Meeting George

As he sat in his hotel room contemplating the end of his twenty-three-year marriage and what he needed to do next, Jim decided that he would stay close to his daughters and spend as much time with them as he could before they left to begin their own lives. He wasn’t about to miss any more of their high school years than he had already been robbed of. Jim was very active in his daughters’ lives, and that was something that he was not willing to give up. It was the last thing that he had to grasp to that was keeping him sane. Bonner County had been a disaster for him, and he felt the urge to be elsewhere, anywhere.

A temporary abode was needed, something simple and non-committing. Something from which he could leave in thirty seconds flat with no regrets or repercussions. The future of his funds was also highly uncertain, and that made cheap a priority as well. Jim fired up his phone, logged onto the hotel’s Wi-Fi, and entered the world of GregsList. Scanning the rooms for rent section, he encountered the ad for the Mooney Family Farm.

One of three places he had decided to look at, it was the final phone call that he made. The voice on the other end of the connection was that of an older man, decidedly country in its dialect, friendly, and welcoming. When he asked for the address to come and view the room for rent, Jim was expecting the normal rural directions to be given. You know, the usual follow the road to the barn, turn left by the brown horse with the white spot on his nose, and then look for the blue house by the red silo next to the field. But this was even worse.

Copyright © 2019 J.J. West. Fiddlesticks! Tales From A Country Ghetto.
All Rights Reserved.

El Jefe

Eva came to the Farm for the first time on a summer afternoon, meeting George by the crooked bank of mailboxes at the end of the long dirt road. He was already there waiting for her when she arrived. She followed his truck up the long driveway to his rambling farmhouse. He opened the front door and motioned for her to go inside.

She had seen his ad on the internet many months earlier while researching rentals in the area and kept it filed away as something to maybe check out once she moved to Idaho. The place looked and sounded like some sort of commune with rooms for rent in a big old house. Probably a bunch of stoner hippies who sit around a fire beating drums every night, she thought, initially not too excited about the place. Eva really just wanted to be alone for a while.

“Welp, I don’t have any rooms open in the house right now, but let me show you around anyway,” George said with a wide grin as they stood in his kitchen. He spoke slowly and gently, and there were some bits of hay in his hair and a half-eaten carrot in the front pocket of his shirt. He was around retirement age, and with his red plaid shirt and dirt-encrusted jeans held up by suspenders, he looked like a storybook farmer.

Eva was slightly disappointed, wondering why he’d asked her to come by if there weren’t any openings. Her tall, slender frame towered over his squat, frog-like appearance by nearly a foot. “I heard everything’s bigger in Texas,” he said. “But are they all as tall and pretty as you?”

Copyright © 2019 J.J. West. Fiddlesticks! Tales From A Country Ghetto.
All Rights Reserved.

Cuckoo’s Nest: Wet Blanket

In the beginning, everyone figured she was dead, leaving George widowed to take care of the 160 acres by himself. She appeared in a few old family photos hung up around the house and was vaguely known by name. But George, presumably distraught over her loss, never said a word about his long-time wife, Gabriella.

That summer, he had been seeking the companionship of a lady friend. The dating pool in Bonner County is notoriously shallow, referencing both the actual depth of available options and the inbred quality of its limited prospects. Any single person living in the area can attest to this. And so, his daughter, Sage, helped him set up a profile on Country Kiss, an online dating site. Steward of the Family Woods, his ad began, Looking for a Nice Country Gal. He had Sage take a few candid shots with him sitting on the tractor and standing with the cows, grinning proudly with his gap-toothed smile.

This aw-shucks approach had then backfired in a big way. George, having no clue about how the internet world works, or of the existence of porn bots named “Melissa” and gold-digging whores, became financially entangled with an enterprising young woman from Spokane. He ended up renting an apartment for her after only two dinner dates and then found himself slapped with the balance of the one-year lease after she disappeared. After that, George resigned himself to more traditional methods of courting, focusing his attention on various women right at his own farm.

Eva was working in the garden one day when an unknown older woman was seen milling around down by the old farmhouse, digging through boxes of family belongings. Eva walked over to investigate and approached the woman, now standing still and staring up into the sky murmuring to herself.

Copyright © 2019 J.J. West. Fiddlesticks! Tales From A Country Ghetto.
All Rights Reserved.

Community Meals

The Lord and Lady of the Manor like to host Community Meals about once a month. Occasions for a Community Meal include religious holidays, birthdays, someone leaving or moving into the Farm, and the end of winter. Usually an announcement will be sent out a week to an hour in advance, and will proclaim that a Community Meal will occur and give a start time of something like 4:47 pm. As specific as the start times are, they are usually off by one to three hours. Flexibility and adaptability are the keys here.

The Lord will sometimes purchase a ham or turkey, sometimes purchase hot dogs and hamburgers, and sometimes provide road-killed deer. The other renters at the Farm bring whatever their individual culinary skills can muster up. These vary from elaborate side dishes and appetizers to bags of potato chips or discount tubs of ice cream. Some just bring their appetites. Either way, everyone, and their families and friends are welcome, and no one is turned away.

All of the food is laid out, and a general digging in of hungry souls commences, probably much in the same manner as that of a group of freshly liberated Russian Gulag death camp survivors. With this group and the prospect of free food, one must be quick before all the good stuff is gone lest one gets stuck with a fender-bruised cut of road-killed deer.

After all the plates have been filled and everyone sits down to eat, the whole community of the Farm pretends to like one another and act as one big happy family. All is done by unspoken mutual consent to either provide the illusion of the big happy family to the Lord and Lady, or is done to avoid a free-for-all food fight that would make a bar brawl in a John Wayne oater seem tame in comparison. Either way, it just happens.

Copyright © 2019 J.J. West. Fiddlesticks! Tales From A Country Ghetto.
All Rights Reserved.

Chupacabra

Darlene had seen George’s rental ad online and called him to reserve one of the spare bedrooms in his big old farmhouse before moving up from New Mexico. When she showed up with a moving truck full of everything she owned some weeks later, George had already long forgotten about the whole deal. With no rooms open, he put her up in his daughter’s sage-scented attic penthouse on a roll-away bed. Such were the risks of taking one’s chances at a flophouse with a waiting list.

Recently retired and with nothing to occupy her time, she was annoying right off the bat. Though her name was Darlene, at first she was referred to as “The Lady in the Kitchen” due to her constant presence there from roughly six in the morning until ten at night. It wasn’t long before the big eight-foot long community dining table in the kitchen became her personal office and communications command center. Papers and binders were strewn about from end to end, and bags and clothes were draped over the backs of all the mismatched chairs ringing the table. She was on the phone more than a Bangalore call center agent, and the endless jibber-jabber had repelling effects. It was at this time that the old saying ‘Why use ten thousand words when ten would do?’ proved its point. Once Darlene got started, there was no shutting her up.

If anyone wanted to sit down to have their breakfast, she would eagerly clear some space, but nobody was falling for it. Darlene usually started drinking early and was eager to talk about life and the Lord’s Good Book to whoever happened to be passing by. The kitchen quickly became hers and hers alone.

Copyright © 2019 J.J. West. Fiddlesticks! Tales From A Country Ghetto.
All Rights Reserved.