The Battle of Grizzly Mountain
February 12, 2012
They Don’t Come This Way Anymore
February 26, 2012
The Battle of Grizzly Mountain
February 12, 2012
They Don’t Come This Way Anymore
February 26, 2012

Rosebud Lane

Melissa just couldn’t wait any longer. She had to pee and rhododendron bushes off the trail gave her needed seclusion. She shivered in the chilly morning air. Back on the trail, Melissa stopped twenty feet short of a clearing when she heard men’s voices.

            “Rosebud,” a voice called quietly from bushes past the clearing.

            “The eagle flies at nine,” was the response to her left.

            Two men, faces shaded by floppy hats, emerged from the trees thirty feet in front of her. She quickly crouched down and breathed a sigh of relief, hoping they didn’t see her.

          “The plans have changed,” the taller bearded man spoke. “We’re ramping things up for tonight. The plane and birds must be ready.”

            The portly man took off his hat, stuffed it in the front of his red plaid shirt, and shook his head. “What’s the hurry? I thought we still had time.”

            “People are talking and cops are asking questions.”

            They nodded to each other then quickly disappeared back into the forest.

            Melissa peered out from behind the flowering bush and waited awhile to make sure they had left, and then checked the trail for anyone else. Her mind raced when her imagination suggested several scenarios…guerrilla warfare, pranksters, or even maybe spies. She laughed at herself realizing she’d seen too many movies, but she still wondered who Rosebud was.She jumped when a noisy squirrel snapped several branches behind her before it scurried to the nearest tree. Melissa reached her car and quickly got in. She could still get to work on time at the coffee shop before the lunch folks arrived, and she had to tell Mitch about this.

            Melissa took the alternative dirt road from the parking area to the junction of the county highway. There were several summer cabins but only one, year-round resident along the three-mile stretch of Rosebud Lane. No one usually ventured on foot down the overgrown, nearly deserted road unless they had business with Mac Phenson.

            A hawk circling above squawked his objection to a deer eating its favorite berries at the edge of Mac’s property. The deer bolted back up the hill next to the road and Melissa nearly hit it when the deer ran in front of her car.

            Melissa briefly glanced at one of the sheds on Mac’s property as she drove down the mountain. She wondered if Mac Phenson knew anything about what she had seen. She didn’t see him by his barn but knew everyone considered him a recluse.

 

            Mac was out at the shed when he heard Melissa’s car drive by. He looked up. He didn’t want any visitors today. Especially not today.

            He was moving some boxes when his cell phone vibrated in his pocket. “Hello?”

            “Mac, this is Barney. Some cop was at the coffee shop a little while ago asking if anyone knew anything about Rosebud.”

            “Thanks for the information.” Mac hung up and glanced at his faithful German Shepherd. “Well Dodger, looks like we’ll be moving things today.”

 

            “Hey, Mitch,” Melissa called as she walked into the Mountain Side Café thirty minutes later. “Sorry I’m a little late. I had the strangest hike this morning.” She quickly stuffed her purse and sweater under the counter. “You’ll never guess what I overhead.”

            Mitch pushed the kitchen door open with his foot as he balanced a stack of clean plates.

            “Oh, hey, Melissa. Didn’t hear you come in. Boy, you missed all the excitement this morning.”

            “What excitement?” she asked while wrapping individual silverware in napkins.

            “Cops came looking for some men wanted for building spy planes.” He carefully slid the clean plates onto the shelf. “Can you imagine that; here in our little neck of the woods. Barney was sitting at his usual spot when they came in. They asked us if anyone had been asking for Rosebud.”

            Melissa dropped the stack of spoons. “Rosebud?” Melissa’s heart beat faster. “Wait ’til I tell you ….”

            “But, wait, Melissa. They don’t know if the men are dangerous.”

            “Oh, that’s a comforting thought, Mitch,” Melissa shuddered and bent down to pick up the spoons.

            “Well, keep your eyes and ears open.”

            “Well, Mitch, I….” The bell rang over the front door announcing a customer. Melissa quickly grabbed the menu and promptly seated a couple when the Coffee Club and senior quilters arrived. The next three hours kept Melissa and Mitch totally swamped but conversations overheard often mentioned “Rosebud”.

            Finally, during a lull in business, Melissa got Mitch’s attention.

            “Mitch, let me tell you what I heard this morning on my hike,” she said motioning toward the cooking area away from customers.

            Mitch mixed a fresh batch of brownies while she told about hearing two men talking about eagles and planes on Rosebud Lane. “Mitch, that’s where Mac Phenson lives, right? Do you think he’d have anything to do with spy planes?”

            “Who knows,” Mitch said as he put the pan of brownies in the oven. “He’s a strange one, but we could always take an evening hike up by his place.”

            “Oh, I don’t….”

            The bell rang and Clyde walked in. Melissa quickly glanced at Mitch, pointing to Clyde’s red plaid shirt.

            “Hey, Mitch.” Clyde took a deep breath. “I smell brownies. I could sure use some of them. Can you wrap me up a dozen to go?”

            “Sure, Clyde. They’ll be ready in an hour, and you can pick them up then. You having a big wing ding tonight?” Mitch asked, pouring him a cup of coffee.

            “Nah,” Clyde answered. “Just need ‘em for, uh, um, bird hunting.”

            “Hey, Clyde. Speaking of birds, I was just wondering what eagles eat. Bet they’d love Mitch’s brownies or do they eat rosebuds?” Melissa asked, glancing at Mitch.

            “Uh, no, uh…I don’t know.” Clyde quickly gulped more coffee. “Hey, Mitch, I gotta go right now, but I’ll be back in an hour to get the brownies.” He placed a ten-dollar bill on the counter and hurried to the front door. “See ya later.”

            Melissa put the bill in the register and waited until Clyde was out of sight.

            “Mitch, he was one of the men I saw on my hike. I recognized his shirt, and did you see how nervous he was when I mentioned eagles eating brownies or rosebuds?”

            Mitch nodded. “I say you and I take a hike this evening.”

 

            Mac had spent the same three hours moving and working on equipment in the open field next to his barn. Until this morning when Barney called, his work had been hush-hush, known only to a select few.

            “They’re on to us, Dodger,” Mac told his faithful companion. “We’re so close, but now we’ll have to do a test run tonight.”

            He moved other equipment and cages as Dodger followed dutifully by his side.

            By seven o’clock and under a full moon Mac had assembled everything near the barn. Dodger barked. Coming down the hillside two figures approached. “Rosebud,” one called.

            Mac responded, “The eagle flies at nine.” Barney emerged from the woods followed by Clyde still in his red plaid shirt, carrying the box of remaining brownies.

            “Why are we rushing the schedule?” Clyde asked, putting the box down.

            “Barney says people and cops have been asking too many questions in town,” Mac said as they began their work.

 

            Mitch and Melissa hiked to an area just beyond Mac’s property where they hid. Peering out from behind some hemlocks, they watched Mac, Barney, and Clyde carry metal containers and place them in the open field. Then they heard a whir-whir roar.

            Mac and his helpers assembled what looked to Mitch like a child’s remote control plane, but it was much larger than a toy version. Within minutes the engine sputtered, propeller blades whirled, the plane taxied, and then took off.

            “Oh, my gosh,” Melissa whispered. “They are building spy planes.”

            Once the plane was airborne and out of sight, Mac brought three large birds from the barn and placed them on perches.

            “What are they doing with birds?” Melissa asked.

            Mitch leaned closer.

            Barney blew a whistle and immediately the birds took flight and disappeared beyond the trees.

            Suddenly sirens broke the stillness of the evening and lights flashed as three police cars surrounded Mac and his friends.

            Melissa panicked when Mitch edged closer. “Mitch!” she whispered as loud as she dared.

            He grabbed her arm. “I think we’d better get out of here.”

            They made a quick dash for the trail and headed back to Mitch’s car.

            “Mitch, what do you think is going on?”

            “I don’t know.”

 

            Melissa was the first one at the coffee shop the next morning. She unlocked the front door and opened the blinds. With the coffee maker ready, she pressed the start button about the time Mitch arrived.

            “Did you hear? Did you hear?” her words tumbled over each other.

            He shook his head.

            “Mac Phenson isn’t a spy. He has been training birds and using miniature planes for government work. After his Desert Storm assignment he started working directly with the CIA training different birds and sending small undetectable remote planes behind enemy lines to deliver tactical messages to the troops.”

            “That’s amazing,” Mitch said. “I guess that goes to prove you can’t believe everything you hear. Right, Melissa?”

            “Hey, how was I to know what was going on?” Melissa said, promptly defending herself. “And you were just as curious as I was.” She shook a spatula at Mitch.

            Mitch laughed and picked up the container of dirty dishes and headed to the kitchen. “Well, from now on, Melissa, I think I’ll just call you Rosebud.”

            “Shhh,” she whispered. “The eagle flies at nine.”