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  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
    CarlHoliday
  • Author
  • 3,598 Words
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  • 7 Comments

Flight of the Dodo - 25. Chapter 25

We had breakfast at that restaurant next to the motel and I took my morning medications. I made certain that my anti-panic pills were with me before we left Caldwell, Idaho. Today was going to be exciting because the plan was whatever time it was at night we were going to stop only at the ranch. On the other hand, most of the trip was going to be boring, too. When I looked at the map of Idaho to memorize it, I realized I only needed to remember the southern part, which supposedly was the flat part of the state. You can tell if the land is flat by looking at the roads. Long straight roads are indicative of flat land. So I looked forward to reading the Washington state history book.

Uncle Ted and Sam talked on and on about I don’t know what. I read my book, which enabled me to ignore most of their voices. Every now and then I think my name entered the conversation, but if I tried to pay attention, it always turned out to be about someone else named Ed. Also, there seemed to be someone who went by Eddie, but he sounded like a little kid.

“Hey, Ed, come up for air,” Uncle Ted said.

“Huh?”

“You getting hungry?”

“I think so.”

“Good, because we’re outside a restaurant.”

I looked up and saw that we were parked in front of a restaurant in some sort of industrial area. Sam was already standing at the restaurant’s front door. I guess I had blanked out everything that happened for quite some time. I looked down at my book and didn’t recognize the page I supposedly had been reading. This was troubling because I couldn’t remember where my mind had gone. Maybe I was just tired. Yes, that was probably the cause. But it was still troubling that I didn’t know what happened. Being lucid didn’t include not remembering things that happened around me.

“Well, you getting out?” Uncle Ted asked.

“Oh, sorry, I was thinking about something,” I said.

I opened my door and got out. I was struck at how cold it was. The sun was out and very bright, but there was a slight breeze coming from the north and that was probably the reason it was so cold. I hurried over to where Sam was standing.

“You okay?” Sam asked.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I can’t remember the past few hours. Maybe I was asleep.”

“Do you remember stopping at that rest area down by Twin Falls?”

“No?”

“Something wrong?” Uncle Ted asked.

“Ed, was saying he was lost to the world for the past few hours,” Sam said. “He can’t even remember that stop near Twin Falls.”

“You okay?” Uncle Ted asked.

“I guess so, at least now,” I said. “Maybe I was tired.”

“You let me know if you need to find a doctor, okay?” Uncle Ted said.

“Yeah, okay, I’ll do that.”

Sam opened the door and we walked into the restaurant. Uncle Ted followed me and Sam came in and shut the door. For some reason, the door didn’t have one of those mechanical closers.

“I guess that table over there should be good enough,” Uncle Ted said.

He led the way to a booth beside a window that looked across the restaurant parking lot and an open area at a warehouse. There was a sign on the side of the building, but it only had the name of the business. Uncle Ted slid into one side of the first booth. Sam stood by the other seat and said, “Ed, go ahead and slide in. I prefer sitting on the outside.”

“Oh, okay.”

An older waitress with light blue hair in a poofy pageboy and bright red lipstick came over with some menus and a pot of coffee. Her blue plastic nametag had “Ethel” engraved in white letters.

“Coffee, gentlemen?” Ethel asked as she handed out the menus.

“Yes,” Uncle Ted said as he opened his menu.

“Same for me,” Sam said as he looked up from his menu.

“Coffee is okay for me, too,” I said. I picked up my menu and looked on the back to see what was there. It was the breakfast menu, and it said that breakfast was from 6:00 to 11:30. I looked at my watch. It was after 12:00.

Ethel filled everyone’s cups and walked away.

“Ed, could you hand me that little pitcher?” Sam asked.

I did as he asked. I saw him open the lid and frown.

“I was expecting cream, but it’s syrup,” Sam said. “Hopefully, she’ll be back before my coffee gets cold.”

“Sam, what do you think? I figure we’re about halfway,” Uncle Ted said.

“Yes, I suppose so, as long as we don’t run into any significant snow,” Sam said.

“So we stay on main highways or do we want to risk secondary state highways?”

“That depends on the weather. Plus, there’s Wind River and Laramie Mountains to get around. As I see it, it’s either up to Lander and Shoshoni then over to Casper and down to Douglas or go to Medicine Bow and the up to Casper. If there isn’t any snow, we could catch that road from Bosler over toward Wheatland and then up to Douglas.”

“Or we could just go straight to Cheyenne and up to Douglas from there.”

“And risk the Snowy Range and up over Sherman Hill? You know the Snowy Range is likely to have snow blowing every which way this time of year.”

“Would you gentlemen like to order, now,” Ethel said.

“Oh, yes, um, I’ll take the pork chops with a salad with French dressing,” Uncle Ted said.

“I’ll have a BLT,” Sam said. “Oh, and could I get some cream for my coffee?”

“And you, sir?” Ethel asked.

“Uh, the cheeseburger with fries, please,” I said.

“How would you like your burger cooked?”

“Oh, rare, I guess.”

“Thank you, gentlemen, I’ll get these orders in right away.”

“She seemed nice,” Uncle Ted said.

“It’s in the job description,” Sam said. “Ed, you seem awfully quiet today.”

“I’ve never been good at conversations,” I said.

“The quiet, studious type, huh?”

“You see early in my childhood I got it in my head that my IQ was only 73. That was probably because Syl always said I was a stupid, ignorant dodo, so I never tried to be studious. It was only recently that I found out my IQ is actually 129, which E3 said was quite good.”

“Who the heck is E3?” Uncle Ted asked.

“Oh, sorry, you are not familiar with my old family. You see my father was the third person to have his name. I can’t remember what age I started referring to him as E3 to distinguish him from my grandfather, E3’s father, who was E2. My great-grandfather was E1, but he died before I was born. My youngest brother is E4. If I didn’t do that they would all be Erics and that would be confusing.”

“I can see the logic in that,” Sam said. “It was a shame you decided so young not to be smart. That must have been very hard on you.”

“Not really because I simply accepted I wasn’t as smart as other kids. Plus, there was the problem I was crazy in the head at a very young age. For many years, I thought I had been switched at birth and was actually from Africa. It wasn’t until I had to go to Western State Hospital that I finally realized I was deluded.”

“And you’re much better now, right?” Uncle Ted said.

“Yes, and that is because Dr. Kaiser said that I had been trying so hard to be crazy that I convinced myself that I was crazier than I am. That is why, now, I do try to be as lucid as I can be.”

“That’s good,” Sam said. “Have you ever thought of going to college?”

“I don’t have a high school diploma or a GED, so going to college is probably impossible for me.”

“Would you like to get a GED?” Uncle Ted asked. “If you do, I can get you the materials for it.”

“That would be nice, but I don’t know why I would go to college. You see, I’m quite crazy and it is only the medication I take and the psychotherapy I get that keeps me lucid. But I think it would be good for me to have at least a GED.”

“Incoming,” Uncle Ted said.

“Huh?” I said.

“The waitress is coming.”

“Oh?”

“Gentlemen, if you will allow me,” Ethel said.

She gave Uncle Ted his pork chops. On the plate there was mashed potatoes with white gravy and mixed vegetables with those icky lima beans. Plus, his salad with French dressing on a separate plate. She gave me my plate with the cheeseburger, fries, and four small pickle slices. Sam’s BLT was cut diagonally into four pieces and was on a small plate with a sprig of parsley.

“Can I have some ketchup?” I asked because there wasn’t a bottle on the table.

“Yes, sir, and more coffee?” Ethel asked.

“Yes,” Uncle Ted said.

“And, could I get some cream for my coffee?” Sam asked.

Ethel went away and I started to eat my cheeseburger, which had an odd taste. I put it down and took the top bun off. There was no mayonnaise, mustard, or ketchup. The lettuce had brown streaks on it. I picked it up and it hung limply from my fingers. I laid it on the plate. The tomato was yellow and I took it off, too. The cheese was white, had big holes in it like Swiss cheese, and was obviously cold. But it was the meat patty that was very suspect. It looked like it had not been cooked at all.

“Problem with your cheeseburger?” Uncle Ted asked.

“Yes, the lettuce is rotten, the tomato isn’t ripe, the cheese is Swiss cheese, and the hamburger is closer to raw than rare.”

I looked to my left and saw Sam taking one of his remaining pieces of BLT sandwich apart. There was the same rotten lettuce, the same unripe tomato, and the bacon looked like it had been barely cooked. Uncle Ted was looking through his salad, mashed potatoes, and he cut his pork chop and it was very pink inside. Then he took out his wallet. He took out a ten dollar bill and laid it on the table.

“I think we can do better at a McDonald’s, if we can find one is this burg,” Uncle Ted said.

“Okay with me,” Sam said. “That waitress never did bring me any cream. Come on, Ed.”

“Okay, sure.”

As we walked toward the door, Ethel the waitress said, “Hey! You have to pay for your food.”

“I wouldn’t feed that to hogs,” Uncle Ted said.

“Pig farmer, huh,” the cook called out from the kitchen.

No, champion Appaloosas and Quarter Horses, plus a few thousand Angus,” Uncle Ted said.

“Where’s that?” the cook said from the door to the kitchen.

“The Rocking Bar Y, Wyoming, if it matters to you.”

“Are you Ted Bancroft?” a man sitting at the counter said.

“Yeah?”

“I’m Lewis Streeter, I bought three Quarter Horses from your former employer over the years and they were best damned horses I’ve ever owned. I’d like to shake your hand, if you don’t mind.”

The Mr. Streeter stood and walked over. He and Uncle Ted shook hands.

“This is Sam Fisher, my wrangler, and that tall kid, is my nephew, Ed Pedersen.”

“Gentlemen, I’d consider it an honor to shake each of your hands,” Mr. Streeter said.

Sam and I shook hands with him.

“Now, before you leave, Ted, I take it you’re still in the horse business,” Mr. Streeter said. “I might be in the market for a pony or two.”

“Well, here’s my business card, you can reach me at the ranch,” Uncle Ted said.

“I will and that’s a promise. You boys have a good day and a safe trip home.”

“Thank you, come on guys, let’s get on our way.”

We walked out of the restaurant and got in the pickup. Uncle Ted drove down the street three blocks and turned into a Sinclair gas station. The attendant came out and Uncle Ted told him to fill the front gas tank, which was the one we had been using since Caldwell. I went to use the restroom and I saw Sam following me. I opened the door and held it for him. After he went in, I followed and shut the door. Sam went into one of the stalls and shut the door. I was free to use the urinal. I think Sam was vomiting because that is what it sounded like. I finished what I had to do, washed my hands, dried them on one of those cloth towel machines, and went outside. I walked back to the pickup and Uncle Ted passed me as he was going to the restroom. I got in the pickup because it was cold outside.

We found the McDonald’s and Uncle Ted bought us all Big Macs, fries, and chocolate milkshakes. We ate them while he drove out of Pocatello and got on the freeway going south. Since I was eating, I couldn’t read so I tried to pay attention to where we were going. We exited at McCammon and headed east on US-30. I finished my lunch a few miles out of McCammon, but didn’t pick up my book. The scenery was getting interesting mostly because it looked like we were heading toward mountains and mountains meant there was a good chance of seeing snow, not that Uncle Ted was interested in driving in it. At least it was still clear, though it seemed the wind had picked up quite a bit.

“You know, Uncle Ted, that man back at that restaurant seemed nice, especially being interested in buying some of your horses,” I said.

“I’m not selling any horses to Lewis Streeter after what he did to the last two we sold him, what was that, oh, yeah, seven years ago it was,” Uncle Ted said.

“Wasn’t he that guy who the Bonneville County Sheriff arrested for animal cruelty?” Sam asked.

“The very one and I believe that was the primary reason Rex had his coronary.”

“How many of Steeter’s horses had to be put down?”

“Fourteen, those two of ours, and twelve he bought from other ranchers in Montana, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming. Only three were healthy enough to be rehabbed at that animal sanctuary down in Utah, but even then they were never well enough to be much more than journalistic curiosities.”

“You mean that man was bad?” I asked.

“Yes, he was incapable of caring for good horse flesh,” Uncle Ted said. “Some people say he got off lightly with five years in the Idaho State Hospital for the criminally insane. I hear he lost his farm and his family, in the end. I don’t know what he’s up to now, but I’m not selling any of my horses to him.”

“Good!” I said.

“That’s telling ’em, Ed,” Sam said.

“Lava Hot Springs, what kind of town is that?” I asked as we drove past a sign saying we were entering that town.

“You can go and soak in hot water pools for what ails you,” Sam said.

“My mind is what ails me and I’m not soaking my head in any hot water.”

“Did you remember to take you meds this morning at breakfast?” Uncle Ted asked.

“Yes, I always remember to take my meds because if I don’t, then bad things happen. Do you think we’ll get to the ranch tonight?”

“Well, let’s see, it’s closer to two than one. Sam, what do you think?”

“We lost a lot of time in Pocatello, so we’ll be lucky if we get to Casper before six, but all that depends on the snow and which way we go across the middle. I suggest we stop at the port of entry and see what the highway conditions are around the state.”

“That’s a good idea. Okay, I’ll do that.”

“Do you want me to do any driving?”

“Want to take over now?”

“Fine with me.”

“First wide spot in the road coming up,” Uncle Ted said as he slowed and pulled off onto the gravel shoulder. He put the pickup in park, got out, walked back to the passenger door behind the driver, got in, and scooted across the seat until he was behind me.

Meanwhile, Sam got out, closed his door, walked around the front of the pickup to the driver’s door, got in, and said, “Ed, I need to adjust the mirror on your side. You need to help me.”

“Okay,” I said.

“Open your window.”

“Oh, yeah, sure.”

“Push the outside edge a bit. Okay, that’s fine. You can close your window.”

“Oh, sorry.”

That certainly didn’t go very good other than I got the mirror adjustment right. I couldn’t understand why I had to have help with opening and closing the window. Maybe it was my mind that was confused because Sam asked for help with the mirror and didn’t say anything about the window until I didn’t open it and then failed to close it after the adjustment process was completed. I wondered if it was my mental deficiency that was getting in the way of doing logical things or was I simply not paying full attention to my surroundings because I had become used to losing myself in the excuse I had a low IQ, which I didn’t have. That was troubling and I knew I had to change. Supposedly, I was quite bright, but I certainly wasn’t acting like it.

I turned in my seat and saw that Uncle Ted had his head leaning against the side of cab and his eyes were closed. He must have been trying to get some sleep. That left just Sam and me, but I wasn’t ready to get in a conversation, so I shut my eyes and tried to go to sleep, too.

I think I must have fallen asleep, but the pickup slowed and then sped up. I looked around and it seems we went through an intersection that had a traffic light in a sizable town. I thought we were out in the middle of nowhere. Obviously, we were not that far out in the wilderness. Also, I saw that it was beginning to snow and I thought I wanted to see if it was going to get bad, except I must have gone back to sleep.

Something caused me to open my eyes and I saw that we were going by a building where there were school buses parked. It must have been a school and then the pickup started going faster, but not that much. I saw that the snow had stopped, but it seemed to be mostly cloudy. Maybe the snow clouds in the previous town just had not gotten to this town. Then I decided that we really didn’t want it to snow because that might prevent us from getting to ranch today. I looked around and then picked up my Washington state history book. I opened it to where the bookmark was, but didn’t recognize that part in the book. I turned back the pages until I came to a place I seemed to have read before and began to read.

“Damn it!” Sam said.

I looked up from my book and saw that it was snowing again. I watched it for a few minutes and then went back to reading my book because it wasn’t snowing that bad. I had reached a point in the book where it was talking about the Pig War of 1859. It was between the United States and Great Britain over the boundary through the San Juan Islands between Vancouver Island and Washington state. I didn’t know this war occurred, so I was reading very carefully and then I remember I was supposed to be keeping notes on interesting facts I encountered while reading books. I didn’t have a notebook because it was back in the apartment or had been thrown in the trash. That made me mad, but then I realized there was nothing I could do about it until we reach the ranch. Then I realized that maybe Uncle Ted had seen the notebook and packed it with everything else from the apartment that was now in the back of the pickup.

Shit! What fuck is that guy doing?” Sam yelled.

I looked up and through the snow saw two semitrucks ahead of us. One was in the oncoming lane. One with its high beams on was in our lane because he was trying to pass the other truck. There was no shoulder on either side of the highway. The guardrails were right up against our lane. The trucks were coming at us so fast time seemed to slow. The jarring blare of truck air horns filled the air. There was nowhere Sam could go. There was nothing Sam could do. There was nothing more to be said. Death was dancing a jig in the middle of the road. The big truck hit us square on. The noise of tearing steel was unbelievable. The pain of my body being compressed was horrendous. Then there was no awareness, no feeling, nothing.

Copyright © 2021 CarlHoliday; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

Holy… That’s a major cliffhanger of an ending and we can only hope they don’t get hit despite how likely it may seem. Mr. Streeter’s attitude is confusing because if I were trying to sweet talk someone like he clearly was and I also happened to be their cook I’d have offered to redo their meals considering he clearly heard how unhappy they were. I thought he was likely a fool and then after Uncle Ted revealed his history of normal cruelty I know it. 🙄 I don’t blame Sam for throwing up given the food they were served.

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17 hours ago, heifel35 said:

I sure hope they all survive. 🤞🤞🤞

Thanks for the comment. Since I have a penchant for killing characters, we can only hope no one leaves the scene of the accident arm in arm with Death.

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10 hours ago, NimirRaj said:

Holy… That’s a major cliffhanger of an ending and we can only hope they don’t get hit despite how likely it may seem. Mr. Streeter’s attitude is confusing because if I were trying to sweet talk someone like he clearly was and I also happened to be their cook I’d have offered to redo their meals considering he clearly heard how unhappy they were. I thought he was likely a fool and then after Uncle Ted revealed his history of normal cruelty I know it. 🙄 I don’t blame Sam for throwing up given the food they were served.

Thanks for the comment. A bit of clarification is in order. The cook is standing at the kitchen door. Mr. Streeter is a customer sitting at the counter. In fact, considering his history, Mr. Streeter is probably one of those customers who spends a majority of his days sitting at the counter of a restaurant known for serving questionable meals.

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1 hour ago, CarlHoliday said:

Thanks for the comment. A bit of clarification is in order. The cook is standing at the kitchen door. Mr. Streeter is a customer sitting at the counter. In fact, considering his history, Mr. Streeter is probably one of those customers who spends a majority of his days sitting at the counter of a restaurant known for serving questionable meals.

Oops. 😳 😂 Well at least that decreases the odds they were eating horse burgers on top of raw ones. 😉 

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Damn!!  Don't you think Ed has suffered enough already?? This story was very dark from the start. Now it's pitch black!

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7 hours ago, Leo C said:

Damn!!  Don't you think Ed has suffered enough already?? This story was very dark from the start. Now it's pitch black!

Thanks for the comment. Yes, I have to agree with you. Ed hasn't had an easy life so far. It's as if he was dealt from the bottom of the deck.

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