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Chapter One, Journey to "A Pathless Land" (standard:Psychological fiction, 5440 words)
Author: Joe E.Added: Jun 24 2005Views/Reads: 1973/1508Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Chapter One, Journey to "A Pathless Land" tells the story of three youngsters who set out on an adventure and a spiritual journey

Journey to  “A Pathless Land” 

By Jack Daley 

"You can always pretend, put on a mask but to be what you are is an
extremely complex affair....” Krishnamurti 


It is just before sunset on a warm July evening in 1961 when the border
guard hands back our I.D.'s, and tells us we have to turn back. He 
started shaking his head right after he had us count out the 
ninety-seven dollars total cash between the three of us. Eyeing up our 
'49 Plymouth, he reveals that American citizens traveling through to 
Alaska are required to have a minimum amount of cash. Vance tries to 
talk him into letting us through explaining that we have food, camping 
equipment, tools, spare parts, and motor oil in the wooden carrier on 
top. He points to the two spare tires we had bolted to the faded maroon 
trunk. "All we have to buy is the gas," he tells the guard who keeps 
shaking his head, no. 

"And, besides,” I add leaning towards the driver's seat, "if we run
out'a money, we can always work for a couple days." 

"That's just what I was afraid of. American citizens are not permitted
to work in Canada. If an American citizen gets stranded, it's up to 
their government to bail them out. With a vehicle this old, you'll need 
a minimum of two hundred dollars cash before we can let you through. 
Why the three of you are not even related...." he tells us. 

We ride in dead silence for a minute or two a sense of defeat hanging
over us. Everyone had told us we wouldn't make it to Alaska. When we 
filled up and said our good byes at Harvey's pump, the Yardley Boys 
told us that we'd never make it out of Pennsylvania. Old Mrs. Kelly had 
made the sign of a cross over Anne asking God to protect her. My foster 
mother had told me that we would all end up in jail. Vance's dad 
couldn't believe it. "After I pay four years for a college education, 
you take off like a bum!" he told him. 

"Ain't this a mother fucking shame," Vance says breaking the silence.
"We come all the way from Yardley, Pennsylvania. Two thousand miles on 
less than fifty bucks, and they tell us we ain't got enough money to 
make it through Canada!" "I can't believe it, man. We can't work in 
Canada? How the hell come? I thought a man could always find work...." 
I say shaking my head. 

"We can work in Canada.  But, you don't tell 'em that, Daley. You got to
do it under the table.... Christ, maybe my old man is right. Maybe I am 
nothing but a fuck up.... "  Vance says and goes on mumbling more to 
himself than to Anne and I. 

Only once or twice in the three years that Vance and I had been best
friends had I ever seen him brought so low.  Anne, who had never seen 
him other than bursting with enthusiasm, squeezes my hand and asks with 
her eyes, “Why is he taking this so hard?"         I return her squeeze 
and shrug my shoulders. As our eyes meet, I realize that for us it 
doesn't matter. One place is as good as another as long as we're 

By the time we reach Sunburst, some five miles south of the border,
Vance's little fit of depression has lifted. "We got two choices. 
Either we find a place to sneak across. I mean, I'm sure there's got to 
be some dirt roads. They can't cover every one of 'em.... Or, we find 
jobs. We only got to earn a couple hundred bucks. Stay back here a week 
or two...." Vance says. 

We drive the length of the main street of Sunburst seeing several dozen
wooden shacks that are dwarfed by the hundreds of oil storage tanks 
that surround us. A couple of old timers are standing by a wooden 
building marked Post Office. "You won't find nothing here. But you 
might at the State Employment Office in Shelby. Ranchers hire out'a the 
employment office," one of the men answers our inquiry about work. 

It's just getting dark when we park in front of a coffee shop in
downtown Shelby. We sip the warm brew and decide to get a good night's 

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