“I am getting so sick of doing this over and over.”
“Damn, Charlie, don’t you find doing your job and doing it well, exciting in itself?”
“Well I sure would Ches but we keep changing our roles! One night I’m all spiffed up in blue, get a weapon and wonder of wonders it actually works! But then I’m dressed in brown or gray and I’m lying or just downright getting hurt or worse.”
“Heh, heh, heh. Yeah, there is that, but it’s steady work, only a couple of hours a night, and you know that old saying, there’s no rest for the wicked.”
“Guess I’ll go get ready. See you’re already kitted up, and looking like you’re raring to go. Think you‘ll dodge it tonight, Ches?”
October 2, 2000
“I’m extremely tired. We’ve been on the move since 6 a.m. And it’s already going on midnight. Do you think you can find a place to stop? It’s dark. Looks like all the sidewalks are rolled up for the night. It must be overcast - can’t see any stars, either. “
“More like all the owls are in bed. Doesn’t look like any sidewalks around here. No street lights. The map said the battlefield was down here… somewhere … we’re obviously not going to find it tonight. Let me find a place to turn around, and we’ll head back to that small town we passed. Maybe have to sleep in a parking lot though.”
“Look! Isn’t that a State Trooper up ahead. Let’s stop and ask him. If the battlefield is around here, then we can come back in the morning.”
Easing the van and trailer over to the side of the road, Hal gets out and walks over to the Trooper’s car. “Evening officer. My wife and I have been traveling cross country and wanted to take a look at the Shiloh battlefield before heading on to our destination; been wanting to see it for years, this being the first chance.”
“Well son, you’re in luck. I was just getting ready to clock off. The battlefield is on the other side of this here, wall. Don’t get too much traffic down here but the kids joyriding and looks like all them have gone onto bed; real quiet tonight. You can pull around onto the gravel road; it’ll take you in a U shape. There’s a rest area on the other side of the U. Feel free to park there and look around come morning. The park officially opens at nine a.m.. I’ll lead you in before I take off.”
Hal cautiously follows the trooper’s car down the gravel road. Earlier that night, the van and trailer, took a five foot leap off a concrete road into an unmarked roadside building project. Both Hal and Louise thought that’d be the end of the trip. Miraculously the shocks in both van and trailer held. Now Hal is conscious of the fact that in this rural area anything can happen and while this road looks maintained, it still is far from being paved.
The restrooms are the typical fare for a public site; women on one side, men on the other. Hal knows his wife will need to use the facilities, but she will probably just stick with the porta-potty they have in the trailer. A true godsend to a woman who needs a rest area twice an hour, knowing every rest stop from coast to coast and border to border in this U S of A. She surely embarrassed him that time, asking the shuttle driver in Sitka, Alaska where the nearest rest room was located. Said it was a good thing she had asked since it was the only one in town but Hal still maintained it was embarrassing.
True partners knowing who needed to do what, to get quickly settled down for the night, they soon had the dog fed, watered and walked; a pot of coffee brewing, and a quick snack before settling down into a rare quietness outside where even the countryside night life appeared to be sleeping. After reading but a short chapter in the Good Book, they snuggle under covers because early October weather even in the South is on the chilly side.
They both have just drifted off to sleep with the dog at their feet when the trailer is violently buffeted, knocking the overhead cot off its pinning and onto the three sleeping forms on the lower bunk. The dog erupts into howling and starts to burrow under the covers while the humans push the cot onto the floor and then turn to different windows to see what is causing the tumultuous rocking and to see what is making the noise of an advancing army.
There is nothing to see but the noise and rocking continue until it appears to move off into the distance where the sound of gunfire continues and finally sputters out. Louise clicks on a light.
“I caught the time when I flipped over to look out the window - it was 2 a.m.. And now it’s close to 2:30. What do you make of this? You heard that bugle? And the yelling?”
“I know Hal. This was bizarre - I would say a prank by the locals except I looked out the other windows while you stayed on the bed. Nothing. I was a bit concerned because the trailer was rocking so badly and I thought it would go off the piling you rigged, but figured it had to be paranormal because I couldn’t see anything and the dog was so scared, and she’s not afraid of anyone.”
“How about a cup of coffee Louise before we turn in again and hopefully can get some sleep. After eight hundred miles, yesterday, I’m going to want to sleep ‘til noon but the trooper said the park opens at nine, so we’ll be lucky to get four or five at this rate.”
Hal tries to cajole the dog into one more outing before bed, but she refuses to come out from under the covers. The couple settle down once more, hope for quiet, and succeed in sleeping until eight a.m. when their alarm goes off.
After a small breakfast, they are able to talk their dog into accompanying them on a short walk around the parking area as they both look into trees for speakers which, if found, would account for the noise. Even that was not to be. No logical explanation is apparent.
They guide the trailer back onto the coupling of the van, load up, and slowly drive out of the park.
“Last night was such a disappointment! All that work for nothing, Ches.”
“What are you talking about? We at least had an audience. That’s something that is few and far apart. It’s as if people know it’s going to happen and just ain’t willing to be a part of it.”
“Right. But no one was afraid last night unless you count the dog.”
“I don’t get you, Charlie. You got to drive the car last night and wear the brown outfit. I didn’t even get to be a part of the charge. I was in Grey and got shot down first thing, and I’m not complaining, am I?
Show goes off in half an hour and looks as you get to be the trooper again, so you just quit your whining.”