Did you ever hear the one about the travelling salesman and the farmer’s daughter? Of course you have, but have you ever heard the one about the stranded bounty hunter for the gods and the farmer’s son and daughter? Didn’t think so.
Stranded for the night at a remote farm, Jared Club relates his story of how he became a bounty hunter to the two adult children of the farmer who lends him his barn to sleep in for the night. The only problem is that sleep is the last thing his two listeners are interested in doing, with doing Jared being what they are really interested in. Will Jared be successful in his plan of distraction or will his end be met by a farmer with a shotgun and a very itchy trigger finger?
It was almost ten on that brisk autumn night on my way to the location of an assignment when the car decided to have a coughing spell and sputter its last oily breath. I cursed my bad fortune. I had got off the main highway an hour ago and onto the dirt road at the advice of the gas station attendant that assured me that taking this route would save me forty-five minutes travel time. What he had failed to mention was the massive pot holes that littered the road and that because of the nature of the dips in the landscape I wouldn’t see them until it was too late to avoid them. To top it off, it was a dead air zone. My cell wouldn’t work the car’s GPS system, insisting that I was on an ice floe just a kilometre south of the North Pole.
I debated for the longest time. Do I stay, curl up on the car seat and wait until morning to see if I could fix the car myself? Considering that the extent of my knowledge of vehicles was that I put a key in and it went vroom vroom, I didn’t think that it was a wise choice. The second option was to walk the distance to the lights that I saw just above the next rise which could be a farm house where I could get assistance. I saw my breath and realized that a business suit was not the warmest of clothing that would make it any sort of restful night, so I decided walking toward the light was a good idea, and hopefully the light would be my salvation.
It took me almost a half an hour to make it to the small farm house in the distance. I knocked on the door and a tall, gaunt man dressed in a thick flannel shirt and overalls answered. I told him of my predicament and he told me to come in. He said his name was Dalton. I introduced myself and he nodded, shook my hand and told me that I might be out of luck on having anything done that night. He’d offered me a bed in the house, but he had one room, his daughter had the other and his son slept on the couch. I told him it was fine, I just wanted to use the phone then I would just sack out in the car and wait it out until the morning. “Nonsense,” he told me. There was room up in the hayloft of the barn, it wasn’t fancy, but with a couple of horse blankets, I’d be warmer than a piglet in his mama’s uterus. Not seeing any way that I could decline and not piss the large man off, I said that sounded great. There was a ruckus from the back of the house and a man and a woman came out, dressed similar to Dalton.
Dalton introduced me to his two grown children, Zeke, his twenty-year-old son and Mabel-Mae, his daughter. They were spitting images of their father with their dark hair, plumpish faces, stocky builds and dressed in flannel shirts and overalls. The two said howdy then we all sat down in the cramped living room. Dalton told me of his children’s life outside the farm. Mabel-Mae had an online store that sold the quilts that she wove and Zeke just helped out around the farm, though he had left to work in the local Minister of Parliament’s office in the capital when he was eighteen, but he returned to the farm after only a few months.
I raised an eyebrow at Zeke and asked why he hadn’t stayed to continue learning the political ropes.
Zeke leaned his chair back and put his hands on the table. “Well,” he drawled, “I went to work for a political party, just got plumb confused over the entire thing, and just came on home.”
I asked what confused the young man to the point where he would give up the bright lights of the city for the dull shine of the barn light.
“Well, see there was this idea that I thought sounded downright smart and would help a heap of people out and my boss is sitting there with some of the other folks of the party talking about how they’re gonna shoot it down. I say, Now, why would you want to do that? Sounds good to me. My boss looks at me and says, Sure, it’s a fine idea, but we can’t support it on account that we’re up-Po’s-ishun. Now, I don’t know who Po is and I don’t know what his ishun is, but I figured that if it meant doing something stupid in order to go up it, then Ottawa wasn’t the place for me.” Zeke’s hand went to his crotch for a moment and he gave it a few rubs as he mumbled, “But damn I loved those poles them boys had.”
“Popularity polls?” I asked.
This seemed to shake Zeke out of some sort of day dream as his hand went up and wiped off a faint sheen of sweat that had started to bead on his forehead as he answered, “Yeah, those kind, too.”
For the time we talked, Mabel-Mae never said a word, just looked down at her knees a lot and seemed almost relieved when Dalton asked her to go out to the barn and make up a couple of bales with some sheets and blankets. Then, she beamed and scooted off out the back door while Dalton gave me some advice.
“I know’d you city folks think that the country is pretty dull and boring.”
I was starting to protest, but he put up his hand.