This blog is dedicated to the stories I've written over the years. Sometimes I get some time and add a story. Grab a hot cup of something and enjoy!

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Place to Call Home -Sixteen


Having her right arm grabbed didn’t stop Carrie from swinger her left fist. And it was only after she connected to a hard stomach and the whoosh of air; that she realized it was Roger who had a hold of her.

“Why in the world would you scare me like that?” She demanded in a hushed whisper.

Roger struggled to catch his breath but did not let go of her arm. He held one finger up on his free hand and managed to croak out “Dang you hit hard.”

“Well it serves you right, sneaking up on me like that and grabbing me.” Carrie declared.

“You were gonna leave without saying good bye!” He complained.

“I left a good bye note for everyone. And I think you know why I preferred to not be alone with you…like we are right now.” She saw the gleam come into his eye “Oh no you don’t!”

But oh yes he did. A quick but firm kiss on the lips and then he stepped back…out of her range.

“Good bye for now. But you can be sure you’ll see me again someday.” Roger said and then he went back towards the house.

“So long … for now.” Carrie whispered to his retreating back with a grin on her face.

Later that day, Carrie was making good time and was long out of town; Roger and his family were talking about Carrie and Roger remembered the phone call she had made that first day. Checking his cell phone, he found that the number was still on his recent dialed list. He called it.

Traveling went well for Carrie for the next three weeks. She was making good time and finding out of the way places to camp at night. She had stopped twice to replenish her food supplies and she still had a pretty good amount of cash left. She was being as frugal as she could. She had hit a good stride, staying off the main roads and had even taken a ride from a couple of people. Only women though and they had to have a good vibe to them. She turned down many rides.

She would listen to the radio quite a bit. And so was aware of what was going on in the country and world. She knew that the martial law had been lifted and that the issue of turning in all guns had been sent to the Supreme Court who was due to issue a ruling within the next few days. Speculation was running wild with many people still protesting on both sides of the issue.

The rolling brown outs had turned into black outs and this has caused many to close up stores and other businesses earlier than usual. This left the streets emptier than usual and allowed Carrie to slip through the towns in the evenings or early mornings with no trouble.

But it wasn’t in a town that she found herself in trouble. One morning she was actually following a short cut on one of her maps, and totally by accident happened to run into a small illegal still operation. Carrie didn’t see anyone around and was curious about the still. She had heard about them from online, even read some of the sites where they were described as being used for an alternative fuel. However, she didn’t think this one was for fuel and then she ended up dawdling a tad too long.

Carrie could tell by the look in the eyes of a couple guys that walked into the small area, that she was gonna be in some big trouble if she didn’t think fast. Especially since both of them were carrying shotguns. So drawing on the advice of her dear Gramma; Carrie did the last thing the two men expected her to do.

“Howdy!” Carrie said with a big grin. “I was hoping someone would come by. I need some help.” And before the two guys could say anything, she continued “see I’m traveling through and was hoping to be able to do a bit of fishing and hunting to help feed myself. I have these small snares that I learned about on a website but I’ve never actually tried to set them before I set out. Earlier when I tried to set them, about two miles or so back that’a way” Carrie pointed towards where she had come from “I just couldn’t get the hang of it. And since I’ve not come to any place to fish, I figured I’d try the snare things again. Do you guys think could help me?” Carrie took a deep breath.

Now the two fella’s had curiosity written on their faces, but the anger was gone and Carrie didn’t think they were going to get violent.

“WELLLLL lookie here John, we’ve got us an intruder……one lookin’ to hunt on our land.”

“I got eyes in my head, Bobby; what are we gonna do about it?”

Carrie thought briefly about running but realized that like most predators, running would simply set them off and she wouldn’t be able to run fast with her pack. So she had to figure out how to make them NOT predators.

“Really sirs, I mean no harm. I really do need some help with the snares, it’s been a while since I had a hot meal and I was hoping to snare a rabbit for supper. I didn’t know I was on your property and I do apologize. I’ll leave and look for somewhere else to figure out how to work the snares. I know I should have done that before I left, but I ran out of time and had to leave in a hurry.”

Bobby and John seemed kinda shocked, it may have been because no one had really ever spoken so respectful to them or said so much so quickly or it may have been that they had just realized that Carrie was a girl.

Oh crap! Thought Carrie, but she kept her cool and decided to appeal to a higher authority so she quickly sent up a prayer for help and guidance and a plea for knowledge on how to best handle this so she wouldn’t end up in an unmarked grave after being raped.

In the very act of praying, an idea came to her; THANK YOU!!! She shouted mentally upwards and then she again began to speak.

“I’m sure you two nice men are very busy and I really shouldn’t impose on you, and I am sorry that I’ve managed to upset you. I really didn’t mean any harm. If you could show me how to set the snares, I would be more than happy to share anything caught. I’m pretty sure I can figure out how to skin a rabbit and cook it. And I think I can also help you.”

Bobby spoke up “what do you think you can help us with?”

John also said “yeah, you’re just a little girl. Maybe in a couple years we could work us out a trade.”

Carrie blushed but was a tad relieved that they viewed her as too young and so she kept that in mind. “Well, I have some good notes on making fuel and I noticed that there are a couple things you could do to your still to make it more efficient.” She walked over to the still and ignored the stiffing of both John and Bobby, “like right here, you have a short pipe here, I think they call it a column or some call it a cracking tower; but if you were to make it taller, it would make the alcohol purer and be a better fuel. I tell you, I definitely see the wisdom of making your own fuel; gas prices have really gone through the roof, they are even higher than when Bush was president. And having a pure form of alcohol will give you better gas mileage. Can I show you my notes?” Carrie finished by putting an attempt at compete innocence and a hint of eagerness to please on her face.

It was the ‘purer alcohol’ that pushed the guys over to her side.

“OK, we’ll look at ‘em” John said.

“Great!” said Carrie and she walked over to them and stuck her right hand out “and my name is Carrie, it’s a pleasure to meet you.” And she shook the hands of two very surprised men.

Carrie had found some pictures online about three different types of stills that she had saved, so she pulled out her little net-book and in no time at all, had the folder she had set up on stills open and began going through the saved documents. She found the pictures and opened them. (http://www.homedistiller.org/types.htm)

“See here is kinda what your still looks like, with the shorter column,” she said as she pointed to the first pictures. Then she scrolled down and pointed at the last pictures “this is what you want for a purer alcohol, see the longer column?”

Both John and Bobby read through the short article, taking turns since the screen was small and they had to lift it closer but by the time they were done, they both were nodding their heads.

“Yeah, that will work.” Said Bobby.

“We even have what we need around here,” John looked around “we could get this fixed up in no time at all. We even have a batch ready to distill.” John walked over to a five gallon bucket that was filled with a fermented mixture. “Which is why we had come down here to begin with.”

Carrie grinned big.

“Do you have anything on here about converting engines to run on homemade alcohol?” John asked. Because while they were really not making an alternative fuel, the guys were not stupid, they just had not really thought about making their own fuel and it sounded like a good idea.

“Oh yeah, I’m pretty sure I do because someday I want to buy a jeep and convert it so I can make my own fuel also.” Carrie took the net-book back and searched through her files. She knew she had saved something from Mother Earth News, ah, there it is she thought and opened the document. (http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/ethanol_motherearth/me2.html)

She totally had them hooked now and they gladly showed her how to set snares and even showed her a few places she could place them that were not too far away. The afternoon passed with the still being rebuilt and producing its first batch of 95%+ proof alcohol. The guys had taken turns copying the notes from a few different documents that Carrie would pull up on her net book. They found that the pot they were using was a good one, solid stainless steel. And their water source was from a small spring on the property. They had hooked up a garden hose and so there was a constant gravity flow that cooled the condenser.

Carrie had a blast and helped them every step of the way, loving the fact that she was actually DOING what she had read about. They remade the ‘cracking tower’ and also found a better way to rework the condenser so that the water flowed over it more evenly and instead of it dripping on the ground, they rigged up some piping to divert back into the small creek that the spring fed. It made the area a lot less muddy.

She also learned that the two men were brothers who lived together now that their mom had died. They owned about 100 acres, of which she had stumbled onto the ‘back 40’ of and actually were making moonshine in their still for some extra cash. The still was their first attempt at making one and they had simply used the plans they had gotten from one of their friends. They hadn’t dared make a still while their mom was alive, she would have tanned their hides. John was the oldest at 25 and Bobby was younger at 23. They actually were pretty nice but they had been having some trouble over on the other side of their property with teenagers going out into one of the fields and partying and leaving a mess.

“You know, since you are making fuel, your still is legal. But you might want to check into all the laws of this state about it.” Carrie said.

John got thoughtful “well how ‘bout that, we’re legal, Bobby.”

Bobby snickered and said “don’t know what I’ll do, never been legal before.” Both men laughed.

Carrie’s net-book battery finally died that evening but the brothers had finished copying all the notes they wanted. Carries snares had netted two fat rabbits and since the still was on a propane burner, they decided to make a small fire, well away from the still, and roast the rabbits for supper. Bobby took off for awhile and came back with some potatoes and fixin’s for a salad in a small cooler. They washed the potatoes with water from the spring and after poking holes all over them, wrapped them in foil and stuck them in the coals of the fire, turning them every so often.

It was late when they shut the still down. They ended up with a nice batch of alcohol. The brothers sipped a bit and after they caught their breath, gave the thumbs up. Carrie’s eyes watered just breathing in the vapors of one of the bottles. The brothers had a small glass coke bottle, just 12 ounces, that they filled and gave to Carrie.

John said “you take this because you helped us make it and who knows, you might be able to use it for trade.”

“Well, I also could use it if I get a cut or scrape. I don’t have any rubbing alcohol and I think this stuff will kill any germs!” She laughed as she accepted the small bottle and carefully wrapped in one of her bandannas after making sure the lid was tight. She tucked it in the middle of her pack so that her clothing helped to protect it.

They were just finishing up their meal when Bobby wondered out loud “where are you going to sleep tonight, Carrie?”

“Well, if you guys don’t mind, can I just camp out here? I’ll leave first thing in the morning and won’t leave a mess.”

John thought for a few moments and then said “we have a hammock strung up on the back porch of the house, why don’t you sleep there? It’s gotta be more comfortable than the ground, even with your small bedroll. Besides there are a lot of snakes around here and I don’t think you’d like to wake up with one in bed with you.”

That of course led Carrie to tell them about the two skunks she woke up with once. But it was settled and Carrie softly swayed to sleep later that night in the hammock.

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