30 May 2014

On a Tuesday, for a Dirt Farmer

A long time ago, just after Terrence's mom told him to lay off the rot-gut, there was a loud noise in Haverland. Folks out that way talked about it for weeks afterward, and they all just called it “the loud noise.” No one was ever quite sure what it was, but there was Danner, the crazy old guy who used to sit around the post office and pick at the scabs on his knee, he said it was a sign of the end times. I wasn't sure what he meant, but he said it real low and spooky-like, so I took him seriously.

Maybe others did, too.

Anyhow, there was a man that some said was from the government. That man came out there to Haverland, and I mean to tell you, he got folks all riled up. They were worried, and rightly so. The last time we had a g-man come to visit Crawford County, it was on account of that Sweetwater kid getting killed out on the Rural Route outside of Blanchers. Nobody wanted to be reminded of that, and no one wanted to talk to the man with the bad hairpiece and breath like mothballs.

So when the loud noise was still in everyone's minds, this g-man showed up. This one didn't have a hairpiece, and his breath wasn't near so much like mothballs, but still no one wanted to talk to him. That was okay, seeing as how he mostly just drove around to the hog containment facilities and spent the rest of his time scribbling in a notebook.

On the day that he was out near Pole Creek, on some land owned by Sheriff Morgan, he got to taking pictures of that anhydrous shed – the one next to where the Staley family had their pea fields. Sheriff Morgan showed up in his cruiser, and the two men went inside for a long time. I know this on account of I know Jason Staley and he was working the fields that day and told me all about it.

Jason said there was some shouting and the government man came out of the shed, got into his car and pulled away, throwing a ton of gravel in the air. Sid Morgan came out later, looked around, scratched his crotch, and got into his car. Jason said he was on his phone for almost half an hour before he drove away. Jason went on in for supper after that.

Well, two weeks after the loud noise, that anhydrous shed went up in flames, and then, of course, that same week was the week that Yorkie Daniel's son Digger was found hanging from the hayloft in the Daniel's barn. No one was sure what had been eating Digger enough to make him want to take his own life in such a way, but who knows what people think? Some said that Digger had been shot in the back of the head as well as hung, and that sure is a strange way to off yourself. Sheriff Morgan called it suicide, though, so there you have it.

There you have it.

I walked to the post office in Haverland just yesterday, and there was Danner again, that old crazy guy, his eyes flittin' around.

“It's the end times,” he said again, some spit coming out of his mouth and hanging loose on his lower lip. “The end times, I tell you.”

I guess for some it might be, I thought to myself.

For some it might be.

09 May 2014

In the Succulent Summertime

I never really told you about Charles and Mindy, I am sure of that. You know the old saw about them opening a drive-in hardware store, and the hilarity that resulted. Anyone and his brother (or sister) could now just drive right down the street to “C&M's Hardware-a-Go-Go” and get a packet of washers or bolts or some damned thing. They really had damned things in the store, mind you – actual cursed or anathematized bits of hardware. My uncle Bert (the one with the yellow skin and five-pack-a-day habit) had once purchased some heretical drywall anchors there.


Anyhow, Charles and Mindy were both from the south side of Milwaukee (not entirely unlike myself and much of my kin), and they spoke with a definite accent. They hardened their “th”s and employed long vowel sounds where none was required. Sometimes they would say “oh ya den.” No one paid much attention to them in Milwaukee, of course, as everyone spoke that way there. It was not until they moved to Davenport, Iowa, that the trouble began.

Now, on a curious note, my own wife and I also live in Davenport, and we, like Charles and Mindy, moved here from Wisconsin. Not directly from Wisconsin, mind you, but you get the idea. Stick that in your personal vaporizer and inhale it. Davenport is known far and wide for being an inclusive community – we allow Germans, Burmese, and Belgians to coexist peacefully and all have an equal shot at happiness and at winning the Iowa lottery. Check me on that, if you like – it's true. The one thing that Davenporters will not allow is the illicit carrying of non-clear glass recyclables across state lines into the Scott County recycling facility (I made this up, actually, in vain hope of it having something to do with the story).

Badda bing. Case closed. On a bright June day Charles and Mindy were nailed on charges of aiding and abetting a resident of Illinois in his attempt to flee the oppressive Rock Island County recycling laws. Illinois State Police as well as the Scott County Sheriff conducted a raid on “C&M's Hardware-a-Go-Go” and exposed Charles and Mindy's little game.

“Aha,” said the burly Illinois trooper, “we have exposed your little game.”

Charles and Mindy were given a one year suspension of their Scott County passports, and for the next twelve months commuted from a rented apartment in Muscatine.

When the suspension was finally ended, the two of them drove back to their home in the East Village. A tear came to Charles' eye. His left eye. It was due to the wind, as he was driving. Please do not think that he was getting sentimental or anything.

Thank you.

“Sometimes,” said Charles over the sound of jackhammers tearing up River Drive, “having your little game exposed is the best thing that can happen.”

“Keep your eye on road,” said Mindy, “you nearly hit that street mime.”

A lot can change in twelve months, they realized.