by Sara Grissom
Archive: Please ask first I might say yes.
Disclaimer: They're not mine.
Summary: Mayhem on the open road. Sequel to Camping Trip.
Chapter 7 - DAY THREE--MIDDLE OF NOWHERE?
Exercising their valued investigative skills, they searched high and low for any evidence of the town's name.
But their search proved relatively fruitless, for the only piece of information they turned up was a single telephone number listed on the deli receipt from Nick's egg roll, Grissom's milkshake, and Catherine's diet Coke.
"There's not even an address," Catherine complained tiredly. "Just their phone number, and what they charged us."
"There's gotta be something seriously wrong with this town," Warrick stated uneasily. "It's just not normal."
"A lot of towns aren't 'normal', Warrick," Grissom rebutted. "That doesn't necessarily mean there's something wrong with them."
"Why don't we just go back in the deli and ask someone where we are?" Nick suggested logically.
"Yeah, let's go," Sara agreed. Remembering the odd response she had received from that one old man on the sidewalk, she lightly poked Warrick in the arm. "It's your turn."
Warrick shrugged and stepped up to the deli counter. "Excuse me, ma'am? Could you please tell us what town we're in?"
"Well, if you go stand by that tree in the Town Square, you'll be exactly in the middle of Nowhere," Tera the deli lady answered knowingly.
"We're in the middle of nowhere?" Sara echoed in disbelief. "Oh, come on... we've got to be somewhere!"
"No... this used to be Somewhere, but now it's Nowhere," Tera informed them. "In fact, it's been Nowhere for the past six years or so... ever since Mayor Nameless resigned and Dr. Patient appointed himself Mayor instead."
"There's a doctor in this town?" Catherine piped up with interest. "How old is he? Is he single?"
Warrick frowned at her.
"Oh, I'd say he's about thirty or so... and he's definitely single," Tera replied. She lowered her voice and half-whispered, "He's a bit loopy, though, if you know what I mean."
"Heh... how can he not be loopy, living in this town?" Warrick muttered.
"Well at least we're not Anywhere!" Tera retorted, highly offended by Warrick's remark. "That place isn't even worthy of being called a town!"
"Wait--are you saying there's a town nearby called 'Anywhere'?" Grissom inquired curiously.
"Yeah, it's a few miles that way," Tera answered with a dismissive wave of her hand. "I swear, you can smell that place half a mile away."
"And that would put us... where?" Catherine prodded impatiently.
Tera scoffed and rolled her eyes. "I just told you that you're in the middle of Nowhere."
Catherine's forehead wrinkled in thought as she looked at the deli lady. "You mean this town is actually named 'Nowhere'?"
"Duh!" Tera huffed, annoyed at their ignorance. "I thought I made that clear. You're in Nowhere, Idaho."
"Idaho," Sara repeated, wrapping an arm around Grissom's waist. "Well, at least we know what state we're in now."
"Yeah, besides the state of confusion," Grissom replied with a smile, pulling Sara comfortably against his side.
Mindful of the rapidly approaching evening, Catherine posed another question. "So are there any hotels in Nowhere, Idaho?"
Tera shook her head. "No hotels. Just a campground."
Catherine grimaced. She had been hoping to avoid camping on the ground again. Not only did the ground always feel like very lumpy concrete--but this time they didn't even have sleeping bags with them.
"And where would we find this campground?" Nick questioned.
"Just go down the main road there and turn left, then turn right where the road forks, then turn left one more time," Tera instructed. "It's owned by Farmer Bob."
"Is there a gas station in this town?" Sara asked. "Cath's car is probably running on fumes by now. We haven't stopped for fuel since we first started out."
Tera nodded again. "Yeah, Farmer Bob has a gas station. It's the only one in Nowhere."
'Farmer Bob' turned out to be a middle-aged redheaded woman named Bobbie who wore a gypsy skirt and blouse, and knee-high Indian moccasins.
Her 'campground' consisted of a green field dotted with rather large canvas teepees with doorway flaps that tied together in the middle.
Bobbie herself was quite unfriendly to the group, spoke in halting English, and insisted that only one of the six assembled teepees was available for the night.
"Looks to me like they're all empty," Warrick contradicted as they stood at the entrance to the field.
Bobbie gave him a piercing stare. "Six empty... but one open." Pointing at the five travelers, she demanded forcefully, "You share."
"Why do all five of us have to share one?" Catherine questioned, failing to see any logic in it. "For the price you charge, we should get two."
The odd teepee owner glared at Catherine, her nostrils flaring at the indignation of being questioned by strangers. "My ground--myrule!" she snapped angrily.
The CSIs took two hurried steps backward.
Wide-eyed in shock and mild fear, Catherine sputtered, "Fine--we'll share!"
Her anger quickly subsiding, Bobbie nodded once and stalked past them, gesturing for them to follow.
"Yours!" she declared firmly, pointing at a corner teepee near a lopsided wooden outhouse.
Sara shrugged in acceptance of the situation. "At least we're close to a bathroom."
"Yes, bathroom," Bobbie agreed. "If door get stuck, push hard." And with that, she marched back through the green field and disappeared inside her low-ceilinged 'office'.
Grissom stepped into their temporary abode, raising an eyebrow at the items arranged on the floor. "Four blankets and four pillows... for five people."
Sara came to stand beside him, also raising an eyebrow. "Well, there's no way I'm asking 'Farmer Bob' for an extra blanket and pillow. She's liable to explode if someone asks her for anything."
Grissom nodded in concurrence. "You can share with me."
Nick, Catherine, and Warrick also filed in, each of them stopping to observe their new surroundings.
"There are mints on the pillows," Catherine stated with some amusement.
"Okay, this town is seriously starting to freak me out," Warrick informed his companions, picking up one of the mints and examining its exterior.
"I wouldn't eat those if I were you, man," Nick warned him.
Sara also picked up a mint and tapped her fingernail against its surface. "You couldn't eat them even if you wanted to--I think they're petrified."
"Ugh." Warrick scooped up the other mints and moved to toss them outside. Upon opening the doorway flap, however, he got sidetracked when he realized how far away their vehicle was from their teepee. "Aww, man. All our stuff is on the other side of the field."
"So walk to the car and park it over here," Catherine answered sensibly, handing him the ring of keys.
"Yes, master," Warrick intoned with mock stoicism, obediently stepping into the grass.
Sara and Catherine took turns getting changed into their pajamas in the crooked outhouse while the guys took turns using the teepee as a dressing room.
Clad in her sleeping attire, Catherine waited outside the door as Sara now occupied the small building. When the guys joined her by the door, Catherine knocked lightly on the splintering wood. "Sara, there's a line forming out here. You wanna hurry it up?"
"I'd love to," Sara answered from inside. "But the door seems to be stuck and I can't get out."
"Kick it," Nick suggested.
"With flimsy sandals on my feet? I don't think so!"
Grissom stepped forward and grabbed the door handle. "You push it, and I'll pull," he instructed to the outhouse captive.
Sara pushed with all her might, and Grissom pulled as hard as he could.
The wooden door snapped off its warped hinges and tumbled to the ground as Sara careened through the doorway and crashed into Grissom.
Nick gaped at the door lying in the grass. "You broke the bathroom."
"That was not our fault," Grissom defended himself and Sara. They helped each other stand up, then Grissom bent down again and lifted an edge of the door. "We can prop it against the doorway for now, and offer to pay for the damages tomorrow."
Warrick and Nick pitched in to help Grissom, and once they got the door adequately placed, they too were able to take turns finding some much-needed bladder relief.
The women left them there in the shadows of dwindling sunlight and ambled sleepily back to the teepee.
Catherine entered the triangular structure, immediately spying a little green creature curled up on the pillow she'd claimed for herself.
She rolled her eyes. "Honestly, Sara... a rubber snake? Sorry to disappoint you, but it's gonna take a lot more than that to scare me on this trip." She stepped forward to remove the snake, but Sara's hand on her arm held her back.
"Cath... I didn't put that there," Sara denied with a shake of her head.
"Yeah, sure," Catherine scoffed disbelievingly. "Just like you didn't throw that fake spider at me on our last camping trip?"
"When would I have had the opportunity to sneak in here and put a rubber snake on your pillow?" Sara argued. "The only time I wasn't with everyone else is when I was stuck in that rotten outhouse."
Catherine reluctantly conceded that Sara was being truthful. "You think the guys might have left it? I know Nick likes to do pranks the same as you do."
Sara shook her head, peering down at the presumably fake snake. "I dunno... it looks awfully real..."
Catherine also casually studied the green creature, wondering if she could possibly dust it for fingerprints to see who really left it there.
Two pairs of eyes widened as the 'rubber' snake suddenly lifted its small head.
"Gah!" Catherine jumped behind Sara. "It is real! Kill it! Kill it!"
"Kill it? It's just a little garter snake... it's harmless!"
"I don't care!" Catherine hollered. "It's a snake--kill it!"
Now Sara rolled her eyes. "How come you don't act like this when you see a mouse?"
"Because mice don't have big fangs!"
Sara snickered at her colleague's uncharacteristic panicking. She grabbed a nearby pillow and stripped off the cover to use as a snake-catching bag. "I'm not killing it. But since our little green friend doesn't seem inclined to move any time soon... I guess I'm going to have to catch it."
"You go right ahead," Catherine encouraged wholeheartedly, backing out of the teepee and plowing directly into Warrick.
"Whoa, what's the rush? Where's the fire?" he asked, gripping her arms lightly.
"It's not a fire--it's a snake and Sara's in there catching it," Catherine responded.
Grissom gaped at her in disgust. "You left Sara to catch a snake by herself? What if it's poisonous?" he demanded, fearing the safety of his beloved Sara.
"It's not poisonous," Sara answered calmly, emerging from the teepee entrance with a slightly lumpy pillowcase in her hand. "It's just an innocent little garter snake looking for some company."
Catherine wrinkled her nose. "Well it can look elsewhere."
Sara ignored her and moved toward a cluster of trees to release the captive garter snake.
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