The first day at the new job, for breakfast I was on my own. Hugo didn’t seem too interested in sharing, so I went to the cafe. I went in uniform, even though I didn’t get a shower first. I thought it would made it easier to meet people.
The first thing I had to do, was to forget that I was just marking time. In order to be accepted, the people needed to see me as a new resident, not a tourist. So I met one of the owners of the diner and his wife. He was the day cook and she was the waitress and cashier. Last night it had been his brother who was cook, and his brother’s daughters who were the waitress and cashiers. It was truly a family business.
The breakfast was simple and I tried to stay away from the grease. At least on that first morning. I went for the scrambled eggs with cheese and grits. I avoided the meats on the first visit. If the eggs proved to be alright, I would try the other items later.
The eggs were actually pretty good. They were a little greasy, but things tended to be that ways in small diners. The prices were reasonable and there was even a breakfast special. Their claim to fame had to be the morning biscuits. The biscuit that came with breakfast was huge. The thing was five or six inches in diameter and an inch thick. I looked forward to stuffing it with eggs and bacon when I was in a hurry.
The special was two eggs, bacon or sausage, grits, and a biscuit for five bucks. It was a good deal I knew I would be back after I had the eggs. Unfortunately there coffee was crap. They served that awful cheap restaurant blend you got everywhere. If I could find a travel cup, I would gladly bring my own coffee. I paid the bill and decided that they had seemed friendly enough. I figured next time, I would get the ‘oh you are back, now who the fuck are you’ treatment but with nicer language.
When I got back to the office it was almost nine Hugo was an early riser I noted and was glad of it. I wouldn’t want to walk in on a man in his Sponge Bob pjs. “Morning boss,” I said when he came from the apartment in the rear.
“Morning Terry, how was breakfast?” he asked.
“Good, I hope I didn’t wake you brushing my teeth this morning,” I asked.
“You did, but it’s fine I usually get up about this time. If you let me sit at that computer I’ll make some calls.” he suggested. We switched seats and he called the campground some 15 miles away. He left word for the maintenance man to return his call and hung up.
“So Terry, you aren’t allowed to do anything, but read the fish and game laws for the rest of the week and next week as well. They want to bring you up to speed. But honestly you can read them in a day and then you learn the rest as we go. Since the captain was pretty adamant, we will go with it.” he said.
“To be honest Hugo, they want me to get a feel for a slower pace of life, I expect. I have some medical issues as well. I have a couple of cracked ribs,” I explained to satisfy his curious look.
“Do I need to know how you got them,” he asked.
“Fell off a motorcycle,” I suggested.
“Ah lucky you didn’t get scraped up as well,” he said looking curious.
“Yeah I was lucky. Those leathers work very well and I wasn’t going all that fast.” I volunteered.
“Well I guess you totaled it since you didn’t bring it with you?” he asked.
“Totaled and no insurance, so I won’t be replacing it anytime soon,” I said. That stopped the questioning until after the man from the campground came. He brought all kinds of pipe with him. When he left the camper had water that wouldn’t freeze in the cold, and a toilet that worked. It also had a very, very small hot water heater, which he explained would give about enough water to rinse a few times.”
To shower I would stand in what looked like a giant plastic sewer pipe and wet down my body. I would then turned off the water and soaped everything including my hair. The next step with a little luck was a hot water rinse down of my hair. Which should also rinse most of the rest of me at the same time. I might, or might not, have to finish rinsing with cold water. Obviously the pot growers office hadn’t needed much hot water. Growers must not shower often, I decided.
I could manage the water situation. Heat was a different matter all together. I had a small sized ceramic furnace built into the wall. It was locatied across from the tiny bathroom in the center of the trailer. The trailer itself was eight feet wide and twenty two feet long. About the half the size of the family room in a modern house.
I knew from the night before that the furnace wasn’t enough heat. From talking to the man who came to install the trailer, I learned that people used the kitchen stove’s burners as a propane heater in the kitchen. He didn’t recommend it, but it was done all the time. It was mostly dangerous when left unattended, or if the owner fell asleep with it buring.
I could safely use it to give the trailer a quick blast of heat only. Then use the electric furnace to maintain the heat. If I used the propane for supplemental heat only, it would be less dangerous and require me to run to the store for propane less often.
Since the store that sold propane was probably where we bought gas for the trucks, it might not be too far away. It would still be a good idea to use it sparingly, since it gave off dangerous fumes. I didn’t like it much, but the camper was a temporary thing.
The good news was that the camper came with two tanks. My mind went to a more efficient way use to use the kitchen stove as a heater, but that could wait. I might never get around to that.
I began making a list of things to get either at the closest convenience store, or the closest town with a Walmart and Home Depot. Propane was number one on my list. I knew damn well that I was going to be using it for heat, but probably not cooking. What little cooking I did, I could do in a microwave oven, or other small counter top appliance. That would save the propane for heating the trailer.
Hugo was answering the phone while I read up on the necessary laws. Mostly it was hunting seasons and limit on how many animals a hunter could kill. Fishing was more about limits and having the proper licenses.
“Hugo, what is that waterway behind us,” I asked after the trailer installer left.
“It’s a little river called the Black River. It feeds into the inland waterway. A part of our job is to see that the waterway stay clean and open to small boats and barges. Sometimes fishermen from the waterway stop to fish and block the larger traffic. They can fish if they are licensed, but the can’t block the waterways and canals. Now and then we find contraband while we are inspecting for fishing violations,” he said smiling. I could tell Hugo liked that part of his job. I had a feeling he and I might just get along after all.
“So you really are heavy into the enforcement part of the job?” I asked.
“We all are supposed to be. Just like anything else, some wardens take more interest in the field work than others do. I guess I really like being outside more than some.” he said smiling. I could hardly wait to get out in the field with him. I knew I had to read the law for a while to satisfy both Captain Smith and the doctors.
It was late that same afternoon when Hugo came back to the office and said, “Come with me Terry and bring your list of stuff.”
I didn’t ask question, I just opened the drawer and put the Glock into the holster. We headed off on the 45mile drive to New Holt. “I couldn’t help notice you picked that pistol up without even thinking. You must have been in some shit in the middle east, if you got in the habit of keeping a weapon that close.”
“Yeah something like that. Hell over there the good guys were as likely to kill you as the bad,” I said.
“Not a bad way to stay alive, but a lousy way to live your life,” he said. “Or at least I would thing it would be.”
“I don’t make a lot of friends,” I said.
“Well don’t worry, I’m not very social,” Hugo added.
In Walmart I bought lots of odds and ends for the trailer. I even bought a tea pot the kind you sit on a stove burner. I figured I might be able to figure out something to do with it. I also bought some plates and things like that. I would rather have gone to a flea market but I wasn’t the driver. It had a microwave but I got a electric toaster oven. I didn’t bother with electric cook top. I figured the propane cook top would work as seldom as I would use it.
On the way back we stopped and exchanged the empty tanks on the trailer for two full ones. I paid for everything I bought at Walmart but not the propane. That Hugo paid for with one of those magic credit cards. “Whenever you need gas let me know and I’ll give you the credit card.” he said.
“Fair enough,” I answered.
Just as we pulled into the parking lot of the office his cell phone rang. “Fish and Game,” he said shrugging his shoulder for my benefit.
“Calm down Ma’am what seems to be the problem,” Hugo asked. “I’m pretty far away call the Sheriff’s office and I’ll head that way. He will likely get there first, but tell him I’m headed that way.”
“What’s up?” I asked.
“Woman hears shots in the woods behind her house. Her husband ran off some hunters in t here recently,” he said.
“Isn’t the season over?” I asked.
“Yes, but some of these guys buy a gun and think they can shoot it all year. They are probably plinking, but shots in the woods could be for either us, or the sheriff. It is definitely someone’s problem. Like the woman said, she has grandkids who play in those woods.” Hugo said.
“We can investigate without any better information that that,” I asked.
“Oh yeah, we have reason to believe there is a state wildlife violation. The sound of gunfire from the woods is probably cause. Don’t you just love it,” That last was in response to my smile.
I smile even more for an answer. “I’m not suppose to do this but you can ride along, if you promise to stay in the car,” Hugo said.
“Alright, I promise,” I said.
“I don’t believe you, but you better. I’m way too close to retirement for any trouble,” he said.
It was all academic anyway. The sheriff’s deputy had two young men against a car talking, when we pulled up. The deputy was a woman and she looked relieved to see us. My guess was she had been tap dancing as hard as she could waiting for backup. The men looked like young thugs, not young hunters.
“So were they hunting,” I asked.
“Looks more like they were just trespassing. Maybe a little scouting out places for some kind of mischief,” she suggested. “But all I can do is write them a simple trespass ticket.”
Both Hugo and I nodded. “You guys know this on my list of places, I keep a regular eye on don’t ya?” he asked.
They shook there heads and I could see them marking it off their list. I liked the way Hugo worked. He was rough as hell, and the law was a very broad guideline, but a guideline none the less.