Ever and Always
Chapter 19: Reminders of By Gone Days July 2022

Copyright© 2015 by Banadin

Over the next two days, Marsha and Rick made arrangements for aerial photography of their land, and signs to be put up at the gun club and Johnson farm entrances. They were simple pieces of plywood supported with two-by-fours. The face of the sign painted white said, King Creek Farm in large blue letters.

They then flew back to Baltimore and let their landlord know they were moving out of their Delaney Valley apartment. They made arrangements for their furniture to be packed, and put in storage in the mover's warehouse in Chattanooga. Marsha contacted their few friends and gave them their new forwarding address.

They were getting ready to drive Marsha's Camry to Tennessee when they received a call from the Burns & Burns Trust company. They were asked if they could come downtown sometime. They had a box of personal effects for each of them.

While doing a periodic clean out of their long-term storage, they came across boxes with their names on them. The boxes contained items like their high school diplomas, baptismal certificates, wedding announcements, and a small package labeled US Army and old passports.

The next morning on the way out of town they detoured to Burns & Burns. They took receipt of the boxes and hit the road. It was a good thing the boxes were only the size of several shoe boxes as the car was loaded with their clothes.

They didn't bother to look through the boxes but just headed west on I-70 to join up with I-81 on their way to Tennessee.

It was interesting to have the self-driving car pull into a gas station, have a reader check the cars credit, use a robot to fill the tank with the manufacturers recommended fuel. While this was happening, another robot mounted on the roof of the canopy above the pumps cleaned their windows. The station also scanned the car's data, but all fluids were within norms and there were no faults on any equipment.

As Marsha said, "The only thing it can't do for us is get out and pee."

They didn't intend to do the ten-hour trip in one day. Even though they did not have to steer and were feeling better all the time they did not want to push it. After spending the night in Lynchburg, VA they drove on to their new home. They reached the motel about nine o'clock that night, after stopping for dinner in Chattanooga. A quick shower and they were soon sound asleep.

The next day over their morning coffee at the diner they discussed their coming moves.

"Rick would you consider getting a double-wide mobile home for the farm until our new home is completed. I can't stand the thought of living in either of those old farm houses."

"I think that is a good idea Marsha," replied Rick. It is going to be a year or more before construction is completed, and I agree about those buildings. The Johnson house could be made livable for us, but it doesn't seem worth the effort. The gun club building is about to fall down."

Marsha stated, "I have been thinking about this for a couple of days now. We could place the double wide in the open area in front of the gun club house. I noticed a place selling them as we came out of Chattanooga."

"I noticed it also, though I hadn't thought about us getting one," replied Rick. Just then Rick's cell phone rang. He took a short call and announced, "Our aerial pictures are ready, looks like we were meant to go to Chattanooga today."

The weather was pleasant so the drive to Chatham Aviation to pick up the aerial map of their land went well. The owner Mr. Chatman explained how to interpret what they were looking at in a clipped British accent. Rick understood what he was looking at from his Army days but appreciated the refresher.

He pointed at a level area right at the base of Hinch Mountain and said, "It looks like this area is flat enough for our house and any out buildings we may want. It is near the center of the property and far back from the road."

Marsha added, "If I read this right, we could put a winding road around these hills without having a steep driveway."

"Those hills would be perfect for observation posts," stated Rick.

Marsha looked at him like he had grown a second head, while Mr. Chatman smiled and said, "You remind me of another bloke I used to work with."

Rick looked at Chatham but all he got was, "That was a long time ago and far away, almost like another world."

Rick let it go.

Marsha said, "We will talk later."

On the way back to Pikeville they stopped at the mobile home sales lot they had both noticed. It didn't take long for a salesman to gravitate to them. In short order, they had discussed what they needed.

They started with two bedrooms and a bath. With only a little help from the salesman they had talked themselves up to three bedrooms, two baths, one of which was a master bath, dining room along with a family room and living room.

They managed to run the price up to fifty thousand dollars, which put to lie the signs out front which proudly flaunted nothing over thirty thousand. When Rick brought this up to the salesman, he didn't even have the grace to blush.

"That is if you don't go with any options, and I don't think you missed any."

Just about then Rick got a gentle elbow from Marsha, so he let it go.

The salesman did get a painful look on his face when they described where they wanted it. "Have you folks thought about sewage, water and electricity?"

Rick replied, "There is electricity to the house it's near. There is also a well and septic system, and I thought we could just hook into those. I know they are okay because they were checked as part of the home inspection of the property when we bought it. The home is a tear down is why we need the double wide while we're having our new house built."

"Damn," thought Rick, "I shouldn't have told him about buying this for temporary quarters, no price reduction for us. Oh well, what is done is done."

From the glare he got from Marsha, he knew his big mouth had got him in trouble again.

The very helpful salesman was glad to arrange for their premium display unit to be moved out to their property and set in place. They would even arrange for the foundation to be put in and hook ups made by their people. Just another mere twenty-five thousand dollars!

Rick started to open his mouth then looked at Marsha. He realized that he had used up all his attaboys, and asked how he should make out the check.

The salesman was thrilled when he realized there would be no price negotiations or credit problems. He would receive full commission. He even threw in a couple of ball caps with the company logo. It was arranged for the unit to be put in place the following Friday.

After shaking hands with a very happy salesman they started back to Pikeville. Rick had been watching the gas tank and pulled into a small convenience store to fill up. It was an older station without the window washing robot. He got out of the car to go to the restroom while the car was fueling its self.

As the tank was filling he walked towards the station. He noticed a car and driver sitting with motor running near the front door of the store. The passenger door was open like someone had just gone in to quickly buy something.

It just didn't look right to Rick, so he looked for the license plate number. There was no plate. Just as he was thinking old blue, two-door Ford pickup about 2014, he heard a noise like a gun shot.

Reacting more than thinking he grabbed a window washing squeegee with a hard plastic handle. As he ran to the front door of the store a man burst out.

Rick reversed the squeegee and thrust it into the man's stomach as hard as he could. With an explosion of air, the man went down, not even gasping at first. The hand gun which he had been holding went flying.

The car which had been waiting took off with the open door slamming closed from the acceleration. Rick saw that the robber was down for the count, now gasping for breath, as though he was going to die.

Rick kicked the hand gun further away. Then he rolled the robber over and knelt on his back. This guy was going nowhere.

By this time, Marsha had gotten out of their car and headed into the store. She was afraid of what she would find. Her fears weren't quite realized. There was a small Indian man there who had been shot in the side.

He was in great pain but there didn't seem to be any arterial bleeding. It appeared that a bullet had grazed his ribs and probably broken one or more of them.

There was a first-aid kit behind the counter which contained a large sterile pad. She placed it on the wound and had the man, a Mr. Patel according to the Manager on Duty sign; hold it tightly to his side to staunch the blood flow.

She then called 911. She had a little trouble telling the operator where she was at but when she said, "Patel's convenience store," it was quickly worked out.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol car must have been very close because it was there within two minutes. The officer got out of the car with handgun drawn as a robbery with gunfire had been called.

The officer, Sergeant James Weselis a fifteen-year veteran didn't take long to figure out who the bad guy was and cuff him. About that time, two sheriff cars pulled into the lot, and you could hear other sirens in the background.

Rick gave a description of the car that had driven away. Officer Weselis radioed the description to the dispatcher. The Sheriff's Deputies took him and Marsha aside separately and took their statements.

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