Peter sat in shock as he listened to his fiancée finish her statement. His anger surged through his body. Pete was driving to the show for their regular date when he asked Polly if she wanted to take a week and go camping with him after her college classes ended next month. Polly said, "Pete you know I am leaving the day after classes are over. Shelly, Emma and I already have almost all our things packed ready to leave. You know we are taking the whole summer for a trip out west."
"Polly if you think I'll allow that you're crazy! I thought when we decided to get married you agreed not to go on this damn trip. What changed your mind?"
"Oh Peter. I never said that. You know we've been planning on taking this trip ever since we started college. We have been saving every cent we could to pay for it but we will still have to work some on the trip unless we can find someone to help pay our way. Do you know how hard it was to cut costs and overstate our expenses so our parents would give us more money to save for the trip? How could you even think for a minute I would miss out on the trip of a lifetime?"
"Polly I know how those two friends of yours get when they get away from home. I also know how they find someone to help them pay expenses they can't cover themselves. When they get a drink or two in them their heels get round and they fall onto their backs in the dyeing cockroach position. Hell, I have nightmares of seeing them with their legs spread after one of your girl's nights out. I don't want you to even go out alone with them here and I sure don't want you to spend the summer with them 24/7."
"You Bastard! Those are my best friends. I will not allow you to talk about them like that. I'm sorry honey but it's a done deal. You knew when we started dating I planned to take this trip. Nothing has changed. You go off on your short Reserve trips and I trust you. What's the difference here?"
"Polly you know what the difference is. I am a Citizen Soldier. I go to training and onto active duty if and when I am called up. It is part of my job. When I am there I work. Mostly I don't have time to chase pussy even if I had the desire. If you take this trip we won't last. Even if you aren't planning to cheat on me you will get drunk and slip or those two will talk you into cheating. I promise you that will end us. I won't let you take off like that and expect to come back and find it like it is now. Is that what you want? Are you trying to break up with me?"
"Oh, no Honey. Never. You're my main man and will be even after this little trip is over. We'll go off and see the good old U S of A then I'll come back to you and be your own personal woman for the rest of my life."
"Polly I had better be your ONLY man. If you do this trip you'll never be my woman again. I won't put up with you sleeping around and running around with those two sluts."
"Oh, silly, of course I'll be your woman. I told you I would come home and you'd be my main man. Now let it go. I don't want to talk about it anymore."
The rest of the evening was a blur in Pete's mind. He knew he and Polly went to the movies as they had planned but he could not remember what the show was about or any of the rest of their conversation. He spent most of the time the show ran thinking about Polly, her friends and her insistence she go on their planned trip. He also thought about some of the statements she had made over the last year they had been dating. They held a certain amount of contempt for him and displayed her selfish attitude. Pete noticed with shock that the credits were streaming on the screen and people were leaving the theater. Polly stood and took his hand to leave. They didn't tarry after the show and get a snack or drink at their normal hangout. Pete just took Polly straight home, walked her to her door and turned to leave. He stopped when she grabbed his arm and pulled him back.
"Pete! What's the matter with you? We didn't stop for supper and a drink like we usually do and now you're just going to leave me at the door. Aren't you coming in like you usually do? I was really looking forward to you staying again tonight."
"No Polly, I'm not coming in. I don't know when I'll come in again if I ever do. You have to decide what you want before I do that again. I promise you one thing right now though. If you go whoring around with your friends like you plan to do this summer I promise you'll never see me in your house or bed again."
Pete walked off. Polly reached for him again but missed his arm. She trotted three steps after him then wailed, "Pete. You didn't even kiss me goodnight. Why are you being like this anyway?" She glared at him as he opened his truck door and looked over the roof at her. As he started to get into his little Ranger she screamed, "Damn you Pete. Just go off and sulk. I'm taking that trip and that's final. When we get back we can set the date for our wedding. Now get over it and stop sulking."
Polly turned and was closing the door to her house before Pete drove off. She looked up at her two best friends in the world as they stood watching her. Both of them were grinning.
Emma said, "I guess he didn't take it too well huh?"
Polly shook her head no then grinned a little. She said, "He'll get over it. He always does when I put my foot down. Besides, he knows he can't find a pussy like mine between every set of legs he spreads." She laughed and continued, "Of course if I ever find out he has been spreading someone else's legs I'll make sure he doesn't do any fucking again for a loooooong time."
Shelly laughed and said, "And just how do you think that attitude is fair you slut?"
"Oh, shut up. You know I don't share my man with anyone."
Emma laughed and said, "Bullshit. You shared Jared with me Wednesday night."
"Well DUH! That was just an animated cock. Peter's my man and I won't share him. I could care less about the other males in my life. I'm not going to marry one of them. I just fuck them. Now, where are we going to make our first stop girls? I'm thinking maybe Butte or Bozeman Montana? I feel like riding a cowboy for a while before we get any more educated idiots between our legs."
Pete didn't call or visit with Polly again before she left with her friends on the 'trip of a lifetime'. The day after their proposed departure he did go to Polly's apartment to verify she actually left. The apartment was vacant. He went to Polly's parent's house to see if she was there. He really didn't want to spend the money for the gas but he wanted to physically verify her presence or lack of it. It was only a little over 100 miles after all. His little 4 cylinder Ranger got almost 26 miles to the gallon so the cost wouldn't break him up. Besides wanting to verify Polly had indeed taken the trip he needed to return all of Polly's belongings she left in his apartment. He had no intention of ever seeing her again and certainly didn't want her personal possessions in his house any longer.
When Pete got to Polly's home her father informed him she left on her trip as planned. From the conversation Pete came to realize Mr. Parker was no happier with his youngest daughter than was Pete. It took them maybe fifteen minutes to move her belongings into the house and stack the boxes in her bedroom. Pete shook hands with her father and drove off heading back to his lonely apartment.
Pete was two years older than Polly but was a year behind her in college. He had just finished his Associates Degree in Construction Management. He planned to obtain a Bachelor's Degree in Project Management and after a few years experience form his own building construction firm. He was also a Staff Sergeant in a National Guard Engineer Company. Between his part time jobs, the GI Bill and his reserve pay Pete had managed to get this far in college with no debt. He lived in a dump for sure but he paid his own way. He had no close relatives and no savings so it was pay as you go or pile up a large debt to pay for college.
When his parent's died his father's Construction Company went bankrupt. All their savings and property was used to pay expenses from their auto accident. All Pete received from his father's side of the family was a small 80 acre piece of ground in the country. His grandparents left him the land when they died. There was no house on the land. There was a small older building a few pieces of ancient machinery were stored in. When he went to his 'farm' he camped in the machine shed or alongside a nice little stream in a cave.
After he returned from Polly's childhood home Pete terminated his rental agreement on his small apartment. He took all his possessions to his farm and began camping there. He still attended his reserve meetings and did his two week summer camp but other than that he stayed on his little piece of ground. At first he lay around, fished, swam, drank and felt sorry for himself. The pity party lasted almost a week before his funk lifted and he began his exercise regimen once again. He was, after all, a Staff Sergeant in the Reserves. He had to keep himself in shape before he could perform his duties properly.
After three weeks lying around Pete was bored. He walked out into the machine shed and looked at all the equipment. He knew the old tractor would start. He used it fairly often to bush hog brush and grass around the place. It was still early enough he could plow up some of the ground and put out a late crop of soy beans. He knew he would have to hire them combined but what the heck. It would be something to do and he might make a few extra dollars. Pete hooked up his plow and started toward the field. He had only made a few passes back and forth when one of the neighbors pulled up and stopped.
The neighbor got out of his truck and stood watching Pete work. When Pete got close to him he stopped his tractor and walked over to the neighbor. The man asked, "Whatcha plowin' for Pete?"
"Ah hell, I was bored and got to remembering when grandpa used to farm some. I thought I would maybe put in some soy beans. I can get a crop of them in and harvested this year I think."
"Yeah boy ya can. If you put out short season beans ya can probly get a pretty good crop but why ya plowin'? Hell, 'cept for a garden nobody plows much anymore. We mostly just spray and kill the grass and weeds and no till in the crops. Saves time and money. It also adds humus to the soil and protects from erosion and helps hold moisture for the crops. No more than ya are puttin' out here I can loan ya my machinery if ya want. 'Course ya break it ya gotta pay to fix it."
"Well, I don't know Mr. Jeffers. I aint no tilled before. I wouldn't know how to do that."
"Well, tall as some of these weeds are you should probably bush hog first then use Roundup to spray and kill the grass and weeds. After that ya just use my no till drill mostly like ya would your old drill and plant the beans. Get roundup ready seed so ya can spray again after they're up a little and you're all set. Ya decided to do corn or wheat next year you do it just the same."
Pete thought about what Mr. Jeffers said the rest of the evening. It would sure save him a lot of time and fuel if he could do the no till planting. He decided to give it a try. He had an old spray rig he thought he could get working. He knew his bush hog would work because he used it off and on during the warmer weather.
Early the next morning Pete began cutting the field. With his small equipment it took him four days to do the job but he stuck with it. After he finished he hooked up his disc and smoothed out the area he plowed then went to the neighbors to see about borrowing his no till planter. He had already purchased the seed for his crop.
When Pete drove up to Mr. Jeffers's house he found him working in his machine shed on a tall heavy built drill. Pete grinned and got out of his truck. He walked up to Mr. Jeffers and held his hand out to shake. He said, "Good morning Mr. Jeffers. If you're still willing to loan me your no till drill I thought I would take you up on borrowing it. I want to no till my beans this crop and then I will check to see if it is better and cheaper for me to do that or put in a crop the old fashioned way."
"Hell Pete I guarantee you it is lots easier and cheaper to no till. And I would appreciate it if you would call me by my name. It's Stan. Hell, you're all grown up now and a man in your own right. We're neighbors and I hope friends so you don't need to call me Mr. Jeffers. Hell, I hear you're a Sergeant in the Reserves too. Ya want me to call ya Sergeant?"
Pete said, "Hell no. I'm not a Sergeant out here. Well, I guess I am but since you're not in the Military I'd rather you call me Pete."
"That's what I mean boy. I'd rather be called Stan by my adult neighbors and friends. Now, let's get this drill over to your place and get you started. I'll help ya hook your tractor up to this drill here and I'll tell ya how to use it. I'll stick around a while and make sure you get started ok too."
Even with the late start Pete only took part of two days to get the beans drilled. He made sure to clean up the drill for Stan and took it home. His next project was to find the money for fertilize and get it spread on the field. Before he did that he took several samples across the field. He took the dirt samples to the county agent for testing to see what mix of fertilize and lime he needed to apply. To his relief he didn't need to apply any lime and only a small amount of fertilize. He bought the fertilize at the local Coop and used one of their spreaders to apply it to the field.
After almost two weeks of long hot days work Pete finally found time to sit in front of his cave and relax. He was pleased with his work and looked forward to harvesting a cash crop in the fall. He sat back and listened to the small stream running down the hillside beside his cave. He could hear cattle lowing in the background and machinery working in one of the neighbors' fields. Pete sat and relaxed, letting his mind wander.
While he listened to the peaceful sounds of his country home Pete thought of Polly. He wondered what Polly was doing. He wondered if she was getting as much cock as he suspected she was. That thought tore at his soul. He knew he would never know what she did on her trip unless she or one of her slut friends let it slip and word got out. He still wasn't sure what he would do when she returned. He was pretty sure they were over but there was a slight chance they were not. He needed to think things through. His main problem was trust. He had seen the three of them when they were out drinking and dancing. They were wild. A time or two he suspected Polly would have let a man take her home if he hadn't been with them. She spent way too much time dancing and flirting with men in his opinion.
Some of the short tours and deployments Pete had been on had caused friction between him and Polly also. Twice while he was deployed Pete was told Polly was seen out with men. She supposedly looked and acted as if she was on a date. His informants did tell him she was being way too friendly. During one deployment a friend of his sent him a letter telling him of Polly's adventures. He enclosed a pretty poor picture for him to see. A different friend told Pete after he got home that he personally saw Polly loving up three different men at one time or another while he was in Afghanistan. Pete asked Polly about the reports. Of course she denied dating while he was gone. Pete chose to accept her and her friends' explanation of her actions but a small kernel of doubt remained. He knew the friends who told him those things hated Polly enough to only tell him the things that would make her look the worst to Pete. Still, where there is smoke there is fire. Pete was almost positive Polly had at least done some heavy petting and flirting while he was gone but hell, almost everyone flirted from time to time while they were out partying.
After a six pack of his favorite beer Pete came to a conclusion about his life with Polly. He just plain didn't trust her any longer. He wasn't even sure he still loved her. He was fairly sure if he loved her the hurt from what he perceived as her betrayal in taking the trip would have been greater. Pete wasn't even sure he loved Polly enough to marry even if she hadn't taken the trip. He was almost positive she didn't love him. At least he was positive she didn't respect him. Her actions and cutting remarks proved that.
Pete decided to move on. He would not search Polly out when she returned. He had no intention of returning to any of their old haunts so the likelihood of seeing her by accident was small. He had only brought her to his farm once and he believed she would not be able to find him here even if she looked for him when she returned. If she looked him up he would play their reunion by ear. She would have a tough battle on her hands to ever get back together with him though.
As the summer progressed Pete continued to work around his little place. If he wasn't doing something for the Reserves he worked on his farm or at least was on the farm. He turned a garage bay in his machine shed into a small workshop to work on his machinery. He plowed and planted a small garden to raise some of his food for the summer. Right now he slept in the cave where it was cool. He knew he had to do something about the winter. If he went back to college he needed to rent an apartment. If he didn't he needed to figure out where he was going to live during the cold winter months.
One day Pete was once again thinking about school. He was tired of classes. He was happy here on his little farm and doing short tours for the Reserves. He decided fuck it. He was not returning to college in the fall. Then he began to think about living during the winter. He didn't want to go to town and try to find a place to rent. That would mean finding a job in town and he really didn't want to do that. That, of course meant he needed to figure out how to make a place tight enough he could spend the winter on his farm.
Pete knew he could cobble something up in the machine shed but he didn't like the location. He loved sleeping in his little cave. He was high enough above the stream he didn't have to worry about floods and he could see a beautiful view from in front of the cave. He decided to use some of the old concrete blocks and stones to make a wall across the front of the cave. He already had electricity in the cave. One of the first things he had done when his grandparents left him the farm was run lines the 150 feet from the machine shed to the cave so he would have lights in the evenings.
The opening of the cave under the bluff was only about 30 by 15 or 20 feet. The front was about ten feet high. He could pick up enough stone and blocks to wall that off easily. The floor wasn't perfectly level but he could even level it out some with a little concrete in strategic locations. Pete decided he had a plan. Early the next morning he went to town and made the few purchases he needed to get started. He ordered some sand and gravel to make the concrete and mortar. He purchased and took home his cement and some of the building materials he would need immediately. He ordered a good steel door for the front and two triple pane PVC windows. He also ordered some lumber and metal roofing to make a covered porch for his little cave home. Pete snorted to himself and admitted you really couldn't call this a true cave. It was more like a large overhanging bluff. It was only about 30 feet deep and the back six or eight feet you couldn't stand in. Pete planned to close off the rear of his home where the wall would be 6 feet tall. He would put another steel door into the back wall so he could access the part he closed off. He would use the rear for storage if he needed it.
The next day his building material was delivered by Home Depot. As soon as the truck left Pete began getting ready to work. The first thing he did after laying out his proposed walls was hammer drill holes in the rock and place rebar. He formed up and poured concrete to level the area he would build his stone wall on and the cave floor. While that was setting up Pete measured out and poured a stem wall for his little porch. He was lucky that the drop off in front of the cave only required a wall 30" high at its highest point.
After the concrete was dry enough to remove the forms Pete hauled in river gravel to fill in under his porch floor then he mixed and poured the concrete for the 30 by 12 foot porch in front of his little cave home. All this work took him a week to complete. It would have taken even longer if he hadn't had a front end loader on his small 45 horsepower tractor.
The day Pete began mixing and pouring the concrete porch floor his neighbor across the small stream began cutting the field for hay. When Pete rested he would sit and watch the tractor go around and around. He had never seen anyone cut hay as fast as they were cutting. He couldn't recall ever seeing the man on the tractor either. He wondered if it was a custom operator or hired help.
That afternoon after the field was cut the tractor drove to the stream and stopped just across from where Pete was working. The operator got off the tractor and limped toward the stream. As they walked they took off their shirt. When beside the stream the operator stopped and removed their shoes then dropped their long pants. Pete stared in surprise. The tractor operator was a very pretty woman. She looked over at Pete for a moment then moved into the stream and dunked herself in the small deep hole. The deep part of the stream where the woman was trying to swim was not really large enough to swim in. It was maybe twelve feet across and fifteen feet long. At its deepest point it was chest high and shoaled rapidly from there. After she had gotten completely wet the woman lay on her back and just floated in the cool water. Pete found himself watching instead of working.
Finally with a small shake of his head Pete turned back to his work. For the next thirty minutes Pete mixed concrete in his small electric mixer and poured it onto his new porch floor. He figured he needed three or four more mixers full and he would be done for the day when he heard movement then a voice said, "Hello. I'm Fiona Morgan. I know it's none of my business but what the heck are you doing to the old cave here?"
Pete said, "Nice to meet you. I'm Pete Johnson. I've decided to turn the front part of the cave into my house. I'm pouring the front porch right now. I really need to keep working until I get the concrete poured. I'm not being rude, I just can't let the concrete get too dry or it won't set up right on the new pour."
"Cool. I always used to like to play around in the cave when I was a girl and we came down to swim. You mind if I look around for a minute or two?"
"Naw. Go ahead. I'm almost finished here then I'm going to clean up and jump in the creek myself. I'll even wear clothes this evening since you're here."
Fiona turned and looked at him when Pete said that. She saw he was smiling and said, "Well I hope so. I'd hate to have to use my official U.S. Army combat training on you."
"You're in the Army? I'm a Staff Sergeant in the Reserves. I've been in a little over 6 years now. What's your MOS (Military Occupational Specialty)?"
"I'm not in the Army now. I guess you noticed I don't walk like I should. Sergeant Fiona Morgan, U.S. Army, Retired would be more accurate for me I guess. I was a Medic and got a little bunged up on a mission. They sewed me back together but as you can see I can't get around as well as I need to so they put me out to pasture. Now I'm helping dad and mom on the farm while I try to decide what I want to do with the rest of my life. I never had much interest in college and there aren't many jobs around here so I'm just helping the folks until I decide what to do. I may go on and get my EMT certificate and try to get on with the ambulance district. I sort of enjoyed being a Medic. How about you?"
"About the same as you I guess. I already told you I'm a Staff Sergeant in the Reserves. I've been on two deployments and I take all the short tours I can get. I plan to make the Reserves my career. I got my AA degree at the Junior College but I don't want to go on. This 80 acres was grandpas and I inherited it from him when he died. I was lucky he lived longer than my Dad. Everything Dad and Mom had went to pay their bills after they died in a car wreck. What you see is all I have in the world and I'm fine with that. I plan to live here in my cave like a hermit, grow whatever I can on the farm and take all the short tours I can get from the Reserves and then retire."
"That's it? Just you and your little piece of ground? Don't you ever plan to get married or anything?"
Pete laughed and said, "Well I was planning on getting married and doing the old 9 to 5 but she decided she wanted to run around with her girlfriends instead of me so we split. She's somewhere out west now drinking and screwing around I suppose. Yeah, it would be nice to have a woman but it's not real high on my priorities right now. If I find one then we'll have to see what I do later."
Pete and Fiona visited for several more minutes. She even drank one of his beers with him before she sighed and said she had to get back home to help with the chores. Before she walked off she said, "I'll see ya around I suppose Sergeant. I hope ya don't mind if I come by every so often and soak in the creek do ya?"
"No. Hell, wouldn't matter if I did. It's your creek also. Your folks land borders the south side of the creek so you have as much right to swim in it as I do." Pete grinned and continued, "Besides, I like the view when you're washing off the dust. It might be a good thing if you made a little noise when you come down though. I have been known to swim without anything on."
Fiona turned and grinned at Pete. She looked him up and down and said, "I've been known to do that also but that was years ago before I figured out all you men are just waiting to pounce on us poor defenseless naked women. I may just sneak up on you though. I might enjoy the view." She laughed and said, "Catch ya later Pete."
Two days later Fiona was back. This time she was raking the hay into windrows in preparation for baling it. After she completed that hot dusty job she once again drove down beside the small stream and stripped to a bathing suit. Pete had completed the short wall in the back of his cave by then and was working on the front wall. He had been watching her off and on as she worked. After he used the mortar he had prepared he put his tools in a water bath and walked to the stream where Fiona was floating.
Pete took off his shoes and waded out into the stream carrying a pool noodle. When he was in the deepest part he floated on the noodle and said, "Afternoon Fiona. Mind if I join you for a while?"
Fiona smiled and said, "Not at all. How's it going Pete?"
The two young people visited for several minutes then Pete decided he needed to return to work. He invited Fiona up for another beer before she left. Those two days seemed to set a precedent. For the rest of the week after Fiona finished her days work in the field she would meet Pete at the swimming hole and they would talk. After she finished her swim she went to Pete's and had a beer or two with him and looked at the work he had accomplished while she had been gone.
Pete's little 'home' took shape rapidly. He had a two level floor inside the cave room. He even managed to pipe in water from the old well and set up a bathroom inside. He had a hell of a time breaking out enough rock to get the water lines and drain lines deep enough they would not freeze but he was proud of his accomplishments. When he was done the room under the natural rock was 24 by 15 feet. His bed was in the far rear of the small room. He built a small kitchen area on one side of the front and a sitting area on the other. His bath room was behind the kitchen area. Pete was happy. He had placed a small wood stove in the room for winter heat. He was good to go. The best thing was he only spent about $3700.00 on the building materials for his small room.
After the hay was up Pete did not see Fiona as often as he had when she was working across the stream from him. She still came to the swimming hole at least twice a week throughout the hot part of the year though. To his surprise Pete found himself looking forward to seeing her. He was disappointed when she did not show up. Finally on a Wednesday when they were floating in the stream drinking a beer Pete asked her out.
Fiona looked at Pete in shock when he asked her for the date. She said, "You're kidding right?"
Pete's feelings were a little hurt when she said that. He said, "No I wasn't. I was serious but if you don't want to go fine. I just thought we could go out and have some fun. I'm sorry I suggested it."
Fiona saw the hurt in Pete's face and said, "Hey Pete. I didn't mean to upset you. I was just surprised is all. You've never given me any indication you thought I was anything except a beer drinking buddy. Besides, I'm a shot up soldier. I can't dance and have trouble walking. My scars are hideous. I've not had a date since I was wounded and you just surprised me ok? If I didn't piss you off totally, yes. I would like to go out with you ok?"
Pete found himself smiling. He said, "Great. But you've got it all wrong Fiona. You may be shot up and have scars but anyone who can't see what a great person you are doesn't deserve a date with you anyway. I just enjoy being with you. I don't give a rats ass about the scars and I never liked to dance anyway."
Pete was not the most observant person but then what man is when it comes to women? He really didn't notice the way Fiona's eyes and face lit up when she heard him tell her he enjoyed being with her for her personality and inner beauty rather than her now damaged exterior. She felt her heart flutter when he said what he said. She could tell from the tone of his voice and his facial expression that he meant every word too. She felt her spirit lift higher than it had been since her injury. She wasn't in love with Pete but she was well on her way after that statement.
Pete and Fiona continued to date and visit back and forth throughout the long winter. She was amazed at how cozy his little home under the cliff was and enjoyed every moment she spent within it with Pete. One spring day they were once again at Pete's home visiting. They were sitting on the front porch watching a typical spring thunder storm when the wind began blowing much harder and the sky darkened horribly. They heard a loud roaring and his porch roof began rattling. Pete watched in amazement as the roof began flexing. The rain was coming down almost sideways and blowing all the way across his porch. All at once he understood what was happening and grabbed Fiona. He began dragging her toward his front door and shouted, "Tornado. Come on. Hurry. We need to get inside under protection."
Pete didn't stop when they got into the main room of his little home. Pete pulled Fiona to the back and into the small room he used for storage of his root crops and other bulk items. They closed the door and sat on the floor. After the door closed they could barely hear the roaring of the storm. Soon they heard a crash of breaking glass then shortly thereafter an eerie quiet descended on Pete's little farm.
Pete waited for another ten minutes then he opened the door into his home and allowed Fiona to follow him out. One of the front windows had been broken. Part of the porch roof was thrown through it. Rain and debris had blown into the room. His bed was damp but not horribly wet. The porch roof was gone, torn away by the wind.
Pete walked out into the now softly falling rain and looked toward his machine shed. It too was gone. Some of the roof had fallen on his machinery. Many of the beautiful trees around his home were damaged, some uprooted. Fiona came to Pete and wrapped her arm around his waist. She leaned her head on his shoulder and said, "Oh Pete. I'm so sorry. Come on. Let's see what the damage is."
They first walked toward the shed. When they turned around the corner of the bluff the cave was in they saw both their trucks. There was some damage from debris hitting them and Fiona's front windshield was cracked and starred from a hit in the center by something large and heavy. Both vehicles appeared to be operable however even if Fiona's truck was not legal to drive with the damaged windshield.
They walked on to the damaged machine shed. Much of Pete's machinery was bent and damaged from the building falling on it before blowing away. Some of the smaller pieces were rolled around the barnyard. He would have to clear the wreckage off before he could determine if it was damaged enough to be inoperable. He also had a lot of trees to cut and storm damage to repair. It was obvious however that this had not been a terribly strong tornado. Pete's machine shed was blown down more than blown away. Sure some of the metal siding and roofing was completely gone but much of the building was lying on top of the machinery stored inside.
Fiona and Pete walked up onto the top of the bluff over the cave home and observed the storm's path. Fiona gasped and grabbed Pete's arm. She hysterically said, "Pete. It looks like the storm hit our farm. The house and barns are all damaged. I have to get home and check on Mom and Dad." She took off running or hobbling as fast as she could toward her truck. Pete ran to catch up to her.
When Pete got to Fiona she was trying to get into her truck. He grabbed her and held her back. He said, "Wait Fiona. You can hardly see out of your front window. Come on. Let's get my chain saw, some other tools and first aid kit then we'll take my truck."
Pete and Fiona rummaged around in his broken down shed until they came up with the chain saw, fuel and oil for it as well as some ropes and chains, a come along and a couple of heavy steel bars to pry with. They then drove out of his lane as fast as they safely could and turned toward Fiona's home. Twice they had to stop and cut trees from the road before they could proceed. Because they had to clear the road it took them nearly 45 minutes to drive the two miles to her home. It would have been faster to go through the fields probably except they would have had to cut one of the fences.
When they arrived at Fiona's home they saw the house and outbuildings were destroyed. Like Pete's machine shed however, the buildings were more blown down than blown away. Fiona ran frantically around screaming for her parent's. Finally she and Pete heard a muted yell coming from within the wreckage of the house. Pete backed his truck as close as he could and they began clearing wreckage from the area the noise was coming from. Fiona was crying as she frantically worked at the wreckage. There was a large tree lying over that corner of the house.
After they got the tree cut away Pete saw a broken down cellar door partly covering steps into the cellar underneath the house. The yelling was coming from the cellar. They finished clearing the door and Fiona rushed down the stairs screaming for her parents. Pete followed her carrying a flashlight. When he got to the bottom of the stairs he saw Fiona hugging her Father and Mother. Pete walked up to Fiona and wrapped his arm around her waist to comfort her also.
After the initial euphoria of finding each other safe Fiona's Father Seth began walking out of the cellar. When he got to the top of the stairs he stopped and looked around his farm in shock. Fiona and her mother walked to each side of him and each wrapped an arm around his waist. Pete walked up beside them and stood in silence for a moment.
After the three began slowly walking around surveying the damage Pete followed Fiona. The rain was picking up once more so he said, "Look folks. It's getting dark and the rain is picking up again. Why don't we all go to my place for the night? We can decide what we need to do in the morning and get started on rebuilding. My place isn't the most fancy or comfortable for all of us but at least it will be dry and warm. I will have to put something over the broken window then we'll build a fire and get comfy."
The next morning Fiona and her mother prepared breakfast on Pete's small wood stove. While they ate their meal the four friends discussed how to recover from the disaster. Pete insisted Fiona and her parents plan to stay with him until they could get something set up for themselves. After the meal they split. Seth, Bridget and Fiona returned to their place in Fiona's truck. Pete went to town to purchase replacement material so he could replace the broken window and porch roof. He also turned his loss in to his insurance agent. They promised to have an adjuster out in the next day or two. Pete was instructed not to begin work rebuilding until after the adjuster had been there. He was allowed to replace the window only because that would safeguard his home from further damage.
Pete also mentioned the damage at the Morgan's place. They also insured through the same agent so he promised to have the adjuster visit them the same day. Pete returned home with his replacement window and spent the rest of the morning installing it. After that he worked on his machine shed until he could get his tractor out. Some of the sheet metal was bent on the tractor but it was otherwise undamaged. Now he was thankful he let the insurance agent talk him into getting a policy that covered his equipment as well as the machine shed and his little shack of a home.
Just before dark Fiona and her father came back to Pete's with a mattress, refrigerator and some bedding and clothing for them all. They also had some preserved food in the truck. Bridget had taken the family truck to town to purchase some groceries. They had gotten a generator running and plugged the deep freeze in to keep their frozen food cold. Pete also got his generator out to run his electric appliances until the power company could restore service. News broadcasts indicated it would probably be later the next day before service would be restored in their area.