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Excerpts from Hello Montana

 

Chapter 8

Willow’s Travel Court

 

     Terry and Bridget are camped out in Weippe, Idaho on their way back to Montana. An older Chevy pick-up pulls up next to Terry, who is cleaning fish. This hard little man gets out of the truck and comes over to Terry. His face is tight and red and it seems like the skin on his face is stretched to the limit. “Where’d you git ‘em” he says? Terry looks around at points down the hill. “Down there in that little pond”. The little man looks down the hill and then back at Terry. He spits a load of dark brown juice-matter onto the earth. “There ain’t no fish down d’there!” Terry looks up from gutting the fish, “Well, then how’d I catch these?” The little man is taking it all in, it seems very important to him.  “Guess you’re just magic, you know” and laughs”. Terry continues on.

     The Pick-up man has a red ball cap on that says “CHEW” in capital letters. He reaches over and takes the knife out of Terry’s hand. Terry lets him have it. “Now, looky here. You ain’t doin it right!” Well, just hold on. I’m-a gonna show you how to do it!” Bridget comes out of the tent. Looks over at the Pick-up man and then to Terry. She smiles and sits down on a bench pulled up next to the tent their living in. The PU man continues the lesson for Terry. “See you hold ‘‘em and slice like this”. He takes a downward angle the same way Terry was doing it. Terry agrees with him,” Yeah, that’s great man!” It just don’t matter. The little man gives Terry the knife back and takes a seat on the woodpile. He spits again and looks over at Terry. “You ever kill anybody?”

     Terry looks at the man. Nothing fazes him anymore. There is a Zen-ness about him. It’s an easy reply from Terry,” Nope!” The pickup man squirms around a little and says, “You want to? Sure, if you do, man”. Pick-up man stands up and does a little dance and says, “All right, come on man!” They both head to the truck. PU man gets in on the drivers' side and Terry goes for the passenger side but is stopped.  “Naw…..you sit in the back!” Bridgett comes back out of the tent and sees Terry in the bed of the pick-up.  “Where you goin honey?” Terry reaches out his hand for hers and nonchalantly says. “Oh, we're gonna go and kill somebody?” Bridgett in all her Nordic beauty smiles. “Oh, OK! Be back before dinner, I love you!”

      The truck takes off down the road. Terry looks down into the cab and sees a diet Pepsi and a shotgun. The truck turns onto another road. The truck continues to pick up speed. The truck slides around a curve and throws Terry over to one side and then another. The truck is flying. There is a 50 ft. drop-off to the right. The truck is plowing up dirt and rocks. The truck turns on a very sharp curve. It comes close to the edge. Terry just looks up at the sky and thinks about Montana.

     The truck pulls into the Tanner General Store and he jumps out and runs inside and in about 2 minutes comes out with a six-pack. He throws one to Terry. “Sink your gut into that brother!” No thanks, man.” Terry throws it back to him. This confuses the little man. “What’s the fuckin’ problem? ”I don’t drink anymore,” he says. The PU man looks disgusted. He doesn’t really have a comeback for this. He goes down deep into his white-American-male side and spits out, “Well………..you queer or something?” Terry smiles ”No…………..I’m not queer”. PU Man kills the beer and throws the can in the bed and opens another one. Terry looks at the hard-edged little man.

     The conversation ebbs and then. “You’re just crazy aren’t you”? The man says nothing but looks hard at Terry. It is like someone has finally seen him for the first time and is not afraid. He quietens down and softens. Terry’s words seem to bring comfort to the man. A laugh starts deep in his belly and rushes past his chest and out his mouth. “Pert’ much”, he says. The conversation ebbs again. “Yeah, I had a brother that was crazy. Always doin' things to hurt himself. You ever do shit like that, asks Terry? “Oh, all the time!” the little man says. “Well, you know I think that the people they call crazy are just really trying to find that place where they want to be. PU MAN takes another swig off the beer. “So they gotta act like that just to keep people away from ‘em cause all they’re really trying to do, is to get back home!. PU MAN sits the beer down. “That’s what I’m doing”, says Terry. The little man looks up, “Why you trying to get back home? “Well, so I can die.” The hard edge of the little man softens even more and he just sits and listens to Terry. “You know you gotta look for the good in people, cause whatever you're looking for, is what your gonna find.”

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