The Back Story

A May Sunday afternoon. It was Mother’s Day and my wife’s birthday. Sunday church had disappointed us. Jesus didn’t show up and the congregation was sorry we had. When the preacher says, “Lock up when you leave,” I evaluate how much he valued the morning and me.

Half-way to our son’s house, the van quit running. The auxiliary battery was discharging and in the process drained the main battery. It’s quiet on a highway next to corn and an abandoned farm house on Mother’s Day. Before cell phones. We were 25 miles to the closest gas station.

I could see a farm house north of us about quarter of a mile. I could hear dogs barking. I assumed a patrolman would come by—patrol cars are thick on that highway when I am speeding. I sure didn’t want to walk to the farm house to use the phone.

Carole went to her bunk. I talked to myself about it being a terrible way to celebrate Mother’s Day and her birthday. After an hour or two, I determined that no cop was going to drop by and Jesus probably wasn’t either. I started to the farm house.

There were two dogs. Big dogs and they were on chains—log chains. A tall woman came out onto the porch with a shotgun under her right arm.

“What do you want?”

“May I use your phone? Vehicle is broke down.”

“I don’t have a pay phone.”

“I’ve got a phone credit card. Won’t cost you anything.”

It took her several minutes to decide. I think she first decided on “NO!” I told her that Carole was in the van—being her birthday and all…. I played the pathetic card. I had played the “I’m a pastor” card earlier which didn’t mean anything to her. The woman reluctantly said I could use the phone, but with warnings.

The dogs were not just unfriendly; they had vicious down in spades.

“You try anything and I’ll unhook those dogs…..”

I tried to reassure her I just wanted to use her phone. I never did figure out what she thought I was going to “try.” She was bigger than me and could have taken me out. Only a suicidal fool would go up against that cannon under arm, let alone subject himself to being mauled by the faux grizzlies just outside the door.

Doug didn’t answer on my first try. The delay was only proof that I was trying something funny. Doug picked up the second or third try. I explained where we were—just head west on 30 until you find us. Quick.

I had to decide my strategy to get past the dogs and get far enough away that I was out of shotgun and beast range without running. I offered to leave $5 for her trouble. I laid $10 on the table—which was half the morning offering—and told her I appreciated her help. She reminded me unhooking the dogs was also still on the table.

I have spent years feeling bad about Carole’s birthday and slim Mother’s Day festivities. I’m not sure she ever believed my story of the death-defying visit to that house.  It is true.

What terrifies a person to that degree? Was she an early feminist who hated all men and trusted no man?  There is a story behind that lady. I’m sorry that the women who have been publicly vitriolic in recent weeks and used the broad brush about all men. Those ladies have stories.  What do they require to feel justice has been served? To siphon the venom? To heal the hurt?

We were visiting in the home of a single friend. Carole mentioned to her it wouldn’t be long before she could put away the wasp spray.

“I keep it close to the door in case someone comes to the door.”

Note to self: Keep cellphone charged!

(c) 2018 D. Dean Benton    Have you checked out my new ebook? Meandering– or at Goodreads.


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