Monday, July 18, 2005


Being as he was a gentleman farmer, one of the breed of men who traded stocks and bonds during the days of the working man's week and operating in that capacity as just so much grease and gristle thereby giving smooth passage and indefinite longevity to the cogs of industry and finance of the cities of this no longer new country, he also found himself, two days of the week, moving boulders and laying fence and cursing at the storm clouds that seemed always to pass over his land like a begrudged spectre punishing his dilettanteism with drought, in his effort to resist the slide into comfort afforded by his other profession, where he daily dealt with a seemingly endless parade of pusillanimous pretty-men; men more comfortable in the city's day spas and hair salons than in the hot sun of the country where the clarity of hard work was its own reward and where a man of his making could find, for some brief time, respite from the confusions of a life of spoils. His father had taught him to be hard on himself and when he grew older he discovered independently that the ethos was sound. Giving at the most even one inch often gave way to a further opening of the spigot of self doubt and from there sprang little else but what the hippies might have referred to, in their time, as an enlargening of the spiritual mind or what the now all too common, in his line of work at least, overeducated liberals of the urban upper classes would claim to be a greater understanding of one's self, things which he had never had much need of - possessing as he was, thankfully, a fair enough understanding of himself already.

And so it was in the harvest month of September, after driving the two hours to his stead after another listless week of talking and selling and buying and lunches and daydreams that he pulled into his long and winding drive, lit at this late hour only by the bioluminescence of the scattered fireflies that sparkled happily like stars in the reflection of a restless lake at night, their intermittent effulgence, he couldn't help but think, less now a fascination than an easy trope for the summer months in this part of America and, in turn, certain patterns of table cloths and over-sweetened lemonade and of that patriotism lost but which he had known and felt when he was younger; when America felt a collective gratitude among her citizens and a feeling of boundless hope, a teeming land of imbecilic Pollyannas and National Parks.

But then as his truck crawled ever nearer his house he noticed with rising alarm that something was amiss and so he parked to the side of the free-standing garage and killed the engine and listened with an uncommon intensity to the sounds of the Kentucky night around him, willing his ears to surpass their natural ability and focus in the direction of the front door, or rather what used to be his front door, being as it were in the possession of a two foot round splintered hole, from which spilled a turquoise haze of flourescent light. "I'll be jiggered," he whispered from his dry and leathery lips and reaching behind him and feeling with his hand for the blanket which covered at all times his Remington 870 pump action shotgun, the cold steel then soon enough in his hand and the blanket sliding like a Sunday shawl into the shadows of the space behind his seat.

Pressing his shoulder against the truck's door so as to muffle the sound as it opened, the man slithered out from his seat like a coyote shuffling down a hillslope, all the while holding the shotgun in his other hand and thinking to himself, "somebody came looking for trouble and found it." Pausing for a second outside the truck's door he pricked his ears again and thought he heard the word "Maybelle" though on second thought it may have been "Hey, Bill" but in his typical honesty he would've told you that he just could not be sure. With his eyes still trained on the hole in his former front door (now that he was no longer looking through his truck's grimy windshield he could see a faint black rim of still-smoldering ash), he slowly closed the truck's door and in so doing accidentally entrapped the end of his tie in the latch, which, it must be said, was not altogether an unfortunate mistake, as it wrapped the sound of metal clicking to metal in the gauzy non-sound of a wind that may or may not rustle dead tall grass.

Pulled close, the man found himself in something of a predicament, as he did not wish to again open the door to his truck. With resolute care he moved his free arm to the bulging knot of silk at his neck and began loosening it while in his other hand he held the Remington shotgun, lofting it high above his head so as not to invite the possibility of the firearm scraping against the outer panel of the truck. Sweating now from the southern summer's relentless humid heat, the man's fingers slipped on the knot and slipped again until finally he found an acceptable purchase and with his grubby nails dug into the fibers and slowly eased the necktie's tension. By this time the man's shoulder, the one connected to the arm holding the shotgun, had begun to grow tired and the gun, still held aloft, though now at a less rigid angle, wavered and swayed so that the man, from a distance, looked like some crustacean bobbing on a beach, displaying to his foe a superior fitness and signaling an intent to destroy.

More to come later...when I once again have no work to do...

1 comment:

T.S. Farmhand said...

I'm getting scary flashbacks of James Fennimore Cooper . . .

We will profit by this pause in the discourse to give the reader some idea of the appearance of the men, each of whom is destined to enact no insignificant part in our legend. It would not have been easy to find a more noble specimen of vigorous manhood than was offered in the person of him who called himself Hurry Harry. His real name was Henry March; but the frontiermen having caught the practice of giving sobriquets from the Indians, the appellation of Hurry was far oftener applied to him than his proper designation, and not unfrequently he was termed Hurry Skurry, a nickname he had obtained from a dashing, reckless, off-hand manner, and a physical restlessness that kept him so constantly on the move, as to cause him to be known along the whole line of scattered habitations that lay between the province and the Canadas. The stature of Hurry Harry exceeded six feet four, and being unusually well proportioned, his strength fully realized the idea created by his gigantic frame. The face did no discredit to the rest of the man, for it was both good-humored and handsome. His air was free, and though his manner necessarily partook of the rudeness of a border life, the grandeur that pervaded so noble a physique prevented it from becoming altogether vulgar.