George and Gabriella were standing near the north side of the big steel barn. They were surveying the aftermath of an avalanche of junk that had spilled across half the interior. Someone had tethered an old car transmission to a broken pallet and tried to balance it on top of a rickety metal shelving unit using the tractor’s eight-foot lift. The shelves had been wedged into a gutted washing machine and were packed with brittle plastic totes full of thirty-year-old grade school finger paintings and report cards. The whole mess had collapsed and triggered a domino-effect disaster. Waterlogged John Deere tractor catalogs, old postcards, and vintage sewing patterns were strewn everywhere.
Gabriella was pawing through the detritus, digging out an old dented tea kettle without a lid stuffed full of rusty, bent nails and bits of hay. “Remember when Mom gave this to me in 1965? It was my favorite kettle for years, and probably still is. How does it get any better than this?” she said to George. He grunted as she tossed the kettle into an old steamer trunk that looked like it had been in a flood at some point, but was now home to a family of mice that all scattered as she disturbed their nest.
Angus walked up and put on his happy face as he approached his landlords – the face that didn’t look like he was about to engage in an enraged killing spree. George looked up and instinctively sang out his familiar friendly whistle, something he did every time he entered a room or approached someone from behind to alert them of his presence. Sometimes he got confused and mixed up the sequence, whistling out of fear or jangled nerves.
“George said you could do some work around the Farm to go toward your rent,” Gabriella said to him. “This building needs to be cleaned out and I need your help with the heavy items,” she continued, telling rather than asking.
Copyright © 2019 J.J. West. Fiddlesticks! Tales From A Country Ghetto.
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