I had to break this down so I will post all of chapters at once
A little about myself, my name is Charles, I grew up like most boys did in a little town in the 60’s and mid 70’s. In the summers, I would play outside all day only coming home to eat and sleep. I was in Cub Scouts and then Boy Scout, went fishing and hunting. When I turn fifteen like most boy I started to work so I could get my first car. Now the only real work around us was the farms that were all around town. Like most kids in town I couldn’t wait to move away and make it big but also like most kids in town that didn’t happen the way we had planned.
I joined the Army a week after I got out of high school because my dad’s plans for me was to start working in the plant that he has work in his whole life like his dad.
My mom didn’t like it but after talking to my dad he was ok with it and said he would make my mom understand. So I left the Monday the week after the Fourth of July, which was July 9, 1979.
Now I didn’t become a Range or Special Forces. I was a MP (military police). I figured that was something I could use once I got out. I went to basic and AIT (Advanced Individual Training) at Fort McClellan Alabama and from there to my first duty assignment Camp Casey Korea. That year could be a story of its self.
After that I was shipped to Fort Polk Louisiana and that is where I met Amy. I had only been in the company about three hours when I first saw her. Don’t get me wrong, I have seen a lot of good looking females in the Army but to me none more than Amy. She was nice, always saying hi to everyone with a smile. It didn’t take long to see that most of the sergeant (Sgt) and some officers were chasing after her along with every other guy in the company.
After about two months the company had a PT test. Now I didn’t drink and as anyone who has ever been to Camp Casey Korea will tell you there is not much else to do there but drink or go to the gym. The same went for Fort Polk, so I was in really good shape. Now I wasn’t one of those guys that you see trying to get freakishly larger but I was built. When we had our weigh ins I would have to be taped to show the army I wasn’t over weight.
So after acing the PT test my platoon Sgt asked if I would help out with remedial PT for the ones that failed as he said he knew that I didn’t go out much. So I told him I would (not like you have much choice in the army).
The next morning when they broke up the platoon into those needing remedial PT and those not, I was surprised to see Amy there. Now I had seen her in the gym about twice a week working out so I thought that she must be there to help out.
The squad leader that was in charge was a real asshole and should have been in the class not leading it. I found out later he had caught the Platoon Sgt and Platoon Leader together. Not that I could blame the platoon Sgt, our Lt was good looking but as everyone knows that a big no-no in the military.
It did take long to realize that Sgt was more into belittling them then helping them. When I said something to him, he locked my heals (made me stand at attention) while he informed me he was in charge and my supervisor. Lucky for me the new company First Sgt saw what was happening and took the Sgt to his office and left me in charge
After that I didn’t have it easy till it was found out about the Platoon Sgt and the Lt and that the Sgt was blackmailing them.
Three days a week I would have them do regular military PT but on Tuesday s and Wednesday’s we would go to the gym. Now I wasn’t having them lift heavy weights just the opposite. I would have them do low weights with more reps. you see it is endurance that is needed in the military.
Three weeks later they retook their PT test and all but one passed. I didn’t feel sorry when they put him out of the military a few months later because I know he was trying to get out anyway.
After Amy passing her PT test, if I was in the gym she would come over and we would work out together and that was about three times a week. While we were working out we talked a lot about the military, where we were stationed and home.
I found out that she was from a real small town in Wyoming, had no brothers or sister like me but she had a lot of cousin. She once said that the reason she joined the army was so she didn’t end up like all of her cousin. Pregnant and married to someone that would run off as soon as they got a chance to get out of the area.
About a month later the company was having a party and I was sitting with some people when someone stat down next to me. It’s a girl that has been hitting on me since I got to the company. (I’ll call her Penny because I don’t really remember her name) Now she wasn’t bad looking but everyone refereed to her as the company’s welcoming party.
Any new guy that came in she would go out with for about a week or two or till the next new guy showed up. If that is the way she wanted to be, good for her but that was not what I was looking for. I was trying to get with Amy.
I got up and was just walking around a bit and every once in a while looking for Amy. I guess I was doing this a little too much for Penny because as I was standing by a tree she came over and just flatly said that I had no chance with Amy because all of the girls knew that she was a lesbian.
It took all of a second to tell her, then that’s going to be one lucky girl that catches her and walked away and back to my barracks. Everyone was getting drunk and I didn’t like hanging around a lot of them when they were. A few were fun to hang around with when they were drinking and I would even go out with them. They liked that a lot as I was the safe way home.
Now back then it was even more taboo then it is now and in the military just a rumor of someone being gay or a lesbian seemed enough to get them kicked out.
So after I got back to my barracks I decided to go to the gym then maybe catch a movie.
I was in the gym just stretching out when Amy came in. She didn’t say anything but just came over and started to stretch out with me. It was strange because she wasn’t talking but did answer when I asked if she needed me to spot for her when I saw her put more weights on than I had ever saw her try. After working out for about an hour and a haft we called it quiets and as we were walking back she finely spoke.
She asked me what I was doing tonight. I told her I was thinking of going to see a movie. She said that sound good and when she asked me if I mined if she tagged along. I think my heart skipped a few beats.
I guess I was taking too long to answer because I could see she was about to say something when my mouth and brain started working again. I told her I would like that and asked her where she wanted to meet up at.
She laughed and said why don’t I just pick you up in front of your barracks in an hour. I said ok and then it hit me she was asking me out on a date. I was just about to say something then she said she would see me in an hour and then added as she was walking away that I better not keep her waiting on me.
She was giggling as she walked away and that was the start of our life together. I did ask her sometime later about that day and she told me that she was just walking behind us when Penny came up to me and we both said what we did. That was when she realized that I liked her for her and not just what she looked like.
We dated for almost eight months before I asked her to marry me. We were both within a few months of getting out so we waited till we were out to get married. We got married in her home town on June 15, 1982. My parents came and since I had no other family Amy’s family made a big deal of them being there.
We stayed in the area and we both got jobs with the county sheriff. It was hard at first because we worked different shifts for the first year but when I made Sgt, Amy quiet. Not because I made so much more money as a Sgt it was because she got pregnant. That was something she wanted after seeing how happy her cousin were with their kids.
Our daughter Emily was born the 1st of March 1984. I didn’t mind getting up with her during the night because I missed her because I was at work all day. Life was just great, I was there for her first steps and I went overboard on her first Christmas.
That winter was a bad one, lots of heavy snow and the flu hit the area hard. On January 28th almost haft of the second shift had called in sick again so I had to work my third double in a row. What made it worst was it was my mother in-laws birthday and to top it off it started to snow again. That meant we would be helping the State Police with accidents on the highways.
I called home to tell Amy and she said everyone would understand. I told her the roads were already getting bad so be careful. She reminded me again that she grew up learning how to drive in this kind of weather but if it got to bad she would just stay at her parents.
I was right, it was a busy night on the highways. I will never understand why people with four wheel drive think that they can still drive 55 in the snow. Four wheel drive is great for pulling you through mud, up hills and getting you unstuck from snow, but if two wheels are going to slide on snow and ice so do four wheels.
I got home at almost 1:00 in the morning and I was looking to getting some sleep since I had the next day off. Amy’s car was not in the garage but this did not bother me because I’m sure her mom made her stay like she had before. Her mother loved having her granddaughter there.
I woke up and it was after 11:00, I listen but I didn’t hear Amy or Emily. As I got up I could see why, there was another foot of snow on the ground on top of what was there when I went to bed and it was still snowing.
After getting cleaned up and started some coffee I call my in-laws to see how they were doing. My mother in-law answered and after wishing her a belated birth and telling how sorry I was for not making it there I asked to talk to Amy.
Now you know that silence that happens just when you know you’re going to find out something was wrong. That’s what happen and then Amy’s mom said she didn’t stay last night, she left around 8:00.
I spent the next hour calling everyone we knew looking for her, I call the station to see if her vehicle was reported in an accident. Nothing, I was told there were a lot of vehicles stranded on the highway and they were getting to them as fast as they could and they would call me if they found anything.
I called back my in-laws and her uncle answered. I told him I had not found her and I was going to use my snowmobile to look for her. He told me that his son was out doing that now on the highway. I told him what roads I would be taking and if he talk to his son to have him check the next one.
Now I was going nuts thinking of what might have happen to Amy and Emily. There was 4 routes that she could have taken the most likely was the highway as it would be the one that got plowed first. I took the second most likely route but found nothing, going back home I took the least likely and still nothing.
When I got home and they were still not home and I was freaking out. I called my in-laws again and Amy’s cousin had just got back and there was still no sign of her.
Between using the snowmobile and my blazer once I got chains on it I spent all night looking for them.
The call that I dreaded came in three days later. They had found her car and another car off of the side of the road down about a 40 foot cliff off the highway. Do to the plowing all that night and the next day no one could see where they went off.
As they always try to do, they told me that even if someone had saw it happen there would have been nothing anyone could have done for them.
After the funeral, I think was the hardest. Everyone came to tell me how sorry they were and how they understood when I would just start crying. I never believed that anyone could but my in-laws.
I think the second worst call I have ever received came at the end of February. It was the call from Gerber Live. I don’t know who cried more during the call me or the lady on the other end.
You know how they say it is sometimes easier to talk to someone you don’t know. Well, I told this lady the whole story from meeting Amy all the way up to receiving the call from the state police.
A few other things happen that week, Amy’s life Ins paid out, the mortgage Ins we had paid the house off, I quiet work and closed the house up around me. I only came out when I needed food or if someone wanted to try and talk to me.
I guess it was about two months later that Amy’s parents and one of her uncle showed up at the house with another lady that had three kiss with her. Amy’s dad said that he wanted to talk to me and when I stepped outside he said it was something that needed to be done in private.
This was the first time that he had ever pushed to come into the house and it would be the first time I let anyone in since the end of February. The look of shock when they walked in was easy to see.
Now I had let my hair and facial hair go but the house was Amy’s pride and joy. I swear that when I got home from work I could have taken a white glove to anywhere in the house and not have found any dust. They could have done it that day and not found any because that was how I checked every room after cleaning it.
I led them into the kitchen and we sat at the table. Amy’s dad started to explain that the lady with them was one of Amy’s cousins and that her husband ran off and left her with their three kids. I was listening to the whole story. Then I remembered the day in the gym when Amy told me why she had join the army. I didn’t even realize that the youngest child, a little girl maybe three or, somehow climbed up in to my lap.
When I finely realize that she was in my lap I yelled because it scare the shit out of me and I my yelling scared her.
Once the girl stopped crying Amy’s uncle asked if I could let his daughter stay till they could figure out what to do and as I had a four bedroom house and all.
I looked at the little girl that I just scared and thought about Emily and agreed as long as no one went into Emily’s room. They agreed to this so Amy’s uncle and cousin went to get some clothes they had in the car.
Amy’s mom came over to me and thanked me but asked why they couldn’t they use Emily’s room. When I told her that nothing has changed in that room since the day they left. I would clean it and put everything right back in its spot, the toys on the floor to the dirty clothes in the hamper that I washed and put back in. When I looked at her and said she understood.
That night and the next day were hell. As soon as I would clean up one thing there were two more areas that the kids messed up. Now they were not bad kids, they were just kids.
That second night I sat in the floor of Emily’s room and cried. The next morning I called Amy’s parents and asked them to come over.
Once they got there I told them that I could not handle this. Amy’s mom said she understood and said they would find other arrangement for Amy’s cousin and kids.
I know that what I said next they were not ready for. I told them that they could stay as long as they never went into Emily’s room, I was the one that was going to leave for a little while. I told them that they were still on Amy’s saving account and that is where all our money was. All they had to do was keep up the house and Amy’s family could use it as they needed it.
I went around the house getting something’s packed up like all the pictures and other personal things. I careful put them in Emily’s room so nothing got changed in it. Then that night I packed a backpack that Amy and I had used to go camping with everything I could think I might need.
I had a few clothes, a small tent, a fishing pole and gear and finely my rifle and pistol with ammo for both.
The next morning when I came out of my room Amy’s cousin asked where I was going. So I told her for a walk and when she asked me when I would be back. I saw the tears start to form and when I said I didn’t know she ran to me crying.
She told me she was so sorry for me because she knew how much she missed Amy and that it must hurt ten times more.
With that I walked out of the house and up in to the hills.
Now the hills were the Rockies they just called them hills here for some reason, I never asked why.
All summer I didn’t go too far from the town. I would sit up in the hills watching the grave yard where Amy and Emily were. Amy’s mom came by every Sunday with fresh flowers and sometimes she would have a kid with her or someone else.
I fished all summer and snared a few rabbits and there were plenty of wild berries and plants to eat. I remember the first time Amy and I went camping. I started packing all kinds food as we were going to be out for a week. When Amy saw this she said that we might as well stay home if were bring all that food. That’s when she told me that her grandfather use to take her camping every year and all they took with them was sugar, flour, salt, pepper and coffee. He taught her how to fish, hunt, trap, what plants she could eat and what ones were used for medicine.
That first summer we were married we ended up spending two weeks up in the hills and she taught me everything that she could remember.
As fall started I knew that there was no way I could make it through the winter so reluctantly I started walking south along the Rockies. I spent the winter in the south, where I don’t know but as it got warmer I started to move back north.
I was sure I was going have to go into some town and find out where I was till the day I looked down and realized I was home. No I didn’t go into town, I just stayed up in the hills watching the grave yard. The day I heard the church bells I watched but didn’t see Amy’s mom in the grave yard but I did see a little girl standing by the graves.
Now I really couldn’t see her that well, I could only tell it was a girl because of the dress. That night I went to the grave yard and put wild flowers on Amy’s and Emily’s graves. Every night that week I would do the same thing. The next Sunday I watched and what looked like the same little girls came out of the church and walked over Amy’s and Emily’s grave.
I saw her turning around and someone walking to her. By the way she looked it could be Amy’s mom. I could tell that they are talking and then I saw them looking up into the hills.
It was the second night that week that I started to bring the flowers down roots and all hoping they would grow. Every night I found myself spending more time just laying between their head stones. I think it was Friday night that I almost got caught in the grave yard by the police.
The next Sunday I saw the girl and who I assumed was Amy’s mom walking to the graves with flowers. I and saw them stop but the girl turned ran back to the church as the lady lays her flowers down on both graves.
The little girl returned and from her action she was watering the flowers I had planted. The rest of the summer went this way. When it started to get cold and the leaves started to change I made one last visit to the graves. I kissed each head stone telling them I would be back next spring and left.
As I was moving south I ran into the first person I had seen in almost a year and a haft. He called himself Trapper John and boy could he talk. Now I was one of little words before, I was even of fewer now. After about five minutes John asked if I was mute. I just shook my head no. I spent most of that summer close to John’s camp and he taught me a lot, like tanning deer skin to make clothes and for selling too.
At the end of winter he showed me this little place where we could sell the skins we had and get supplies. John called it the trading post. When the guy told me what he would pay me for the furs and deer skins I just started to pass them to him till John started to bargain with him.
After getting what we needed I headed north and John headed north east saying he was going to go see the ocean. There was still a little snow on the ground up where I was at when I got home. I moved closer so I could see the grave yard and I could see flowers on their graves.
That night I went to the grave yard and told them I was back. I was about to leave when I saw a note. When I opened it, all it said was “Charles it is time to come home”. I took the note and headed back up in to the mountains.
The next Sunday I watched as a girl and a lady walked to where Amy’s and Emily’s graves were at and as the girl bent down I saw the lady looking around. It surprised me when the girl started waving, now it wasn’t right at me, as matter of fact she turned around in a cercal waving but I knew it was for me.
This summer was just like the last, every night I would go down to the grave yard and sit between their head stones. I fished and trapped a little, but this year I keep and tanned the skins to sell.
As fall came I again made one last visit to Amy’s and Emily’s grave to say goodbye but I left the note that they had left but I added “not yet” to it in charcoal.
I met up with John at almost the same spot that I had left him and seeing all the furs that I had we went to the trader.
A little about what John called the Trading Post. It was more like our version of the old west’s hole in the wall. Everyone there was hiding out from someone or thing. You had bikers, military vets and people like me.
There was The General, he was a WWI vet. He claims that he and some guys from WWI started the place when they came back and couldn’t deal with the real world after what they had saw and done. He had stories on just about everyone that ever came through the place.
He had some funny stories but most of the stories he told were sad one. Every night he would sit and tell a few and others would share their stories as well. I found out from him that John was a banker and one day just walked away from everything then he found out that he was helping to foreclose on his own sister’s house. That was after he emptied his account and pain off the loan. One year I was sitting back a ways from the group and as he told a stories that I didn’t catch all of about a guy who he had never heard a word from but he saw the great sorrow in his eyes that told a story of their own.