Each step took him farther from civilization, with the prospect of obtaining a ride increasingly dubious. Being alone on the road was strangely comforting, he held his shame alone. By walking eagerly he burned off pent up energy and adrenalin.
The next ten minutes was like an hour before a car pulled off the road. Jack was reluctant to get in, not wishing to share his feelings and uncertain about what to expect. His mind struggled: "Maybe I should keep walking,...I'm not a third there...the ride is here so don't waste it...I'm lucky to get another ride so quickly,..." So he took it.
The dusty, black, four door sedan was a few years old. He moved toward the back seat on the passenger side since there were two people in the front. There was a mostly white dog in the back with a happy expression on its face, eager for company.
"Just jump in there with Copper. She won't bite."
Jack did as instructed, brushing off a few of the most obvious hairs left by the well-adjusted, white and tan Cocker Spaniel. It had a dozen copper colored patches on its plump body, hence its name. One patch was decoratively placed around its left eye so the dog had a very attractive and expressive face.
The dog had no tail, so it wagged its whole rear-end to greet it's new travel companion. When Jack scratched behind its floppy ears the dog's hind leg scratched dutifully at it's stomach.
"How far you goin'?" The young man driving did the talking. The younger woman beside him smiled and turned back to her mate. They were sitting so closely together in the front they could have been mistaken for Siamese twins.
"To Charleston on the way to Heber City." Jack managed somewhat easier having already practiced.
"We're headed through the Canyon for a picnic up by Timpanogas Cave and we can take you a good part of the way." The young man spoke pleasantly as he moved the car onto the road without asking any questions.
"That's great." Jack, relieved, fell into a comfortable silence beside Copper. The dogs eyes expressed a welcome empathy as she blinked into sleep.
They traveled the next fifteen miles with the young couple talking quietly and touching each other suggestively, oblivious to Jack's presence. Copper slept with her head over Jack's left leg like a long lost friend.
The unexpected beauty of the terrain passed like the backdrops of theatrical scenes. The panels moved at different speeds. The nearest, posts and rails, flew by in a blur. Then marching trees, changing from pine to alder and birch, paraded with bright shades of green. Silver sparkles flashed from the dew covered leaves. The furthest scene of rock canyons, eroded gullies and hill tops, rotated slowly and proudly commanding close inspection of each handsome detail.
The road followed the path of the Provo River, visible occasionally. In spite of its suspended dirt it produced a silver-green reflection on it's shining surface. This strong-willed river swirled madly around the moss covered rocks, splashing manic foam celebrating its power. It protested each turn with a passionate force, yielding only after carving huge pools, monuments to the river's victories.
The current wrestled limbs and tore at roots in what appeared to be a desperate struggle for survival. The river was undaunted by any momentary resistance, it knew the simple truth, it would win, it would rise again.
Jack remembered the family legends about his great-uncle who engineered water tunnels through the jutting canyon walls. The obsolete tunnels visible from the road must be remnants of his work.
As the car slowed to a stop the terrain changed into rolling hills and trees.
"This is as far as we go." The young man spoke from under the overreaching arm of his smiling but muted companion.
"How far away am I?" Jack inquired wistfully.
"I don't know for sure, maybe 10 maybe 15 miles."
"Thanks a lot, have fun on your picnic."
The white and copper dog wagged its body again as Jack unfolded himself out the door. The dog held his gaze as the car turned, moving to the rear window with sad eyes. Can dogs eyes really change, or is their emotion only the inference of the viewer, reflecting Jack's state of mind?
Jack had a distinct sense of not being alone as he walked the next mile leading over the ridge into new scenery. The road opened onto a high prairie that spread over rolling hills with higher mountains in the distance.
He walked cautiously, his mind was preoccupied with a different era of pioneers and grandparents. He had to turn from time to time to verify he was not being followed because that haunting sense of another presence recurred.
Forcing himself back to the present, he debated that age old question for hitch-hikers: should one walk and thumb when cars pass? or just wait, knowing the distance gained will quickly be traveled by the next ride? By walking he could prove his sincerity and demonstrate a willingness to help himself. But, who would know the difference? or how far he had actually walked? The hitch-hiker's dilemma, not unlike many unsolved riddles in life--intent versus appearance.
After he rounded a corner the road opened into a straight stretch. He decided to test the theory, struggling internally with a renewed sense of false pride. Standing in one place was by degree more humiliating than continuing to move.
A strong undercurrent of religious heritage tugged at his resolve: "Keep moving. Where is your pioneer spirit?" He decided nonetheless to stand in one place to see if it made any difference. He had been passed by 6 cars and two small trucks without claiming a ride, so walking didn't help. His rationality swam strongly against these currents but was soon inundated by a wave from a different direction.
Lucky took the condom and examined the simple instructions. Finally he tore on the dotted line and a drop of lubricant fell onto his chest.
Alice took the exposed edge of the condom and removed it expertly from the package. She placed it properly and rolled the elastic firmly down to its full extent leaving enough loose space at the top to accommodate future developments. Then she tugged Lucky gently coaxing him on top of her eager body. She held her left knee up as Lucky settled, holding himself with his elbows.
Lucky still needed coaxing, he only knew the theory. He and Jack visited the library once to study pictures and read the explanations. He was ready but un-tested.
Alice took him with both hands and squeezed firmly. Lucky bucked reflexively. She moved herself into position and pushed against Lucky. After these preliminaries, nature took its course.
Lucky moved too strongly and fast at first.
"Slow down," she whispered.
"Am I hurting you?"
"No silly, I just don't want you to finish so fast. Wait a while, stop for a few seconds."
"Okay...I love you Alice. I think I'm in love."
"Sure you are for about two minutes. Be quiet and I'll guide you with my hands." She reached above Lucky and held his buttocks. She pulled him slowly back and forth then stopped.
"That's it go slow...Now stop...Now go slow...Now stop." For Alice, Lucky was a huge machine and she held the controls.
She closed her eyes tightly and kneaded the soft flesh of his hips and butt with her harmless fingertips. His movement massaged the most important muscles in her body.
At first Lucky thought he could do this all night. Gradually the moist, rough surface of her tight circle exhilarated his nerves. He felt strong and full as the stimulation began to accumulate. He laid his upper body softly on her tight breasts and moved back and forth according to her instructions.
She moved her hips to synchronize with his movement and felt intoxication from the stimulation beyond the effects of alcohol.
His pleasure increased abruptly as his nerves came alive. He stopped again but now it didn't seem to make any difference. "I can feel it's coming," he whispered.
"It's okay now, I'm bringing you from inside...move... ooh... ooh... you're so good... I can make it just a second..." She was rolling her hips and searching naturally for more stimulation.
"I can't wait...ooh...now!" Lucky thrust hard and deep without encouragement or assistance from his controller. He surged and exploded inside his cover in uncontrollable bursts.
"Keep going. Keep going," she insisted. Alice dug into Lucky's back with her fingers as her passion peaked. She was reaching, bearing down and breathing in short gasps. She compulsively mimicked the motion and exertion of child birth, driven by instinct even at her tender age this capacity was fully developed.
Lucky tried to keep moving, tried to keep erect but he was done and loosing steam fast. He pushed but Alice couldn't hold him either. As he relaxed, he was expelled by some internal pressure.
"I'm gone. Sorry I just couldn't hold it."
Alice didn't answer. She turned her head and smacked her mouth and licked her dry lips. Her tongue was nearly too dry for speech.
Lucky questioned, "You alright?" He lifted his left leg slightly over her outstretched right leg and rolled off to the side. He wondered what was going on in her silence.
"No, I'm better, I'm great." She sighed and lowered her left leg to relax.
"Oh, I wasn't sure what you felt."
"Yes, I'm great..." She paused and breathed slowly and deeply. "You want another beer."
"Sure. How 'bout a cigarette?"
"Ya, that's okay, first I need some beer." Alice lay apparently exhausted. The intensity of her brief orgasm had energized her beyond movement. That was her first orgasm during coitus. Before she had experienced the quick spasms brought on by her own fingers but there was something different and more thrilling about having this sensation originate from inside.
She rolled toward Lucky, gave him a quick kiss and jumped up. "Be right back."
She moved in the dark toward the kitchen.
Lucky was left lying alone not knowing exactly what to do with his condition. He raised himself on his elbows and watched Alice's silhouette move away.
The ancient breeze whistled through the grass and salt brush as Jack stood entranced inspecting the scenery. The timeless air was warm and dry against the sweat of his previous exertion just as it had been for his ancestors. His devout grandparents, traveling with a pair-in-hand, passed that spot gay and indifferent to their poverty. They laughed and sang as they moved along this same road long before it was paved.
A later generation fought the elements to near starvation on their small farm during the years before and during The Great Depression. The elements claimed his grandfather's life twenty years before Jack arrived to occupy his place in this tradition. That sturdy Mormon pioneer went the way of his equally stout parents, to an early grave. Children raised without knowing their grandparents may be by that defect less resolute of purpose.
Jack remembered his grandmother's vague photo and knew even less of her personality. He had seen her when he was too young to measure her character. This wind that cracked her face now buffeted a stream of emotions in Jack. A spiritual connection swelled to merge with the flow of his earlier repressed feelings. The hymns of the Mormon pioneers must have been derived from the same spirit he felt dancing across the prairie.
Again he looked around, suspicious, but there was no one visible.
He felt joy and pride being connected to these religious zealots. Their heroic spirit frequently tossed by tragedy never capsized as it descended, flowing into his own psyche. He strained to hear his grandfather's inspired words in the distant echo of the river. There was no other recognizable sound except the singing breeze that moved the grass.
As he stood oblivious to the passing cars, older spirits swirled around and commanded his attention. The early Mormons who traversed this country by foot often sacrificed their lives for their faith. They came to Zion across the desolate and treacherous plains in 1847 and thereafter and nothing he could suffer would equal their sacrifice. Their spiritual gift throbbed in his chest as he acknowledged the Testimony that motivated them.
As he searched each tree and curve in the Earth for any sign of humanity, he began to hear the collective voices of the pioneers. These saints sang to the future missionary with the accompanying warble of every bird. Their hope whistled in the light breeze and canted in rhythm to the fluttering of the prairie grass beneath his feet.
Deep currents of emotion surged against his being. For a young man with infrequent contact with aunts, uncles and even less with grandparents, this spiritual connection to his heritage created an indelible impression.
One great-great-grandfather had traveled with Brigham Young. Later settlers, including a great-great grandfather on his Mother's side, pulled a handcart across the entire distance. They had been too poor to own wagons and horses but were rich in faith.
The men could tolerate such sacrifice but the women and children suffered in the harsh environment. The children were the innocent victims of their parents' fanaticism. Memorials to those who collapsed from deprivation and malnutrition could be found in the cemeteries throughout this territory. Is it enough to believe that their spirits will live and receive a greater life after death? Abraham was commanded to take the life of his beloved son. Many pioneer children died with less auspicious cause.
Jack doubted his conviction to put his children in such jeopardy for any reason. Walking a few miles, instead of hitch-hiking, was a trivial penance for his ambivalence, a pitiful tribute so he turned to walk again.
For a moment he was at one with millions of other religious people who traveled to Mecca, Lourds and other religious shrines in very different circumstances. He realized finally that he was driven by a need for this spiritual connection, something greater than life itself. It had been in the back of his mind for several years while he was deciding where to study. He hadn't thought about it so directly. It surprised him when he recognized that gaining this spiritual identity was a large part of his motivation for coming to Utah.
There was an intense yearning to contribute as a missionary because of the rock solid sense of duty he felt. Being in contact with his heritage in this direct way, reminded him of his place in a glorious tradition. His grandfather had been a missionary to Switzerland in the 1890's. His grandfather before him had been called to serve in Ohio and Illinois. This was an important part of the explanation of who he was.
A devout religious life was at the very core of his personal heritage, it was a family tradition to which he was inevitably and inextricably connected. He knew the stories of the early Mormons. These had been a frequent companion during periods of reflection but never so directly or forcefully as now. Those sacrifices made deliberately by the early Members had not been fulfilled. They expected their effort to be more beneficial for their posterity than for themselves and so it was. He could repay part of that debt by going on a mission.
It wasn't that he formulated the questions: "Who am I?" or "Am I part of this heritage?" in so many words. This passion gnawed at his insides and pushed him to endure even the pain he found hitch-hiking; there was no turning back.
His connection to this broader religious family was a compelling force in his life and had always carried him on a strong tide supported by dogma and scripture. Thinking of the experiences of his youth brought pleasant memories of friends and sympathetic teachers. He recognized The Church as a surrogate parent. The men who were his mentors and the community had helped him grow and develop. This acknowledgement struck with a tidal wave force.
He thought about the honest men who willingly offered their strength to foster the Church organization. Their individual gifts of time, trust and caring could never be forgotten. He felt that going on a mission was one way he could return the love the members demonstrated. Since they believed and he could do something they expected and valued, he could fulfill their faith in him. Any resistance to going on a mission was quickly submerged. Any doubts or questions he harbored which stood in the way of his religious faith were drowned.
The acceptance of their individual contributions finally overcame his composure. In the distance the mountains grew hazy as a cloud moved between their darkened form and where Jack walked.
As Jack blinked the weather changed as quickly and the clear air brightened the green of the hills and the blue of the sky. The rain condensed and dripped out of his nostrils as he struggled against the tears of self-pity and pride. "Fortunately I'm alone." He thought foolishly.
The realization finally seized him: "What if they're not home? How can I find them? Why didn't I call ahead?" He knew he had to make this trek but he could have organized it a little better. He was willing to walk the whole distance as penance but it would be useful to know that his goal was obtainable. He felt doubly foolish when this concept hit him.
He had managed to repress all this sensitivity during the silence of the last ride. Again he felt a shiver over his whole body as a current of emotion struck the rocks of his resolve. He felt a choking in his throat. He had gotten absorbed in this deep thought, gradually he returned to the reality of the road.
As he reached to wipe his upper lip and turned, he was startled by a honk and the sound of tires in the gravel. A car had passed without him noticing and stopped a short distance away. The driver had to back the car and honk to get Jack's attention.
He ran reluctantly to meet the new, silver Chrysler Imperial. He reached the rear door and swung easily inside to find a neatly dressed couple in the front seat.
The wife exclaimed, "You must have been asleep. Where are you going out here by yourself?" She inadvertently scolded but gently.
Jack was still engulfed with emotion. It seemed the gracious lady was asking for his life's story. With difficulty he came up for air to force the words, "Charleston, to visit my grandmother," out of his mouth. He had finally remembered that she lived in Charleston not Heber City.
He hoped his previous tears weren't too obvious.
When Alice returned, she had a paper towel in her hand along with an extra beer. She handed both to Lucky. "Just rap that thing in this."
"You got a match."
"Not on me."
"No, I mean in your pants, stupid."
"I got a lighter." Lucky cleaned himself and moved to the end of the bed and fumbled for his pants and searched his pocket. He came back with his plastic lighter, he had moved up from matches. He took a long drink, tasting salt in his mouth to begin.
Alice pulled two cigarettes with her teeth and lit both. She placed one in Lucky's mouth. "That's what you get for being a war hero." Of course, she was referring to more than the cigarette.
"Can we do that again?" Lucky asked between puffs.
"I can, but I'm not so sure about you."
"No, I mean later. Maybe in the car?"
"Haven't you heard the saying: `Once a King always a King but once a Knight is enough?' We'll see. Maybe, if you're nice to me. We'll have to stop and buy another condom. Pam only gave me one."
While they were smoking their cigarettes and drinking their beer they got dressed and ready to go out.
"You better call your Aunt to tell her the car's okay and explain about staying out later," Alice instructed.
"Ya, that's a good idea. Mind if I use your phone?"
"Of course not, that's why I suggested it."
After the call, they left the house before Alice's folks got back. Their first stop was the Ranch Drive-in for a hamburger and shake. Neither had eaten dinner. Alice had a healthy appetite and could eat as much as Lucky.
"How's your cousin doin'? What's his name?"
"Jack? My Aunt says she just got a letter from him and he just got back from the dentist. He had to have a wisdom tooth pulled. I guess he's alright now. Minor surgery."
"At least he has some wisdom left. That's more than I can say for you." Alice played at insults and Lucky returned the tough banter in kind.
"Nice talk! After all I've done for you and you hurt me like that. The Army will take care of my teeth, I guess. I think I have a few cavities. This one back here hurts when I drink cold water." He stuck his finger into the back of his mouth to demonstrate.
They ate their food and continued to talk, usually with food in their mouths without being concerned with etiquette.
"Did you ever meet Jack?"
"Ya sure, at school. But he never paid any attention to me. Of course he's older. I never had any classes with him or nothin'."
"He's as straight as an arrow."
"Not like you, huh Lucky?" Alice poked him gently with her elbow.
"He's good people. He was the only one who ever tried to help me, except his Aunt of course. She does because he talked her into it."
"He always seemed like a snob to me."
"No. You just didn't know him. Sometimes he was quiet and shy. That's all."
"Thanks for dinner. I think that's my favorite meal." Alice gave Lucky a quick kiss.
Jack wished for privacy and longed for the silent companionship of the cocker spaniel. Instead, the too kind lady continued her interrogation.
"We'll be going right by Charleston on our way to Park City." She smiled eagerly.
The car moved smoothly ahead.
"What's her name? We know quite a few people around here. We can probably take you right to her house."
The possibility of this question and the resulting upsurge of emotions had not occurred to Jack the day before. He felt like a drowning victim trying in vain to hold his breath. A combination of strangeness, threat and confusion attacked him as he choked back the force of these unwelcome feelings. He had assumed he would be anonymous so far away from home. People were naturally curious and interested in who he was but that idea had never occurred to him. "It wasn't any of their business," he thought. He had only just found out for himself.
He struggled to remember his own grandmother's name. He never used her name in family circles, she was always just Grandma. He knew her name of course but it wasn't on the tip of his tongue.
After a moment of hard thinking he managed..."Un...she's Amy...Amy Baker." That was a relief.
"No, I don't remember her. Do you Honey?" She asked the silver haired man who came into the discussion for the first time. He was taking in every detail of their conversation without looking back.
"No, can't say as how I do." His voice was a study in calm.
"What street does she live on?" The lady was persistent and continued her attempts to be helpful.
"I don't remember. I just planned to call when I got near. Just drop me off at a service station with a phone if you can." He prevented tears of shame and false pride with difficulty.
"We're not in any hurry. We'd be only too happy to help you find her."
"No. That's okay. I don't want to impose." Jack sputtered longing to be out of the car.
"But what if she isn't home?"
Ugh, not that question. Jack felt foolish all over again.
"We would be happy to wait until you get in touch with her, then take you directly to her house." That display of kindness was nearly too much and Jack felt his footing washing away.
He couldn't respond for a moment. Everything about this discussion was loaded with sensitivity. He vowed once more to never hitch-hike. How could he get himself into this predicament? He was reluctant to share so many intimate details of his life with total strangers, like where he was going. They were just being too kind.
Sensing Jack's distress, the man interceded. "If you're sure you'll be all right, we'll drop you off at this station up ahead. It's closed but there is a phone on the left. Maybe it still works."
There was indeed a station as Jack looked through the front window for the first time. The station hadn't seen activity for many years, it was just on the edge of a community that also looked mostly abandoned. The phone was about the only thing that looked to be alive.
"That'll be perfect," Jack sighed in relief. "I appreciate you folks stopping." He was trying to talk himself out of his own nervousness. "I'll be fine. I want to surprise her. And I can call from here."
"Do you have a dime for the call? Here, let me give you a dime." The wife couldn't stop being too gracious. Her kindness nearly did poor Jack in again. He strained to hold onto his composure.
"No thank you. I'm sure I have one." He had forgotten about that detail too. He was embarrassed as he searched his own pockets because he didn't find a dime, just a few pennies and one nickel. "Gosh, I guess I don't have a dime after all but I can't take that."
"Sure you can." said the man in a slightly teasing voice. "Let us at least do that much."
Jack reached to take the dime and was glad they had arrived at their destination. He knew he couldn't hold on much longer. He couldn't answer any more questions.
"Have a nice visit, and good luck." The wife echoed her husband's words with visible tenderness as she handed Jack the dime.
"Thanks." Jack barely managed this one word in a mechanical fashion as he stumbled from the seat out the door.
He shut the door quickly and began walking toward the phone self-consciously. "Good bye." He waved and urged as they hesitated to drive away.
They finally drove away after he picked up the receiver and waved again.
He replaced the receiver to wait a few minutes as he looked around. Once again the fowl weather and rain storms obstructed his view of the surrounding mountains. Of course the air was perfectly dry, gradually the sky cleared as he wiped his face and blew his nose the best he could without a handkerchief.
He counted the few clouds as he tilted his head back to restrain more tears. He felt humbled by the sacrifices the Mormons had made to tame this wild country. He wanted to share their faith in a sacred purpose that united their work into a community of effort. Also he felt pride at being a part of that vision, a sense of spirituality he had never felt and a renewed sense of dedication.
After a moment he got the telephone number of Amy Baker from information, fortunately without using his one borrowed token. He dialed the 5 digit number from memory and after three rings a man's voice answered.
"Hello." Jack knew immediately that it was his father's voice but he asked anyway.
"Hello. Is this David Lincoln?"
"Hi Daddy. This is Jack." His voice broke again as he choked on new tears.
"Well Jack, it's good to hear from you. Where are you?"