Samuel Light, Spiritual Detective: The Shasta Caper
The Narrow Sparrow was perched on an abuttment of the mountain that rose above the thick wooded Shasta National Park. Managed by the Park Service, it served as a stopping point for those brave enough to climb the mountain this time of year, and for the Rangers who served the vast forest lands about it.
They had landed in Redding, taken an hour to orientate themselves, find a four wheeler and gear up. Samuel made sure they both had warm jackets and miner's lamps. Why? Jimbo didn't know and didn't ask. Samuel did a lot of things without analyzing it, he just knew intuitively what to do, but Jimbo suspected it was his invisible friends who guided him, even though he would never verbally admit to that possibility as it scared the crap out of him to think that dead people were dogging their steps.
Then again, when hadn't they been? What with Samuel's perpetual, it seemed, excursions into the past lives of people he touched or was touched by, Jimbo was becoming case hardened to the extraordinariness of their lives, and especially that of Samuel's.
Jimbo drove the Ford Escape they had rented. He had wanted a truck, but the smart people had already gotten those and were long gone from town and not likely to return them anytime soon, if they were going mountaining. So he settled for the beat up black with white trim Ford Escape. He walked around it, kicking the tires, stooped and stuck a fingernail into the treads. About a half inch. He frowned and looked at the Salesman. "Not much tread."
"I'll knock ten bucks off."
Jimbo nodded, then sprung the hood. He looked into the engine department. "Hasn't been cleaned for at least two years." He said, after scooping up a thick slab of grease from the motor casing.
"I'll knock five bucks off."
"Make it fifty and you have a deal."
"Forty five and I might change my mind."
"Forty and Samuel'll let me do it."
"Twenty and not a dollar more." The Salesman whined. "I have to feed my family."
Jimbo eyed him sternly. "You don't have any family." He accused, staring at the man's lack of a wedding ring.
"Really." Jimbo was impressed. "That's a whole lot of food. Okay. Let's split the difference."
The Salesman reached a hand out and smiled. "Come on inside."
Jimbo went inside to sign the paperwork and credit card the bill, while Samuel loaded their gear into the back of vehicle. They had bought all their gear and loaded into a taxi as they cruised the small town, finally reaching the end of their shopping spree at the Rental Dealer.
Jimbo came out with a Marshmallow Pie in his hands, and two more sticking out of his coat pocket. "Got an extra one for you."
"Thanks." Samuel said, then climbed into the passenger side after catching the one that Jimbo had stuffed in his other pocket. Jimbo was eating three of them.
Samuel looked at him accusingly.
Jimbo pinched his own stomach. "Gotta feed the fat, you know."
Samuel shook his head, then sat back and clasped his seatbelt around him as Jimbo did the same, then cranked the engine. It didn't start. He did it again. Still no start. He began to turn red in the face. "That no good, cheating, sonuva...."
Samuel reached across him and placed his palm over the ignition.
The engine cranked up.
Jimbo looked over at him. "Sure you're not an alien?"
"Look who's talking."
"I am." Jimbo said, then ground the car into gear and slung them onto the road that would exit onto Highway 89, and from there to the mountain.
They both enjoyed the fresh air and the scenery. They both loved the desert. Jimbo Texas. Samuel, Las Vegas, but the beautiful scenery, the spiking pines, the flourishes of wintry flowers on the edge of the road were just too much to not enjoy.
"Some day I'm going to marry me a woman and settle down up here." Jimbo decided.
Jimbo looked at him. "Why not yah?"
"You're not the type."
"Show's what you know." Jimbo groused and just to prove he knew better he flung the car around a precipitous turn a bit faster than they should go.
Samuel held on for dear life as the treads went partially over the drop, until they sled back onto the road again. Samuel didn't say anything. Jimbo had made his point and he wasn't about to argue what he had already seen in his visions. But then again, he thought, as Al sat on the front of the car with M, waving at him, as Yoda said very wisely, "The future always in motion is."
They arrived at The Narrow Sparrow at the edge of twilight. Both of them climbed out, tired, dirty, exhausted, but neither wanting to go inside of the brightly lit, and probably quite comfortably warm restaurant hotel.
The sun was setting and it was a basket of glorious gold and red as it settled its mighty bulk beneath the horizon, gelding the woods below and their tree tops with molten lava streamers of light. They both stood there against the Ford Escape admiring the sunset, until it was gone, then they turned back to the restaurant.
"Chow time." Jimbo said, rubbing his stomach anxiously.
"It's always chow time for you."
"That's because big boys need to eat more than skinny boys like you." He accused Samuel with a glint of irony in his eyes.
They locked up the Ford Escape and tramped through the light snow that still silvered the neon lit ground before the front door, then opened the double doors to enter. When they did, the Rangers inside all turned to look, their talking stopping.
Jimbo waved at them. "Drinks are on me, Rangers."
The Rangers cheered as Jimbo and Samuel slid into a booth and a woman in her mid fifties dressed in Ranger uniform came up with a pencil and pad. "Besides the free beers, what can I sell to you handsome gents?"
It took them a few minutes to go over the menu, while the Rangers all sang out happily in their various places as they sipped their free beers.
Samuel casually looked around as Jimbo ordered for them both, and then froze.
She was there. Standing in the hallway to the bathrooms, dressed in a Ranger outfit, yes, but most definitely it was her.
"Jimbo." He said urgently, pointing with his head.
Jimbo looked over at the hallway, which was empty, except for a drunk Ranger who waddled out of the bathroom, still zipping up his dirty pants. "What? You taking a liking to Rangers these days, Sammie?"
Samuel looked at Jimbo, then back at the hallway. This time Al and M were there, both waving at him.
That stunned him, but what happened next stunned him more.
There was a cascading series of brilliant bolts of light that washed through the windows of the restaurant, highlighting everyone inside in a blaze of light brighter than the sun. Like the blast of light from an Atomic Bomb.