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The Call of the Wild


Nina

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The sunlight played among the branches of the tall Firs and Pines, the breeze caused the limbs of those same trees to bend and sway which in turn created shadows which danced along the forest floor. Birds and small animals added their own furtive movements and their calls and songs harmonized with the sounds of the breeze and the gurgle of water rushing over rocks in the many creeks that were known for their wonderful fly fishing.

 

All in all, it was a naturist dream.

 

Northern California, Klamath National Forest in May of 1975, Gerald Ford was President and Saigon had just fallen and was on the front page of every newspaper in the country.

 

Keith Cranston, folded the paper in half and laid it down on the picnic table set up on the yard deck. The deck was the only new structure added since he had inherited the place from his grandfather. Keith was a Vietnam vet and wondered what all the blood spent, no, wasted, over there had been for. He picked up the mug of coffee and took a sip. It wasn’t his war anymore and he had his own problems to deal with. He was startled when the phone rang in the house. It was early, must be Ethan calling with a job.

 

He got up and carried his coffee into the Cabin. He left he paper on the table outside. The Cabin was brand new, rustic, and sparsely furnished. It had been modeled on the cabin his grand dad had lived for over fifty years, lived in and died in. The cabin had burned down with his grandfather still in it. His grand dad had left everything to him and that included a shelter that had been built under the old cabin and so Keith had built the new one right on top. Very few people knew about the shelter and what it contained.

 

He answered the phone by the fifth ring. It was Ethan.  After the pleasantries he launched right into the reason for the call.

 

“Keith I got a job for you. A guy who has booked with me a few times before you came up here. His name is Cliff Morris, he’s a corporate type out of Sacramento. Anyway, he has some clients coming in from back east and wants to give them a good time with some fly fishing. There will be four in all Cliff and three of his clients. I know its short notice, I’d take them myself, but the Kelly’s are booked for this weekend as well and I know you don’t want to deal with those kids or Mrs. Kelly. They will be flying into Scott Valley tomorrow morning so that gives you a day to get supplied and ready. Thanks a bunch pal.”

 

A weekend out in nature without a care except finding the fish. Do him some good. He made a list. And headed into town.

 

____

 

Peggy finished her breakfast; the diner was a small and crowded but she had grabbed a booth near the bathrooms when a group had got up and left. She slid in before it had even been clean, the waitress had given the teen a stern look taking up a booth when she could have sat on a stool at the counter. But she didn’t say anything, just took the order.

 

Peggy took out the worn road map, found where she was on it and drug her finger to Fort Jone, which was where the sheriff that had sent the box was at.  Still forty miles. She looked around the Diner for prospective rides and didn’t see any, everyone here looked like locals. Well, she had feet so she could walk and she had a thumb and she was wearing tight jeans.

 

____

 

Spoiler

removed Maurice's scene set up so i could continue with justin. 

 

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Keith already knew most of the best spots, both on Camp property and public land.  They'd done alot of work to prepare the grounds, but mother nature could be fickle as hell at times.   He'd go out this afternoon and make sure he saw the right things, that way it would only come down to luck and their skill if they caught fish or not.

He had his own personal kit, and he had some that he kept mostly for newbies and kids.   As these were adults, he knew they'd expect better, and possibly bring their own, but unless they came in  a private jet that was unlikely.   So he headed over to Gordon's Tackle&Hunting, an outfitter that had pretty much everything you could need for regular fishing and hunting.   
 

After parking he head inside, and saw Gordon himself at the counter.   "So the mighty hunter comes to town finally, is it that time already?"  He teased Keith, much as he had in times past.  
 

"No hunting today, I'm pretty much ready on that front.  I've got some sports coming in who want to do some fly fishing, so I figured I'd come ask the expert."   Keith smiled back at him.

"You're not gonna get a discount with flattery." 
 

"Not after a discount, just a real fishing report.   I'm told these guys are important, and want to have a good time.   I'd like a spot or two each where I can put them on quality or quantity."
 

"Another guided trip?"  
 

"Well that is how I make my living, it's not like they're regulars enough to remember where I take them and find their way back without me."

Gordon chuckled  "fair enough."   
 

He pulled out detailed map of the area, something that came from the department of the Interior survey.   He pointed to two spots on the main river.  "here and here for quality, but don't expect better than a fish per ten casts.  Even that's generous."   He pointed to two spots abit further northeast, "Here and here, you'll catch every other cast almost, with a good mix of species, but nothing over two pounds."
 

"Thanks Gordon,  I need 4 of the 8 foot  Berkley combos, the line, and if you've got any reccommended flies, 4 of each. "
 

Gordon's eyes narrowed.  "That's alot of kit, these guys must be big."
 

"Well, always good to be prepared, and make the right impression."
 

Once he had it all together, Keith paid, trusting that he'd make his money and more back in tips.   Gordon helped him load it all up in his truck, and he shook his hand, giving him an extra 20 for the information. "When they catch fish, I'll get you some new pictures for your wall, along with the gear bought here."
 

"Always nice to get good press, Keith."  

With that, Keith head on to the next stop.

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Keith had purchased all the supplies and made the necessary arrangements for the state licenses at the ranger station in Coffee Creek. Maggie Wright was on duty, a handsome rather than pretty, female ranger in her early forties. Maggie and Keith had shared a few beers and a few passes on the dance floor at the Diggin's Tavern, the main watering hole down in Weaverville, which was the closest thing to a city in the area unless you headed east to Redding.

 

Maggie and he chatted for a bit, and she gave him the weather report for the weekend. Good overall but with a chance of some rain and possible thunderstorms late Saturday night into early Sunday.

 

After saying his farewells Keith headed out to his Jeep, he checked his watch it was a little after 12:30 he had time for lunch so he hit the local drive-in burger place and loaded up on a big cheese burger and fries. good old bad fast food before a weekend of hopefully fresh fish.

 

Peggy put one foot in front of the other with her thumb out and the miles and hours passed. Twice Trucks with rough looking men slowed but she didn’t like the looks they gave her so she waved them on. One lingered slowly moving parallel to her but she didn’t look and after a minute the truck sped off with screeching tires.

 

She kept walking.

 

Her back was to the oncoming traffic her left arm out thumb up. Her bag was slung over her right should and it was starting to feel heavy. She looked up at the sky. The sun had passed over head so it was sometime after noon. She was hungry and thirsty and her shoulder ached.

 

Peggy stopped and let the bag slide off her shoulder and rest on the ground. She turned and faced the way traffic flowed and saw nothing. She sat down to catch her breath and then in the distance she saw a vehicle.

 

She stood up and her thumb went out.

 

Full of burgers and a fries Keith was feeling good he was cruising down Highway 3 heading back to Fort Jones. One last stop at Ethan’s office to pickup the forms the weekenders needed to sign and then home.

 

He drove in no hurry his thumbs tapping in time with the music, CCR, coming loud through the tinny speakers he had installed along with the radio in the old years ago. Coming around a curve he saw a hitchhiker on the side of the road putting his, no, her thumb out. He slowed eyes scanning the side of the road looking for anyone else. It was a tactic hitchhikers used. They put one person the most favorable to catch a ride while the others waited out of sight to catch an unwary ride.

 

Keith didn’t see anyone else, and the Jeep had slowed that her could get a better look at the hitchhiker. She was tall and thin and looked young. Not someone who should be hitchhiking in the woods alone.

 

The girl dropped her thumb as the jeep rolled to a stop in front of her. The jeep was old but sounded okay the driver was a large man with a short beard and hair. She couldn’t tell his age but the workman clothes he wore were clean and looked cared for.

 

“Where you Heading?” Keith asked turning the radio down.

 

Peggy looked over her shoulder and pointed north down the road, “That way.”

 

“So am I,” Keith chuckled, “Climb in I can take you as far as Fort Jones.”

 

Peggy looked up the road and then at the guy then shrugged and grabbed her rucksack and tossed it in the back and climbed into the jeep.

 

“Thanks, for the ride. I’m Peggy.”

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It was not all that common to find a female hitchhiker actually going it alone, and he wasn't in a rush.  When she thanked him he smiled.  "I'm Keith, nice to meet you Peggy."
 

His Jeep was older, but clean, and well maintained.  There was fishing gear in the back, and he was nice enough, for a perfect stranger.
 

"It might be abit rude to ask, but since we've got abit of time, can I ask ya  How'd you came to be on the highway today?  We seldom see hitchhikers out this way, let alone women doing so solo.   You've got to be careful out this way, there's a fair amount of predatory wildlife out here still.  Much to everyone's surprise."   
 

He meant it, he'd seen the tracks, especially in the preserve, but even beyond it, there were lots of ways to meet a bad end out here.  

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Peggy didn't say anything right away she just kept looking out the window.  After a couple of seconds she looked over at him. He was younger than she had first thought, still older than her though. She looked into the back of the jeep and saw the supplies and outdoors gear.

 

"I need to get to Fort Jones, didn't have enough money for the bus and food," she watched him as she answered, "my legs work so I picked food."

 

Peggy turned her head and gazed out the plastic window.

 

"Anyways, I can take care of myself."

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"Fair enough."   She was thin, but from his own time as a Ranger, he knew that didn't mean weak.  He'd known several guys who were thin, but could handle themselves in the shit.   It helped to be underestimated, and that almost always gave an advantage.  "If there's a station you want to listen to, feel free."  It was a courtesy, otherwise the radio, still audible, but much lower than normal.   He preferred Rock and Country music, but didn't mind something different for a short while.

 

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Peggy looked at the radio as if it were a snake, shook her head, "This is fine," she tilted her head and listened to it closer. They hadn't had much music in her home so all she was familiar with was the singing at mass which she didn't really think of as music and the folk singing at the family gatherings when the men got drunk sang old Irish songs and sometimes played traditional music on old out of tune instruments.  "I like it."

 

Peggy half turned in her seat and looked at all the gear and supplies in the back. "That's a lot of stuff," she observed. Peg straightened in her seat and looked at Keith, "For one guy."

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Keith nodded. "I am a guide.   I take clients out hunting or fishing and let them experience the great outdoors like they probably never would.  It pays pretty well, though if I'm being honest, the hunting trips pay better than fishing."

He shrugged slightly.  "I was supposed to be off, but sometimes it helps to have your boss owe you a favor."

"Do you like to hunt and fish?"   his question was innocent enough, since it was his profession.

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"Hunting offers different thrills.   Of course most people prefer hunting from a blind, it's easier, but I feel it's abit impersonal.   It takes a certain skill to make a shot from two hundred yards out, or more.  In my mind however, it's much more satisfying to stalk your prey, and make the kill in close.   Squirrel, Hogs, Deer, they react in fairly standard ways.  You can't hunt wolves or bears anymore.   Still sometimes you do have to defend yourself out there."

He shrugged.  "Then there's duck and goose hunting, which can be alot of fun, because the skill it takes to actually call them down, and they'll spook at the very first sign something is off.   We do it all, though more deer than anything these days.  The fishing is really good on the river, with lots of places to catch quantity and quality."

"What sort of hunting have you done, if you don't mind my asking?"

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"Nothing much, just rabbits and squirrels." Peggy suppressed a giggle, and the occasional asshole who shouldn't have messed with me. Of course she didn't say that part out loud.

 

"So have you lived up here a long time?" She changed the subject. Peggy didn't know enough about her great uncle but maybe this Keith had hear of him if he had lived here long.

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"Yeah, for most of my life, save for my tour in Vietnam."  He smiled.  "When I came back, not everyone was so happy to see me, but with abit of help, I've made a life for myself."  Keith generally had a good life, at least it was to him.  The only dark spot was the whole werewolf thing.  He wasn't a fan of losing control, and he worried about his family. More than anything, he understood why his grandfather lived alone.

 

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Peggy had watched Keith as he talked. She didn't say anything when he finished just turned and watched the trees flashy by. After about a minute of thought she looked back at him. 

"Do you know anybody named James Buchanan" she asked?  "I know this is a big area but I would suppose people tend to gather together in places out here.  He might have just gone by Buck."

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Keith thought for  a moment, but the name didn't register.  "Sorry Peggy, that name doesn't ring any bells.  I grew up south of here, not all that far, but far enough that I didn't know anyone back then.   I've not met too many people since moving up here."

"I've got a couple hours, i can bring ya around if you want."   He did have to get ready but he could spare a few hours.  That would be better for his conscience than just dropping her off and letting her go it alone.   

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"Thanks, but it's ok. I have to go to the sheriff's office I don't know how long that might take." It had been too much to hope for anyway.  

 

"If you could drop me off there, it would be great." 

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Keith nodded. "Alright, well I'll be around town, if you have to go somewhere else, if you see me flag me down, and I'll do what I can to help. "   He drove on, and when they finally got to town, he made for the Sheriff's office, letting her out.   "I hope you find who you're looking for Peggy."

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The last ten minutes passed in awkward silence. Keith drove and Peggy watched the forest slip by then suddenly they were in a town. It sort of shocked her for almost an hour they had been driving through thick forest then suddenly buildings and sidewalks replaced the trees with no warning.

 

Keith slowly drove through the town which was quaint with foux log siding on many of the buildings and the streets were lined with older model cars and pickup trucks. Keith drove right up to the County Court house and parked leaving the engine idling. "Sheriffs department is inside just passed the county registry. Hope you find who your looking for."

 

Peggy had already opened the jeep door but at that she turned back and started to say something but changed her mind. "Thanks for the ride....Keith. " The she grabbed her bag and slid out of the jeep and jogged up the courthouse steps after closing the jeep door.

 

Keith watched her go inside.  He found himself puzzled by the girl. He drew in a deep breath through his nose, her scent lingered in the jeep. She hadn't been wearing deodorant or perfume so what he smell was her natural scent and it was clear and strong to his heightened sense of smell. He felt the wolf stir. Then he shook himself clear of this strange feeling and shifted into gear, he had a couple of things to do in town then head home to finish getting ready.

 

A few hours later Keith was back at home the gear for the clients had been sorted, inspected, and repacked. Then he checked his own gear. When he was done with that he headed down into his grandfathers bunker where the gun safe was. He would take a sidearm and a long gun gust for safty. It was never a good idea to head into the wilderness without protection.

 

After choosing his weapons and gathering ammunition, he closed up the safe and glanced around grandfathers bunker. That's how he thought of it. Grandfathers bunker. It was a strange thing to have found up hear in northern California. It wasn't a bomb shelter which had been popular back in the fifties when grand dad ha built the place but a certified Military Bunker like they had on army bases. It had the safe but it also had a kitchen, a bathroom with a shower, a bunk room which had two bunk beds and could sleep four, and a large well stocked store room filled with non perishables and canned goods. Most of it had been stored here by his grandfather with just some added by Keith and some thrown out that was outdated. Keith shook his head. It still puzzled him, this bunker, he had found it when he had started rebuilding the old house. there had been a trap door that dropped into a tunnel that led to here. The bunker wasn't under the house but offset on the lot. Probably the biggest surprise was the gun safe and the arsenal it contained.

 

Keith shook his head at the memory and then gathered the guns and ammo and turned to head back to the main house but paused long enough to glance at the picture on the wall near the safe. It was the only picture of his grandfathers that hadn't burned. It showed his grand dad and three other men in outdoors gear posing by a huge tree. Grand dad appeared to be the oldest but the other three were not that much younger in appearance though all of them looked fit for their age. Four hunting buddies. The picture was  black and white and had been signed by the four men. 

 

Keith paused, stepped closer and peered intently at the old photo. The man on the end a big guy dark hair, the only one not smiling. The  name scrwled under him in poorly shaped print letters said "Buck".

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"It can't be, can it?"  He said quietly.   His grandpa hadn't really talked about the old days, and Keith certainly couldn't ask him about anything now.
 

Still, there was at least one person he might get some anwers from, Ethan Pike, his boss.   He wasn't quite as old as his grandfather had been, but he had known him well.   Enough that he'd given Keith a  well-paying job and taken care of him at a time when alot of the country didn't think well of any type of soldier.
 

He quietly realized this was all kind of crazy, that he didn't really know Peggy, or owe her anything.   Still, his own curiosity was piqued, so he wanted to know for himself, now.   It wasn't too late, so he headed back upstairs, and picked up the phone and Dialed Ethan's number, waiting for him to pick up.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The phone rings about four times before it is picked up, "Hello, Pikes Hunting and Fishing Ventures, how can I help you?"

 

"This is Keith Cranston, I need to speak with Ethan Pike, please."

 

"Oh hi Keith, just  sec." Keith hears the sound of the phone being set on the counter, a few moments pass then, "This is Ethan,  how are you Keith? Is there a problem with the booking?"

 

"No no problems boss, i got everything together for that. This is something abit more personal.  You knew my Grandfather.   Well I met a young woman today, claimed she was looking for James "Buck" Buchanan.   Now I know he knew Grandpa, because I found a picture of the two of them and two other guys together, looked like they were all old hunting buddies.   Oscar Mckenna, and Saul Ravinski, if I'm reading it right.   I was wondering if you knew them too, or maybe what happened to them.  Is there anything you can tell me?"

 

Ethan was quiet for several seconds, "Well  I guess we never really talked about your grandfather much, what with  you having your own shit to deal with. I've heard those names before but don't know em. Look, Keith, why don't you come by tonight and we''ll have a couple of beers and talk. This isn't anything we should talk about on the phone."

 

"Alright I can do that.   Sayi Seven or so?"  Keith asked.  "Also Ethan, would you mind if I brought the young lady who was asking along, kill two birds with one stone as it were."   If it was a problem, he'd just have to find her tomorrow, if not he'd go find her now, invite her home so she could freshen up and such before heading over.

A small part of him wondered why he was going out on a limb like this for a stranger, but at the same time, he almost felt compelled by an almost insatiable curiosity.

 

 

Peggy had never been to a police station before and even though this was a small town and probably didn’t have that much criminal activity, it was busy. There were men wearing uniforms and carrying guns all running around with purpose and the few women she saw were dressed conservatively and either answering phones or typing.

 

Typical.

“Can I help you…miss?”  The man who spoke was large, not fat, just big. He was older in his fifties she guessed, wide shoulders thick arms, a tattoo was exposed on his left forearm, a topless woman straddling an anchor with some numbers, maybe a date, below. He was bald except for a steel gray fringe. He was in a uniform and his badge said SHERIFF.

 

“Good, you’re the sheriff. I need to ask you about James Buchanan.” The man glanced down at his badge and laughed. “No miss I’m not the Sheriff just a deputy, all the badges say that. Give me your name and I’ll see if the sheriff has a minute.”

 

Peggy told him who she was and gave him Uncle Bucks name again. He pointed her to a wooden bench set against a wall and told her to wait there, then he disappeared into the belly off the station.

 

After a thirty minute wait another man in uniform, this one was fat, about the same age as the deputy came before her and introduced himself as Sheriff Wallace. Peggy introduced herself and explained why she was there. After some thought and what seemed hesitation the fat sheriff answered.

 

“Yeah I remember the case. He didn’t live here or anywhere as far as anyone here abouts knew. Sam at the five and dime remembered him coming in a few times for supplies. But nobody knew him.”  The sheriff looked uncomfortable. “His body was found in the preserve by some …young hikers. He had been shot by a rifle probably, we didn’t find the slug it went through. Ahem. Anyway, it was put down as a hunting accident. Whoever did it probably didn’t even know they had shot anyone. All the stuff I sent to you was with him.”

 

“There was a key in the package” Peggy said.

 

“Yeah, I don’t know what it’s to, maybe a post office key though usually those are marked or a Bank key but we checked and your uncle didn’t have any accounts, at least not in his name. and the bank said it was one of their safety-deposit box keys.

 

I’m sorry there isn’t much more I can tell you. But if you want I can have one o the deputy drive you over to the cemetery and show you where they buried him.”

 

“What? He’s buried here?”

 

“Yeah, your folks said they didn’t want to deal with it. Kind of odd and to be honest cold.”

 

Peggy scowled, “Well that sounds like my parents. If you don’t mind you can give me directions and I’ll walk I need to think.”

 

The sheriff obliged and Peggy left to walk to the south side of town and out of the city to an old cemetery.

 

Fort Jones had been established in 1852 and folks have been dying here ever since. The cemetery was compact considering its size and the headstones were indicative of the early twentieth century. Lots of tablet style headstones and lots of monument style as well. There were no mausoleums but there were a great number of graves. She found her uncle in the indigent section at the back of the cemetery. No headstones here, no monuments. Just small, weathered mounds of earth some with small metal frames stuck in the earth at the foot of the grave that held the name and DoD. She found Uncle Bucks grave at the back the mound still rounded and covered with dry yellow grass, the card in the frame read James Buchanan.

 

Peggy didn’t really know why she had come here and didn’t know what to do now. She sat crosslegged beside the grave and wondered why she felt connected to this man she hadn’t ever even spoken too. Soon the heat and the quiet and her exhaustion got the best of her and Peggy lay down beside the grave and fell asleep.

 

Keith drove up and down the main street a couple of times and didn’t see the girl. He stopped at the sheriff’s station and went to ask about her. He was fairly well known in the area so the deputy trusted him and told him that she had gone to the grave yard. And that is where Keith headed.

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When Keith pulled up at the cemetery, he got out quietly, with respect.  He didn't see anyone else there walking around, but it was still what he'd been brought up to do.   He walked quietly among the tombstones, still not seeing Peggy, but he was known enough that the officers wouldn't have lied to him.  He pressed on and as he drew near the back, where the indigent section was, that was where he saw her, laying on the ground.      He couldn't smell any blood, but it was warm out.   "Poor girl, the heat and stress must have hit her all at once.   He didn't run, but did walk faster.   As he neared the grave he saw the little frame, and the name on it.   He could only hope Ethan would have some answers for them both.   
 

He didn't reach out to her, knowing some people instinctively reacted poorly when physically roused from their sleep.  "Peggy."  he called to her.   "It's Keith, I need you to get up."   Sleeping in a graveyard, if that was what she was doing wasn't good.   Of course, if she wasn't just asleep he was ready to pick her up and carry her somewhere out of the heat.
 

The girl didn't stir so Keith moved closer and prepared to gently give her a shake. Before he touched her he caught a wild scent one the wind and looked up. Standing several yards away just beyond the wire fence denoting the end of the cemetery stood a red wolf, growling.

red_wolf_rebecca_bose_wcc_header.jpg

Keith stopped, and his eyes narrowed at the Wolf.  He'd never heard of a wolf in daylight here in this part of town, and he frowned.  His gun was in the jeep, and there was still a sleeping woman here.
 

"Peggy you need to wake up right now."  His voice was louder, with a more commanding tone, the sort one would expect from a soldier.  He wasn't yelling, but it should easily have been enough to rouse anyone from sleep.
 

There was little he could do if the animal decided to attack.   "C'mon..."   He raised his hands, ready to try and catch the animal if it lunged,  He nudged her foot gently with his own, but his eyes never left the Wolf.   He wasn't scared, he knew he could handle a single wolf, but he didn't know if he could protect her too if there were more of them.
 

The wolf stared into Keith’s eyes then huffed, turned and sprinted away. Keith quickly lost sight of the animal then he heard Peggy.

“What are you doing here?”


Keith glanced down at Peggy as he stepped back. She had pushed herself into a siting position and was looking up at him. Despite her question she did not look surprised at seeing him nor did she look like a person who had just been woken up from a sleep as deep as hers had appeared.

 

Keith had watched the wolf, but after losing sight of it, he looked down and heard her question.  "I was looking for you.   It turns out I do actually know someone who might be able to tell us about  Buck.   I'm heading over to his place tonight at seven, and if you'd like to come, you're invited.   I was hoping I'd find you fast enough so that if you wanted to freshen up and such beforehand you could."

 

He'd extended a hand to her to help her up from the ground, while replaying how fast she'd gotten up. and how she didn't seem like she'd just woken up.  it was odd, but he let it pass.   He said nothing of the wolf, he didn't want to cause her any anxiety, but he thought to himself that it was a good thing he'd come by.

 

Peggy let Keith help her up then brushed off the dirt and grass and picked up her bag. "I don't have anyplace to stay."


Keith shook his head.  "I know we just met, but if you're willing to trust me, I do have  extra room at my place.   You can get cleaned up if you want and wash your clothes.   I'll cook, or we can grab something to eat on the way there. "
 

It was strange, but now that he found there was a potential link, he felt obligated to help her out,  to at least offer this much.
 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Peggy had narrowed her eyes at Keith’s suggestion, but her senses didn’t give her any warning, so she agreed.

 

About an hour later, after a hot shower (the first in a long time) she felt she had made the right decision. She didn’t have many clothes, but she dressed in her one non t-shirt which was a man’s light cotton button-down that was colored with blue swirls almost like a tie-dye. At first, she was going to tie it up across her belly but then thought better since she didn’t know these people at all, so instead she tucked the shirt tails into her jeans and put her worn sneakers back on even though she preferred to go barefoot.

 

When she came out of the spare bedroom that Keith had put her in she followed the smell of cooking to the kitchen where Keith was preparing a meal for the tow of them. He noticed her and gave her a smile.

 

She found herself returning the smile, “So who is this guy we are going to see? He knew my Uncle?”

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"Ethan is actually my boss.   When I came home from the Army, not everyone was that keen on hiring soldiers.   My grandfather made a call, and arranged for Ethan to hire me.  He runs a large Hunting and fishing camp up here, and he and my grandfather went way back.   Since then I've become one of his best guides, and  never really give him reason to doubt his decision to hire me."

He cooked as he spoke, feeling oddly comfortable with Peggy in his home, even though he didn't know her.   

"I  am honestly not sure he truly knew your uncle personally, but he may have. You see, I found a picture of My grandfather, and three other men, with each of their names on it.  One of those men has the same name as your Uncle.   I'm bringing it tonight when we go see Ethan.   If there's anyone alive who can tell us if it was your uncle, and about him and the others in the Picture it's Ethan.   I believe he was actually the man who took the picture."

He set the food on the table, her plate first, a Pork Cutlet, mashed potatoes, green beans, and an oven roasted corn on the cob.   "What would you like to drink?  I've got water, soda, Sweet tea and beer chilled."  He had several sauces set out, and set his own plate opposite hers.

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  • 2 weeks later...

"Water please." She had discovered a dislike of sugery drinks sine the change so she dranl mostly water now. They ate. It was the first home cooked meal Peggy had eaten since running away. It was pretty good. She studied the house what she could see of it from where they ate, It was nice and everything looked new. She had never been in the country before or the woods but from TV this was not what she had envisioned a cabin in the woods to be.

 

“This is a nice place.”

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Keith nodded.   "I work hard, but I admit to being fortunate too.  My Grandfather left me the land and everything else when he passed.  I rebuilt the house and updated some things, but it's largely as it was when it was his."

He chuckled.  "Won't find many like it, but all the nearby woods and all are part of the property, so it offers alot of peace and quiet.   There's no neighbors within a couple miles, and it suits me fine.   It's way better than the jungles of Vietnam."

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Peggy pushed her plate away and drank some water, "Your grandfather knew my uncle."

 

That sent waves of warning up and down Peggy's spine. That was a very big coincidence. She was hitchhiking and gets picked up by a guy whose granddad knew her uncle. All to much of a coincidence. She wasn't scared, she had her claws and she had learned to put them out whenever she wanted. Had pulled them out in fact.

 

"Can I see the picture?"

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