A Girl Called Jack Cover Photo

A Girl Called Jack Cover Photo

Monday, June 22, 2015

Chapter 3

Editor's Note:  I know, I know ... Ali Baba's treasure is just as story.  And you're right.  Desi and Jack have a few things to learn as they grow up during the story.  As you read this section, remember that plans can be made but that doesn't always mean that's how things turn out.


Jack turned to look at Desi and some of her distrust must have showed. He told her, “Ain’t like that Chica.  You ain’t the type and if you were no way would I want you around Concha.  I just figure we help each other out until we can figure things out.  The girls keep each other entertained when they’re awake and we get to take turns and get some sleep.  Ain’t you tired?  I know I am.  What do you say?” 

“Depends on what you mean by help.” 

“I mean three summers ago I was working with Uncle Ray’s crew and we were doing some work on this rich guy’s hunting vacation kinda place; one of those mansions made to look like a log cabin sort of thing.  I look like my dad … you know … light enough to pass without causing problems … so they were always sending me to town to pick up stuff.  Well I make friends with this guy at the lumberyard and he’s always telling me stories when I go.  Some of those stories are about an area he used to hunt and fish in when he was a kid and it wound up being on the land the rich guy was building on.  Then the inspector marks me for underage and makes sure I can’t work as often as Uncle Ray wanted me to so he sends me off into the woods to get lost so the inspector don’t give us a hassle over it.  I find real interesting things out in the woods.” 

“What kind of interesting things?” 

“Like this old cellar where a house used to be.  Ain’t wet or anything except for one corner and I dug it out and it was just an uncapped pipe from an old well.  It has a steal door on it and everything. Might be a good place to hide out for a while.” 

“In an old cellar.” 

“Hey, better than waiting around here to get worked over or burned out.” 

For some unknown reason Jack felt she could trust Desi.  He’d always been a stand-up guy in school.  His grades hadn’t been spectacular but he was still smart.  His grades would probably have been better if his family life hadn’t been so crazy.  His mom died when he was little and his dad eventually remarried a young woman he’d knocked up.  That one ran off leaving Lena behind.  Then his dad died in a construction accident and his uncle had moved into the house with his family which was not exactly on the small size. 

Jack leaned back against the pile of storage tubs that she had placed around the tent and fire place to try and find a way to hold the heat in closer.  She scrubbed her nose trying to warm it up and then said, “Ok, say I’m willing to listen to this idea of yours … what do you have that will close the deal and make me more than willing to listen, but ready to follow you.” 

Desi shook his head but smiled.  “You sound like your old man.  Close the deal huh?  OK, how about this?  There ain’t no houses or nothing around that cellar.” 

“Except for the rich man’s hideaway.” 

“No, not even that.  The place burned real bad a couple of months ago.  The insurance company called us trying to get some information to make sure all the guys that worked on the building originally were legal and licensed.” 

“Of course they weren’t.” 

“Actually all those guys on that job were.  It was a stipulation of the contract or something like that.  Most people don’t care … they just want cheap labor.  This guy?  He wanted it all above board.  But there was some kind of scam going on.  Uncle Ray punched me the one time I asked so I didn’t ask no more.  But they were buying expensive stuff then selling that and buying cheap to build the house with.  The rich guy knew so I figure it was a scam from the beginning.  You know … premeditated arson or whatever you call it.” 

Shrugging Jack said, “Ok, so there aren’t any houses.  So?” 

“So it means fewer people we have to worry about on top of being in the middle of nowhere.  The girls stay safe.  You staff safe.  I don’t have too many to fight to keep ‘em off you three.” 

“I don’t need you to protect me.” 

“Hey.  It’s my way of paying my way.  See?  You help me with Concha and I help you keep Lena safe.” 

“Ok, whatever.  So it sounds like a good location … but it’s a hole in the ground.” 

“I can fix it up.  I had enough time to imagine what I’d do that summer.  The cellar is big but not too big.  One end even has an old fireplace in it like it used to be a finished basement for a house or something.  If we can’t get the fireplace to work I figure we get some kind of stove set up and put it on the end away from the door … put up some kind of walls to hold the heat on that end and we can keep it warm enough for the girls.” 

Jack chewed the inside of her cheek.  “What about water … and food.” 

“That’s iffy but it’s gonna be bad for everyone right quick here too.  I been cleaning out empty houses … doing my own bit of creeping …” 

“You what?!” 

“I been cleaning out places people have abandoned, that better?  I don’t take personal belongings, just food and some stuff like that.  I got it stashed not too far.  Josh’s place is still got stuff in it too.” 

“And how do you know that?” 

“Went in through a window.  Looks like they tried to take the whole house but found out there wasn’t room so had to leave a lot behind.  Most of it is junk but I think they screwed up and left behind a tub of food and stuff like that.  We go through some more houses, but do it quick so we don’t use as much as we’re bringing in, and then head out.” 

“And how do you expect to do that?” 

“Your dad’s truck, the one with the topper on back.” 

“You mean the one he got when Grandpop died?  No gas … diesel I mean … or not much.  Dad was using what he had stored in the generator for when the power would go up and down.  It’s down so much now I don’t even bother with it.” 

“There’s some in the Donovan’s shed – it’s labeled diesel and it smells right.  And there’s a couple of cans in Josh’s place as well.  I bet if we look we’ll find enough here and there that will fill up both tanks on that monster of your dad’s.  Put some gas treatment in it.  Two tanks – topped off – will get us where this place is.” 

“Two tanks?  Just where is this place?” 

When Desi told her she yelped, “North?!  You really think going north is smart?!  Have you heard the weather predictions?  They’re saying it could be worse than that year without a summer, just like a couple of centuries ago.  This might even be a couple of years without a summer … maybe another Little Ice Age.  And that’s if we don’t all choke on the volcanic ash if Yellowstone blows.” 

Desi nodded.  “I’ve heard them talking about it on the radio.  I found a wind up one in one of the houses I went through.  Sounds like something we studied in school.” 

“We did study it in school.  A lot of people died back during the colonial times because just one big volcano blew on the other side of the world.  It changed the weather so much that crops didn’t make, it snowed for almost ten months in some places.  Places froze that had never frozen in living memory.  Desi … maybe you have a stash and maybe I have a stash but both our stashes together won’t last a whole year much less longer than that as we try and figure out how to make sure no one …”  Jack glanced at then tent and then whispered, “Make sure no one tries to do something we don’t want them to.” 

“I hear you.  But you and me … we’re in the same boat.  We’re gonna have to do something and do it soon.  You wanted me to sweeten the pot to close the contract well, how’s this?  I know where the rich man stashed some stuff of his own.  Uncle Ray didn’t know I was watching but several times he would take off at night with the little Cat and dig and build these concrete vaults I guess you would call them.  Then the rich man would come in behind him and put stuff down in the vaults and then Uncle Ray would cover them up and hide them so well you almost wouldn’t have ever guessed there was something there to begin with.  I know where several of these vaults are and I made a copy of a map that Uncle Ray made notes on that gives me a good idea where the rest of them are located.” 

“God Desi … what kind of deep game was Mr. Raymundo into? Besides, no way would they still be there.” 

“I’m willing to bet that at least some of them are.  All we need is maybe one or two.  They were pretty full.” 

“Full of what?” 

“Barrels. Barrels of food and stuff.” 

“Oh puh-leeze.  In two years food would be spoiled.” 

“Nope; not this kind of food.  Some of it was this survival crap like you used to see on those reality shows.  Some of it was wheat, rice, corn, beans, dried fruits and vegetables; the kind of food my aunt would buy for the lean times when Uncle Ray would have a hard time finding work.” 

Trying not to hope too much Jack asked, “Seriously?” 

“Yeah, and not just food.  The vaults I saw them fill also had guns and ammo and stuff like that in them.  Each vault looked like it had a little bit of everything you might need if you were trying to hide out from something – or somebody – for a while.  Think about it Jack … we could hole up and hide out until things blow over and maybe even come out better than a lot of other people.  OK, maybe that last is kinda wishful thinking but if nothing else, I won’t have to watch my sister get sick and die like they are saying is going to happen to a lot of people around the world if this weather keeps ups.  Between this volcanic winter and whatever weird crap has been happening with the weather the last couple of years it is going to be bad.  But we can try and make it not as bad as it could be.” 

Jack was tempted to believe in what Desi was selling but she wanted to know one last thing.  “Look, putting aside the robbing from the rich Robin Hood deal I need to know … why me?  There’s gotta be other people around with more to throw into the deal.”