Gods’ Country

By happenstance, and to the writer’s delight, there was once a wide range of religious zealots living at the Farm all at once. There often wasn’t love in the air with such a hodgepodge of humans living together in one place, sharing a kitchen, laundry, and dining room. Conversations around the table became increasingly rabid and headstrong because, of course, each person was right, and everyone else was wrong.

The more observant residents remarked that the whole scenario would make one hell of a reality show. Such programs abound on the modern-day boob tube, catering mostly toward a certain breed of idiot: Illegal Mexican Maids, The Gayest Room, High School Daycares – all supposedly real shows about real people. But no network in their right mind would even want to come close to touching the true-life theological hot potato that came to be at the Mooney Family Farm one year, where the slippery slope of clashing religions collapsed like a landslide.

The faith-based follies began with the arrival of the Seventh Day Adventists – a sect mostly known for their strict diet and insular culture. Luke and Lorna moved in with their young son. The woman turned out to be something of a bitch, never once smiling or idly conversing with others, and obsessed with cleaning. Baskets of clothes and linens constantly filled the small washing area. Lorna did more laundry than a Chinaman in a mining camp.

They were hoarders and quickly gave George a run for his money in the clutter department. The front part of the breakfast nook was packed with towers of boxes and totes filled with food, all stacked halfway to the ceiling. Glass towers of Mason jars swayed precariously every time a dog or a child rushed through the narrow pathway leading to the kitchen. Other belongings spilled out onto the porches and into the parking bays outside.

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

The Henry J

Jim was getting used to his new surroundings at the Mooney Farm and was out for a stroll. As he headed down to the county road, he walked past the dilapidated chicken coop and Automobile Death Row, and wound up at the steel barn. He thought about taking a peek inside, but there were no aisles or visible pathways, and everything inside was stacked up precariously like homemade New Delhi scaffolding.

Not wanting to fill out an OSHA report on himself, he continued on around the barn to an area with what looked like a hastily erected log framed cover. Approximately fifteen feet deep and seventy-five feet long with a rusted metal roof, it had been in the process of falling over since the day it was slapped together. Jim figured there might be something cool stored under its roof.

He was just starting to rummage a little when George pulled up on his tractor and dismounted with a “Well, hey there! Getting acquainted with the place?”

“I thought I would take a look around. Who cobbled this thing together, a drunken fisherman in the dead of winter or Dr. Seuss on crack?”

“Welp, Dad built that when he bought the place from Humbird Lumber back in the 1950s. We used to store what farm and logging equipment we had back then underneath.”

“You all aren’t much for throwing things out, are you? A lot of this stuff looks like it’s from the 30s. You been here since the 50s then?”

“Yep. Dad moved us here from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, do you know where that is? Good. Anyhow, we moved here for the prosperity, or so Dad said, but Idaho was about as remote and poor as where we came from. In fact, when we first moved here, before they bought the place, my parents set us up in a camp by Poverty Peninsula on the south shore of the big lake. We thought that was kind of funny, moving from one peninsula to another. Do you know where that is? No? Well, it’s not on any maps anymore, at least I don’t think it is. Do you know where Safeway is?”

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

Give a Man a Tractor . . .

One fine winter day, George asked if someone, anyone, would mind using the Kubota tractor to plow out the driveway. Little did George know that he had plenty of aspiring tractor drivers who had just been chomping at the bit, waiting for George to make the mistake of offering a turn at the controls. It seems that every male of the species is a professional tractor operator, regardless of ability, training, familiarity, or common sense.

One wouldn’t think that one-inch-thick steel pins could be snapped by piles of snowflakes, or that half-inch-thick steel plate could be bent like mere tin foil, but apparently the R gear on a tractor is to be used for Ramming. It seems that snow covers various obstacles like tree stumps, boulders, and miscellaneous farm implements. If a tractor plow driver assumes an unusually high snowdrift is just that, a high snowdrift, and not a large immovable object merely covered by snow, bad things may happen. It’s a good thing that none of these operators actually owned the tractor, or they might have been truly upset at the cost of repairs that winter.

The reader might also be surprised to learn that tractors can and do perform front-wheel wheelies, a move so advanced that only a professional tractor stunt driver can accomplish it without too much breakage to man or machine. If a true professional tractor stunt driver picks up a 1,000 pound bale of hay and tries to lift it as high as possible, so as to be able to see under the bale and not have to be bothered to look over the top of it, there comes a point in the height of the lift where middle school physics will be remembered. Especially the labs on levers and leverage.

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

Mouth-to-Mouth Resuscitation

A small, impromptu Community Meal was held one evening with a few of the Farm’s residents, both present and past. George was telling everyone about Wendy, who had recently moved to the Farm and was living in one of the remote cabins. Though she was relatively new, folks had been going out of their way to avoid her once they found out her choice of faith. For most, a first impression was all it took.

“Did you know there’s a religion called Jehovah’s Witness and they don’t celebrate birthdays or holidays like Halloween because they think it’s full of bad spirits?” George announced to the group with an amused fascination, as if he were a teacher talking to a room full of inquisitive seven-year-olds.

“There is?” asked Nigel, feigning interest. George continued with what he had recently learned from Wendy’s bold proselytizing, going on avidly about witchcraft, a dozen dozen-thousand chosen people, and the fiery End of Days apocalypse. Nigel couldn’t take any more and cut him off mid-sentence. “We were raised as Witnesses and it ruined our childhoods. That church is a terrible place filled with terrible people, take my word for it.” He turned to his sister, Nancy, and she nodded in agreement.

“So, then what are they witnessing?” Lenora asked, giggling with Eva on the couch beside the dinner table.

“Jehovah, probably,” said Eva, trying to keep a straight face.

Lenora and her husband Hilo had recently left the Farm after a year-long stay. They missed having company and invited everyone over to their house in Sandpoint for a housewarming party. A date was set, and the group planned to meet up again over the next weekend. Word spread around the Farm that everyone was invited to a party in town. Where there was a party, there would probably be booze, so nearly everyone penciled in the date on their calendars.

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

The Uncommon Masher

With a blow as with a hammer the intruder broke the ice,
And the proud and queenly beauty seemed to think it awful nice.

Eva had been convinced by a smooth-talking Nigel and a non-thinking George that the two of them should team up and move in together. Eva and Nigel that is. She had started at the Farm in a remote cabin by herself, but as the temperatures began to drop she wasn’t so sure she could handle an Idaho winter on her own. Neither was George. There was no way she’d be able to chop enough firewood by herself to fuel the wood stove all winter. She couldn’t swing a man’s maul to save her life.

Nigel had been watching her around the Farm and quickly jumped on the opportunity before him. He’d overheard her talking to George about starting a garden business at his place, and she’d most certainly need help. He had the tools, the testosterone, the brawn, and the bullshit to make it happen. He approached her one day, giving her the once over, remarking that she sure didn’t look like a farmer. “What does a farmer look like?” Eva had asked. “Most of them have shorter legs,” he answered. “And they aren’t as pretty as you.”

Then there was George. It was obvious he was sweet on Eva from the very beginning and wanted her to stick around. Slumlord’s pet, if there was such a thing. He’d been giving Eva driving lessons on the old Kubota tractor, showing her the ins and outs of being a cattle farmer. There was talk of him building a new cabin just for her, maybe the next year, but for sure within fifty years. One day, he’d given her some flowers to put in her hair. And he was as excited as Eva was to get a new garden started, as long as he didn’t have to do any of the work.

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