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During the several days that Vivian Montgomery was emptying boxes and trunks, she was as happy as she’d ever been.  She knew she didn’t have enough shelf space for all her books and keepsakes, and decided to find a lumber yard and get materials for shelves in the bathroom, the kitchen and the upstairs hall to the mezzanine.

She put on a white tank top and well-worn loose jeans with Kodiak boots in preparation for her first foray into the society that surrounded her.  She climbed into her shiny clean, dark green GMC Sierra.  She’d chosen the truck with a short cab and long box because she expected to need it for lumber and whatever.  The short cab would suffice because Vivian couldn’t imagine having anyone in her truck with her, let alone more than one person.

She negotiated the rocky, pitted dirt road that skirted the edge of the lake that filled the bottom of the small valley.  Before she climbed the hill to the larger dirt road that took her to another dirt road and then narrow pavement, she stopped at the cabin of the man she’d seen across the valley.  He was standing at a workbench he’d set up outside his workshop, and was servicing a chain saw.

“Excuse me, sir,” she said.

“Name’s Jake,” he said.  “You d’ new neighbour across dere?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Y’live dere wit’ yer parents?”

“No,” she said, a bit indignantly. “I’m twenty-two years old, and I’m on my own.”

“Well,” he said, “I’s forty-two, an’ on my own, and come winter in dese mountains, sometimes I fear I might not git t’rough it. Ain’t you scared?”

“I never contemplated those things so deeply.  I have winter survival equipment and clothes.  I have a twelve horsepower snow blower.  I have a Honda four hundred c.c. all terrain vehicle with a snow plow, and this truck is all wheel drive with limited slip all around with new winter tires.  So, I guess I could get out if I had to.”

“Well, I guess we’d best try to help each other out, if the worst come to be,” he said.

“You could help me out right now,” Viv said, “if you could tell me where I can buy some lumber.”

“Git inta town, an’ where y’see de grocery store, turn left up dat road ’bout six mile, and you oughta find yerself at the Sinclair Lumber Mill.”

“Thank you, Jake,” she said. “I’ll be a good neighbour to you, you’ll see. I’ll never bother you needlessly.” Vivian pulled away gently, taking care not to scatter stones at the man, or raise unnecessary clouds of dust from the light beige dirt road.

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