This trip north was explicitly motivated by the guilt felt by Monty, who had not planted the four trees his father requested a month before he died of lung cancer. They arrived in the land that had become a haven for loyalists, who thought the Yankee colonists were just a bunch of cheap bastards whose only motive was to break away from a mother country that wanted her money back for protecting them for many years what with the cost of pox-laden blankets given to the natives to kill them, being quite expansive not to mention the haughty French who wanted some of the land of opportunity that was being raped by many European countries. Johnny, teacher of all of Big Mike's kids, had marveled at these people of the California Settlement who earned their living by honest means and could laugh into the ugly face of hard work. He also enjoyed Uncle Barnard, the eighty-two-year-old that had the constitution of a bull moose - out drinking them all!
Not only was Monty, the second oldest, determined to get those trees planted he was just as determined to put a new roof on his mother's home in Maine where she would live for most of the year while doing her summers in Canada.
That it rained for two days and the thousands of whisky shots drained by the crew of five, the job would not be completed in the four days Monty had promised. When they did begin to work with much compromising going on with all the miss hitting of nails with expressions of: "That'll do her!" "You son of a whore stop moving so I can hit your head in straight!" "Hey, bent nails hold just as good!" ....
On their last visit to see Big Mike before he would die, Johnny recalled their good time: "You know Mr. S., tomorrow is Queen's Day!" Monty shouted; trying to distract others from realizing he was about to have the winning hand in a Canadian game that copulated poker with a bit of whist to produce a thing called "monquat".
"Yes sir, Mr. Monty and that so-called Minister - son of a whore - of hers is no human being! He's more like that creature that can change colors to become the colors around him. I once was able to recognize his face but now he has his head so far up the big elephant's ass - I can only make out the weasel's ears!" Uncle Barnard said as he gave Monty a side-ward glance.
"And I say it's a crime the way the health care system down there is ripping most of the people off. No wonder the thieving bastards were knocking our health care system but you know we take care of our own and a dollar hasn't replaced God! That's the damn reason I came back home to the California settlement to beat those greedy bastards in the US of A. We had duel citizenship and that's why they couldn't hold me hostage down there! Look how long those nazis took to honor the greatest generation that helped beat the dictators. I think a monument is finally going up next year. It took a hell of a long time to say thanks!" Big Mike said before yelling that he would "take her"; showing his ace and king in hand; pointing to the ace just turned face up from the deck. They laughed that kind of laugh that men do when drunk and losing ....
Johnny was in the back seat of Chunk's car, but instead of putting his pickup in forward mode, Chunk mistakenly hit reverse; sending them in a backward lurch down a steep forested hill as Jute kept yelling: "Judas Priest! Judas Priest .... !"
After they came to a stop two hundred yards deep in the valley - not hitting one tree - Johnny was glad he was going home to his beautiful wife, sixth cousin to Grace Kelly of the Philadelphia brick Kellys, though Linda Ann's father said they most likely would never have admitted to having relatives in such place as Elkton a few miles to their south of whom many had fought under Lee and three sort of nice kids six hundred miles to the south waiting for his return.
Johnny would miss Big Mike.
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