What it would take


taken for "A Future for the Small Town in Idaho"

taken for “A Future for the Small Town in Idaho”

A familiar face turned toward him, lighting up with a smile of recognition. The old man approached behind it.

“Hey! I remember you, youngster!”

“Oh, hi. Yeah, you’re Mr. Blunt. I cut your grass. We made that deal! How’re you? Good t’ see you’re out and around.”

“Yep, I remember that deal. And I’ll be keepin’ my end. That’s what I’m doin’ here. I just registered to vote at the Clerk’s office. I been wantin’ to see you, too. I got a question.”

“Oh yeah? ‘Bout what?”

“I’s just wonderin’. Why do you care so goddam much whether I vote or not, if’n y’ don’t care who I vote fer?”

“I didn’t say I don’t care. It wouldn’t a been right to make it part of the deal. Maybe I’m wrong, but I figured once you studied it, if that’s what you did, you wouldn’t go against your own interests. I couldn’t ask ya to do that, either.”

“I don’t know why the hell not! People do all the time. What makes y’ think my interests is any different from your’n?”

“Well, I guess I don’t, but what little I’ve seen o’ you, I didn’t get an impression you’d put up with it if I tried to tell you what to think. What are we talkin’ about here, really?”

“Wa-a-l, I don’t rightly know how to put it. Say, sometime if y’ain’t busy, any chance y’d wanna stop by again? I wasn’t too friendly before. That ain’t my natural way. It was just you bein’ a stranger an’ all. Plus it was early. Or was it late? I fergit”

“I dunno, I felt pretty good about it when I left your place. I’m still a stranger, though. When were you thinkin’ you’d have me over?”

“I got nothin’ but time, so it don’t matter. Anytime that suits ya.”

“Well, I was about to go for pie and coffee at the cafe. I wouldn’t mind a little company right now. Interested? My treat?”

“Okay, let’s do it, but if that widder woman takes to hittin’ on me like she does, I won’t be stayin’ long.”

“I don’t think she’s there any more. I heard the other waitresses talkin’ the way they do, y’ know, about her one a them new fellers from up at the mine, a handsome stranger in a new pickup.”

“Y’don’t say!? Cristamitey, mebbe I was too hasty. She warn’t bad lookin’ but once she started talkin’, a county road crew couldn’t shut ‘er up. That booth by the winda okay?”

“Read m’ mind.”

They sit, order, and busy their mouths with apple pie and coffee, and with low moans of satisfaction, resume the discussion.

“Man, that’s some good pie. So tell me what’s on your mind, Mr. Blunt.”

“Well, here’s the thing. I’m havin’ a hard time seein’ where politicians from either party knows shit from Shinola about what’s really goin’ on around here, or maybe anywhere these days. It’s hard t’ believe or trust any of ’em.”

“I’m guessing there is a story here?”

“Y’know how sometimes y’listen t’ somebody talk and it just seems they’re lyin’ through their teeth, and they know you know it, but they just can’t stop t’ save their lives?”

“I can say I’ve known people like that. But I don’t think it’s universal. I hope not, anyway. What I mean is, I don’t think every single person in politics is like that.”

“Mebbe. I didn’t always feel this way, y’ know. There was a time when we all kinda knew the ones we was votin’ for, but it was years ago. I can’t even remember who the last one was. Maybe it was John Evans. Long time ago.”

“What was different then? How could you know your representatives unless they lived around you?”

“They did live here, or at least it seemed like they did. Their kids went to the school with yours, and they shopped at the store, and y’d run into ’em at the post office like you and me just did. Often as not you’d exchange a few friendly words. Nowadays, when I see one of ’em, if I even reckonize ’em enough t’ say Howdy, what I get back, often as not, is like that old song says, just a mouthful o’ “Gimme” and a handful o’ “Much obliged”, and the next thing y’ know, yer eatin’ their dust.”

“What about the other ticket? That’s what the election is for, in a way, t’ keep the wrong people out.”

(snort) “Y’ coulda fooled me! It damn sure ain’t workin’, then. I been talking about the person I normally woulda voted for. Every single goddam one a them is in the pocket of the Jolly Green Behemoth Corporation, if they ain’t owned by Pittsburgh Coalboy, or one o’ the other corporations that gets rich by keepin’ the rest of us poor. I wouldn’t vote for one o’ them jokers if he gave me a goddam pot with a live chicken layin’ eggs in it! Every time we fall for their line, right after the election is over, people’s pay gets cut, prices go up on everything, and all you hear of the bold promises they made before the vote is that these is hard times and we, not them, gotta tighten our belts! Meanwhile some o’ the people are lucky to have a pair o’ pants left, and they’s held up with balin’ wire!”

“I gotta admit I can’t disagree with a word you’re sayin’. We’ve still got a deal, though. Tell you what. Let’s ask ourselves what one man (me) can do t’ somehow improve this whole situation, even just a teeny tiny bit. Let’s think about it real hard, and sit down together again. As far as I know, it’s un-American not to have at least one piece o’ apple pie a week.”

“Tell ya what then, I’ll bake you an apple pie, and you can eat the whole goddam thing if you’ll come over and mow my weed patch of a lawn again. That neighbor o’ mine is givin’ me that same look he does, like somebody pushed a Russian thistle up inside him from behind.”

“Well…”

“Only reason I’d let you do it is because o’ all yer sweet-talk about votin’. I’ll be keepin’ my end o’ the bargain, though. I been lookin’ into it. I got kinda interested when I read some o’ the things that Holy Roller is sayin’ about how the schools oughtta be run the Lord’s way. ‘Less’n somebody talks me outta it, I reckon I might vote for him.”

“Aw, that’s….! I know who you’re talkin’ about. Since you put it that way, day after tomorrow be soon enough?”

“I’ll turn on the oven.”

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5 responses to “What it would take

  1. Great conversation Jack, with the local flavor. i’m not convinced that voting works or is other than a PC paridigm to give the plbeanians false hope. Maybe a local vote for schools is valid .. half the time. Good writing Jack.

    • I agree that it isn’t working now, Charlie. If the series is to work at the end, it will have to clarify the connection between what means “working”, and the manner in which the average citizen is brought to select from a ballot that isn’t printed on disposable douchebags. It’s a sorry situation when Chairman Mao’s bloody Great Cultural Revolution seems like a sane approach to governance compared to what we’ve got.

      I appreciate that you read it, and your comment, Charlie.

  2. Good! Can’t wait to read the next episode. But I agree with Charlie about voting just giving us nobodies false hope. I wonder if we’ll read about that next time.

  3. Bonnie Despain

    Enjoyed the lead-in story so it is great to see the this one. Strong, likeable characters lead right to this conversation that sounds so authentic in the mind. Nice job capturing that.

    It is getting harder and harder to want to stay engaged in the political quagmire, but that only makes staying there more important.

    • If I didn’t know I stay in it with such as yourself, and why, maybe I wouldn’t, but as you say, it’s important. Part of the problem or part of the solution. Thanks, Bonnie.

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