The other day I went to the yellow pickup to see if Hans left anything in there. Sure enough, there was his Forestry Department issued clothing from when he worked last summer helping out for few days on the wildfire south of Nenana. It was all folded up neat as a pin and piled on top of the emergency crash bag he and his sister kept in the truck.
As first responders, the crash bag gear stayed in the truck at all times. And because it cold-started fairly reliably in sub-zero temperatures, the old yellow pickup truck was their vehicle of choice when responding to emergency calls. You do not want to cold-start your primary vehicle at those temperatures if you can avoid it.
The yellow shirt and the green pants from Forestry were folded very precisely with the red bandana on top still twisted like he had just taken it off. On top of that were his goggles and yellow hard hat. His heavy lace up boots were there, too.
The clothes were smudged with soot and the boots were caked with mud. He must have anticipated having to go back to the fire or he would not have left his boots with mud on them. Hans was very particular about his footwear.
But maybe it rained or something, or the fires burned themselves out and then he got busy and forgot about the clothes in the yellow pickup truck.
Four and a half months later, I sniff the yellow shirt and it still smells strongly like summer smoke. I want to bring it all into the house and throw it on the floor in a heap in his room where he dropped it when he came home tired.
And pretend he is still here.