Wes Boyd's
Spearfish Lake Tales
Contemporary Mainstream Books and Serials Online

River Rat
Book 5 of the Dawnwalker Cycle
Wes Boyd
2005, 2010



Chapter 31

December 30, 1999 - January 1, 2000

Spearfish Lake

The next days were hectic. As expected, there was a lot going on in Randy and Nicole's life, so there wasn't the time to kick back and enjoy one another that there might have been, but they did get in a good afternoon there at the Spearfish Lake Inn. Scooter did indeed remember Marlin and Jackpine -- who turned out to be in Tanzania in the Peace Corps, which is why Crystal was named maid of honor, although Nicole told Crystal that the decision would have been difficult if she had been home. They got a pretty good account of her hike up the trail, which from having been there and done that, Scooter and Crystal had a deeper understanding than most. There was catching up going the other way, too, filling Randy in on the rest of the Canyon season.

Later that afternoon, they went over to Randy and Nicole's new house -- carpenters were still there finishing some door moldings, and drapes were being hung; even Randy's family owning the construction company didn't mean everything was necessarily done ahead of schedule. When Crystal had seen the place the previous spring, it was an empty lot, with the local fire department burning down the remains of a burned-out cottage that had stood there. The lot was now considerably changed, for the new house was rather avant-garde and very striking, intended to be a sample of the work Clark Construction could do.

For Karin, the wedding was secondary to her being there at all. Ryan and Linda Clark were old friends who she hadn't seen for many years; Nicole's mother and father hadn't been as close, but because Spearfish Lake was a small town, she'd known them. For many years she had wanted to come back, at least for a brief visit, but Pete just didn't like to travel and preferred that she stay home, so that was that. Now, in the last few months, she'd literally started a new life, and it was especially amusing to her, to return home with her "new boss." There was a lot of catching up done, with the Clarks and with others -- and a lot of people she'd hoped to at least make contact with were going to be at the wedding.

Myleigh spent much of the time with Jennifer and Blake, talking about plans to record later in the year. Crystal knew Jennifer a little, and took the time to introduce Scooter, Al, and Karin to her. It seemed hard to believe that this rather relaxed, gentle woman was a famous country music star -- it wasn't the sort of thing that they expected to see in Spearfish Lake.

Crystal also took Al and Scooter out to see her friends Josh and Tiffany, the dogsled racers she'd spent the previous winter working for. There was indeed a yard full of huskies, 132 at the moment, Tiffany explained, dogs in training for the Iditarod, yearlings that might qualify for further training in the future, and a number of retirees, kept for touring and breeding. All those dogs made a heckuva racket, and they could see the truth behind Crystal's story that just feeding and trying to clean up after them a little was pretty much a full-time job. But, they got to take some brief dog sled rides around the training trails near the house -- and with Crystal on the runners. It was a life that was nearly as exotic to them as being raft guides would be to other people.

Considering the number of friends and relatives from out of town, there wasn't room to stay with the Clarks, and they stayed at the Spearfish Lake Inn, with Linda loaning them her car to get around. Still, they were busy pretty steadily, and although Scooter knew virtually no one, people were friendly and interested in what she and her companions did. Spearfish Lake wasn't a bad place by any means, and Scooter suspected that she'd see more than one person she met around town out on the river with her at some point in the future.

 

The wedding wasn't quite as big as the throng Randy had been cynical about, but there were at least a couple hundred people there. It was very late getting started; the idea was to have the minister pronounce Randy and Nicole man and wife just as midnight and the dawn of a new millennium came.

Way back in the fall, a couple trips after Randy ran with them, a little idea had been suggested by a customer around a Canyon campfire. They'd kicked it around for several months now, and the time for it had come to fruition. They'd worked out a plan, and scouted the scene of the crime to a 'T'.

In the last minute or two before the music for the wedding processional started there was a huge crowd of members of the wedding in the narthex, and others looking on. Just at that minute, both Karin and Scooter decided they had to use the bathroom before things got under way, and headed toward the church's fellowship hall where the caterers were busy. Karin marched right out to the kitchen. "I need something sweet, right now," she announced. "I'm hypoglycemic and I'm feeling dizzy."

"What do you want?"

"Anything," Karin pleaded. "A spoon full of sugar, something." She staggered for an instant, and almost fell, as a woman handed her a couple packets of sugar. She shook as she opened one, poured it down her throat, and somehow brushed up against the side of her face. "Oh, shit!" she said. "Now, I've lost a contact. Why does something like this have to happen now! My God, they're starting the processional."

"Here, we'll help you look," one of the caterers said; in an instant, they were all gathered around, looking around the floor.

Just at that instant, Scooter came in from outside, carrying a box that looked like a wedding gift, and in a way it was. While Karin and the caterers searched frantically for the contact lens that she didn't wear, Scooter popped the top of the box, twisted the top off one of the bottles it contained, and dumped it into the huge and elaborate punch bowl. As it was emptying, she popped open a second, then a third, and a fourth. In but seconds, the deed was done; she headed for the sanctuary, dropping the box with the bottles into a trash can she found along the way, then let go with a huge sneeze.

"Oh, the hell with it," Karin said the instant she heard the sneeze. "I'll just have to do without till I get home. I've got to get back in there, right now!" She raced back to the sanctuary, ducked in front of the procession that was just about to begin, and slid into the pew next to Scooter. She gave a smile at Scooter, who replied with a thumbs-up. Mission accomplished.

 

Even at 190 proof, four quarts of Everclear grain alcohol didn't go that far in punch for two-hundred-plus people; it was really more of a symbolic gesture than a real attempt to loosen things up. But it was a little stronger in the beginning before the level got drank down and the caterers started to refill and dilute the punch bowl, so that may have had something to do with what happened at the reception. Or, at least, so Randy and Nicole both claimed forever afterward -- after the minister found the box with the four empty bottles with Arizona tax stamps the next day.

In fact, Nicole admitted afterward that what happened was partly her fault, and that if the punch hadn't been spiked, better judgement might have prevailed.

The wedding was pretty conventional, but had its unconventional moments. The preacher was babbling away while keeping an eye on the clock -- unusual for a preacher, to say the least -- and he did indeed pronounce them man and wife at the stroke of midnight. The audience responded with a variety of New Year's noisemakers that had been passed out as they arrived, a cute touch, everyone thought. The reception was also conventional, but just as the bride and groom were getting set to cut the cake, Nicole stepped out of tradition a little bit when her little sister handed her a smallish box. Nicole thanked her, then handed the box to Randy, with the words, "Here's a special wedding gift from me to you."

Randy opened the box, and was surprised as anyone to see what was in it -- a pair of heavy Soliel handcuffs, still in the factory wrapping. Randy snickered, and said, "Hey, you're really serious about wanting me to keep you around, right?"

"Yes," she giggled. "I am."

"The last several years Nicole has been gone an awful lot," Randy explained. "For a long time, if I saw her at all it was pretty brief. One time she came through town from Idaho and heading to southern Michigan like she was Bubba Winslow on a NASCAR green-flag pit stop -- four tires, a full load of fuel, change the stuff in the truck and on her way in fifteen seconds. I told her once that after we were married I was going to chain her down if she took off too often."

It was too much for a tall female Grand Canyon river guide, wearing a teal-colored maid-of-honor dress: "Put 'em on her, Randy," she roared.

"Yeah!" a slightly smaller female Grand Canyon river guide wearing slacks and a sweater chimed in. "Do it, Randy!" Soon it became a cacophony.

As it died down, Randy spoke up again. "OK, Carole, since these are Soliels, I figure you have to be involved. You want to show me how this is done?"

Struggling to hold back giggles, a slender thirtyish blonde came to the front of the room, and with her help Randy locked the handcuffs on Nicole to the cheers of the crowd, while Nicole blushed a little -- well, more than a little. "What do you say we get on with the cake?" he grinned. Still blushing, and still wearing the handcuffs, the two got on with that part of the festivities -- and the rest of them, as well.

A couple times in the next hour or so, Scooter got a close look at the handcuffs, and they were the most unusual she'd ever seen. They were very pretty, almost an art deco object, with several castings involved, and a cylinder lock that used something that resembled a house key. They were also stainless steel, not light, and it was pretty obvious that if someone didn't have the key, getting them off was going to involve a cutting torch.

Nicole was still wearing the handcuffs at three in the morning when she departed with her new husband. Considering the hour and that she was a teacher and had to be getting back to school in a couple days, it had been decided that their wedding night was also going to be their first in their new house, and the real honeymoon would wait till spring break. By then, it was awful late for even the last dog hangers, and the Grand Canyon contingent was just as happy to get out to the Spearfish Lake Inn and hit their beds.

Along in the late morning, they got up and headed to the restaurant at the Inn for breakfast or lunch or whatever it was. While they were having coffee after they ate, Karin passed along another story from the reception. "I was on the edge of a group of people when I heard the words 'Hadley-Monroe,'" she smiled. "That's the company Pete works for, and I couldn't help but listen in. There was this nice-looking young man telling the story that he was in Japan last summer with a senior engineer, when the engineer got an e-mail that his wife was leaving him."

"Anyone we know?" Crystal grinned.

"I didn't exactly tell Pete I was leaving him, but he should have been able to read between the lines and see that it was a threat," Karin smiled. "Anyway, this young man said that the engineer was absolutely livid. He was all business with the customer, but as soon as they got to the hotel he would go, to use the young man's words, 'totally apeshit.'"

"Sounds just like him," Crystal laughed.

"Anyway, this young man, whose name turns out to be Phil, said he took about three days of that and decided Hadley-Monroe couldn't pay him enough to put up with any more of it. He got on a plane, flew back to Chicago, and turned in his resignation."

"I understand perfectly and don't blame him in the slightest," Crystal shook her head. "So did you say anything?"

"Of course I did," Karin told them. "That was the one thing I felt guilty about, I knew Pete was in Japan with some tech rep, and I knew the tech rep was going to have to bear the brunt of his temper. So, I explained who I was and apologized profusely. He said, 'You don't have to apologize; it was the nicest thing anyone could have done for me. Hadley-Monroe was driving me nuts, and it got me out of there. I'm helping with a sporting goods store up here now, and I'm a whole lot happier.' I must say that I'm much more pleased about the way that part of it turned out than I thought I would be."

Just then Randy and Nicole came in for lunch. She was wearing slacks and a light sweater -- and was still wearing the handcuffs. "Gonna make sure she stays around, huh Randy?" Scooter couldn't help but giggle.

"Works for me," he grinned. "I decided I'd leave 'em on her for a while, just to make my point."

"Yeah," Nicole sighed. "So I wound up spending my wedding night wearing nothing but fifteen ounces of stainless steel."

"Could have been worse," Crystal giggled. "I mean, it could have been a chastity belt."

"Don't give him ideas, Crystal," Nicole replied, red-faced. "He has enough as it is. I haven't had these off since he put them on me last night."

"Huh?" Scooter said. "How'd you change clothes?"

"There's a trick to it," Randy explained, without enlightening them very much. "I never thought of it either until I started teaching Carole some martial arts tricks."

"Carole?" Scooter asked. "That blonde last night? How does she figure in?"

"Up till about a year and a half ago, she wore handcuffs like these for six years straight," Nicole said. "Twenty-four seven, never took them off."

"Six years?" Al exclaimed incredulously. "The question 'How in the hell?' is only surpassed by 'Why in the hell?"

"How in the hell isn't simple, except to say that she learned how to do it, quite well, in fact," Randy explained, still not saying very much. "As to why in the hell, there's a complicated but logical answer that involves identifying with her sister, who's a quadriplegic."

"But the simple answer is that she was nuts," Nicole shook her head. "The full answer would take a book. You remember the girl in the wheelchair last night? She's her sister. She's writing the book; we figure into it a little so she interviewed us."

"This," Karin laughed, "Is going to be a wedding to remember."

"It is," Nicole shook her head, "Especially considering how you arrived. You weren't fooling about her, were you?"

"She really is a millionaire prostitute," Al grinned. "A one of a kind, a very unique woman. That much said, it's a hobby with her, like her aviation charter business. She's a corporate executive in her day job. She ran with us three years ago; Louise and I got to know her pretty well. But thinking about this Carole, we in Arizona don't exactly have the corner on unique women."


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To be continued . . .

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