Just Another City Boy

The bitch! Twenty-five miles in the pouring rain for her goddamn alimony payment. Couldn’t wait could she. Something about Hydro threatening to cut off her electricity if she didn’t pay up immediately. But why tonight dammit. It’s been pissing down rain for a week and there’s no letup in sight. Shit!

Robert jerked the steering wheel over to pass the slow moving car in front. He leaned froward to switch on the lights. Darkness fell as the turnoff to the farm appeared ahead of him on the right. Turning, the car tires spun in the gravel. Robert swore silently to himself. There was always something. Her car wouldn’t start so could he please bring the check out to her. Please! Damn.

As he passed the lone gas pump at Willow Corners, he realized it was only five miles to go. Funny how Barb choose to live alone on the farm after her father died. He had left her the farm and little else. She refused to give it up. Most of the farm was leased out but she kept the house, the barn, the old tractor and one small pasture where she grazed her gelding.

Robert was a city boy from Regina and after they married that’s where they lived. The first two years of their marriage they had little money so they spent their two week summer vacation on the farm. Robert had helped his father-in-law with the farm, learned how to drive the tractor, but never really understood farm life. His father-in-law jokingly referred to him as ‘Nuisance’.

Not far now Robert thought. The small pasture appeared on his left. Right in the middle, on top of a small hill, sat the tractor. One of those old antique ones, with the steel wheels and the hard cast iron seat. The family never did believe in modern gadgets, he mused. His head shook at the sight of the iron hulk rusting in the rain. He couldn’t see Spooky, Barb’s horse, anywhere. Probably in the barn where the tractor should be, he muttered to himself. Dumb bitch!

The headlights caught the sign post that signaled the turnoff into the driveway. The house was well back from the main road, along a circular driveway that curved through the trees to the front of the house and then back out to the main road. With all the rain the driveway was slippery. Robert had to fight to keep the car on the road. The old farmhouse loomed ahead in the darkness. A small yellow ‘bug light’ shone on the porch and a faint glow could be seen through the living room window.

Parking in front of the house, he left the car running, and made a dash for the porch. This won’t take long, he thought. Just as he was about to knock, the door opened.

“Hi Rob. Thank you very much for coming out on a night like this, but I’m really in a bind. My car won’t start and I have to pay Hydro by tomorrow or they’ll cut me off…thank you. Please come in”.

Damn. She still took his breath away. Those sultry green eyes, the raven black hair piled on her head and then falling down her shoulders. Her lips were a deep glistening red. And she’s wearing that lacy black dress that she knows always makes me horny. The one with the low cut neckline that she wears with one of those French bras that push her tits up into your face. He felt his groin stir with old memories. His eyes dropped to her slim waist. With the light behind her he could see the soft curve of her thighs through the wispy dress. Bitch he thought to himself.

“Hi Barb”.

He stepped through the open doorway. Damn she looks good.

“Can’t stay long. Left the car running. I have to get back to the city.” Robert handed her the check.

“Oh please Rob. Stay awhile. I’ve just poured us both a hot rum and I’ve got roast beef in the oven. Your favorite. Please let me thank you for coming all the way out here on a night like this. I’ll feel so bad if you leave right away. Shut the car off and stay awhile. I’m all alone here tonight.”

His eyes watched her shiny red lips, slightly parted in a soft smile and his nostrils twitched as he caught the scent of her perfume. His first instinct was to refuse. It was over. But he was hungry and he could smell the roast beef. He hadn’t eaten since breakfast. His eyes dropped to her breasts that seemed to be straining upward into his face.

He stepped outside to turn the car off. As he turned the key he wondered if he could make it out of the driveway without getting stuck. Well, he made it in so he guessed he could make it out.

He stepped back through the door of the house. Barb stood, a glass in either hand, waiting for him.

“Hang up your coat and come into the living room. I’ve got a fire going.”

It was warm and cozy in the living room. The fire almost lulled him to sleep. They talked about nothing really. Barb seemed to babble on and on about the farm, her neighbors, and about Spooky, her gelding that she loved to ride. Robert talked a bit about his work, but mostly he kept his eyes upon her breasts. They ate dinner sitting on the couch in front of the fire. Sitting opposite to Barb, Robert occasionally caught a glimpse of her soft white thigh when she shifted in her seat. Why is she being so nice to me he wondered. All night she’s been so considerate and looking so sexy. Maybe she’s grateful and returning the favor. The hot rum, the food and the fire relaxed him. Barb had helped as well. He started to feel comfortable with her and was considering making some moves on her. She did look pretty darn sexy. Outside he could hear it start to thunder. Lightning flashes sent eerie streaks of light into the room. Barb got up and walked to the window. Lightning flashed.

“Isn’t it strange,” said Barb softly, “every night this week there’s been a thunderstorm and lightning. It’s almost predictable.”

Robert watched her. Her arms crossed. Her face flushed as if she was excited by something. She looked beautiful. Her eyes sparkled. He watched as she licked her lips, making them shine red and glistening. He rose and stood behind her. She turned abruptly to face him.

“Well, it’s getting late and I have to get up early in the morning, besides, you probably want to get back to the city. I’ll get your coat.”

As she moved away lightning flashed again. Robert glanced outside. In the light of a second flash he could see the old tractor still sitting in the center of the pasture. Dumb bitch he muttered to himself. Numb, he followed her to the door.

“Be careful going out the driveway and thank you for bringing the check out.” She kissed his cheek, the red lipstick leaving it’s mark. Robert grunted goodbye and ran for the car.

It’s raining even harder than it was before he observed. More lightning too. Seems to be getting closer. He let the car warm up for a few minutes. He saw Barb watching him from the window. I give up he thought, I can’t figure her out.

Robert drove down the back loop of the driveway which led to the main road. As he rounded a corner a car appeared in the headlights. Robert jammed on the brakes. Shit. What’d she go and park her car here for? Oh yeh. Wouldn’t start. But here! Damn! I can’t turn around. I can’t see to back up. Shit!

Robert got out of the car to see if there was enough room to get by between Barb’s car and the ditch. Her car was off to one side of the narrow driveway. I should be able to make it he thought. He climbed back into the car and prayed he would make it past. He eased his car down the narrow alley between Barb’s car and the ditch. He was almost past when he felt the rear wheels slip. Com’on baby, don’t fail me now! But he hadn’t noticed the ditch was slightly wider at that point, which left him with less room to drive through. The rear end of the car slid into the ditch.

He tried for twenty minutes to get out of the ditch, rocking the car back and forth. He finally gave up, disgusted and angry. He walked back to the house and knocked on the door. The light had been turned off. He waited in the darkness. Where is she? Com’on! He knocked again and waited. The small porch roof offered little protection from the rain. He was getting cold. This time he pounded on the door as hard as he could. A moment later the dim yellow light flickered on and the door opened.

“Rob, what’s the matter?”

“You parked your car right in the middle of the goddamn road and now I’m stuck. What the hell took you so long anyway? I’ve been knocking on the door for ten minutes!”

“I’m sorry. I was watching television. I didn’t hear you.”

“I’m stuck in the damn ditch. I can’t get out. I’ve got an important meeting first thing in the morning. Now what the hell am I going to do.” Robert stood, water dripping off his raincoat onto the lino in the hallway.

Barb crossed her arms and leaned against the wall; appearing to be in deep thought. For a moment it seemed as if she smiled.

“You could always pull the car out with the old tractor. You know how to run it.”

“Shit. It’s way hell and gone out in the middle of the field.”

“I’ve got an old pair of dad’s gumboots here and an old umbrella. I don’t know what else to suggest. I could get changed and help you?”

You’re some fucking help aren’t you. If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t be here in the first place. Nice of you to come out and get wet with me.

“Alright. Get the boots.”

She appeared a moment later with the boots and an umbrella. The umbrella was an old heavy duty one he father used to mount on the tractor to protect him from the sun. It had a heavy steel handle.

“It’s all I’ve got,” Barb apologized. “You go out and start the tractor and I’ll get changed. I’ll meet you by the car.”

Robert lunged out the front door and into the pouring rain. He walked slowly so he wouldn’t slip in the mud. Just my luck to fall into a pile of horseshit. At least this umbrella keeps me a little dry. It seemed to take forever to get to the tractor. Dumb bitch. What in hell possessed her to leave it out here anyway?

Climbing up to the tractor seat his foot slipped on the iron step. He felt a sharp pain as his shin slammed into the iron, then he fell flat on his back in the mud. Stunned, he sat there clutching his throbbing shin. Finally, wet and muddy, he stood and picked up the fallen umbrella. With it propped over his shoulder, he climbed up onto the seat of the tractor. On reaching it he sat down heavily, trying to catch his breath. With the umbrella still cocked on his shoulder, he stared at the dash in front of him trying to remember the starting procedure. Oh yeh. Clutch in; transmission in neutral; half throttle; turn the key; press the starter button. The engine caught and then died. Shit! This is all I need. He pressed the starter again.

The motor caught this time, it’s roar filling the darkness. Robert shifted the transmission into low and released the clutch. He strained to turn the wheels. Goddamn Armstrong steering, he swore as he attempted to turn the tractor back to the house.

It was his last thought.

*** *** ***

They found him the next morning. The tractor had crashed through the fence of the small field and meandered for over a mile. It had ended up in a small patch of evergreens, stalled against a spruce tree. The tractor had hit the tree head on and could go no further.

Lightning had split the umbrella’s shaft. There were burn marks where it touched his shoulder. His body was jammed between the seat and the gearshift lever. They found the seat of his pants were scorched as well.

Of course Barb went to the funeral. She couldn’t deny herself that. Afterwards, a neighbour asked her about Robert. She replied, “Oh, he was just a city boy who didn’t know enough to get in out of the rain.”

©Braden Corby mid 1980's