Something to ponder on as you wander on

Some liars are born that way, some are self-made; but the really great ones are elected to Congress…

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Is this thing on? Hello, hello?...Yes I can see that the red light is on…ok…

     Hello sports fans, I’m back once again, you’ve had your chance to escape and now you’ll regret tuning in…Today’s story is an excellent example of the epic saga of heroes, villains and things that go bump in the night, that has taken a nasty left turn into the realm of really, really bad story telling…But what the hey, it’s almost free, all you have to do is waste some of your life clock by reading it. Sorry do refunds, or do overs…What? Oh right…The bald headed nerd in the glass booth says that it’s time for a commercial, so stay tuned and we’ll be right back with the first part of many parts of this incredibly realistic autobiographical saga of a time gone by…

     No animals were hurt or mangled during the production of this story, however two Canadian gnomes were squished by a speeding arctic glacier while intoxicated from imbibing in too much fermented pickle juice as they tried to milk a moose. In their intoxicated state (Manitoba) they failed to realize that the moose they were trying to milk was actually a bull moose, needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, they were knocked unconscious when the bull moose kicked them both in the head…The moose was not harmed in anyway except for a nasty rash it got that lasted for six weeks…The moose eventually recovered and moved to Frostbite Falls where it rented a small wooden bungalow that it had to share with a squirrel, they became great friends and saved the entire world 57 ½ times from a nefarious fiend named Fearless Leader…

     Now on with the show…I know that you’ll hate it, bcuz it’s loooooong…and it has no naked swamp swans in it……
               Journey Days of Henry McAlister…
                                                          CHAPTER ONE
                                                       Chapter one-part one

Fate never tires of testing one’s being against its wheel…

     To be rid of it was all his father wanted, and now they were both gone, one in a moment of explosive force and the other by an accident that should never have happened. The painted white crosses seemed to stand silently watching, as if the barren wind swept graveyard with its boundary lined by the wood and wire fence row was not enough to let everyone know what this place was. A place of ends, a place of beginnings. Henry stood beside his mother trying to comfort her as best he knew how, but he knew that he could do nothing to relive her sorrow, no words could he speak that would bring light into her world on this day, his was just to be there, to be there if needed, to do what every son does when tragedy spreads its dark shroud. Henry bent down and gathered a handful of soil, it slipped through his fingers and scattered dust in the breeze as he let it fall onto the wooden box below. He watched as the gravedigger began his somber task of returning the ground to its former shape, and the preacher gave one last prayer and then turned and walked back down towards the line of wagons. An end to his plans of leaving for the California frontier to search for the golden grains of rock that filled his dreams every night, his mother would need him more then ever now, a new life, a new beginning, as the man of the house. He could not leave now as so many of his friends had, they had left behind sisters and brothers that could share the burdens, but he had none.
     Henry stood near the wagon watching his father, Clayton, preparing the hole under the oak stump, ready for the placement of the dynamite that he would use to blast the stump from its rooted grip on the brown earth. The stump with its coiled and thick roots had resisted all of Clayton and Henry’s efforts to remove it by axe and shovel, and even applying the force of Ole Ned tied to a rope had done little to move it, and now Clayton had decided to be done with this chore and rid himself of what he considered a blight on his farm field by the use of dynamite which would vanquish his foe and all that would be left would be to clean up the remains and level the ground once more for the seed. Henry could remember sitting under that giant oak tree when he was a boy, or perhaps it was not a memory but rather parts of a dream than was now obscured by the haze of time, on a forgotten Sunday afternoon with his mother, sitting under its shady branches on a warmer fall afternoon after the harvest had been completed, his father would allow it sometimes, but only on a Sunday and only after all the needed daily chores had been done around the farm, the feeding of the animals, the filling of water cans and if needed the stocking of firewood for the kitchen stove. Clayton believed that on Sunday that man was meant to rest, as it was spoken of in the Good Book, but not all day, for there was too much work to be done, and idle hands only led to mischief and laziness.
     They had worked for two days on that old oak tree, with axe and saw, and now only the stump was left to be removed so as to make it easier to plow the ground. It had stood for as long as Henry could remember in its spot, but age and storms had finally finished it, his father disliked it anyway, he always complained that he had to make way for it and that it sucked too much of the moisture from the soil so that the crops wouldn’t grow near it, ‘a waste of good seed and money’, he would always say after planting that season’s crop, whether it was corn or wheat, depending on what his father thought would bring the best price in the fall.
     The late afternoon was spent clearing the limbs and branches away, dragging them towards the house just over the rise, stockpiled and ready for the axe to be made into firewood for the coming winter or fuel for the cook stove, Henry knew that it would be his job to cut the limbs to size and quarter them, then stack them in their rightful place, then again he would have to move them where they were needed, either beside the kitchen stove or nestled against the stone wall of the fireplace.
     He had grow cold to the ceaseless calls of the chores that had to be done, even now many of his friends near his own age of 16 that he had grown up with from farms around the area had already left, after hearing about the easy riches to be made panning for gold along the river banks near towns who’s names he had memorized out of the penny priced paper books he liked to read before he fell asleep. This was not the life he wanted, Henry wanted more than working the ground and battling the elements just to see everything repeat itself year after year, as soon as he was older, in a couple of more years he had plans to leave this place and head to California and strike it rich in the gold fields that he always read about in the papers at the feed store. But now he could only watch and wait.
      Clayton finished preparing the hole under the oak stump, ready for the placement of the dynamite that he would use to blast the stump from its rooted grip on the brown earth. The stump with its coiled and thick roots had resisted all of Clayton and Henry’s efforts to remove it by axe and shovel, and even applying the force of Ole Ned tied to a rope had done little to move it, and now Clayton had decided to be done with this chore and rid himself of what he considered a blight on his farm field by the use of dynamite which would vanquish his foe and all that would be left would be to clean up the remains and level the ground once more for the seed. Clayton carefully opened the small wooden box which contained the dynamite, taking only one stick from the box of six, then cut the stick in half in slow easy strokes so as not to disrupt the nitroglycerin packed within the clay wrapping. Half a stick is what he reasoned would do the job, anymore and it would be a waste and the explosion would merely scatter fragmented remains hundreds of feet into the field now covered in stubble and make it harder to gather the shards of the oaken stump. Slowly he wrapped the remaining half in an old oil stained rag and wrapped it with fuse wire, then inserted a blasting cap into the end and placed it carefully into the hollow space he had created.
     “Boy, come here,” he called out.
     His father never called Henry ‘Henry’ but always Boy, it was just his way. He was not much for showing familiarity even to his own son. Clayton was a proud man raised on the hard work of the land and it was much easier to act as if all was business and emotions or feelings only added to the clutter on his daily life. Of Henry, he was very proud of what he had become and felt that he had grown into a fine young man, almost ready to strike out on his own, but there was still much that Clayton felt Henry had to learn and that life was not an easy journey, it was something that had to be plowed, reaped and hammered until it became the form it needed for one to survive. Life was no easy matter, not something to be taken lightly, life was to Clayton, a living breathing beast that had to be tamed, and Henry, so his father thought, had yet to learn that lesson.
     “Boy you had better move Ole Ned a little farther to the west, we don’t want him spooked by the explosion, or we’ll be chasing him all day,” commanded Clayton.
     Clayton packed dirt around the dynamite and climbed out of the stump hole, unwinding the fuse line from its roll as he backed up towards where Henry and Ole Ned waited. Clayton and Henry gathered behind the wagon, kneeling on the ground as Clayton cut the fuse cord to its final length and prepared the light it.
     “Did you set the hand brake?”
     “Yes sir,” Henry replied.
     “Well get ready and cover your ears, things are going to get a mite loud,” Clayton commented as he leaned his back against the wagon wheel and lit the fuse.
     The fuse hissed and flashed as the spark snaked its way along the fuse. Henry resisted the urge to look over the wagon to see its journey towards the stump. The explosion was much louder then Henry had expected, it seemed like a thunder bolt had suddenly exploded overhead. The dynamite ripped through the old oaken stump tossing dirt and dust everywhere, pieces of rock and shredded wood landed all around the wagon. A shard of splintered oak struck Ole Ned in the hindquarters and he reared-up, his front legs kicking into the air jolting the hand brake loose, Ole Ned flailed at the air, his eyes black with fright and landed with a forceful thud, struggling against the wagon that kept him from fleeing, pulling the wagon forward. Clayton fell backwards and lay sprawled under the wagon, Ole Ned fought against the weight of the wagon jerking the wagon forward. It stopped only momentarily as it rolled onto the neck of Clayton, then rolled back, Ole Ned determined in his fight against the wagon, his hooves digging against the plowed ground, forced the wagon forward against and over Clayton’s body. Ole Ned galloped ahead, the wagon bounding after him. Henry rushed to his father, and knelt over his father stunned at what had just happened, Clayton’s neck was crushed and he groaned ‘Henry’. An erratic gurgling sound came from his father, then a frightened Henry raced back to his house to get his mother, maybe she would know what to do.
     Henry walked silently beside his mother down the time worn path, his arm around her waist to comfort her as they walked away from his father’s resting place. Silence filled the wagon as they journeyed back home, his mother had placed an old blanket over her lap to protect the black dress she had to borrow from their neighbor Mrs. Runyan, from the dust stirred up as they went along the road. He didn’t much bother about the dust on his clothes, they were the best clothes he had, clothes that he wore for everyday chores and errands around the farm, but they were clean. In the distance he could see the black carriage parked in front of their house. The banker Mr. Moretis Owedmi was waiting for them to return, Henry had seen
Mr. Owedmi’s carriage many times parked in front of the bank and knew that Mr. Owedmi was visiting for only one reason, money. Henry thought it was cruel and insensitive that Mr. Owedmi would be bothering his mother on this day, although he had never talked to the man, this act of money lust caused him to dislike the man before he had even met him. As they pulled up to the house Mr. Owedmi took off his hat revealing his slicked back black hair and he smiled as he greeted them.
     “Good morning Mrs. McAlister, I’m sorry to hear about your loss,” said Mr. Owedmi in his peculiar Ohio accent, causing Henry to think of a prairie dog chirping a warning from its burrow.
     “Thank you Mr. Owedmi, it was so nice of you to show yourself at the gravesite, I’m sure Clayton would have appreciated it.” Henry’s mother, Sarah, said dryly without any emotion. “Henry take Ole Ned to the barn and see that he’s fed and groomed and tend to your chores as I talk to Mr. Owedmi. Mr. Owedmi let’s go inside where we can discuss matters a little more comfortable out of this sun.”
     “Would you care for a glass of water Mr. Owedmi?”
     “That would be most kind of you Mrs. McAlister, it is rather a hot day. A dreadful thing, what happened to your husband. Tragic.”
     “Yes it was quite a shock for me and especially Henry. Now what brings you out here Mr. Owedmi?” Replied Sarah, knowing the answer she was about to receive.
     “I would like to extend the bank’s most sincere condolences for your loss, your husband was a valued customer for many years and always made the mortgage payments in a timely manner, however with his being gone, I’m sure you can understand that the president of the bank is somewhat concerned about your family’s financial situation and must protect its investment in this farm.”
     “My family’s finical situation is just fine Mr. Owedmi, the bank has nothing to worry about,” answered Sarah sitting down at the small table next to Mr. Owedmi.
     “I’m sure Mr. Avaricer will be glad to hear that, however there is the matter of the monthly mortgage payments.”
     “I have just buried my husband Mr. Owedmi, he hasn’t even been in the grave for a day, and you come to me worried about money. I think it is most improper to bring up such maters at this time. Surely the bank could of waited.”
     “No need to take offence Mrs. McAlister. You can understand the bank’s concern. After all it is a rather large debt,” said Mr. Owedmi, clearly embarrassed and apologetic for the task the bank president had sent him to do. “The president of the bank sent me to check on your well being and to see if you were aware of just how much your late husband owed.” Mr. Owedmi reached into his case and presented the loan papers to Sarah. “Everything is in order, I can assure you.”
     “I’m sure it is,” Sarah replied as she read through the mortgage papers. Sarah was surprised at the amount owed of nearly 320 dollars. “I had no idea it was so much.”
     “The bank will be expecting the mortgage payment as per usual at the first of the month, will that be satisfactory?”
     “I have barely had time to bury my husband and put my affairs in order. And you come to me asking for money!”
     “Now, now Mrs. McAlister, no need to get yourself riled up.”
     “Surely there’s something that can be done,” said Sarah, letting her hand slightly brush over Mr. Owedmi’s and placing it on the table touching his.
     “Well, well…in cases like this Mrs. McAlister, the bank can make some allowances. An extension can be made,” Mr. Owedmi noted, keeping his hand still.
     Sarah placed her hand on top his and gave it a gently squeeze, letting it rest on his.
     “I would be most grateful for anything you could do for me, I’m all alone here, with just Henry and myself, it has all been such a shock,” Sarah said quietly, her eyes beginning to water.
     “There, there Mrs. McAlister. I may be able to speak to the bank president on your behalf,” Mr. Owedmi said, cupping her hand in his.
     “You don’t know what it would mean to me to have a dear friend such as yourself to help me at this time. Can I get you something to eat? I have some freshly made apple jam.”
     “No thank you…Sarah …I really must be going,” said Mr. Owedmi, gathering his papers and returning them into his case. “Perhaps I could stop by again sometime and explain some of the financial matters with you.”
     “That would be most kind of you, you would be very welcome,” replied Sarah with a tense smile.
                               To be continued.......leave a message if you what me to continue with the story...