State Line. IV The Storm
.It was winter, but you’d never have known from the sweat drenched sleeves harboring hand rolled cigarettes on the sons arms. It was an unusually warm winter this year. The frost hadn’t come to rejuvenate the soil just yet, but as they worked on the tasks of the day, the idea of where the they would be when the sun lowered into the horizon would be unfathomable.
. A storm the night before had left parts of the roof open, exposed to the gleaming sun of the day that followed. “Get up, we gotta repair the damage from the storm.” The father yelled at the sons in the wee hours before sun rise. “Roof half blown off, bull fence down from the fallen oak tree, and the north wall of the well is going to have to be rebuilt. Damn Bull kicked in the side when he got free.” The father said as he was putting his boots on.
. The smell of grits lingered around the coffee ring stained table. The table that brought ages, all races, back grounds, genders and religions into one. That metal table in the shop had seen many a mornings such as this. The mother brings breakfast to that table instead of the family table when the work of the day was being handled by the sons and father or a helping hand or two.
. This morning it was simply the two sons and the father. “Alright, you go into town and get what we need for the roof” he said to the red. “You help me round up the bull back into his pen. I seen him roaming the southwest field. Get the pickup and I’ll meet you down there.” the father said to the younger son. “Why do you always pick him to help you and send me to the crap store?” The red exclaimed. “Fine you wanna chase the bull? You get the pickup” said the father. The younger son then grabbed the keys from the brass hook on the trim of the door and headed for town. The red finished his grits with his father and listened to the morning sermon he was oh so familiar with.
. “Its the work of a faith built man. A foundation of something so strong, nothing of this world can break it. Hell, nothing of the underworld can break it.” The father voiced. As usual the speech began softly, gaining decibels as it progressed. Climaxing at a volume only a crowd of thousands should endure. It was his nature. Being a speaker on the day of rest. “Yeah yeah I don’t need a pep talk. Lets just get the work done. I have a date tonight.” Said the red.
“I know you don’t need a pep talk. Thats not why I say these things. I say them because you need faith. Faith that your actions have true consequences both good and bad.” Replied the father. The red finished his vittles and headed for the field. The father remained in the shop gathering the tools needed to repair the fence.
. Once the fence was repaired and the sun directly above head, the sons began work on the roof. The father was tending to the well in the mean time. “So rumor has it you are trying to steady her” the younger son said to the red. “So what if I am?” He replied. “Oh nothing, just didn’t know you had a flavor for the town tart.” The younger son said. “Watch yourself you bastard. I have no problem throwing you off this roof and eating those words with a side of soil when you land.” The red spoke. “Try it ya hippie trash.” The younger son replied.” “Thats enough out of both of ya!” The mother shouted from the porch under them. “I have two bars of soap that are gonna be mighty tasty later if I hear anymore tongue like that.”
. The work continued in silence for hours. Till the muttering began. The father finishing up the well behind the barn couldn’t hear any of what was to come. “Call her that one more time.” The red said to the younger son. “Tramp.” The younger son replied. With his back to his older brother he didn’t think his words would reach his ears. The next thing the younger son knew, he awoke in a truck bed.
. The father rushed to the front yard as the mother yelled in terror for him. She had heard the thud and seen her son fall from the roof above. “What happened?!” The father exclaimed. “He’s not moving father! It’s lodged in there deep.” Yelled the mother. The father looked at the roof to see the red running to the edge to see his younger brother. He felt nothing of guilt. He felt justified. But if the father knew that, oh the sermon he would give him. The red preferred the belt. It was fast and over in minutes. The sermon however, that was days if not weeks long.
. As they were driving the younger son to the hospital, the mother beside him in the bed of the truck, the conversation between the red and father in the cab was heated. “You tell me now what happened. As if I cant connect the dots myself.” Said the father. “It slipped out of my hands!” The red responded.” “Don’t you lie to me boy, don’t you lie to my face!” The father yelled.
. As they pulled up to the hospital the younger son regained consciousness. “Mother what happened? I heard something flying at me and the now I’m here.” He spoke. “I imagine your father be finding that out soon enough child. You just stay with me here, we’ll get that out of you and get ya right as rain.” The mother responded. She held him humming amazing grace and rocking from side to side. It was always her favorite song even as a child. It brought her comfort. She remembers her father humming it to her when she would fall ill. The sound of his voice, the smell of beach nut and shine on his breath, thats where her mind would go during hard times. To that memory of him and his kindness.
. As the medical staff took the younger son inside the father said to the mother “stay by his side, I’ll be in in a minute.” The red remained in the pick up. Angry at his father that he would be late if not completely miss his date. He sat in the truck stewing and planning what to say when his father came back. He had to admit what he’d done. If only to appease his father and possibly allow him to go on the date. Not for guilt release mind you. He still felt his actions had enough just cause.
. It would be many years before the agent would bring the father back to this facility.
. “Alright. If you want to have any sort of chance of doing anything in the upcoming season, you better let the truth out. I know what you done, and so do you. You’re gonna look me in the eye and say it.” The father said to the red. “If you know what happened why do I gotta say it?” He replied. “A man of faith knows guilt and conviction, he knows when he is wrong and can admit it.” “He can’t be forgiven if he don’t confess.” Stated the father. The red knew he had better chances of just saying what the father wanted to hear in order to go on his date than fighting with him. “Fine!” Yelled the red as he swung open the truck door. The father got out as well and walked toward the red. “He kept mouthing off about my date so I threw my hammer at him and it stuck in the back of his head and he fell off the porch. It’s not my fault he cant take a hit like a man.” The red said to the father. “You will be punished severely for this one, But have you no shame in what you’ve done to your brother? He could have permanent damage.” The father yelled. “Of course” he replied through his serpent teeth. He was humoring his father to get away. “Get on a rotary and call your sister. Have her take you home. We will discuss punishment when We get back.”
. The sister arrived and took the mother and the red back home. The father stayed at the hospital with his son. The doctor wrapped the younger sons head in bandages and his arm in a cast as he gave him the clean bill to leave. “Thanks doc” the father said. “Send the bill in the post.”
. The younger son sat in the passenger seat of the pickup with the father driving. They listened to the sounds of the road under them and the noise of nature in their surroundings. Static of the fm was faint.
. They arrived at the house where the father helps his son inside through the squeaky screen door, past the kitchen, and into his bed. Then the father walks out into the yard and looks up to the sky. In this, the third hour of the morning, he stands once again cleaning up the mess of his son. Just as every loving parent would do to hold a family together.