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Ruth N Welburn

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Member Since: Dec, 2010

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Three Country Miles
By Ruth N Welburn
Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Rated "PG13" by the Author.

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During the dirty thirties, men start disappearing as they leave a lumber camp in the foothills of northern Alberta. All the men carry their entire winter's wages on them as they leave the camp in early spring to walk the three country miles to the store and post office to catch a bus home. They never make it. Can RCMP Constable, George McLeod, solve the mystery?

Gordon pulled up in front of  the Battle Creek Store with harness swaying to the rhythm of the horse’s hooves.  The wagon wheels crunched and squished the frozen mud that morning late in May of  1932.    “Haw,” he called, as he swung the team around to the water trough and stepped down from the wagon.  He unhooked the horses and tied the halter ropes to the hitching post.   

A sorrel mustang stood by the trough, and a heady scent of oats emanated from the leather feed bag that hung from her ears.  The saddlebags bore the initials R.C.M.P.  He must have rode over from Wetaskawin, Gordon thought, as he clipped a mailbag between the tongs of the hook that was his left arm and lifted a six-pack of empty coke bottles from the wagon.   

On the steps of the store, a Mountie pressed tobacco into the crease of paper and began rolling a cigarette.  Squinting into the morning sun, he said, “Morning, Sir.  I’m told you deliver the mail in these parts.  I was wondering if you’ve seen this man around here lately?”  The Mountie put the cigarette behind his ear, returned the Camel pouch to his inside breast pocket and took out a picture.

            Gordon asked.   “What’s he done?”

            “Gone missing,” the Mountie replied.  “Gone missing,” he repeated, “Somewhere down that road there.”  The Mountie pointed westward to a road that undulated, like Christmas ribbon candy,  across the northern Alberta foothills through dense boreal forest.  “I’m told a man left the camp Wednesday morning around eight o’clock, for what would be no more than an hour’s hike to the store, and disappeared into thin air.  No one here at the store saw him that day, and his wife says he never returned home to Bashaw.”

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