“So can we tap into the live feed.” I asked.
“Yes but you know how long that thing runs and how short a time they are there. We would most likely miss it,” Hugo said.
“Don’t you know how to record it?” I asked not that I did either.
“No, we are just going to have to trust the SBI to share,” he said.
“I would rather trust a black bear in the pantry not to eat the cookies,” I said.
Hugo laughed then said, “You know them better than me. Why don’t you finish up your domestic stuff, then we can head on up to the big cut again. I just know some ass is baiting deer up there.”
“I can be ready in fifteen minutes, if you don’t mind waiting while I drop off my laundry.” I informed him. “We are getting a late start though.” I knew it was going to be noon before we got to the cut. It was still getting dark reasonably early.
“We can go till it starts getting dark. Then we just might check out the waterway a little. I like to see who is stringing gill nets and where they are stringing them. At least once a week I do a night check on the waterway.”
“Sounds fine to me,” I said. I went back to the camper and threw all my dirty clothes including the sheets into a black plastic bag. I wouldn’t wash the sheets so soon had it not been for my visitor. I swear I can wear the thickest pad they make and still bleed through some nights. I was wearing a tampon during the days, but I slept with a pad. I know it’s more information than you needed.
I threw the bag in the rear of the pickup then I went inside the office yet again. Hugo was ready and sitting behind the desk checking the office email. There was none of course. So we locked up the place and headed for the Lopez house.
I dropped off the overstuffed black plastic bag and the daughter demanded her money in advance. I looked at Hugo who nodded his head so I gave her a ten dollar bill.
“Tomorrow,” she said then turned away.
“How is she possibly going to get all that crap ready by tomorrow?” I asked Hugo.
“She isn’t, she just tells everyone tomorrow. I would say give it a couple of days and it will most likely be ready. She does have to or three washers, but I don’t think they even owns a dryer. Those are the expensive parts of a laundry.
“So I need to factor in the weather, when I bring my clothes?” I asked.
“Check the online weather, before you fill the bag. I always do,” he said.
“Thats a good thing to know. I wonder what the weather for tomorrow is,” I asked.
“Highs in the seventies and sunny,” Hugo says. “I just got in the habit of checking, since we spend so much time outdoors.”
“Okay, I got it.” I said. “You are telling me, I shouldn’t have to ask you what the weather is going to be.”
“More than that Terry, I’m telling you it’s a different skill set you need to live out here, than it is living in the city. Here your back up is not minutes away, it’s at least a half hour. So always think way far ahead.”
“Too bad we still have to be courteous, if we didn’t I would just disarm and frisk everyone before I asked for their hunting license,” I said.
“I know, talking to a man with a gun in his hand is a bit nerve wracking. Even if you are there for more than a simple license check. Of course the the upside is that dope dealers and Russian mobsters usually don’t go in the woods either. They like their life as easy as possible.”
“But you know Hugo, the great dismal would be a great place to hid all kind of illegal shit. That is if you don’t mind the discomfort,” I said. “Meth lab comes to mind.”
“You were a dope cop weren’t you?” he asked.
“I can’t tell you any of that. But I do know a Meth lab when I see one,” I said. Hugo just laughed.
“I’ll bet you even know how to cook that shit,” he said.
“Not me,” I replied. By that time we had reached the cut, so I turned onto a different logging road and drove in as far as I could. When I reached standing water, we parked and began to walk. One of those new skills Hugo told me about I decided would be a way of getting back to the car. I made a note of the coordinates on the gps before we started to walk.
We walked following the dry high ground. I got turned around with all the twists and turns we made following dry ground. “Which way is the car,” Hugo asked several times. I took out the gps and pointed the right direction.
“You could do that by the position of the sun as well,” he said.
“Hugo, you say tomato, I say red vegetable. It all works out in the end,” I replied. We walked and looked at all the game trails in the area but no bait or feeders were out there.
“I’m telling you I just feel it, someone is baiting the deer here,” Hugo said.
“Well Hugo we can come back tomorrow and look again,” I said.
“We have other things to do, but we will come back again,” Hugo said. He was frustrated by the long walks that turned up nothing. I personally enjoyed the walks. They were exhausting and I needed that. Of course without easy access to a restaurant, I was not taking in so many calories. I was finding out that I ate a lot of processed food, just because it was so much trouble to prepare fresh.
Fresh would probably cut down on the calories even more, but the processed foods had much smaller portions, so maybe it evened out. I did snack on peanut butter and Ritz crackers. I tried to stay with snacks that had at least a little protein. I tried avoid pure sugar when I could, but I did give in now and then to donuts. Yes it was a bad habit from the old days. Still the long walks and sparse rations seemed to be keeping my weight down.
“Well, you and your gadget lead us back to the truck,” Hugo said as a challenge.
“I can see you don’t think I can do it,” I said smiling. “So how about a little bet gimp.” Yes Hugo was still limping but he soldiered on regardless.
“What kind of bet?” he said.
“We go out to dinner tonight before we check the waterway, and if I find the truck you pay. If I don’t I’ll pay.” I said.
“You have to find it withing five minutes of reaching the target area,” he said “and it’s a bet.” Hugo obviously didn’t believe I knew how to read a gps monitor let alone set a course using one. My back story was mostly true. I had worked on convoys in the sand pit and gps was how we found helo outposts that weren’t on any map and moved around from day to day.
“I’ll take that bet,” I said. I had to back up a few times to stay on the path to the truck, but in the end I walked right to it. “I’ll make it easy on you Hugo. We can go for fish.” I was laughing.
“Okay, I’ll trust you to the find our way home, but pay attention to the signs as well. Just in case that thing craps out on you,” he said.
“Tell you what you can tell me what you see and I’ll remember it but I’ll also carry the gps device.” I said.
“How is Helen?” I asked once we were in the car and headed to dinner.
“Helen is fine. She asks about you every time I see her, If I didn’t know her so well, I would be jealous,” Hugo said.
“Maybe you don’t know her as well as you think,” I suggested. I smiled but Hugo seemed a little miffed. Fortunately we pulled into the parking lot of a fish camp about that time.
A fish camp is an informal seafood restaurant. The decor was very much that of a dining hall at a church summer camp. Just screen wire with shutters where to windows should be. At that time of the year the shutter were down over the wire. There were large propane heaters in the center aisle of the dinning hall. The tables were picnic tables made from lumber purchased at home depot or something like it. The finish was from several hundred plates of greasy fish. Then there was the service. There was none.
There were metal trays, probably retired from the marine base not far away. When you went in you picked up a tray and walked down a serving line. I picked up several pieces of very crispy perch fillets. I chose them because they looked small and well done. I passed the rest of the half dozen or so seafood offerings to get to the side item bar. There was coleslaw with cabbage chopped very coarse and dressing that was heavy with vinegar. The French Fried potatoes were about a quarter of a potato in each slice. The hush puppies were not round, nor were they shaped like a dog turd, they were a spoon full of loose batter dropped into the hot oil. What that did was to make hush puppies different from each other in size and shape.
From another long table, one could pick up a glass of sweet tea, unsweetened tea, water, or a cup of coffee. That was the entire menu. You would that kind of place to be either empty or filled with farmers. Well you would be wrong.
A Sheriff’s deputy might be sitting beside a nurse from a local doctors office. Her boss, the doctor, might easily be seated with them both. A millionaire banker might sit beside a maid. It was just that kind of place.
I let Hugo pay for the fish dinner. Mine was $5.75 for the perch and his was $8 for a large spoonful of shrimp and a another of oysters. We were seated when Hugo said, “I hope you like the fish,”
“I had expected something fancier, since you were paying off on a bet, but the food does look good. I can’t say much for the ambiance though.” I explained. After I started eating I added, “Okay, it’s probably the best fish I ever ate. The slaw I have never had anything like it, and that potato is wonderful. I can see me eating here every Friday night.” I said.
“This is quite a crowd for a Wednesday night,” Hugo said. “It isn’t even tourist season. In June there will be a line out into the parking lot starting at 5PM and lasting till they stop serving,”
“So who owns this place,” I asked.
“An old fisherman and his wife, She used to cook what he couldn’t sell. Then serve it out the back door of their little house, They had a bunch of mismatched table and chairs, but the locals would grab her fish as fast as she could put it out. Every penny she made, that wasn’t spent on cooking, she saved.
Then one day this church camp came up for sale. She bought it two years ago and it’s been growing ever sense. It started out with an almost totally black customer base. Two years later you can see what it is now.”
“They must be the richest black folks in the county,” I said.
“Several counties, but you know her husband still supplies most of the fish. They buy the shrimp and oysters on the docks in Blane, but the pan fish like you had, come right out of the waterway. I’m not sure all his fishing is absolutely legal, but till somebody complains or I stumble on him, he can do what he does,” Hugo said.