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A Change of Major (Chapter Eighteen)

When I heard the others coming out of the welcome center, I stood up and thanked Ernst ("call me Ernie next time") for the coffee and talk. I told him I wasn't sure what I thought for now, but would think about what he said. I went down and joined the others and started boiling more water. Although Hartman said I did not have to bring water up the hill, I told him I would as I had to carry my weight.

I took a five gallon bucket of clean water up the hill and had to deliver it to a motor home which fortunately, was not Holland's but belong to some guy and his wife name Cooper. They were friendly enough and Mr. Cooper even helped when I had to bring it into their vehicle. Their motor home was pretty nice inside, much nicer than the tents we were using, but then again, I did not have a hundred grand to sink into a motor home before The Day either.

They told me they could no longer use their shower, so the took baths with the water over the sink or another container and then poured out the dirty water on the ground. I asked them if they still had propane and Cooper admitted they did, but were down to one tank and even that one was not full. They were saving it for a possible trade with the farm lady if push came to shove and they were low on food. For now, they were doing okay as they had made a huge Walmart run the day before "The Day" and still had a good store of long term foods on hand. Besides, Mrs. Cooper said, "Us old people eat less than we did when we were your age" with a big laugh.

Next, I was told to ask some lady who lived in her coach alone if she needed water or some firewood for her fire pit outside. I knocked and a woman with hair askew opened the door holding a glass in her hand.

"Hi, I wanted to check and see if you needed any firewood or boiled water ma'am?"

"Um, no, I don't use the fire pit and I think I am okay on water for now. What's your name, you are new?" she said.

"I'm Mike. Yeah, we came in last night and are here for a few days."

"Not getting much rest are you?" she smiled. "I am Pat, Pat Murphy, nice to meet you."

"Nice to meet you too ma'am. Well if you don't need anything else, i will be on my way then," I said.

I turned and then heard that nasally voice. Ugh.

"Boy. Come over here."

I turned around and did not say anything because I knew exactly who it was talking. Holland stood there next to a Class A motor coach by the dump valves.

"There is something wrong with this valve and I need you to take a look at it." he said with eyes closed and his arms folded across his chest.

"I don't know anything about motor home maintenance, mister. I suggest you check with one of the other owners to help you there."

"I don't think you understand me, that was not a request, it was an order. Check this valve. Now." he said sternly.

I walked over to Holland and stood nose to nose with him. Actually slightly over I should say. I stand five foot ten in my gym socks and Holland couldn't be an inch over five nine in cowboy boots.

"I don't do motor home maintenance. And I don't take orders from you either. I haul water, I cut wood. Those were the requests for my labor. You gotta problem with your turd tank, I suggest you stick that pointy nose of yours up there and figure it out, bud." I stared him down as his face turned a livid shade of rosy red.

"You see here, my young friend. I hold the keys to your domiciling within yonder camp site. I can have you and your mangy friends tossed out with a single command." he snapped his fingers for emphasis.

"Snap away, then pops. Then go tell your little friends to come on down and get their own water for their coffee. Have a nice day." I turned and walked off.

"You'll be out of here in fifteen minutes, boy. You watch. Hap will run you off on a rail! You best be ready!" he shrieked.

Hap, that old hang dog run me off? That's funny.

I was almost back to the fire pit when I heard the sound of motors. Car motors and more than one. My first thought was "Holtz and company are here!" and I ran to the front gate bringing my shotgun off my back as I ran. I wasn't alone. Ernie was already there along with the guy in the Navy cap and some other man I had not met yet.

"Hold on everyone, it's Celina or it sure looks like her" said the unknown guy.

"It might also be someone driving her truck, Dawson. Did'ja think of that?" growled Ernie.

I strained my neck to see down the road and watched as an ancient 1950's era tow truck came into view blowing black smoke out its tail pipes. There was at last two people in the cab and leaning over the top was someone in black baclava and sunglasses holding an AK-47 type rifle. Behind that came a 1960's pickup truck hauling an open trailer followed by an original mid-60's fastback Mustang.

The tow truck pulled up first and turned at a right angle in front of the gate, the rifleman in the back pointing their weapon over our heads, but in our general direction. The pickup and trailer pulled right in front of the gate as if to enter into the camp grounds. The Mustang came to a stop, hit reverse and backed into the drive so that it's nose faced the highway.

The door to the Mustang opened and a big guy in a full length black duster and matching felt cowboy hat stepped out holding an AR type rifle. He was huge and I had no idea how he managed to fit his frame into that sports job. He kept his back to us and leaned over the roof of the car with his rifle facing the road.

The pickup had two passengers and the driver was clearly a woman. There was another person in the back of the truck also standing in the back of the cab with an AK pointing outward as well. Then a female voice shouted from the back of the tow truck "Clear!" and all the vehicles shut off their engines.

All the others shouted "Clear" as well and the pickup truck driver stepped out. She was tall, somewhere in her 40's, with blond hair under a green knit hat, wearing a brown Carhardt coat, Wranglers and boots. She reached in the cab and pulled a short, double barreled coach gun off the dash board and stepped forward.

"Ernie? Open up, I got your stuff and the day's not getting any shorter"

Ernie stepped forward and and growled, "You get more theatrical each time, Celina. What next? Air drop by parachute? A tank?"

"If I can get one I will!" she laughed.

So this was the famous Celina.