acrlady - 8/29/2010 2:30 PM ET
Very good read
|The Emancipation of
Chester Reginald Donavan; Esquire
“Hey, um, do you know where we are?”
“Well,” there was a slight laugh. “I know we are on a mountain in the Mosquito Range in Colorado, but just where, I’m not sure.”
“That’s what I was afraid of.” Chester Reginald Donavan, Esq., hitched up the straps on his gear and frowned. This vacation was not turning out to be what he had planned. Here he was separated from the rest of the group with this guy whose name he never could remember. If only his best friend and lawyer buddy hadn’t broken his leg last week! Chester was a tall and well built young man who looked to be in his late twenties, having about him a definite high class air in spite of or maybe enhanced by his top-of-the-line outdoor clothes and gear.
“Aren’t you coming too?”
Chester jerked out of his misery to notice his companion had begun to climb some more. Taking a deep breath he set off after him.
It was slightly chilly even with his windbreaker on, and Chester glanced at the little man before him. He didn’t seem to be bothered by cold, and his jacket looked warm. The man was only about five feet three with dark hair streaked here and there with gray. Slight in build though he was, the man walked briskly with no apparent fatigue.
Chester was soon gasping for breath, and it was all he could do to keep his aching feet and legs moving at all. His shoulders sagged, and he bent his head against the wind staring at the ground beneath his feet.
“Say, why don’t we take a breather. You look just about done in.”
Unclasping his pack Chester lowered it to the ground and sank down beside it with a sigh. For several minutes he didn’t say anything. He couldn’t talk, for he was still trying to catch his breath. Finally he managed to ask,
“Hey, what is your name again? I don’t recall.”
Silence again fell. Chester eyed his companion rather as he would have eyed a strange, little dog. He certainly didn’t look like his other friends. He wondered what he was like. Chester found the silence oppressing and sought for some way to break it. He blurted out the first thing that came to his mind.
“So, where did you get your jacket?”
The little man turned his eyes away from the mountain peaks before them. “On E-bay.”
“Oh sure. You do know what E-bay is?”
Chester nodded with a look of surprised skepticism. Who would ever buy something like that on E-bay?”
The little man went on, not seeming to notice Chester’s look. “It is a great jacket, warm yet lightweight. I got it for a great deal. I think it was only $10.00 counting shipping.”
Chester stared. “You spent $10.00 on a jacket?” his tone implied that that was absurd.
“Where did you get yours?”
“New from the online store, 66* North. Probably never heard of it. It was top of the line Edlgja and only $332.00 not counting shipping.”
“Oh.” The monosyllable was full of disbelief.
Once more silence fell on the two men. Chester was thinking of all the money he had spent on getting ready for this trip. Of how he and Michael had discussed different brands and prices. It was only the top of the line, high dollar brand items that would last the rigors of such trips, Michael had assured him. And after all, Michael should know, for he had been on such trips all his life. What would he have said to the little man about his E-bay jacket?
“If you have recovered your wind, we might want to head on. Who knows, we could catch a glimpse of the others at the top.” The little man had stood up and was waiting for Chester.
“What? Oh yeah, sure.”
Struggling up the side of that mountain was the hardest thing Chester had ever done. His feet were killing him, for his boots, high dollar though they were, hadn’t been broken in and his feet felt covered in blisters. The thin air was making breathing difficult for him, and he wondered for the seventh time that day why he had ever agreed to this hike in the first place. He knew why; it was because he had worked and pushed himself so hard that his doctor told him to take a few days off or he would break down. So, when his friend had mentioned this trip, he had agreed.
At last the summit was reached. Though this was one of the lower mountains, they could still see for miles. The clouds hung low to the south and west while a cold wind from the north bit at their faces and fingers.
“Wow! Quite a sight, isn’t it? I never get tired of looking out over the mountains. Everything is so quiet and peaceful here. Of course in the summer things are even more lovely with the flowers blooming, but I couldn’t get away then, so this late camp out was perfect. I wonder if we’ll get snow while we are here?” The little man gazed in delight at all he saw.
“Hey, why don’t we call the other group and um, find out where they are?” Chester asked, adding with a mutter to himself,. “Why didn’t I think of that sooner?”
The other man gave a little laugh. “That’s not a bad idea, but I can’t get reception up here with my phone.” He drew a rather old looking cell phone from its pouch and looked at it.
Chester’s lip curled at the sight of it. He couldn’t help asking “Where did you get that?”
“On E-bay. It was a package deal.” The man laughed again. “I know it isn’t the newest phone, but it works for me. And it was cheap.”
“I’ll bet,” Chester mumbled. “I’ll just use mine,” and he reached for the side of his belt where he kept his i-phone. The pouch was empty! “What!” Chester gasped “How could it have gotten lost? I mean this pouch was latched!”
“Are you sure you didn’t use it and set it down some place before we set off?” his companion was trying to be helpful.
After thinking hard for several minutes, Chester suddenly let out a groan. “No! I left it in my new, black 2009 Hummer! How could I be so stupid! I had called Michael and must have forgotten to put it back. Great! And if anything happens to me way out here in the middle of no where, no one is going to be able to contact anyone!”
“Can’t someone just get it out of your car when we get back? Not that anything is going to happen,” the little man hastened to add.
“Get something out of it? Yah right! Hey man, this is a brand new 2009 Hummer! Man, no one can get in that thing unless they know the right stuff!” Chester rolled his eyes at the ignorance of his companion. Doesn’t the guy know anything except E-bay? Suddenly a new and to him dreadful thought struck him, and he slapped his head with a cry that made the little man beside him turn in a hurry and stare.
“This is just great. Just great! Now what am I supposed to do. Everything was on that i-phone. How am I supposed to get internet access without it? I can’t get on facebook, or on twitter. I can’t even work on the case I’ve got now. Ugh!” Growing frantic Chester grasped his blonde hair with both hands and growled. He stomped his foot in vexation. “This is not a vacation, this is . . . is . . . plain torture! I’ve got to have that phone!”
The other man tried to encourage him. “Well, it is only for a few days. Why don’t you just relax and try to enjoy this break?”
“Look, E-bay, you obviously have no clue what that i-phone was. I mean it had everything on it!”
“Your gear wasn’t on there.” The logical statement only seemed to make Chester Reginald Donavan, Esq., more disgusted than before, for he answered sarcastically,
“Okay, so my gear wasn’t on there. Big deal. I suppose I should be glad I have water in my canteen.”
His companion nodded. “That’s an important part of camping out.”
Chester fought to get his temper under control before he said, “E-bay, or whatever your name is, I know you probably think I’m nuts, but really, I don’t know what I’m going to do now. I’ll be bored stiff if I have to go for three days without the internet!” He shrugged as he tried to express himself in words that maybe his companion could understand. “It’s my life. Everything is online. Even all my files and research for this case I have coming up.” He sighed.
“Well, no use crying over spilled milk,” the little E-bay man remarked sagely. “Shall we continue on and try to find a good spot to settle down for the night?”
“Might as well.” There was no spirit in Chester’s words; indeed he hardly seemed to notice as they set off down the other side of the mountain. His mind was still raging over his stupidity, his idiocy, his dumbness. He called himself all kinds of names, many of which it wouldn’t do to repeat. Finally he began to lecture and chide himself, saying this ought to teach him a good lesson to never leave his i-phone anywhere but in his pocket or pouch again. So busy was he with his thoughts that, had his companion not grabbed his arm, he would have continued walking, right off the edge of a cliff!
“Wake up, Chester! Bring your mind back to earth or you’ll wind up trying to fly.”
Chester started and stared in horror at the yawning chasm before him. “Hey thanks, E-bay! Yah, I guess you’re right. I should pay attention.” He gave a shudder and turned away. “So what do we do?”
“Well, first thing is to find a place to pitch our tents.”
“Right. Uh, where would that be?” Chester was expecting, when he signed up for this trip, to find their campsite like those he had seen as a boy. Of course he had always stayed in a camper and never in a tent, but still, he had seen the places for tents.
The little E-bay man spoke again. “First we need to find a good source of water. I think we should head up this direction as I’ve been hearing a stream for several minutes.”
Chester merely nodded. He didn’t voice his thoughts. Why did they need to find a stream? Didn’t all campsites have water? At least a pump if not faucets.
It was a good fifteen minutes at least by Chester Donavon's watch before his companion halted and, looking about him with a satisfied air, declared, “I think this is a perfect spot.”
Gazing around, Chester looked in vain for the water pump. At last he asked, “How are we going to get water, there is no pump?”
“Pump? Of course there is no pump. This is the wilderness up here, Chester. It isn’t some local camping site for city folks. This is the real thing. We get water from the stream. Of course we’ll have to boil or filter it before we use it, but who cares, right?”
The young lawyer’s mouth dropped open, but for perhaps the first time in his life, he was speechless. In silence he followed his companion’s directions about getting a fire ring set up so that they could start a fire. Then digging in his gear to pull out his tent, he noticed for the two dozenth time that his feet were killing him.
“How about I go get some water while you set up your tent?” E-bay called over to him after his own tent was set up.
“Sure.” Chester was shaking his head. Now how in the world was he supposed to get all these pieces together to make his tent work? After messing with it all for several minutes, he finally pulled out the directions. “Hmmm,” he muttered. “Okay, doesn’t seem too hard. Here goes.” So saying, he set the paper down and began to push and pull, tug and tighten the poles, loops, knots and so forth that comprised his tent. So intent was he that he didn’t notice the mischievous wind begin to play with the instructions. First it blew it a little to the side, then it tossed it up to let if fall back down and finally with a sudden gust it carried it completely away never to be found again.
When Chester discovered his loss he began to fume and fuss, for without that paper he could never hope to get the tent set up. “E-bay!” he shouted.
“Do you need some help,” a perfectly calm voice replied behind him.
“I guess so,” growled Chester. “My directions blew away and I can’t get this ridiculous thing set up.”
“The wind does like to blow things up here. Have to be careful to put something heavy on the light things or stake them down or we’ll wind up losing ‘em.” The little E-bay man worked as he talked and soon had the small one-man tent set up. “All that needs done now is to stake it down. I usually stake it first, but with this size it doesn’t matter.”
“No problem. Think you can stake it while I go start the supper?”
At Chester’s nod, he walked away leaving his young companion to hammer in the stakes. After hitting his thumb three times to every two he hit the stake, Chester managed to get the first stake in. Then he glanced with dismay at all the stakes still left. “There is no way I need that many stakes,” he mumbled to himself. “Besides, I don’t have that many thumbs left. If I just put one on the opposite corner I should be fine. I mean it can’t blow away because I’ll be in it.”
In a minute he was done and leaving his pack in the tent he limped over to the fire with his mess kit.
“All set up?”
“Well the food’s ready. Dig in.”
Chester needed no second invitation for he was ravenous after hiking all day. He did notice the momentary pause and bowing of the head of his companion, however, and thought, “Great, not only is he some E-bay freak but also a religious nut no doubt.” Then he shrugged and continued eating.
Finally both men were satisfied, and their cooking and eating dishes having been cleaned, they were packed away in their packs again. The sun was setting in the west and one by one the stars were beginning to show themselves to the two solitary beings on the mountain. A cold wind blew down upon them as they sat before the fire. Chester shivered in his windbreaker and sighed.
“If it weren’t for my feet hurting so much I’d go dig out my coat.”
“Here,” The little E-bay man tossed a jacket to him. “I always carry an extra one just in case it is needed. What’s wrong with your feet?”
Chester put on the jacket, though it was rather a snug fit, and immediately felt the difference as the wind could no longer get through to him. “Blisters.”
“Take your boots off. It won’t hurt you to walk the short way to your tent without them. Besides you should be careful about blisters. They are mighty uncomfortable if they get infected.”
Chester followed this advice and then sat toasting his stocking feet before the flickering flames of the camp fire.
“E-bay,” he finally asked, “What do you do?”
The little man laughed. “You know I rather like that name you’ve given me. It kind of fits. I’m a teacher in a local high school back home, and as a hobby I buy and sell on E-bay. In fact that is where I got most of my gear. It saves money if you know how to use it right. And what about you? Did I hear you say something about having a case?”
“Yah, I’m a lawyer. Just passed the bar six months ago. I’ve won every case I’ve tried. Of course they were easy. I don’t know why they even bothered going to court about them, but it gave me some easy dough.” Chester yawned. He hadn’t noticed it before but he was really tired. More tired than he remembered being for a very long time. In fact, he was so tired he didn’t even remember his missing i-phone.
The little E-bay man also yawned and stretching asked, “What say we turn in for the night?”
How long he had slept Chester Reginald Donavan, Esq., had no idea. Undoubtedly it had been for some hours, but he was so exhausted he never stirred until he was startled awake by something falling on top of him. For a moment he tried to realize where he was, then it hit him. He was camping in the mountains. Then what had fallen? He could hear the wind roaring and could feel a small cold draft coming from a crack in the top of his sleeping bag. He didn’t want to stir from his cozy, warm nest, but he had to know what had happened. In a dazed, still half-asleep manner he wriggled and squirmed and tried to sit up. That is when he discovered to his great amazement that he couldn’t do it. Instantly he was wide awake. Reaching out a hand he could feel the cold nylon sides of the tent on either side and Great Scott! It was over his sleeping bag too! His tent had fallen down! Where was his flashlight? He knew it had to be somewhere for he had had it when he went to bed. In his frantic searching he soon became all twisted up in his sleeping bag, and he still couldn’t find the flashlight. The roaring of the wind sounded to him like a vicious beast about to attack. Where was that light? He felt himself growing panicked. “Stay calm,” he whispered, but the very fright in his voice only added to his terror and when his foot, which was somewhere down in the tightly tangled, twisted mess, bumped against something hard, Chester Reginald Donavan, Esq., the great budding lawyer let out a yell so loud that it awakened echoes up and down the mountain side. “E-bay!”
Chester was trembling in fright. He didn’t dare move, but he felt as though he couldn’t breathe. There was no air! The tent was flat! He was hopelessly trapped! Just when he felt he could stand the strain no longer, a deep but perfectly calm and even slightly amused voice sounded, and a light was played back and forth over where he lay.
“So, you having a little problem? If you are cold, I really wouldn’t recommend knocking down your tent. Do you want a little help?”
“Just get me out!” came Chester’s wavering voice.
“Stay calm and let me have a look at this mess. You sure did manage--” but the little E-bay man left the rest unfinished, and propping up his flashlight where it would do the most good, set about trying to free his captive companion. This was no easy task, for in his twisting and turning search for his flashlight, Chester had unknowingly rolled over the front zipper thus trapping himself inside. It was with great difficulty that he was at last coaxed into rolling back and that only after a fire had been built which gave added light to the rescuer’s efforts. It was a good forty minutes before Chester was at last standing in the open, a shivering and shaking figure.
“Here, take this coat and go sit by the fire while I set this back up.” The little man gave Chester a gentle shove towards the bright blaze and turned back to the tent. “Why, where are all your stakes?” he exclaimed in astonishment.
“I d-didn’t think I’d n-need them all,” admitted Chester, teeth chattering from cold. “And I hit m-my thumb so m-many times, I thought it w-wasn’t w-worth it,” he added to justify his actions or lack of them.
With a shake of his head, the other man went to work and in short order had the tent up and properly staked and had found the missing flashlight. “Now,” he asked coming over to the fire, “do you think you can go to sleep again? The tent is set up and there are still several hours before daylight comes.” He yawned. “And I for one could use some more shut eye.”
“I think I can if you are sure it won’t fall again?”
“I think I’ll take my flashlight into my sleeping bag this time. Just in case.”
For several hours Chester lay rigid and stiff in his sleeping bag inside his tent. He was wide awake. Never in all his thirty-one years of life had he ever slept outside separated from the elements by only a nylon tent. Every sound that came through the thin wall seemed to his ears to be as loud as the train near his house. But this was the wilderness! This was an untamed mountainside miles from anyone except the little E-bay man. He wondered what his friend Michael would say to this story. “He’d probably laugh and think it a good joke,” he thought. “Wish I had my i-phone. I’d text him. Hmm, what would I tell him?” For the next several minutes he composed all sorts of texts that he would enjoy sending if only he could. Finally just before dawn broke, he fell asleep.
“So, E-bay, when do we pack up camp and head out again?” The two men were finishing up their breakfast and enjoying the warm sun as they drank their last cups of coffee.
“Well, I think we’ll just stay here.”
“For one, it’s a good place to camp: water, plenty of wood for the fire, shelter, a nice view. And since we are lost, we should stay in one place so they can find us. It is always harder to find someone if they keep moving. Besides,” the little E-bay man added, “it’s awfully hard hiking with feet covered in blisters.”
Chester looked down at his stocking feet and grimaced. That was true. His feet ached at the very thought of boots.
“You know, you should always try to break in your new hiking boots before you go on a hike. It’s easier on the feet.”
“How long did it take to break yours in?”
The little E-bay man glanced down at his warm, but quite comfortable boots. “Oh I don’t know, they were slightly used when I got them off of E-bay--”
Chester groaned. “Do you get everything off of E-bay?”
“Just about. Like I said, it’s kind of a hobby.”
Chester nodded. Strangest hobby he’d ever heard of.
“So, what do we do all day? Sit here like two old men?” Sarcasm flooded each word that broke the long silence.
The little E-bay man laughed. He did a lot of laughing, Chester noticed. “I suppose we could, but we could at least talk about something. You know, have a discussion. I didn’t say an argument. We might even venture for a short walk if you feel up to it, or if your feet do, I should say.”
“My feet don’t want to move right now.”
“Well then, suppose you pick a topic and we’ll start talking.”
Talk they did, and even though the little E-bay man said they weren’t to argue, they came mighty close to it several times, especially when the little E-bay man made a statement that the world was created by a Creator, and Chester declared it evolved over millions of years. Most of that day they did nothing but talk. And it was nearing the late afternoon hours before a lull came over them.
“When do you think they’ll find us?” Chester questioned somewhat hesitatingly for he wasn’t sure he really wanted to know the answer.
His companion shrugged. “It could be this evening or it might not be for a couple of days.”
“A couple of days?” Chester had never thought of that possibility. “I can’t possibly live without my i-phone for that long!”
The little E-bay man shrugged again. “Then I guess you’ll die if it takes them a while. I think you could at least try to survive so I’m not alone. But seriously, it could take them that long because they first have to figure out we’re gone, and then figure out where we got lost and if we got lost together or separately and then find out which direction we went and then find us. Sound complicated?”
When Chester nodded, he added, “Believe me it is more complicated to find us than it is to find good bargains on E-bay.”
And so the hours passed into evening with Chester grumbling and complaining about his missing i-phone while his companion, the little E-bay man, sought to divert his thoughts and to cheer him up. Lurking in the back of Chester’s mind was worry. Worry that they would never be found, worry that they’d run out of food, worry that he wouldn’t get back home in time for this important case he was working on.
That night Chester didn’t sleep well. He kept waking up. He had been so tired and exhausted the night before that he hadn’t noticed the hard ground nor how cold his nose got. Now it was different. If he had had his i-phone, things would have been better, he assured himself, not once thinking that he might not be able to get reception way out there in the middle of nowhere. If he had his i-phone he could have sent out a message on Facebook or Twitter that he and the little E-bay man were lost and where they were. But just where were they? Chester had no idea and finally fell asleep wondering.
The following day found Chester Reginald Donavan, Esq., restless and completely out of sorts. He had never had to rely on his own creativity when he was bored, and he found it too much work to try now. Finally when the afternoon had come the little E-bay man suggested they try to figure out just where they were using their compasses and maps. Chester agreed reluctantly.
When evening came, the little E-bay man began to point out the constellations to his companion, and Chester, much to his own astonishment, found this to be very fascinating, and it was quite late before they turned in.
For three more days the two companions busied themselves with learning all they could about living out in the wild. It was really the little E-bay man who started it, and he was the teacher, for he had grown up loving things of this sort. Chester, having never thought about them before, found them to hold an almost irresistible fascination for his quick brain. Before long he had forgotten his missing i-phone and even the fact that the day for his great test as a lawyer was fast approaching while he remained stuck in the mountain wilderness. He grew eager to test and try the things his companion told him about and didn’t even notice that the days were growing colder and shorter.
It was the fifth night after that memorable one of his tent collapsing that Chester and the little E-bay man were sitting beside their camp fire gazing into the flames.
“You know,” Chester remarked, “I’ll be sad when this trip is over. I never knew that the real world was so interesting. I’ve always lived in the world of computer games, fast food, TV, internet, fancy cars and i-phones.” He added the last with a laugh. “I always thought everything else was dull and worthless. I’m beginning to see things from a new perspective.”
“Good. Do you think you’ll want to go on another camping trip?”
“Absolutely!” Chester was enthusiastic and for several minutes talked about what he had learned. “But you know,” he added quietly after a little while of silence, “I think the thing that has made the biggest impression on me is what you said that first day about a designer making everything. I’m not sure I buy into the creation account yet, but I’m going to do some serious studying.”
The little E-bay man was silent, and for several more minutes they sat thus, each busy with his own thoughts.
At last Chester spoke again. “Hey, E-bay, look at those clouds over in the north west. Think they mean anything?”
Turning around, the little E-bay man studied the bank of clouds for a minute before saying, “It looks like snow.”
“Really! That ought to make things interesting. Do you think it will be a lot or just a dusting like the peaks over there got this morning?”
His companion shrugged. “That’s one thing I can’t say for sure. Hopefully it will just be a dusting. But what say we turn in?”
When Chester crawled out of his tent the next morning, he discovered a dusting of snow had fallen during the night and the sky was overcast. The distant peaks were nearly white though the valley below them was still golden brown. Chester got the fire going and was fixing breakfast when the little E-bay man emerged from his tent.
“See, I’m getting the hang of this camping out stuff,” Chester laughed. “Another few days and I’ll be an expert. Well,” he admitted as the little E-bay man gave a snort. “Okay, not quite, but it’s an improvement.”
To this his companion agreed, and they began to partake of the hot food. Suddenly the little E-bay man paused and cocked his head as though listening. Chester listened too and thought he could hear voices. Was it his imagination or was a rescue party really coming? The two men were on their feet, eyes searching for signs of other humans. At last with a shout, Chester pointed to the valley in the distance. There indeed was a group heading their way!
“Come on,” the little E-bay man ordered. “Let’s get this camp packed up so we can leave. I think a storm might be on its way.”
With no more words, the two men began a rapid packing up of their gear. But when Chester came to take down his tent,
“E-bay!” he hollered, “How in the world do you get these stake things out of the ground? What did you do, cement them in?”
Both men chuckled as E-bay showed Chester the easiest way to pull out a stake, and then helped him fold and pack his tent.
“I hope I can set it up without the instructions next time. If I can’t, I’ll be calling you up, E-bay.”
“On that i-phone of yours no doubt.”
“Why of course. And I was thinking of checking on E-bay for a warm jacket.”
By the time the rescue party reached the two lost campers, they were packed and ready to go. The Park rangers were greatly relieved to find neither one injured and set off at once, for a snow storm was blowing in.
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