Enduring on the Lake

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Chapter 15


“Hey Max!” 

My cheerful good morning was answered with an embarrassed grunt.  I looked at Zane who shrugged.  I figure some people just aren’t morning people and let it go. 

I asked Zane, “You wanna drive?  I looked at mapquest and google earth and I still couldn’t find the place.” 

“Told you,” he said with a grin.  Zane was a morning person. 

I tossed him the keys and motioned for Max to get in.  “Why do I have to sit in the middle?” he grumped. 

Shrugging I told him, “You don’t.  We can tie you to the hood like a deer but I’m thinking that would be even less comfortable.” 

He gave me a look that said, “You’re weird.”  Then finally got in.  Zane was trying not to laugh. 

It took two hours’ worth of county roads and back ways before we reached our destination.  Despite the distance and iffy weather there was a decent turn out.  “Wow, more people than I expected.” 

Zane nodded.  “Me too.  Let me get us checked in.”  When he came back he looked more relaxed.  “Looks like the auction house decided to clear some of their storage bays.  I’m guessing more people are here for that than the estate sale.  You look around for stuff on your list, I’ll take Max and look at building supplies.  Some corporation bought the land and is going to demo the house and outbuildings.” 

“Awww.  Seems a shame.  It’s a pretty place.” 

“A pretty place full of wood rot in the porches and eaves of the house.  They’ve got a sign up that you enter the house at your own risk.  You still game?” 

“We’re here.  It’s worth a look.” 

And it was definitely worth a look.  The place was floor to ceiling stuff.  The auctioneers were moving a lot of it out – some to put into auction lots, some for a straight estate sale/yard sale – but there would still be plenty in the house which was being auctioned off by the floor.  Attic, 2nd floor, 1st floor, and cellar; the catch was it was a cash-only auction where you had to be able to pay for and carry off everything before leaving the grounds.  Anything you left behind was forfeit. 

A lot of people bid on the contents of the attic and the first and second floors but I was the only one that bid on the cellar.  There was a wet spot over in the corner of cellar and it smelled pretty funky down there … like mice and mildew.  The stairs down were also questionable at best.  But sometimes the unknown is worth taking a chance on.  Zane bid on and one a twenty foot enclosed cargo trailer that needed some extensive body work but that was still road-worthy.  Luckily it came with a tag that still had a month before it expired.  Zane also won a “U-Pull-It” tag that mean he could take whatever he could pull from the house that would take place as those of us who had won the floors emptied them. 

Zane had a concerned look on his face when he said, “Syd, those stairs are a lot worse than the ones I repaired.” 

Since the bidding was all done and no one could complain I finally grinned and winked at Max as I let the cat out of the bag.  “Your brother found an exterior entrance.  It’s boarded over but it looks so rotted I bet even I could get into it with just a crowbar.” 

“What’s down there you want so bad?” 

I looked around carefully before whispering my answer.  “Jars.  Dozens and dozens of them.  Both new style and those antique blue and green types with the zinc lids.  In all sizes.  The new quart jars cost more than a buck each.  You can’t find the larger ones anymore unless you order them special online and that’s if you can find them in stock.  Basically the larger ones down there are priceless.  That alone covers the investment.  Daddy brought me a bunch to use but I’ve already gone through three-quarters of them.  There’s a bunch of old tools down there too – the non-electric type.  There’s some enamelware basins and I don’t know what all else.  Max mentioned scrap metal too but I don’t know, you’ll have to look at it.” 

Before he could say anything the people with the demo tags were called to the front stairs of the porch and told 1-2-3 GO!  I ran and drove the truck and trailer over and found that Max had already managed to tear dead vines down and rip down most of the rotted plywood.  We started bringing the jars that were in cases up first and stacking them on the floor of the trailer.  About thirty minutes in we see people come flying out of the house yelping, followed by a huge swarm of wasps. 

“Geez, where’s a flamethrower when you need it?” I asked from the safety of the truck cab.  I heard a strange noise from Max but when I turned to look at him I realized the noise was a rusty laugh.  I asked, “Zane isn't allergic is he?  Oh my gosh, are you?!” 

He shook his head.  “Naw.” 

Then my cell phone vibrated making me jump.  It was Mom.  By the time I finished describing the problem she was laughing so hard I had to take the phone away from my ear and didn’t even need it on speaker. 

“Sydney Marguerite Zitterbarth, the situations you get into.  Did those poor boys set stung?  If they did I put a bag of your father’s old tobacco into your first aid kit.  You know how to spit on it and make a poultice.  If you have any cumin in there that’ll help as well.” 

I almost laughed at Max’s horrified expression, then saw they were giving the all clear.  I told Mom and she told me to get back to work.  I was kind of disappointed she didn’t think more of the jars but then the phone vibrated again and it was a txt. 

“Great job on the jars Syd.  I’m proud of you.” 

********** 

“You sure don’t need something for that hand?  It looks painful.” 

“Yeah Zane.  Let her spit on it so it won’t hurt.”  Max made the rusty laugh and collapsed onto the bumper of the truck. 

An older gentleman strolled up and said, “Boy, one of these days you’ll be begging just to have a pretty girl spit on you.” 

Max said, “No way.  Uh uh.” 

The old man just grinning knowingly and asked, “Wouldn’t happen to have a pinch to share would you?  Gave up smoking years ago, unfortunately m’ wife got a good one on the back of her neck.” 

A few other people heard of the remedy and soon enough there were several people sporting blobs of tobacco (and their own spit) or yellow paste made from the bottle of cumin I also keep handy.  When we eventually got back on the road Max asked, “Why do you have such weird stuff in your first aid kit?” 

I shrugged carefully as I was driving this time and answered, “Because my mom does.” 

“Do you do everything the way your momma does it?” 

Just in case the question was deeper than it appeared I answered, “”Well see my mom tries to follow the WWJD principles and she told me that she tries really hard most of the time to do the right thing but that if I ever get conflicted to think WWJD instead of WWMD.” 

“WWMD?” 

“What would Mom do.” 

“Uh, no offense, but your momma sounds as strange as you do.” 

Zane snapped, “Max!” 

I laughed, “Oh it’s ok.  Max and I have an understanding.  We’ve decided honesty is the best policy.  This way he knows I’m a girl that means what I say instead of being confusing.” 

“Yeah,” Max said.  “It’d be nice if girls were like guys and were honest and stuff.” 

Quietly I told him, “Not all guys are like that.” 

“Oh.  Some guy broke your heart.” 

I went to automatically deny it and make a joke then stopped and stuck to honesty.  “Into a million tiny pieces.  Look you, just learn to be friends with people.  Sometimes you’ll get hurt and sometimes you’ll hurt someone else.  But if you’re real friends with someone hurts can be healed.  And that’s about as far on the subject as I care to go.  OK?” 

“Sure.  Getting’ kinda girly.” 

That made me grin.  “Sure is.  But just so’s you know, I see ice cream in our future.” 

Zane did that Spock thing with his eyebrow, a habit of his that tickled me for some reason.  “Oh you do?” 

“Yes I do.  I happen to know there is a gallon of homemade banana ice cream hiding under the broccoli in my freezer.  And if we’re quiet, and sneak up on it good, we might also be able to catch the ‘nilla wafers that like to hang out with it.” 

Max looked at me, then at Zane.  “She’s really strange.  But that’s ok.  She’s got ice cream.” 

It took almost two miles for Zane to finally stop laughing.

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