Spearfish Lake Tales
Contemporary Mainstream Books and Serials Online
It took a while to settle into having a baby in the house, and with working out the new routines Randy just didnít get around to calling the number on the boat for a couple weeks; when he did, he got a recording. He made a mental note to try again in a couple days, but then he got busy with work, and didnít call.
Over the years Randy had heard stories about new babies getting their parents up at all hours of the night, and it happened with them some, but nothing like the horror stories he had heard. Brent slept through the night about half the time right from the beginning, and Randy did what he could to share Nicoleís load, although what he could do was limited since she was breastfeeding the baby. Still, he could change the kid and bring him to her, and watching the two of them brought a fatherly warming to his heart.
Nicole was alone with the baby through much of the day, although Myleigh frequently dropped in to help pass the time Ė her classes were done for the semester, and while she had concerts planned they tended to be around the weekends. Randyís mother often dropped in after school, and Nicole reported that it helped the day go more quickly, too.
Construction season was now in full swing. Several jobs were under way now; the steel was being erected for the pellet plant, and concrete work was getting readied at the Three Pines lodge expansion.
A few days after Brent had been born the contract on the Newton house was signed, which meant that they could get started. The very next day a crew was busy assembling the raft out at the landing on Chandler Lake, and since it had been his idea Randy spent more time out there than he really needed to in checking things out. The raft was an ungainly looking box, but it went together in a couple of days, and soon there was nothing left to do but see if it worked. There had been some question of how to launch it, but Wooten and the backhoe made short order of that problem by just shoving it into the water, apparently with no damage.
The area of access to the lake where the raft had been built was shallow, and it was clear that was going to present a problem; even empty, the raft would be grounded on the landing when it was within reach of the ramps from shore. With Wooten and the backhoe, that would be an easy problem to solve, but doing underwater digging would mean that the DNR would have to be involved, there would be permits to file, and it seemed likely that it would take half the summer to get them. Randy dithered about it for a while Ė it would screw the whole schedule up royally.
By then it was getting near the end of the day, so everyone headed home, with the idea of ferrying a little lighter stuff out to the island the next day so they could get started. The next day, Randy went back out to the site with the crew to see if he could figure out a way to build longer ramps, maybe with a temporary pier or something to hold them; his thinking revolved around concrete road barriers. When they got there, they found that the raft was now floating closer to the shore in deeper water, with no problems.
It didnít take long to figure out what had happened, mostly because Wooten had a big grin on his face. "Jim," Randy said. "What did you do?"
"What you donít know wonít hurt you," the backhoe driver told him. "More importantly, what the DNR doesnít know wonít hurt them, either, as if they ever get out this way anyway."
"I suppose," Randy shook his head, realizing that the backhoe driver had come back out to the site after everyone had left and had dug out a slip for the raft. "I only have one question. What did you do with the spoil?"
"Itís under water," Wooten grinned. "I know where it is, and no one will notice. I can put it back when weíre done and no one, especially the DNR, will be the wiser."
"You win," Randy grinned. "I owe you one. Letís see if that thing will float the backhoe. If we can get it out to the island today, thereís a lot we can get done with it."
The raft sank low in the water at the near end as Jim drove the backhoe up the ramp onto it, but from what Randy could tell it didnít touch bottom, telling him that Jim had dug the slip out plenty deep enough. When the backhoe was centered on the raft, it floated a little higher than he figured it would, so it had plenty of reserve.
Randy had bought a couple cheap used rowboats and outboard motors to tow the raft and ferry people and small tools back and forth, so after only a moderate amount of confusion they started out with the ungainly looking tow. They didnít go fast Ė even with both rowboats pulling they couldnít go fast Ė but everything went smoothly. In half an hour or so they nosed the raft into the spot that Randy had picked out earlier. They manhandled the ramps into place, and Jim triumphantly drove the key piece of machinery onto the island. With it there, the job was going to be a whole lot more manageable.
There was still a lot of stuff to be brought to the island before they could get started seriously working, but with the backhoe there it was clear that getting other things there wasnít going to be a problem. Randy rode the raft back to the landing, and figured that heíd hung around the site enough for a while, and it would be best to let his people get on with the jobs they knew how to do.
After that, Randy made it out to Windmill Island once or twice a week, just to see the progress for himself and not get in the way too much. After the first couple days of hauling tools and materials to the island the crew didnít often get back to the mainland during the day, so Randy started hauling a sea kayak around on the rack on his truck. It made a nice break in the middle of the day to unload the kayak and paddle out to the island to see what was going on.
The foundation for the house was complicated, mostly because the vertical structure of the windmill had to be solidly mounted on concrete piers, which meant that the rest of the house had to be on similar piers if not quite as substantial. That meant a lot of digging to get everything ready to pour the concrete, and that involved more than the backhoe Ė jackhammers were often involved, and there were times they had to resort to rock drills and judicious amounts of dynamite. The digging wasnít completed yet when the concrete started getting poured, and that was a slow process since it had to be mixed in a small mixer on the site Ė there was no way the raft could handle the weight of a loaded concrete truck. Theyíd allowed extra time for this, but they were sagging a little behind schedule anyway. It wasnít anything they couldnít catch up on in later parts of the project, but it was a little irritating.
Randy knew there wasnít a lot he could do to hurry things along Ė the crew had everything they needed to work with and all the hands they needed. It was still a cause for concern, so he started driving out there more often than absolutely necessary just to see if there was anything he could do to help them out. That was what he was doing out there one Friday in the middle of May, and the fact that it was a nice day to get the sea kayak out for a while had little to do with it.
The crew was down to the final four holes needed for the piers for the house and concrete were going into place. Mike Shanahan, the foreman for the excavating and foundation part of the job, said that they ought to have all the concrete in place by the middle of the week, so that was a loss of only about three days, tolerable under the circumstances. "Itís been kind of nice being out here," Mike told him. "Going back to building those bridge abutments out on 484 wonít be anywhere near as much fun."
"It all needs to be done before winter," Randy told him. "But weíre still in good shape and the county isnít bitching yet. Don is going great guns on that house addition heís building down in Albany River and has started wondering when heís going to be able to get out here."
"The inner piers should be cured enough for him to get started a week from Monday," Mike replied. "Iíd say that as soon as he gets done down in Albany River he could start moving materials out here."
"Good, Iíll let him know," Randy said. "Don gets antsy about that stuff from time to time."
"Donít I know it," Mike shook his head as Randyís cell phone went off.
There had only been cell service out there for a week or so Ė David Newtonís company had finally gotten the tower up. That eased communications with the site, although Randy was privately of the opinion that having cell service on tended to ruin the peace of the place. Still, he pulled out the phone, flipped it open, punched it on, and answered, "Randy."
"Randy," his father said, "I just got off the phone with Brayton out in San Jose. Heís got Joelís hide ready to nail to the wall."
"Jeez, it took him long enough," Randy commented.
"Apparently it wasnít a regular thing, just kind of catch as catch can. But they had a hidden camera in the motel room yesterday at noon, and they got him in bed with this hooker. Not the same girl you saw him with, apparently; this gal has dark hair. Brayton e-mailed me a couple of the pictures, and they were everything we hoped for. He says he has a lot more. I say itís time to get off our butts on this."
"Iíd say so, too," Randy said. "Iím out on Windmill Island so Iíll have to paddle back to the landing and load the kayak, but I can be back to town in an hour."
"Itís not that big a rush, weíve got the weekend coming up. We still need to bring Ruth up to speed on this, weíve got to fly out there, and we need to meet with Brayton before we go see Rachel. All that argues for doing it Tuesday morning."
"I guess," Randy sighed. "Iíd be happier if it had been Tuesday morning a couple months ago."
"Well, me too, but from what Brayton said this has been worth the wait. He has photos of Joel with a couple other girls as well, maybe even the girl you saw him with, heís not sure, but none of them are caught-in-the-act kinds of photos. Anyway, Iím going to go ahead and see about airline tickets, and Iím thinking that you and your mother and I should head down and get Ruth in the picture tomorrow."
"Iíll have to run that by Nicole, but it shouldnít be a problem. I guess that means I should be heading back to town, anyway."
"Suit yourself, but thereís nothing to rush back for today."
"Yeah, but if we do it on Tuesday, that means Iím going to be gone most of the week, and that means I need to get Carlos up to speed and get a dozen other things done. Iíll be on my cell, whatever it takes, but there may still be a dead spot or two between here and town. Iíll be in touch when I get back."
"All right, talk to you then," Ryan said. "At least maybe we get a chance to settle this."
"Yeah, if a few things go right," Randy agreed. "Talk to you later." He punched off the cell phone and turned back to Mike. "Something has come up," he said, not getting into detail. "I can see youíre doing about as well as can be expected so Iíll get out of your hair. I may be gone most of next week, so if you get the concrete work done coordinate it with Carlos, then get your stuff picked up and start thinking bridge abutment. You and your guys have done good here, Mike, in spite of some unforeseen problems."
"Like I said, itís been fun working out here. From what I can see, this is going to be one hell of a house."
"Yeah, Iím looking forward to seeing what itís like when itís done, too. Hopefully the Newtons will hold a nice housewarming party and invite all the crew. This is going to be one to tell stories about in the winter for a long time."
"Ainít that the truth," Mike grinned. "I donít get to take the extra laborers out to the abutment job, do I?"
"No, thereís going to be enough materials to be manhandled here Ė thatís why we hired them. Maybe after Don gets going we can slip you an extra guy or two if you need it. Like I said, anything that comes up while Iím gone, run it by Carlos. Iíll be back as soon as I can, but it may be a while. I need to get moving. If I donít see you here again, Iíll be seeing you out on the 484 job."
In only two or three minutes Randy was in the kayak, paddling hard for the landing, his mind full of things that would have to be worked out with Carlos. This could have come at a better time, but it could have come at a worse one, too Ė and at least he had Carlos who could fill in for him, which he hadnít had until a couple years before. Really, it had taken Carlos that couple years to get up to speed enough to where he could fill in during an emergency like this. In the back of his head Randy realized that he might be able to do it on a more planned basis in the future. Randy knew he didnít want to take a long vacation in the summer for the hell of it, at least not this year, but it could happen in future years.
But that was only a passing thought. There were other things that had to be settled, and they were of much higher priority.
Carlos was out of the office and over at Three Pines when Randy got there, although a call on the cell phone determined that he was heading back in. "Good, Iíll see you when you get in, weíve got things to talk about," Randy told him. "Give me a call when youíre about twenty minutes out and Iíll meet you at the office." As soon as he was off the phone, he told Regina he was going home to see Nicole, and heíd be back in a while. He checked in with his father briefly, then headed for home.
Nicole had long been aware of the problem with Rachel; it was no secret, even the things that had happened over a month before, about the time Brent had been born. "Good," she said when Randy reported on the conversation heíd had with his father. "Iíve been wondering about that, although there hasnít been much need to talk about it. I hope this gets it settled once and for all."
"Iím not sure," Randy replied. "I donít know what Rachel is going to say, or if sheíll do what we hope she does, and I have no idea what Joel is going to do about it. But, I about have to go, since Dad and Mom and I, and hopefully Ruth, need to present a united front to her. When I talked to Dad, he has tickets for early Monday morning. I might be back Tuesday night, or I might not be. If not, itíll probably be the end of the week, depending. I hate to leave you alone with Brent that long, especially with Mom and Dad gone too, but itís something that has to be done."
"No problem on my account," Nicole said. "My mother and father are going to be in town if I need anything."
"I guess that means that Iím going to be gone tomorrow, too," Randy pointed out. "Dad thinks the three of us need to be there when we bring Ruth in on the deal. Thatís a long drive to go there and back in one day, and so we might stay over."
"Again, that wonít be a problem," Nicole reassured him. "I was sort of hoping that tomorrow we could get in touch with the guy about that sailboat down in Moffat, and maybe take Nellie down there to look at it, but I guess thatís not in the cards, now."
"Why donít you try to get in touch with him, whoever it is?" Randy suggested. "If you can catch up with him, donít let him get away. Grab Nellie and go take a serious look at it."
"Iíd rather have you along," she said. "I donít know that much about sailboats."
"I donít either," Randy told her. "Nellie knows more than both of us and probably anyone else in the area combined. If sheís not sure, we probably donít want it anyway. Do what you have to do."
"If weíre going to be getting a sailboat this year we need to be getting it," Nicole told him. "Summer isnít even here yet and itís going quickly. It always does, and youíre busier with work than I want you to be. If the boat needs any work, itís going to be hard for you to find time to do it."
"If the boat needs any work weíre going to have to find someone to do it. I wouldnít mind learning it if I could drag it into the shop for a nice quiet winter project, and thereís probably a couple guys from the company who could help out. Maybe if the boat needs some work but is good enough to get us through the summer I could work on it over the winter anyway."
"Sounds like a plan," Nicole smiled. "Iíll see what I can do. Now, are you going to need any help packing?"
"Not really. Iíd say take enough stuff for an overnight if we stay over at Dave and Ruthís, and then I can repack with a little more on Sunday, either way. Iíve got to keep it down to a carry-on, I donít want to have to mess around with the airlines losing checked luggage. Thereís going to be enough else on this trip that has to be dealt with."
* * *
Randy and his parents got started on the long drive down to Dave and Ruthís early the next morning, after a courtesy phone call the night before to let Ruth know they were coming. It was late in the morning when they pulled into the country ranch house where Dave, Ruth, and the kids lived.
"I didnít expect you quite so soon," Ruth said as they got out of the car. "And Randy, when Dad said you were coming, I figured Nicole and Brent would be with you."
"Not this trip," Randy told her. "Nicole was up for it, but itís still a little too long a haul for a kid that small."
"We didnít want to go to the extra trouble," Ryan explained. "Weíve got business to discuss."
"What kind of business?" Ruth said. "Daveís over at the barns; he said heíd be back for lunch. We didnít expect you until about then, anyway."
"Well, this time itís family business," Ryan said seriously. "And itís a serious problem. Maybe weíd better go inside and fill you in."
A couple minutes later they were gathered around the kitchen table. Ruth offered them all glasses of milk Ė it went with the territory of being a dairy farm family. Once they got settled in, Ruth asked, "So whatís this serious business all about?"
"Itís about Rachel," Ryan told her. "We have reason to believe that sheís got serious trouble out there. I get the impression that you talk with her more than we do. Have you picked up any hint of problems recently?"
"Actually, I havenít talked to her much since last January," Ruth admitted. "No more than once a month, and then when we do, it doesnít last long. It seems like she doesnít want to talk very much, and I really donít know more than I picked up back then. Even then, she didnít tell me much. What makes you think she has a problem?"
"Lots of things," Ryan said. "Randy was out there back in March and had a talk with her, and got the impression that Joel is emotionally abusing her. From the sound of it, it seems like she told him more than she told you."
"A lot of that part of it is reading between the lines," Randy said. "But this is one of those cases where what she didnít say said more than what she did. And then, what I found out afterward really took the prize. To make a long story short, I just happened by sheer luck to run across Joel heading into a motel room with some blonde babe. I donít know what happened, but it doesnít take a lot of guessing."
"Are you sure it was Joel?" Ruth said in disbelief.
"I was a little questionable about it at the time but what I learned afterward made me dead sure," Randy told her.
"At least sure enough that we hired a detective to be sure," Ryan explained. "We havenít had the full report yet but the summary is enough to confirm the fact that Joel is emotionally abusing your sister, and it apparently gets near violence at times. It also confirms that Joel cheating on her isnít a one-time thing. Itís more like once every week or two. It could be more than that, they didnít have continuous surveillance on him."
Ruth shook her head in disbelief. "And you have proof?"
"We have a couple photos, and the detective has a lot more," Ryan said. "You never heard anything about that from her?"
"No, not a word," she sighed. "Itís just hard to believe. She has always seemed so loyal to Joel. Iíve suspected things werenít quite as good as sheís been making them out to be, but she really hasnít said anything to me."
"Well, thereís a question of how much she knows, at least about Joel running around on her," Ryan explained. "On top of the abuse, weíre pretty sure that Joel wants to push her into selling the land she inherited from Dad so he can get his hands on the money. If he manages that, I donít like to think what would happen then."
"So what can we do?"
"About the only thing we can think of is to try to stop him by getting Jared and her away from him," Linda said. "Nicole and I think that Jared has been abused emotionally, too, and as teachers weíre supposed to pick up on things like that. What weíre planning on doing is fly out to San Jose on Monday morning, meeting with the detective, and then explain what we know to Rachel after Joel goes to work on Tuesday. Weíre hoping to convince her to come home with us where we can protect Jared and her better than we can out there, but we think itís going to take all of us to convince her."
"Count me in," Ruth said. "I miss the Rachel I used to know, and Iíd like to have her back."