“That must be Cliff now,” said George Mackenzie as he sat at one end of a fold-up picnic table in Dave Winston’s machinery shed.
“Sounds awfully loud, even for that old beater of a truck of his,” Dave observed.
“It’s not,” George said, sticking his head ot the door. “It’s his ATV.”
“What, is your truck broken down again?” Dave asked when Cliff entered, carrying take-out containers from Mabel’s and three coffee cups.
“Left front wheel bearing,” Cliff answered. “Here’s your coffee and Danish, Dave, and your bacon, eggs and toast, George.”
“Are you only having coffee?” George wondered.
“Gotta save money for the wheel bearing,” Cliff said.
“You know Cliff, that truck of yours is so old you could probably take it to one of the classic truck shows and find some suck – er, some ‘collector’ who’d pay you enough for a downpayment on a new truck.”
“Which, before I knew it would be old just like the truck I already have,” said Cliff. “How many trucks have you had, Dave, since I bought mine?”
“Lots, and when I get up in the morning, my trucks are ready to go, not broken down for days at a time,” said Dave. “I don’t have to take my ATV to get take-out food.”
“Oh well, it gave me a excuse to drive the ATV,” said Cliff. “My wife claims I’d walk a quarter mile to get my ATV for a 100-yard trip.”
“And is that true?” asked George.
“No!” Cliff said indignantly. “Only if I can’t get someone to give me a lift to the ATV!”
“Well, I’ve gotta admit, walking is a highly-overrated activity,” said George. “I remember as a kid I could hardly wait to learn how to ride a bicycle so I wouldn’t have to walk. Then I could hardly wait to drive so I didn’t have to ride a bike.”
“That explains so much,” laughed Dave and pointed to George’s ample middle.
“What I can’t understand is all the people who are crowding the hiking trails,” said Cliff shaking his head. “Who does that willingly?”
“Not just walking,” said Dave. “I hear you can hardly find a bike shop with any bikes for sale.”
“What gets me are these old railway rights-of-way that have been turned into trails,” said George. “I mean think about it: there weren’t enough people riding the railways for them to stay in business, but now we’ve got so many people walking the same route, that if they’d taken the train, maybe we’d still have train service!”
There was a momentary break in the conversation as George forked some of his fried eggs and bacon into his mouth.
“How’s Mabel doing, anyhow?” Dave asked Cliff as he fished his Danish out of the little bag.
“Oh, she’s putting on a good face, but you can tell it’s getting her down. She says you keep wanting to plan ahead but she can’t because she never knows what the rules are going to be tomorrow.”
“I suppose it’s sort of like one of those years when your crop is ready to harvest but it starts to rain and you can never be sure it will stop in time to save the crop,” said George.
“Except for Mabel and the other restaurant owners, it’s been raining since March,” said Cliff. He glanced at his coffee cup. “Damn, I should at least have bought a doughnut to help her out.”
“Say, did either of you guys hear about the bank robbery that went wrong down in the states?”
“Can’t remember hearing about it,” said George.
“Well, seems there was this guy who went into a bank to rob it. Had the gun and everything. But he was a Trump supporter so he refused to wear a mask. Well he escaped with the money but they had such nice clear pictures of his face that they arrested him an hour later.”
The smirk on his face sort of tipped Cliff and George off. “That’s not true!” George said.
“Probably not, but things are so crazy down there it could be true,” Dave laughed.◊