Jack heard the camera shutter clicking again,
closer to his face this time. Just fifteen minutes before, Jack had been standing in the garage of the Karras home, looking at an old bootleg Ragbrai tee shirt. Now, he was at the bottom of the mountain, totally frozen and partially buried by a miniature avalanche, with someone taking pictures of him in the moonlight.
Click, click, click went the camera again. Jack cautiously opened an eye. “Whoa!” said a voice. “You’re still alive. Hmm.”Jack opened his other eye and brought the photographer into focus. The person behind the camera seemed a few years younger, a few inches taller, and a few pounds slimmer than Jack. “Don’t just stand there,” gasped Jack, “help me out of this snow pile. I’m freezing to death.”
“I thought you were dead,” said the photographer. “Are you sure you’re not dying?”
“What are you talking about?” sputtered Jack as he tried to scramble to his feet but slipped and immediately started shivering. “Why are you taking my picture?”
The photographer looked a bit disappointed but shrugged his shoulders and gave Jack a hand up. “I’m a photographer, and I was out getting some stock photos of moonlit forest scenery when I heard the snow bank crash down behind me. I came over and found your corpse in the snow and saw some good shots.”
“Well I’m not dead!” shouted Jack, shivering more than ever. “Not yet at least.”
The photographer paused for a moment and seemed to come to grips with the fact that Jack was not dead and was probably not going to die any time soon. He sighed and said, “I’m Kenny Vegas. My truck is parked on the highway just through those trees. Where’s your coat, anyway?”
“It-t-t-s a long st-st-story,” said Jack through chattering teeth as he followed Vegas out of the woods.
Yeah, it is a long story, way longer than I thought it would be. Okay, this is the author, Dave, breaking into the story line for a moment. At first, I thought I could cram Jack and the Magic Bean Bus into twenty chapters, tops. Well, here we are at Chapter 34 and we haven’t even met Kelby yet. I’m just going to hit the fast forward button for a while. I hope you don’t mind.
Basically, Vegas rescues Jack that night.
Jack ends up staying in a basement apartment with Vegas in the ski-resort town of Vail.
Vegas’ truck breaks down, and Jack realizes he is going to be stuck there for quite a while, so he gets a job at a fancy-schmantzy restaurant called La Souris and learns the trade from a chef named
Jack spends the entire ski season there in Vail and makes enough money to help Vegas get his
truck repaired. Jack also buys some
warm clothes and a
clunker bike to replace the bike he lost in Iowa City with
Bart and the
raccoons back in Chapter 15.
The ski season draws to a close in
late May but Jack stays on at the restaurant until a month later when Vegas decides to take a trip to
Boulder to see some friends. Jack’s mission to deliver the magic beans to
Kelby in Fort Collins has been on hold all winter, but now this trip to Boulder will move Jack closer to his goal.
Whew! That’s enough fast forwarding. We rejoin our hero Jack, at regular speed, as he and Vegas drive into Boulder in the repaired pick up, with their bikes in the back...
“Who do you know here in Boulder?” asked Jack as they drove past the city limits sign on a beautiful summer evening.
“Oh, a bunch of people,” said Vegas. “We’ll find somebody’s floor to sleep on tonight.”
to be continued... [a serial by little orphan dbax]