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Location: marengo, il, United States

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Neighbors

I heard the road grader coming, so I dropped everything and ran to greet it. As I waited barefoot on the side of the road, the yellow-framed behemoth came slowly cruising into view. A lone figure, dressed in striped overalls, stood upright at its helm. From a tall pipe, tiny puffs of black smoke shot repetitively into the sky, leaving a sooty wake hanging in the air.

The gentleman guiding this outlandish contraption had both hands gripped firm to a large steering wheel. A stub of a cigar jutted out from one side of a tight-clamped mouth, and his head turned from side to front, inspecting while he piloted his ship. His grizzled face put me in mind of a Long John Silver.

He nodded casually as the vessel glided by my post. The angled plow blade under his machine sliced deep into the rutted road as I waved back, and it sent an endless cascade of dirt to one side while leaving a track of smoothed sand behind the tractor.

He went by the name of Coon Sapp, and the man held the honorable title of Commissioner of Roads for our county. In a few minutes he and his wonderful machine chugged off into the far distance, and only after he turned the bend and disappeared did I return to the millhouse.

He and his wife lived up the road in a simple frame shack of a house. They had lots of small children and several loose farm animals, so their dirt yard was filled with both. The house sat high off the red earth on brick footings, and it was common to see pigs, chickens, dogs or a kid up under its shade, rooting, scratching, sleeping or playing.

A rumor began to circulate that a set of twin boys had been born to the couple, and that the parents were at a loss for acceptable names. Several days passed by as this dilemma stewed. A neighbor woman soon came up with a suggestion that solved the problem. She proposed the melodic names of Larry and Jitus.

Not many children have that distinction of being named after a throat ailment, to my knowledge.

4 Comments:

Blogger Hannah said...

LOL @ the names.

4:34 PM  
Blogger Gone Away said...

Names to conjure with, indeed. A vision of a bold country family, good Coon Sapp (a name that has me wondering how such a marvellous juice might be extracted) and the children Larry 'n Jitus. Please, please, don't tell me that the mother's name was Melanie; my imagination can't bear the thought of cruelty to melons... Great story, Harry. :)

4:52 PM  
Blogger Jay said...

That story became very visual for me, Harry. I think you need to occasionally post some inferior writing because we are becoming for too pampered. You are so consistently brilliant that brilliant has lost its meaning.

8:08 PM  
Blogger James said...

Your writings have certainly became very visual for even the most casual of reader. I can hardly wait for the Stephen King influence to come to the surface. Guys and Gals we are in for a real treat! The best has yet to come to fruitation. HEEEEEEEEEERE's Johnny(from the shining)All work and no play make Hess a dull boy! i never knew you had all this in ya! Cool stuff indeed!

11:46 PM  

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