Emend by Eclipse
Copyright© 2021 by Lazlo Zalezac
June 16, 1979
Tim drove into the park and had to drive around the campground to find the spot where Benny was holed up. He drove around for thirty minutes before he noticed the tent tucked up out of the way. He parked his jeep and walked over to the tent. Benny was lying there, staring up at the sky. A golden eagle was circling above. Benny was watching the magnificent bird.
Tim sat down, lay back, and looked up at the sky. The golden eagle was gone. A turkey neck buzzard had taken up in the space once occupied by the eagle. It was circling overhead like something was dead below, but it was just riding a thermal up to a higher elevation.
“You get the eagle, and I get the buzzard,” Tim said. “I should have brought a gun.”
Benny chuckled, “You’d miss and he’d come back just at dark and park in the tree above your tent. It would be covered with buzzard guano by morning.”
“Lucky me,” Tim said.
Benny had been expecting Lily to come with Tim. He figured that it was time for Tim’s dreams of a white picket fence, wife, kids, two cats, and a dog to start coming true. He didn’t think Lily was the kind of woman who wanted to be single and independent.
He asked, “So where’s Lily?”
“She’s working today.”
“I know you were hoping to do one of those dates that’s not quite a date today.”
“We did that last Sunday. It was very nice.”
Tim was silent for a moment and then added, “I did learn something kind of disturbing.”
“I think she’s going to college to get an MRS degree.”
Benny was pleased to learn that his assessment of Lily was right on target. She wanted to be a homemaker not a modern woman taking up a man’s job. She was very different from Sandra and Cathy, who were slated for professions rather than aprons.
“There are a lot of young women like that at the school. They don’t really have a passion for a major, but are there just to meet men who are working to get on the pathway to success. They’re hoping to get engaged to a winner before they graduate. It’s kind of a shame.
“Of course, there’s a lot of guys at college who just want to party. The sad thing is that one day you end up working for those sacks of shit. The only thing they got out of school was how to kiss ass and look good while doing it.”
“We both worked for that kind of guy in the past. Just think. This time through, we’re the ass hole bosses and those bastards are going to be working for us,” Tim said.
“That’s true,” Benny said. He was silent for a moment and then asked, “What are you going to do?”
“About proposing to her.”
“I don’t know. I guess wait until after she’s graduated.”
“No need to do that. She’s not there for a degree. She’s there for a husband. She’s got the perfect guy in you, so why should she wait?”
“I think she views me as a construction worker. I drive around in a fifteen year old pickup truck, work on houses, and I’m not educated. She’s got her sights for a husband set a little higher. She’s dreaming of a guy with a college degree, a job offer as some mid-level manager at a large corporation, and a fancy car.”
“Yes, but you can hire that jerk to work for you. You’ll show up at her house with her bending over backwards to make the hubby’s boss happy.”
“I’m serious, Tim. You need to step up your game and go after her. If she needs a fancy car, show up for a date driving the restored truck and then on the next date drive the Phaeton.”
“Then I’d feel like I’m marrying a gold digger.”
“She’s dating you while you’re poor. If she was a gold digger, she wouldn’t be hanging with you. She wants what you want, a white picket fence and all the rest of that stuff. You haven’t told her that. You haven’t told her just how close you are to getting there.”
“You don’t want to wait, either.”
“How’s she going to react when you get rich off of silver? Do you want her to say to herself that she values you for who you are, learn that she was right to believe in you, and take pride in your accomplishments? Or would you rather have her decide that she’s with you because you’re rich and you’re good enough to give her what she wants?”
“I”m not sure it works that way.”
“Maybe. Maybe not. The question is, how will she feel about it. Is she going to believe she stood by her man, or that she was lucky to land you?”
“I hate questions like that.”
“If you wait to ask her, until after you get rich, it’s always going to feel like she went with you because you had the nice baggie of weed. You’ll always wonder if you married another Joyce.”
“Aw, fuck! I didn’t want to hear that,” Tim said knowing that it was true.
“How’s the price of silver?”
“It’s hovering around $8.50.”
“You better ask her soon.”
“I’ve got to know her better before I can ask her.”
“Then you better get busy.”
“I know. Maybe I’ll ask her to help out while I’m restoring her house.”
“It’s a good chance for her to get to know you. You’ll have three crews working for you. That should impress her without really impressing her too much.”
“I’ll do that,” Tim said. “Let’s get my stuff unpacked. I brought a cooler full of ice, some steaks, baking potatoes, canned corn, and ... makings for peach cobbler.”
“That’s good,” Benny said with a smile.
“It’s a nice cool day.”
“It’s a little overcast.”
“It’ll just be easier on the eyes when we hike around a bit.”
“I’ve been doing a lot of hiking this week. I didn’t realize just how far out of shape I had gotten.”
“You’ll get back in shape working on the houses this summer.”
The two young men emptied the back of the Jeep of the camping gear. It might seem strange, but the Jeep was actually a bit little for carrying around a lot of stuff, at least compared to the pickup truck or the van. Tim didn’t bring that much with him, just his sleeping bag, an ice chest full of food and drinks, and a change of clothes. His plans were to just kick back and enjoy the weekend.
After putting the ice chest to the side of the picnic table, Benny asked, “Have you got soft drinks in here?”
“Yes, I do.”
“How about we move them over to my ice chest and move my food into yours?”
“My ice is melting. Your canned drinks will float nicely in the icy mix while my food will stay better in your cooler.”
“Good thinking,” Tim said.
They rearranged the contents of the ice chests. Things like the bottles of maple syrup (the artificial kind), mustard, catchup, and mayonnaise which had been floating in the water were shoved into the ice. They transferred the remains of a head of lettuce into the little bin where it nestled next to the steaks that Tim had brought. There were a couple of apples and oranges that they left floating in the water.
After everything had been put away, the pair headed out for a hike. They walked along the roads of the park rather than along the hiking trails. There were a lot more miles of road than there were of trails. They didn’t talk much while walking along. Tim was lost in his thoughts about Lily, marriage, and the future. Benny had raised a lot of questions that he didn’t want to answer.
“Benny, what about you?”
“What?” Benny asked.
“What are you doing about finding your grumpy cook, grumpy gardener, and occasional prostitute?”
Benny said, “I haven’t even thought about the grumpy cook and gardener. I won’t have much need for them for a long time. Right now, Karina is taking perfectly fine care of my baser needs.”
“I know that the four of us haven’t been doing much together lately, but we’ve got an embarrassment of riches in terms of houses. I mean, we’ve got your two, my two, and the two belonging to Sandra and Cathy. If I get together with Lily, that would be another house. Our second places are rented already, but I’ve got to finish fixing them up. Lily’s father wants her house done by the middle of August. Cathy is hoping to be able to add her house to the pool of university rentals for visiting scholars.”
“What’s your point?”
“My point is that if Lily moves in with me, what are were going to do about her house?”
“That’s a good question. Do you really want me to solve it?”
“No. I’m just thinking out loud.”
“Okay,” Benny said, pausing to watch an armadillo.
“Do you think she’d move in with me?”
“Have you two had sex yet?”
“I doubt she’d move in with you before having sex with you. That’s a pretty big step.”
‘I didn’t mean tomorrow. I meant in the near future.”
They walked along a bit more. “Benny?”
“Is everything going to plan?”
“I’d say so. I’m twenty-one years old. You’re twenty. We’re less than a year away from being filthy rich when the silver market goes crazy. We’re probably rich enough right now to retire for life.
“We’ve got new vehicles; you a Jeep, and I’ve got a sedan. We’ve got houses. Even more important, we’ve got homes. Imagine that! We’ve got homes, and we’re only twenty and twenty-one years of age. In our first pass, we were struggling to pay the rent on those lousy apartments.
“You’ve got a girlfriend who isn’t a drug user or whore. You’ve got to figure that you’re way ahead of where you were in the first pass. Lily is a thousand times better than Joyce.”
“That’s for sure.”
“I think we’ve nudged the world into a better direction. We’ve saved Cathy. Sandra’s life is a thousand times better. We got rid of an ass-hole principal at the high school. I don’t even know how many other people we’ve helped.”
Tim said, “That reminds me, I ran into Bobby Joe Mills last Sunday at the grocery store.”
“How is he?”
“He seems to be fine. I met his wife. She seems like a nice enough lady.”
“That’s good,” Benny said. “Did you help him?”
Tim then told him about explaining silver coins and how much they’re worth. He was pretty convinced that Bobby Joe and his wife would be out scouring the area for silver coins. It wasn’t the first time he had explained to someone about the value of silver coins, but it seemed to him that the couple were more receptive than most.
Benny appreciated hearing the wonderful news. Bobby Joe wasn’t one of those larger than life heroes, but he was the kind of guy who made the biggest kind of difference in the world, one day a time. His only fear was that too much money earned too easily would cause problems. If the young couple could keep their cool, he had a feeling that a lot of smart students would ultimately be the beneficiaries.
At some point in time, they had turned around and headed back towards the camping spot. It was approaching one in the afternoon and they were getting hungry. It was ham and Swiss cheese sandwiches with lettuce and spicy brown mustard. Potato chips and pickles filled out the meal. It was the kind of lunch the two young men had grown up eating.
After lunch, the paper plates went into the fire ring. The knife was the only thing that had to be washed. Rather than save it for the evening, they poured a little water over it and then wiped it dry with a paper towel. It was clean enough.
Benny said, “This is going to be our last relaxed weekend until the end of August.”
“We’ll have to work Saturdays. Do you think we will be able to keep Sundays as our day of rest?”
“Sundays will be our days to take care of the house, to chill, and to barbecue.”
“That sounds good to me,” Benny said.
“Fridays will be my date nights with Lily. She’s working on Saturdays over the summer. That means I’ll want to quit working around six or so.”