The Archaeologists

The Archaeologists

Terry closes the hood and then leans on it until he hears the latch click, The old International Carryall had been a long, but worthwhile project. Now, at last, with a reworked engine and transmission, everything except the interior is very close to factory specifications. The second and third bench seats are now replaced with two bunk beds, one over the other. An extremely cramped dining area is exposed when the bunks are stowed, folded against the side. Across the way is a one-burner propane stove. Next to it is a small wash basin. And at the very end is a small pantry providing enough space for two days of groceries. The only thing left is water. Does Megan want running water? There isn’t much room for a reservoir, but if that’s what she wants he’ll find a way to provide it for her.

Megan!” he shouts toward the mobile home where they spend their winters. There is no response. Striding to the entry doorway he pulls it open a few inches and shouts a second time. Then he hears the shower. She’ll be awhile.

Stepping into the trailer, he fills the whistling kettle with water and lights the propane burner beneath it. There’s going to be time for a cup of tea, and then some, he tells himself.

Thumbing through the latest Archaeological Newsletter published in Tucson he waits. A few minutes later the whistle starts. He’s reminded of the sign given to his boss at a Christmas party that stated: The steam blowing the whistle doesn’t turn the wheels. A truer statement was never uttered, in his opinion. He had one swallow left when Megan stepped from the bathroom, tying her pink robe with a matching cloth belt. A large red Turkish towel is wound around her head like a turbine. She was extremely attractive even wringing wet.

Did you call me?” she asked, stepping into her a pair of woolie slippers.

I didn’t realize you were in the shower. It can wait.”

What can wait?”

The Carryall. It’s nearly finished and I wanted your opinion on something before I call it done.”

Okay,” she responded, stepping to the door, waiting for him to join her.

He led the way out and when they reached the Carryall he opened the passenger door.

Sweet. Very sweet, Terry. You’ve done a remarkable job on this. But I’m not surprised.”

Thank you,” he said, moving to the rear of the vehicle and swinging the two doors open. “It’s all finished except for the water,” he added. He watched her eyes travel the interior.

So, what’s the deal on the water?”

Well, I have an electric pump I can install. And I think I can place a two gallon reservoir on the floor beneath the basin. But with an electric pump we are most likely going to use more water than we actually need. It’s going to be a constant job of filling the reservoir.”

Or?”

Well, we’ll have to store water jugs somewhere. If I had the last word I wouldn’t worry about the reservoir. I would use straight from the jugs,” Terry said.

I agree. Let’s forget the reservoir.”

Good. We’ll take it on a road test tomorrow. We can go to the archaeological site near the bridge north of here. We need to show some activity there anyway.”

Why wait until tomorrow?” Megan asked. “ You’ve installed bunk beds. We can go to the site this afternoon and lay out our grid. Maybe even search and catalog a few finds an hour before darkness settles in.

The two of them met during their second year at Oregon State University. He earned mechanical engineering degree, she a degree in computer science. That summer married. With jobs in the wings, they traveled to Arizona’s Sonoran Desert for a brief change of scenery. That autumn they worked for the Arizona State University, Archaeology Department and never went back home.

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