Each week 1000 words or more, of a continuing story, will be posted for Friday morning -(equivalent to approximately 3 paperback pages).
Week 2: Part One / Chapter Two(Follow up from Chapter One - The Finding posted May 23rd)
I can’t remember the walk back through the woods to our office, which was a rustic cabin, made of old logs cut down years ago. It smelled of timbers sealed in oil based stains, that had been applied now for many years, one coat over another. I often worried about how fast this place would go up if ever struck by lightening and a fire ensued. It would be devastating for the entire forest. We also have a tool shed and work station that was built maybe ten or fifteen years ago, and filled to the brim with junk accumulated by the previous rangers. My staff and myself have been working away at the overflow, and getting rid of unneeded items to make more space. I have been in charge the past two years, but had spent many more years dreaming of cleaning house when I finally got the opportunity.
I passed my exam and became head Ranger after my old boss Mr. Livingston retired, two years ago. First I took an inventory of all the junk, and then I decided what was needed or not. We sold a good amount of the stuff at a nearby auction house and donated the funds to the local school. They used the money to help purchase the new playground equipment. In such a small community, money for extra projects was hard to come by. Most folks who lived in this area had slim bank accounts. Cold Valley was not a poor community, just hard pressed for the extras that many people took for granted in the cities. Just to get good television stations cost more up here, on the mountainside, and required expensive satellite dishes that didn’t work when it rained. Needless to say, there are many devote readers up here.
We marked a trail as we trekked back to the cabin. I went straight to my desk and called Officer Grady. My hands shook as I punched in the numbers. I internally cursed myself, and willed them to stop shaking. This was an emergency, and I knew I had to stay calm through it all. I was aware of my nervous sweat beading the rim of my forehead, and I wiped it off with the back of my hand, I felt ill. Everything was happening on auto pilot. Grady asked a few questions and right away he knew to contact the Sheriff. He dialed him in on conference call. Sheriff Rowe in turn said he would need to call in the State Police, just as I had feared.
The three of us, Josh, Kevin and me, sat on the porch steps waiting for the Staties to drive up the dirt road. They finally showed up about a half hour later. I could hear the car tires crunch under the stones of the road, a familiar sound, as the vehicles climbed the hill. Soon the quiet of the forest would be disturbed. Josh and Kevin looked over to me.
“Are you going to be okay?” Josh said.
They knew about Rory and me, and how it all ended so badly. I was touched that they cared about my feelings and weren’t afraid to reveal they knew about emotional trauma that was usually labeled girlie feelings.
“No problem, boys. I am a grown up after all.”
I smiled to let them know everything was all right. Deep down in my stomach, my guts churned with a sickening feeling, as it went topsy turvy. I knew it would be Rory. This day began with a prank, and was getting filled with more puns as it evolved. This joke was on me.
Rory had been a State Police Trooper for five years now. I hear he was tough but fair. Throughout high school all he talked about was his dream of being accepted and passing the academy. He worked his body hard to get in shape, and was a great athlete. He was firm, building himself up with strength exercises and protein shakes, not overly bulging, just strong. Rory was smart too. For years we studied together and were both top students. I had been his girl all through high school, it was always Rory and Karen. I was his best supporter when he finally got accepted into the academy. I was proud of his dedication and happy to be his friend, and at that point, his lover.
We had a long romance, and it got serious after high school graduation. We attended the local community college, and then I went to work with the Forest Ranger program while Rory went off to the police academy. When I think about how altruistic we were back then I get emotional. We had our dreams of helping others and being part of the betterment of society. These were the dreams that took us away from each other. Not able to spend time together, and living hundreds of miles apart, we soon drifted farther apart spiritually.
Just after Rory passed his state exam, I decided to surprise him with a long weekend. I remember the excitement I felt when I prepared a wonderful picnic lunch and found just the right bottle of wine. Visions of a romantic weekend filled with hot sex and loving companionship had clouded my brain. Then the blow. I surprised him at his place, but when I opened the door, I was the one who got stunned. Walking into his apartment, I found another woman sleeping in his bed.
My head spun out of control with hurt and anger. I was infuriated. Everything was hot, and things started to blur. Rory was no were in sight and I had no one to scream at, no one there to explain why some floozy was in his bed. Nothing felt real, and all I kept saying to myself was, ‘how could he?’. I left his place, ran to my car and went home, and tried to never think of him again. Every time his face pops into my head it hurts. Betrayal was a horrible beast, one that I tried to forget, and still trying to out-pace. It looked like it finally caught up to me.
Rory had phoned many a time, but I refused to speak with him. After I left that day I took an oath to myself to never love so deeply again, it was the only way to survive such a hurtful blow to my ego, my trust. Finally after months of calling, Rory gave up. That was years ago.
The state police car pulled up to the front of the office. The silver paint reflected the late morning sun and blinded my eyes for a moment. I raised my hand to cover them and squinted to see who was in the front seat. It was two officers, and of course, one of them was Rory. He pulled himself out of the driver’s side and stood there tall and handsome, as he straightened out his belt, checking that his gun was situated right. I could hear the leather belt move as his fingers worked everything into its correct place for comfort. Small details had always been important to Rory. Why was a girl in his bed, that was more than a small detail, I thought. As quickly as the thought fluttered in my head, I shook it out. There was a job we had to do, and I was determined to be the most professional person possible.
All three of us Rangers walked to the car to meet them. I held out my hand. Rory took it and we shook. I tried desperately to shake the tingling feeling that remained from his touch. I couldn’t look him in the eye, so I let my eyes wander as I introduced the others.
“Hello Rory, you remember Kevin and Josh. They are both my assistant Rangers now.”
The other officer walked around the car and stood by Rory’s side. She was tall, strong and beautiful, and looked exactly like the girl that had been in his bed. A lump came to my throat and I thought I was going to lose my breakfast, but swallowed hard instead.
“Nice to see you all again. This is my partner, Sargent Thomas. She will be working this case with me.” he said.
My thoughts clouded for a moment, a dark storm filled my soul, and a flash of anger filled my being. Again I chastised myself, and ordered them out of my head. I had no business feeling these emotions today. It looked like this day was getting worse by the minute. Who would have thought that finding a girl’s dead body could be trumped with anything else. Seeing Rory again was bad enough, but knowing now that he had this woman for a partner, was just was too much information. My head felt like it was going to explode, but of course, it didn’t. We all headed for the woods, walking in a file, with myself in the lead.
More of the story on next week's post, as the saga continues. If you have any ideas of where this story should go, or any comments in general, please post a comment - would love to hear from YOU. Until next week - cheers!