There were some framed photos that must have sat on the mantle at one time. Moisture had stained and faded them and the frames were broken. A couch with dry rotted cushions sat in front of the fireplace where a family must have sat and watched the flames and maybe drank hot chocolate. They left the living room and went down a hall to the kitchen. Nothing much left here either but there was a door that led down to the cellar. The wooden stairs were pretty rickety so Snowbie Joe told Boogie Man to wait upstairs for him. He carefully tested each step making sure it would hold his weight. He had to pull drapes of cobwebs down and he had a few moments panic as they caught in his hair and beard. Downstairs he found a hank of rope on a shelf and there were jars of jelly that someone had sealed and stored on wooden shelves. He couldn’t believe they were still here and after brushing the dust off it looked like the jelly might still be good. He called out to Boogie Man the whole time telling him what he had found. “Go outside Buddy, to the window and I’ll pass stuff out to you.”
“Okay, Joe! Lands yes. I can do that.”
Snowbie Joe stacked jars on a table he pushed under the cellar window and when he had as many as he thought they could carry, he climbed up on the table and started handing them out to Boogie Man. He handed out his pack and heaved himself up and out the window, rather than chance the stairs again. Boogie Man took his arms as he climbed through, and pulled him the rest of the way and stood him on his feet.
‘Thanks Buddy.” Man, the guy was strong.
They both stuff jars of jelly in their packs. “Buddy, maybe we should head back now, before it gets dark.”
They hauled their packs onto their shoulders and walked back through the town to the edge of the woods. They went in about a hundred yards from where they had left the bike and walked back to the it from within the edge of the woods. They hadn’t seen anyone but Snowbie Joe still had an eerie sense about the place. They got to the bike and started working their way through the woods. It was getting dark by the time they made it back to the cave and they had to wear the night goggles.
They emptied out their packs and cleaned off the jelly jars and stacked them in the corner. Boogie Man had some cornmeal and he mixed up a batter and baked it in an iron pan in the fire. They ate it hot with strawberry jelly. Snowbie Joe thought he had never tasted anything so fine. For a few moments, the firelight, the sweet jelly on the warm cornbread, Boogie smiling as he licks gooey fingers.
Snowbie Joe feels something so foreign he can’t identify it. It hits him. Happiness. That’s what this was. He tries to take it apart in his head. Figure out what it is. Which piece fits where? What part could be taken away and the feeling remain? Two sorry misfits in a cave with a fire and some strawberry jelly. The craziness of it made him smile and Boogie man smiled back at him.
“We did good, Joe!”
“Yes, Buddy, we sure did.”