This was an important day for me. We were to meet with a venture capital firm at 10:00 and the fate of a subdivision rested on it. We had spent months researching manufacturing methods that would allow us to build houses more cheaply… without it seeming so. A revolution was occurring in home construction and we, Filliminister and Sons, were going to be on the cutting edge. We had plans to purchase a large warehouse and begin fabricating wall and floor sections for our new homes. Filiminister and Sons were going to take the division of labor to a whole new level. Framers, plumbers and electricians in the new housing industry would go the way of the cobbler, weaver and blacksmith. It was kind of sad, but hey, this was the world we lived in and who can hold back the tide? Better to go with the flow.
Traffic slowed again and then came to a stop. We sat for what seemed like ages but I think it was really just a few minutes… a few minutes that i could not afford to waste! My Blackberry was lit up like a Christmas tree with incoming messages. I answered some of them but the rest would have to wait. I rested my head on the steering wheel and wished that, for a moment, I lived a hundred years ago, when this road was little more than two furrows in the prairie sod and a traffic jam was two prairie schooners trying to get past each other.
8:10 AM – A wind out of the north west cut through my heavy wool jacket. It was cold! Abbigaul had to work a little harder than usual to push through the fresh snow that had fallen the night before. Her ears rotated, some times listening to me and other times, both ears forward and alert. Now one ear was rotated back, only half listening while I spoke mindlessly, “Common … let’s go…” I reached forward and scratched her head. She was young, but willing – of Canadian stock, her lively gait betrayed some Arabian blood.
My thoughts turned to what needed to be done today. I was headed to the post office first thing to mail a couple letters. I hoped that I would find a couple waiting for me. It had been 3 weeks now; about the time it takes for mail to reach the Fort from Boston. After I was done at the post office, I planned to buy a newspaper and breakfast at May’s diner. Afterward, I needed to go to the hardware store to order supplies and then I was headed to Jack Filliminster’s place where I was looking after the construction of his new house. It was a sprawling ranch house, with oak floors and two large stone fireplaces. All the cabinets and trim were done in the Mission style. It was going to be a beautiful place when it was finished. I hoped that when I was done I’d have enough money to purchase the CPR quarter adjacent to the one I was homesteading on. I pulled a notepad out of my jacket pocket and scribbled a few things I needed to pick up at Goldman’s hardware store. Abigaul knew the trail well enough and needed no guidance from me.
The fresh snowfall made the world seem particularly quiet and still. The only sound to be heard was the moan of the wind through the spruce boughs and the quiet rustling of the long frozen willow branches that grew in groves along the frozen creek at the bottom of the coulee. Above us, a giant poplar stood out like a gnarled old skeleton against the dark winter sky that threatened more snow. A Great Owl sat perched on one of its branches looking intently for its next meal but flew away as we approached. It was quiet alright, almost too quiet.
As we came to the crest of a hill, Abigual’s ears pricked forward and flattened. She let out a wild terrified snort that sent a cloud of frozen mist into the air, momentarily obscuring the trail in front of us. And then I saw it too. On a rocky outcrop just slightly ahead and not more the 20 feet off the trail crouched a wild cat. Its muscles were tensed like a coiled spring. Mine were just as tense but in a different sort of way – tense in the way that a man with a gun pointed to his head is tense. It was like an old style western face off and I am not sure who moved first. The cat let out a scream that could have turned milk into cream and with one bound it was on us. Abigaul pawed the air and fell back on her haunches. I reached for my Winchester rifle in its scabbard and managed to chamber a bullet before losing my mount, still clutching at my rifle…
8:20 A.M. – Distant objects came into my field of vision first. I saw clouds floating over head and giant, perfectly formed snow flakes, each one a little different falling out of the sky into my blinking eyes. And I saw people. They were crowded around me. Some might have been concerned but most, I think, were just curious. I heard the voice of a girl speaking. She was the one I had seen earlier driving the Corolla. “I don’t know officer, he just hammered the accelerator, veered across the lane and slammed right into the back of me.”
The police officer looked down at me. “Are you ok, son?”
“Yes, I think so but where is Abigaul?” I asked. “Is she ok?”
“Abigaul, who is Abigaul? You were alone when we found you.” The police officer looked around, “Did anyone see a women with this man?”
“No! No!” I cried, “Not a women!
The officer chuckled, “Ohhhh, you mean your Audi?” “Well, it is a wreck.”