Leslie and Frank lived a very comfortable life on their small farm in the middle of nowhere Iowa. They weren’t rich, but they weren’t poor either. Not by their standards at least. Frank went to the auction every year and bought a new 4H cow for fall slaughter that would feed the family through the winter and help out the 4H’er with a little extra cash for their hard work.
Both Leslie and Frank had been in 4H and it felt nice to be able to support the next generation of kids interested in everything it had to offer. Leslie would buy the baked goods at the county fair. Life in their little community was like that. No one really worried about the outside world, because the community took care of each other. They were one large family.
Then one day in July a man came through town speaking with all the candor of a forked-tongue snake oil salesman. Suddenly life was tempestuous. Folks who were once good friends now hardly spoke and kids showed little interest in 4H.
“Why’s everyone actin’ like this now, Frank?”
“‘Cause what that man said.”
“Well, what’d he say? You went into town and heard him.”
“Said people were stealing our jobs and money from our pockets, so we have to kick ’em out.”
“Who’s stealing from us? I don’t think we’ve been robbed. Have we?”
“Nah, none of us have, but that man spoke like it must be true and so people believed him. Jerry fired three of his pickers for stealing from him.”
“Not Mrs. Garcia! What are her kids going to do? The oldest just got accepted into college! They would never steal!”
“Don’t get so riled up! I know they wouldn’t, but that man got everyone so riled up. You should have seen it. Grown men turned into a bunch of barnyard guinea hens. Pecking on everyone that had more or less than they did. You’d think we just met rather than spendin’ generations here together.”
“It ain’t right, Frank.”
“No, it ain’t, but what can we do? We don’t want Frank comin’ after us do we? After that man left, Frank is all convinced that everyone has done him wrong. Mike thinks he’s the one that burnt down the Sanchez barn last week.”
Leslie gasped and started sobbing. Her community ripped apart. Her comfortable life destroyed by ignorance, greed, and envy. The washer buzzed and she put in another load. As she was hanging the clothes out on the line to dry, she started thinking of something her pa would read to her when people went all crazy. They did a lot during his life too. People wanting to send bombs everywhere to kill people just because they thought different than us.
When she was done hanging the drying, she retrieved her family bible from her nightstand and started reading aloud, “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.”
Frank listened and shook his head. That man was all of those and good folks believed him. Leslie started to cry more and turned back a several pages and began reading aloud, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”
Frank bowed his head and started to cry. For his wife and the stress she was under, for the Garcia and Sanchez families, for his neighbors, for his community. When Leslie was done reading he hugged her and tried his best to help, but now it seemed like his best would never been good enough again.
“Oh, Frank. How could it get like this? We’ve had good times and bad times, and we haven’t always treated each other right, but we haven’t turned on each other this much since the Civil War. Pa used to tell me he felt sorry for the German people who were caught up in the war. Have to go along with things or die.”
Leslie went stark white and looked at Frank.
“Don’t even think that, Leslie. This ain’t Germany. Too many of us know and remember that war. It ain’t never going to happen again!”
“But you said, Mr. Sanchez’s barn was burned because he is Hispanic. It’s happening all over again.”
Frank couldn’t deny he had a newly gained perspective of World War II. The War that took his grandfather and two uncles. He shook his head and held Leslie tight. “No, it’s not happening again. It can’t. It just can’t. Michael will help. He has to. He just has to.”
This was inspired by:
Three Things Challenge — buzz, July, load
Word of the Day Challenge — candor
FOWC with Fandango — comfortable
Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day — tempestuous