A Ten Pound Bag
Chapter 29: Chain Lightning, Nature’s Light Show

Copyright© 2020 by Emmeran

Sonya announced that she and Matilda were heading into town to refresh the groceries and do some last-minute shopping; it always worried me a little when Matilda went shopping, but this was probably the last good chance before we got to my new home.

Michelle and I decided we’d ride over to the linear particle accelerator and see if we could get a tour; it was late spring/early summer and the weather was perfect for a nice ride, even if the weather forecast called for thunderstorms later on.

It was a pleasant ride and we talked a little, but mostly just spent time together and enjoyed the atmosphere. The facility was only about thirty minutes away at a comfortable walk and we arrived in what seemed like no time at all. It wasn’t a fancy building, more like a big, long factory with expensive landscaping out front; the rest of the facility was bland. It was a university research center after all, and anything interesting was on the inside.

They didn’t exactly have horse parking and we didn’t want to leave the horses on the asphalt parking lot so we tethered them to the conveniently placed “Keep Off the Grass” signs in middle of the pretty green lawn. Horses can’t read obviously; at least ours couldn’t.

The reception area was spartan and there was only a security guard to greet us, an older guy who wore a semi-official looking security shirt. I also noted that he sported an Eagle, Globe and Anchor tattoo on his forearm. He had one of those cheap, mandatory name tags but I couldn’t quite make out what it said.

I simply greeted him by saying, “Semper Fi!”

He responded with the automatic, “Oooh Rah” before he caught himself.

I pointed at his tattoo and he smiled.

“That was a long time ago,” he lamented.

“And really not long enough,” I finished for him.

Ice broken we chatted for a couple of minutes about units, tours of duty, floats and campaigns.

Michelle looked confused and bored, so I got down to business.

“We were wondering if they gave tours of this place? I read online that they did.”

“Normally yes,” he replied, “they love to show off their fancy toys. But your timing is off, they’re running tests on the thing all day today and tonight.”

“Damn,” was my natural reply, “we’re bugging out first thing in the morning. Maybe I can catch it next time I come through.”

Farewells were made and Michelle and I took our leave.

We decided to call in on the Millers and say our farewells to Ruth; it was the polite thing to do and we still had plenty of daylight ahead of us. Goodbyes with Ruth and the girls took about as long as you’d expect and always a lot longer than most men would like; it was also impossible to get away without receiving some sort of gift. We eventually rode away toting an assortment of freshly laid eggs and some jars of pickles; at the last moment we were bade to wait because she had a special gift for Michelle. She came back out of the house with a bell jar containing what she called “Mother of Vinegar”, it allowed you to turn any fruit juice into vinegar. Hell’s bells I was confused and didn’t see the point until her daughter kicked in with a smirk saying, “It’s a traditional dowry gift.” I simply kept my mouth shut and took a sudden interest in the far horizon.

Now dowries are described in the movies and stories as piles of cash that come with your new bride, but those are just stories and usually about rich folk who think piles of gold are important. Amongst normal people a dowry consists of the tools and items that a new bride will need to set up her new home; it usually consisted of dishes, pots and pans and cooking needs like yeast and “mother of vinegar”. Damn Ruth was trying to marry us; the worst part is that Oscar was going to hear about this eventually and eventually and he’d bust my balls about it – in his own quiet way.

Off we went with Michelle cradling that damn jar of vinegar a little bit too fondly for my liking; I could swear I saw wedding bells ringing in her eyes. It was an enjoyable ride back, though, and I tried hard to be pleasant and not rain on Michelle’s parade.

The day was drawing on and by the time we returned Matilda and Sonya we already back, I put up the horses while Michelle babbled on about our day. I avoided them for about half an hour, choosing to let the noise die down before I joined back in.

 
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