9 7 7 4

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9 7 7 4

Post by Garmar on Mon Mar 09, 2009 8:49 pm

Drops of rain were banging on the tin roof. The storm was coming to an end. Smells of wet earth and new spring foliage went unnoticed as he stared at the body.

Two days before, he was on the campus of SMSU—getting ready for the two hour trip to visit his father--packing his duffle bag when a knock came at the open door.

“We need to talk before you leave.”

“About what?” Ian looked over his shoulder at Jennifer. His girlfriend was standing there with her arms crossed, and rubbing her elbows with pain and concern her eyes.

“You know what.”

“Oh, that.” He muttered, and resumed packing.

“Ignoring it won't make it go away, Ian. What would your mom think?”

“Don't mention her again...ever.”

Jennifer began to rock from one leg to the other and a tear ran down her face. Brushing it aside roughly, she said, “Well, someone needs to! She worked so hard for you to get into college. She would roll over in her grave if she knew you were just letting it all go to hell.”

Ian stuffed the last of his clothes and his cell phone in his bag and turned to Jennifer. “I'm sorry, Jen, but I just can't have this conversation with you now.”

“Are you going to talk with your dad at least?”

“I'm only going there to help with the garden and try to get some peace and quiet.”

“Will you call me?”

“I love you, Jen.” He said as he threw the duffel bag over his shoulder. He walked over and gave her a brief, one-armed hug, then walked out.

She followed him a few feet down the loud hallway, but stopped. Excited students flowed all around her as she watched her best friend disappear down the stairs.

* * *

Wind ruffled Ian's brown hair. His forehead was pressed against the lower section of the window. Smells of wet pavement and the sounds of tires splashing down highway 60 filled the cabin with the distinct sensations of a new spring. A time of renewal and growth. Two months earlier, his mom had died on this same stretch of interstate during an ice storm.

Miles rolled on, and soon, the city limit sign of Cabool, Mo. passed by. Ian sat up and pulled his bag closer. As the big, gray bus pulled into the station—if you could call it that—he saw dad's blue Chevy truck parked in front of the supermarket next door. The doors squealed open. Ian, and the other two passengers getting off there, stepped out into the humid air.

Ian raised his hand as he walked across the wet pavement. The old truck fired up with a bellow of blue smoke. Rattling of loose valves greeted Ian and a warm rush of familiarity filled him. Mud dropped off of the door as he slammed it shut. “Thanks, dad.”

The old man nodded and pulled out into traffic, heading north. They were silent the entire fifteen minutes until they were bumping up the drive leading up to the old farmhouse. “Need to get some rock hauled out here, dad.” His father nodded again as he steered the complaining truck around the circle drive. Chugging sounds emitted from the engine after it was shut off, followed by a loud bang. “And this thing needs tuning.” Ian muttered.

“Beans are done. Just need het up. We're gonna have some fried tators and cornbread. You work on the spuds?”

“Sure, dad.” He said, and went around back to the cellar.

* * *


“Beans are good, dad.” Ian sopped up the last bits with a piece of cornbread. “Can't get food like this at school.”

“I suspect not, son.” John had finished already, with much of his dinner still untouched. “You keepin' up with your schoolin'?”

Ian paused with his last bite halfway to his mouth. That, and quick glance up at his father was all the answer the old man needed.

“You better let her go, son.”

Ian colored. “Is the tiller running?”

John smiled. “She's a runnin' just fine. It's a bit wet to plow anyway.”

“Better have me do it while I'm here.”

“We'll see. Your room is cleaned up. Washed the blankets. I'm gonna turn in now, I think.”

“Okay. 'Night, dad.

* * *

Bright sunshine woke Ian up. Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, he smiled at the familiar sounds of birds singing outside of the window. The growl of the mower starting up got him out of bed, muttering curses under his breath about 'early riser' while trying to slip on his clothes and sneakers.

Outside, the glorious day put his temper at ease. Smells of fresh-cut clover drifted on the breeze and he inhaled deeply. Dad always planted a cover crop at the end of the season, then cut and tilled it into the garden come spring.

Ian saw that there wasn't much he could do, so he went back in to get something to eat. He grabbed a piece of leftover cornbread, and a few slices of bacon left out on the table from breakfast, to make a sandwich, then some orange juice. That was all he needed. Ian loved this place. Why he was in that damned stinking city when he could be here with dad working the land crossed his mind again.

With a spring in his step, ready to work, he walked back outside. Dad was almost done mowing. The spot was even smaller than last year. John shut the machine off just as Ian got there.

“Kinda small this year.”

“No need with just you and me eatin'. And you gone most of the time.”

“Yeah, well...that might just change soon.”

John arched an eyebrow at his son. “Is that so?”

Ian looked down at the clod of dirt he was rolling around with his shoe, then said, “I hate being there, dad. I want to just come back home.”

John stared off across into the woods bordering the property and said nothing.

“So, is it dry enough to plow?” Ian asked, as he bent down. Poking his finger into the ground was answer enough, but he mostly just wanted to change the subject.

“Maybe we'll just let 'er dry out a bit and turn 'er up with the tines tomorrow. That should be fine. I can till next week when you go back to school.”

“I'll go make some tea.”

John nodded, then started pushing the mower back to the shed.

Continued...


Last edited by Garmar on Sun May 24, 2009 2:09 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: 9 7 7 4

Post by Garmar on Mon Mar 09, 2009 8:50 pm

“This is a fine bit of work, son.” John said, patting the huge cedar table picnic table in front of them. “I bet you could sell one of these. Shetlers lets them Amish put their cedar tables, and such, out front.”

“Maybe.” Ian said. He was casting furtive glances over the rim of his glass at his father. What was dad playing at? Does he want me to stay home? “I really enjoyed building this.”

“A man should do what he loves.”

Ian's heart was pounding in his throat. “I'm not going back to school.”

John continued to trace the grain in the red cedar plank. “What about your girl?”

“What about her? She's a city girl, dad. She won't live out here.”

“Springfield ain't what I'd call 'The Big City', son.”

“It is to me. Too damn big.”

“You know, it was always your mom's thing...you goin' to college. I guess you got a bit too much of me in ya.”

They sat in silence as the air turned chill and the sun made its slow way to the horizon.

* * *

Ian woke up first the next morning. Sleep had been full, and uninterrupted, for the first in a long time. He had eggs, bacon, and biscuits cooking on the stove when his father stepped into the kitchen.

“You're up bright and early.” John said, picking up the fresh-brewed coffee.

“Have a lot to do today. Gonna talk to Mr Pierson about stretching some fence for him. He may have some other stuff for me too.”

“He does have a hard time finding good hands. You better call that girl of yours too.”

Ian didn't meet his father's eyes. “I'll talk to her when I go back next week. I have some other things I have to settle while I'm there. Can't do it over the phone.”

“I suspect not, son.”

* * *

Things had gone well. Ian was bouncing the old truck down the driveway much faster than he should. Mr Pierson had forty acres he needed fenced and was grateful to have Ian do the work. The day had turned an unnatural gray and the air crackled with intensity. Off in the distance, heat lightning raced across the steel-colored sky. Rain was coming.

Ian stopped in front of the house and ran in. Just as he called out to his dad, a crack of thunder shook the floor. Windows rattled all over. Another flash of lightning, followed by crashing thunder, drowned out his second call. He was nowhere inside.

Ian went out on the porch and walked down to the far end. The barn doors were wide open. His hair was standing on end. Light rain began to patter on the roof as he ran out to the barn. Inside, after his eyes adjusted to the gloom, he saw why his dad hadn't answered his calls, or came out when he drove up. John lay on the floor. “Dad!” Ian cried, then ran over—skidding in the hay on the dirt floor.

Dried blood congealed in a pool around his head. More flaked off from John's ear and neck when Ian grasped his head. Eyes open, one pupil fully dilated and the other a tiny black point, and staring up blankly at the rusty tin roof above. His lips were blue. Ian shook him, then knelt down to put an ear against his father's chest. He wasn't breathing.

Ian rocked back and forth with tears tracking down his face while he held the still form of his father. Looking around, he saw the culprit. A silver wrench and a can of ether lay on the ground next to the front wheel. Ian had been trying to get him fix the damn thing for ages, but the old man insisted on limping the ancient tractor along until it finally broke. Bloody hair on the fender and a tipped over lime bucket told the rest of the story.

Ian picked his father's body up and trudged through the mud and up the steps of the gloomy farmhouse, and over to the couch, to lay him down. Drops of rain were clanging on the tin roof less frequently now. Smells of wet earth and new spring foliage wafting in through the open front door went unnoticed as he stared at the body.The storm was almost over. Ian reached into his pocket with a shaking hand and pulled out his phone.


Last edited by Garmar on Sun May 24, 2009 2:40 pm; edited 2 times in total

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Re: 9 7 7 4

Post by MC on Tue Mar 10, 2009 6:05 pm

This was a mean story to write. mad You get us all warm and cozy by drawing us into Ian's relief to be moving back home to the country--the delicious scenes of bacon and eggs, tasty home cooked meals, skilled wood working, and good times with dad. We're looking forward to it and happy, then boom, you killed his dad off in a really upsetting, disturbing manner.
Laughing I liked this story. It was well written. What did his dad die of? A mule kick to the head or an aneurysm?
Good job.
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Re: 9 7 7 4

Post by Garmar on Wed Mar 11, 2009 12:34 am

Hehehe! Twisted Evil

What did his dad die of? A mule kick to the head or an aneurysm?
You're not going to believe this, but I'm not sure - to be honest. I think he fell off his tractor and bumped his noggin.

This story is stuck in my head now. I'm going to fix the ending a bit here when I get a chance.

Great challenge, MC!

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