A Girl Called Jack Cover Photo

A Girl Called Jack Cover Photo

Monday, September 7, 2015

Chapter 8



 A couple of hours later Jack and Desi were both tired but satisfied they’d made progress.  It was Desi that said, “The trick is going to be getting this stuff packed so that it will fit.” 

Jack agreed and said, “It’s gonna be a jigsaw puzzle that’s for sure.  I know you want to go through some other houses but I don’t know if it will do any good.  We probably still have too much to take even after we finish breaking things down.  I think I’ve got a way figured to make more room in the cab.  We’ll squish the two girls into the center – they’ll stay warmer that way anyway – and then on either end of the back seat and on the floor beneath their feet we’ll fit all that stuff from Dad’s shop.” 

“Yeah, I was thinking the same thing but I want to take one more walk through some of them.  There’s things you brought up that I never thought about.  Cleaning stuff and … er … girl stuff … are only two of them.  And I put another tub of matches I found in the garage on the kitchen table with the other ones.  Did somebody collect matches or something?” 

“Dad.  Sorta.  It was one of the few things he didn’t think you could ever have enough of.  Matches, nails and screws, toothpicks, and those lighters you use with an acetylene torch.” 

“Well he had a point with those lighters.  And the barbecue lighters we’ve found will be useful too.  And what were those things you’re momma put in that hurricane supply box?” 

“Solid fuel tabs.  They’ll boil a small pot of water real fast.  And we’ll need to bring the eco-stove from Dad’s shop some way.” 

“If you’re talking about that rocket stove we will, even if I have to strap it on top of the cab.  I went to visit my mother’s family one time and that’s what they cooked on every meal.  I mean it looked a little different …”  He stopped, obviously thinking.  “I wonder if they’ve cleared away the debris from that house fire.  If they haven’t it is probably full of stuff that I can use … bricks, cinderblocks, just lots of stuff.” 

Before Desi could get wound back up Jack said, “The girls are asleep.  I haven’t asked before now because … well because we’ve had other stuff to focus on.  But that cut below your eye is getting puffy and the one across your nose is too.  They need cleaning.  If I do it will you tell me what happened?” 

“You don’t need …” 

“Yeah Desi, I do.  Like we told the girls, we’re throwing in together.  You mean to do the safety stuff … security I guess … and you came up with the idea of a place that we can go.  You can’t do the job you picked for yourself if you get sick.” 

Put like that Desi let Jack clean the cuts out and told her what had happened.  “You sure the girls are asleep?” 

“Yeah.  Listen.  I can tell when they’re faking and this ain’t faking.  They’ve been at it too long.” 

“Ok … it was that homeless guy.  He tried to track us.  He wanted … wanted Concha.” 

“Geez.  A pervert.  That kind of crap we don’t need on top of all of the other crap.  Where did you leave it with him?  Did he get the message?” 

Desi gave a one shoulder shrug and said, “He slid down into the flood way.  I didn’t see where he came out; the water was moving fast where he went through the ice.  I needed to get back to Concha or I would have taken care of it.” 

Jack heard the hardness in his voice, but it didn’t bother her.  She’d heard the same hardness in her father’s voice when some gang members had started to hang out at her bus stop and he had gotten tired of the cops doing nothing.  He’d set ‘em up.  The gangbangers had taken a fall.  ‘Nuff said. 

“Ok.  Next time though don’t wait so long to clean cuts out.  It isn’t like doctors are that easy to find now, I have a feeling they’re going to be doubly hard to find where we’re going.” 

Desi looked at Jack for a surprised moment then nodded finding dealing with her a lot easier than most of the females that he’d dealt with in the past.  But just in case he changed the subject.  “How long do you think it will take us to get this stuff packed?” 

“I’m going to start on it tonight.  Gonna line the truck bed with blankets and moving pads.  Line the back of the cab where the girls are going to be the same way.  After that comes necessities starting with the food so pick your poison with those foil packets; everything else is getting sealed up.” 

Desi said, “If you got important papers, especially IDs, put them in a backpack and keep them up front with us.  Anything you can’t live without do the same thing in case we have to … to bail out of the truck for some reason.” 

Carefully Jack asked, “You think it is gonna be that bad?” 

“No … but better be prepared just in case anyway.”   

A few hours later Jack was sitting in the dark of the kitchen trying to hide from her anguish and depression.  Desi found her there anyway. 

“You … you ok?” 

“Yeah.” 

“Is … is it going through your parents’ stuff?” 

“Yeah.” 

“Uh …” 

“No.” 

“You don’t know what I was going to say.” 

“You were going to offer to find a bigger truck or a trailer or something like that.  So … no.  If we went to go live with any of the family we’d have to do this.  It’s just getting through it and then Lena crying ‘cause … ‘cause she didn’t realize how much was going to be left behind.  We’ll deal with it.  There isn’t time not to deal with it.” 

Hesitantly, worried that he was pouring salt on an already painful wound, Desi said, “You think you could be ready to leave tomorrow … late afternoon, early evening?  After the Troopers get called in off the road?” 

Jack looked up and saw that Desi was very serious.  “Did another one blow?” 

“Not yet but … but they said that the geysers in Yellowstone are acting funny.” 

Jack’s mind blanked for a few seconds before going into overdrive.  “We’ll be ready one way or the other.  How long is it going to take to get to this place?” 

“Between four and five hours is what it would normally take.  It depends if they are using north bound lanes for south bound traffic.” 

“You sure we’ll have enough fuel to get there?” 

“Yeah.  Maybe just, but I’ve got the reserve gas cans full.” 

“You went out creeping again,” Jack accused.  “You told me it was for wood.” 

“It was for wood.  Then I saw the Mortensens leave.  Their son, the one with the eye patch, came and got them.” 

“They could come back.” 

“Naw.  He had a trailer and they were loading it to the gills and I heard him ask a dozen times if that was it because they needed to go and weren’t coming back.  Mr. Mortensen told him that what was left wasn’t going to be any use to anyone and if it was then the creepers were welcome to it.  I didn’t go in the house … you could smell where they used to have all them cats.  I glanced in the shed and found these cans of fuel.  One of them diesel, other two are regular gas.  I’ve already put Seafoam in them to let it evaporate any water in it.” 

A little reluctantly Jack said, “Fine but we won’t be able to strap those to the outside.” 

“No so we’ll need to leave room near the hatch so we can grab them if we need them without unpacking anything.” 

Jack inserted that into her mental plan and stood up.  “I’m going to leave a tub out for each girl to fill with their stuff.  That’s one of the things that will have to go at their feet.  And if Lena gets to be too much for Concha let me know.  She’s taking this sister thing pretty serious.  She won’t even let the poor kid go to the bathroom without her.” 

Desi shook his head.  “I was gonna say the same thing to you about Lena.  Don’t worry about it.  It’ll work itself out.  Right now it seems to be helping them and keeping them out of our hair so we can work.  Concha was scared all the time and just the little time she’s been with Lena … she’s started talking again.  Not much but some.  Makes me feel better.” 

Jack made a face.  “Lena wouldn’t stop talking.  It’s like she had to fill up all the empty space with sound.  It was driving me crazy because I couldn’t think and listen to her at the same time.  She’s finally started calming down.  Yeah, they’re good for each other.” 

Jack started to walk back to the garage but Desi took her arm.  “Things will work out Jackalene.  Maybe they won’t be like they were but, they’ll be ok.” 

Sighing Jack said, “Things are never going to be like they used to be and that’s not just because the earth is having a major case of acid reflux.  I’ll deal with it.  I’ll be ok.  It’s just going to take time.” 

Desi wondered just who she was trying to convince, him … or herself.


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