Monday, June 1, 2015

Chapter Eight


Third day was turning out to be the charm.  We got an amazing amount of work accomplished but just like always nothing stays absolutely smooth all the time and all the “family togetherness” was making certain people know-it-alls and some people prickly.  You can guess who the Prickly Puss was. 

I watched Cliff stomp around looking for limbs to break into kindling for the wood pile as long as I could stand it.  I looked at Aunt Rachel who was holding court with Cevin and Christine for an audience and picked up the bucket I had just sat down and headed out.  Reaching him I gave a deep sigh and said, “We need kindling not toothpicks.  K?” 

Cliff growled, “Con needs to shut up.” 

“Aw, he didn’t hurt my feelings but thanks for being on my side.” 

“Huh?” 

“Uh … weren’t you thinking that Connor was acting like a dork?” 

“Uh … yeah.  Yeah I was,” he said though I got the distinct impression he actually hadn’t been.  “So you thought he was being a dork?” 

“Hmph.  I know he’s your brother but you gotta admit for a brainiac he can be supremely stupid at times.” 

“Well,” he said judiciously.  “Dad says his smarts don’t leave much room for commonsense.” 

“You can say that again.  Even Christine said not to let him near any of the tools and just to have him work on putting the old farm records in order.  And you know she’s got like these thick, ginormous rose-colored glasses glued to her face 24/7.”  I flipped my pony-tail back off my shoulder and told him, “I think I’ve finished here if you’ll help me poor the milk through the strainer and take it over to the spring house so I can pour it into the separating pans.  Tomorrow is churning day.” 

“Er … and that means what?” 

I laughed.  “Fresh butter and cheese.  Now c’mon.  I want to check to make sure the coop is closed up good and padlocked righteously.  Mr. Wilhelm – and I can’t believe it was him of all people who finally thought to come out here and check on Aunt Rachel – anyway he said he heard that a bunch of people are getting their barns and sheds broken into.” 

“I heard him.  He said it was the migrants.” 

“He would.” 

“What’s that supposed to mean?” 

“It means that the migrants aren’t well-liked around here.  They drive from farm to farm by the truckload looking for work, undercutting local laborers, and last year about this time they were getting pretty aggressive about it.” 

He stopped me with a hand on my arm and said, “Define aggressive.” 

I shrugged.  “Similar to those homeless people that stand on the street corner with their buckets banging on the car windows and the spitting at or keying the cars that refuse to drop their windows and toss out some change.” 

Cliff got a disgusted look on his face before saying, “One of those **** heads kicked the tail light of Chris’ work truck and broke it.” 

We started walking again and then I unlocked the spring house.  As I carefully poured the raw milk into the separating pans Cliff inspected the interior. “So this is the way they used to do it in the old days.” 

“Around here they did.  I’m not really sure how they did it in places were there aren’t any springs.  Almost didn’t have this one to make things easier only I got curious when I moved out here and figured out how to fix it by listening to some of Aunt Rachel’s stories.  It gave me something to do.” 

He gave a rude snort.  “Isn’t curiosity the same excuse you gave when you and the nerdettes tried to improve the smoke pots they used during the half time shows?  They almost called the fire department.  If it had been anyone besides mousey Winn Baumann they would have called the cops and Homeland Security.” 

“Trust me they did call the cops and wanted to take it further … until they found out Richleau was in on it too.  His mom tore a strip off of all of us in front of God and everyone and I think even the cops started to feel sorry for us.  She never had much use for me – and this was right after those rumors started – but if I went down she figured the chances of her precious one going to Harvard would go down too.  So she put a fix in for us … but we still paid for it.” 

From left field Cliff asked, “Did you hear Richie’s older brother got killed in a drive by?” 

Shocked enough that I nearly dropped the bucket it took me a second to draw breath to ask, “Oh my gawd, which one?  Morris or Terrance?” 

“Don’t know … the oldest one.  Richie got weird after that.” 

“Morris was the oldest.  And if you want to know the truth Richie already qualified for weird.  He wasn’t always with us when he said he was.”  I glanced at Cliff in the dark and said, “You know his mom was making him date that girl.” 

“Relax Gypsy.  You don’t need to talk around it.  That was out of the closet back in middle school.  Why do you think he got beat up on so much back then?  I thought you would have known.” 

“Er … I guess I’ve got blind spots on that stuff.  I just figured it was because he was such a nerd.  So … change of subject.  I need to walk around and make sure the gates and stuff are locked.” 

“I’ll come with you.” 

“You don’t have to.” 

“Maybe.  Maybe not.  I still think it’s crazy for you to walk around out here in the dark by yourself.” 

“You said that last night.  I’m not helpless,” I said patting my belt to remind him of the revolver I carry.  “And I don’t jump at things like bullfrogs or owls swooping down for a meal.” 

“Ha ha.  Look, all I need to do is get used to things.” 

“You don’t need to get used to things.  You’re leaving in a couple of days.” 

“Yeah.  About that …”

4 comments:

  1. Thanks Kathy for more.
    Wayne

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  2. Had an owl the size of a pterodactyl swoop me in the woods one night. Scared me out of 10 years! OMG! LOL

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