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The telephone rings and startles Max for a second as he packs his briefcase and closes it, sitting it neatly on his high rise office desk, he wonders if he should answer it as he watches it, he decides not to as he secures his briefcase beneath his arm, the phone stops ringing, then it starts again, this time, Max answers it, it’s his wife of eleven years, she wanted the number to his lawyer, “it’s in the top drawer of my nightstand,” he said calmly, which is better than a few days ago, they had argued over who was cheating on who, Max and Melissa had married right out of high school, stayed tough through the college years, she became an RN at a big hospital here in Seattle, and Max worked his way up the corporate ladder at the local bank. Melissa and Max grew apart, they rarely saw each other, and then soon after that, new people came into the story, Melissa’s new boyfriend worked in admissions at the hospital, while Max worked late hours, usually with the newest teller. “I want you to know Max, that we’ll always be friends, ok?” “ok Melissa, I’ve always been a lucky person, getting everything I desire, I don’t know why, I don’t blame either one of us,” Max notices a picture of him and Melissa’s wedding on the mantle across the room, as Melissa spoke, “Yes Max, our eleven years together has been good ones, I have no regrets, and I hope you don’t either, I know that we both will find what makes us happy,” “Yes, Melissa we will, I have no regrets,” Max added, as they hung up from each other.

Max had his own plans, he wanted to leave the big city, go and start a new life on his own, far away from the big city, he was tired of living up to expectations, he some how had gotten every wish in his life, he had been raised by parents, who were loved by all, as an only child, his mother nurtured his life with life long lessons on love, discipline, and his dad gave him the money smarts, showed him how to save money and spend it on only what he needed and not what he wanted, some how along the path, Max always got what he wanted, without money, he got his high school sweetheart, scholarships for the best University in Washington, upon graduation, he was handed an executive job, which he worked at, and excelled at, everyone liked Max and who he had became, he worked on getting his private pilot’s license, and after his parents died, he became the owner of his own piper cub plane, which he had plans to use it for his own pleasure, his own adventure that gnawed at his innermost being.

He rode the elevator down from the tenth floor holding his briefcase and a letter that he planned to mail before leaving town, it was a letter to his lawyer, leaving all his worldly possessions to Melissa, since she was the last of his family living. Thoughts of his past whirled around in his mind with each floor passing, he had made up his mind, to leave it all behind, and not look back, he wanted to test his luck, which had always been his greatest friend.

As he drove toward the hanger where his plane was waiting, he stopped by the post office and mailed the letter, then he drove on to his destination. His plane awaited him, the personnel at the hangar had said they checked it all out and was in good running condition, Max figured with his luck, it would take him anywhere he wanted to go, so he packed his belongings into the plane, which consisted of one small suitcase, and his favorite ball cap.

Max turned the ignition on and listened to the rumbling of the engine, it was like music to his ears, the controller waved him to his runway and Max gave him the thumbs up, as he picked up speed, and after a couple small bounces he was in the air, over the tree tops, he watched the terrain before him, he could see the whole city of Seattle fading behind the horizon, then disappearing.

It had been awhile since he had taken his plane up, he looked around the cockpit, thinking about all the necessary steps to taking it to where ever he wanted it to go, he considered himself not only lucky, but now a free man, living with no regrets, leaving nothing behind undone, flying into the sky, free as a bird. As he neared the shores of the Pacific ocean, he opened the side window and dug in his pants pocket and pulled out his cell phone and tossed it out the window, he didn’t want any interruptions in his new life, then he closed the window and turned the plane toward the north, up toward Alaska.

 

Max guided the plane along the shoreline of the great pacific, letting it glide with ease, like a bird. Over the horizon he saw complete wilderness for miles, his plane started to sputter, and he started looking for a place to land his stalling plane, he was a quarter mile from the beach when it went down, and he had to bale out, he grabbed his pack and swam the cool water until he was slapped with a big wave, he continued to swim, hanging on to his pack, he made it to shore, wet, and cold, but he was alive, yet he had no idea where he was, Canada or Alaska, he was sure it had to be one of those.

Max laid on the beach, stretched out his legs, wet and cold, his eyes burning from the salt water, his forty-eight year old body was fit, but he had not had that much of a work out in months. He pulled himself up, and looked around, he decided he was going to have to find some kind of shelter, so he gathered his pack up, and started inland, into the wooded area, where he was sure to find something, anything, that could help him out of this situation.

He quickly found a trail leading deeper into the wooded area, away from the beach, he thought out loud, “I’m not alone, or some animal makes multiple trips to the beach.” he grinned with that thought in mind. Max explored his surroundings as he trudged up the trial, finally coming to an open area, there stood a hut type contraption that was overgrown with brush, he quickly started pulling down limbs and removing what brush he could from the front of it.

The door was hanging on one hinge, that almost crashed to the floor when he pried it open, in the hut, he found all kinds of interesting stuff, it looked as if someone had lived there, but had not been back for decades, dust coved everything, tree limbs reached through the one window in the back of the hut, and the floor had many loose boards that were in need of repair. Thoughts rushed through Max’s mind of how he could use this for his benefit, he needed this type of seclusion, maybe, he thought, the people had long abandoned this precious hut and never thought to return to it. Max worked for days, getting it cleaned up, he found some miscellaneous tools, a hammer, a saw, a wood burning stove, he thought to himself how these people must have moved off and maybe something happened in their life that they couldn’t come back to this wonderful place.

Max made a calendar on one of the walls, and put the date on there when he landed, each day he marked it, so he would not lose sense of time, he found an old clock hanging on the back wall, but the batteries had long been dead. He explored the surroundings of the hut, finding an old well, of course, it had been dried for years, it had mud at the bottom, Max thought out loud again, “If there’s mud, there’s water down there somewhere,” Max decided he would be needing some fresh water soon, since he had been only sipping from a small stream a mile up into the woods, the job of hauling a few bottles was hard work, but it was worth every step, but he had spotted two black bear cubs playing at the edge of the woods near the stream, while the mother caught fish up stream, Max knew the dangers of black bears and he didn’t want to end it like that.

Max made a shovel out of a flat piece of board and a stick and threw a rope down into the well with a bucket he had found, and then hoisting himself down into the well, he started digging into the mud and filling the bucket, and bringing it to the top to empty it, then doing the same procedure many times over, he worked diligently for three days, digging, through the mud, until he hit rock, with despair he hit the shovel against the rock, “damn!” he said aloud. He decided it was worthless to continue down in the well, so he started to hoist himself out of the large hole, when he heard a spewing sound coming from below, he looked down, just as a gush of water spewed upward, knocking him off the rope onto the rocks below, he became ecstatic as the water continued to spew upward, filling the bottom of the well, the water had reached Max’s waist before he realized he needed to get out of the well, he splashed around a few moments, splashing it on his face, his beard was getting long and shaggy, in the past he was always clean shaven, but this wasn’t the past, this is now, this is his future, he thought. He quickly gathered his momentum and hoisted himself up out of the well.

He gathered wood daily, so that he would have enough to last him several months at a time, he knew, with this being June, he would be prepared for the upcoming winter weather, he stacked it neatly at the edge of the wooded area at the back of his hut, then went after yet another small tree to tackle with his make shift saw, it would take him another three hours to cut a small tree and get it stacked.

By evening time, he drug himself into the hut and sat down on the chair, his head leaned on the table, then he picked up a mirror that he had found under the bed and looked at himself, his hair was almost down to his shoulders, his beard full and shaggy, with streaks of gray showing, his face looking older than his forty-eight years.

 

 

Weeks would come and go, faster than Max could keep up with on the calendar on the wall, soon he stopped marking the days. He found some old rusty scissors in a drawer in the bedroom area, he decided to sharpen them with a jagged piece of metal that laid in the corner, he continued to cut his beard shorter, as well as his hair, He later saw himself in the mirror and thought to himself, that he didn’t do such a bad job at cutting his hair and beard.

His days were filled with cutting wood and catching dinner, he found that he could make traps during the evening hours and by morning he would have something, once he caught a black cub, it had been abandoned by it’s mother, it was blinded in his right eye, and hungry, Max nurtured it back to health, letting it eat the leftovers of trappings from the night before, the cub realized after a short while that Max was his only friend, and quickly followed Max where ever he went, Max named him Lucky, because he was lucky to be alive, they became best friends, Lucky grew into an intelligent bear who tried to help Max with whatever he needed help with.

The winter came with its snow, Max kept warm next to the wood stove, he would spend his days making trails through the snow, to lead to his make shift freezer, which he kept plenty of meat in from the trappings, he would have to break the ice on the top of the well several times a day, and sometimes during the night, the winter months were gruesome, by the ending of winter, the dry wood started to dwindle down to twigs, so Max realized, that spring time would mean the beginning of collecting wood, he would not wait until the hot summer months.

One cold winter night Max sat at the table, he had filled his stomach with that days trappings and drank his large glass of ice cold water, he decided to open his pack, which he had brought with him from his past, he fumbled through pictures, a young family picture of him and his parents, smiling, in good health, and a rush of memories flooded his mind, he hung the picture on the wall, and continued flipping through other pictures he had brought, one of a small girl with long blond curls and big blue eyes, a toothless grin, Max held the picture as if to show it to Lucky, “Lucky, this is your sister….she was a beautiful angel….she is a beautiful angel,” Lucky watched the picture with his good eye, then he would look at Max, Max continued talking to Lucky as if he understood each word, “She was six when she died….just starting to live….cancer wouldn’t leave her alone…her name was misty…her life was short…but Lucky…let me tell you this…I still consider myself lucky…cause she was my little girl…for a little while…she was my little girl,” a tear trickled down Max’s cheek, he quickly wiped it away, Lucky stood up and then laid his large head in Max’s lap and gave him a little growl of sympathy, he then hung her picture beside the one he had hung earlier.

Months came and went, Lucky grew into a smart, big black bear, as soon as the snow all melted Lucky ran out the door into the yard, he felt free, and playful, Max chased him out the door into the sun, and tackled him, or tried to, for Lucky had outgrown Max, Lucky carefully slapped at Max as he absorbed the sun’s rays, they both laid on the ground, Max was able to laugh out loud at how silly they were acting, but they had been cooped up inside for weeks, or maybe months, time seemed not to matter much to either of them.

Max and Lucky decided to go fishing at the stream a mile away, they trudged through the woods, finally reaching their destination, they stood still for a moment, watching the waters flow, exploring the landscape to make sure they were alone, they began fishing, Max used his make shift spear, he had became good at hitting the fish with the first or second hit, then putting them in a pouch he had made out of an old shirt he had found, Lucky caught his share of fish, eating along the way.

After catching several fish, they started down the trail, Lucky wobbled behind Max, stopping for a few moments and then he would run to catch up with Max, “Lucky, you did good…boy,….real good boy,” Max said as he looked back at Lucky running towards him, then stopping to nudge Max’s leg, Max looked down to see his leg bleeding, he figured the water was so cold it had numbed the pain, Max knew that it was a snake bite, but he didn’t know which kind, the pain became noticeable after several minutes, and Max could feel his brow full of sweat, “Come on boy, we got to get back home,” Max motioned Lucky to follow, and they started back down the trail, with each step, Max could feel the pain shooting up his leg, his shoe became tight, and almost unbearable to continue to wear.

As they cleared the woods and came to their hut, Max’s leg had swollen up to the knee, he sat on a log and took his knife from his pocket, he slit his pants leg open, he could see the bite marks now, he quickly made a slit across the bite mark and squeezed the blood from the wound, his head felt hot, he knew he was getting a high temperature, so he climbed into the well of icy water and soaked for a few moments, he tried to remember what civilization would do in a situation like this. Max survived the snake bite and became more alert to snakes, his first taste of danger in the wild.

 

Max began marking the seasons on the wall, with each winter that came and would pass, he would make his mark on the wall, after several marks on the wall, he quit making marks, he quit caring about time, and seasons, the past was no longer of importance to him, but the future, Lucky was his future, and that’s all he cared about. One summer while he was testing his traps, he came across a den with two pups in it, he watched the den from a distance to catch a glance of the mother or the male wolf, weeks passed and he could hear the cries of the pups and no mother, did something happen to the mother? Max wondered to himself, Max and Lucky had caught two elks in one day and decided to share a little with the pups.

Max carefully placed a slab of elk near the opening of the den, and watched the pups devour it, they were starving, for days, Max and Lucky would wonder up to the den and place food out for the pups, the pups became dependant on Max and Lucky, and soon followed them to their hut, Max and Lucky had adopted two wolf pups, and soon they were all friends.

Max named the pups, Buster and Sissy, they grew into smart and protective wolves, who fought off all the demons in the night, chased away the unwanted creatures and would go out and hunt and bring back their findings and share it with Max and Lucky, they all became close knit, they helped each other along the way.

One summer night Sissy and Buster was out hunting, Max heard a commotion outside the hut, a pack of wolves had came up and tried to tear into the make shift freezer full of meats, Max let Lucky out of the hut to attempt to scare them off, but two wolves were brave in their attempt and began biting at Lucky, leaving teeth marks and ripped hide on his rib area, Buster and Sissy came to his rescue, and fought diligently as Max looked on, after the wolves had enough, they disappeared into the woods, leaving behind destruction, Sissy laid lifeless on the ground, Max knelt down beside her rubbing her mangled coat, Buster sniffed her head and licked on her face, but she never woke up, she died of her wounds, the wolves were too big, too strong for her. Buster had to adjust to life without his sister, he become a strong wolf, Buster and Lucky would wrestle outside for hours, chasing each other into the woods, Max would watch as Buster and Lucky tagged each other, they became best of friends.

One summer day it became hot, with the sun blaring down, and with no air conditioning, it became necessary to go swimming, to cool off, so Max hiked down to the beach area with Lucky and Buster not far behind him, they played chase along the sea shore, splashing the salt water as they ran deeper into the cold water, waves pounded the rocks of the shore line, Max explored the rocky coast, finding little sharp rocks that would maybe help him build something, maybe another spear, since his was getting dull, he sat on top the rocks, watching a few seals dive into the salty water, catching fish and then they would climb back up onto the rocks, just to do it all over again. Max looked over at Lucky and Buster enjoying the sandy beach area and then running out to the water, letting the waves take them in a few feet, then they would drag themselves back up to shore and collapse on the warm sand soaking up the sun.

Max stretched out on his back onto a flat rock, he rubbed the salt from his eyes as he saw three images down the beach, of a man, a woman and a small child, the man and woman walked as the child trotted along the shore line, letting the water tease her tiny feet, he recognized them as his mom and dad and little Misty, her long blond hair flowing freely in the ocean’s breeze, she would stop to pick something up every few feet and then proceed toward Max, he watched contently as they appeared more obvious in his memory, as they appeared in front of him, he could see his mother’s smile and his dad so tall and gallant, “look daddy, see what I found,” Misty said as she held a few tiny pebbles up to him, Max wanted so much to feel their presence, could he embrace them? He thought, “yes baby, they are beautiful, just like you,” Max whispered with a dry throat.

His dad spoke up, “Max, it looks like you’ve found happiness,” “Yes Dad, I have…” “You’re my lucky boy, Max,” his Mom added as her smile lit up the area. “I would love to show you my hut, and introduce you to my new friends,” Max said as he pointed toward Lucky and Buster, “They are great to me,” “Son, I’ve never doubted your pick of friends…you’ve always made the right decisions,” his Dad said as Misty sat down on the rock next to Max. “Daddy, you know I never left you, don’t you?” “yes baby, I know you would never leave me,” Max assured her as he watched her gracefully stand up, His mother said, “We will never leave you, son, never,” “Thank you Mom, Dad, I love you….I love you to Misty, forever and ever,”

Max started choking on salt water as he realized he had fallen to sleep too close to the pounding waves, he wiped his eyes once again and looked toward the sandy beach area and noticed Buster and Lucky still lying there as they were when he dosed off. Max sat up and groaned as he noticed the sunburned skin on his arms and chest area, his face felt warm and he knew that he had to of slept for a couple of hours in the sun, as it was sitting just above the horizon. He felt a sense of pride as he and Lucky and Buster hiked back up the trail to their hut, he got to see the people who mattered most to him, even if it was only a dream.

 

By summer’s end Max had gathered enough firewood to last for the upcoming winter months, he learnt to survive on only what he needed and not what he wanted, it was like he had been planning this moment in his life, his entire life. Before summer’s end, came the rainy season, then came the fall, all the leaves on the trees fell to the ground in preparation for the winter’s snow.

Both Buster and Lucky grew into adults, they went out fishing by themselves a number of times, bringing home a fish or two, carrying them in their mouths to the door step, “good job boys!” Max would exclaim, “I’ve got such smart boys….you guys help me so much.” He would then rub their fur and then feed them their rewards.

By that time the people in the city had almost forgotten Max, Melissa had remarried and had two children, nearly grown by now, she was having a retirement party, when memories of the past rushed through her mind of Max’s and her graduation party from high school, through the years she had often wondered whatever became of Max, but she knew, deep in her soul, that, Max was okay and he was where he wanted to be. And Max was where he wanted to be.

A cold winter’s night while Max sat at his table, he felt his head, he was feverish, he had worked all day, out in the cold, he felt that he might be coming down with a cold or something. Buster and Lucky laid quietly by the wood stove asleep, Max laid his head down on the table, he knew that years had past since his last encounter with civilization, he was at peace with that, then he heard his Mother’s voice, “Max, your not feeling well, honey, go cover up and sweat the fever,” Max stood up and went to his bed, bundling up in his covers, he fell fast asleep.

 

 the story is continued....
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