The Farmer’s yield

by Steve Carr

Beams of light from the pickup truck's headlights shone through the cold, falling rain. Lester grasped the steering wheel and unconsciously counted each time the windshield wipers swooshed to the left. The driver side window was half way down letting in the sounds of dead corn stalks being buffeted by the wind and rain.  By a constant slight movement of his tongue he made the piece of straw that he held between his teeth bounce up and down on his lower lip.

Excitedly, Lester watched as hesitantly an almost indiscernible head rose out of the hole in the wet earth. As its features became clearer, it was that of a man. The man tilted his head back and opened his mouth, catching the falling rain.

Lester flicked the headlights on and off several times.

The man stared directly into the flashing light and emitted an agonizing cry and covered his eyes with his arm and then ducked back down into the hole.

The light won't kill you even after nine months without it, Lester thought.

The man's head rose again, this time covered by a tattered red flannel shirt. Then his bare shoulders emerged, then his emaciated naked torso. He frantically felt the ground around the hole, then crawled out on his knees. He remained motionless for a moment as if contemplating what to do next.

Lester slammed his hand down on the horn and held it there.

The man bolted upright, then blindly ran across the field, his arms flailing, his back bowed, stumbling over the raised rows of  dead stalks and slipping in the mud, and then disappeared into the woods that surrounded the field.

Lester opened the door, stepped out, and felt his boots sink a little in the mud. I hate this time of year, he thought. He went to the back of the truck and lifted out a large black plastic lidded bucket and carried it through the mud to the edge of the hole and sat it down. He bent down and leaned into the hole.

Damn, it stinks down there, he thought.

He grasped two ropes attached to a stake near the edge of the hole and began to pull. A few moments later, one black and one white bucket, appeared at the rim of the hole. He pulled them out and sat them aside, and then removed the lid of the bucket he had carried from the truck He tied the rope to the metal handle on the bucket, and lowered it into the hole. He went back to the truck and took out a white bucket and did the same with that one.

On his way back to the truck, his boots became encased in mud. He kicked them against the running board and tossed the empty buckets in the back, and then went around to the tailgate and leaned over it. He prodded the body bound by rope. There was a burlap sack over the head.

“You okay?" he said.

A woman's whimpering voice answered. “Please, let me go," she said.

He lowered the tailgate and put his arms under the woman's back and legs and lifted her out of the truck. “You're a light one," he said, “but I have no intention of risking injuring my back. I can't farm with a gimpy back."

Her rain soaked bright pink waitress uniform clung to her body as he laid her on the ground. He dragged her by her feet through the mud to the hole. He took off the burlap sack and stared into her terrified blue eyes. Her short blonde hair was plastered to her pretty face.

“You're prettier than most," he said.

“Are you going to rape me?" she said.