by Roy Wilson

"Most of the trails on that mountain are kept up pretty good.  Hard to get lost on 'em."  The old man pushed his coffee cup across the counter for a refill as the waitress approached.

"Could be, but those kids are lost up there just the same."  The heavy man in the red flannel shirt rattled the Los Angeles Times as he spoke.  The paper had bounced on the pavement in a large bundle a few minutes ago.  It was part of the morning delivery for the little town of Bishop and the people in the restaurant had found their local news to be a front page item.  The three other men at the counter listened to the account as he read aloud.  They were regulars, members of a road crew, who came in for breakfast every morning.

Mary Lou, the waitress, said, "There's a lot of snow up there right now.  We couldn't get into our cabin last week."  She wiped the counter and set the coffee pot on it.  "Henry and me was up there to see what kind of damage that last storm did.  It dumped so much snow on the creek that we couldn't find the little bridge that goes back to our place."

"You want us to send the plow up there, Mary Lou?"

"No, Henry and me ain't gettin' up there again until next week.  We're going to Reno to see my sister."

The old man sipped his coffee and said, "Plow wouldn't do no good anyway.   There's another storm coming tonight I heard."

"Yeah," the heavy man replied, "Says so here in the paper.  "More bad weather expected on the eastern side of the Sierras."

One of the two other men, silent till now, said, "What about those kids lost up there?"  He spun on his stool and looked out the window at the gray, snow- laden mountains, pushing his hands in the pockets of his army fatigue jacket.  "It sure looks cold up there."

"Well, they shouldn't have been up there in the first place.  It's the wrong time of year."  Mary Lou continued, "Besides, they're always breaking into the cabins up there.  Henry says he's going to put steel traps under every window one of these times."

Dave, sitting at the corner, added his voice, "Well, hell.  I don't believe that's right.  How'd you like to be lost and cold and come across a cabin where somebody done that?  I saw enough of that in 'Nam years ago.  They used traps.  I don't think he ought to do that.  It ain't right."

"You'd think different if it was your cabin, David-Smart-Ass-Webster."  Mary Lou's voice had more heat than the coffee she was pouring in his cup at that moment.

Dave shook his head and started to reply, but momentarily let the conversation drop into a chilled vacuum.  Finally he said, "Maybe, but who's going to do somthin' about them kids?"

"Oh, somebody will do something," the old man replied.

The heavy man in the red shirt spoke again, "Yeah, don't worry, somebody will do something."

The coffee shop fell silent again and stayed that way after Mary Lou had the last word.  "Anyway, what does it matter?  wasn't those kids from down in L.A.?"

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