Gary Cooper

by

Tags: Ma/Fa, .

Desc: Action/Adventure Story: A big city police sergeant retires and starts a new life on the mountain. A life he had no idea would happen to him.

I really do not like parties, especially ones given for me. The one I was forced to attend on that late May afternoon was the worst one of my life. I have to admit it was just plain embarrassing.

For one thing I was the oldest person in the room. I was the last of the old bull cops, as we were known at some point in my career. Almost all the cops today are gym rats or nerds. Cops with real street instincts were not in demand by the H. R. people. So we had a room filled with women, gym rats, and computer nerds wishing me farewell.

My last day as a cop in the large northern city had actually been on a Friday. I thought I had managed to keep it a secret, but when I came in to sign the papers in the H. R. office. The woman led me into a conference room where I saw them all assembled.

I suffered through the toasts, then through the hand shakes from people who were for all intents and purposes strangers. The air in that room was filled with cliches and fake interest in my future plans.

The cake was decorated with a replica of my badge. It tasted a hell of a lot better than all the crap I had to eaten during my years as a cop. I ended my career as a detective sergeant with Lieutenant’s bars awarded during my final months. They were purely to make my pension a livable amount. My attitude for the last ten years had been, if you want to get rid of me, make me a lieutenant. That’s exactly what happened. The Commissioner couldn’t fire me for cause, since there would surely be a scandal. Best he could do was force me to retire.

The truth was I had been looking for a way out for at least a year. I used the time to prepare my landing site. A little more time would have been nice, but not essential.

I planned to move into a hunting cabin. One which I had bought almost ten years earlier. To prepare I watched all the survival shows on TV. I felt confident that I could learn what more I needed to know quickly.

What no one at the party knew was that I was having an estate sale at my condo. It started on Saturday and would run through the next week end. On that next Monday there would be a give away of anything left over. On Tuesday a truck and two men would be at the door to collect anything left from the give away. I had a feeling there wouldn’t be anything other than garbage.

Since I was still in good health, I lived in a downtown condo. I had sold my car on my forty-fifth birthday to purchase a bicycle. When he noted I had gained ten pounds. the police doctor had suggested it. Actually he suggested regular exercise, but since I would have had to hire someone to chase me, in order to make me run everyday, the bike seemed a better alternative.

I did plan to buy a truck or something like one as soon as I had a chance. Probably after the party and during the estate sale. The party only lasted an hour and the paper signing was over in less than twenty minutes. I was back home in time for lunch.

I knew that I should start making plans for retirement, but I really had no desire to plan past one day at a time. Tuesday would be buy a motor vehicle day. I began researching cars with off road capabilities.

It took all Monday afternoon, but I narrowed it down to an older American vehicle. I decided I wanted a Dodge rear wheel drive ram truck. I spent the last of the afternoon and the evening calling around to the ‘for sale by owner’ listings on Craig’s list. I made appointments for the next day to look at three different trucks.

I rode my bike to a Uhaul rental store near my house. I got a van with Uhaul plastered all over it. I drove to the three houses of the three truck owners. Only one of them impressed me. His was a five year old truck purchased new for his retirement.

“I bought it a pick up to haul a boat out to the lake,” he informed me. “It proved to be a hell of a lot less fun than I thought it would be. The boat was an easy sell. The truck has proved more difficult. It has been used very little and has been scrupulously maintained. I think it is worth the asking price, but most guys don’t feel that way.”

“I can see both sides,” I replied. “Do you have the original paperwork from your purchase?”

“I bought it stripped down but it still cost me almost 30K,” he said. “I have been offered 15K and turned it down.”

What will you take,” I asked.

“The Kelly blue book is18k and change. I want20K,” he stated firmly.

“Just so we don’t waste too much time. I can go on line and have my bank transfer the funds to your account right away. But it won’t be for twenty thousand. I will transfer the blue book value plus five hundred dollars because the body is so straight on the truck.” It didn’t look as though anything had ever been inside the bed of it. The red paint didn’t even look faded.

The older man stared off into space for a second then said, “Let’s do it, but I want a bank check to hold in my hands. No offense I don’t trust computers all that much.”

“If you have the title and we can do it right now,” I replied. When he returned, I checked the title against the vehicle’s serial number then we went to the bank. I arrange for the bank manager to remove the money from my regular savings account and write the check only after he notarized the title.

Since I had my bike in the rear of the van, I convinced the previous owner of my new truck to meet me at the van’s rental office to turn it in. It was after 8PM when I returned from driving him home. I did stop for dinner before pulling into the parking space near my house and taking the previous owner’s plate off the truck. I agreed to deliver it to the dept of motor vehicles office the next day when I did the paperwork to register it.

By noon on Wednesday it was all done. I was officially the owner of a five year old Dodge D100 four wheel drive pickup truck. I parked it near the house, then rode my bicycle out to an early dinner.

Once home I tried to remember the furniture inside the cabin. I knew the layout well enough. I had bought it from the estate of a factory worker who had died a few years earlier. The estate was handled by his forty something son.

I went to his estate sale to check for antiques. I went for two reasons, one I traded in antiques as a hobby business, and the sale was in a neighborhood, I could reach easily driving a small Geo Metro which I owned at the time.

I saw the advertisement for the cabin on an easel by the entrance of the condo. The cabin was three hundred miles south of DC. It was also in the Blue Ridge mountains near the Pisgah National Forest.

It was appealing because of it’s location, and price. The three acres were described as fit only as a patch to hold the earth together. It was also accessible and cheap. The last one was the real deal maker for me.

For the first six years I had spent at least one week and several weekends a year at the cabin. The under powered metro managed the county road fine. That county road was used to connect several fire access roads. The cabin’s drive connected to the fire road. Every year I was forced to clear brush from the driveway just to keep it functional.

When I switch to the bike for medical reasons, I gave the metro to my grand daughter. For the last two years I hadn’t visited the cabin at all. There was no telling what I would find when I moved in during the coming week. First of all let me say the cabin was not a cool log cabin in the woods. It was more a shack on a seldom traveled road.

“Dad bought it to get away from the family,” his son informed me.

The truth is I had done almost zero work on the place. The roof was a layer of very old barn tin roofing material. When it began to leak, the previous owner covered it with a lightweight plastic tarp. He did glue it to the metal roof. When it leaked a second time, I added a second plastic tarp and glued it down as well. Fortunately the bones of the shack were strong, so it stayed together. I had a feeling that I would be buying a trailer for the spot someday. At least if I did that, I would fit in with the very few others residents in the area.

I expected it to have been broken into every time I went there. I was seldom disappointed. I began questioning my sanity in moving there even before I started my packing to make the move.

Even with the new pickup truck, my cargo space would be limited. I had to have everything gone from the condo before the next weekend. The potential buyers were ready to start touring it, according to my Realtor.

The Realtor also planned to have an industrial cleaning crew put the place right before showing it. I planned to have everything I owned moved out by Wednesday and turn the keys over that evening.

According to the Realtor my timing couldn’t be better. It was the first week in June, the weather was going to be mild for a while, and the real estate market was again strong. I could take comfort in the fact that the place would be on the market quickly. My instruction to the Realtor was to accept the first reasonable offer. I needed the money to repair the damage to my savings account. It was still a viable account even though wounded. All the years of automatic deductions from my check had finally paid off.

The bank assessment was after the estate sale and after I bought the truck. A local second hand store appraiser had placed tags on everything. When the antique dealers finished picking over my stuff, I sold what I could to the public. It was down to thrift store trash on Sunday afternoon. I called the second hand dealer and appraiser for a lump some price on the left overs.

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