She continued to watch the compound for a more couple hours, but she felt really uneasy spying on that group because there was one guy that really seemed to be mean, if not downright evil and he looked like he was the one in charge. She carefully began to retreat from the area, noting just where the guards were. She came within about 50 feet of one guard who she might have literally run right into if he hadn’t been smoking. He just seemed to be wandering around. She waited patiently for him to move because she noted that he was walking by some late season jewel-weed and she wanted to harvest some for any winter skin irritants she might get. He finally wandered off and she was able to gather enough to make a nice batch of balm IF she could find some bees for their wax. She did know of a hive in an old tree trunk, but wasn’t sure if the bees had made it. She decided to check it out since it wasn’t too far out of her way home.
Her slightly circular route home had brought her to a house that she decided to check out. She waited for 30 or so minutes watching the place, changing position three times to get a clear view of the whole place. The place had that air of abandonment and she had seen no movement and hadn’t heard any noises. Finally she was satisfied it was as safe as it would ever be to check out the house. She approached from the back by an old chicken shed that proved to be empty. She didn’t know if there had been chickens or if it had been empty before the ‘event’. There were a couple tattered sheets barely hanging on the clothes line that looked like they had been there for at least the past few months. That was a good sign, she thought to herself.
As she got closer to the house, she began to smell a horrible odor and decided to not go in, so she headed toward a small area that looked like it used to be a kitchen garden. She found some carrots and potatoes still in the ground, but didn’t take them because she wasn’t sure if they were safe. Skirting around the garden, she headed to the door in the ground that she had spied while scoping out the place. This door looked like it was heavy and solid; and if it was like the door her grandparents had, she had found the root cellar. Since there was a lock on the outside of the door, she figured it didn’t go into the house like her grandparent’s cellar did. Rummaging around the detached garage on the side of the house, she came up with a pry bar and a small axe which she kept. It didn’t take long for her to pry the lock off of the cellar door and soon she was descending the cool concrete stairs.
“Poppy, why do we have the door that goes outside if we can get in here just by coming down these stairs?” I asked as we descended the stairs into the cellar that were off the kitchen’s back ‘mud room’. Our arms were full of freshly canned peaches to be put away for the winter.
“Well Coon, why do YOU think we would need an extra entrance to the cellar?” Poppy was always answering my questions with more questions it seemed.
“Ok, let me think for a minute…. maybe if we were outside and decided we were just dying of hunger and needed an apple RIGHT NOW; we would be able to come in through the outside door and get an apple before we died!” I was proud of my answer because it totally made sense to me.
“That is one very good possibility you’ve come up with Coon honey. But now think about this…what if we were in the cellar getting something and the house caught fire. That door could save our lives because we could get out through it.”
“Wow, do you think the house is going to catch fire?” I asked worriedly.
“No, honey I don’t. Your Granny and I try real hard to keep that from happening.”
I started to sigh with relief but Poppy cut that short with his next words.
“Ok Coon, it’s time to get a bit serious for the moment. I want to go over a little plan I have. If you EVER hear me yell “Shawshank”; I want you to get down here and go out that door and run away. I’ll show you this weekend where I want you to run to. But you are NOT to come back upstairs or try to find me or your Granny. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
“Why can’t I go to you or Granny?” I had asked.
“Coon, the Shawshank Redemption is one of my favorite movies and in a year or so, I’ll let you watch it. But the word Shawshank isn’t a common word and works good as a code word for danger. So if I ever yell it -that means there is great danger…doesn’t matter what kind of danger. I want your word that you will do what I said. Do I have your word?”
“Of course Poppy. I promise I’ll run to the cellar and go out the back door if you ever yell that word.”