I would have sworn that November had 31 days. Sorry for being a day late in posting a new story for this week. Attached is the first half of a short story that I hope you'll enjoy. And please forgive me for the lapse. I don't like to post things late.
Spring was a busy time on the farm, so I was looking at dawn to midnight days. I’d counted on hired help to do the land preparation while I took care of selecting my bean seed as well as tend the animals. I put out the word I was looking for reliable help but, since half the countryside was looking for the same thing, I didn’t hold out much hope. Until a slender, sandy-haired kid walked out to the field and flagged me down.
I climbed down off the tractor and mopped a film of dust from my face with a bandana. I was working two gangs of chisels behind a row of twenty-two disks, and the sun was climbing fast. I can’t disk when the dirt gets too hot, so my mood wasn’t the best, and it showed.
“What can I do for you, young fella? Spit it out! I’ve got a lot of chiseling left to do.”
The kid’s Adam’s apple bobbed a couple of times before any sound came out. When it did, it made me take a closer look. It was a man’s deep baritone.
“I heard in town you were looking for help.”
“Me and everybody else in the township, What’s your name?”
“Lonnie. Lonnie Hydrack.”
There are a few times in a man’s life when he lucks out. Lonnie Hydrack asking for a job was one of those times. The youngster was an unpolished gem well-grounded in the basics from working on his uncle’s farm. His true genius lay in working with animals. Even the meanest sows, trailing strings of piglets, followed him around the farrowing house like friendly puppy dogs. The boy knew how to strip and repair a gearbox better than most professional mechanics, but operating the equipment was something else. On his first try, he left so many rabbit tracks, I made him disk the field again. Missed spots, like weeds in a field, are signs of a poorly run farm.
But once shown something, Lonnie fixed it in his mind and rarely had to be told again. He never complained about the hours, the dirt, mucking out a barn, or even the crock pot sausage and sauerkraut that was our staple for lunch in the field. He just plugged his ears with the headphone from a Walkman radio, set it at a C&W station, and went to work. In short, he was simpatico, as they say in these parts.
Things changed the day he worked up a sweat and peeled off his sodden work shirt. He was a deceptive youth. He’d seemed thin and kind of small when I’d first looked down on him from the tractor seat, but stripped to the waist, he revealed a solid physique with powerful shoulders and arms, narrow hips and lean belly. The kid had an open, honest face saved from being pretty by a small Z-shaped scar on his cheek below the left eye. His smooth skin rippled with muscles that weren’t evident in his clothing.
Here stood the potential for disaster. Even destruction and ruin. This handsome, innocent-looking, eager-to-please young man was as much a danger to me as I was to him. My heart and my head counselled caution. But the overriding concern was that I needed help during the busy spring season. Plenty of time to let him go when the crop was in the ground and the calves had dropped, I told myself. All it required was steely self-discipline on my part for all to be well.
Many times over the next two months I was to silently curse that handsome youth for being such a pleasant, hard-working soul. He woke up slowly and tended to be non-communicative early in the morning, but other than that, he was a paragon. We worked hard all day, him at his chores and me at mine, once I grew to trust him. At night we cleaned up, ate, watched the news and weather on my satellite TV system, and turned in for a well-earned night’s sleep. That was the plan, anyway. But I tossed a turned half an hour every night thinking about him in the next room.
Let's take a break and finish this up next time. Does old Zip continue to suffer in silence, send the young man away, or do the two manage to get together? We’ll see.
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