A week after starting on Char’s trail east Ron hit pay dirt. A gas station attendant in Saskatoon confirmed she had filled up there. “So another brother searching for her, eh? She’s got you guys running!” the attendant scoffed.
Ron played along with a grin, “Yeah, that she does. Which one of my loser brothers got here first?” “Big guy, like you, maybe six two, dirty blond crew cut. He had one of those old army jackets you know? With all those pockets? At least five
minutes before he could go through them all to pay me!" Ron laughed encouragingly, “Hunh. What’s he driving now?” The attendant snorted, shaking his head. “So sad man, a rusted out piece of crap Jeep! But vintage you know?”
So now he knew. His suspicions that the AWOL Major was tracking Char had been correct. The description fit. “Look,” Ron said, suddenly serious, “I need your help. That guy you described? He’s not our brother. I work with the
Vancouver Police and we’re looking for him. He intends to hurt my sister. Can you show me your security tape?” “Oh man, that’s not good. She’s a real nice girl. Real friendly. Sure, I can do that. And I knew that guy was a little off
you know?” He led Ron to the back of the building and rewound the security footage. Ron got his first look at Char in three years. She looked good, healthy and centered. Her hair color was a dark brown
now instead of her natural deep auburn. It fell in waves past her shoulders. Since joining the Army she had kept it regulation short. CO Major Bergman on the other hand looked like a dog’s breakfast. He was crumpled and dirty and appeared
agitated. His vehicle was an ’88 Jeep Gladiator, colored in patches of green and rusted brown. A faded green framed in wooden structure, slightly higher than the cab, filled the box. Ron was able to pick the license number off the muddied rear plate.
“She talked to me for awhile you know? Really nice girl. I hope she’s O.K,” the attendant said worriedly. Ron nodded, “I hope so too, thanks for information buddy. You’ve been a big help.”
Sitting in his truck he called Dennis with the new information. “I got a description of the Major. As I suspected he’s on Char’s trail. I’m sending you the video. I’ll be tracking him at the same time.”
“I’ll put out a BOLO on him too. The Military Police are also looking for him. I want to get him first. I’ll get back to you.” Not long later the Ottawa police reported a Jeep of that description was presently parked in the run down Rideau-
Vanier area. That meant about twenty-eight hundred km and a thirty hour drive non-stop before Ron could get there. It would take him a few days driving. Dennis asked the police to keep an eye on the vehicle but not to approach until Ron arrived.
They agreed. Two days later a sleep deprived Ron pulled into Ottawa. By then the Jeep had evaded the OPD watch. He had also not found any more markers regarding Char or her RV. 'Damn! I need to find the Major first. He’s lurking around here somewhere. I’m this close to
the bastard. How safe is Char from him? Has he found her? How long’s he been on her trail? Does she even know he went AWOL the day she left the Army? Where the hell has he been all this time? Is Char the killer? Or is it the Major?'
Dennis had looped in the RCMP and the Military Police. Ron felt a renewed sense of hope. The net was tightening on the Major. It would take a small miracle for him to slip everyone’s watch.
Dennis also told him about his conversation with a Deputy Sheriff Jake Dupuis of the Edmonton Sheriff’s Office. Apparently Char, as Claire Adams, had a sterling record with them and he was intensely curious as to why a BOLO had been put out for her. Dennis
hadn’t helped him with that line of information. However, by the end of their conversation Dennis understood that Char had never spoken about her background to anyone. Claire Adams had been very friendly with the Dupuis family and had gained not just their
respect but that of the entire Sheriff’s Department. He had promised he would loop Jake in as soon as possible.
A week later Ron was still checking camping and RV sites for Char. He searched Riding Clubs and stables for anyone fitting her description. Now he was calling Queenswood Stables in Navan, a popular stable not far from Ottawa.
“Hello, Barns at Queenswood,” came a young male voice. “Hi. I’m looking for my sister. Tall, really fit, long dark hair, green eyes, great rider?” “What’s her name?” came the response.
“Anyone you know come by there with that description?” Ron responded. lacing his voice with adult authority. “Uhhh, maybe? But not as a rider, she works here? ‘Cause that could be our Bonnie, you know?” the voice said.
“Can you tell me what Bonnie looks like?” Ron asked in a friendlier voice. “Oh yeah man! She’s like this walking wet dream? I’m gonna marry her just as soon as I grow up! You really her brother?” the young voice enthused.
Ron chuckled. This kid was a treat. “Yeah, I really am.” Shit, another name change. Bonnie who? Hopefully this was her. “So, you gonna put in a good word for me? Cause I don’t think she takes me seriously, you know?” the kid bargained.
“I sure will. Do you know where she might be today?” Ron asked. “Well, it’s her day off, eh? She said she was gonna hike the Hogs Back Falls? But you better move fast man cause she’s got the longest most beautiful legs I’ve ever seen!”
“I will. Can you tell me what’s she driving now, we’ve been out of touch,” Ron asked. “Oh wow, great ride! The best eh? White and green ‘95 Ford Bigfoot RV. All the bells and whistles, she even has a Game Boy, you know?” the kid enthused.
“O.K. Thanks a lot. You want to tell me your name?” Ron said laughing. “Oh yeah. Todd. Hard to put in a good word otherwise, eh? Good luck!” Ron's ear rang as the Barn phone was slapped down.
Ron shook his head. Long time since he had felt that kind of enthusiasm. His GPS showed the Falls at twenty minutes away. The Bigfoot RV towered above the smaller vehicles at the Park’s entrance.
Char loved autumn with all the riotous change of colors. She had been in Ontario for almost a year now. She was delighted to take advantage of the many trails for hiking and exploring. Compared to the Rockies in Alberta, the Gatineau Hills, foothills of the Laurentian
Mountains, offered gentle easy ranges for hiking, cross-country skiing and almost any other sport you could name. Today the crisp air held a promise of challenge in the wind. The leaves danced and swayed as they fell. Trees happily splattered their acorns and nuts. The squirrels and
birds dive-bombed each other while screeching and defying one another while gathering their winter storage. Hogs Back Falls sparkled in the sunshine.
'What a fantastic day. Maybe I am ready to go home. Soon.' As she wandered down the trail Char let her consciousness slip into its favorite place. The coolness of the autumn air nipped at her cheeks. Apache nickered to her from the field.
The dark green tree lined entry way welcomed her as she walked slowly towards the farmhouse. The soft fur of the cat rubbed and twined itself around her ankles making her smile. She bent to give Ripper, the largest German shepherd, a rub,
speaking softly to him as he bumped his nose into her scent. 'These memories have become my family. Sometimes I miss family time so much it’s like a hole carved into my chest. Dad’s remarried. No one actually lives at the farm anymore, but it’s timeless to me.'
Picking up her pace she began a slow loping run. She played this game often with herself. Whenever she spoke with someone in the family she would be heart sore for days afterwards. She had never felt this way while in the Army.
But now, her heart was not truly happy. The adventure was over. It was time to stop living a lie. She only called her sisters or Mark. Never her Dad, he was too intuitive, as were Ron and Dennis. She wouldn’t be able to keep her emotions or thoughts
from them. They knew her too well. Especially Ron. During calls lately the others had taken to urging a trip home. Though she was adept at hanging up just before they became too inquisitive, being so out of touch was getting old.
Life was not about running but about sharing and loving. She knew this now. It was time to go home. Somehow she had to finish this.