Lucas Weismann

Writing Prompt 4 – In a Pink Room

The room is too pink.  Somehow this is the only thing that Johnny could think as he entered the second grade classroom.  Pink winged babies with weaponry he would not be allowed to use in school, pink hearts with white lace, pink streamers and altogether just too much pink.

Miss Winkler always did that.  Every day was celebrating some sort of holiday.  Finally it was Valentine’s day.  The decorations had been up for three weeks.  The unfairness of the world weighed down on him as he thought of how he’d been teased for being in the kissing classroom.  He slunk lower into his seat, wishing he could melt out of the room.

None of the other teachers do that, he thought as he pulled his books out of his desk and slammed them down a bit harder than was strictly necessary.

He looked over at Josh.  Josh looked just as miserable.  So did Dickie and Billie (the class twins).  It was alright for all the girls.  They were supposed to like all that kissing stuff.  No one made fun of them.

Oh well, he thought.  At least tomorrow it would all change.  Leprechauns and Rainbows and Pots O’ Gold.

“Hello Class!” sang Miss Winkler.  Johnny hated that.  People should sing when they sing and talk when they talk.  It was so stupid when people just sang everything they said.  It always made him feel like they were treating him like a little baby.

He turned to the door, bracing himself for what he knew would be one of her ‘special outfits’.  Miss Winkler always wore her special outfits every holidays.  Every kid knew it.

On president’s day last year, she dressed as Lincoln, beard and all.  After Easter Break she wore an easter bonnet and bunny ears, and a normal outfit, but glued a big cotton ball to her butt to make a bunny tail.  (Okay, that one had been funny, but only because no one had seen the tail until she turned to the board to write something).

Oh no.  It was worse than he’d thought.  Her dress was a pink Alice-In-WOnderland Dress with a giant Cupid on it.  That wasn’t the bad part.  The cupid was him.  It had his green eyes, curly brown hair and small pointed chin.  Oh no, this was not going to be good.  he had to get out of there before

*RIIIINGGG*

Too Late.  Class had officially started. There was no escape and now everyone came to order as she started with Roll Call.  This was terrible!  Everyone was gonna see the picture when she put down the Roll Sheet and then… then… well, he didn’t know what would happen, but he knew it would be bad.

Oh no, she was halfway through the list now.  She called his name and he raised his hand slowly.  Not long now before his school career and friends were over.  There’d be no playing on the cool parts of the playground after this.

Another Winter Gone – 6

Once dried, Jessica re-dressed and they wrapped her foot as best they could.  She would still be cold, but at least she was alive and would likely keep all her extremities.  Marcus remembered when he was a boy, meeting a farmer named Al who’d lost lost fingers to the cold and other accidents.  He remembered the farmer describing the aches and pains or just tingling that would sometimes occur in the fingers that were no longer there.  It still gave him a shiver almost a century later- though he’d gotten better at hiding it.

He remembered the story he old man told him, saying that as a younger man he’d played the guitar until he’d lost the tips of a finger or two in a threshing accident.  At that point he’d switched to the accordion, until he lost fingers to the cold.  When he couldn’t play the accordion anymore, he switched to the hammer dulcimer.  By the time Marcus met the old man, the only instrument he could play anymore was the Harmonica.

He admired the stubborness and tenacity of the old man.  He unwillingness to let any accident or fate prevent him from partaking in his love of music.

With any luck, this Jessica would be alright.  Of course, they weren’t out of the woods yet and the shadows already stretched long over the land.  But at least the girl was hydrated and responsive.  Marcus had melted some water for her from the snow and given it to her.  It was a mercy she hadn’t hit her head on a rock or broken her neck with a fall like that.

Remembering what he’d seen in terms of destruction of the branches and the dislodged trees on the way down the ravine reminded him about her story of being chased by wolves.  It was such an obvious prevarication that it almost didn’t seem worth asking about.

He shook his head to clear his thoughts.  Now that the immediate danger was past, there was the very real problem of what to do to get the girl back to the road and the relative safety of his truck.  It had been a 10 minute walk, plus some odd switchbacks, but that was with snowshoes and the girl only had one of those left.  Plus, she’d be hopping on one foot.  That wouldn’t do.  

Marcus realized he’d left his phone in the truck.  The damn thing barely got reception anyway, but still.  Minor chance was worth more than no chance.

“Jessica, you got a phone?”

“Yeah, I…” she grabbed her pants and went through the pockets. “Yeah, I’ve got it.”

“Great.  You got reception?”

“No.”  It figured.  They probably had the same carrier.  

“Well, we’re going to have to figure out how to get you out of here.  I don’t have time to be bringing firewood all night and I don’t want to risk you going into shock or dying of exposure.  Lemme see your ankle.”  It was swollen, purple and angry.”

The whine of a small gas engine became more apparent as it approached the ridge above them and then from up top a voice cried out, “Hey, Marcus, you okay?”  Christ.  That was all he needed.  That darned Amos was here, and he’d probably want to… wait.  

“Down here Amos.”

“You injured?”  

“No, but there’s a girl who is.  Heard a scream.  She’s got a busted up ankle and we have no reception here.  Help me get her to the truck.”

“Sounds good”  Sounds good?  Marcus had never heard Amos say so little at one time.  The engine whirred to life in that fly-buzz register that snowmobiles seem to share with squadrons of mosquitos.

A few minutes later, there was Amos dismounting his snowmobile and digging under the seat for his spare helmet.  Well, for once the man’s insistence on doing everything by the book might be of use.

“What’re you doing here?”

“Snowmobiling and I saw your truck with the emergency lights on and the door open on the side of the road.  Then I saw tracks and thought… “hey!  If marcus is running in the woods, either he’s in trouble or someone else is.’ And then…”

“Good job.” Said Marcus.  “I’m sure you have more you want tell me about it, but let it wait until we get her back to town and in some clothes.”

Amos seemed to just notice the girl next to them covered only in an old saddle blanket.  He reddened.  Internally, Marcus face-palmed.  Amos had to be what, 55?  65?  And here he was blushing like little  kid.  This provoked a similar reaction in Jessica, who up till now had been too concerned about survival to worry about propriety.

“Alright children, let’s get back to the truck.  Amos, keys are in the ignition, so start it up and make sure she stays warm. I’ll be there when I can and will put out the fire.”

They fumbled their way on to the snow mobile, with Jessica’s feet still in Marcus’s mittens.  The heels hung out a bit and looked silly, but at least it wouldn’t take long to get back, he thought as they rode off toward the truck.

Marcus took one of his snowshoes and used it as a shovel to extinguish the fire, using the tail of it to stir in the ashes and make sure it was completely out.  He’d seen what could happen if a fire went underground, or cinders whipped up and wouldn’t leave anything to chance.  

Afterward, he put the snowshoes back on, clenched and unclenched his now-chilly fingers and and started back to the truck at a brisk trot.

Another Winter Gone – 5

In times like this, Marcus knew that talking and keeping people alert was one of the best ways to avert disaster.  He went to talking her though the task at hand.  Namely hypothermia and how to avoid it.

“There are four stages of hypothermia” he said as he wandered around and started gathering branches and sticks.  “Mild, moderate and severe.  mental confusion, shivering.  This is the part where you feel cold.”  He took out his steel and set it on a flat rock nearby so he’d be have it to hand.  

“Ok-kkkay” said Jessica.

“Now, you’re past that, because you’re having trouble controlling your shivering.  If you weren’t, I’d be less concerned.  you’re probably a bit confused and your lips and ears are turning blue, which indicates at least moderate hypothermia.”  Marcus dug through his pockets seeking something.  He pulled it out.  “Aha! wait, damn.” he said.  That’s not what I wanted.  Well, here, eat this.”

“A film canister?” She said confusion on her features.

“No, what’s inside it.”

“What is inside it?”

“Crushed potato chips mashed with dates”

“What?”

“Calories kid. It’s an easy way to transport them.  You need fuel to burn; speaking of which” he pulled out a film canister wrapped with several layers of duct tape.

“More chips?”

“nope.  Waterproof matches and kindling.”

“W-wwwere you a boy scout?”

“Nah, but I like the books.”  Marcus started making a rat’s nest of the duct tape- first tearing it into small strips and then making it into a loose bundle.  “I like the Civics lessons, but I never went in for the ‘God’ part of the whole ‘God and Country’ part of the scouts.  Seemed silly to exclude all those Atheists, Buddhists and others who might want to go camping.”  He struck a match and set it to the bundle, which now hung loosely underneath a pile of kindling on a flat rock.  The smell was bitter and acrid.  The burning plastic of GI Joes who’ve met a magnifying glass at noon on a summer’s day.

“Now, the stumbling and difficulty that you’re having moving might be because of the log that fell on your foot, but it might also be because you’re in wet clothes and nearing severe hypothermia.  How long were you in the water?”

“A few minutes-s-s-s, I think.”  Marcus blew the flames gently to give them life.  They grew and Jessica found almost dove toward the small bit of heat.

“Careful there.  Don’t knock it over.  I’m going to add bits of wood.  I need you to lean over and blow on the base of the flame.  Think you can do that?”

“Y-y-yeah”  she said.  Good, giving the girl something to do would keep her occupied and might lessen the effects of shock.  He got up to get the wood and brought it back.  

“Not bad.  You already figured out you have to coax the fire out of the wood.  Lotta people try and blow like its birthday candles and cause no end of trouble.”  Marcus placed the wood next to the fire and started adding some.  Then he grabbed the blanket and his mittens from the ground and gave them to her.

“Alright, next step.  You’re gonna strip down outta those wet clothes and wrap up in the blanket.”  Jessica nodded dumbly.  “Next, you’re gonna wear mittens on your feet and we’re gonna try to prevent frostbite from getting more than just a little bad.  If something turns black, chances are, it’ll have to go.”

“O-okay.”  She said.

“Now me, I’m going to keep myself occupied with the fire here, so you don’t have to worry about me sneaking a peek and remembering things I’m too old to be thinking about.”  She actually guffawed.  Marcus couldn’t remember the last time he’d heard a guffaw, and certainly not from a chit of a girl who had no business being this far out by herself, being chased by wolves.  That was an oddity he’d explore if it seemed important when-

“Umm, Mr. Marcus…”  She sounded worried.

“Just Marcus, no Mister.  What’s wrong Jessica?”

“I can’t get my boot off.”  Of course not.  Why would he think it would be otherwise?  

“What’s wrong?” He asked.

“I think it’s t-t-too s-s-swollen.” She said.  Marcus moved to the boot, took it in his hands and cut the laces and the tongue with the multitool he kept on his belt.

“Hey!  Those were expensive boots!” She said.  Anger pushing the shiver out of her voice.

“Yeah?  They worth more than your foot?”  She mumbled something.  “Didn’t think so.  Listen girlie, so far I’ve been kind to you.  Don’t take that kindness as weakness.  When I want to know how to get lost and nearly kill myself of hypothermia and a broken ankle, I’ll ask you.  Until then, you’re in my woods, so you’ll do as I say and you might just get out of here in one piece with only minor extremities lost.”  She winced and made a controlled exhalation, as he pulled off the boot.  To her credit, she didn’t whimper or cry of fuss too much once it was off and she got to the business of removing her frozen, soaking clothes.

Marcus busied himself with the fire until it was a roaring blaze.

Another Winter Gone – 4

The sound came from the woods.  A scream, someone in pain.  Marcus looked up from his book and immediately put on his coat and boots.  Mittens, hat and scarf went on as he walked through the door.  He tossed the old horse blanket in the back of the truck and started to head down the drive.  The voice called again for help and he pulled over the truck.  It must be coming from the creek bed near the ravine.  Who the hell would be stupid enough to be down there this time of year.

Marcus grabbed the blanket and tossed it over his shoulder. Then he pulled the snow shoes out from behind the bench seat in the truck and put them on before heading off the road and into the woods.

A short 5 minutes later, he crested the ridge of the ravine.  Giant disturbances in the snow on the other side gave him an idea of what had happened.

Someone had been jumping down the hill in the deep snow, like a skiier doing a mogul run.  Based on the broken branches about a third of the way down, it was clear that he (it was almost certainly going to be a he, and almost certainly going to be a young “he”, Marcus knew) had lost control of his descent and would be found somewhere below.

“I’m coming,” Marcus cried out.  “I need you to tell me if you can move.”

Whimpers met him from below.  Marcus swore a bit and worked his way down the ridge as safely as he was able.

“Tell me if you can move your arms and legs.” he said again, then remembered his voice was deep and sounded like someone who had been interrupted in his reading of Jack London to tend to an idiot in the woods who had fallen down.

“My name is Marcus, I’m here to help.  What is your name?”

“J-j-j-jessica.” came the reply.

“Huh, 95 years on the planet and surprises abound,” he thought.

“Okay, Jessica.  Can you move your arms and legs?”

“I can move my arms, but one of my legs is stuck,” she said.  Then she whimpered again with the pain.

“Does it hurt?” He asked.

“What?!  Are you crazy, of course it hurts, I f-fell down the hill after being ch-chased by wolves.”

“I’m sorry, what?  No, never mind.  we have more important things to get to.  Where are you?”

“I’m in the s-stream.

“on the ice?”  He asked.

“Well, part of me.  I think I must’ve knocked a tree loose when I fell because the trunk is on me.”

Jesus, that was bad.  Being wet, even in February could be a death sentence with no appeal in minutes.  Okay, I’m working my way over.  Just then, he rounded the corner.  Sure enough, it was a teenage girl half submerged in the water and pinned under a tree.  He looked around and found what he needed.

“Okay, the good news is, you probably didn’t break your back or you wouldn’t be able to feel your legs.  The bad news is that the hypothermia will still kill you quickly if you don’t do exactly as I say.  Do you understand?”

“Yessir.”  She looked small, cold and wet.   What was her name?  Jessica.  Right.  Jessica.

Taking a 10 food section of ash, he found a gap to wedge it under the trunk of a tree and used an exposed rock by the shore to lever the trunk off of the girl. Marcus realized how little he was used to talking this much.  When was the last time he’d said this many sentences to someone?  10, 15 years ago?  Well, no matter; he had more to say before the evening was over.

“Okay, on the count of three, I’ll lift the tree and you move back as far toward shore as you can, okay.  One, Two…  Damn.”  He noticed the snowshoes tangled in the branches of the tree.  “One second.”  Marcus walked around the tree and saw the buckle was bent.  Damned metal thing.  He removed his mitts and whipped his knife out of his belt and one motion and started to cut through the nylon strap.  She screamed once or twice as he finished each cut, but the work was over in less than a minute.

“Okay, on the count of three one, two, three.”  Marcus lifted the tree using the smaller branch as a lever and Jessica scooted out of reach so it could come back down.

“Alright, first things first. We need to get you back to the truck.  Can you walk?”

“n-nnnn” she shook her head.

Damn.  Mumbling was already setting in.  This wasn’t good.  What they needed was fire, and fast.

Another Winter Gone – 3

Marcus exited Zup’s and headed to the truck.  as he approached he noticed a spot where a kicked up rock must have taken a chunk of paint off.  The road salt was already helping nature to take its course less than an hour later.  Well, nature was taking its course the way nature did.

And since he knew his nature, he made a stop at the hardware store.  Jack London would have to wait.  After all, the things we value are not measured by the way we speak of them, but our actions regarding them.

He sighed as he drove back, noting that it was clear from the state of the roads and that bridge collapse down in Minneapolis a few years back, that the people responsible for infrastructure clearly didn’t feel the same way; and when they did feel that way you got Amos.

He’d seen Amos in the paint aisle when he was picking out the necessary tools for the job at hand.  They had talked amiably enough, what was the point of being unneighborly after awhile, but somehow it never ceased to amaze Marcus how long it took the man to say so little.  

He’d tried to talk to Marcus about the recent Vikings game, as if there was any sense in feeling pride at the achievements of some millionaires working for some billionaires who happened to be wearing your flag.

It wasn’t that Marcus didn’t like football, in fact he’d seen the game and had been impressed with the drive and focus of the men on the field.  They’d acquitted themselves well and should be proud of themselves.  It was that he just didn’t see the point of being proud of things that were not a result of a choice or effort on your part.

It wasn’t as if he or Amos had been there.  It wasn’t as if he had made the winning touchdown, or completed a pass.  Foolishness.  

No, you’d never see him wearing Purple and Gold for their sake, nor would you see him wearing Green and Gold.  At least, not because of the game.

“So, hey, whatcha doing with the paint there Marcus?”

“Gonna paint the truck.”

“That doesn’t seem like enough, you only got one spray can.”

“It’s enough for what I’m going to paint Amos.”

“But if you paint that area, it won’t match.”

Why people had to be like this, he had no idea.  It seemed perfectly clear to Marcus that since we was likely to be the only owner of the truck, his was the only opinion of the truck that mattered.  And even then, only whether he judged it to work according to his needs.  When it didn’t, he’d obviously get a new truck.  There was no point in telling Amos this of course, it would only encourage him to talk more.

“Probably not, but the truck is black, and I’d rather have it be mismatched and black, than mismatched and rusty.”

Clearly there was some premise that Marcus was missing in Amos’s thinking, but there was no point in guessing the motives of someone, since their actions were beyond his control.

He smiled and found a way out of the conversation quickly and judging by Amos’s expression, he’d felt like they’d had a good conversation.  Well, and good, thought Marcus.  No point in hurting the man, just because they lived their lives differently.

Once he got home, Marcus put away the groceries, cleaned the car and got to sanding.  He was glad of the work and the fact that it gave him a chance to look things over.  There were four nicks in all and he took care of them.  

First sanding, then priming, then painting.  Afterward, there was barely any way to notice at a distance.  Not that you couldn’t tell if you knew where to look.  

Satisfaction and a chicken he’d been roasting in the oven were his reward, as he picked up Call of the Wild and began to read.

Another Winter Gone – 2

Mark.  Mark.  Mark! His head snapped up out of the book he was reading.  Which was it, Jack London or Farley Mowat?  Either way, it didn’t matter.  Books like this had been as better than any drugs to the young Marcus.  Truth be told, they still were, even now.

He turned to face his mother.  What had she been asking?  He had no idea.  He hadn’t even heard her until the third time she’d called him.

“yeah mom, what?” he asked, trying to sound positive rather than grumpy about being pulled out of the world of wolves.

I said, ‘Did you get your chores done?’

“Mostly,” he said.

“so, no.”

“What?  I did get them mostly done.  I did more work than I should have to.”

“Really?” she sounded intrigued.  Crap.  That was way more dangerous than if she would just yell at him.  “What percentage exactly do you think you should have to do of your chores?”

“well, I…”

“no, I’m really interested.  I mean, what if I only cooked you half your dinner?  raw meat and cooked vegetables.  or no meat and raw potatoes and vegetables.  What if I half-did the pancakes?”

“yeah, but…”

“how would that work do you think?”

“it wouldn’t.” She didn’t understand.  God he hated the lecturing. The telling him things he didn’t want to know and acting like it was for his own good.  it made his back muscles clench up and the hairs on his neck tingle just remembering it.

Yes.  Dishes needed washing and laundry needed folding.  But how could that compare to the magic of Jack London, Farley Mowat or Mark Twain.  The guys in these stories went on adventures and explored and found Gold!  No laundry could compare with that.  In the eternal summer of his memory, there was no greater joy than escaping into the woods with a snack, a canteen and something to read by his holy trinity of boyhood authors.

Well, that or books that taught you real skills.  Things like tying knots or wilderness first aid, or starting fires, or which plants were good for medicine.

Marcus loved the First Aid books best of all.  There was something so compelling about the idea that if someone were to get hurt (not that you’d wish for them to get hurt, but if they did get hurt and you couldn’t prevent it), that you could do something! I mean, how cool would it be to stabilize a broken arm until you could get the person to a hospital.  Or that you could staunch bleeding enough to buy the person time enough to get to a doctor or someone who could sew them up right.

How could any stupid chores compare with that?

I mean, as soon as he was able to, Marcus planned to head away into the woods or the mountains so he could be a mountain man like Jeremiah Johnson.

Then he would live in his own cabin and not have to do any stupid chores.  He’d just live off the land and be free.  A free man (boy), not constrained by other people’s schedules or rules.

It’s strange how some lessons only become obvious after you learn them.  It’s also strange how much and how little we know about the future when we’re that age.  How hold had Marcus been?  Five years old, six maybe?

The longer he lived, the more the crayons of his memory melted together in the slow heat of time.  Eventually unusable and amorphous, but still pretty in an odd way.

Another Winter Gone – 1

Marcus sat by the window, looking out over the clearing.  Another winter thawed outside.  He’d seen 92-odd winters come and go in his lifetime, plus a few he didn’t remember.  Just the essentials.  That’s what he’d told the reporters who’d snowshoed in to report his 95th birthday for the Echo.  That’s what kept him alive and fit at the age of 95.

He had his house on the lake, his tools in his shop and plenty of firewood for the winter.  No need for foolishness.  No need for make-work projects, when there was enough real work to be done.

It had been a surprise when the reporter came up the path, audible before she’d been visible- her snowshoes crunching on the top layer of crusted snow.  He recognized her of course.  Her was printed next to her column in the paper.

Marcus kept a newspaper subscription for three reasons:

  1. He liked having something to read in the outhouse (especially if he was snowed in and couldn’t get to town for *ahem* other papers he might want in there)
  2. He liked the excuse to walk the 400 yards to the end of the driveway every morning.
  3. It was nice to have an alernative source of kindling in case birch bark supplies were running low.

The last reason wasn’t really that strong he reflected after he realized he was following the “rule of three.”  It wasn’t strong, because he couldn’t remember the last time that he had actually used birch bark or paper to start a fire.  Sure, he kept some around in case of emergency, but he also had as much white gas as he was ever likely to need in the small cottage he’d built all those years before.

Despite the reputation he had (and was largely unaware of) of being the last of the old-time trappers, sourdoughs and voyageurs, Marcus had no pride at all when it came to the practical matter of starting a fire.

He’d happily use a lighter if one was available, but generally preferred to make his own kindling bundles use a steel whenever possible.  Small bundles of moss and Jack Pine twigs that would go up like kerosene even soaking wet.

He knew how to use a bow-drill of course and other “primitive” means, but fire was too important to survival for a person to stick to honorable methods like Flint and Steel or even a one-match fire.

Hell, he’d even started a fire using a ball made of thin strips of duct tape he’d ignited with steel wool and a 9-volt battery once.  It stank to high heaven and was smokey as hell, so it was probably for the best that he’d pulled it from the one Fire detector that weasel of a bureaucrat Amos Johnson had insisted upon.  Damn thing went off half the time when he cooked his bacon, as if he wasn’t perfectly aware it was smoking him out of his own cabin.

In reality of course, Amos was amiable and capable, it’s just that among other duties he was responsible for making sure things were up to code.  The way Marcus saw it, code was fine.  It was for people who didn’t know how to build a house properly so the damned thing wouldn’t fall down.  It didn’t need to apply to people who know what they’re doing.

There was one other objection Marcus had to Amos.  He talked too much.  Any time they ran into each other in town, that damned fool said nothing in as many words as possible.  He had a nervous manner and talked too loud.  Especially outside.

Over the years Marcus had come to realize the truth of silence.  Understanding that the bigger the space, the quieter one should be in it.  Not space per se, but more like what you get when there’s space and it’s not filled up with people.

Being outside in a city requires a person to be louder to make themselves heard.  So, being inside with that mentality, one needs to to remember to be quiet.

Being outside “on the loose” as one of the old campfire songs from his youth had called it, meant that you didn’t need to be loud.  Your very presence there was an intrusion, like a stranger at a wake.  Everything in the forest is so aware of any human, that there’s no need to be loud.  You have the floor, as it were.

This is what that damned fool Amos never seemed to understand.

The reporter had been better.  She knew how to listen at least.  Well, sort-of.  She knew how to listen to people, for what they said and what they said when they didn’t say something.  It was a start.  Maybe in time, she’d learn to listen without needing to hear words in the silence.

The questions for the article had covered a range of topics.  Mostly banal, but some sparked memories he’d forgotten for a long time.  Where was he from? The past.  What did he do?  The work in front of him.  (How can you explain to someone the rhythm of living on your own off the land?  How can you explain that every day is the same and each day is unique?  How you know when to find mushrooms or run trap lines or hunt deer?)  The questions had continued for awhile, until she asked her last question.  What made you move out here away from everyone? I came seeking silence and a place to think.

At that point, she’d understood his meaning more pointedly than he’d meant to say it, because she started to pack up her notebook.  Quickly.  “Well, thank you for your time and I’ll try not to intrude on your silence any further.”

Her snowshoes finally agreed to being used, after a bit of wrangling and she was out the door.  He was surprised at how tired he felt tired after she left.  Probably just a reaction to an uninvited visitor making him use the long-forgotten courtesy parts of the brain.  Janet.  That was the name on the columns.

It’s funny how someone can look like a name, he thought.  As if the appellation a parent gives a child somehow shapes their character.  Then unbidden, memories of his son, his Jack, were called up against his will.

There was no question what he needed to do next.  He picked up his axe and went to split logs for firewood.

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