and led him into the living room, sat him down and turned on the TV. “Okay Harry, is this the program you want to watch?”
“Yes, Mrs. Adler, thank you,” he said his eyes glued to the Bugs Bunny cartoon on the screen.
Carol went back into the kitchen, took a package of cookies from the cupboard and put two on a plate. She got a tray from under the kitchen counter, put them and a small glass of milk on it, and took it back into the living room.
“Here you go, Harry, your mom and I are just in the kitchen.”
“Okay...” he said as he picked up the first cookie and with his eyes still on the screen, he forgot everything except the action on the TV.
“Jack called an hour ago,” said Rikki, her eyes filling with tears.
“And that’s bad, because? I thought you couldn’t wait to hear from him? What’s wrong, trouble with the boat I bet? Is it going to cost that much to fix?”
“What do you mean, gone? Did he sell it without telling you?”
“No, I mean it’s gone, it’s no more, it sank.”
“Just sit still, I’ll get you a glass of wine, I’ll make it a big one.”
She opened the fridge and took out the half bottle of white Riesling. When the two families got together to play cards, the boys always had a beer and the girls a glass of wine, it was good to have neighbors that were friends too.
Rikki sat at the kitchen table and began to cry in earnest.
Carol at five foot two inches was a little plumper and a little shorter than her friend. With curly blond hair and compassionate blue eyes, she looked younger than her thirty-three years.
She put the glass of wine in front of her neighbor, and patted her on the back before she sat down. “Have a sip; it can’t be that bad, what did Jack say?”
“I can’t ...(hiccup) I can’t, oh Carol, I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
“Calm down, I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what’s the matter. Did something happen to Jack?”
“No. I don’t know what to do?” sobbed Rikki, “how can I tell Harry?”
“Get a grip; I don’t know what you’re trying to say?”
“Jack called, he said the boat sank, Big Guy didn’t come up, and he almost drowned and he said he heard me calling him while he was in the water swimming.”
“What are you saying, he was swimming? Jack told me he couldn’t swim a long time ago, he could hardly dog paddle.”
“He said I called him when he got cold and tired and wanted to quit. He said BG was with him in the water and even when they crawled out on the beach, he said, (hiccup) he said, he broke into a cabin he didn’t know and burned the curtains and in the morning he walked back to Merriweather along the railway tracks. How could all this happen?
“I can’t, I just can’t, I can’t tell Harry all this and that his dog is probably dead, too.”
“You’re not making much sense, slow down. Tell me again, what happened?” said her neighbor. “Get a grip. Jack is alive, the groceries don’t matter, yes, it’s too bad the dog drowned, but remember, Jack is okay, that’s what’s important. You can always get another dog. I know it won’t be the same, but the new dog will be just as precious as BG.
“You’re right, I’m being selfish. I don’t want our life to change, it’s perfect the way it is, no, I mean the way it was!” The grieving wife took up her hanky and began to cry again. She knew she shouldn’t tell Harry about BG until it was certain he was dead, and they found the body. This would be so hard. Her husband, her son, her dog, were perfect in her eyes. And... now, everything was going to change.
“Rikki,” said Carol, “you’re stronger than you think. Remember you have great memories and pictures of BG when he was a pup. Those were good times; help Harry remember them. Don’t let him think there’ll never be another dog in his life. Give it a couple of weeks and pick out another puppy. Life will go on. You’ll see.”
“Since when have you been Mrs. Know-it-All about pets, puppies and life in general?”
“Been there, done that.”
“I didn’t know?”
“The kids are in their teens now, and you didn’t live here when some fool ran over our chocolate retriever. He was just a mutt from the pound, but we loved him. What a disaster. Their dad was going to go and shoot the drunk that ran over that dog. The kids cried for a month. I promised myself we’d never have another dog. Well, I was wrong.”
Come home by Sheila Jecks / Mystery & Detective have rating 2.5 out of 5 / Based on15 votes