7:15 A.M. Kevin rushed inside to tell Josey and I that he saw it again. And this time, there is a contrail... I ran out to the clearing with my binoculars, but all I could see, once again, was a silvery glint high in the sky. But this time it was followed by a contrail, so we are now certain that it is an aircraft of some sort. Who's aircraft, and what they are doing are the burning questions.
We thought it best to keep to the side roads, and under trees as much as possible. It may be in vain, but it seems like the prudent thing to do. So now we unhitch the trailer and say good-bye to it's comfort. We must go into "stealth mode".
12:00 P.M. We saw it again, on it's apparent return. All three of us. I felt sort of silly afterward, but I quickly swerved off the road and under the cover of some trees. We watched it arch across the sky and disappear behind a mountain peak to the west. Noting the time, there doesn't appear to be any regularity to these flights. Which is something I could have wished for. All we can do is press on I guess, though I wonder if we shouldn't turn west to find where this airplane comes from. Of course, we may not like what we find... But not knowing is beginning to gnaw at me. For the time being though, it will be regarded as "unfriendly".
6:30 P.M. We've stopped for the evening along the Susquehanna's west bank. Kevin insisted on doing some fishing (he's been craving fresh fish for a while now), so off he went, and I stayed behind to set up camp. Josey, bless her heart, insisted on setting up her "kitchen" herself. She's coming along well, but her wound still pains her. Though she does her best not to show it; she occasionally lets a wince come across her face, or lets out a muffled "ooh" when we hit a good bump. Ever the trooper, she doesn't complain, and she refuses pain medication. Says it makes her too sleepy.
She insisted on helping me bring things down from the truck bed. I climbed up into it, and passed things to her from the tailgate. Balancing perfectly on her one leg, she received them and put them down on the ground. I set up the collapsible table we found at the surplus store. While I was doing that, Josey proceeded to cut a length of nylon cord, run it through the carry handle of the camp stove, put it around her neck, and carry it over on her crutches. I was simply struck with admiration for her. I guess I was smiling at her, because she stopped, smiled, shrugged her shoulders, and said "It works". I laughed and said it sure does.
Kevin came back with a pair of plump catfish which he then skinned and filleted, while Josey searched among the spices we have for the perfect ones to season the fish. A pasta and broccoli side dish from a pouch rounded out the wonderful meal. Kevin was right, some fresh fish was in order.
11:00 P.M. I'm sitting here by the light of a shaded oil lamp, sipping on some whiskey. About an hour ago, just before Josey turned in for the night (Kevin was already asleep, as he volunteered to stand watch after midnight), she came over to me and wrapped me in an embrace. With tears in her eyes, she thanked me for what I had done, and said she couldn't stand the thought of Kevin losing her after losing his father to the disease. I held her as she cried, and told her it was more her own will that pulled her through than anything I had done.
Something happened to me just then. Maybe it was the weight of our situation, or my own Captain Ahab like drive which kept me from recognizing it, but I suddenly felt something inside of me. For the first time, I noticed Josey's beauty. Maybe I was still clinging to the memory of my Jenny. Though it's only been a little over three months, it seems like a lifetime has passed since everything went to hell. I miss Jenny dearly, but to be honest, she seems like someone from another lifetime now.
Tonight, for the first time, I saw Josey not as someone who I'm simply trying to survive with. Tonight, I saw Josey. A beautiful woman. She is about five foot three, with shoulder length wavy brown hair that is invariably tied in a pony tail protruding from the back of her ball cap, which I've never seen her without by day. The most beautiful pair of dark brown eyes I have ever seen straddle a small, slightly turned up nose. Crow's feet emanate from the corners of her eyes, but I find them complimentary. Full lips are surrounded by a lovely squared jaw, and her teeth are straight and bright, except for one indented incisor on bottom right. She has a voluptuous, most feminine hourglass figure which can't be hidden by the surplus camouflage we now wear, nor is it diminished in any way by the loss of her left leg.
Even on crutches, she carries herself with a pride and grace unequaled in any woman I've ever known. And what a damned fool I've been for not noticing before now. Better late than never, I have a new appreciation for her. And maybe something more.