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Twenty minutes later Chuck, Rory and a red’n’rusty one-tonne farm truck, two hooch bottles and quarter tank of fuel, floor it as they fishtail furiously around the front gate; dust, hollers and Nagano mon amour redlit in the taillights.
“Do you think we’re ever gonna come back to this Mosquito-messed potato-possessed valley after we make it large?” Rory bellows at Chuck over the hammering engine…
Chuck can’t help thinking to himself: “Look, you’ve got it made. On the first team of Canadians to compete for Olympic medals on a snowboard. When you get home they’re gonna give you a sunny lot on Green Lake, a permanent lift pass and a free parking spot under the gondola barn. Shucks, they’ll rename that picnic area by Fitz Creek McDougall Park if you get a gold.”
Hands battle back to the steering wheel as no one else’s in control. “I’ve gotta lot to look forward too… dirt, diesel tractors and pretending I’m stoked our winter squash was certified organic.” Chuck looks down through the hole in the floorboards to the wildly rushing weeds and blackish-purple tar below. It’s all a blur.
“I’m really stoked about this Olympic thing, I don’t got much else right now man,” Rory leans over and yells into Chuck’s ear. “You’ve got the farm… you’re set. I’m older than most of the guys rollin’ the snowboard scene right now. I really think the Olympics will take me over the top. Freeride team all the way after I get back from the Games…”
“Pal, I’m with you. But don’t count on me farmin’… I’ve got a gold medal exit strategy that’s gonna look after me and you both,” Chuck smirks and pins the truck, rocks and straw spraying the old, red church on the corner. “Some hippies think they’re turnin’ that old ratbox church into a house! Rats don’t move out, ever. Christ!”
Smoke. Diesel. Dust. Disappear.
An hour later, Chuck and Rory are backcountry, deep into the Hurley River Road to Bralorne. Railroad Pass. Sultry succulent, the sweet scent of Donnelly Creek strokes the lads on the cheeks as they lean over, form fishlips and drink… deep and hard.
“Okay, you have the map. I’m not gonna make one. We’ll rip this one in two and each keep half, that way we’re partners forever. This is bigger than your wildest dreams man, we could make millions… play our cards right. We need to keep this buried, dirty package between us. You give the map to anyone else, I’m out and we both die. Understand?” Chuck rips and passes. One map. Two men. Solitary, silent secret.