tagNovels and NovellasBy Air Mail Ch.04

By Air Mail Ch.04


Craig is a little disgusted as he seems to have to almost fight his way home with seemingly everything set in his way to detain him.

Meanwhile, Amelia almost can't sit still as she waits nervously for him to get home at last and this time, she's determined, feeling like it's now or never, and she's not prepared to accept never.

She doesn't know it...

But neither is Rosa.

And in the skies over Kansas, Emmy wonders what's wrong with her, though she does get to know some of the life and times of the strange cowboy that she's flying with. 0_o


20 September, 1946 - a paved old road somewhere north of Eagle, Idaho

Craig was a little disgusted.

He'd been doing alright for a time on his way to Horseshoe Bend and beyond, but as he went, he'd been watching a low bank of dark gray cloud moving in and sure enough, it had begun to rain.

And not just rain, it teemed down, soaking him faster than he knew that he'd have been able to stop and pull on his rain slicker before being soaked. Not that it would have helped all that much. All that Craig had was a regular raincoat. He'd never found anything made yet to wear while riding a motorcycle in the rain.

Oddly, he'd found himself thinking about Rosa for a little while to keep himself from muttering the bad words which kept coming up in him over this awful ride home. He smiled once too, because he just liked her. He'd gotten used to her voice being loud when she didn't mean for it to be. He just accepted that - and he did like being able to talk to her or Amelia while signing. It felt almost like a secret code or something - though he knew that for a lot of people who lived with impaired hearing, there was no game to it because it was vital to them as a means to make themselves understood.

He'd surprised himself a little later on when he'd found himself thinking about her body. She'd seemed rail-thin to him when he'd first met her, but once you got her out of her cowboy boots, she seemed a little more proportionate. And anyway, on her, it looked good.

He'd sighed to himself, hoping a little that Rosa might have found someone for herself. He'd asked her about it once after he'd gotten to know her a little and she'd told him that it probably wouldn't ever happen due to her deafness and her looks.

Craig had felt a little of the sadness which came through the frank way that she'd said it and he thought that for a lot of men, it might be correct, but he didn't think that everybody wouldn't like a girl like her. The concept just seemed so wrong to him. A woman like her, slightly on the small side, with long, black hair and warm-toned skin who rode a Harley three-wheeler and could shoot the eyes out of a snake with a pistol.

He chuckled, what in hell wasn't there to like about a girl like that? He'd even seen her breasts once and liked them. They were small, but he didn't care. He thought they were sweet.

Then he remembered the way that so many guys that he knew seemed to be stuck on huge tits and he wondered what was wrong with them - and that was the way that he saw it too.

Then it got stupid - when he suddenly felt himself stiffening and not being able to find a way to sit on the saddle without at least a little discomfort. He'd just gone through one of those episodes not long after getting onto this ratty road. He'd been thinking of Amelia then and now he wondered if he was just some kind of hound or what.

He shook his head at himself and just motored on doggedly through the rain.

Then the pavement had given out and he was on what should have been a dry and fast gravel road, wide as anything and just waiting to be paved over.

But not after a deluge.

After that point, the rain had stopped as quickly as it had begun but he was trying not to skitter around in the mud while he kept to some kind of speed where he could at least drive in fourth gear to save fuel. A few miles further on, the road was dry but dusty, never rained on at all by the fast-moving squall.

So now he was a bit annoyed since he was sitting on his parked motorcycle and finding that all of the rain had not only re-coated him with mud, oh no.

It had just freshened up what he'd been wearing all day.

He looked in the mirror, wiping it a little with his glove so that he could watch the state trooper get out of his cruiser to walk over. Craig didn't know just how long he'd been back there, but it couldn't have been too long, since the cherry on the top of the car still looked clean.

The front of the cruiser was another matter entirely.

The cop's face looked grim as he came up.

"Do you know how fast you were goi - Sweet Jesus!" trooper exclaimed as he reeled backwards a little bit.

Craig shook his head, "No officer, I didn't hit a bear. I just drove through what he was hunkered down next to my trail to leave for me. I'm on my way home to Cascade after spending the spring and summer on fire watch."

"Gawd," the cop said, out past where his elbow was holding his jacket sleeve over his nose, "Well that explains why you were going so fast - if you were trying to leave that smell behind."

"Something like that, "Craig said, while trying not to smile, "I've been wearing this since nine this morning. How do you think I feel?"

The cop looked a little sympathetic, "All the same, I want you to slow down some, son. I'd hate it if I had to be the one to come see where you died from going off the road - though I guess that finding you wouldn't be too hard - even in the dark."

"Do you want to see my license?" Craig asked a he pulled off his thinly mud-covered gloves.

"Oh hell no, "the trooper groaned, "I want to see you and that smell gone up the road from here - and soon.

Just take it easy from here on out. I've been trying to stop you before you get to the next big bend in the road up there, maybe three more miles. They tore it up this summer and the gravel is some soft and deep. You hit that at the seventy-three that you were doing and you'd be dead sure as anything."

He turned to walk away, "So slow down, hear?"

Craig promised that he would and he felt a little thankful for the man's efforts as well as his warning. He yelled out his thanks as the man got back into the car.

Craig swung out the kickstarter and with just one kick, the Indian was idling, seeming almost to want to tempt him into rolling it on some more.

He wondered for a moment if it was just happy to be away from the wilderness and wanting to forget all about being parked for months with only weekly runs as a little exercise. And all the while quietly aching to get back to the more civilized place that it held in Cascade. Maybe it was just trying to be helpful, having sensed that it's master wanted to be home so much. He smiled to himself. Maybe it was a little of both.

"You hear that?" Craig grinned as he pulled his goggles back down over his eyes and began the chore of pulling wet gloves on, "With a tail wind - or a bad smell, you're a little faster than the book says you are.

I know!" he chuckled as a thought came to him, "You just want to see Rosa's sweet Harley again. I never thought of motorbikes having love lives before. Bet you can't wait to see her, huh? She's got that nice swell to her back end and all... As trikes go, I do have to say that she's got a nice, wide butt on her. I just never thought that my bike was an ass man."

He shook his head with a laugh at his thoughts, but he made a mental note to himself to try to sketch out the comic little cartoon that he had in his mind at the moment.

As he clicked into first gear to pull away, Craig asked himself if he was finally crazy for riding that hard, and he was a lot more judicious after that.

A few minutes later and there it was. The trooper hadn't been lying. The road was soft as butter in some places and he had to stand up on the foot boards to lean this way and that to help the bike get him through.

Worse, he'd seen no sign warning of the conditions as he'd approached. He saw the sign lying there in the dirt of the shoulder as he'd crawled carefully past.

Horseshoe Bend was a small place and he was through it before any of it left an impression on him. All that he had now was forty miles - and nearly all of that was paved. He thought of Tad and Amelia, the two women who had been mothers to him, Deke, Harry - and Rosa too, and how bad he wanted to see them again.

Then he did the right thing and kept it at fifty and no more.


Amelia heard him coming before there was any sound of it in her ears from inside of the café. She looked up from the big sink where she was just finishing the last plate and then she was hurrying through the place as fast as she could go, her dishwashing apron still on as she wiped her hands on it.

The intense glow of her bright smile was almost blinding the patrons who were in her way as she rushed to the door.

Before she was even halfway there, she could hear the beat of that motorcycle clearly. The engine was a V-twin, but unlike most Indians and almost all Harley's, to Amelia, that sound was singular, and she'd never heard any other bike make that noise.

"HE'S HOME!" she yelled, not giving a damn who might not care. Her mothers would and she knew it.

Craig slowed and signalled with his hand, just before he made an illegal U-turn to pull into an open spot outside of the café.

Amelia stood just inside the door, knowing that he had things to do before he could just walk away from the machine. She watched closely as he found neutral and swung out the stand to lean the bike on. She wondered how he could even see where he was going for all of the mud on him, and when he pulled the goggles up to rest on his forehead, he looked like a racoon in reverse.

But it was Craig and there was no possibility of any mistake to Amelia.

He looked tired - just as she expected him to. On top of that, he was clearly filthy, caked with dried and not so dry mud here and there. She watched him sit for a moment with the bike just idling contentedly, thumping softly under him as he reached to turn off the headlight, as well as the blackout slit-light that the machine still wore from it's days as a test vehicle for the army.

His hand eased back from the switch and he sat for a moment, looking down at the lovable old thing that had brought him home once again and then he smiled, obviously glad to be home.

And dirty or not, Amelia sighed as she looked at him, he looked so good to her.

She was out of the door in a flash, fully meaning to sweep him right out of the saddle with her very first hug. She watched his eyes come up and she saw that instant of warm and happy recognition there in that face.

But then the eyes widened as he realized what she wanted to do and he held up his hands as though in fear of his life from her, "No Amelia, NO!"

She was already beside him, her arms already held out to hug the daylights out of him as she so needed to do. But then everything changed.

"Craig! Whats the mat - HOLY JUMPIN..." She stepped back, looking as though she wanted to throw up.

"You smell like - AAAHH!"

"I know," he said with a disgusted frown, "And a bear's ass at that."

"You wait here," she said after a moment of thinking, "You know everybody's dying to see you just like I am. But you can't walk in there looking and especially smelling like you do. There's a lot of paying customers in there. I've got a better idea. I just gotta tell our mothers and I'll be right back."

"That won't change the way that I smell," he groaned, "Christ, I can't wash this out. I'll probably have to burn these clothes."

"Just stay put, Handsome," Amelia smiled, "You give me a chance and I'll save the day for you."

The way that it worked out was that Rebecca and Marjorie both tried to go see Craig, but while the smell seemed to be just the thing for flies and wasps to want to be near, it repelled people like nobody's business.

"You ran through a pile of bear crap?" Marjorie asked as she almost choked, "What did he eat for dinner the night before, a whole family of skunks?"

Rebecca stood with a grimace on her face, but Marjorie could see that it was a thoughtful grimace all the same. She grabbed Rebecca's hand and pulled her away, "I don't need to hear your opinion about what it might have been. Come on!"

Amelia tapped Rosa on the shoulder and she began to sign to her, asking her to follow them and Rosa nodded.

"Rosa's gonna follow us so that, while Craig gets clean, she'll hose his bike down."

She walked up to Craig, though she kept her distance a little, "Just head out to your dad's hangar and we'll meet you there and open it up for you."

"I need to get clean, Amelia," Craig sighed, "I can't stand the way I smell a minute longer."

She nodded, "And that's what we're gonna do. Rosa and your dad put in a shower there over the summer. I've got a change of clothes in my car for you. I was a little prepared for you this year, since you never come off the long road back home clean. You seem to attract bad weather and things.

I just wasn't prepared for you to be this stinky," she giggled.

"Whyja call me handsome?" he asked and Amelia's face took on a taciturn look. If she could throw away what had bothered her so much, then she wasn't prepared to let him slip back into his shell either.

"Because you are, Craig. You always were to me, and now, even wearing bear shit and mud, you've made it into 'gorgeous' in my book. So don't you try to give me any trouble, or I'll just tell Rosa that I'll gently wash your motorcycle and she can hose you off.

Your choice - and the hose is cold water only- pumped straight outta the Cascade reservoir and not heated at all - not like the shower would be."

Craig tilted his head, trying to figure it out, "So... if I do this right... then it'll be you gently washing me off, I'm hoping?"

He'd said it that way as a small joke, just so happy to see Amelia looking so much more like the girl that he grew up with. He didn't actually mean it of course, bu-

"See, that's what I love about you," Amelia smiled softly, "Handsome AND smart.

I'll meet you there."

By the time that he'd gotten turned around and ridden up the road, they were waiting for him, both of them heaving to open the large hangar doors. He would have pulled in, but Rosa directed him to park not all that far from her trike. He asked why, forgetting about her hearing for the moment, so she told him, trying not to be too loud that she really would hose his bike off, but before that happened, she intended to take all of his things and put them into the box at the back of her trike.

"That way, I can just haul it for you, and I won't have to worry about wrecking stuff because of the hose."

He nodded and said thank you by signing it to her, wanting her to see that he was remembering and Rosa smiled warmly with a nod.

He walked into the hangar, but Amelia called him over toward the shower, "Don't look there yet," she said, "That's a surprise that you can't see just yet, though I'm dying to show you."

He turned back to look at her with a bewildered look.

"And anyway," Amelia smiled, "I think that's for Rosa to show you. I just helped some with the planning and after it was done."

"You're sounding kind of intriguing, Amelia," Craig smiled. "I don't know what all this is about, but now I feel kind of like we're kids again and you've got a surprise for me."

She waved her hand in front of his face, "Well that's nice, but you're not smelling much better, Craig. So get a move on and let's get you clean."

She led him - at a very long arm's length to the bathroom that he'd never seen yet and he stared for a long moment before he began to grin, "This is really nice. You mean that Dad and Rosa did this?"

Amelia nodded, "Rosa's kind of a Jill of all trades, you know. Ok, she never worked in a café or a diner before she got to us, but she did work at a lot of jobs and she'd no stranger to building stuff. Your dad was amazed and once they got going, he didn't want to stop, so they put in other things after that."

She sighed a little, 'Course Rosa hasn't exactly done a whole lot of this interior decorating stuff, otherwise she'd have probably put in another shower with girly colors, you know?"

"Uh,..." he began, "Why are there... two showers in here?"

"Oh that," Amelia chuckled, "Well, that was because they went into town and ordered it all together and then they had to wait a few days for everything to show up and one day, Rosa was here and she saw that it had all arrived and was on the truck with the driver waiting and so she checked it all against the list that she'd made and it was all here. They unloaded it all, and the guy drove off.

Then since she knew that your dad was gonna be coming in that night and might need the hangar, she moved it all inside, but out of the way right at the back, behind the oil drums for the heater in the winter. Well she had a couple of days off from the café to work on this, so she just went to my house and stayed in the spare room that night since it wouldn't be that far to walk to get started in the morning.

Your dad came home that night and he didn't see anything of what they'd ordered, so he went home all mad that nothing had been delivered yet. Your mom hadn't talked to Rosa because Rosa can't really hear well enough over a phone, so she didn't know a thing about it."

Amelia grinned, "So in the morning, Rosa came here to get started, while your dad was down at the building wholesaler's tearing anybody that he saw a new asshole. They tried to look up if it had been delivered, but he was on a tear by that time and I can just see him roaring at them all that it hadn't been delivered and that was that.

But the store had ordered several of everything, since they saw that it looked kind of nice and they know that there's gonna be a couple of new houses built in town soon, so..."

Craig began to chuckle, "So, they delivered it again?"

Amelia nodded, "Right. When the two of them met up, Rosa showed him what had come in and where she'd put it all and she was a little scared that she'd done something wrong, but Uncle Deke said no.

They took a good, long look at everything and then he said that he'd never liked little bitty showers like the one at the house anyway because he's kind of a big man, so they scratched their heads and figured out a way to make a bigger wider shower with all of the tiles they had, and if you want to, you can turn them both on.

The thing that he did do was to take back the water heater that he'd bought for a bigger one and he apologized to everyone for his mistake and settled up with them. You know how he is about things like that. So that's how it got this big."

She pointed with a serious expression, "Now you check your pockets and take out what you don't want ruined, and then you get over there and take your clothes off carefully and get into the shower to start scrubbing. I'll move the clothes outside and tomorrow, we'll see what all we can save, if anything. If we do find something, we'll need to wash it in the tub here the hard way. Neither one of our mothers will let us live for long if we try to use their wringer washers."

He looked at her, "You mean you want me to just strip off there and walk over here to get into the shower?"

Amelia rolled her eyes as she held up her hand to start counting fingers, "One - I have seen you buck naked before when you and Tad swept out the hangars for my dad and Uncle Deke. It was hot as hell that day with no hint of a breeze and the two of you had your shirts off.

But sweeping that dust just moves it around if you don't have any of that sweeping compound stuff which you used up before you got even one swept out and it's an all-day job for two men to do that. The two of you didn't get done until it was getting dark.

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