Chapter 3: Getting Started

Copyright© 2009 by Jujubees

Early the next morning, Cade woke up and went out to find the old well that he remembered was attached to the house. He had forgotten about the well at first or the possibility of having to turn on the water. All of this was new to him and he was using the few memories he had from his childhood when his grandfather had explained things to him.

It was early in the morning and it took Cade a long time to figure out how the well worked. Finally after much deliberation he got a wrench from the garage and used all his strength to turn the valve and start the water flowing. He heard the sound of the water rush through the old pipes and noticed a small leak near the turn-on valve. The water hadn't been used in close to three years, but as near as Cade could tell the pipes were still solid. He went inside the house and turned on the kitchen sink. The pipes made a horrendous sound as the air forced its way through until eventually rusty colored water sputtered out of the tap. Cade let the water run until the water looked clear enough to drink.

They had water now, it might not be warm, but it was water. He would need to have the gas line turned on by the city in order to make the water heater work and the same was true for the electricity, it would have to be turned on by the city in order for the stove to work. They would have to make do without hot water or lights until he could figure out a way to have those services connected. He wasn't sure how he was going to make it happen because he knew it would cost money, something that was in short supply of at the moment.

"I know you've been busy fixing that old car, but it's nice that you could get the water running." Callie grinned.

Cade could tell she was pleased about the water. "Make the kids take a bath, even though the water is cold." He handed her a bar of soap he had purchased yesterday along with the groceries, "They still stink like Seth's house. Then see if you can get this place cleaned up," and he handed her some cleaning fluid and dish soap.

"I tried to clean it up yesterday," she said lamely, even though she had given up early on, "but without water it was impossible."

Cade pulled out the groceries he had purchased and put them on the counter. The kids were all thirsty and starving and they quickly took turns drinking from the kitchen faucet when they woke up. Now they could flush the toilet as well, which would save them from making trips out in the weeds. Cade soon discovered that Callie could not use the stove because there was no electricity, so preparing some of the food he had purchased would be a problem. Fortunately he had bought one bag of cold cereal, and after mixing the instant milk and cleaning out some old bowls all of them were able to eat the cold cereal.

After breakfast, Cade went out to the garage to put the new battery in the car. He also managed to change the oil in the car, which took him awhile to figure out because he had to figure out how to jack up the car and then he had to find the tools necessary to complete the job.

After the oil was changed and the battery installed he put the key in the ignition and held his breath. The car sputtered a little and then died. He tried again a couple more times, and nothing. He sat there listening to the car sputter and felt nothing but frustration. Suddenly, it occurred to him how old the gasoline in the tank must be. He figured he would probably need to buy some fresh gasoline. The car was so old he knew there was no way it would run on unleaded fuel and he would need to find out if there was a way to buy leaded fuel. The last time he checked, the gas stations around town only sold unleaded gasoline.

Cade got on the bicycle once more and headed to town, this time to buy gasoline. He knew bringing gasoline back would prove to be a laborious process. He was grateful for the bicycle, but he worried that it would not last through many more ten mile rides back and forth to town with him laden down with heavy objects.

He managed to ride all the way to town without a problem again, but once he arrived in town he worried the bike would be stolen because he had no lock for it. If the bike was stolen, it would leave him destitute. This time he arrived in town a bit earlier in the day and he decided to find the local utility office, which was on the other side of town. He went there to ask about getting the gas and electricity connected. He soon learned that the fee to have those two services connected was hefty, especially given his criminal record. They wanted to charge him more than he was comfortable paying and he knew for now he would have to figure something else out.

His next stop was county tax commission, to speak with them about the delinquent tax notice that had been posted on the door of the house. The property taxes were three years delinquent. He showed the tax commission the deed to the house and told them he would make good on the taxes if they would give him time. They were not sympathetic to his plight and they eyed him suspiciously due to his unkempt and smelly appearance. He smelled of cigarettes and sweat. He knew it must be unpleasant for those around him, but there wasn't much he could do. He attempted to clean himself up in a public restroom the best he could.

Cade was informed by the tax commission that they had held off seizing the property because his grandfather's will was still in probate, but they were now in the process of bypassing that problem so that they could seize the property. Cade was crestfallen, the only thing he could think to do was to plead with them to reconsider so he could make good on the taxes. How he would ever make good on the taxes he had no idea. He talked to them at length about the situation and finally they agreed to give him more time. "Sign this contract and pay all of the back taxes within three months or we'll foreclose and seize the property." The clerk finally said. The taxes amounted to $2500.

Cade felt immobilized by the rigidity of the tax commission, but he had no choice but to sign the promissory note. "You're lucky you got here when you did," the clerk reiterated. "A day or two longer and we would not have allowed you on the property." Cade puzzled over the clerk's words. The world had always seemed an unfair place to Cade and this was doing nothing to improve his outlook. But as Cade thought about what probate was, it was then he realized that if the will was still in probate maybe he needed to go see the attorney that had sent him the letter containing the deed to the house. Fortunately he still had the old envelope in his pocket and the return address that contained the attorney's address.

It was getting late in the day, but Cade managed to pedal the bicycle quickly, despite how weak he felt from a lack of food and he was fortunate enough to catch the attorney still in his office when he arrived. It turned out the attorney was happy to see Cade because he wanted the matter settled. Cade needed to sign some papers stating that he had received the deed and as it turned out there was another pleasant surprise waiting for him as well, a cashier's check. "I know it's only $8000, but your grandfather wasn't a wealthy man," the attorney explained.

Cade felt $8000 was a fortune. It was more money than he had ever held in his hand legally at one time before and he could hardly believe it. He promptly went to cash the check at a nearby bank before the bank closed, but he had difficulty producing adequate forms of identification. The bank did not want to issue him that much money without him having an account with them. Finally after a lot of manipulation and deliberation, Cade agreed to open a checking account with the bank and to take only a little cash for now until the check cleared.

It was early evening by the time he made it back to the auto parts store to ask about the gasoline. He was exhausted. "I need to ask you a question," he said in a tired voice as he approached the clerk of the store. "I have a very old car and I don't think it will run on unleaded fuel. Do you know how I get around that?"

The clerk today was a different one from the day previous. This clerk was an older gentleman who looked as though he should be retired. "Are you the man who brought in that old battery yesterday?"

"Um, yes," Cade said apprehensively, unsure if he should admit to it in case he had done something wrong.

"Where did you get that old battery?" The man asked.

Cade looked at the man for awhile and finally decided to tell him the truth, "I recently inherited my grandpa's old house and he owned an old Ford Torino."

The man chuckled with delight, "Hello son, my name is Roger Carlisle," the clerk extended his hand with enthusiasm and Cade apprehensively shook it. "You wouldn't happen to be talking about the old Harrison farm would you?"

Cade was surprised this man knew about his grandpa's farm, "Yes, my name is Cade Harrison and Walter Harrison was my grandfather."

Roger laughed with delight and walked around the counter and clapped Cade on the back, "You're Walt's grandson! I'm very pleased to meet you."

"Likewise," Cade responded.

"I'll be damned," Roger laughed. "I knew Walt for many years. It was a shame about the cancer."

Cade wished he felt grief at the loss of his grandfather, but he didn't. He didn't even know his grandfather. "Yes it was a real shame," Cade agreed.

"I guess you're trying to get that old car of your dad's up and running," Roger mused.

Cade felt it was best to play along with Roger even though he knew nothing about what Roger was talking about or even who Roger was for sure. "Yes that's the plan."

"You know I told Walt he was insane to keep that car all those years," Roger shook his head, "But seeing as how it belonged to your father he couldn't part with it to save his soul. Once your dad Dusty was killed, it broke Walt's heart, and I think he kept that car around to help him remember your dad. Your dad loved that car. It was the first car your dad ever purchased, and Walt just didn't have it in him to sell it."

Cade cleared his throat, "Yeah." This was news to Cade. He had no idea the Torino belonged to his father. Suddenly for whatever reason the car meant more to him than it had initially. He didn't know why since he had not even known his father. His father had died in 1978, a month after he was born and as far as he knew he had never owned anything in his life that had belonged to his father.

"Your dad loved that car," Walt smiled with a twinkle in his eyes, "It's good to see his son has taken an interest in it."

Cade nodded, "So what do I do about the gasoline?"

Roger walked over to some cans that were labeled lead substitute. "You'll have to add about one of these cans for every tank of gas."

Cade looked at the cost of the cans, they were a bit more money than he wanted to pay, but he didn't have a choice. "I guess I also need an empty gas can to carry gasoline."

Walt rang up Cade's purchase and smiled as he watched Cade leave the store. Cade waited until he was at the last possible gas station along his route home before filling his empty two gallon gas can. He would have to guess how much lead additive to put in two gallons of gasoline. It would be a long ride home on his bicycle with the gasoline, and he figured two gallons was all he could reasonably carry. But as he rode along, he had a lot of time to think about Roger's words. There was something invigorating about knowing that the old Torino had once belonged to his dad. His stepfather Seth would not allow him to even talk about his dad, let alone possess anything that had belonged to him.

Cade had never known much about his dad other than the fact that he had died from a stray bullet fired during a bar fight in the city. Cade had only known the men his mother chose to date as he grew up and none of them had been worth a damn. His stepfather Seth had come into his life around the age of five and that was a day forever etched in his memory as the worst day of his life, followed closely by the memory of his first day in prison. Unfortunately for Cade the bicycle gave out about a mile from the house and he had to walk the last mile on foot, carrying the gasoline. He was completely worn out by the time he got to the long dirt driveway.

"Dad!" Harley called when he saw Cade. He had been waiting for his dad's return all day long. He rushed out to greet him, "Can I carry that dad?"

Cade looked down at his son and smiled with amusement, "You bet, here you go," and he handed Harley the gasoline and watched Harley struggle. It was heavy for Harley, but he was determined to carry it.

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