The Bluebell Co-Op
I poured my coffee into a plastic cup, grabbed my old cap and headed for the fields. I love walking around before the sun comes up. Sometimes you see a deer before she runs into the woods or hear a fox. It’s a magical time of day.
Besides, I’d have my ass parked in a Co-op truck for the next twelve hours. I was the new guy, so my fields got harvested last.
I waited many years to get into the Co-op. Members never leave, and someone about has to die before a new guy gets a chance.
I rounded the corner and stepped off into the first field. The wheat was tall and golden. All it had to do was stay that way for a couple more weeks. There’s always something for a farmer to worry about. This time of year it was hail, wind, or fire. Birds were another problem. If the geese came early, they’d get more grain than I would.
The Co-op gave me a chance to sell off my old equipment. I used the money to send my son to Bluebell Community College. Says he’s gonna show me how to convert this old place into a big time agribusiness. More power to him I say.
He brought his whole lacrosse team over last weekend and sat out the plastic owls and scarecrows. Seems old school these days, but they could buy me a couple of weeks. That’s all it would take, then the starlings and crows could have whatever fell on the ground.
I stopped off at the first scarecrow and pulled a pack of Camels and an old lighter from his pocket. I grabbed two smokes and lit one. My wife thinks I quit, and this is just between me and the scarecrow.
Everything looked good around the first field. I finished my first cigarette and made sure the butt was completely out. I lit my second one and headed for the second field. It looked good too. Poor old Ben Carver said the Martians landed in his fields and left some of them crop circles. We all told him it was probably kids from over to the community college.
Ben didn’t see it that way, said afterward that his dairy cows started trying to kill him. He sold them all off, quit the Co-op, and hasn’t planted in two years. That’s how I got my membership. Bad deal for old Ben; good deal for me.
I dropped off the lighter with the scarecrow and headed for the Co-op. This time of year it was always the same thing. Walk the fields, drive truck all day, come home dog tired and butt sore. The next day, do it all again.
A week went by and we started harvesting the Millers’ crop. I started my day with another walk. This time it was going to be bad. The wind blew overhead from the west and really shook the shutters. There was no way some of my crop didn’t blow down. There was distant lightning too. It really lit our room up and it didn’t flash either. It came on for long periods before going dark again; almost like a truck driving by. After the storm the winds came back from the east. I listened for the tornado sirens, but they never came. Wind going every direction and we’re probably lucky to still have a house.
It didn’t smell like fire, so the lightning must have passed without trouble. The first field was still standing. The scarecrow was bent over, but my cigarettes were still there. I stood him back up and headed for the second field.
There it was, and it was no surprise. The blowdown was about six hundred feet wide. I walked around it and tried to calculate the loss. It made a big circle, and there was another circle inside it. Those damned kids were gonna cost me a big chunk of my profits this year.
I decided to walk back and call the sheriff. Good thing I don’t keep any cows, I suppose. They’d be picking me out a rocking chair like old Ben.
I turned around and looked right into the fiery eyes of five scarecrows. They were less than four feet from me. The one with my cigarettes reached out and grabbed my collar and smiled with a glowing pumpkin grin.