“The guy had been leaning down to scream at my friend, so the first punch was dead on, but the little ranger literally had to jump to connect a second time.” Samson read the line over and over. He had read that entry in Joey’s blog over and over. The fight had been so accurately reproduced in prose that Samson cringed at the honesty. He didn’t remember jumping to land the second blow on John’s nose, but he didn’t question the description. John topped him by at least two feet. He would have HAD to jump to reach.
“That will be five dollars for a day pass or ten dollars for a five-day park permit.” Samson was working at the ranger station and the snow had been plentiful. Ski jackets, ski bums and snow bunnies were lined up and snaking around the station, waiting for their park permits. The man in the Columbia jacket opted for the five-day pass and handed Samson a credit card.
“The guy had been leaning down to scream at my friend, so the first punch was dead on, but the little ranger literally had to jump to connect a second time.” He cringed again and read through the entry again. It seemed like such a stupid thing to fight about, but John had brought the fight to him, despite the fact that he threw the first blow.
It was no wonder Roscoe was so angry. His position on any sort of racial slur was legendary and Samson shivered at the memory of each time he had witnessed the swift and painful repercussions. He could almost feel the sting of the ski pole on the face of that flippant kid from Emigration. What was his name? Lobo’s friend? He couldn’t remember that guy’s name and it didn’t matter. He had graduated and immediately left Merriton for a bigger city as soon as he could.
“That will be five dollars for a day pass or ten dollars for a five-day park permit.” The woman in the snow suit had a full face of makeup and perfectly coifed hair. What was she doing here? She belonged up at Junco, trolling for a sugar daddy. “Isn’t there something that will last longer? I live Up North.” Samson nodded and replied, “There’s the annual pass for thirty bucks a year. Do you travel alot? ‘Cause there’s also the Interagency Annual Pass for eighty bucks a year, but then you can go to all the parks nationwide.” The mermaid curls shook with her negative response. “No, I’ll just take the Mount Zen pass.” Samson felt a chill run down his back. Mount Zen had been his name for this particular park. It was the first time a stranger had parroted back the name to his face.
“The guy had been leaning down to scream at my friend, so the first punch was dead on, but the little ranger literally had to jump to connect a second time.” Joey’s blog was called Tiny Tears and Samson’s original assessment of it was mostly correct. The bulk of the entries were about how Joey built the trailer, but then when Joey started living on the road, it focused on his adventures all over the United States. Each area had entries about what he did there, but Merriton was different.
Joey stayed longer on Mount Zen than any of the other destinations, because he was a camp host. His entries slowly changed from the adventures and hiking on the mountain to the local activities and gossip. He might have revealed Samson’s personal life in detail, but he also showcased the Onion Festival with such clarity and beauty that Samson’s view of the yearly event was forever changed. Not to mention his masterful tribute to Tortimer giving out sparklers to the youth of Merriton on Independence Day.
Now, Joey was in Quartzite, Arizona. His descriptions of the mass of RVs that converge on the city every year were fascinating. Joey wrote about the huge, self-sufficient rigs he had seen and the broken-down and barely portable campers that were there. He was camping on some BLM land for free right now, with a huge crowd of snow birds, rock collectors and junk vendors. It sounded like a great adventure and Samson wished he could join him.
“That will be five dollars for a day pass or ten dollars for a five-day park permit.” The ski bum counted out quarters and nickels for his five-day pass. Samson gladly took the change. His register had been running low for the last three days and they hadn’t had time to run to the bank just north of Merriton to replenish it. Good old, ski bums. Sure, they panhandle on the outskirts of Junco, but at least they paid in quarters.
“The guy had been leaning down to scream at my friend, so the first punch was dead on, but the little ranger literally had to jump to connect a second time.” He couldn’t stop going back to that entry about the fight. Samson had revealed so many of his hopes and dreams to Joey and those had remained private, but his weakest moment was portrayed for the world to see. He never mentioned anyone by name, so anyone doing a search for Samson wouldn’t find this entry, but still it felt like a window on one of his worst days was opened for everyone to witness.
His insides clenched as he thought about Kit Kat reading this blog. Had she seen this entry? Her best friend was Roscoe’s wife, Dora. Had word gotten to her about the fight? It’s amazing that the Merriton Gossip Mill hadn’t heard about it yet, or had they? Thank goodness, the fight didn’t happen in Mount Zen Cafe. Curly would have spread it to everyone south of Up North.
She’s going to hear about it. There was no way for Kit Kat to NOT hear about the fight eventually. Samson had to be first to tell her. He had to be the one to confess to punching one of his best friends in the state. He picked up his phone and considered calling her, but he couldn’t do it.
“Moe! God, I’m glad you came early. I’ve gotta leave. Can you cover the station?” The ranger’s huge eyes scanned the crowd, waiting for help. “Help me work down this crowd, first, man!” He pointed at the line of eager skiiers and came behind the counter. “Hey what’s that on your screen?” Samson hurriedly closed the window showing Joey’s blog entry about the fight and acknowledged the next ski jacket in line. “That will be five dollars for a day pass or ten dollars for a five-day park permit,” The privileged man with a frown on his face handed him a credit card with flourish. Samson processed the credit card in agony, waiting for the line to diminish.