Silver and Golden Christmas Falls (Part 7)

Five days before Christmas, Wayne knocked on the shed door while holding a plate of flapjacks slathered in butter and syrup. It was an overcast morning, a welcome reprieve from last night’s storm. Wayne and Jared had turned in early to read and ride out the bluster.

No answer. Wayne knocked again and called out. Nothing. Maybe Jared was in the toilet. Wayne knocked again and opened the door. “Jared? You in there?”

The shed was empty. Jared’s gear was there, neatly stowed. Wayne got a bad feeling. He powered on the lot and shut the door. He went to work, alone. It didn’t feel right.

Lunch. No Jared. Dinner. No Jared. Morning. Still no Jared. Wayne wondered if he should call the police. It occurred to him he didn’t even know Jared’s last name.

Right around noon, Jared walked into the lot and looked exhausted. Chief loped over to him. He went to his knees and gave the dog a hug and talked to him. Wayne walked up. Jared stood and faced him.

“’I’m sorry,” said Jared, “I fucked up. I knew I would.”

“What happened? Wait, it’s none of my business.”

“It is your business because I missed work and hurt the business.”

“I was worried, then I was pissed.”

“You want me to leave?”

“No. Go split some firewood. That might help.”

“Help with what?”

“Running the lot, among other things.”


“Get to work.”

Wayne walked away. There was nothing else to say. Jared needed the work, not words. Manual labor, not a laborious lecture.

That night around the fire, Jared recounted the sordid short story of his disappearance: dive bar, Jello shots, snorting crushed pills, flush fever on the video crack lottery, a wild meth cowgirl named Calista, a ride to Winston, hot dogs from a gas station, a RV park in Winston, a ride back to Coos Bay, a ride to Bastendorff Beach near Charleston, and walking ten miles from Bastendorff Beach back to the lot.

Wayne chuckled as Jared narrated without a trace of qualification or embarrassment.

“How was the sex?” said Wayne.

“I don’t know. I can’t really remember much. I think there was a logger, a transvestite in the trailer, and ferrets.”

“What the hell? You went all the way to Winston and you don’t know if you got laid? And there was logger in drag? Sounds like a weird country song in that.”

Wayne started singing, Going to Winston / going to get laid / got to Winston / don’t know if I got laid

They stayed up extra late that night yukking it up about Winston and Wayne had Jared do something he’d never done before: order a pizza and have it delivered. They ate the whole thing and Chief gobbled down a slice, too.