July into Fall: Camping at Jump-off Lake was just right. At 6,000 foot elevation, it was warm to fish by day, cold at night to sleep.
You know I love the simplicity of fly-fishing. Those quiet moments, except, perhaps for a buzz in trees or bubbling mountain stream. The swishing noises sing, not the snap-pop of a snagged overhead fly line. I find who’s smarter, brook trout, or me. One single tiny insect, fished dry or wet with light leader. No noisy reel or shiny shrapnel hook.
It’s all rather iffy.
Finally, I’m alone with roving thoughts, Jupiter rising, the stars of Orion the hunter and his dogs, Canis Major and Canis Minor chasing a winking Lepus, the rabbit star.
Planets made their way through a clear night sky. I made my way back to a lonesome tent, fighting bugs and moon shadows.
Near dawn, I hear the cries of a wily band of coyotes, laughing or singing as they make a first kill and announce it to our world. I cherish a down-filled sleeping bag and small tarp that extends into a kitchen.
As they say, summer flees when you’re having fun. August drifted into October. I hitched into a small town on the highway once a week for fresh vegetables, took a job as clerk. Paid for the grub in hours.
Tall and swarthy, I get interesting looks from women. A few thought me a First Nations resident from somewhere far south.
I could have romanced as many gals as I wished. But did not. I still thought a lot about one notorious lady. A divorcee heading back to a man who once beat her black and blue. A uniformed man in blue.
She said she loved him.
On waking, I knew I’d overstayed a welcome.
Yep. It snowed. Weather knows no godly role.
Sudden winter turned summer paradise to a dangerous chore.
But I still enjoyed the silent falling of snow flakes and a surreal haze surrounding the valley. I could hear the patter-plop of falling flakes the size of plates. A quiet noise.
I felt half awake despite a persistent cold and slogging through deepening valley snow. But I knew an easier trek to a road following the winding creek. I headed toward a wooden bridge and a seldom-used path bristling a year’s tree growth.
My feet were prickly, toes burning cold. Hands staring to numb, although I dressed warm for the trek. A woolen cap and yellow jacket. But summer sneakers meant toes that could freeze.
I stoked up the pace. I remembered a man named Lucifer told me of a young couple living in a trapper’s cabin nearby, just off the old mining road I was heading.
He indicated they were the last ones left of an old back-to-the-earth type commune. One started by strange acting dude who looked like a notorious Charlie Manson.
I hoped someone was home this week and they fed a roaring fire. A pot of hot coffee on the stove.
Smoke. Out in the open bush you can smell pine wood burning a long way off. I was headed right. I spotted a wisp of swirling, grayish-white chimney smoke over taller trees an’ the faint edge of a sagging cabin. A rustic A-frame, windows glowing gold through morning’s hurried haze of white.
As I approached, a dog of all sorts came bounding and barking. I hoped it was to welcome, not attack. Covered as I was with crusted snow, exhausted and hunched over with a pack, I appeared a strange apparition. But dogs go more by smell than sight.
The cabin door opened, a pair of heads peeked. Just as quick, two naked bodies jumped onto the veranda.
I stood up straight, waved a free hand. Then fell with fatigue.
The two standing on the porch dodged inside. In a moment they came back, wearing furry mukluks, still no outer clothing. White skin and hairy heads as they plodded wind-drifts to help the helpless.
Not a word said. But that mental picture will be marked in my head forever. Nothing in mind could equal that snow-etched sight.
He was tall and skinny. A fellow with shoulder-length hair and bushy beard. She, on the other hand, was an angel. A glowing savior with amber hair, a flowing ponytail flying in the breeze.
She looked anxious, fit and built. A young-looking female. Her breasts heaved, her nipples red as she pushed grimly through snow.
The guy looked close to fifty, the busty woman, twenty.
Their jumping dog joined a motley rescue. This odd-looking couple helped me stand. She, by grabbing a backpack and flinging it away.
With both their arms slung around my frame, we made way, trudging a path to a trapper’s cabin.
I remember the immediate rushing heat on a frozen face as I staggered toward a chair in a steaming kitchen. A weird sensation of falling. Bright light came as I folded onto a bare wood floor.
Out, but undead. Not yet.
Eyes tight, I thought I must be dreaming but awake. All feelings tinged with warmth, a fuzzy body glow. Pink clouds floated on inner eyelids. I felt waves flowing through a head.
Something shapely and soft, seeming solid, nestled along the length of a naked body. Me? Naked?
I roused lucid thoughts. Coming full awake and opening an eye for a glance. This convinced me I may be in another world.
Perhaps I’d found heaven.
How else could I be nestled with a real, breathing woman? An unclothed woman at that. A naked angel of the morning. A sordid dream?
My right arm flung loosely across her middle, her back and hip jutted toward me. I realized where I was and whom I was lying next to.
About then I felt movement at my rear, I assumed another human. Something shifted.
This is no dream ….
Hoping to allay frostbite, my naked-ass saviors carried me inside and put me to bed on the floor. I was near a fireplace. I lay with bear rugs and a quilt, finding at two hot bodies cuddled for warmth.
Uh oh! She was sleeping. I was horny, remarkably thinking of sex with a stranger. Still dreaming? An after-effect? Death?
Good God, I thought, I’m lying on a floor with two people who may have saved a wretched life. I’m thinking of fucking one. A husband-brother-father sleeps. Or looks on.
I heard a whisper in an ear. Rude tone. “Awake? Who you be?”
“—Yes,” I mumbled, confused what’s happened. “Who you are. Would you help me? I’m Julio.”
“I’m called Barney. It’s time to let Baby-Jane be.”
Opening the door to freezing cold, a blast of icy air. Outside, I saw a pile of firewood.
The antique stove pipes were clicking and smoking as they heated. Bushy Barney filled a pot with water from a blue jug on a small wooden rack in the kitchen.
As I watched, I couldn’t help notice how tucked things were. A one-room shack.
Bunk beds and clothes closet in one corner. A scattered assortment of garments on the floor. A sprawling sofa and a pinewood coffee table in another area. One facing a picture window overlooking a scenic, snow-filled forest.
Lying among a jumble of bedclothes, by a fireplace, was the naked sleeping goddess, Baby Jane.
I asked about her. He mused a moment.
“Janie’s a child, a derelict from a commune living up our valley,” he informed.
“When I found her hiding near a collection of canvas teepees at their farm, she was skin and bone. A little crazy, a lot of heart.”
“Aryan-type beasts abandoned their place and left Babe alone to die.”
He shook his head, a monstrous gleam came into weary eyes.
“God knows if they planned to return?”
Continuing his story after a big, noisy slurp of java, he spoke of commune farmers. “They were so-called back-to-earth people who grew and harvested a lot of low-priced weed to sell quickly to Americans and Canucks like you and me.
I could tell by his voice he was angry at my interest. I never learned to butt out. In fact, I mentally slapped myself, that was part of the reason I was there right now. Frozen feet. A lady-friend dumped me for a younger man, a known beater of women.
Desolate, I found a wanting lake and fished.
Baby-Jane chose that awkward moment to stand tall from her blankets. She had our immediate attention without saying a word. Women do that when not wearing clothes.
She said, “What the heck are you blockheads doing? We should be friends. Not braying mules. Enough bullshit. Let’s make breakfast and get to know others. Be friendly over bacon an’ eggs.”
Barney’s face turned two grizzled shades of pink. A wild look. The man could kill. He shrugged, struggled for a word. His lips moved. Silent, he watched.
Mouth hanging open, more at the sight of her pale body than angry words. I looked at Barney, we nodded. Truce. I wondered about their togetherness.
Pans sizzled and dishes placed and a breakfast eaten in peace. A family dog fed by Barney, a man dressed for winter.
To my relief, Baby-Jane pulled a rainbow-colored robe over the curls. She sat at ease with us on a three-legged stool.
Later, I helped wash dishes and haul a load of firewood. I asked them to find a spot and listen to my story.
I told how I came to be stuck in a snowstorm “An unannounced early winter can silently kill.”
Jane looked on, solemn. She listened, unaware of her heavenly beauty or the halo I imagined she wore.
I could fall in love with this lost and lonely girl. She’s far too young.
And Barney? Well, he’d take me back to the lake, plant me under ice ’til spring.
“Lucky you made it,” said Jane. She looked at me, a strange glint in green-hued eyes. “Barney and I saw a big moving something. A fuzzy Sasquatch?”
A Sasquatch to an Angel? Quite the day.
Without ado, I found myself wrapped in a huge fluffy cape, complete with a hood. I was carted to a waiting Bronco wagon.
Barney said “We’ll see a doctor called ‘Bones.’
Jane, in back, kept me warm.
And that’s how I found Dreamland Hospital with two feet healing from Jack Frost. I’d never gotten the full story of Barney and sweet Baby-Jane.
Jane, a mystery nurse, a naked gal wearing a golden halo. Gaunt Barney with gritted teeth.
If the head stops ringing, I’ll write a story to explain. Seems, however, no one’s heard of hospital Dreamland. Nor a doctor named Bones. No mystical nurse christened Baby Jane, either.
A life on the road for over 10 years, discovering colourful characters, seemed the impetus for writing short stories. Hill covers several genres of literary fiction: rural fantasy, romance and Sci-Fi. He has several complete novels in revision. Retired from a small business, dealing with other writers in print and copy, he took on telling fictional stories. In the past, he was the publisher of a small community newspaper, winning awards from both the British Columbia Newspaper Association and Canada's National Association for writers, winning Best Editorial. He continues writing and learning these days on a popular writer site, Scribophile, and Spillwords Press.