INTO THE CANYON: A Chapter Book for Grown Ups - Chapter 7

Submitted by Virginia Watts on Tue, 09/11/2012 - 18:10

Workmanship refers to the quality of the work of an artisan or craftsman.  WIKIPEDIA    

At the bottom of the canyon, Gillian took a swig out of her water bottle.  Hell, who did he think he was.  He was acting like a god-damned father, and that certainly wasn't the effect she was going for.  She'd never known her father, and didn't care to.  She lifted her long brown hair and pulled it into a rubber band high on the back of her head, giving her neck some relief from the heat.  Her khaki shorts and tank top had been a bad choice  She'd been bitten by something, and her legs and shoulders were getting sunburned.  She was going for sexy, it had turned out stupid.  George was not about to pick up on any signals -- he looked tired and just plain old today.  He had something on his mind, and it wasn't her.  She might as well get on with it so she could take advantage of the light.

The three outbuildings on the Adobe property were an odd assortment of structures.  She'd seen a proposal and rough sketches for two of them in a pile of miscellaneous documents George had collected.  They were built in the 30's.  The handwritten memo outlined requirements for a greenhouse and a potting shed to propagate and study area plant life.  But she never expected to see anything like this.  An obviously gifted artisan had built walls for the potting shed out of local rock.  The walls still stood, but the wood frames for the windows were eaten away.  Broken clay pots littered the floor.  Although the roof was relatively intact, several of the clay tiles had cracked and some were missing.  What a find!  She could get some great pictures here.  Thank god she'd brought the Nikon, the Panasonic wouldn't give her the focus options she needed.

George was the only one she had told about the plan she had for her life.  Her mother and her advisor thought she was committed to antropological research, but only the "art of the artifact" had kept her going.  Anthropology was a blind.  She'd get a degree financed by her mother because that was the only condition under which her mother would pay for it.  But she'd also get plenty of opportunities to do what she really loved.  Her portfolio was growing, and she already had two galleries interested.  But she wouldn't let that cat out of the bag until she had finished her degree.  Then she'd be free to do exactly what she wanted. And this place might just give her enough material for another series.

The greenhouse still had panes of glass here and there, and long tables with metal trenches.  There were water spigots at both ends with rubber hoses curled like fossilized snakes.  These shots would be best in black and white.  She reached into her bag for the Nikon SLR.  It wasn't there.  Shit, she'd left it in the car.  Well, she could get some preliminary shots with the Sony.

It was getting late, the sun was starting to slip behond the mountain, she had to move on.  Always time to come back for another shoot.  She needed to look at the last building before she went to find George.

This one didn't look nearly as interesting as the other two.  It seemed to be nothing more than a tool shed.  There were two little windows, high up on the north side.  When she walked around to the south, she could see a black stovepipe poking through the roof.  The door was closed, but not locked, and she stepped inside.  There was very little light, but she could make out an old pot-bellied stove and a bunk bed.  She waited a minute for her eyes to adjust.  She could smell the remnants of a wood fire, bacon, and coffee.  Someone had been camping out here, and recently.  Through the gloom she could see a broom standing by the door.  It had been used, the floor had obviously been swept.  The glass in the windows was new, and a box of unused candles stood on the shelf.  There was an inflatable mattress on one of the beds, and a sleeping bag.  A blackened frying pan and a metal coffeepot stood on the stove.  Mold on the grounds.  So, whoever it was, hadn't been back for at least three or four days.  This building could be shot when they came back, it certainly didn't have much to recommend it in any case.

The door was hard to close, but she managed it.  One of the hinges was almost off, and it hung unevenly.  She stood blinking for a moment in the light, then started back towards the house.  She poured some of the water she was carrying onto her hands and wiped her face.  The heat was oppressive, heavy.  God, she was frustrated and she was tired.  Who would be likely to camp out in this remote place?  Surely a vagrant would have looked for someplace closer to the road.  Maybe George would have some ideas.  She rounded the corner of the house, just in time to see George fall to the ground under a big oak tree.

Horrified, she ran towards him.  Was it a heart attack?  Her own heart was pounding as she bent down to see if he was still breathing.  He moaned.  Thank god, he was conscious, at least.

"Shit, shit shit!  I think I've broken my god-damn ankle!"  His face was pale as he turned on his side and looked up at her.  His left foot was at an odd angle from his leg.  There were beads of sweat on his forehead.

She felt a panic attack coming on.  What was she supposed to do with a 180 pound man who'd just broken his god-damned ankle?  What the fuck was he doing to break an ankle, anyway?  No, she wouldn't panic, she'd keep calm and do what any repsonsible grown-up person would do--but what the hell was that supposed to be?  Why had she ever agreed to come out to this forsaken piece of property anyway!  She'd have to do something, he was obviously helpless.  Why did the real grown-ups in her life keep failing her?

"Oh my god!  I left my cell phone in the car -- I'll run get it.  No, wait, it wasn't working out here!  What can we do?"

George moaned again.  He'd have to tell her what to do.  She was usually so competent and efficient -- but now she seemed immolbilized.

"Drive your VW down this road and get me back up to the parking lot.  Can you do that?"

"I think so.  Will you be okay until I get back?  You look terrible."

"Just get me up to the road."

She left him there, after handing him her bottle of water and helping him sit up against the tree trunk.

She was drenched with sweat by the time she reached her car.  She was terrified, and she was mad.  Medical emergencies always made her feel helpless, and helpless was not something she ever wanted to feel.  Why wasn't there any traffic on the road right now?  She could have hailed a car to get some help.  But there was nothing-- not even a motorcycle.  She was shaking as she put the key in the ignition and started the car down the steep path.