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Bare and Dead

Dave Horton

Bare and Dead

another Mike Claymore Mystery: Pauline





BookRix GmbH & Co. KG
80331 Munich

Chapter 1

"I am Richard, son of Michael, son of Mary Morris and Duncan Claymore."

Rick hesitates in reciting. "I don't understand, Dad. Why is Grandma as important in my lineage as Grandpa? Why is Grandma Claymore more important than, say Mom or her parents?"

Father and son are bonding in a way they seldom have time to do on a daily basis.

Mike tries to explain, "Because your Grandmother was Mary Morris, a clans woman of the Mohawks. Amongst the Iroquois Nations the female is dominant in the extended family. Her mother and mother before her had the power to call the warriors to battle, to name chiefs and to remove them from power. We say to dehorn them in the latter case. She gave me my name at birth, as was her right. The same was true for your Uncle Terry and your aunts, Nancy and Caitlin."

"Who is Broken Feather?" Curiosity has piqued Rick's interest although he shivers in the car by his father's side.

"Grandma Mary's brother; and Broken Feather is not his true name. My brother gave him that name in jest and it stuck. In Iroquoian his name would be translated as 'Two Long Feathers', but his common name is David Morris. My brother and I often called him Broken Feather."

"When will I see the Six Nations?"

The question catches Mike off guard but he responds, "Maybe the next time your mother and I go to visit Jeff and Nina in Markham. It is time for you to meet your uncle. Until then I will try to teach you the Mohawk philosophy.” His voice becomes sad, “I am not a good teacher. I don’t live in the traditions."

"Why?"

"I don't know for sure.” He shrugs his shoulders, “I grew up with Terry and we were young warriors, taught by Broken Feather and encouraged by my mother to follow the ways of the Mohawk. Then Terry left to take work in New York on the high steel construction and my father started teaching me to play the bagpipes. I loved the music and so did my mother. Your Grandfather Duncan could play the pipes like no man I've ever heard before. Nancy was still at home in those days and so was Caitlin, of course, since she was younger than I. I looked for work when I graduated from school with a senior matriculation, as they called it in the reserve school. I guess, about that time, I got caught up in the Anglican philosophy and the church was a big part of my life. When Dad took Mom to see the highlands of his youth in Scotland they never came back.” His countenance becomes sad.

Mike goes on, “I turned my back on the teachings of my youth. I felt the Anglican God had failed me and the Mohawks didn't offer me any future. I joined the Navy. I was young, like you, and I felt rebellious of all authority, but I craved structure in my life. I wanted a place to call home, with others around me of a like mind. I found that in the Navy and it sufficed for a while."

"How old were you then, Dad?"

"Eighteen. I met your mother when I was nineteen and she was seventeen. Then you came along. We lived in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia then and when I got out of the Navy we moved to Ontario. Do you remember Kingston?"

"A little bit. I remember you in uniform. Did we live by the water? I think I remember the big water near our place."

"That was Collins Bay, part of Lake Ontario. Do you remember Aunt Caitlin? That was when she met Grant McQarrie and she used to come around to visit with him, before they married and moved to Quebec.

"I think I remember her. Always with a smile and long straight black hair, like grandma's."

"You don't remember your Grandmother Mary. You weren't born yet, when she died."

"I saw pictures of her back then. I think Aunt Caitlin had some photos. Haven't you got any pictures of grandma?"

Mike touches his head. "In here are the best ones. I had some put away in a box in a closet but I don't know where they are. I haven't looked at them in years. I don't even know if that box came west with us."

Rick grins, "It did. Mom has shown them to me. I like the one in doeskin the best. She was very young and pretty in that one."

A tear squeezes out of the corner of Mike's eye and he says, "She was young and pretty when she died, my son. Let's get back to work on this sweat lodge."

Mike Claymore is a half-breed, according to society, but he does not accept labels. In his heart he thinks of himself as a man, no different than any other man he meets. He carries himself proudly through his daily labors, always striving to do his best at his chosen professions. In the Navy he learned to drive a truck in the motor pool while stationed in the Maritimes. He found he loved to drive and hauled heavy armaments from coast to coast. He found it easy to pick up girls to accompany him when he was on the long hauls and that was how he met his wife, Marlene. She was a Scottish lass of the McRae's in the Fraser Valley in British Columbia, Canada and he enjoyed her company from the first moment he laid eyes upon her.

She was young and wild, in her last days of school. She was exciting and a good match for him. Mike is tall, just over six feet, and Marlene was gangly then at five foot, eight inches. She was developing a remarkable figure and it continued to fill out during her early pregnancy for Richard. All Mike saw was that she looked better each time he saw her. They talked of marriage before they knew she was with child, so the news did not greatly distress them. He took her back to Dartmouth with him and they honeymooned all the way across Canada.

After the birth of their son, Mike got out of the Navy and they moved to Kingston, Ontario. He got work with The Canadian Penitentiary Service (CPS), at Kingston as a prison guard. He was tall and strong, as well as being an ex-serviceman. The cadre of guards welcomed him. He found the work boring so took every advantage he could of courses being offered to learn more about the justice system. For a time he thought of joining the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). During this time his two daughters; Shelly and Janet (Jan) were born.

Caught in a delicate affair with a female officer of the OPP and craving new opportunities, he moved his family back to the west coast to Abbotsford, British Columbia. He found work easily with a local security firm and advanced quickly with them to do investigations of insurance and other fraud cases. But the work was slow and he was not making it, financially. Three children had to be fed, as well as a wife.

He returned to his first love, driving truck, and went to work for Canadian Pacific Express and Transport (CPX) in Port Coquitlam (POCO) at their Pacific Terminal. He drives truck about three days a week on intermediate haulage throughout B.C. and into Alberta, sometimes even into Saskatchewan. The rest of the week he spends doing security work for himself and his partner, Trudy Garneau.

Trudy Millicent Garneau (nee Black) was a truck stop waitress in the Fraser Valley parted from her husband who caught Mike's eye while driving. As in the days of driving for the Navy, he finds himself caught up in the merry go round of easy pick ups and his big blue Kenworth sleeper accommodates many young waitresses. But Trudy is not satisfied to wait for his next visit. She insinuates herself into his life as his mistress and becomes his partner in the security business. She moves to Chilliwack, a short thirty-minute drive from Mike's home. She befriends his wife and is eventually accepted by her as a sister wife to her husband. It is not an easy alliance and frowned upon by her family, but now Trudy is pregnant and seems to be a permanent fixture in his life.

Now his son is ten years old and he is trying to teach him some of the teachings of his youth that he has found missing in his current lifestyle. They are on a friend's farm in Columbia Valley back of Cultus Lake near the International Boundary between Canada and the United States. Mike points at the artificial opening between the trees on the mountainside to the east and west of them.

"That is an example of the territorialism of the white man. Never satisfied to take what they need and leave the rest for other's needs, they seek always to acquire more and mark this land with their fences. They don't understand that there is plenty for all, so they hoard what ever they can. The Mohawk way is for each to take only what they need and give thanks for the blessing. The white man draws a line in the sand and says; this is my land and my trees and my fish and my fowl. If you are starving, do not cross this line. We say, this land is good and will provide for us all. Take what you need. But we have learned to live within their boundaries and take on their ways. Sometimes it tastes bitter in the throat!"

They toil seeking branches and Mike shows Richard how to form the frame. They are near the back of his friend, Ray's farm. Ray is a native born here in the Fraser Valley and Mike met him while driving for CPX. Ray is a local driver for CPX and handles deliveries within the Fraser Valley. He maintains this family farm but lives in POCO most of the time. He was the one who suggested to Mike that he take his son and build a sweat lodge when Mike was complaining of his son's lack of native culture. Ray's wife, Holly, lives here on the farm most of the time, occasionally visiting Ray when she feels like it. Each summer Ray comes out to the farm for a few weeks to commune with nature and meet with his daughter.

Mike has met his daughter but does not know it. He has admired her when he recently visited a local nudist camp on a complicated murder investigation. She was the one in tawny bare skin who showed them the way to the hot tub and he found her total nudity most agreeable to his eye.

It is only March but it is warm already and the spring heat is definitely indicating a long hot summer. Early flowers are budding everywhere and the cherry blossoms have fallen like snow throughout the valley.

Mike has a few days off and has taken this opportunity to be with his son. His 69 Mustang convertible is parked not too far away but he ensures it is far enough that he will not hear the cell phone, even with the top down. He does not want them to be disturbed.

"Well, son, let's rest for a bit. The purpose of building this sweat lodge is not just to see it built. It is a holy place. What will make it holy are the memories of the communications we will have here. In gathering together to build a lodge, men converse with one another and exchange ideas or share memories. Ideally we will communicate with those gone on before us, but even if that does not happen, you and I will share our labors and knowledge. Do you understand?"

"I think so, Dad. Can you tell me more about Grandma Morris?"

"Already you feel the influence. She was Mary Claymore but by rights she was Mary Morris and she was 'she who waits' to all her friends and many of her family. In Iroquoian 'she who waits' means much more than in this language. It means she who is attentive and knowledgeable, steeped in the wisdom of nature and the earth. My mother was all of that and much more. Even though she left the tribe and married a white man, she was respected by all and was sought for her advice. Broken Feather brought a young squaw to her from Niagara Falls who was pregnant by a white man, a drunkard and a debaser of women. She chastised the girl for laying and drinking with the man, then took her in until the child was born. She taught her how to care for a home, to cook and sew and care for a husband, and then introduced her to a young clergyman from the Anglican Church. He married her and as far as I know, they are still happily married."

"Is Broken Feather married?"

"No. He has never found his help mate for this life."

"Why do you have two help mates, Dad?"

"That is a good question, my son. I didn't plan to have two. It just happened. It is a hazard of my life style, I guess. Caught between two worlds, I often find solace in the arms of the closest female. Hopefully you will not have that problem. I am only a half breed and your mother is full white so you are white with some Mohawk blood in your veins."

"I told Julie I'm part Indian. She wanted to know what part. I guess it's in my blood, eh Dad?"

"Yes, I suppose it is. You still hang out with Julie a lot, do you?"

Richard turns a bit pink and says, "Yes. I like her red hair and her round breasts. Do you know what? Her pubic hair is red, too!"

"I guess it would be. You two aren't fooling around any more, are you?"

"No. She says we will have sex when she is sixteen, now. She says twenty is too long to wait. That's eleven years! I think that's pretty good for me, too. That's only seven years."

"No more masturbating each other?"

"No. I know it was wrong and so does she. I only do it at home now, in the bathroom. She says she does it in bed at night. It must be an awful mess. I don't think I'd want to sleep with her."

Mike grins and says, "I guess not!" He gets up and pours water from a water skin over the frame to cleanse the maple, representative of the sap and maple sugar so important to the Mohawks where he grew up. He starts covering the frame with branches of cedar. Richard comes to help and the sweat begins to show through his thin shirt. Mike pulls his shirt off and Richard sighs as he does the same. Father and son strain at latching and looping strips of bark to hold the branches in place.

Ray has graciously allowed them to cut two trees on his property, a maple and a cedar. Trimming the maple provides them with stout supple branches to make the frame and slicing the bark makes long strips of binding. Trimming the cedar provides them with bows to be thatched in place and cover the frame. Mike trims the trees completely and makes the solid wood available for Ray to cut later for firewood.

Patiently Mike shows Richard how to loop the bindings over the bows and place the bows so they overlap. The sweat lodge takes shape before their eyes as the sun sinks behind some cloud in the western sky. While they still have light, Mike checks inside for gaps in the thatching and marks two spots in his mind's eye for more work. He points them out to his son.

When they are finished it looks like a mound about twelve feet by eight with a small opening in the front and a small hole in the roof to allow excess smoke to escape. In the twilight they study their handicraft and cool off from their labors by sitting on a log.

"Well son, does it look right to you?"

"I don't know. I never saw one before. Have you?"

"When I was your age I remember building one with Terry and your great uncle. I think we have it right. Do you think you can manage to bring that steel grate I put in the car while I find us a rock to put it on?"

"Sure. I'll be right back." He runs towards the car and Mike wishes he had his energy. He stretches and goes to a round stone with a flat top he has marked earlier in his mind. He prods it with a limb and succeeds in rolling it to the lodge and through the door. He places it near the center as Richard returns with the grate. Mike mounts the grate on the flat top of the stone and wiggles the stone to level it and seat it in the ground.

When he is satisfied he steps outside and walks away towards the car. Richard follows along at his heels. When they reach the car Mike opens the trunk and gives him a small armload of sweet grass and a pouch of tobacco to carry. He gets out two doeskin bags, a mat and a blanket, and then brings them along, too. The bags are smaller than a woman's purse but bigger than a man's wallet.

On returning to the lodge Mike has Richard place the sweet grass and blanket inside near one wall while he lays the pouch of tobacco on them and the mat goes on the floor. They go and gather twigs for a fire. Mike lays a fire by the log and starts a small fire in the grate inside the lodge. He places hand size rocks in a circle on the grate around the fire. He explains to his son, "Never use the white granite rocks. When heated and cooled by the water sprinkled on them they can explode. Choose the black porous rocks and handle them with respect."

Larger branches crackle in the fire by the log as Mike tends to the small fire in the grate. He adds small branches to it and joins Richard on the log outside. Bare chested, they sit side by side on the log and Mike holds up the two doeskin bags.

"This empty bag is yours, my son. It is your medicine bag. In it you will keep your magic."

Richard stares at him wide eyed in the firelight. "Magic?"

"I will show you some of mine." He opens the worn bag as he hands the new one to Richard. He draws out a flat stone and says; "I found this stone by the sweat lodge my brother and I built with Broken Feather." He rubs it and smiles. "It was a warm night and the wind rustled the leaves in the maples. Terry was fourteen and I was nine. He wore a breach cloth and a beaded armlet that he had made himself. He looked so much like a warrior, that I felt ashamed in my bare skin, but then I noticed that Two Long Feathers was naked as well. I felt much better then and felt the stone by my foot. I collected it to help me remember."

Richard takes the small flat stone and studies it. Mike pushes off his boots and socks while he is studying the stone. He wiggles his toes in the grass and feels the earth under his feet. Richard hands him the stone. He lays it on the log and draws from the bag a battered pocket watch.

"This was my father's and it worked when he last used it, but in the accident..." He holds it and studies it by the light of the fire. "He was a tall man and wore a kilt on occasions. I have never worn the kilt. He had two brothers in Scotland and visited with them before the accident. By some quirk of fate he mentioned to one of them that his final resting place would be beside his wife in Canada. Otherwise they may very well have had him buried there, in Scotland with his family. He rests with Mary beside the Mohawk Chapel in Brantford, Ontario now. She..." He stops and says no more as he dangles the watch by it's chain for Richard's inspection.

Richard brings the palm of his hand to take the weight of the watch off the chain and says, "This was Grandpa Duncan's?" He looks at it and brings his hand away to let it dangle. "I saw this chain in a picture of him."

Mike carefully takes the chain off the watch and holds it out to him. "Take the chain for your bag, my son." As Richard slips the chain within the folds of doeskin Mike thinks of the painstaking work he carried out evenings in his basement office this last winter sewing the pieces of leather to make the pouch. He used his own bag as an example so as to make it as much like his as a twin. He lays the watch with the stone on the pouch on the log. He says, "Free your feet and feel the earth." He goes inside to tend to the small fire in the grate and when he returns his son is in bare feet.

Mike has a fine patina of sweat on his shoulders from the heat in the lodge and feels it will soon be time to go inside where the rock circle is beginning to glow a dull red. As he sits on the log he says, "Can you feel the good earth with your bare toes now?"

"Yes, Dad. It feels good but the little stones are sharp."

"It is Flint, the evil twin who brings weeds and sharp stones to cut our feet. Hearken to what I tell you. She who fell from the sky gave birth to a daughter and that daughter gave birth to twin boys. One was born in the natural way, like we talked about this last winter, and that was Sky Holder, he who is responsible for corn, squash, fruit, tobacco and all good things that grow from the earth. The second twin was born of the mother's armpit and that was Flint, he who is responsible for weeds, vermin and other evils upon the earth. They are the Primal Twins representing good and evil."

"They are like God and the devil, eh?"

"Similar, but not at all the same. In your Bible, God is portrayed as being in the likeness of us but in spiritual form and all-powerful in all things. His most beauteous angel is thrown down, cast out from his sight, for the evil in his heart. It is he who tempts Eve in the Garden of Eden and he who tempts the Son of God when he was made flesh, in order to thwart God's will. In the basic idea that one is good and the other evil, there is a parallel. You know what I mean by a parallel?"

"A likeness to each other?"

"Yes. But Sky Holder is not omnipotent. He is the one responsible for good crops and harmony. Flint goes on to rule the underworld like Satin rules over hell, but ours is a simpler view, I think." Mike stares into the fire and shadows dance around them. "You know the story of creation from the Bible but you should hear of how the Iroquois believe it happened."

"Are we Iroquois or Mohawk, Dad?"

"Once the Mohawk were a separate people, long, long ago. They spoke a common language with other nations, the Onondaga, the Seneca, the Cayuga and the Oneida, but they warred for lands and other grievances. Then came Deganawidah, he who was born of a virgin, and Hiawatha, his disciple. They traveled to the five nations and set up a pact of peace and brotherhood for the protection of all. This was the League of Ho-de-no-sau-nee, or the Iroquois Confederacy. It was like the United States, in some ways. You can be a Californian and an American, right?"

"Oh yes, I see. A British Columbian is also a Canadian."

"You got it. Let's go inside and I will explain Iroquoian creation. You must remove all metal and impediments to cleansing your pores. We return to the womb as naked as when we were born." Mike removes his pants and his son does the same, then waits to remove his shorts with his father. Mike puts his watch on his medicine bag and proceeds towards the lodge. He waits at the entrance and says, "Broken Feather invoked spiritual guides at the this point so I will ask Sky Holder to be with us and our ancestors." He mouths a chant and Richard listens attentively to his father's voice.

They step into the withering heat, closing the opening with the blanket and kneel by a sidewall. Mike unrolls the woven reed mat and spreads it by the wall, then sits and pats the mat for his son to do likewise. By the glow of the coals they sit together and beads of sweat glisten fire red on their chests and shoulders. Mike takes the water skin and sprinkles water on the rocks surrounding the fire, then a handful of sweet grass mixed with tobacco is held over the hot rocks as he chants for Sky Holder to keep Flint at bay. He lowers the grass and tobacco. A sweet pungent odor issues forth around them mixed with the steam from the rocks, wafting slowly away through the small roof vent. Their eyes water and Mike starts to tell of creation.

"All the peoples lived beyond the sky because the earth was covered by deep waters. Then it happened that a pregnant woman fell through the sky from on high towards the water. The water animals like the otter and beaver seen her fall, like a reflection in the water. Muskrat said she is rising from the underworld and the others watched and believed it was so. But the fowl of the air knew better. The ducks and geese flew up to her and overlapped their wings to break her fall. They protected her from the terrors of the deep waters."

Mike's hands move with the narration and Richard's eyes are wide in rapt interest. He appears frozen as he listens to the tale.

"They carried her to the Great Turtle who is master of all animals and he accepted her upon his strong back. He ordered the water animals to collect the earth that fell with her from the bottom of the waters and bring it to him. He knew this was magic earth and it would grow, so he ordered them to place it upon his back with the woman. Soon the earth began to grow and it became a great island. As it grew it shook and quaked as the Great Turtle stretched and moved around. Have you ever felt an earth quake?"

Richard shakes his head.

"When the earth moves and the rocks tumble down the mountain sides it is well to remember it is only the Great Turtle stretching and it will soon be over when he will sleep again. Eventually the woman had a daughter and it was from her body that was born Sky Holder and Flint."

Mike sprinkles water and places a bit more sweet grass upon the rocks, then closes his eyes. He chants in a low voice, calling his mother's name, and the names of her ancestors back the generations. As he calls each name he intones their accomplishments or their special talents.

Hours role by and Richard sees as in a dream the long houses filled with families and the fields of maize, beans and squash, the orchards of fruit and the squabble of dogs in the dust fighting over a bone. Now he sees a trader embark on his journey to offer field crops to a neighboring nation for meat or trinkets of unknown value or beaded wampum. He sees the annual celebrations of the harvest and the carved wooden masks of the dancers and hears the drums. He sees and understands the clan mother's duty as she crowns with antlers a new chief after consulting with the other women of the clan. He falls asleep and continues to dream of a life among the Mohawks. Mike chants on and relives his childhood in the pungent steam filled air until he, too, falls into slumber. His last recollections are of the Great White Pine, a symbol of peace to all peoples, an Iroquoian symbol of their confederacy.

In the early dawn they crawl from the lodge and seek clothing for warmth. Mike sets the fire by the log ablaze and soon they are warm and talking again.

"It was like a movie or television, but I felt I was there and could talk with them. How did you do that, Dad?"

"The visions were granted to us by the spirits. Have you selected an item to remember this night by for your medicine bag?"

"I have chosen as you; a rock that worried my foot by the fire. I will always remember this night when I hold it in my hand and see the fire in my head.

"Well said my son, so be it. You have grown up overnight. The Great Spirit has been kind." They share a bottle of water to clear their parched throats and reflect on the night's visions. As the day warms and the fire dies they begin to load the car with their belongings.

"Will we come back to this lodge one day, Dad?"

"We might but we don't have to. The spirits of the night will always be with us where ever we are, in our heads. We can relive this night in our shared memories whenever you wish."

"Will your friend Ray and his family use our lodge?"

"They might. He has asked me to leave it assembled."

They pull out across the field and near the road they spy Ray. He smiles and waves to them. Mike pulls over to chat with his friend. "You decided to come out and visit with us, eh?"

"How did you make out? Has our young warrior learned anything this night?" He smiles at Richard.

"I learned many things but most of all, I learned my father is a wise man and can make magic." Ray and Mike smile at each other.

Mike says, "I tried to recreate a scene from my youth, when my uncle took me into my first sweat bath. More than anything, I wanted a bonding to occur between my son and I. I think I have succeeded in that."

Ray says to Richard, "You know, the sweat lodge is used for many other purposes by our people. It has been used medicinally for it's curative properties for rheumatism and such and also it plays a large part in the stories of testing a man's mettle. Men have been known to see who could stay in the heat the longest. The Klamath peoples have a tale of Chiloquin's sweat. Have you heard it, Mike?"

"I don't think I have, Ray. I haven't paid much attention to local native legends since I came west. I'd like to hear it."

"Chiloquin was a short tough guy, but powerful. It's said he slept in the Cascade Mountains in deep snow with only a light blanket and was heard to remark the next morning that it was cool but he slept well." Ray grins. "But that's not about the sweat lodge."

Mike grins and says, "He was pretty tough, eh?"

"He sure enough was. He was with a group of Klamaths who came north to visit and while they were visiting some shamans decided to use their sweat lodge to test their power. The shamans asked if the group had a shaman with them to enter the contest, but they said they had only Chiloquin, although he was pretty tough. So Chiloquin entered the lodge with them and they brought hot stones and sealed up the lodge. Well, those shamans, each in turn, put water on those stones and started to sing their songs. Those stones hissed and the steam rolled up and filled the lodge. Each shaman chanted for the lodge to become hotter and hotter, trying to force the others out. Well, first thing you know, one shaman and then another is overcome by the heat and has to be dragged out. Finally the last one is dragged from the lodge. As they are recovering they look about for the short Klamath man called Chiloquin and they can't find him. They say he must still be inside. He must be dead. Then they hear his voice coming from the lodge chanting for more heat and throwing even more water on the rocks. Well, he kept that up for quite a while then called them to open the door. The others had been dragged out but he strut out boldly and said, 'the lodge was warm. That was a pleasant sweat.'"

"Oh Ray, he was one tough Klamath." Mike is grinning broadly and Richard is staring at them.

Ray says, "Maybe I'll call a few friends and have a sweat this afternoon. I'm glad you were able to accomplish your goals, my friend."

Mike thanks him for the use of the land and materials then they drive away from the farm along the asphalt-paved road towards Cultus Lake. As the town comes in sight across the lake Richard asks, "Doesn't Mom have any native blood in her family?"

"Ah, your mother is English and Scottish, the Frasers and the McRaes. Old Malcolm McRae and his wife Emily, who was a Holt, came from Glasgow to Canada. They had six children, but times where rough and only two of them survived the rigors of the new land. They were your grandfather Gerard and his brother, Bradley. Your grandfather married Nancy Fraser who was the daughter of Benjamin Fraser's second wife, Mariah. His first wife, Constance, died giving birth to her half Brother, Jack. That's your great uncle on her side. Her lineage is Celtic and she carries the genes of the gypsies of mid Europe and the Baltic in her blood. She is a proud woman and most beautiful."

"I wonder what Julie's lineage is?"

"Well, if she is a natural red head, I would think she's Celtic, as well. Why don't you ask her mother?"

Father and son share breakfast in a restaurant in Cultus Lake but now the spell is broken and Richard is impatient to return to Abbotsford and see his little friend, Julie. Mike feels satisfied that his son would now have something new to ponder. Perhaps it will take his mind off his growing body and his myriad of questions about sex.

As they drive down from the lake towards the Vedder River Mike uses his cell phone to call Trudy in Chilliwack.

"Good mooring, my love. Are you busy?"

"Sunday is always slow. Crystal and I are getting around for church. Want to join us?"

"Sure, but I don't think you want us to. Rick is with me and we have just spent the night in a sweat lodge. I doubt you could stand our odors, right now. We may come by and use your shower. Would that be alright?"

"Oh, my darling, I could stand your odors anytime, but the other people in the church might not feel as I do." She giggles. "Come right on over. Where are you?"

"Vedder Crossing. We were up back of Cultus Lake at Ray's farm. I can't remember if you've met Ray Martin or not. He's a local driver for CPX out of POCO."

"I've heard you speak of him but I don't think we've met. See you in about ten minutes then?"

"Give us fifteen. Take care."

They are driving through Sardis now and pull over the freeway into Chilliwack. The flashy red ’69 Mustang convertible guns it along Yale Road to the five corners in the heart of town, then left on Young Road and out to Clarke Drive. Mike says, "You're not in such a hurry to get home that you couldn't stand a bit of freshening up, are you?"

"No Dad. It'll be nice to see Cookie and Crystal this morning, anyway."

"What about Trudy?"

"Oh yes, and Trudy, too."

They pull in at number fourteen. They walk to the door and are met by Trudy in the doorway. She is short of stature and a natural blond. She is also five month's pregnant and is showing it. She throws her arms up around his neck and tries to reach Mike's head to kiss him but can only reach his chin. He grins and ducks his head to cover her lips, then easily lifts her up and holds her in his arms as their lips work against each other. She throws back her head and laughs. "Oh Mike, you reek of wood smoke and sweat. Have you had any breakfast?"

He sets her down and says, "We stopped in Cultus Lake at the restaurant."

"I bet they were glad to see you leave." She grins and takes his hand to lead him inside. With her other hand she captures Richard's head and says, "Come on inside, you pair of ragamuffins. We'll soon fix you up."

"I'm not a ragamuffin, I'm a young warrior now." Richard looks stern at her, then grins and runs inside ahead of them calling, "Good morning, Crystal, where's Cookie?"

"Getting ready for church. Pheww, you stink. Where have you been?"

Richard laughs and the two of them run off into the kitchen with Crystal's kitten, Rowe at their heels. Trudy draws Mike's arm to lead him into their bedroom. She says, "That boy is growing so fast. He's taller than me already." Mike just grins and looks at her five-foot stature as they near the bed. "Feel my belly. I know this one is going to be a boy. He's strong and kicking already. Take off your clothes and I'll throw them into the washer. It won't take long and they'll be dry by the time we are back from church. You can throw them in the dryer, can't you?"

"Yeah, I guess we could. I better call Marlene and let her know we're alright."

"I just talked to her and told her you were on your way over here. She said not to keep you all day. I told her it doesn't always take that long." She laughs and Mike grins. Trudy is a small natural blond who was born in Prince Edward Island at Summerside, where her father was stationed in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). She grew up to be a terror around the base and, like many other PMQ brats (i.e. Children who grow up around Permanent Married Quarters) she got into trouble at an early age. Sexually active from the age of nine, she was pregnant and married to an Airman from Quebec when she was fifteen. They were transferred around and wound up at Canadian Forces Base Chilliwack, when the breakup occurred in their marriage.

Still without a divorce and with her husband stationed nearby at Vedder Crossing at CFB Chilliwack, she worked for a time as a truck stop waitress and lived in Hope. Then she met Mike and moved to Chilliwack to be closer to him.

She is now twenty-two and has a daughter, Crystal, that is seven. They are living with a friend of Trudy's, Carol (Cookie) who is about thirty-two and single. Carol inherited the house on Clarke Drive so she invited Trudy to bring her daughter and share expenses. It has worked out well for them and Trudy runs the security business in the Chilliwack area for Mike from her home. Basically she wants a family and has decided to have one with Mike, married or not.

She starts to help him get undressed as Cookie comes to their door and says, "I hope you're going to throw this young man in with him. What in heaven's name have you two been up to? He smells like brimstone."

Trudy laughs and ushers Richard in with them as Mike explains, "We spent the night in a sweat lodge, the traditional male bonding sort of thing done by natives in this country. You wouldn't understand, Cookie."

"Humph! I understand he needs a bath." She goes away back towards the kitchen.

Trudy starts to help Richard remove his clothes but he shies away so she hands him a robe of hers and says, "When you guys get those clothes off, toss them outside the door and I'll get them in the wash." She leaves and closes the door, then peeks back through the open crack and into her mirror on the dresser. She watches her tall handsome man and his son as they strip and talk. She thinks that Richard is going to be a lot like his father. Already he is nearly up to his father’s shoulders and his chest is starting to expand. His cheek bones are high and prominent like his father's and he carries himself proudly like him, as well. He has the same black wavy hair and hazel eyes. She starts in surprise as her gaze wanders down over his body. He is equipped in a like manner to his father and shows signs of being a more than adequate partner in bed for any future female. She turns her eyes to study Mike and catches a glimpse of the flaming wheel on his shoulder. His tattoo from Navy days, the flaming wheel with logo across it, 'Born to Drive'. She thinks, "He can drive me any day! God, I love that man."

Mike brings their clothes to the door and winks at her. "Peeking at us, are you? Behave yourself or you'll never make it to church this morning. Here are the clothes." He grins and returns to the bedroom as his son goes into the shower. She takes the clothes up the hall giggling as she goes.

Mike stands in his robe reading over some ledgers that Trudy has been working on for their security business. He smiles as he is pleased by their bottom line. The business is doing well and his end of it in Abbotsford will be hard pressed to compete. His friend of many years, Charlie (Chuck) McBain is now working full time for them and a lot of his work is around Abbotsford, Aldergrove and Langley. Mike and Chuck both worked for the same Abbotsford security firm and found they each liked the other and preferred to work together backing each other up in tight spots. It was only natural that as his business grew he would offer his friend a position with the firm. Now he sees him occasionally as Trudy runs the office and communicates with them both by phone on where they will be working and what they will be doing.

Richard finishes his shower and comes out drying his hair. "Your turn, Dad. I left it running for you." He dries his face as Mike puts the ledgers away. Mike tosses his robe on the bed and heads for the shower when he hears Richard exclaim, "Not yet! I'm not dressed yet!"

He turns to see a grinning Trudy peeking around the bedroom door and she calls, "We're leaving for church. See you later." She wiggles her fingers at him and goes as Richard hurriedly wraps her robe around himself.

"She's awful, Dad! How do you ever make her behave? She's worse than Mom!"

"It's simple. I don't try." He goes on into the shower.

When he's finished his shower they go out into the kitchen and Mike goes on out to check on their clothes. They are in the rinse cycle so he comes back and pours milk for them. "Come on, let's take it out to the back yard. It's a beautiful morning out there."

"Oh Dad, I've got a woman's robe on."

"It looks just like mine."

"It's pink! And it's short!"

"Not all that short. Come on. No one will see us. The lawn chairs are all set up out there."

They take their milk and go out into the back yard close up to the house. They sit at an outdoor patio table and chat. Some ducks are feeding in the slough and they watch them.

"They are beautiful, aren't they Dad?"

"Yes, they are. No doubt they will have young before long."

"How can anyone shoot them? We have ducks in the freezer that you got last fall when you went hunting."

"Well, I believe I do not take more from nature than I need. I can rely on the butcher to kill a cow or pig or duck, then buy the meat and bring it home, or I can do the whole job myself. You like duck, don't you?"

"Yeah, I like any bird. Chicken or turkey, they all are good."

"Hypocrisy is one of the things I find hardest to endure. Do you know what I mean by hypocrisy?"

"No. What is that hip-oc-asy?"

"Hip-oc-crisy. It's when someone says one thing and does the opposite. The man who is squeamish and says 'I would never kill an animal', then enjoys a meat sandwich. Another example, the minister who says, 'Love your enemies', then condones the slaughter of those of another faith. Or those who attend church on Sunday and hold their heads high in the gathering but on Monday foreclose on the mortgage and take away a man's living. There are many more examples but I think you know what I mean. I enjoy eating meat and therefore feel that I must hunt occasionally, if for no other reason, than to not be a hypocrite. I also enjoy the hunt and am thankful to the spirits when I am allowed to take some game for our use."

"I guess. Would you teach me to shoot?"

"I will. When and if you have the urge to learn, I will be the one to teach you. Handling a weapon is a skill all in it's own and I will make sure you know how to safely do it."

"Gosh, there are lots of things to learn when you're growing up besides what they teach in school, eh?"

"Yes, there's more to life than reading, writing and arithmetic. But those three are important. Don't neglect them for interests outside school. Which reminds me, how is your History coming along? I was disappointed to see you only had a passing grade at Christmas."

"It's better. I've been studying." He pauses then says, "You know they don't say anything about the Iroquois Confederacy in our History of Canada books."

"They don't! They should. The forefathers of the United States of America and the founders of the United Nations all looked at the Iroquois Confederacy when they were putting together those constitutions. When Columbus came to the shores of this country he was met by members of the Wyandot Confederacy, an earlier version of our present system. And to the north of the St. Lawrence River there was the Algonkians, with their Abnaki Confederacy and later the Powhatan Confederacy. We had a system of government foreign to their ways of thinking in the old countries and they sought to change us with their religions before they stopped to study our politics. They saw that we were not as technically advanced as they, so they called us savages, and sought to make us conform to their ways of thinking. We of the Mohawks have changed drastically since the advent of the white man and we are still changing, but often change can be good as well as bad. We have never bowed down to them or been enslaved by them, we have met them on the battlefield and still hold our heads high. We are equals from two different cultural backgrounds and that is why it is so hard to sit down with them to settle land claims. They see us as inferiors. Bah! Enough of that! It's not my battle. I am only half native."

They drink their milk and Mike listens to his son tell of things he has been doing in school. He seems like a well that will never run dry and Mike knows that is because he spends too much time away from home. He patiently listens and offers advice or empathy where ever and whenever called for. They are catching up on years of living and they are really enjoying it. Mike takes a break and goes inside to put their clothes in the dryer. Before he has a chance to go back and see if they are dry, Crystal comes running around the house and jumps into Mike's lap. Trudy comes out of the bedroom sliding glass doors to join them in the back yard.

"Your clothes are dry. I folded them on the bed."

Richard jumps up and goes to the bedroom door. He goes inside and Mike puts Crystal down so he can talk with Trudy. She promptly takes Crystal's place in his lap. Crystal slips quietly away as they are kissing and suddenly they hear a commotion from the bedroom door. Crystal comes running back to them at the table as Richard comes out of the door. "That little monster was peeking at me in the bedroom." He sounds indignant as he speaks.

Trudy laughs and Mike tries to look serious as he explains to Crystal, "Young lady, hasn't your mother taught you that you don't embarrass people for your own enjoyment. Rick feels a need for privacy when he is dressing and, I believe, you know he does. Don't you think you owe him an apology?"

Crystal pouts and looks to her mother, who just nods, so she says to Richard, "I'm sorry I embarrassed you, but you looked alright to me. Your just like your Dad."

"Awww, it's alright. You want to see my medicine bag?"

"What's that?"

"Come on, I'll show you."

Mike looks at Trudy and says, "What did she mean, 'just like your Dad'? Are you raising a conniving female just like you?"

"She sure won him over fast, didn't she?" Trudy grins and snuggles down for another kiss. She whispers in his ear, "I'm glad you’re still in your robe. I've got designs on you for this afternoon." She wiggles her bottom in his lap as she giggles and Mike feels an erection stirring under her. She feels it also and grins triumphantly. She wiggles some more as she kisses him again and he puts his hand on her extended stomach to settle her down.

"You'd think you had enough of that with this stomach you've gotten. You know that didn't grow like that, it was screwed on."

She pats her belly and says, "It sure was and I think it can take a lot more screwing if you can provide it. It feels like you agree with me." She slides off his lap and swings around spreading open his robe. "Wow! Let's go!" She takes his hand and pulls him towards the bedroom.

Mike closes his robe with a broad grin and gets up to follow her. "Where are Cookie and the kids?"

She pulls on him and says, "The kids went out to your car to look at a medicine bag and Cookie is upstairs laying down for a nap. We won't be disturbed. The kids will take off to play for a while. Come on. Carry me over the threshold like you did when we first moved in here. And watch for the cat." She laughs and he picks her up in his arms. Kissing her as he carries her in, he lightly deposits her on the bed with his lips still locked to hers. He carefully starts to unbutton her fancy Sunday blouse but she pushes his hand out of the way and tears it off. She throws it on the floor and starts trying to get her skirt undone. Breaking from the kiss, she says, "Oh Hell, forget it!"

She grabs his hand and presses it to her vulva. Mike exclaims, "Trudy! You didn't wear any panties or bra to church? I'll bet God frowned when he saw you coming."

"I haven't even started coming yet. Hurry up, Mike!" She parts his robe and grips him, pulling him down next to her on the bed. Mike smiles and massages her opening as she starts to slip her hand up and down his shaft. She moans and says, "Oh God, Mike. Since I got pregnant I come so easy. My breasts are super sensitive and so is my pussy." She pants and squeals, "Mike, rub it right there, ... Oh yes!" She starts moving her hips as she begins to feel the whole room move and she presses her slit harder against his hand, undulating her hips. Mike gently wiggles his one finger over her clitoris and she shudders over and over.

"OH MIKE!" She grabs his head with both hands and presses her lips to his, then darts her tongue into his mouth as she starts to see stars and rockets blaze in her head. Mike continues to tease and she goes over the edge, suddenly thrashing about and squealing, "Oh yes, yes, yes! YES!" Slowly she comes down and her breathing steadies as she lies in his arms. Mike grins a sly grin and lowers his head to her breast. He starts to tease her nipple, then to suck on her swollen breast taking her whole areola between his lips and letting his tongue tease the nipple as he sucks. His hands rove over her body exploring all the hidden sensitive areas in turn.

She pleads, "Oh Mike, I want you inside me. Right now! Please, Mike. Please." With her skirt screwed up around her waist and her legs spread open she tries to pull him over on top of her. Mike doesn't resist very much as he feels a burning need for her in his raging erect penis and groin. He lowers himself carefully so as not put too much pressure on her stomach and she throws her arms around him, pulling herself up to meet him. He feels her heels dig into the back of his legs as he enters her and they are on their way to carnal bliss.

Much later as he lies between her thighs exhausted and she tries to catch her breath, Mike hears the kids out in the hall coming their way. He checks to make sure his robe covers them both just as the door bursts open and Crystal says, "Mom. Oh Mom. You should see the beautiful deerskin pouch that Rick's Dad gave him. It's as soft as silk and has tiny colorful beads sewn all around the opening. Come and see!"

"Uh dear, can't you see we are laying down to rest." She pants, "You talk to them, Mike. I can't get my breath." She pants some more.

Richard observes, "She could probably breath easier if you weren't laying on top of her, Dad."

"Well, I'm laying on top of her to keep her warm, son."

"She would likely be warmer if she went outside, Dad."

Trudy says more calmly, "You kids go out and play. I'll come out to see the pouch after I have a little rest. Away you go, now."

As they leave she moves her hips to recapture him and he says, "Hey, that's enough for now. The kids might come back."

"Just slip it inside for a little bit, Mike. Ohhh! Thank you. It feels so good in there. It must feel good to you, too. I can feel it getting harder already."

They lay like this for a while and his penis starts to soften. Soon it slips out of her slippery extended vulva flooded with their combined fluids and she moves her hips to try and recapture it again, but Mike gets up off her and says, "Time for a shower." He grins as he looks at her and says, "Your skirt is a mess and look at the bed. We've soaked it." Trudy just contentedly lies smiling at him with her legs spread wide open. He laughs and tosses his robe across her as he goes to the bathroom.

Mike feels great as he adjusts the water and let's it sluice over his body. He takes the soap and lathers himself, then let's the water course over him. Trudy sneaks up and reaches in, shutting off the hot water. Mike lets a bellow out of him as he explodes out of the shower and sees her bare ass disappear around the door. Mike takes off after her and catches her on the far side of the bed. "Mike! Your soaking wet!" He lifts her nude form in his arms and carries her back towards the bathroom. She sees what is going to happen and screams, "Mike! Don't you dare! Mike! Mike!"

He steps into the shower with her struggling in his arms and the cold water sluices down over them both. She clings to him and keeps up a barrage of cursing at him as he reaches down and adjusts the warm water slowly bringing the temperature up to normal. He sets her on her feet and they shower together. Then they towel each other off.

They get dressed and go out to join the kids. It's near three so Mike gets Richard into the car and kisses Trudy good-bye. Her and Crystal wave at them as they head back to Abbotsford.

They park up by the black 1980 Buick LeSabre estate wagon that his wife drives and Mike says, "Don't forget your medicine bag. As you add to the items in that, you will put in things that mean a great deal to you personally. Things that you may feel will bring you happiness and luck only if you know they are there. Then you won't misplace it. You will guard it more closely and find you do not want anyone else to see what is in there."

"Is that why you only showed me a few things in yours, Dad?"

"You noticed, eh?"

"I wondered."

"Another item I will mention that is in mine is a lock of my mother's hair she cut from her head when I was born. It is wrapped in wampum. If you desire some of it, I will separate some out for you and wrap it. You think about it and you let me know sometime. Let's go see what your mother and sisters are up to today."

They go in the side door of the condominium owned by Michael and Marlene Claymore on Marshall Road just half a block off McCallum Road near the hospital in Abbotsford, B.C. They find a note on the table in the kitchen saying Marlene has taken the girls over to her folks place for a visit and she will be back in time to get supper. Mike gets himself a cup of coffee and Richard finds a coke in the fridge. He sits down across from his Dad and asks, "Do you have an Indian name, Dad?"

"When I was born my mother gave me a name from her family. In Iroquoian it means, 'feet of silver running metal' but my brother, Terry, always called me, 'Silver Heels'. He made fun of our native names as he did with his uncle when he named him 'Broken Feather'. At first I was angry about it, but when I saw my uncle was amused by it, I saw it in a different light. He still calls me Silver Heels."

"Silver Heels? What did she mean by it?"

"Correctly translated it means feet of mercury. You've seen mercury, haven't you?"

"Oh yes! We had some at school that the teacher showed us."

"Sometimes I think my mother could see ahead what my life was going to be like. Rambling across this country with a truck or endeavoring to outfox the evil minds of criminals. In one case I'm always on the go and in the other I have to be nimble. In both cases the term, 'quick foot' or 'Silver heels' could apply. I think she saw where my life would lead me." He sips on his coffee and Richard thinks about what he has said.

"Dad, I'm going to put my medicine bag in my room." He takes off upstairs and Mike hears voices chattering in the driveway, so he figures Marlene and the girls are coming home.

Jan comes bursting in the door with Shelly close behind. She runs to her dad and he catches her to toss her lightly up in the air and catch her as Shelly takes off her shoes at the door. Shelly calls, "You better get back here and take off your shoes before Mom gets here. Hi Daddy." He lets Jan down with a kiss and greets his other daughter warmly, giving her a hug and a kiss. Shelly is the throw back to the Frasers, the only light haired Claymore in the family home, but like Mike and Marlene, she is shooting up willowy and at eight is already starting to develop a bit of a figure. Marlene is thinking of starting her on a training bra as her breasts are just budding.

The girls run off into the living room as Marlene comes in the door and gives Mike a big smile. She's a brunette, tall and curvaceous with a steak of fire in her veins. The fact that she has borne three children has not hurt her figure but leant her an air of maturity. She maintains a rigorous exercise program to keep herself in top shape and turns men's heads where ever she goes.

"What a beautiful day for a walk. Mom says to say hi and kiss you one time for her." She comes up the steps and into his arms. She sniffs his shirt and says, "Shalimar." She knows that's the perfume Trudy uses and whether she can smell it or not, she says that to tease and perhaps, chastise him. He swings her around and kisses her before letting her go.

As she gets herself a cup of coffee she says, "How are Trudy and her brood? Is she getting lots of rest? You probably tired her out this afternoon, didn't you?"

Mike hangs his head with a grin and says, "Guilty."

"Oh Mike, I thought you were coming home to me this morning. I guess she needs the extra loving at this time with her pregnancy and all, but I'm disappointed." She comes around the table and plays with his ear. "Did you save any for me?"

Mike slips his arm around her waist and says, "Wait till tonight and see." He reaches up and kisses her.

"How did you make out with Rick? You didn't let him get too cold, did you? It was quite cold out last night. I went out after the girls were in bed and looked at the stars. I tried to imagine you two out in some field huddled around a camp fire."

"I think we had a very good time. I know I did."

Jan comes running in from the stairs, "Mommy, Mommy. You should see the pretty purse Dad gave Rick. Will you get me one?"

Marlene looks quizzically at Mike as he grins and says, "It's a medicine bag. You know, like mine. You've seen it."

She comes back and runs her hand down his shoulder, "You native guys have some of the funniest habits about you," she kisses his ear, "but I love them all." She looks at Jan and says, "We'll see what we can find in the store, dear."

She goes to start preparing supper and says, "CPX called and you’re to give them a call when you come in. He said he was in the office for a few hours but he would be going home around four. I think you might still catch him. It was Jerry."

"Hmmm, it must be something important to drag him in to dispatch on the weekend. I'll call him." He takes the phone and dials. It rings for quite a few times before it's picked up.

"Jerry?" He listens.

"No, this is Hugh. Is that you, Mike?"

"Yep. I guess Jerry wanted me to give him a call."

"Yeah, we got a crew in here loading a trailer for Calgary for you. There's no rush with this one, but the one your bringing back from Calgary is for the military and they want it over on Vancouver Island, A.S.A.P. Hang on, here's Jerry."

"Mike. Can you take a run to Calgary tonight? I guess Hugh told you we have one up there from the east that needs to be brought back right away. Just take it straight down to the docks when you come back in. Can you do it?"

"No problem, Jerry. What time will you have this one ready to go?"

"You should be able to pull out by eight. See you later then. Thanks, Mike."

"Take care, Jerry. See you when I get back."

Mike gets off the phone and tells Marlene he has to take a run tonight to Calgary. Her reply: "Can I go with you. Trudy went on your last run. How about it?"

"It's just going to be a flying trip. Straight up with one to pick up a load they need down here right away on the island. No stopovers except for a few hours shut eye somewhere along the way because it's a thousand mile run. You sure you want to go?"

"Don't you want my company? You probably have your eye on some truck stop waitress along the way, somewhere?" She glares at him, "Is that it, Michael? Are you chasing some skirt again?"

"Honey, if you want to come, by all means I would like your company. So, are you coming with me?"

She smiles, "I'll call Trudy to baby sit for us." As she calls Trudy, Mike goes to lie down for an hour till supper's ready. As he lays down, he thinks with a grin, "Damn, I been out maneuvered again. She knows how to get her way with me."

She wakes him by tickling his ear, then kisses him and tells him supper is ready. He can tell by her cheerful disposition that she has gotten Trudy and she will be baby-sitting. He checks his watch and goes down for supper. By his plate is a letter from Nina and Jeff. She says, "That came Friday and I forgot to tell you when you came in, what with you and Rick planning your weekend and all. The kids are fine. Go ahead and read it while I put supper on the table."

It takes him a moment to realize that Nina has written the letter over a period of days, but he notices on the bottom of one page an explanation. "So busy. I'll add to this later." He browses through the letter and reads about how they are managing with three babies. She still hints at sadness in her heart that one died, a miscarriage at around five month's into her pregnancy. She had been carrying two sets of identical twins but had lost the one male child. She delivered healthy identical girls and one boy in February. She is nursing all three so says her breasts have greatly enlarged to accommodate them. Mike lets that image roam through his mind for a moment, then goes on reading. She goes on to say the only way she can handle nursing the three of them is by expressing and storing some breast milk as she can. She says she is so happy that Mike brought her a copy of the book, 'Baby's Best Chance', that it is their Bible to caring for the children.

Mike thinks back to when she lost the one fetus and he made a quick trip down to be with her in Markham, by Toronto. He had taken the book to her at that time. He glances again at the letter. She goes on to say that Jeff is a big help but doesn't seem to realize how much time is taken up each day just looking after the babies. Sometimes he's irritable after they have kept him awake half the night and the next day she doesn't have supper on when he comes in from work. But overall he has been supportive, considering the children are Mike's, not his. At least he no longer throws that up to her and he hasn't spoken about a divorce since he was last out west with Marlene. She thought he might start in again when Mike was down in February and still thinks he might have if Marlene had not come, as well.

She says she knows they slept together then and it's not a problem for her. As long as Mike was there for her and the babies, that's all that mattered.

Marlene says, "Why don't you read the rest of that later. Supper is all on and the kids are starving, as usual."

"Mmmmm, yes dear." He quickly glances down the last two pages and puts the letter to one side. They eat supper and Richard tries to imitate his Dad's mannerisms and demeanor during the meal. Marlene spots it and a tiny smile creeps across her lips as she observes him trying to fold a slice of bread to sop up some gravy in one corner of his plate as Mike does. Shelly and Jan are the first ones done and Shelly begs to be excused so she can run and join some of her friends. Jan wants to go, too, but Shelly doesn't want her to and an argument results in both of them staying at the table until everyone else is done. Jan smiles and sticks her tongue out at Shelly, and Shelly fumes about it. Richard manages to stay aloof of the whole thing; as does his father.

Trudy comes in just as they are finishing up and hugs Marlene before kissing Mike. Marlene says, "Here, Trudy, take my place at the table and have some milk or something. I have to run and get packed." She runs off upstairs. Trudy gets herself a large glass of milk and tilts it towards Mike before tipping it up to drink. She sits down in Marlene's chair at the table and Shelly looks at her saying, "May I be excused, please?" Trudy nods and Shelly is gone.

Jan starts in whining, "She wasn't supposed to go until everyone is done. How come you let her go? I wanted to go with her."

"Won't you stay home and keep me company, Jan? I thought us girls might try and make some fudge, tonight."

"Yippee! Shelly's gone and I can help you all alone. She'll be sorry! Ha ha!"

Mike says, "Your a crafty woman, Trudy."

"Hadn't you better start getting yourself around? It's after six, you know."

"Ahhh, your right. What would I ever do without you and Marlene to keep me on the straight and narrow? I guess I better go and get ready, too."

Mike leaves the kitchen and goes upstairs. Marlene has a bag packed and is working on his. "Do you want your slippers?"

"I usually have a pair in the truck. Don't bother with those."

Trudy comes into the bedroom and looks around, then runs to Mike. "It's moving! Feel here! I felt it move! I know I did!" Marlene grins and has her lay on the bed. She runs her hand gently over her stomach and suddenly stops and nods at Mike. He runs his hand under hers and feels around until he detects a slight movement. He smiles and nods to Trudy and she beams. "Oh wow! I knew I felt him move. Oh Mike, he's all right! I've been doing everything the doctor tells me but that is the first move I've felt him make. It feels so good.” Marlene nods at Mike and leaves with her bag.

Trudy reaches up and pulls him down for a kiss. Then she struggles to get up and Mike helps her. She runs to the bathroom and comes back in just a moment. "I have to pee twice as many times now as I used to. I guess it was the same with Crystal but it's been seven years, so I've forgotten. I don't remember this problem with her." She shows Mike the front of her blouse has two wet spots over the breasts.

"Marlene puts Kleenex in her bra when she has that problem."

"I know. I guess I'm going to have to wear a bra. I know I haven't got one to fit. Damn. It only flows heavy when you’re around, you know. Otherwise is just occurs once in a while with just a trace."

"You know, I would prefer you wear panties, too; at least until after you have the baby. Aren't you afraid of infection?"

"No. I can't wear them. I'm so sensitive down there; I'll be coming just riding in the car. Every time I brush the material against my cunt I'll be climbing walls. I'm not used to having anything brushing up against me there."

"Choose a snug fitting pair and you should be all right. Won't you try? Just for me?"

"Oh God! I suppose, but if I'm horny all the time, don't blame me."

"Your horny all the time, anyway."

"I know. Ain’t I fun to have around?"

Mike just grins and resumes his packing. Trudy tries to help him but just gets in the way. Finally he finishes and they head downstairs. He goes to the basement and gets his briefcase out of the office. Trudy double-checks it to make sure he's not taking some files she might need. Marlene has his freshly laundered bedding for the truck and a fresh garbage bag, along with the cooler and her bag.

Mike hauls everything to the car while Marlene and Trudy go over details of what she has to do. There isn't much to discuss as she knows their house almost as well as her own. They get ready to leave and Mike picks Trudy up to kiss her before they leave. As usual she wraps her legs around him and laughs, swinging her head and hair when they break.

He sets her down and she curses, "Damn! Where's the Kleenex?" She goes running for the front room and Marlene says there should be a box on the coffee table.

She hauls Mike down the steps and out the side door, laughing, "When that happens I'm just as glad I'm not the one. Remember how bad I got with Shelly? I had my bra packed with Kleenex until it looked like I was three cup sizes larger, and I was big enough without that."

"I remember having intercourse with you in a bra and that was all." He grins as he opens her door and closes it behind her. He goes around and climbs in the driver's side and starts the car.

They head out across Abbotsford to the Abby-Mission Highway and are soon in Mission, then left for Maple Ridge and POCO, to the west. Marlene has been silent up till now and she says, "Mike?"

"Yes, my love."

"Do you still want us to have another?"

"What? What are you talking about?" They drop down between the waters as the highway cuts across the end of Silvermere Lake like a causeway, then over the Stave River bridge at Watcom.

"A baby. Do you still think we should try for one more? I must admit I am rather envious of Trudy and you. You seem so close and concerned about her. But that's not the whole situation. I know we have been trying for about four or five month's now, but do you really want another one with me? I'm twenty-eight now and we have three. Do we want to be starting a child off in its first year of school when we're in our mid thirties?"

"Why question it now? You could have been pregnant already ever since before Christmas and you haven't said anything before. Don't you want to try for another one?"

"Sometimes I really do, but then at other times I think, maybe it's just because of Nina and Trudy. It's so exciting to see those new borns all wrapped in a baby blanket with tiny hands fisted and withered faces scrunched all up. Then to see Nina nursing her child, it makes me yearn to hold one of my own. I wonder if I'm just trying to prove I can do it again?"

He nears Maple Ridge and Mike has to slow down for the Haney By-pass. "Oh, I have no doubts in that department, but are you sure you want to?"

"I do! I really do, but what if I'm fooling myself. I don't want to regret it later."

"What's there to regret? Do you regret any of our kids?" He turns onto the by-pass.

"No!" She looks down and mumbles, "...You could leave me for Trudy. I guess then I would regret getting pregnant again. If I was fat and ugly with a kid you might not come home."

Mike slows down, almost stopping and cars behind him hit their brakes. "Don't even think that! I'm going to be with you forever, ...whether you like it or not!" He speeds up as he hears the horns honking behind him. "My God, you've had three children. Why would you think such a thing now?"

"I don't know. You didn't have a mistress then, I guess. At least I don't think you did. Did you?"

"Trudy's the one and only." They swing onto the Lougheed again and continue west.

"She's so much younger than I am. Maybe that's what makes me think your more attracted to her than me." She shrugs her shoulders. "Even pregnant, she's a lot younger than I am."

"She's not prettier though. You’re the most gorgeous women in all the world to me. You have class and fire in your walk, the way you toss your head and swing your hips with that tight ass of yours bobbing up and down. It does things to me that no other woman can and I always think, how lucky I am. I get to take her home ... and more!" He grins and she smiles shyly. "That's it! Perfect! That demure shy smile from a woman I know has more passion in her little finger than most have in their whole body. Your perfect! I would never change a hair on your head."

"Oh Mike, your turning my head. Enough already. I guess I worry for nothing." They pass the junction of the Dewdney Trunk Road with the Lougheed.

"You do! Trudy is a beautiful armful and a very special woman to me or she wouldn't be my mistress, but that doesn't mean I love you less because of her. I have room in my heart for both of you. I've told you that before." They come up on Harris Road and Mike has to stop for the lights.

"I'm glad we cleared this up. My period is due in a little over two weeks so I could very well get pregnant the next time we have sex."

"Wow! If that light will stay red long enough..." He reaches across the seat for her and she bursts out laughing but she moves closer. The light turns green and they head on towards POCO.

Since it's Sunday and none of the bosses are likely to be around the terminal or the warehouse, Mike pulls right into the yard at CPX and over to his big blue Kenworth with the built in sleeper. He has Marlene go up the ladder first and tosses their gear up to her to stow away in the sleeper. He climbs up behind her and says, "You can take the Mustang back out to the parking lot while I get hooked up. I shouldn't be too long."

She jumps back down and he starts the clanking diesel. She watches the heavy black smoke bellow out of the twin stacks from the cold engine. Mike climbs down and calls, "She's quite a sight when she's blowing off smoke like that, ...and noisy. She'll calm down in a few minutes." He's almost drowned out by the sound of hissing air. He shuts off the bleeder valve on his air line. He walks around checking tires and cables, air lines and clearance lights. Satisfied he climbs back up into the tractor and pulls around to the terminal.

He bounds upstairs to the dispatch office and there his bills are, on the corner of Jerry's desk. He checks them over as he returns to the truck and starts looking for his load. It's in the outgoing line up so he backs under the pin and starts his hook up. Electric cables, air lines, pin locked then crank up the dollies. He walks around the trailer and inspects the tires, brakes and the number on the seal on the back doors. It matches his bills and he whistles as he comes back to the cab.

He climbs back up and finds Marlene smiling at him across the console and holding the car keys out to him. She says, "Were you whistling what I think you were?"

He laughs and says, "Where did you ever hear that tune before?" He pulls around to the fuel pumps.

"If it was what I think it was, I'll never tell."

"It was a dirty ditty called the North Atlantic Squadron. Do you know it?"

She turns red and says, "No way! I never heard of it."

"Marlene. You’re lying, aren't you?"

"Never you mind. Get your fuel and let's get out of here."

Mike laughs as he climbs down to fuel up the truck. It's near eight thirty and the sun is setting. Already the days are longer and it soon will be April.

 

Chapter 2

 

In the evening twilight the big blue tractor sits at the pumps idling. The chrome of the stacks catches a last ray of sun and the mirror-like broad bumper reflects an image of the gates and parking area at CPX POCO Terminal. Silver handholds and ladders lead up to each door of the big blue box that is the cab and sleeper. Beyond those doors is a large black cavern lit only by the instrument panels.

Mike seats himself comfortably in the air ride seat and, forgetting his passenger for the moment, let's his eyes rove over the gauges as his hand fondles the shift knob. Air pressure at one twenty and steady, oil temperature and oil pressure right where they should be, water temperature and pressure right on the money, batteries charging a bit as they should with ammeter and voltmeter steady. He moves his foot on the accelerator and feels the immediate response as the tachometer climbs a thousand revs and the ammeter moves slightly. Oil pressure holds steady just at a slightly higher level than at idle. He smiles slightly and his foot relaxes as he checks switches and buttons. Lights are all in order, his left foot depresses the clutch and he stretches before placing his left hand to caress the wheel.

He lets his fingers slide along the wheel then grips her tight near the top. His face reflected in the glow from the instruments is a study in concentration and devotion. His right hand moves the shift column forward into a gear then slides away to catch the air brake release. There is a crashing hiss as trailer brakes and tractor brakes release and the whole assembly moves forward a few feet. His right foot comes down on the accelerator as his left lifts, releasing the clutch. Quickly the tach rises as they lurch ahead and he starts shifting again. He glances in his mirrors then studies the gate and highway beyond as they proceed across the yard and out into the parking area. A third shift and they are on Kingsway moving with traffic.

His senses of touch and hearing are alert to every vibration and sound as his baby sings to him in a language only he understands. She sounds sweet to his ears tonight and he starts to relax as they head out the Mary Hill Bypass. Quickly he runs down a list in his mind. Fuel: topped up. Water: checked. Oil: checked. Lights: his eyes rove the switches, checked. Air Pressure: steady, no sound or indication of leaks. Bills: placed on the console. He feels his hip: wallet in place and CPX Highway Toll card should be in it as well as money for the trip and his license with air ticket permit. He settles down in the seat and smiles into the gloom across the black console. Wife: she's there across the console smiling back at him. He laughs and feels great joy to be on the road again.

Marlene chuckles at the joy that lights his face. She doesn't understand what it is that fills him with this joy, but she's seen it before and knows he's happy when he's behind the wheel of an eighteen wheeler. She knows that look so well from when he comes to her in bed and doesn't know that many of the feelings he has are shared with her and his truck. All she knows for sure is that he's happy so she's contented.

They are checked at the Port Mann weigh scales and then head east on Number One, the freeway or Trans Canada Highway. Marlene calls out, "It will be nice to see the kids again, eh? I’ve been waiting for you to say something. No comment?"

"Huh? What are you talking about? Someone coming to visit?" He grins, "Your side or mine?"

"I thought you read the letter? Jeff and Nina are planning to come out as soon as the kids can travel. She figures around the end of April or early May. Didn't you read her letter?"

"I didn't read that! Where did she mention it? Near the end?"

"Ohhh, I think it was. The letter was quite confusing. She added to it on different days. I had to reread part of it to make sense. Didn't you notice?"

"No. It made sense to me, what I read of it."

"You didn't finish it?"

"No. I quit reading for supper. Guess I never got back to it. Did she say they were definitely coming?"

"I don't know how definite. You'll have to read it when we get home."

"Abbotsford's coming up. I can pull in and grab it."

"What! I thought you were in a hurry? What does it matter, she's not coming in the next few days. The end of the month, at least."

Mike gets off the freeway at Clearbrook Road and takes Marshall Road home. He parks across from the house as Marlene watches him with a puzzled expression. He jumps down and dashes across to the side door. Trudy is coming downstairs and meets him in the kitchen, "What'd you forget?"

"Did you see a letter on the table."

"From Nina?"

"Yes, where is it?"

"On your desk in the office..." She goes to say more but he's gone down the stairs. He gets the letter and puzzles his way through the last few pages on his way back to the truck. From the window Trudy watches him as he tucks the letter into his shirt pocket and climbs up into the cab. Immediately he's on the accelerator and shifting, as they get under way again. He swings onto McCallum Road and then onto the freeway for Hope.

Marlene says, "What was that all about? Forget to feel her up?"

"Huh?"

"I know you stopped to see Trudy for something. Why don't you admit it? Never mind, it doesn't matter."

"I stopped to get the letter." He pulls it from his pocket and waves it at her. She just stares straight ahead. He tosses it on the console saying; "I'll read it later."

She reaches for the letter, then changes her mind and leaves it alone. She remains quiet as they head on out the valley. Within the hour they have passed Hope and are starting to climb the Coquihalla Highway and Pass.

Mike calls out, "Hey, your awfully quiet. How you making out over there?" He grins in the dark cab and even though she can't see it, she can detect it in his voice.

She mulls that over and says, "I'm alright. You going to tell me why you stopped at the house ...and I know it weren't any letter."

"I forgot to feel her up."

She laughs, "Oh Mike! You did not! Your impossible." She shakes her head. After a few moments she says, "What did you and Richard talk about all night?"

"It was a bonding sort of thing; just the two of us building and using a sweat lodge. Sweating together in the dark is very therapeutic, you know?"

"I know it is when you and I do it." She giggles.

"That's not what I mean." He sounds irritated. "Now, you wanted to know and then you make a joke out of it. It was very serious for Rick and I. We shared a very touching experience."

"Sounds kinky to me." She laughs outright.

"Oh hell, I'm not going to tell you any more. I thought you wanted to know. Forget it!"

"Oh dear, I'm sorry. I do want to hear what you guys did in your little sweat shop... er, sweat lodge." He can hear the merriment in her voice and he grins, in spite of himself.

"You might be right. If it had only been the two of us, it might seem kinky, but when you add in those two young broads we picked up in Vedder Crossing..."

"What! Oh Mike! You’re teasing. Rick would know better, even if you don't."

"Thanks. Any way, I tried to relate for him some family history and some facts of life according to the Mohawks. I outlined for him the story of creation according to Iroquoian tradition and some of the other native legends. We drew some parallels between Mohawk beliefs and Christian ones then we entered the dark and the hot steam. I guess I went on about life among the Mohawks as it was during the times of the advent of the white man and he fell asleep. I guess I dozed off about then, too. Next morning he said he got a lot out of it and we did seem a lot closer. I guess it worked."

"You know the sauna, or steam bath, plays a big part in Celtic traditions, as well. There are many parallels between Celtic and Native American cultures. We have the shamanic visions, the veneration of ancestral lore and the spiritual quest, to name only a few: even the totems. Whereas the American native seems to associate a totem with a tribe, more often that not in Celtic tradition the totem is associated with the person. For example, Oisin, whose totem was the deer was an example of inter species breeding between Fionna and Sadbh. He is born while his mother is still in the deer-shape. He was fated to be in human shape as long as his mother didn't lick him. But she was unable to refrain from showing her love and gave him one lick upon his forehead. After that, Oisin, which means 'little deer' always had a tuft of hair there. You should know of the Celtic lore, Michael. Your Celtic on one side, right?"

"I don't know. I don't think so. The Claymores go back to the Scots and the Pics who invaded the British Isles but I think our heritage was in the Roman Christian sector. I seem to recall my father telling of our ancestors being enlisted to help rid the land of the druids. They're Celtic, aren't they?"

"Yes, the druids were the shamans, and they could be of either sex.

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