Part 43

Next morning I bought a travel map, thanked the fact that the good people of the country drove on the correct side of the road, and took my rental out and out.

At the start of this particular venture, I blathered about how good I am at finding things. Missing things, things that don’t want to be found, maybe even things that don’t know they’re lost. I hardly do it on purpose, or rather, it’s not something I control. But it’s been quite the trick learning when to turn it into an advantage, and even more surprising when it pays off (literally or figuratively).

Four years ago, I found someone’s missing collie that had been gone for five days on one of my usual walks. It was the first anyone had called them about it. I told you about Dan, one of my first roomates. There’s been more than just pets or people, though. Old pictures people swore were burned or blown to the winds. Jewelry that made its way into cracks and crevices in houses. Like a hundred pairs of shoes. A nice collection of Silver Age comics at a used bookstore (that my friend liberated for cheap, but chose to keep most of). Once, right around Christmas, the lady and I spotted two hundred bucks lying barefaced and crisp on the sidewalk down in Kitsilano, Vancouver.

That sort of thing. I started developing it as a hobby more than anything, even though some gracious people offered payment once or twice and look where it landed me. It’s been a never-ending battle to get friends and family not to do Jim Carrey impressions all the time.

It was a few hours down the road when I was driving through the lush and harvest-time farmland that I thought over all those past events and trials, and about the same time that I noticed the check oil light had come on. Pulling over on the narrow ribbon of two lane road, I noticed how much the open fields were cut with a kind of assayer’s pride of dirt roads and crossroads, and it reminded me very much of the prairie fields mid-summer, rolling on and so square and infinitely colourful, eye-glazening, boring.

I would have started getting teary if the dipstick didn’t read dry, and on further inspection, it looked like the oil plug had fallen out somewhere along the way (with very little in the way of a trail to mark it). Running that dry this far from a mechanic seemed like the worst idea. Reception on my burner phone was non-existent. Traffic was light, and mostly what I guessed were farmers.

Still, I did what any stranded person would do and after relieving stress on the rear tire, packed as much as possible into one bag, wrote VOY A VOLVER on a piece of looseleaf to stick on the rear window, and stuck my thumb out in the noonday air.