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Romance Creative Nonfiction Adventure

It was the last convenience store before crossing the Lake Lanier bridge and open country. Joseph Crow liked stopping at this store because it had fresh homemade sandwiches. This early in the morning they also had biscuits with egg and sausage for sale.

The young woman behind the counter was closing out her register. It was the end of her shift. Joe chose his food along with a extra larger coffee, then proceeded to the counter.

“Hi. Going off or just starting? I got some gas too.”

He pointed at the pumps, then at the food.

“That will be fourteen dollars and twelve cents please. Hopefully you will be my last customer. I’m going off, finally. What’s that thing in the back of your truck?”

“That is a four inch suction dredge. I going gold prospecting. Want to go with me?”

Joe had no false illusions, but it never hurts to ask.

“How long will you be gone?”

“Unless something or someone changes my mind, I’ll be on the river all weekend.”

“Married or single?”

Joe perked up and noticed the girl as if for the first time. He guessed her age to be on the order of twenty five to thirty. She sported a tall, slim frame with long, light brown hair pulled back into a ponytail. No jewelry or makeup revealed a natural beauty.

“Very single and safe to be with. You interested in prospecting or just want a weekend away from everything?”

“The only time I think about gold is when I'm window shopping, but the idea of learning where it comes from is intriguing. What’s you name?”

Joseph Crow, but please call me Joe. ? What’s yours’?”

“Cathy Carter.”

“If you want to go with me, I’ll need to buy some more food.”

Cathy replied, “That’s not necessary. I’m allowed to…. I can feed myself.”

And just like that, Joe has a date. A most unusual date at that.

“How long before you can leave?”

“Anytime now. My relief is in the back. Just a minute while I tell him to get his rear end out here.”

After they pulled out to the store yard, Cathy made a request.

“I live just up the road. Will you stop at my apartment so I can pick up a few things? Any suggestions on what I should take?”

“A bathing suit and towel. Satisfy yourself, depending on how modest your are.”

“Maybe a weapon?”

She said that with a big smile, while sizing up Joe. He wasn’t much to look at with his six foot one inch, slim frame. His redeeming features were his blond hair and deep blue eyes.

“I promise to not rape you more than twice a day. No weapons needed, but if you think you need one, I’ll let you use one of mine.”

She giggled, but didn’t shy away.

“Turn right at the next road. I’m on the left in the first apartment.”

About five miles west of Dahlonega, Ga., they turned right and at the bottom of the hill crossed the Etawah river as it meandered its way south. After Joe crossed the river, he turned down what remained of a road. One side of it was washed out into a six foot gully.

Joe said, “It may be best if you get out and walk down to the river. I don’t mean any offense but your weight on that side of the truck is not helpful and if I slide off into that ditch, I don’t want you getting hurt.”

Cathy walked the short distance without comment.

Before unloading his dredge and other equipment Joe came to a conclusion. He put both hands on Cathy’s shoulders.

“Are you really interested in learning about gold?”

“I guess so. Is there much to learn?”

“First I’m going to warn you; this can be addictive. It can be worse than any drugs. The first time you find some color in your pan you are hooked and there is no cure other than finding more color.”

Joe stopped for a moment to observe Cathy’s reaction. She had the cold hard stare of someone who was about to compete in an Olympic event.

“Is it hard to learn how to find color?”

“Yes! Gold is shy and hides at the bottom of everything. I could give you all the scientific stuff, but let me just say, it’s heavy and goes to the bottom of a river like this one.”

Joe pointed at the river which he was parked beside.

“Cathy, I was taught how to pan by a man near Helen. He is a third generation miner and will readily admit he is still learning. I was taught much more about prospecting by the leader of an organization called Gold Prospectors Association of America. Dale and Buzzard both liked me and shared all they could about this hobby. Yes, it’s hard both physically and mentally. That’s the reason I gave you that warning.”

Cathy turned her eyes to Joe’s equipment, then she looked at the river with a stare that could have boiled water.

“Will you teach me how to do this? I need a hobby to take me away from my past life. This seems to be just what I need.”

"OK! Let’s start your education by helping me unload this equipment.”

Joe opened the tailgate and the back cover of the camper shell on the truck.

“Get on that side and help me carry this to the river. Let's lay the mattress on top of the camper first.”

Joe started sliding the pontoons of the dredge out. It had the sluice box on it but not the hose.

“Carry the rest of that stuff to the river. I’m going up front and get dressed.”

In a few minutes, Joe emerged from the cab of the truck dressed in dark blue from head to toe. It was a quarter inch of rubber commonly known as a wet suit. Cathy suppressed a smile and asked.

“Is that really necessary?”

" Have you felt of the water yet?”

“No.”

“Do so, then tell me what you think. Keep in mind, I’ll be in that river for over two hours at a time. That’s how long a tank of gas will last.”

Cathy stuck her hand in the water and quickly pulled back.

“OK. I see what you mean. While you are operating that dredge, what am I suppose to do?”

“Prepare to be raped when I come out. Try to look sexy for anybody who happens to wander by. Get a tan.”

During this conversation, Joe was assembling the four inch Keen dredge and filling the gas tank on the engine. Moments later the engine can to life and the pump half filled the sluice box with water. Joe pulled down his mask and stuck the snorkel in his mouth. He layed down in the cold water. There is a sudden rush as the cold water encroached his suit, but his body quickly warmed it. Joe spent the next two and half hours sucking up sand and small rocks from the river. Larger rocks were tossed out of the way by one hand or the other. The dredge did its job and separated the precious metal from the other material that flowed across the ripples in the sluice box. The physics behind all this is complicated to explain to a layman. It has to do with the weight of the gold and the angles of the ripples, plus the pitch of the box. Joe knew how to set up the equipment from past experience. It was automatic to him.

The engine sputtered, then fell silent, out of gas. That told Joe it was time to take a break. He didn’t think of it as work, just like a cowboy breaking a wild horse doesn’t think it work. The two examples are similar though. Joe popped up, lifted the mask, and viewed a Goddess. Cathy had on a string and stood at the same time. She slowly turned to reveal bare cheeks and breasts with nipples almost showing.

“Is this sexy enough for you?”

“If I didn’t have on this suit, I’d rape you over and over for the rest of the day.”

Cathy exclaimed, “Excuses, excuses! If you are not going to rape me, then teach me some more about gold mining. You can do that with the suit on.”

“OK. Keep your suit on. What little there is of it. Get me a bucket. I want to empty the box and see what we got.”

The sluice box is designed to fit inside a five gallon bucket. Joe had Cathy hold the bucket in place while he raised the box. Everything slide into the bucket, carpet, sand, and gold. Joe carefully washed out the carpet and replaced it under the ripples of the box.

“Now pay attention. I’m going to pan out some of this material to see what we got.”

He poured some material into his gold pan and started shaking it.

“The idea is to get all the material moving in the pan. Shake it for a few second to make sure any gold settles to the bottom of the pan.”

Joe tilted the pan at a slight angle; a commenced moving it back and forth in a smooth motion; washing out some sand on each stroke. He would stop frequently and shake it some more. This was repeated until only a tablespoon of black sand remained. Joe swirled the water around in the pan to reveal a line of yellow metal. He looked at Cathy and she peered at the pan, then at Joe. He sat the pan down and kissed her. She kissed him back with an exploring tongue.

“That old timer was right. There is gold here. He told me of a ditch being blown out by dynamite in the middle of the river about a hundred and fifty years ago. It’s a natural catch basin for gold. From the amount of color in this first pan, it doesn’t look like anyone has been here for a long time. Sweetheart, your are in for a real treat.”

The sand from that first pan full was washed into another bucket. Joe handed the pan to Cathy. She eagerly took it with the passion of gold fever in her eyes. She was hooked.

“Now you watched me pan out this material. I want you to pan it again, just in case I missed some.”

Joe knew she would not find any gold large enough to see, but the hope of finding something made her pan it with gusto.

“Cathy, I going back in the river and I don’t want you to be tempted to pan anything out of that bucket.”

Joe pointed to the bucket with the raw material in it.

“You don’t know how yet and will just waste all my hard work. This sample I panned out tells me what I wanted to know, so don’t even think about it. OK?”

“OK, I’ll stay out of that bucket. Where can I get some dirt to try myself?”

“Hell, you got the whole river, but maybe try just below that area.”

Joe pointed to a place where the water rushed between big rocks forming a little waterfall. After filling the gas tank and checking the oil in the engine, it came to life once again.

Five hours of wrestling that bucking bronco was enough for one day. Joe had to ride the four inch hose like a bucking bronco. Several times a rock just the right size would hang up in the hose. Joe knew better than to try to dislodge the rock with that powerful engine sucking anything and everything up the hose. His hand and arm included if he stuck it in the hose. He would be forced to raise the hose end out of the water to stop the suction to remove the stray rock. Arms have been broken of the careless who forgot and stuck their arm up a suction hose.

“I’m starved. Have you fixed supper yet?”

Cathy stood with such an action that removed all doubt. Gold fever now engulfed her.

“I’ve been busy all afternoon.”

“Really. What did you find?”

Joe knew the symptoms and wanted to find out how much of his teachings sunk in.

“I found some color, but I don’t know how to separate it from the black sand.”

“You really found some color?”

“I said I did. Don’t you believe me?”

“Where is it?”

“It’s in that white bucket. Will you show me how to get the gold out?”

“Sure. That’s the easy part. Look in the glove box and bring me one of those little glass bottles. Bring the necklace too.”

Joe poured out the contents of the white bucket into his pan and removed the quart of excess black sand. By the time Cathy returned, Joe had gotten down to a small line of color. He was impressed! By this time, Joe was striped to the waste. He grabbed Cathy and pulled her to him.

“You are a quick study. I am impressed with your performance today.”

He kissed her with an intense passion. Once again, she returned his kiss with her own version of passion.

“OK. School is in cession. Watch and learn."

Joe took the pan. It only had a tablespoon of black sand in it with Cathy’s wonderful bounty. Joe commenced to bump the side of the pan closest to the gold. It slowly walked up the side of the pan.

“That’s called the Blueberry bounce. Give me your bottle without the cap.”

Joe touched several flakes of gold with his finger tip and raked them into the bottle which was full of water. They quickly floated to the bottom. He repeated this procedure until twelve flakes were in the little bottle. He hung the bottle around Cathy’s neck like a necklace of gold.

“That’s your bottle. Take care of it and add to it. When it’s full, there will be one ounce of gold in the bottle.”

Cathy kissed him this time. It was a slow, wet, and rather passionate kiss. She pressed herself to him. Her hands squeezed the muscles in Joe’s back. Cathy certainly knew how to treat a man and that is all you need to know about their Saturday night.

Sunday was almost a duplicate of Saturday, but with one exception. Cathy found much more color digging in the same spot she started the day before. She finally got down on her knees and started scooping out sand by the hand full after the shovel no longer found any.

After panning out her find of the day, she was ecstatic. Gold fever grabbed her and would never let up it’s grip. Love danced around in her head also.

Joe panned out his bounty, while Cathy played housewife and cooked supper. It was a happy time for both of them. Not only the color of over an ounce of gold was present, but romance filled the air also.

Late Sunday afternoon on their way south, Cathy asked Joe a provocative question.

“Joe can I go home with you and spend the night?”

“I guess so, but I’ll have to go to work tomorrow and leave early.”

“I know. Would you trust me to stay there until you return tomorrow afternoon. I don’t have to be at work until nine Monday night.”

“Cathy, I don’t usually let women stay in my house unless….”

Joe couldn’t finish his statement. He was scared of finishing it. Scared of what he felt. Scared of what she would say. Cathy finished it for him.

“If that is some kind of proposal, then I accept. Yes, I'll marry you. Joe, you are the kindest, most polite, and gentle man I have ever met. I want to be your woman, your wife, if you will have me. I'm not a perfect woman, but I will be faithful, honest, and attentive to you. What do you say?”

Joe stopped the truck on the north side of the bridge crossing Lake Lanier. He thought this serious enough to command his full attention. Joe got out and went around the truck, then opened the passenger door.

“Yes, I’ll marry you, if you promise me one thing.”

“What is that promise my love?”

“When you fill up that bottle, don’t spend it on some useless bit of junk. Let it be part of our retirement savings.”

“Yes sweetheart, I promise.”

Cathy kissed Joe. It was a kiss only a wife should give to a husband. She was diffidently hooked. Hooked on the open air. Air full of life and love, wondering what can be found in the next river.

January 23, 2021 04:10

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1 comment

Palak Shah
08:47 Feb 09, 2021

Great story. Well done !!! Thanks for the recommendation :))

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