Every once in awhile
while working in the woods, 
we come across something so 
photographically fantastic 
that I whimper.

A couple of weeks ago was no exception.

Luckily for me, I am married to a wonderful man.

Oh I tried to pretend it wasn't killing me that I couldn't take pictures 
of this wonderful old abandoned car
out in the middle of the US Forest
Yellow-leafed Aspen growing right through it


It was killing me.

I kept repeating to myself out loud as I was working-

"We just need to remember this moment, 
this very special moment,
in our mind and heart."

"Special moment."

"No, I can handle it."

"so special."


I repeated this all at least four different times.

After all, I was working.

Then my incredible husband 
handed me a roll of orange marking tape and told me 
to go flag and age some trees on my own
on our working plot.

"I'll be right back," he said.

He ran 3/4 of a mile back to the truck for my camera kit.

3/4 miles.

He loves me.

But it did come with a caveat.

"Write a story to accompany your pictures.  It deserves one of your stories."

And so this is my short short story,
inspired by the prompt of these photos
on request of my dear Husband who almost blew out a lung
so I could capture the Golden hour 
in a very special place.

I hope you enjoy it!


"Today is Friday, the 13th of October, 1978. My name is Pamela Strauss, Interviewer, and with me is Irene Jensen, age 74, Interviewee-"

"Hi there!"

Pamela quickly tried to switch off the tape recorder that Titan News, her employer, had given her to use.  "Irene, please speak AFTER I ask you a question, okay?" 

Irene nodded like a small child reprimanded.

Pamela's forehead crinkled in thought. She will have to erase yet another section of the brown spool of tape, but maybe Doug can splice it for her to make it sound cleaner.  That new husband of hers could certainly be handy with electronics.  

She looked up from the tape recorder and then smiled.   

Irene was watching her with a big grin. If she didn't know any better, Pamela would have thought the senior citizen was delaying her on purpose.

"Shall we start again Irene?"

"Sure! Are you wanting me to tell some stories? I just love recollecting!"

"Yes, that is why I am here, Irene. Today we would like you to try to remember that summer if you could.  The summer of 1948.  Do you think you can do that?"

"Yes! I remember it like it was yesterday!"  Irene shifted in her chair. Old age has a way of making one sit in certain ways, and Irene wanted to make sure she was good and comfortable.

"Okay, let's get started then..." Pamela pressed the "play" and "record" button at the same time on the small gray tape recorder. 

"Today is Friday, the 13th of October, 1978. My name is Pamela Strauss, Interviewer, and with me is Irene Jensen, age 74, Interviewee.  Irene, now let us focus on the events of the summer of 1948.  Can you please tell us about that summer?"

"Well, that was the summer when Frank took the boys out to the big city, and they brought home a brand new Fleetline Aero Sedan. Oh, they were so excited! It sure was pretty... a robin's egg blue, as blue as they come. And it had the most comfortable seats! It was like sitting on the plumpest ticking my grandmam could have ever made..." Irene let her voice trail off; she was looking into the past now, her eyes unfocused on this world.

Before Pamela could encourage her to continue, Irene began to speak again.

"I so wanted to take our first holiday with Frank and the boys in that beautiful car. I could have used a holiday, like those movie stars I read about in those Hollywood glossy magazines way back when.  Frank's Mother who lived with us had just passed away a few months prior- she sure was an organized woman- can you believe she handed Frank a list of every single thing I did wrong while he was away at the war?"

Pamela lost her journalistic professionalism for a moment and sat there in shock.  She couldn't imagine Doug's mom ever doing that to her.

 "I know! Look at your face! I was surprised too.  I didn't realize I could do so many bad things in an only a few years time!" Irene chuckled. "Anyways, after she passed, it was difficult to work at the cannery and keep up with the house chores, putting food up, and the child raising.  Do you have any children, Pamela?"

"No, I'm afraid not Irene."  Pamela shook her head.  Great,  she thought.  Another item I will have to erase.  She tried to steer the conversation back on track.  

"Can you please tell us a little bit about your relationship between you and your boys?  Weren't they 13 and 15 years old at that time?"

 "Oh, the boys. God love 'em.  They were full of spit and vigor and loved to go out with Frank hunting.  Anything, anything that moved - birds, rabbits, does - they brought it all home for me to cook and put up.  You know that was before they do those regular hunting licenses now.  I just want to make sure that it goes on record that my boys are upstanding citizens.  Why the one, the oldest, he is a lawyer now in a big city there, Chicago, and my youngest, he builds aeroplanes in California! Imagine that!"  Irene sighed, and got a wistful look on her face.

Pamela silently urged her to stay focused.  Irene paused and then continued.

"Frank had bought them new hunting guns that summer too. No more sharing.  I sure wish I could have spoilt the boys that way, but my cannery pay went towards the mortgage on the land. But Frank sure knew how to spoil them, so I needn't worry.  They were so excited!  They were planning a trip that fall, a big hunting trip.  So we couldn't go on a holiday Frank said.  He said there were "more important things to consider than a frivolous trip that costs money, Irene."  Back then, you had to grow your own food, hunt your own food and then put it all up.  That was important. What I was doing was so important. There weren't many supermarkets back then.  I bet you like shopping at those fancy stores they've got now, right?"  She nodded in Pamela's direction.

Pamela nodded back at her.  Irene took the subtle cue to go on.

"So there was to be no holiday. My Frank could get so mad if I bothered him, so I tried not to talk about it. The boys would tell me, "Ma, don't get him mad, just don't get him so mad, and then he won't hur-" Irene paused, and lightly touched her cheek for a moment, letting her fingertips rest on her fine wrinkled skin. 

"Anyways, I packed up their things up for them to take on their hunting trip, and made sure they had enough to eat for-"

"Irene, its time to go now."   A friendly woman dressed in a crisp uniform stood in the doorway, her hand resting on the door handle. "Sorry Pam to interrupt, but time's up."

Irene looked at her. "Gosh sakes, that's right! It's Friday! I had better make sure I get to the dining hall before Bertie does; she always hogs the tater tots! Gosh, I love tator tots. They didn't have those back in my day..." Irene attempted to stand, and the friendly uniformed woman gently held her up by the elbow.

"Irene, I...I have just one more quick question."

Irene turned slowly to face Pamela. "What is it dear?"

Pamela cleared her throat.  Here it goes.

"We know you confessed to killing Frank back in 1948, but they never did find his body or the car.  Do you know where he is Irene?"

Irene smiled broadly. Jangling the iron shackles on her wrists, she wagged an arthritic gnarled finger at Pamela. 

"Let's just say he's out resting in his favorite hunting spot, dear."  

As the friendly prison guard led Irene away, Pamela could still hear Irene's laughter echo back to her from the long underground hallway. 

Just like Irene's fading memory, she mused. 

Pamela sighed. She pressed the "stop" button on the tape recorder and began to pack her briefcase.

It was time to go home to Doug.

 - Janice L. Grinyer "The Fleeting Fleetline."




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