Fools in Paradise
Copyright© 2019 by UtIdArWa
I was mucking out the barn. Not a job I enjoyed, but necessary. Suzy had announced at breakfast that Today was a cleanup day, and the division of labor, Outside was mine. Inside was hers. She also made sure to clarify that the barn and specifically the stables were outdoors.
I’d seen a movie once where the star said that he didn’t mind the fragrances of nature. He also didn’t have to clean those horse stalls.
It was just after 13:00 and I was finishing up. I was looking forward to a short break for lunch when I heard a horse whinny outside. I stepped out and saw John Wadsworth riding up.
John is an outfitter and guide during the hunting and fishing seasons. One of his endearing qualities, as far as I was concerned, was that He charged his customers on a sliding scale. The closer they lived to a coast, either one, the more he charged. He also made a strong effort to run a clean camp, No drugs, No drunks. And kept his customers in line. He also had a reputation of being able to get people where they wanted and in range of what they wanted. If they couldn’t close the deal, that was their tough luck. And he had a hotshot lawyer that backed him up with unhappy yuppies.
John wasn’t really a big guy, physically. He only stood about 5’9 and weighed in at around 130. He also wasn’t what you would call strong. What he did have was endurance. I have watched him pack an elk quarter up a half mile 45-degree slope, without stopping. Granted he was sucking wind at the top, but he got it done. And didn’t complain once, in fact he went back down for the other quarter.
Today he was wearing his standard guide uniform. Old style BDU Army surplus Cammie pants and a florescent red Pendleton shirt. and to top it off was a Mexican sombrero that he said he picked up in Oaxaca, Mexico. Why he was that far down south, he would never say. Just that he wouldn’t be going back anytime soon.
I’d ran into him a couple of times out in the bush. I’d even helped him out a couple of times. Mostly tracking when he had a large group.
For some reason, Suzy didn’t like him. Maybe I shouldn’t say that she didn’t like him. When I asked her about it. She said that she didn’t trust him. She felt that he was just a little too slick. John for his part was scared spitless of her. He had made the mistake of calling her Susan once. He never made that mistake again.
As I leaned on my shovel, I called out “Hey John, How’s My favorite boy scout? Have you learned how to read a map yet?”
He grimaced as he dismounted his horse. “You’re never going to let me forget that, are you?”
I had first met John as he was guiding a family from Nebraska. They had never been in the big mountains before and were having the time of their lives. What they didn’t know was that John Wadsworth, outdoors guide extraordinaire, was hopelessly lost, and getting desperate. He had spent the previous 2 days trying to figure out where he was and feeding the family a bunch of tall tales.
When Suzy and I rode up, the relief in Johns eyes was almost heartbreaking. “Dude, “ He quietly started, “Can you help me out please? I brought these folks up here and totally screwed up. I brought the wrong maps. I have absolutely no idea where I’m at.”
I took pity on John. Pretending to be the local color expert, and part of the guide package, I proceeded to guide the group. We did such a good job that when they paid John, they gave him a bonus. I had made sure that they had gotten up close and personal to some mountain goats, and the kids had got a hellava show and tell story. The parents had gotten a bunch of once in a lifetime photos. We also spent a night at a hot spring doing the wilderness jacuzzi thing. Something Mom and Dad particularly enjoyed, after the kids went to sleep.
I chuckled, “Aw lighten up John. I should say thanks for getting me out of clean up duties. But I was just finishing up. Why don’t you grab a seat while I get cleaned up?”
He started waving his hand in front of his face, “Yeah, that would be a good idea. I can smell you all the way over here.”
“Oh Ho, funny guy eh.” After if finished at the pump, I stepped up onto the porch. “I was going to offer you some lemonade. Now I’ll just have to get you something else, say a shot of the morning dew?” I had a large clay jug filled with lemonade that I kept wrapped in soaking wet burlap in the shade. I also had some cactus juice in a pint bottle on the table with the mugs.
John got a big smile on his face. “Put the 2 together and you’ve got a deal.”
I poured 2 mugs of lemonade from the cooler jug. Then added a liberal shot of mezcal to both, a mountain margarita, and joined him on the porch.
Sipping from his mug, John’s eye’s shot up. “Matt, That’s the good stuff. Where’d you get it?”
Looking over the brim of my mug, “Sorry John, this is from a limited supply. I have a friend in Yuma, Arizona. He has only so much and is a little nervous about heading south for more.”
I sat down on one of the Adirondacks, “So, what’s up John? It’s a little early for you to be up here.”
I could tell that John was reluctant to just jump into whatever it was he was planning. “well, I wanted to ask you if you wanted to do some tracking for me. I’ve got a group coming in that are a little unusual.” Yep, I was going to have to wait for the whole story.
He was interrupted by a voice from the doorway behind us “Wadsworth, what do you mean unusual?” A not very happy voice.
John jumped 6 inches up, whirled around and spilt his drink. “Ms. Suzanne, I mean susa----SUZY, you startled me Ma’am. How are you this fine afternoon?”
Chuckling, I came to John’s rescue and poured him another. “Hi honey, John’s up here to offer me a tracking job. I just invited him to dinner, if that’s ok with you?”