If you like war and spy and intrigue movies, you will have, at some point, read of the covert activities of a special group of mavericks you weren't sure existed. You will not know who they are when they are actively pursuing their livelihood, and you will only wonder how such men could have done what they had done.
It has been long enough now, many years into the future, that I feel I can safely write of the two men I knew who were so mysterious as to have been one of these rebels of society.
One admitted his past, the other remains today as mysterious as he was then. For all I know, they are both gone and unremembered, except by those who knew them after the fact. One of these men was a neighbor caretaking the owner's house. The other was married, and moved about frequently in the range of small towns, canyons, high mountain deserts and the like. We lived in remote places, farm and ranch country, where the deer and the antelope play.
You could see for miles, and the stars in the sky at night were zillions, clear and proudly arraying the heavens. I loved it there, and mourned my departure for years after I left, wishing I had never gone. Remembering all the people I left behind and the life I shall never see again.
The first man I will cover briefly. He was a small man who kept to himself except for a large black dog who was his sole companion. One day, I borrowed his car to go a mile down the road to the post office. A friend delayed my return as we visited. When I returned, my neighbor was furious, cold and steel, that I had kept his car "more than the allotted time I said I would". That was the first glimpse I had of his mindset, his unforgiving of any lapse in what to him was his own 'protocol'. The next came when a Sheriff's deputy shot two huge dogs which menaced him as he went to investigate a disturbance involving children. Over the fence we talked about this incident. He stated flatly and coldly that if anyone shot his dog, he'd kill him. Children came into the conversation: "I don't care who it is, kid or not, if he shot my dog, I'd kill him."
It was later on in another conversation over the fence that I learned he had been a former mercenary, thus his ruthlessness about life. Now he was only a crippled up, bitter old man with an infected leg, who had lost his only friend:
Someone had poisoned his dog.
The dog died, and he had no idea who it was who poisoned him.
I think his regret was not only that the only thing he loved in life--his dog--was gone--but that he had no idea who had done this, thus he could not kill the person who did.
The other man, who this is really about, I want to name, but I had better use an alias, although, for all I know, his name--and that of his wife--was an alias. I shall refer to them as Hal and Remmy.
They became our family friends.
Remembering that we lived in ranch country, in a very small community, with many miles between towns. On any given day you'd be coming home or going into town and you'd see, along the road up ahead, that long, sure stride of a proud man swinging his way Shanks Mare along the road, and I would say, "That's got to be Hal," and sure enough, no one else in the country walked so upright and proud as Hal. He was tall and not an ounce of fat, worldly wise, and Remmy was small, so small you'd think she'd blow away.
There were great times with them over many subjects, black coffee, laughter, sharing: but never the past from either of them--nothing about children, where they came from, none of that. AND no pictures were ever allowed to be taken of them. I felt it an honor knowing these two, although I did not always agree with their opinions. Remmy was lively and fun, and no two people ever belonged together more than they did. They had each other's back, they loved and respected one another and seemed to fit together like two peas in a pod, although Hal was clearly the head of the family. Then, even though Hal and Remmy moved on to an even more remote place, we'd stop and see them whenever we passed through.
Even after my stepfather passed away and Mom and I were on our journeys, we would stop to see them. The last time we ever saw them Mom and I pulled in to their trailer in the middle of nowhere, but Hal was not home. Remmy was, and she told us he was off on business, but two unsavory-looking young men they had hired to help them were with Remmy. Remmy had recent heart troubles, and was recovering. The two had been hired to help move to a new location up in the mountains, settling once again near a small town. One especially looked rather shifty-eyed and mean, the other not so dangerous. As I carried a weapon, I always keep an eye on my surroundings. I remarked to Remmy, "These guys don't look good to me. Isn't Hal worried, leaving you alone here with them?"
She laughed: "They wouldn't dare. If they so much as touched me, Hal would kill them."
We knew that to be true.
In later travels, we stopped off at the small town, inquiring as to their whereabouts, but no one knew anything.
I do not know where Hal and Remmy are this day, but I will always remember them both fondly. She was my Mom's best friend there, and he was my stepfather's best friend, and I liked them both.
Wherever they are, I still think of them and hope the years have been kind to them, though I think, .....probably not.
Some folks march through your lives and leave a wide trail of memories not forgotten. Others drift along slowly, coming and going, and fade from time and memory.
Hal and Remmy marched, and I shall never forget this life and the tune they played in our hearts when we knew them.