Come on an adventure with Jack and follow along as he writes his new book in real time! Here is chapter 8.
by JACK DEY
A whisper from the wilderness calling.
“Honey! What are you doing?! The store owner’s looking at us funny!”
“Just grabbing a couple of essentials, babe, you know, what you girls call shopping,” the tall and imposing figure seemed out of place, towering above the slender aisles like a kind of pointer, indicating their whereabouts with every step they took inside the small town store. Without looking up and talking while he continued to shovel stock into a trolley, he hoped to convince himself, as well as his wife, of the path he was aiming to take and that it would be completely justified at some later point. “Jim should be grateful we’re spending our hard earned cash with him.”
The pitiful excuse had little effect on a very suspicious wife. “Hmm. Just so you boys don’t misunderstand, shopping’s where you select and buy a few items for your immediate needs, not emptying the shelves and their contents into a convoy of trolleys. Are we stocking up for a siege or something?!”
Ish huffed. “Maybe, Dani.” Her increasing concern made him pause and begin to question what he thought he’d been told. She was normally onboard with anything he did, but this time he was getting a grilling and it bothered him whether he’d heard correctly. Offering a silent prayer for confirmation, the good natured slip threatened to embroil him in further trouble, but Dani took it with all sincerity. “Just give him one of your beautiful smiles and he’ll forget all about his stocks.”
“Aww. That was just beautiful, Ish. But don’t change the subject! Are we stocking up for a siege?!”
Unable to break the confrontation and still not convinced he hadn’t misheard his orders, Ish tried another tack, “I spoke to Mike and showed him the note advertising for workers…”
“The hotelier, babe!”
“Oh, of course! I should’ve known! Silly me! Are you on first name terms with everyone in Kirby, Ish?”
“Not quite, babe, probably need another day,” Ish grinned, but when Dani’s expression remained stoic and staring, he quickly realised she’d missed his scintillating whit and was waiting for more usable information. “Mike couldn’t pinpoint the address, but thought it was a a fair bit south of here. Then he laughed and wished us luck finding them, especially in the tangled maze of forest roads out there. In any case, I’m in a real hurry to find out who our new employers are and what kind of adventures Papa God has for us this time. I’m almost certain it’s got something to do with Goliath, his family, and our little meeting in the hotel bar.”
Ish’s excitement seemed to bounce right off Dani and she was far more cautious. “Don’t know if I like the sound of this, honey. It’s getting weirder by the minute, and why do we need so many provisions?! Do you intend to feed Goliath and his whole family forever?”
“Now there’s a thought! But I don’t think that’s the way through this. If this new chapter in our lives ends up being situated in the backblocks, which I’m sure it will, I’ve got a feeling we won’t be able to get to a town very often. Besides, I think Papa God told me to stock up.”
“Why didn’t you just say that in the first place, Ish? Saves me playing fifty questions!”
“I love your fifty questions, Dani… and you, too,” he responded playfully as he bent and kissed her on the nose, relieved that she appeared to be coming around and it wasn’t the pizza interfering with his communication channel to the Throne of God.
“Now you’re making me feel like a heel and a doubting Thomas and I love you very much, too. Question number fifty one… where are we going to put all this stuff? The camper’s big, but we’d need a road train and not a semi-trailer to fit it all in.”
“Hmm. You may have a point there, babe. If Papa God gives a servant a job to do, He will also provide all that’s needed for that servant to complete his job,” Ish’s expression suddenly clouded as he mentally checked his orders once again. “I’m sure He told me to stock up, but I could be wrong, Dani.”
Ish’s unexpected reality check brought a stab of repentance to Dani, and the uncertain look on her man’s face melted her heart and made her feel wretched for doubting his faith. He wasn’t often wrong, listening to his Lord, but when he was, there was a good reason for it and maybe this was one of those times. Dani placed a tender hand on his arm and peered into his strong green eyes, wanting to take back the scepticism and deciding to trust Ish with the mission he felt God was giving them as a couple. “Okay! If He told you to stock up then that’s good enough for me, Noah! When do the animals arrive?”
Ish studied his wife’s innocent blue eyes, trying to comprehend her words before his mind finally registered the unusual attempt at a wisecrack. Delighted with her humour, he followed up with a raucous belly laugh, bringing a tender smile to Dani’s face and stealing the attention from the shoppers who were still within the store’s immediate vicinity.
Pushing their goods up to the counter, Ish left Dani to pack and pay, while he went to collect their semi-trailer home-on-wheels. Surrounded by a posse of shopping trolleys as the store keeper meticulously tallied their bill, Dani loaded the never-ending items back into an empty cart until each one overflowed and another vacant mule was drawn up onto the front line. She kept her head down, purposely avoiding the eyes of the store owner and the obvious questions she thought were only just bubbling beneath the surface. Outside, the application of airbrakes signalled that their home-on-wheels had arrived and was ready to board its freight. Relieved that Ish had returned and no store owner inquisition had occurred, she battled for the door with the first heavy contender, struggling to steer the drunken machine and its load with each wheel wobbling in a different direction.
Suddenly the trolley began to behave and shot forward in perfect harmony under the powerful direction of her husband’s massive hand. “Need some help with that, young lady? What’s a pretty woman like you doing hauling carts, anyway?”
Dani’s smile broadened, but she still playfully chastised him with a hand on her hip. “I aint no weakling, mister, but I love the way you always know when I’m struggling and when to turn up. If you must persist with all these flattering compliments, dear sir, and I insist that you do, then this little woman might have to seriously think about cooking my sweet-talking man his favourite meal.”
The public show of regard soon dissolved as a highly embarrassed Dani squirmed out of Ish’s embrace, realising they were being watched by an amused group of bystanders. Soon after, the convoy of carts lined up outside the mobile home and a small chorus of helpers made a chain from the kerb to the cupboards inside. Dani was surprised by the help they’d received from complete strangers, and in less than fifteen easy minutes, the trolleys were empty and the storage cupboards were full. Leaning out of the door and amazing his wife, Ish offered his grateful regard to the people Dani didn’t even know, calling them by name and bidding them a friendly farewell. Then the final adieu really got Dani’s attention.
“Thanks, Jim. Give my regards to Martha and if she continues with my remedy, I’m sure she’ll feel just fine in no time.”
Standing inside and waiting for Ish to finish his lengthy goodbyes, Dani folded her arms and when he finally returned, her twinkling eyes stared directly up at him. “Martha?!”
With an innocent look that said, ‘you remember Martha’, Ish filled in the gap, “Jim’s wife. She’s having trouble with arthritis so I gave him the recipe for my chilli jalapeno surprise.”
Dani almost choked and tried to continue her skit. She’d been victim to this surprise herself, but the thought of Ish’s home remedy and how it would affect the poor woman made Dani so glad they were leaving town. Smiling at her man’s good-hearted nature, she couldn’t help but glow with affection. “You never cease to amaze me, honey. How do you manage to always find a following in the most unlikely of places?”
Reaching for Dani again and determined to bend her petite little frame into a smooch, Ish shrugged. “Guess it’s my good looks they can’t resist!”
Tangled in a hug, Dani responded with the spice of another wisecrack. “A-n-d… Goliath?”
“W-e-l-l! Maybe there might be something else apart from that there. Time to hit the road, babe, and get this adventure started! I feel really good about this now!”
As the semi-trailer departed the confines of the small town’s business hub amid a group of furiously waving hands, Ish purposely let the air horn slice through the mood, wafting on the early afternoon air and finally settling like a heady lullaby over the nearby forest surrounds.
Dani swivelled in her suspension seat and battled with the folds of a forest map, trying to read the names of tracks as the prime mover jiggled and bounced. Eventually winning the war with the unruly chart, she laid out its expansive face across the vehicle’s padded engine cowling, making it easier to find their place and the intended destination. It had taken a lot longer to finish their business in town than either had anticipated as Ish’s fan club had kept him talking, and now the planned morning departure had turned into a less-than-leisurely afternoon sprint. They needed to find a place to park, and if they couldn’t locate the people in the note, they’d be camping somewhere out in the forest tonight. Fully self contained and with everything they needed, camping was just a misguided word for Dani, but when Ish found solitude and a place of beauty, he opted to abandon their comfortable home and bed and sleep on the ground under the stars. After so many years of marriage, Dani couldn’t sleep if Ish wasn’t close by to cuddle and to be her massive teddy bear, but she wouldn’t stifle his enjoyment of anything Papa God had made and reluctantly agreed to join him outside in an uncomfortable, lumpy and very guarded sleep.
Straying from the organised roads and repeatedly finding themselves on narrow, rutted dead-ends, Ish had to practise his reversing skills, often backing up for miles to find the main road again. Following their progress with a finger on the map, Dani seemed more positive this time, and when they overshot the expected turn she excitedly pointed and called out in a hurry.
”There it is! Palphry Brook Lane.”
Standing on the brakes in a knee-jerk reaction, Ish brought the heavy vehicle to a stop in a complaint of hissing air brakes and a cloud of uncoordinated dust. Reversing up for the hundredth time today and finally shoe-horning the massive semi-trailer into a tight jack-knife, Ish brought the lumbering rig onto the heavily forested track, avoiding a thick grove of trees with only inches to spare.