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Chest of Hope Ch.19

Paul and Tamry drove south to the farm. As they came off the pavement and onto the dirt road, they noticed a glowing light from the field. No signs of life were present, at the house or barn, when Paul parked in the yard. They exited the car, and walked behind the house. From there, they saw the fire pit and started walking to the field. The shadowy figure of Mister Oh appeared in the fire light and the couple started walking toward him. As they approached, a small figure carrying a long pole, walked around the pit and started prodding the fire. He made a slow circle causing sparks and glowing embers to rise in the warm night air. Mister Oh then picked up an old engine block and deftly tossed it in the fire. Paul thought of Mister Oh’s strength, but never conceived that even he could flick an engine block so easily. “He certainly is the strong one.” Tamry whispered, to Paul as they closed in on the fire pit. “Hey, Mister Oh! What’s cooking’?” Paul called out of the darkness. Instantly, the small figure raised his pole from the pit. The end had a strange spoon shape to it and it glowed red hot. The other figure turned and the fire light glinted off long blond hair. The tall man shouted, “Niche, nine, coman mit!” Tamry froze in mid steps.

Paul was confused, and took two steps forward, as the short man lowered the staff and came forward quickly, aiming the weapon at Paul’s midsection. Before Paul could react, the glowing spear point was only inches from his body, as the heat radiated out to his face. Paul raised his hands and was about to speak when he heard Mister Oh’s commanding voice. “Ibor Halt! Das ist fraunt from mea!” Mister Oh’s voice rolled like thunder across the field. Mister Oh strode across the field, from the direction of the woods. Over his shoulder, he carried a large log, which he let roll to the ground as he came up to the small man. The small man raised his spear from Paul’s direction and with a nod to Mister Oh, went back to the fire pit. The muscular frame of the dwarf glistened in the dim light as he walked away with a steady gait. “Who are those guys?” Paul finally asked, as Tamry came to stand next to him. “Ibor the Stout Heart and Holdar the Handsome. They’re Smiths. They work metal down for weapons or equipment.” Mister Oh answered. “What brings you two out here so late?” “I received the fax about my citizenship to Iceland.” Paul said, still wondering who the Smiths were. “Yes. I thought that was a wise choice for you. Since you will be residing in the house, holding such status befitting an envoy seemed only logical for you.”

Mister Odie made a motion for the couple to follow him from the searing heat of the pit. As they did, Paul noticed the remains of the vehicles he’d seen at the lake next to the large blond man. The two workers were ripping strips of rusted metal from their frames and tossing them into the pit. Paul edged closer and could make out the shape of a vat, as it sat in the fire pit with boiling raw metal, swirling around with the aid of the spoon carried by the dwarf around the rim. Tamry became indifferent to the heat of the pit. She gazed at the clean shaven face of the large blond titan, working the metal with rippling muscles glowing in the muted light. As they crossed the field toward the lake, a cool breeze greeted them. Soon Mister Oh was standing on the bank of the mirrored lake, its waters only slightly showing signs of ripples caused by the breeze. Paul and Tamry came up next to him and stopped near the edge of the water. “Now then, is there a problem you wish to talk about?” Mister Oh asked in a soft voice. “The lake . . . it’s back!” Tamry stammered. “Yes, but I’ve already told you that it wasn’t really gone to begin with.” Mister Oh answered. “Paul, ask about your duties.” Tamry prodded, still staring out over the calm water. “Yes that’s it . . . I mean . . . what we came out for. What exactly are my duties, beyond being your lawyer?” Paul asked, trying his best lawyers’ voice. Mister Oh was not impressed by his behavior and narrowed his eyes on Paul. “You can do what you want to do, or nothing at all. I ask for your opinions and council on things that concern not only my interests, but the interests of you and everyone who lives here. I will not tell you to do anything that will be against the established laws of this land. Nor will I hide things that would hurt you later. It was your choice to become my counselor and it is still your choice.” Mister Oh replied, sternly. “I’m sorry Mister Oh, but with all the strange things happenings around here lately, it’s hard to tell what’s going to happen next.” Paul apologized. “Just what’s been so strange Paul?” Mister Oh asked in a lighter tone, as he walked into the water. Paul shook his head slowly and sat down on the bank. Tamry sat next to him and draped her arm over his shoulder. “Let’s recap from my first sight of you. First, you come to town with a suitcase full of gold. You buy a broken down farm, with no intentions of farming. A man shows up dead, by means no doctor, can determine. Next, military helicopters come in and out of here, like Beirut. Not to mention, that suddenly, you have more money than Rockefeller and Getty combined. Then, with well-chosen words, you now own enough property, to make you a land baron. Let’s not forget a power station, large enough to supply the whole town with free electric forever, supposed to be on the moon. Finally, a couple of days ago, you almost declared war on the state of Louisiana. I think that constitutes the word, strange, at least for around here. Hell that would be strange even for New York City, almost.” Paul declared, and held up the fingers that he had been counting on, for Mister Oh to see. “Don’t forget about the Holmes’ and the money paid out by the bank, or that small oriental man that saved Luke Holland.” Tamry added. Mister Oh waded out of the lake and sat next to the couple. “Do you two want the truth?” “I don’t know if I’m ready, or able to take it. I’m still wondering about that truth you told me about your age.” Paul answered. “What age is that Paul? Oh, you mean about Mister Oh being around ninety. Come on Paul, it was a joke.” Tamry said, with a weak laugh and noticed that Mister Oh was not smiling back at her. “Bitter, vay coman in vaser?” The voice of the small man, came from behind the couple. “Ya, coman in, sprekon Anglo for mit fraunts, bitter.” Mister Oh called back. “It not dat good sir, but ve try for your friends.” The large blond man said, as he came up. The small man walked in the water. After he submerged and resurfaced, he disrobed and tossed his tunic to the bank. “Ve finish the plows. They cool in the ground now. After ve pull dem up, ve sharpens. Now ve swim and cool off.” Ibor said. “What is finished?” Paul asked. “Ist est goot Anglo?” Ibor asked. “Ya zer goot.” Mister Odie answered, with a smile. “Holdar’s mind ist on his vife, not on his vork. He’s still too young to understand.” Ibor said, and splashed back into the lake.

The tall blond walked to the water and put his foot in. “Ash! Das vaser is cool.” Holdar said, as he pulled his tunic off. “How long have you been married?” Paul asked, as the man slowly entered the lake. “I’ve been ved to Inga for most ten years, I think.” Holdar answered, and splashed water over his midsection. “Still, you can’t be more than twenty yourself.” Paul said, and glanced at Tamry as she stared at the man’s naked torso. “Svanvic.” Mister Oh translated. “You make a goot joke, very funny.” Holdar said, and then dove into the refreshing lake water. He came up next to Ibor and they spoke in their native tongue. Ibor let out a loud cry of laughter as Holdar dunked him under the water. “What’s so funny?” Paul asked. Tamry remained quiet, as she watched Holdar swim toward them on his back. Paul tapped her shoulder twice before she turned to him. “What’s so funny?” Paul asked, again. “Nothing I could see.” Tamry replied. “Marriage occurs, in Holdar’s village, at the proper age of forty, Paul.” Mister Oh said. Tamry took a second to compute his meaning and her gaze shifted to Mister Odie. Paul’s mouth dropped, as he added this to all the other strange things that were whirling around in his brain. “He’s fifty?!” Tamry said with astonishment, as Holdar walked out of the water. “No, he waited until Ingar was thirty. He is sixty-two, comes this winter.” Mister Oh said, and then spoke to Holdar in his native tongue. Holdar quickly jumped back in the water. “I’m saddened for you. Please, take no offence at my manners. I not think.” Holdar stated, with a bow to Tamry. “What’s wrong with him?” Tamry asked Mister Oh. “I told him, displaying himself in front of women is not proper, not of his village. Different customs.” Mister Odie replied.

Tamry was about to lodge a complaint as lights came across the lake and the sound of music filled the air. Matt’s truck drove up and the lights went dim as the two figures on the bank came in view. The engine stopped but the sounds of flutes still could be heard. The doors opened and Matt and Maureen got out. “You two fishing in the dark, or what?” Matt called out. “Are you all done or just getting started?” The laughing voice of Maureen followed, as she reached in the back and brought out a cooler. The Stones walked over to the couple sitting in the grass. “You need a beer or soda?” Matt asked, and they nodded. “Beer would be fine for us. Hope you brought enough to go around.” Paul said, as he motioned for them to sit. “This is just my travel pack. There’s a couple of cases on ice in the truck. Where’s that new car of yours Paul?” Maureen asked, as she handed out the beers. “That should quench a thirst nicely.” The voice of Mister Odie, came from the lake. The sound startled the Stones for a moment. Maureen turned and threw a can of beer out to the lake. “I knew you were there.” She quipped, and sat down. The container was caught and opened in one smooth motion, by a large hand that reflected in the moon light. Matt laughed as he found a spot and settle in the cool grass. “Sure you did.” Matt whispered to Maureen. “There’s still two more out there somewhere.” Tamry said, as she drank her beer. “Well, if they’re thirsty. They can just march up here and get their own beers.” Maureen stated, as she sat on the cooler. Before anyone could utter a sound, Ibor and Holdar came out of the water and marched up to Maureen. They stopped abruptly with their hands out. “Bitter Fraulein, Beer?” Ibor asked. “Do those things come in a family pack or do you have to buy them, one at a time?” Maureen questioned, as she viewed the flaccid man parts, which hung before her. Tamry blushed as she fell to her side with laughter. “I wish the bass were as big as that in this lake. You’d better give them the beer, so they can go back to the water.” Matt responded, eyeing the two men standing by Maureen.

She stood from the cooler and opened the lid. After handing a can to Ibor, she noticed his confusion as he studied the object. As she handed the next can to Holdar, Maureen used her free hand to pull the tab. Ibor saw this action and with his thumb he opened his can. The two tapped cans and held them up to Maureen. She did the same to both cans and began to sit back upon the cooler. The tank top shirt she wore above her cut off jeans was Matt’s fishing shirt. Too large for her frame, it provided a full view of her ample breasts. The men watched her become comfortable on the cooler as she regarded them again with her drink. Holdar looked upon her hardening nipples and said vundebar to Ibor. Ibor shook his head and walked back to the lake mutter something about the youths one track mind. “What brings you out this late, Mister Stone?” Paul asked, after Tamry got herself under control. “Maureen and I thought we’d be alone, maybe take a swim. We had no idea this place would be so popular tonight.” Matt answered. “Be careful out there. I lost some fishing lures over by those shrubs the other day.” He added, toward the two men. “You don’t have to worry about that anymore. Mister Oh had the entire lake cleaned today.” Tamry announced, gleefully. “Cleaned the lake?” Maureen asked, with surprise. “You should have seen it. The whole bottom was bared. The men picked out everything that wasn’t nailed down.” Paul added. “Even that old truck was hauled away.” Tamry said, with another drink as she pointed to where the hulk had been on the far bank. “Mister Stone will find a large sack of lures at the farm. There is quite an array. I think he’ll like to see them again!” Mister Oh said, as he came closer to the bank. “Why would you want to clean this lake? The city, sure as hell, never wanted to.” Matt added. “It needed to be tended to, like a fine garden. I like my place to be cared for.” Mister Oh responded. “Your place?” Maureen asked, as she finished her beer. “You haven’t heard? Mister Oh bought this lake. He also purchased the tract of land behind the farm, all the way down, to the interstate. We only discovered the truth about the rest an hour ago.” Paul said. “We just got back from New Orleans this evening. We haven’t caught up on the local gossip yet. Why don’t you fill us in on what’s been going on since Friday?” Matt asked, as Maureen held up another beer for any takers and got herself one, after she passed them around. “How was your visit?” Tamry asked, as Maureen gave her a can and a frown. “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights. The show was late to start and after ten minutes the film broke. We couldn’t find a good motel, so we stopped at one of those roadside inns. The one with the sign that states Couples Welcome. The room was small and the bed was lumpy.” Maureen answered, as Matt began to snicker. “More so now!” He commented as Paul gave a questioning glance to him. “Why’s that?” Tamry probed. Maureen started to shake her head as Matt spoke, “We found the X-rated channel and discovered we’re not as old as we thought we were.” Tamry hooted, and Paul rolled to his back as he released a muffled laugh. Paul filled the Stones in on all the happenings and the new boundaries of the country that they were sitting in. Also, Luke Holland’s condition, and the rest. Matt quietly sat and listened, as Paul asked Tamry if he’d forgotten anything. “You have been busy since we’ve been gone.” Matt said, to Mister Odie. “Some changes come very slow with time. Others come fast, as with lightening.” He answered, and tossed his empty can next to the truck. “Refill?” Maureen asked, as she opened the cooler and rooted around in the ice, only to find that it was empty. Matt quickly stood and began walking toward the truck. Mister Oh came out of the lake wearing his sodden work jeans. “Ah, just when it was getting interesting.” Maureen muttered, as he passed by on his way to the truck. “Careful Maureen. Some things are better left for the movies. I could go for a swim myself. How about you Paul?” Tamry asked, with a sly smile. “We didn’t bring our suits or did you forget that fact?” Paul asked.

Mister Oh came up to Matt, as he picked up one case from the ice. “You may still enjoy the use of the lake for fishing anytime. I like knowing that you are here and keeping an eye on things, and also an ear.” “Thank you. By the way, what’s really with all this property stuff? You don’t need any of this and I’m sure you’re not thinking of a retirement home, either.” “No, I don’t need it, but these people do. Those that are here now, and those who will come later.” Mister Oh responded, as he effortlessly plucked the entire ice chest out of the back of the truck and started walking back to the lake. “Others? Is this to be the new holiday resort for visiting Icelandic fishery workers?” Matt asked, but got no response. As they arrived at the shore, Tamry was standing and slowly disrobing. Paul sat and watched, as Maureen began to giggle. “What’s up now?” Matt asked, as Mister Oh placed the chest on the ground next to Maureen. “Oh, just some hook baiting, to see if her lure is working.” Maureen said, through laughter. Ibor came ashore and put his tunic on. He walked over and joined the group. “Youngsters, dey only vant to play all da time. The vorks should be cool by now. I go see.” “Works?” Matt asked, as he handed him a beer. “Ibor is a smithy. He and Holdar made some plows out of the scrap metal that was going to waste.” Mister Oh said, and introduced the men. “You a farmer, also?” Ibor asked, as they shook hands. “No, Goldsmith is my trade, now.” Matt stated, solumnly. Ibor’s grip was strong, as Matt equaled its pressure. “Your hand has not always been of that trade.” Ibor said with conviction, releasing his grasp. “We all do what we must, to get by.” Matt answered, softly. The dwarf slowly nodded. “Mind if I see your craftsmanship?” “Sure, sure, ve go now. Let the children play.” Ibor stated, as he watched the naked girl and young man walking into the water holding hands. “I’ll be back in a while. Will you be okay here?” Matt called to Maureen. “Sure, babe. The beers cold, the night’s warm and the show is great.” She called back, smiling.

Ibor took the lead, as Matt and Mister Odie followed. “You said others would come?” Matt prodded. “A Long House is to be built over the old mansion foundation, as soon as possible.” Mister Oh said, as they walked. “Some locals are going to be really upset about that, when they find out what it’s all about. It’s extremely hard to change a mind-set after two hundred years of programing.” Matt replied, as he thought of the two hundred years, since this community was founded. Mister Oh stopped walking and turned to face Matt as he asked, “You know of the Long House?” “This talisman was handed down, in my adopted family, for over eight hundred years. When my mother gave it to me, she taught me of the old ways. I’m not a local. I came here to find peace, from a world gone crazy. I guess I was just kidding myself thinking there was such a place.” Matt said, and continued walking toward the field. “Then you don’t mind a Long House?”

“A place where all have a voice, man, woman, and child. Where there are no politics or people to judge others on things they themselves can’t judge. Where truth rules absolutely, and a small part of Valhalla is present. Mind It? I’ll treasure it, as a dream. There’s only one problem. It’s only a dream. A Long House, has been tried repeatedly. They fail, because the people are too weak or stupid. They want to be sheep, led by the ram’s bell. They don’t even object, when the ram runs wild, and leads them over a cliff to their deaths. It’s a good idea, but it never work’s.” Matt stopped, as they came to the fire pit.

“You are wrong, Matthew Stone. It does work and has worked for over a thousand years.” Mister Oh said, as they watched Ibor dig out the first of the three foot long plow blades from the ground. “Where?” “Iceland. It will be so here, also.”

“Iceland is so remote, and the people are very different. They face hardship every day. Like the blades there, they are tempered and tempered again, made strong by the weather and hardened by their labors. Here it’s too easy to pay others to do your tasks. The people here worship gold, free time, and fast food. If it’s on television, then it must be the truth.” “Their religion teaches them. It’s fine to give money instead of blood. They think that a ten-dollar donation Sunday will buy them a place in paradise. Of course, they believe that because their holy-men have said it. They don’t even know that much of their money finds its way into those pockets, instead of being used to help the needy. They figure they did all that was necessary, for themselves and that’s that.” Matt said, showing distaste for the way the country had become.

Mister Odie put a large hand on Matt’s shoulder and squeezed firmly. “He ist speckon vit much, ah, dat vord, er, cynicism?” Ibor said, as he hefted another blade from the ground. “To believe something is wrong, you have the ray of hope, that it can be fixed. All I have, is a Touring Jacket, of the things that can never be.” Matt said, as he stared into the pit, with no care of the heat. “You speak the truth Matthew. Yet, if this place is put close, and over an invisible border, it can work. That is why I used the thing they worshiped the most. The gold bought the land, but it will take their blood and heart to make it right.” Matt watched the rest of the twenty blades being uncovered from the ground by the smith. He thought of the invisible border and then understood fully. If the Long House was in the United States, it would be seen as a thing against the established norm. This was another country and the outside could not touch it. Like a beautiful flower in a greenhouse during winter, this `All-Thing’ had a very good chance to flourish. Visitors could come and see its beauty, then tell others. Those who saw its truth would come again. Those who didn’t would just say it was something that they didn’t like or understand. Yet, their opinion would not affect its existence. Yes, creating this thing here is possible, and have it blossom without fear. However, he knew some hated beauty, just because it was. “Those will not stop at the border.” Matt finally spoke. “I know this also. As before, there will be War. But this time, it will not be a long hard struggle.” “This time, I’ll see to it, Personally!” Mister Oh’s words sent a chill up Matt’s spine that was felt throughout his body. Even this close to the fire-pit, the words of Thorran Odhinsunnar came from Omnipresence, that was rarely heard.

“You are not permitted to take sides!” Matt stated, uneasily. Mister Oh’s eyes narrowed, as they reflected the burning embers of the pit. “The scribes told of the Law. Each to his own, each to find the path. The way can’t be altered by anyone, not even the Gods.” Matt finished, as Thorran turned to the pit. “You have read much about the old ways. The Law was a great force that served both man and god. It serves well today, but as the seasons change, so too, does the Law. Today is the first day of Spring and the last day of the cold Winter of forgetfulness. Far too long the Letter has been served. Now the Spirit will be served, and Woe to the one, that goes against the Spirit!” Mister Oh said. His voice fell, a full octave, to draw attention to his meaning. “How far?” Matt asked, as he gazed down to the pit. “The point of no return, was crossed the moment that I was told to come here.” Mister Oh answered, as Matt silently regarded his reddened face. Matt thought. `First came, The Lamb. Now enters, The Lion.’

Tamry and Paul were swimming in the crystal clear water, as Maureen watched from the cooler. Holdar had come ashore and was laying on his side drinking the weak but tasty drink. “I hope they don’t scare the fish.” Maureen said. “It is goot to enjoy oneself vith friends.” He said, as his thoughts went to Inga and his village. “I think it is time I went in the water as well.” Maureen stated, as the sight of this man reminded her of the motel. “Did you bring a suit?” Tamry’s voice came from behind her, as she came up with empty cans for refills. “The same one you brought at birth. Of course, mine is an earlier model.” Maureen said, as she took off her shirt. “Nevertheless, it’s still a fine looking classic.” Paul said, from the bank. Maureen blushed in the darkness, as she took off her shorts and noticed Holdar’s steady gaze on her. “Yes, I think I’ll have one for the road.” She leaned over the cooler and brought out a beer and walked into the lake next to Paul. Tamry retrieved two more and asked Holdar if he needed another. “Ya, Ingar would do nicely now.” Holdar said, with his attention focused on the woman’s backside as she eased into the cool lake water. Tamry smiled and handed him the can. She tossed one to Paul and sat down. Paul kicked off the shore and floated next to Maureen. “What does Ingar look like?” Tamry probed. “Full breasts, firm back, and long hair the color of ripe wheat.” Holdar spoke softly, and drank the whole beer in one long draw. With a quick glance, Tamry could tell Holdar was becoming more entranced by Maureen’s figure. “I see you need to dip that in water to cool yourself off, again.” Tamry said, with a smile. Holdar took notice to what she referred to and tried to shuffle his erection from her view. “Ya, I should cool it off, if I cannot quench its thirst.” Holdar said, as he stood.

Tamry accompanied him to the water’s edge. They saw Paul and Maureen, at the far side of the lake, floating on their backs illuminated by the moon. They caught sounds of words drifting over the water but lost their meaning. Tamry peeked to find Holdar at full staff, as the man held his desire in steady eyes. Tamry waded into the lake and turned back to say, “Better get in here before you pop.” Holdar looked down at her then to himself before wading too mid-chest in the lake. The water was a comfort and his passion began to subside till Tamry brushed her firm breast against him as she swam passed. “It’s a little deep for me here. Mind giving me a hand?” Tamry asked playfully. “Ya!” Holdar replied, as he brought his arm about her waist and found her breast. His passion grew anew with the touch of the soft flesh which now rested upon his thigh. Tamry was having fun with this man, and she wiggled her bottom against his growing hardness. With a turn, she found it possible to sit upon his staff while placing her arm around his waist. Holdar’s breathing was her guide, as the poor man tried to control his manners and his thoughts. Tamry could tell this game was getting serious, as she felt his hardness begin to pulse. Paul and Maureen were coming back and Tamry saw she must put an end to this bedevilment. Holdar slowly released her from his grasp as Tamry raised to place a kiss on his lips. “Another time, another place, I could find a better way to cool you off.” Tamry whispered, in his ear. “Ya, but if I were there, Ingar would be also. I not going to leave her again. I am too old for this now.” Holdar answered, as Tamry floated away. “Not that old!” Tamry mused. Holdar smirked and answered, “YA!”