“Ding dong the story’s done!” After months of hard work, my story was happily on its way to the publishers, and I could finally get back to my neglected garden.
“There you are dear babies,” I cooed at my irises. “Mama is sorry she’s neglected you so long.” In no time, I looked like Edward Scissorhands. Weeds were flying, clippers blazed, and glorious dirt flew everywhere. I was so caught up in my revelry, I almost didn’t hear him.
“Get in the car”, he said.
I looked up to see where the voice had come from. In a car, not two feet from my mailbox, sat a man. His fingers erratically tapped the side of a faded blue Aries.
“You know, I don’t think I will. I just got started in my garden, so if you don’t mi—“
“Listen, lady, this isn’t a request. Get in the car”.
I knew it was pointless to argue, so I put down my trowel and gloves, and I reached in my back pocket to make sure I had my notebook and pen. Just when I thought, I’d get a little work done. C’est la vie de la plume.
He blasted the horn.
“All right, all right, I’m getting in. You don’t have to be so mean about it”.
He rolled his eyes and waited, just barely, for me to climb in. He twisted the ignition key and off we went.
“So, do you have a name?” I asked.
He spit out his open window and said, “Cade”.
Clearly, even speaking was an annoyance.
I decided to keep to myself and look out the window. We were quickly into unfamiliar territory. Here the grass grew tall enough it had fringes on top, houses had that same empty look in their eyes as their owners, and most cars had gotten so tired of waiting to drive they were disintegrating. That’s good; I need to write that down.
“So, Cade, do you have anything special in mind? A particular hang out, a friend you’d like me to meet, a favorite church perhaps?”
Only silence from the man with a pale halo hovering in the spikes of his brown hair. He hadn’t shaved. Dotted patches covered his clammy pale skin. It looked like he’d grown tired of trying to draw it on and quit.
Soon the cheerless shanties gave way to lush, overgrown weeds. I’d never been down this road before and couldn’t even tell what direction we were headed. Someone had tucked the sun into a thick wad of grey cotton. Even the skies lacked joy. Is that too cliché? Don’t think about it, just keep going.
“I don’t mean to bother you, but I was wondering if you’d give me a hint as to where we’re headed?”
“You don’t stop do you? Just shut up already! Geez”. He slammed his hand against the radio dial and heavy metal began to grate against my eardrum. Grate? Maybe bang or bash or battered.
Along the way, the woods had given way to the soft curves of corn and soy. We parked at an old farmstead.
“We’re here. Get out”.
“Such a gentleman,” I muttered.
“What?” he barked.
“Nothing.” Next to the yellow farmhouse in the distance, an old barn stood solely on faith. “Where are we?”
“Just follow me”.
He led me to the back of the old farmhouse. It didn’t look like anyone had lived there for decades. I felt a twinge of sympathy for the old place. I’m sorry no one has taken care of you, poor house. Like my house is any better.
“Here”. He pointed to the corner of the dirt driveway.
Annoyance shot at me in steely darts through his narrowed blue eyes. “It’s where my dad shot my mom. She was just trying to protect me”. His voice pinched at the end.
“What?” my heart fell open. “I’m so sorry.” He stood there, hands jammed in pockets and kicking at a tuft of grass with his shoe. This is the story isn’t it?
I walked over and folded this boy, loosely veiled as a man, into my arms. I felt his chest harden and soften with the pulse of his tears.
Yes, it was clear; my garden was on its own for a while.
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