Chapter III

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The morning warmed up as the soft, orange glow of the sky shifted into a vibrant blue. The drive to Karn's house was filled with laughter and swapping of stories about Nickelas' UFO obsession and The Midnight Falcon records. Dodger recognized the road Karn lived on but had never really noticed his house down a long, twisting dirt road. As Dodger carefully made his way down the pothole filled track, two buildings slowly arose from out of the forest. Hanging from the awnings of the buildings danced prism colored wind chimes and decorations, grasping at the morning breeze as if trying to grab on and fly away on a whimsical adventure. Old license plates, vintage metal signs for motor oils and sodas, and wood carving art accentuated the front porch of the house like a bushy moustache and wild, scraggly beard.

The workshop building stood taller and prouder than the house, wearing old road signs like badges of honor. Windswept pine and spruce trees towered high above the two buildings, leaning in as if peaking into the workshop to watch Karn work while simultaneously keeping the buildings a secret from the world. A familiar, sweet scent of burning firewood greeted Dodger with a sense of home and welcome as he stepped out of his truck. Somewhere above, the chittering of birds peepered out into the morning air as if alerting Karn that an unfamiliar vehicle had appeared in his yard.

"Nice place," Dodger said, stepping closer to the workshop to peek inside.

"Hey, it's home. It's just right for me," Karn smiled while stretching his arms. He picked up his foam take-away container of leftovers from breakfast and walked toward the house. He hopped up onto the front porch, ignoring the two steps leading up. It was not with a key, but a mere flourish of his wrist that Karn turned the knob of the front door. The sturdy mahogany door with an ornate stained glass window gently eased open like a butler bowing to greet his employer.

Karn made his way to the fridge as Dodger followed him. Hanging from the handsome timber log walls were countless hand tools from various decades, dream catchers, and old wood saws with sweeping, hand painted wild west landscapes, each one telling the story of a time long past, existing then only in dreams. Dodger noticed numerous bull whips, rusted old spurs, hand-carved animal statues of all kinds, and old tin serving trays, each one barely clinging on the colors of a faded brand of vintage cookies.

Next to an ancient, dust covered TV, comfortably rested a shelf filled with framed photos. One photo showed four men in their 30's dressed in traditional 80's biker garb, faded denim and black leather, posing next to four classic, chrome covered motorcycles. Another photo depicted three men sitting at the dock of a lake at sunrise, each one holding up a peace sign with two fingers. Nuzzled close to that was another photo of two men, one of which Dodger recognized as a younger Karn, smiling and standing next to a barbeque grill at what must have been a local Moose Steak Festival from years past.

"Anyway, Dodger, welcome. My house is your house, man. When you're here, you're family," Karn smiled to Dodger before turning around and setting the breakfast leftovers in the fridge. Dodger looked closer at the photo shelf but could not identify any photo that seemed to contain a wife or kids. The off-balance smell of a fridge without power suddenly hit his senses, bringing to his attention the fact that Karn had just placed his food into a non-working fridge.

"That food will go bad if the fridge isn't working," Dodger said, following Karn into the kitchen.

"That's why you're here, right? You're gonna fix the electricity?" Karn laughed, pointing up at a light bulb.

"Oh yeah, right. Of course. Leave it to me," Dodger replied, a bit embarrassed that he had become so lost in admiring Karn's house, he forgot about the reason he'd gone there in the first place. With very little effort, Dodger tracked down the blown fuses and melted power sockets in Karn's house, and replaced them with the parts he had just picked up for his own house. After years of working as an electrician, Dodger found he could do the work on auto-pilot. In this case, he knew any power sockets connected to major electrical appliances would be melted. He knew all the fuses would be blown. Of course they would be. Dodger's house was in the exact same condition. It had been that way since two weeks ago. Two weeks since the bright, fiery flash in the night sky.

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