Tag Archives: scarecrow

Still here, and pecking away

I’ve really let this place down over the last few months. I’m sorry for that, but there are reasons why. I’ll glance off some of those when my 2021 Assessment posts later this month.

I’ve created a lot of new material, but as part of various blog tours, it’s been hosted elsewhere. I figured I owed you guys something, so here it is.

I’ve been dabbling with a side project for months, but not taking it too seriously. It’s a space opera that could lead to a trilogy. I have about a third of a novel so far, but today I decided to start another one.

This plays into my two at a time history, and since I’m at a wall on one project, this gives me a way to stay somewhat productive. I never really do this, but here is the first effort from today’s work.


The single-room farmhouse stood deep in the forest. Leaves covered the sagging roof, and clumps of moss anchored to the sides. The door dangled from a single hinge and allowed leaves to blow inside. Rays of sunlight shone through the roof and dust motes swirled in the beams. The windows had long disappeared leaving the room open to weather from multiple directions.

The old bed was nothing more than a frame and rusty springs after all these years. A rack of simple farming tools hung on the south wall, and a cracked old trunk stood at the foot of the bed, it’s brass fittings long ago turning green.

Light swirled unnaturally between the chest and tool rack. It moved in and out of form, but eventually resembled a human, casting its own light into the dark corners of the cabin. Moving about the room it grew in size, then staggered like someone wounded. With great effort, it managed to open the chest.

After pulling on cracked leather boots, denim jeans, and a plaid shirt it rested, looking for all the world, like someone had placed the clothing on the floor in a pattern.

The following day, the spirit pulled on leather gauntlets and a long canvas duster, then chose a sickle from the tool rack. As it grew in strength, it went outside to cut dried grass which it stuffed down its pants or into its shirt. Insects took up residence in the stuffing, but it kept working. As the sun set, it walked back inside, only its head missing from the apparition. The area of its head glowed red in the cabin’s darkness like some kind of angry god.

The spirit removed an old burlap sack from the trunk, then pulled it over his head. He twisted the bag until a face fit over the front. Triangular eyes glowed like the fires of hell from behind the mask. The loosely stitched up mouth also glowed, and served to strengthen the terrifying visage. He pulled a thick, hemp drawstring closed around his neck. Next he selected an old canvas hat from the chest. It had been carefully waxed to retain its shape in all kinds of weather. It had a broad, bent brim and tall, pointy crown, like those traditionally worn by witches.

A canvas trug was the last item inside. He spread that across the bed springs, then piled all the tools on the square of material. There were handles on opposing corners, which he grabbed to create a carrying case for the sickle, a scythe, sheep shears, grafting knives, saws, axes, and hatchets.

He kicked the remaining door off on his way outside. Pushed the crown of his hat back toward his shoulders, then stared at the nightime sky. “Now where is that Goddamned hat living these days?”


Would you read something that started this way? I’m calling it “The Midnight Rambler,” after a favorite song of mine. With that last bit of dialog, and the book title, you can tell where it’s going to fit in my catalog.

Interaction along the tour has been great, but there’s something to be said for meeting all of you here. Leave me a comment. Do you have an ear-worm now?


Filed under Writing

The Bluebell Co-Op

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.


Filed under Short Stories & Vignettes