The Vacation (The Prelude to TO HELL AND BACK ‘Ascending’)
By Lucien Maier
Edited By Temperance Penrod
“No phones, no email, no contact for the summer. We will
come get you when your time off is over. It’s been far too long since you have had some time away.”
“Yes sir, but I am worried…” But he had been cut off.
“Let us worry about it. You have run the place for more yea
rs than I would like to count without a break. Go, and remember, have a good time.” He said and the phone went dead.
He set the phone down in its cradle.
Well I guess that is the final word, he thought to himself. He got up from the amazing desk and walked out to the rest of the offices. It was state of the art through and through. It was the Castle of his kingdom.
A kingdom he had built, but not on his own. He walked out to a storm of questions, but he held up his hand.
“I am on vacation.” He said, a smile spreading on his face. He walked straight out the door, he was off to pack. He didn’t know where he wanted go. As long as it was cool, he was tired of the heat.
Within two hours he was ready to go. He decided he would ride his motorcycle. He would head North, and see the snow.
The bike purred. It was a bright red Italian sports bike. Far too fast for his riding skills, but that did not deter him in pushing the bike to its limits. He had rode from the lower states and now was deep into Montana.
It was the second day of the trip and for the first time in years, he was smiling. His edge slowly dulled by the road. He couldn’t help think of all the books he had read about the joy of hitting the open road.
He had never really expected to take a trip like this but now that he was on it, he started to realize what a great emotional release it had already become. He felt different than he ever had.
His concentration lapsed as he looked at the beautiful mountains to his right. A small cabin tucked into the foothills. He never saw the small rock laying in the middle of his lane. By the time the front tire had hit the rock it was too late.
First he was airborne and then pain flashed through him and everything went dark.
The old truck barely started, but when it did and she got down the road from the bank, her emotions overwhelmed her and she began to cry. Her father had built the cabin, her family, all gone now, had all grown up there.
Sharon only had her son left, but he was so jaded by his hard life, even he kept her at arms length at all times. Now the cabin and the land it was sitting on was in so much debt she could not see how they would be there for longer than a month.
Twenty miles down the road, she had gotten her emotions under control. Her ranch was coming up on the right. She saw something up the road, try as she might she could not identify. As she rolled closer she could see the high end Italian motorcycle laying barely off the side of the road in pieces.
She scanned up and to her horror there lay a body, a full 60 feet away from the bike. She drove up to the body very quickly. He was bleeding from almost every part. She got out and ran up next to him.
“Are you alright?” she asked, his eyes popped open almost instantly.
“Yes, I am fine.” He answered. His eyes smoldered into hers.
“Ummm, I have a hard time believing that, your bleeding from everywhere.” She said trying to pull out her cell phone to call the police.
He pushed her phone down. “Honest, I am ok.” He labored to his feet. He walked over to the bike. She was amazed that he did not seem ginger on his injuries at all. “I guess I will need to get my bike fixed.” He said with not much emotion.
“There is a shop in town.” She replied.
“Which way is that?” He asked.
She pointed down the road the way she had come.
“Thanks for the help.” He said and started walking down the road.
“You just going to walk?” She asked.
“Yeah, I will get a hotel room and get cleaned up, then come back for the bike.” He turned back and said as he walked.
Her eyes smoldered into his again. Now Sharon had been raised smart, and not to take stupid risks. However, for some reason she could not resist.
“Why don’t I take you up to the ranch? You can get cleaned up there and then maybe we can get a tow truck out to pick up the bike and take you into town.” She suggested.
“Are you sure?” He asked, raising an eyebrow at her lapse in judgement.
“Well, no, I should probably know your name?” She asked, her better judgement told her of the risks, but something made her quiet those fears.
“Lu….Lucas is my name.” He looked at her again and again she felt warm inside.
They got into the truck and made the quick drive up to the cabin. When they pulled up her sixteen year old son came out.
“Hi mom, who’s this?” He asked about the guest.
“His name is Lucas. He just crashed his motorcycle. We are going to let him clean up and get a tow truck. Lucas, this is my son Ryan.” She introduced them.
Lucas held out his hand and the young man shook it with a strong grip.
“You ride a bike?” Ryan asked, his interest peaked.
Sharon perked up at the interest. It seemed that Ryan had no interest in anything. Now he seemed entranced.
“Yeah, well apparently not very well.” Lucas laughed.
They went into the house and Sharon showed Lucas the guest shower and he went in. He got in the shower, most of the cuts were surface, although it seemed he had cuts everywhere. Once Lucas dried off he pulled on his jeans, he walked out. Sharon sat him down and helped dress the major cuts.
“It’s amazing, but you don’t have one major injury. You are one lucky guy.” Sharon said.
“One man’s luck is another man’s fate I suppose.” He said quietly.
Ryan was in the room. “Can I go with him to get the bike mom?” He asked.
The worry rose in her, but she had not seen him so engaged in a long time. The new arrival had a big effect on him. Well, if she was honest, it was not just on him.
“Alright, we will both take the truck down with him. Maybe we can put the bike on the truck and drive Lucas into town.” She replied.
“That would be outstanding.” Lucas said.
A few moments later they were on the way to get the bike. The wreckage looked bad. Ryan and Sharon began to worry they would not be able to lift the bike into the truck bed.
However, it seemed to float into the back of the bed of the truck.The two felt as if they had barely lifted anything.
Lucas smiled “Teamwork.”
They jumped back in the truck and headed into the town. They went to the one bike shop in town. The mechanic came out and looked at the wreckage.
He let out a whistle. “Wow, I have only seen these in magazines. I don’t think I can fix this though. Or at least it would take a long time.” He assessed.
“How fast can you get a new one?” Lucas asked.
“Ummm, I don’t know a week. That is gonna cost a mint though.” He said.
“Can I pay for accelerated shipping?” Lucas asked.
“Umm, yeah, I guess I could have one here in three days. But we are looking at close to twenty-two grand to get that done. I am sure…” But he was cut off.
Lucas pulled out his wallet, “That sounds fine.”
The only eyes that were not wide at the statement were Lucas’s. The mechanic stammered for a moment and then a large smile spread across his face.
“Alright, come on in and we will write up the paperwork.” He said, leading them into the bike showroom.
Ryan happily looked around at the bikes as Lucas and the mechanic got the order together and paid for. Sharon stood to the side and looked at Ryan smiling at all the machines. Maybe, if they could get some money together, she could get him a starter bike.
They had always scared her, but if it could overshadow the life he had gone through, then she would be willing to get over her fear. She had never met anyone that acted like Lucas, but she could not stop looking at him. A warm rush flowing over her each time.
Soon the mechanic was walking them out thanking Lucas profusely for the business. They unloaded the wreckage of the old bike.
“You guys have been so accommodating, would you allow me to buy you dinner?” Lucas asked.
“I suppose that would be alright.” Sharon replied.
“What is the nicest place in town?” Lucas asked.
“Lenard’s. It’s a steakhouse. I have never been there.” Ryan blurted out.
Sharon’s eyes got wide at him. “No, that is a tourist restaurant and extremely expensive.” Sharon said.
“Well I am a tourist, and I say we go to Lenard’s.” Lucas said. Ryan was beside himself. She tried to protest, but Lucas would have none of it.
A few moments later they pulled into the fancy restaurant’s parking lot. They had a meal they would all remember for years, laughing and joking as if they ran the world.
Once the last bite was eaten they went out to the truck and, of course, it would not start. Lucas hopped out and two minutes after he got under the hood, he told Sharon to try it and it fired right up. He closed the hood and got in they drove to the motel.
They had no vacancy. “I can hitch hike back to the last town and see if they have an open room. Thanks again for all the help and the company at dinner.” Lucas said, he turned to go.
“Mom he could stay with us.” Ryan said hopefully.
She thought again about how far out of the rules this whole idea was, but in the end, she knew she would not have it any other way. “He is right Lucas, stay with us until the bike is here?” She asked.
“Not smart to bring strange men home.” Lucas said with a sly smile.
“You crashed in front of my home, I did not bring you there, that has to count for something.” They all laughed.
They loaded into the truck. He slept on the couch in the front room.
He woke up in the morning early to Sharon’s hushed voice on the phone. “I know how far behind I am Bill, but please give us some time. This cabin has been in my family since it was built.” She paused. “Yeah I know, you gotta do what you gotta do.”
Lucas closed his eyes and acted as he had heard none of it, but a smile settled on his lips. Doing good deeds was not something he had gotten to do very often in his career. He decided it was a good time to try it out.
He got up and had breakfast with them. Then he asked Sharon if he could borrow the truck to check on some things in town. Again, she had to convince herself past her trust issues, but she let him take it.
He drove off, Ryan looked after him. “I sure like him mom. You think he will let me see the bike before he takes off?” Ryan asked.
“Yes honey, I think he will.” Sharon replied. He had done it. Against all odds, she trusted Lucas.
His first stop was the bank. He sat down with the loan officer named Bill. After thirty minutes of talking and arranging, he looked Bill straight in the eye. “Don’t tell her what I have done here today. You call her one more time and let her know she has some time to work things out.
But then don’t call anymore. Then, after I leave, you can call and tell her the whole story. Ok.” Lucas stated more than asked.
“Oh Yes sir, we will be sure to keep your secret, and thanks again for the business.” Lucas stood and gave Bill a fiery handshake.
“Honor is a much better route for you Bill. In the long run.” Lucas said and was out of the door.
Next, he stopped by the motorcycle shop. The mechanic introduced him to the owner. Who was, of course, overjoyed to see their newest, and best customer ever back. Lucas however, quickly made it clear he would only be dealing with Frank the mechanic.
“Want to go out for a smoke?” Lucas asked Frank.
“Awe I’m real sorry, I just got back from my break, I gotta get back in the shop.” Frank said, holding to his duty.
“Oh no, please Frank, take Mr. Lucas out for a smoke. You let me know if you need anything.” The owner said, hustling them out the door. Before they knew it they were out on the street.
Frank let out a little giggle, and then Lucas snickered. Then neither one could hold in the belly laugh.
The owner was confused, he had never seen someone shut him out so quickly. He was no fool though, if the rich man dumping money at him wanted to not talk to him, that was fine. Frank would not be cashing the check, he would.
Lucas stopped laughing enough to ask Frank for a cigarette.
“Yeah sure, here you go.” He handed him one and took one for himself. “How did you know I smoke?” Frank asked, after lighting his smoke.
Lucas tapped his nose.
“But, when you smoke you can’t smell it?” Frank asked.
Lucas smiled at his observant mind. “I don’t smoke unless I want to. It’s a once in a while treat for me.” Lucas explained. “I will smell like them now.” He joked.
“I wish I could do that.” Frank said.
“You can.” Lucas responded in a matter of fact tone that took Frank by surprise. Lucas cocked his head and looked him up and down. “Are you still stuck in that small mind set? Come on Frank, you can do whatever you want. Don’t be limited by what some say.” he said and nodded to the shop. “You have more potential than you will realize for a long time.” Lucas said taking a drag, he let the smoke out in luscious tail, as only an expert smoker could do.
Frank was still chewing over what had just been said to him when Lucas continued to talk. “Hey, that guy that was with me yesterday, he seems real interested in bikes. I think he might have a rider in him. I want to find out if he is.” He said.
“You want to buy him a bike?” Frank asked.
“Sorta, here is what I am thinking.” Lucas began to lay out his plan. The smile on Frank’s face grew bigger and bigger throughout the whole conversation.
They walked in and Lucas paid the bill. The owner once again overjoyed, quietly, from his office. Frank walked Lucas out to the truck. Frank gave him a handshake. “See you soon I hope.” Lucas said and drove off.
Frank reached for his smokes, but then he tucked the pack back in his pocket. He had work to do.
Lucas drove to the auto dealership. He walked through the lot and listened to the salesman prattle on for about ten minutes. Then he turned and looked him straight in the eye. The salesman did not find it a good feeling.
“I will be purchasing a truck here today. I want the information I ask for and no more.” Lucas stated.
“Yes sir.” The Salesman, happy to finally break Lucas’s gaze.
“So now show me trucks you think would be good for ranch work, and tell me why you believe that.” Lucas said. And off they went to look and test drive a half dozen trucks over the next three hours.
True to his word he bought a truck there. They shook hands, and again the salesman was caught in his gaze. “If anyone asks, I am renting the truck. After I am outta town for good you can answer with the truth.” Lucas stated.
Lucas drove Sharon’s truck back to the ranch, followed by the salesman in the new truck, and his friend in a third car. They pulled in and the salesman gave Lucas the keys. “You have a fantastic day sir.” He said.
Then the salesman and his friend took off down the road.
“What in the world?” Sharon asked.
“Ohhh, Frank said it may take a bit longer for the bike to arrive, so I figured I better get something to get around in. So I rented the truck. Might as well get up into Glacier National Park while I am so close. I was planning on doing some serious riding through there anyway.” Lucas answered.
“Wow! Well, that is a very nice vehicle to do it in.” Sharon said. Ryan nodded as he looked at the truck.
“I know a couple really cool spots if you need a guide.” Ryan said.
“You’re on!” Lucas said.
“Well, I wanted to drop off your truck, and let Ryan know that I stopped by the bike shop. Frank said you should stop by at five, he has an idea or something for ya.” Lucas said, he took a big look around the view. “Guess I better head to my motel for the night. I want to head into the park tomorrow.” Lucas said.
“You are welcome to stay with us. We cleaned out the third room today. It’s not much room, but a good place to sleep, better view here.” Sharon replied, maybe a little too fast.
“That sounds wonderful, but it maybe a week or more, I don’t want to impose.” Lucas said.
“No, not at all. You go explore Glacier and we will serve as your home base as long as you need it.” Sharon stated to him.
“Alright, that sounds good.” Lucas said.
Ryan took off shortly after to meet up with Frank. Two hours later he pulled back in, the bed of the truck full. Frank followed on his bike.
He almost ripped the door off the hinges as he ran in. “You’re not going to believe it Mom! Frank is going to teach me how to work on bikes! And the best part is he is going to do it by helping me build a motorcycle!” He said in one breath.
Frank came in behind Ryan “Hello everyone.” He said.
“You want to build a motorcycle together?” Sharon asked.
They both shook their heads yes.
“Well, let’s see this project.” Lucas said. The two ran out to show ready everything. Lucas and Sharon walked out after them.
“You teach him to be safe for me?” Sharon asked, as they walked out. Dreading the idea, but knowing there was little she could do to stop it at this point.
“I think will he will be fine. I have a feeling this is meant for him.” Lucas replied. They walked outside and over to the truck.
Inside was a bike frame, and boxes of parts. It was an older 440 cc bike and it was taken apart down to the bolts. Just as Frank had been instructed to do.
“Can I use the workshop to build it in mom? If not, Frank’s boss said I could build it there. Maybe if I do it there, I could impress him and get a job?” Ryan blurted out.
“NO.” Lucas said sharply. “There is no good to be had in that shop other than Frank, build it here.” Lucas said.
“Ok.” Sharon said, looking at him a bit confused. “Sure you can use the shop.”
“Let’s go!” Ryan shouted and drove the truck down to the small shop her father had built to maintain the ranch equipment.
Frank waved at them and headed down. Sharon turned to Lucas. “That might have been a good opportunity for him Lucas. We don’t get the chances you have.” She said, a bit angry at him for butting into their lives.
“No, Sharon. That guy is no good. He is all about the wrong roads, anyway, here I can have a hand in teaching him how to ride it.” Lucas said.
“Alright, but please clear stuff with me first, he is my son. Don’t get me wrong, it’s so great to see him have a passion. But this particular passion scares the hell out of me.” Sharon said.
“Understood, and I apologize.” Lucas said.
The light burned in the shop till midnight, at which point Frank took off for his apartment. With the promise that he would return after work the next day. Then it still burned for another two hours. Ryan finally came in to bed at close to three in the morning, Lucas heard him and smiled.
“I knew he was a rider.” He thought and closed his eyes.
Lucas was up early in the morning. He went on his own that first day into Glacier. He knew Ryan would be right back at the bike. He left a note on the table telling Sharon to take the Truck into town and get it fixed up. He left some cash.
The note on top said:
“Get the truck fixed up, it’s the least I can do. This would have gone to the hotel anyway so please let me pitch in a little. She wanted to say no, but in the end she decided she would agree to payment for the stay.”
Lucas had been long gone once she read the note. She went down to the shop and there was Ryan happily working on his bike.
“Hey honey, I am heading into town for the day. Do you need anything?” She asked.
“No, do you need me to come help.” Ryan said looking up from the bike. “I will.” He said, trying not to show the desperation to stay and work on the bike.
“Ha, No thanks, I think an hour into the trip your head would explode. Thanks for the offer though. It is much appreciated.” Sharon said smiling at him.
She turned to go but he called after her. “You are too you know.” She turned back.
“Appreciated I mean. I know I have not been the best at letting you know that mom. But I really am happy you’re my mom.” Ryan said. “And you are being so cool about the bike, that makes you the best ever.” he added.
“Don’t think so. I am still hoping you won’t get it built.” She teased him.
“No chance of that mom. See you when you get back.” He said.
She turned and walked to the car quickly. On the drive she shed a tear or two, being so thankful to see her sweet little boy poke through his hard shell.
Something was odd about Lucas that anyone could feel. But she felt something about his presence was a powerful good force for her and Ryan.
She took the truck in and had them take a look. It needed a tune up and new starter motor, and a couple other items. But the bill was not half of what Lucas had given her. She set to go to the bank, but before she could she got the call from Bill.
“Keep the money Sharon. We have reviewed some things and we know your family has been valued customers of ours for more years than I can remember. You will pull it out. Keep the money, and when you’re ready to square us you let us know.” Bill said.
“Alright, if you’re sure Bill. I am so thankful, but I am good for it. I will pay every penny I owe.” She replied.
“Oh Sharon, I know that beyond a shadow of a doubt. You have a good day.” Bill said and hung up.
Sharon looked at her phone in shock. She let out a small yelp.
“Food, I am going to stock our cupboards.” She said and she went to the store. She stocked up on all the things she needed, including the makings for a large dinner. She loaded up and stopped by the bike shop. She walked in and the owner came out to meet her.
He looked her up and down like a piece of meat. “Can I help you missy?” He asked, leering a little to long.
“I was hoping to talk to Frank.” Sharon asked.
“Frank, you got a visitor, make it quick.” He shouted into the shop, then after one last uncomfortable gaze at Sharon, he went back to his office.
Frank popped out a second later. “Oh hey.”
“Hey Frank, I just wanted to stop by and ask if you could come out for dinner tonight? I am making a lot of food and we would love to have you.” She asked.
Frank laughed. “Sure that would be great. I will be there anyway, I think Ryan will explode if I am not there by 5:30.” Frank said.
“Thanks so much for that. I know he is persistent, but he is just very excited and dedicated.” She explained.
Frank waved her off. “No, not at all. I am enjoying it, he is a great kid. I hope it will turn out for him.”
“I can’t tell you how good that is to hear.” she said. “We will see you tonight?”
“For sure.” Frank said.
She drove home and Ryan helped her unload the truck, happy as a clam.
The cabin filled with wonderful smells as she baked some of her moms desserts. At five o’clock Ryan ran into the cabin, a big smile growing on his lips.
“Pie?” He asked.
“For after dinner, Lucas helped us out with the truck, so I got us a nice little feast. Even invited Frank to come out and eat with us.” Sharon responded.
“Awesome mom! Are you gonna fire up the barbeque?” He asked hopefully.
“Yes its been a while, but why not.” Sharon said.
Her father had loved to hunt and barbeque, Sharon had always loved the barbeque part. She bought her meat at the store, but she was well trained on how to make it sizzle just right on the barbeque her father had built.
The cabin, the barbeque, the land, it was her father’s legacy. To know she had some time to get her feet under her. To have the truck in good working order and, best of all to see Ryan happy.
She felt blessed. No, that was not the right word. Maybe looked after, or safe, would be more accurate.
Frank pulled in on his bike, as promised, at 5:30 and Lucas a few minutes after 6:00. They had a few beers and talked by the Barbeque while Sharon cooked.
Dinner was on the back table, as the sun settled down in the back ground. Lucas told them about the adventures he had up in the park, and planned more with Ryan. After dinner they all went down the shop to work on Ryan’s bike.
More so Ryan and Frank worked and Lucas and Sharon drank beer and by nine o’clock Ryan was ready to start the bike. The engine roared to life.
Ryan was ecstatic. There were still a few things left to do before it was ready to ride, but for the most part, Ryan had built his bike. Lucas walked Frank out to his bike, “You did a real good thing, helping him out.” Lucas said.
“No problem, your idea. I have an idea of my own, can you come by the shop at 6:00 tomorrow morning?” Frank said.
“Early, but ok, I will be there.” Lucas said. With the house clean again, they all hit the sack.
Lucas held to his word and pulled into the shop at 6:00 am on the dot. Frank brought him in the shop. “I tuned it up last night, it’s ready to go.” Frank said pointing to cafe racer. The bike was early 80’s, a large four cylinder. “It’s not your Italian rocket, but I figured you would like it.”
“This is a nice surprise. Is this your idea?” Lucas asked.
“Part of it. Come on.” They geared up and rode back out to the ranch.
Ryan had woke up when the truck took off, he was disappointed that Lucas had left today. He had hoped he would be there to help him learn to ride. Sharon felt bad for him until she heard the two motorcycles coming up the road.
Ryan had been in the shop, but had heard as well and was outside even before Sharon. They pulled up next to the two of them. “Wanna go for a ride?” Frank asked Ryan
“Is the bike ready?” Lucas asked. Ryan nodded yes. “Good, go into the third room, on the bed is a couple things you are going to need.” Ryan looked confused but ran off.
Ten minutes later he came out in a leather jacket, gloves, boots, and a helmet in his hand. “I don’t know what to say Lucas.” Ryan said.
“Ride safe, that is what you can say. Motorcycles can set you free, but if you don’t do it right, they can bury just as fast. Always respect that every-time you ride.” Lucas replied. “Now, let’s go teach you how to ride.”
An hour later Ryan set out on his first road adventure, after he had gotten basics down in a field by the cabin. He paid sharp attention to the fundamentals and they rode all the way to Many Glacier Lodge.
Frank insisted on buying tickets for the boat. They took the first boat across walked a short path to the next boat on the next lake. They took that one across and Ryan talked them through the hike at the other side and told stories about the land. He had been correct, he was a great guide.
Soon they arrived at Grinnell Lake. The view was breath taking and even Lucas, with all he had seen in his life, was at a loss for words.
“There are lots of spots like this around Glacier.” Frank said. Lucas looked over and smiled. Frank’s idea was beginning to come clear to Lucas.
They took the boat back and on the ride Lucas brought it up.
“So your idea Frank?” Lucas asked. Ryan perked up interested.
“Well, I think you sorta guessed it. That first night we were working on Ryan’s scoot we were talking about our favorite spots in Glacier. And I started to think how cool it was going to be to ride with Ryan up to those spots.” Frank said.
“It is cool!” Ryan said.
“Yeah, and motorcycles are real big right now. And then I thought well we could start a tour service? Ride with us on little trips like this. I have a plan for another trip too, but it would be four or five days, so I can’t take you on that one.
But this one today is to show how cool it is. We took an awesome ride, then we get an awesome hike, and now an awesome ride home. They could stay at the hotel, do you think it could work?” Frank asked.
Ryan and and Frank looked at Lucas hopefully. “Let me think on it guys. It’s not a bad idea I just want to mull it over a bit.” Lucas replied, they accepted the answer. The ride home was brisk. They sat and ate a meal that Sharon had prepared when they arrived back.
Frank and Ryan told Sharon about the concept.
“It has some challenges, but I could see it working.” She replied.
“What do you see as the challenges?” Lucas piped in, and asked. He had been thinking about it since Frank had told him.
“The motel in town is a dump. These people are going to come back from their adventure, and want to sleep comfy and that place is a dive.” She replied.
“She has a point.” Lucas affirmed.
“Well, its not like we can build a hotel.” Ryan said.
“Why not?” Lucas asked.
“Because that is crazy expensive.” Frank said.
“Not if you build it.” Lucas replied.
“Build it where? I don’t have any land, I can’t get that kind of money.” Frank said, laughing off the idea.
“I have land, Ryan is your partner right.” Sharon said.
“Well yeah, but … but this is just crazy!” Frank said.
“Is it?” Sharon asked.
It was early in the morning. He laid on his tiny bed with his legs sticking out in two or three spots. She smiled wickedly. She hustled him out of bed.
“I’m gonna be your guide today.” she said and kissed him on the cheek.
His eyes did not open, but a large smile grew on his lips.
“Now that’s the way to wake up!” he said and then launched into a giant yawn.
“Oh yeah, that’s hot.” She scoffed.
“Perfection is hard to maintain, but I make it look easy.” He said with a sneer. Thier tone had changed. He was no longer withdrawn, and she welcomed it.
“It’s your humble nature that I like the most.” She said rolling her eyes. She felt like a teenager. She had already packed their lunch in two hiking packs. “Let’s roll lazy ass, get in the shower.” She smacked his butt, with a bit of wicked grin on her face.
“Wanna come?” He snickered.
“What?” She asked.
“Nothing.” he said in a small voice and he rushed off to the shower.
Sharon shook her head. She probably would have followed, if Ryan hadn’t been sleeping in the other room.
“The day is young.” she said out loud.
When he came out breakfast was on the table. He smiled and tore into a cup of coffee and the omelete. Ryan stumbled in and sat at the table yawning.
She gave him a plate, and he tore in. She ruffled his hair. “Ryan, today I am taking Lucas up to Avalanche Lake. We should be back around dinner. Can you keep busy?” She asked.
“Yeah, I have a lot of planning to do. Frank and I are working on a new route we want to try. And I always have something to do on my bike.” He smiled.
“Yeah that is what I figured. You stay out of trouble.” Sharon said.
Ten minutes later Lucas and her were loaded into the truck and went down the road. They walked through the Trail Of The Cedars, Lucas marvelled at the massive trees. They continued deep into the forest, after about an hour, Sharon pulled them off the public trail.
“Come on, this way to the hidden spot.” She urged as they went off into the trees.
Sure enough, in a few hundred feet they were on another trail. They emerged on to the clearest lake Lucas had ever seen. In the arch of the mountains above were many waterfalls.
“Wow” He breathed.
They sat in the small meadow, ate their lunch, and laughed. She feed him the last strawberry which turned into a kiss and then the kiss unfolded into passion by the side of the lake.
They spent the late morning and early afternoon laying in their picnic blanket. Exploring each other in every sense. They packed up with much hesitation, and started the hike out to the truck.
“Get out here Frank, Mr. Lucas’s bike is here.” The owner barked.
Frank’s heart sank. He had been dreading the day. Lucas had told him to call and they would build the bike up at the cabin. He called Ryan.
“Bring the truck man.” Frank said.
“Why?” He paused. “Oh.” Another pause “Alright, I will be down in a bit.” Ryan hung up the phone. Tears boiled in his eyes. He looked in the mirror on the way out the door and cleared the tears.
Lucas had done more for him than anyone, other than his mother and Grandpa. He admired him greatly, and he would be damned if he didn’t respect the man’s first vacation in years.
As he drove out of the ranch his lip began to tremble. By the time he got to shop he was a mess. Frank hugged him when he dropped out of the truck.
They both talked in hushed tones. Then they walked into the shop.
“Lucas wants us to bring the bike up to the cabin. And I will take tomorrow off and go help him assemble it.” Frank said.
“The Hell you will! You drop his fancy dancy bike off up there and you get back.” The owner almost screamed. “Guy wouldn’t even talk to me. Fuck him.” He barked.
Ryan almost came unhinged. Frank held him back. “Fuck you! You asshole.” Ryan screamed ready to tear the man limb from limb.
“Come on Frank, let the little pussy go.” He barked.
“Lucas was right.” Frank stated, “No, Ryan is smarter than to get drug down by the likes of you. I am sure that is how Lucas would see it.” upon hearing this Ryan stopped struggling. He stood straight and listened to Frank.
“Load the bike up and get in the fucking shop, get this idiot out of my shop now.” He barked again.
“No, I will take the bike to Lucas, and I wont be coming back here. I quit.” Frank said.
The anger dropped off his face. Fear washed over him. “Oh come on, I was just razzing you a bit.” He said, seeing the business slip away.
They walked out and loaded the crate in the back of the truck and drove to the ranch.
“Wow Frank, that was pretty awesome man.” Ryan said.
“Ha, I guess it kind of was. Funny thing is the whole time I was asking myself, what would Lucas do.” Frank said, and tears started to spill from his eyes.
Ryan laid his hand on his shoulder. “Hey, he can’t stay, we know that. But he has taught us a lot, and its not just him, you know, its meeting you to. You’re, well, you’re like my brother.” Ryan said.
Frank smiled through the tears. “I never had a brother, but I would be honored to be your’s.”
They pulled into the driveway, “Let’s get this thing in the shop.”
They set to work, brothers on a very sad task indeed.
“Looks like the boys are in the shop.” Sharon said as they pulled in. They got out of the truck and the large door of the shop swung open. There sat the crate. She was devastated. Although she held it in check, barely.
Lucas burst into a smile. “It’s here.” He ran into the garage.
Her knees buckled a bit, but she slowly followed him. Lucas was like a kid on Christmas. He looked at the crate in depth. It was not until he stood upright that he saw their faces.
“Why is everyone so…..” He paused.
He looked beyond them to open road for a moment.
“I don’t want you to go.” Frank said.
“I don’t either. I know you have not had a vacation in a long time, but can’t you just stay?” Ryan said tears coming out of his eyes. “After Grandpa died when I was eight, I never had someone like you. You’re like, well, you are really important to me.”
“And me.” Sharon echoed quietly.
Lucas walked straight to Ryan and grabbed him in a hug. “If I had been your dad, I would have never left. Don’t you think my leaving and his have anything to do with each other.” Lucas said and kissed him on the forehead.
Lucas had seen the years of anguish in his statement. “Ryan you are one hell of a kid. I am so honored you look at me that way.” Lucas looked up and called them all in. “Here is what is going to happen. I will stay here for the rest of my vacation. We have a lot of work to do anyway right.” Lucas said. “But. When my vacation is over that is a hard stop. There is nothing that any of us can do about that. If we see each other after that, it will be a long time. There is nothing I can do about that. It is part of my job. But even after then, there will not be an hour that goes by that I don’t think of all of you and what you mean to me.”
“When is your vacation is over?” Frank asked.
“I don’t know, they will come for me. I have the summer, but they will need me back. I can’t imagine what is breaking loose back there now.” They saw him consumed with the thoughts of his work for a moment. He shook his head to drive the thoughts out and smiled up at all of them.
“That will be ok. I promise I won’t be such a baby about it next time.” Ryan said.
“Even when I am gone Ryan, I will still love you as a son, and you Frank.” Lucas said, pulling them into an embrace.
He backed out of the shop next to Sharon, who had backed off a little to contain herself.
“And me?” She asked.
“You? You I love a different way.” Lucas said with a sneer and picked her up and spun her around. “Let’s get a shower, we’re going out to dinner. I want seafood!” Lucas said.
“I can’t, I gotta get looking for a job. I am behind on my rent already and I quit the shop today.” Frank said.
“No, we are starting the business anyway, you can stay in the spare room. We can move your stuff over tomorrow.” Sharon said.
“But then where will Lucas…” Ryan started.
“Lucas will be sleeping in my room for the rest of his vacation.” Sharon said, and without another word she turned and headed for the shower.
The two young men’s faces dawned with realization. Lucas wore a big stupid grin.
“Shower!” He said and ran off after Sharon.
After a shower they were off to town and found a fun seafood and crab place. Frank had to drive home because both Lucas and Sharon had had far too much fun. A strange little family it may have been, but there it was.
But what can be said, is that for four very sad souls, that night they found their peace, their home. Family.
One night Lucas said he had a few friends coming up to take a tour. They showed up two days later, on the same bikes that Lucas had, but in white. They took them up to the continental divide. Then then strapped the bikes on a trailer and hiked up over a glacier to get to Hidden Lake, from there they hiked to the Sperry Chalets. They spent the night in backcountry. The next morning they hiked out and picked up their bikes by the side of Lake Mcdonald. Then rode back to the ranch.
The two friends talked excitedly about the amazing experience. They left the next day and the phone began to ring. Soon the rest of the summer was booked. All paying in advance. They rented a few mobile trailers for the guests to stay in for that summer.
Ryan, Frank, and Sharon woke up daily feeling like they were in a dream. Lucas was not done though. One day he showed up with blueprints, they were for an amazing lodge. They all poured over the plans and marveled at the idea.
Lucas also announced his company had decided to fund the lodge. And soon a construction crew started showing up everyday to build the new lodge. August rolled around and Lucas had come up with the idea to host a motorcycle Rally at the ranch. Two thousand bikers showed up and, after the party, they had made a great deal of money from the rally.
Also, the reservation books were pretty much full for the next three years.
A few mornings after the rally Lucas was up early, he could feel it. It was time. The vacation was over. Ryan, Frank, and Sharon were all in the shop when Lucas walked in.
“So guys, today is the day. I have to go back.” Lucas said.
They all looked shocked, although he had told them throughout the summer that this day would come. They heard a helicopter.
He grabbed Frank into a hug, “Don’t be limited Frank.”
“Never again, thanks for…. everything.” Frank said, choking back tears.
Lucas walked to Ryan. Ryan buried his head into Lucas’s hug.
“Please don’t go.” Ryan said.
“Ryan, I have to. But one day, long from now, you will see me again.” Lucas said holding on to him tight. “You take care of your mom.” Ryan nodded and cried freely as Lucas moved on to Sharon.
She fell into his embrace. “I don’t really want you to go either. I could see having a life with you.” Sharon said.
“I can see that clearly too. But this is not the life we get to share. It’s not our time yet. One day it will be, I hope.” Lucas said, he kissed her deep.
Warmth flowed through her from him and she knew how much he loved her. The red helicopter had now landed in the field next to the shop. He grabbed his bag and boarded the helicopter.
Lucas flew away.
It took them a while to compose themselves, but as the days past the new lodge and customers eager to explore the land they all loved, moved their thoughts away from Lucas. Sharon of course attempted to take the truck back to the lot, but as soon as she had told the salesman that Lucas had left, he explained the truck was not rented at all and the title was already in her name.
She then went straight to the bank to catch up the note on her ranch. Bill hearing that Lucas was now out of town explained that the ranch had been paid off in full that first day. She was blown away.
The lodge was soon completed, and in the massive lobby they put Lucas’s red bullet bike in a case. Sharon lived in the cabin, however, Frank and Ryan lived in and ran the lodge.
She always hoped she would see him again, but as the years drew by, she began to give up hope.
Ten years later Bill the banker died of a massive heart attack. He was amazed by the sight of the pearly gates. A large man look down at him and just said, “Judgement”
He was shuttled off to another line, and when his turn came up he went into an amazing hall set up as court. Except there were two judges benches. At one sat St. Peter, at least that is what Bill assumed. At the other sat the Devil his fiery eyes sending fear deep into Bills soul.
“You have lived on the borders of your morals Bill.” St. Peter said,
Before Bill could say anything to defend himself the Devil began to speak, “This is true. However, the path of honor has suited Bill well over the last of his years. He will be pardoned from his indiscretions.” The Devil stated.
They took him out and let Bill see his family, who was waiting for him, he looked back at the Devil, someone had said that to him before.
Two years after that, the owner of the bike shop died in a car crash. He also was amazed by the site of the gates. The same tall man looked him up and down. “You have been judged.” He was grabbed and forced into a small room.
The door on the other end open and in walked the Devil, his horns black as night, and his eyes as red as fire.
“Now I will talk to you…” The devil said.
The shop owner realized who it was too late, and soon he was off to serve his sentence in Hell.
Sharon had lived a great life. Her boys, Ryan and Frank, sat by her bedside as she closed her eyes for the last time. As she took her final breath, she only wished she had gotten to see Lucas, one more time.
She woke at the Gates, the tall man smiled. “You are a very special arrival. There are many waiting for you, right in there.”
She walked into the room and there she shared hugs with family she had not seen in many years. Her father embraced her. “You have lived an amazing life Shar. I am so proud of you.” He said.
“You must know that Lucas was the one that made that turn possible.” She said, even in death she couldn’t stop thinking of him.
“Well maybe, funny thing about that. His name was not Lucas. His name was Lucifer. My dear, Lucas was the devil when he was on vacation.” Her dad said smiling.
“Are you really telling me that the most honorable man I have ever met, was the Devil?” Sharon questioned.
“Shar, you already know the answer to that question. To be honest he is not a bad guy, he handles evil, he does not create it.” he said knowly.
“I fell in love with the Devil?” Sharon reeled.
The people parted and there stood Lucas, Black horns springing from his head and his eyes burned red. “He fell in love with you too.” The devil, Lucas, Lucifer said.
She fell into his embrace.
“The last time we talked I told you that was not our time.”
“Our time is now.” She smiled and kissed him.
He got down on bended knee, he present her with an amazing ring, although a bit evil looking. “I wanted to spend that lifetime with you, but now, I would much rather spend forever with you. Will you be my wife?”
“Yes.” She said through tears. He slipped the ring on. Sharon felt a set of black horns raise from her head. Her eyes burned fiery red with happiness.
“We will have to wait for a while though.” She stated.
They all looked at her confused. “If I am finally to get married, my sons will need to be here to attend. And for that, I hope, we need to do a bit of waiting.” She replied.
He embraced her. “That sounds like a spectacular idea.”
They had a wonderful meal, in which Sharon got to see people from all throughout her life. Even old Bill from the bank hugged her. He turned to the Devil.
“You saved me, thank you.” Bill said tembeling.
The Devil gave a sly smile. “No Bill, you saved yourself. I just suggested a path.”
After a wonderful evening the Devil and his fiancé returned to Hell, to await their wedding date.
Check out the rest of the THAB series here: