“BOOOOORN TO BE WIIIILD…!” Three young voices shouted the lyrics as loud and unflatteringly as possible rattling the rolled down windows as the old truck flew down the desert highway. The nineteen year old driver plunged forward into the canyon’s nearly deserted road, drifting around a sharp corner spraying dust and gravel over the road’s shoulder and rocketing past the speed limit sign just beyond the turn. It was warm and dry for late November, lucky for them as it would make their mission easier to complete without the usual hindrance of snow.
“Slow down!” His father shouted and grabbed his arm from the passenger’s seat, but joined in the exhilarated laughter of the two blondes being thrown around on the tiny fold out back seats.
“What? We haven’t broken any laws….yet” the rebellious youth retorted but lifted his heavy foot by a fraction. Father, son, and one of the blondes sitting the back with crutches laying by her broken foot- the daughter- shared the famous Alloway “up-to-no-good” look and smirked at their newest member, the second blonde. She sat behind the driver, her boyfriend, and looked from his reflection in the rear-view, then to his father and finally to his sister, her friend, and chuckled awkwardly.
“Yet.” Mr. Galloway repeated and shook his head, grinning. A shovel, chain saw, and gloves waited in the otherwise empty covered truck bed as the truck raced them further away from small Utah towns and the prying eyes of nosy inhabitants.
“Start looking for a good spot!” Mr. Galloway barked a moment later. None too smoothly the old truck jolted from a gallop to a stroll, and then to a stop when one ridge covered with wild junipers was declared particularly “promising.”
“No. No. No, no, no. Too bare, too short, split trunk, and just…No.” The four bodies tread over mud and rock checking each tree. The youngest tree-checker wobbled on the uneven ground with her crutches. Her brother teased her and weaved easily between trees and taunted her to try and follow him. “No. No. No, too skinny, too ugly, too tall”… Mr. Galloway walked ahead, methodical in his pursuit of the perfect tree. The last of the troop, the son’s girlfriend wandered aimlessly among the wild bush and brush, offering no suggestions of her own, but readily confirming the taste of each member of the clan. “No. No… too uneven, too brown, eh maybe.” Nothing found yet. Everyone pilled back in the truck. One mile down the road, check again. “No. No. No way are you blind?! Waste of time. Nothing.” Tempers high, patience low, fight, argue, reluctantly agree, frustrated huffs, sore moods. The trainee said nothing and did nothing but stood to the side to await the end of the family discussion. Decision made; back track to the first spot.
“No, not THAT one but the OTHER one, the one next to the beer cans. No, it is not the same one. No it’s not. They are not the same.” Another fight, more arguing, more huffs. Consensus made. “Fine, this will do., it’s small but full. It’s good enough.”
Dash to the truck, gather the tools, check the road. “Is the coast clear? Good!” Father clears the roots with the shovel, son fires up the chain saw, daughter and girlfriend stand guard. “Hurry up!” Almost done, truck is clear and ready to go. Faster now, was that a car? The deed is done in two minutes flat. Load up the bounty, jump into the get-away car and flee from the scene of the crime. Adrenaline pounds through four bodies, wild laughter mixes with blaring rock music. One heart pumps slightly faster than the others’ as eyes bounce from person to person in shock at what they had just done.
“We will have to find a new spot. After sixteen years we’ve taken all the good ones.” Mr. Galloway had mused after the second location switch. The truck barreled back down the highway.
“Nothing” Mr. Galloway yelled over the music and roaring engine “says Christmas like a stolen tree.”