Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Drive - A Memoir 31st Installment

Tex said sleepily from a pile of blankets. We could barely see him in the dim light. The ‘granary’ was a 12 foot diameter completely galvanized tin cylinder with a tin floor and a tin cone on top used to store grain on the farm. His empire was the blankets for a bed, a cardboard box with some socks and underwear in it, a collection of books and magazines, the clothes he wore. A small old flat–top wood stove adding more heat to the already way–too–hot tin cylinder he lived in. A cast iron kettle nestled on the stove with a slightly burnt but great smelling sage grouse in it. We were uncharacteristically gracious around our friend and took some meat because we were starving. We ate the cooked parts, the burnt parts, but left the pink meat on the bones.

Tex shut off the tractor’s engine so we could hear him talk. “Boy, I detest hunters: the killing, the gun fire, and even the huntsmen's dogs yelping constantly. When you can smell the gun powder in the air every morning around the refuge, hunting season is upon us for sure,” Tex railed, in response to our asking about what he was doing lately.
         “We detest big city hunters as well,” I said. “But we like shooting. If we could make a living from shooting we would.” Russ and I had started shooting little birds with our Daisy BB gun at seven and eight and moved up to the 22 rifle soon after that. Now we would shoot anything we came across, and I dare say we were good shots.

          “No one can make much money from killing things around here. You would have to go to Africa and hunt exotic animals with rich fat men from the east. Oh, and by the way,” Tex offered, “I heard the mink farms are going to buy jackrabbits this year as soon as it gets cold enough to freeze the varmints and keep them frozen.”

        “Where? When? How much? Any amount? Limitations? Talk to us.” We quizzed our old friend excitedly.

         “Whoa, cool your heels, speedy Gonzales and Poncho,” Tex replied backing up and waving his hands in mock defense. “Mel tells me that the mink company will park a semi–truck at the Hamer store, and a representative will arrive every Saturday at noon to count and pay for frozen jackrabbit carcasses until the trailer is full or until it starts to warm up.”

          “And…” I waited a beat for him to continue, and then impatiently demanded, “How much are they paying?”

          “Ten cents apiece,'' Tex said as he climbed off his tractor, chucked his sack of goobers on the seat and started for the house. “Your folks home?”

         “Edith is, I don't know whether Vernon is or not,” I answered absent mindedly. I was already doing the math in my head figuring how much money we could make.

500 more words tomorrow

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