Chapter Eleven

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It had rained in the night. The morning was light and a high covering of cloud obscured the sun. I had had a fitful night's sleep; several dreams involving being unable to move whilst great lumbering grizzly bears approached. Surprisingly, I was growing accustomed to sleeping on bare floorboards.

As usual, Ty was not in his sleeping bag; it was neatly rolled with the drawstring cinched tight. I fiddled around in my rucksack, finding a towel and shower gel and scattering the rest of the contents across the floor in the process. Outside the weather was warm and it was promising to be a nice day if the cloud were to be burnt off. Padding across the damp grass in my bare feet felt strangely nice, after the first twenty metres or so I even stopped looking down in case of turds.

I was a little nervous about my pending shower experience in the cowshed, but I really couldn't begin my day without a shower so I'd just have to make do. I hung my towel and trunks on a bent nail in the stall wall and turned the tap on the solar shower bag that protruded from the oil drum mounted in the roof of the shed. Five jets of water began to flow from holes the shower rose fitted to the outlet of the bag. I took a deep breath and then jumped under the stream.

"Sweet Jesus!" I exclaimed, rubbing my body to ward against the torrent of icy water and squeezing out too much gel in my haste. It would be safe to say that it was my personal best time for quick-showering.

Having escaped the freezing shower I began to vigorously rub the life back into my bluish skin with the towel. There was a rat-a-tat on the wooden cowshed wall and Ty's voice boomed out: "Good morning Satchmo, I could use your help in a minute... enjoy your shower?" I replied with a vicious chattering of teeth.

Ty sat cross-legged in the long grass, surrounded by an assortment of odds and ends. One of the few that I could positively identify was an old cane fishing rod with a reel that looked like it had last been used to catch a plesiosaur. He was whittling something tiny and luminously coloured with a dull-bladed knife. He looked up from his work, sized up my shivering form and said "Get some clothes on Satchmo, we're going fishing."

*

"Fishing?" I had dressed and was feeling a very strange post-shower glow. Perhaps it was the blood venturing back into my extremities.

"MmHmm." Ty's attention was back on the creation of a lure from a luminous walking boot lace, he was fraying strands out of a piece around an inch in length.

"Haven't we got more important things to be doing?" I asked.

"There are few more important things in life than fishing and setting fire to things. Not always in that order." He pointed to a blazing fire he had made in a pit dug into the turf.

"Make yourself useful and chuck those rocks on the fire." I was beginning to know better than to question why. I placed a series of wide round rocks on the centre of the fire neatly avoiding burning myself in the process, then without prompting I stacked some of the split logs that lay next to the pit across the flames. Returning to Ty, I gestured that I had done as asked.

"Excellent," he still did not look up but instead pointed at a folded metal entrenching tool.

"Your next job is to take up a few square yards of turf over by the barn, I've marked them out with tape... And while you're at it stick some earthworms in this." He handed me an aluminium mess tin.

I sighed deeply; I was sure that manual labour was not in my job description. Then I remembered that as he was paying me cash-in-hand for time spent on the case and if he wanted to pay me top whack to dig up some worms, then so be it. I took the entrenching tool and mess tin across the courtyard and round to the back of the barn where Ty had told me to dig.

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