Running Up The Score- Chapter One
My name is Jenny now. I was Debbie when I left Virginia and Carrie from North Carolina to Utah. I wish it wasn’t necessary to keep hiding like this, but it is. I haven’t quite accepted the fact that it could always be like this, that I might never be able to stop running, but like it or not, this is the life I was forced into. I traded my old life for a role similar to Julia Robert’s in Sleeping with the Enemy, except that I escaped from my abusive husband in an RV, and I am blonde instead of brunette. Now I am Jenny, and I am in Oregon, and I’m trying very hard not to be lonely or afraid as I point my new RV toward a place I never thought I’d see.
As soon as I came over the rise onto Rim Drive and looked down on Crater Lake, I knew that Oregon was going to be a wonderful place for me to hide and heal for a while. I’ve run from my husband for close to two months now—a miracle in my mind, and I have solved a four-year-old missing persons case in the interim. I believe I also have the beginnings of a wonderful new love blooming inside my heart, but I’m not ready for it now and neither is Brick. We’re in a holding pattern as we both deal with the dramas life has thrown our way.
I gingerly pulled my new Class A motorhome, the most luxurious of RVs, into a lovely scenic overlook, careful to pull all the way to the end so no one could park in front of me. I have not yet backed this little behemoth up and I sure as hell don’t want my first time to be on a narrow ledge thousands of feet up from the floor of the valley, a drop-off not even protected by so much as a primitive split rail fence.
The lake below is pristine, an amazing deep blue color, glittering in the sun and without a single ripple. I’m in awe of the beauty all around me. The stands of pines covering the sloping sides are a vivid green. They are sentinels under a pale blue sky and so thickly enmeshed that the only grass I see is close to the top. Some places make you feel reverent; this is one of them. I walked closer to the edge and stood on the new summer grass.
It’s as far as I dared to venture and I spent long minutes taking it all in. It’s odd to see so many signs of spring, yet still see clumps of snow scattered everywhere.
I don’t know how long I stood there admiring the scene in front of me but I knew it was time to move on when I heard the slamming of car doors and the running feet of children. I looked over my shoulder and sighed. This wasn’t a view that I wanted to share with a group of boisterous boy scouts.
Twenty minutes later I pulled into Mazama Campground. Each site promised an incomparable view and I liked their website, so this was home for a while. The website described a lot of the activities in the region and had links for more information on each. The campground also had a pool and wireless Internet, something I was coming to appreciate and regard very highly. Brick and I usually made some kind of contact every day, and wireless connections made life a whole lot easier for a fledgling computer user like me.
While driving out of Utah, I had decided to settle in one spot for at least two weeks. There were several reasons for this, not the least of which was my budget. Even though I had earned a nice reward for solving the missing persons case, I used most of the proceeds to trade up to a larger RV. It had been a necessary thing to do if I wanted to continue to elude my husband, Jared.
Unfortunately, Jared had found out about my old RV, my wonderful Atlantis, rather early after my hasty departure from our Virginia estate. In plotting my carefully planned great escape I hadn’t factored in his resourcefulness thoroughly enough. Implanting a tracking device in my never-to-have-again navel piercing led him to my first campsite near Black Mountain, North Carolina. And after discovering I fled in an RV, he circulated a nationwide flier describing my Atlantis and offering a reward for information leading to me. So, in Provo, after Brick and I had come to the conclusion that I could no longer hide in my Atlantis, we went to an RV dealer and traded it in. So now I own a Dolphin. Brick was a federal or state agent of some kind. I hadn’t been able to figure out which exactly, as each time we’d had a run in, a different group of cops had accompanied him. If he hadn’t been so attracted to me, and I to him, I’d probably be in jail right now for the wild chase I’d led him on.
The money that was left over from the reward had gone into an account in a Nevada bank where I opted for a debit card that I could use at any ATM in the country. My chance meeting with a little girl named Angelina at a K.O.A. pool, two months ago, had netted me enough to cover living expenses for two years; three if I was careful. The reward money was a windfall that I truly needed. I had expected to get a job somewhere on the road, but now couldn’t as I had to keep running and stay out of sight.
The price I was paying for gas now was so much higher than it had been in the East that it scared me, made me almost want to rethink this great adventure. As it was nearly summertime, I found premium prices at the pump as well as at the campgrounds. It was still amazing to me that in less than three months I had gone from the trophy wife of a millionaire to a penny-pinching, coupon-clipping vagabond. I had to smile. I loved it! I absolutely did. However, for the first time in my life, I had to be frugal.
Being independent was a heady feeling for me as it had been over six years since I’d been free to do anything on my own without repercussions from my domineering and obsessively possessive husband. As each day brought new surprises and decisions, I relished the uncertainty and the excitement of what turning the next corner would bring.
As far as I could figure, my new RV was getting nine miles to the gallon. With the price per gallon close to $3.50, every five hundred miles I drove depleted my reserves by close to two hundred dollars. Added to that, campsites with hookups had been running close to thirty-five dollars a night. Once I discovered that most campsites gave discounts for longer visits, I decided to take advantage of the reduced rates and extend my stays.
After extensive research on the Web, I chose Mazama Village. It seemed to have everything I needed and promised serenity, which I desperately wanted, and obscurity, which was critical right now. I wanted to lay low, be unobtrusive and pull myself back together. The fact that Brick was also in Oregon was a bonus. It cheered me just knowing that he was so close.
It didn’t take long to check in and set up camp. The site I had been directed to was lovely, high on a ridge overlooking the rich green forests that surrounded the area. I had been told that I could either back in, or pull in, and use the hook ups on either side. A huge tree, whose root system had become so extensive that it had to be cut down, was on the lot to my left. As long as they were waiting for a crew to come section it off and haul it away, I essentially had the use of both lots and their connections. I opted to pull in so I could see the panoramic view out of the windshield.
I was pretty much on my own, with no other campers in sight unless I walked back to the main road. I was in a secluded section of the park, with the highest elevation and the most amazing views, but I knew it wouldn’t be long before I had neighbors.
The rigmarole of setting the hydraulic jacks and connecting the sewer, electric and water lines, was becoming rote. I hardly ever needed the checklist, but diligently used it, just in case. I was thrilled that I didn’t have to constantly search out the manual for each appliance to figure something out. But I have to admit when it came to the electronics above the dash, I was still hopeless. I was hoping that in a few days I would come across a really nice, geeky man who would show me how to set up and use my new DVD player and satellite dish. The entertainment system in the Atlantis hadn’t been quite as complicated. I admittedly wished that I had paid more attention when the salesman had shown me how to use things before pulling off the lot in Utah.
When Brick helped me trade my Atlantis in on a new Dolphin, I wasn’t really able to concentrate on anything the salesman was saying. Brick had stood so close that I got lost in the warmth and sexuality he radiated. I didn’t know what was going on with us, but the attraction we had for each other could not be denied, even after I had embarrassed him and put him in several difficult situations with the powers that be—namely his bosses.
After tying my hammock to some nearby trees, a final look at my check sheet, and a quick walk around my motorhome, I was assured that all was well and that I could go inside to relax. Setting my laptop up on my new Corian tabletop, I checked to see if I could get a decent signal so I could check my e-mail. Angelina’s family and Brick were the only ones who knew how to contact me, and at times I felt as if they were my only connection to the world. I looked forward to hearing from all of them, but Brick especially. Often I laughed out loud at his comments; his biting humor and teasing manner entertained me and lifted my spirits. I went online to access the Yahoo account Brick had set up for me and was delighted when I found that there was a message fromBTyler5wheel@yahoo.com, Brick’s cyberspace address that referred to his impressive fifth wheel trailer.
Brick: Any sign of you know who? I’m running into a dead end here. You would not believe how many RVers are camped here. This RV Rally has by far the biggest crowd I have ever seen in one place. The brown and green-eyed monster has not made himself known to anyone I’ve talked to so far. I’m getting desperate, this case is taking too long to solve. I’m coming across too many dead ends and it scares me to death. I am beginning to wonder if I will ever see my sister alive again. I hope you have found that special place you said you were looking for, to unwind, settle some emotional issues and to wait for God’s providence to guide the next step in your life. I worry about you and think about you (far more than I should!). Keep an eye on your rear since I’m not there to do it for you, and that’s a real shame as it’s a very nice rear. Brick
Jenny: He wasn’t behind me, no one was. For the last twenty miles or so I was the only one on the road, so I know I wasn’t being followed. Stop worrying, I’m fine. I did as you said and stopped at the place you recommended in Nevada and bought a little Vespa to tool around in. Your friend Marty arranged to have the lift installed while I waited and I was out of there in time to set up camp a few miles outside of Klamath Falls. I arrived at Crater Lake this afternoon and all I can say is this isn’t a lake to pee in, no matter how big it is! I had to laugh at myself today when I remembered how seriously I used to take my mother’s admonitions when I was kid, that I not use our municipal pool as a bathroom. When I was a teenager at summer camp, it took my girlfriends a whole week to convince me that it was okay to let loose in the lake, rather than walk all the way back to the cabin. Today when I looked around this huge crater I felt the solemn quality of this place and I knew that any thought of polluting it should be banished immediately. Surely, God would smite anyone for doing the deed in this magnificent water! You should see it; it is this incredible shade of blue, a blue so vivid it takes your breath away. Wow is the first word you think of when you first see the lake. When the sun is shinning on it it’s iridescent, jewel-like. The color varies from navy blue to violet and it appears as if there’s a sheen of oil on the top that reflects the sun’s rays, But of course there’s not, the water is actually the purest in the world. Isn’t that awesome? When the wind blows the ripples move the color across the surface of the water and the longer you stand looking at the water, the more awestruck you are. I think I’m going to be happy here at Mazama Village. I have a lovely view of the mountains and I’m rather secluded and off to myself—until the weekend when I’m told they’re expecting a big crowd. I think of you too, and wonder how you manage to keep sane. I read the file you sent and I will be looking for the man with different colored eyes. I pray every night that you find your sister soon. Jenny (a.k.a. Carrie, a.k.a. Deborah, a.k.a. . . .who knows!)