Smoke – Scene Four

S C E N E    F O U R

“Six!” were the first words screamed, but not from the lungs of the startled couple. Rather a thick stump of a man, dressed in green-brown safariflage and knee-high muck boots, whose appearance and command instantly settled the mad bull of a Mastiff that had been hidden from sight below the height of the coolers in the back of the Ford.

“Sorry about that guys, Six is really protective of his food.”

“Food,” from the man and woman in unison still stunned, thoughts spinning.

“The coolers, bears, nailed two of them this morning, butchered and packed on ice.”

“You feed it to the dog?” queried the man.

“Yup, all they’re good for.”

Hustling clear of the truck the beast and the stump the two crunched across newly laid pea-gravel that lead the way to the shop’s snapping door.

“Have a nice day, mind your self in this fog,” trailed after them and into the dimly lit store.

Half-stocked, thick wooden shelves caked with dust traced the same angle and slump as the floor. A touch of brine infused the stagnant air that filled the empty spaces between the rafters and aisles. What spaces were filled with cartons and cans held the promise of a junk food breakfast. Unseen was the old woman standing alone and silent behind the counter.

Upon closer inspection all the expiry dates on the prepackaged goods indicated months and days of seasons past. Outlines left in layers of dust. In the end Oreos and light beer in white cans were selected; if Oreos did expire stale weak beer would certainly mask it. While paying for their breakfast (Cash Only) and still a bit shaken, gas and the map about slipped their minds.

Spreading the map out on the thick glass counter top the woman inquired about the closest gas station while her husband studied a window behind the old lady. Reflected back a faint visage of the cashier and framed in a rough cedar casing an obscure view, a threat swaddled in gathering fog.

Placing the tips of her fingers on the map the old woman smiled and was able to seek out where they were now and without hesitation the nearest gas station. Seven miles down a dotted line, a line that began eleven miles from where they stood now. With what remained in the tank it would be close.


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