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Long Time Gone

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Long Time Gone

  Long Time Gone

  By Darrel Bird

  Copy©right 2014 by Darrel Bird

  ‘In modern war…you will die like a dog for no good reason’

  Earnest Hemingway.

  The separation

  “Don’t do that.”

  It was seven Am, and Cody Anson wanted to play, but his wife Holly was having none of it, “Go let the cat out Cody.”

  “Why can’t cats let themselves out like a dog? Isn’t there a doggy door for cats or something?”

  Holly didn’t answer as she got out of bed, and walked to the bathroom. Cody walked to the front door to let the cat out. He looked next door, and Dale Banks was already loading the van for the trip to Big Bear.

  “Hey Cody, can you go with us today?” Dale called across the yard.

  Dale walked down to stand at the edge of the small front lawn that separated the two houses.

  “No, Holly has a meeting at the studio, and I gotta go look at the property…remember?”

  “Oh yeah, another sale my wife is trying to make. Is Trevor going with us to Big Bear?”

  “Yeah, he’ll be out in a minute, and it sounds like a good investment up there.”

  “Denise can make anything sound like a good investment.”

  “You going to camp up at Butler Peak?”

  “Yeah, it’s a good spot. We can get water from the spring.”

  Dale banks worked for a big insurance firm in L.A, and Cody had been a freelance photographer traveling all over the globe to war torn crap holes most people hadn’t heard about, and he had decided enough was enough. He was determined to make his money work for him by investing in something, and Dale’s wife, Denise worked for a real estate firm that specialized in investment properties. She was trying to sell him a piece of what she called a ‘prime piece of real estate.

  Dale had the local Eagle Scout troop since Cody, and Holly had moved into the quiet, and expensive, North Hollywood home. Every summer Dale took the boys up to the Big Bear area for a camping trip.

  The property Cody was supposed to look at was in Bakersfield, and Dale’s wife Denise was to drive him up in her car while Dale drove the boys up to Big Bear in his nine passenger van.

  His wife Holly, backed her car out of the two car garage, and stopped in the driveway, and he walked over to the driver side window. She rolled down the window, “Be sure Trevor has lunch, and water Cody.”

  “It not exactly a wilderness between here, and Big Bear ya know. If I don’t make this investment property thing work out, you’ll be driving a Chevy Nova, instead of that Beamer.”

  “You’ll make it work Honey. Love you.” And she backed on out in the street, and turned the car down the hill.

  “Love you.” He mumbled.

  “Hey Dad, you seen my hiking boots?” Cody’s son Trevor called out the front door.

  “They are sitting on the hot water heater in the garage where you left them.”

  “Oh yeah, thanks Dad.” And the boy disappeared from view again, only to reappear to cross the lawn in his sock feet carrying his back pack, and his hiking boots.

  Trevor was a good kid, but Cody knew in his heart that Dale was more of a father to him than he had been, and he felt a stroke of jealousy about it. Cody had been gone much of the kids life, and he knew the jealousy feelings were unreasonable.

  Denise walked out of the house, walked over, and kissed Dale, then, “You ready to go sport?”

  She looked to Cody as if she had been melted, and poured into her designer jeans, and he caught himself staring. He looked sheepishly over at Dale, but he was busy tying down the packs on the roof rack of the van.

  “You got everything you need Dale?”

  “Yeah, we’ll be in Big Bear in a couple hours, then on up the trail to Butler peak.”

  “Ok, buddy, see you Sunday night then.” And he walked over to get into Denise’s car. Her car was a low slung Corvette, and Cody wondered where they got the money for such toys. He could barely afford the second hand Beamer he had bought for Holly on her birthday.

  Denise shifted the Corvette as she threaded though the traffic until they got on the I-5 Freeway, then she sped up to ninety miles an hour.

  “Want to back it off a little Denise?”

  She gave him a sour look, but began slowing the car down to eighty, and that’s where she kept it. As they drove Cody sat looking out the window, and remembered some of the places he had been. War torn countries that held no resemblance to the United States. Countries that were blackened with fire, bomb holes, and torn bodies. He had lived on the edge for so many years. Sometimes he missed the adrenalin rushes to stay alive, at other times it scared him to death, thinking it might happen all over again.

  He leaned his head back to rest his eyes, and the comfortable seat rocked him in it’s embrace as they drove. When he looked up again, they were speeding down the grape vine, and she had the car rocking on a hundred miles an hour.

  “Jiminy crickets Denise, do you have to drive so fast?” He looked over at the trim figure, humming behind the wheel as she drove. If I end up looking at her while I’m trying to buy property I’ll end up buying any damn thing! He thought as he tried to get settled in his seat.

  “I didn’t want to spend all morning getting up here, I thought we could look at the property, and then have lunch at Banducci’s.”

  She began to slow the car as they entered the outskirts of Bakersfield, and then turned off on one of the main streets to a set of new office buildings. It had a ‘for sale’ sign in a grassless yard, and she turned the car in on the dusty yard.

  “Wheres the parking lot?” Cody asked as he looked around.

  “It’ll be in next week, that’s as soon as the contractor could make it.”


  She took out a ring of keys, and unlocked the large glass doors in front of the building, and they walked inside. The place smelled of fresh paint, and sheet rock mud. “There will be 30 offices, but some places want more offices so they just rent more space. It’ll clear you a cool five grand a month for sitting on your ass honey.”

  “Uhuh, I’ll bet.”

  They walked through each of the offices, and there were some that lacked paint, “Denise, I just don’t know what I’m looking at.”

  “Don’t worry honey; mama will take care of you.”

  He looked at her again, “Uhuh.” He grinned.

  “Lets go to lunch, I’m starved.”

  As they got back in the car Denise pushed a on button on the radio, “There’s usually not much on but hick music up here, move your knee.” He moved his knee away. He felt like he was sitting in a bean bag.

  “You ought to get a Lincoln…Lincolns got leg room.” He looked over at her white blouse with the buttons open as she reached for the buttons on the radio. Just quit looking! He turned his eyes away, and felt like a sex starved clod.

  She pushed the scan button on the radio, but the radio kept stopping on loud hash, “Damn it!” She hit the dash with her hand, and it finally settled on a station, the only thing he could make out was, “In Edwards Air Force Base…Los Angles has been hit…kiloton estimated…She whacked the dash again, “Wait Denise, I don’t think the radios broke…let me try.”

  He looked at the radio, and saw it was on AM, so he pushed the button that brought FM stations, and then found a station in Sacramento. “I repeat, Los Angeles has been bombed, according to a report from the California Highway Patrol. Do not go toward Los Angeles. Reports from our news people are pouring in at this time.”

  “What does he mean bombed?”

  “Shush. Let me listen.”

  Her hand went for the radio, and he slapped her hand, “Don’t slap my hand!” She glared at him.

  “Shut up
! My wife is in L.A.!”

  He listened to the reports, and then all of a sudden the emergency broadcast tone sounded, and then that quit, and the radio was silent. He pushed the scan button, and the radio rushed through the frequencies, not stopping anywhere. He shifted it back to the A.M band and found the station at Edwards air base which was full of static. The best he could make out from what he could hear was that several cities had been bombed.

  “Pull out on the road, and lets get fuel down at that station on the corner there.”


  “Just do it Denise! In fact, let me drive. Get out!”

  He opened the door, and walked around the car. Denise saw his blustery face, and opened the door to
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