Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Running Up That Hill

Sometimes there isn’t really anything you can say. Tommy was 32. 

For some reason the farmer told everybody that he was 31.

“How old is he now?” people would ask.

And the farmer would say, "he's 31."

Who are those people anyway, they don't know Tommy. What business is it of theirs how old he is. They don't know how he went up that hill that time. That hill that was way too steep to go up, and he went right up it plunging and springing and snorting and farting and at the top the farmer couldn't stop laughing because it just wasn't safe to do something like that, that was not sensible. But so much fun.

That time he pulled the Volkswagen out of the snow. What about that? Those people don't know anything about that. All those times the little children would climb up on him, and he would turn around and look at the farmer, asking do I have to do this? And the farmer would nod yes and off he would go, not exactly good-natured about it, but completely safe and trustworthy. And then afterwards he would be so pleased. That's right, he - Tommy, the one and only - had been chosen to give the little children a ride. Not Willen. Not Laddy. Because he had become, over the years, completely trustworthy. The farmer could count on one hand the people in the world known for a fact to be as trustworthy as Tommy.

Something was very wrong with him and it was the lovely kind young vet who came out to see him, the one who fixed Pinky's ear, and she examined him without saying a word for a long time, and during that time the farmer tried not to think anything.  

Then she started to explain what was going on, the swelling, the rapid breathing, the pulse that you could see skipping in his jugular vein, the murmur. Heart failure. 

But how was something like that even possible? How could a heart like that fail? And he had seemed better the past couple of days, and he was eating again after losing so much weight, and he had complete free run of the farm, he could go in his stall or stand in the barn aisle, he could sleep in the front yard or in the garden, the farmer even pretended not to notice when he trampled the kale, who cares about kale anyway, kale is like a weed the way it grows everywhere at a moment's notice, it is a public service getting some of it trampled.

The farmer couldn't think of anything to say, and so the farmer said, "he's only 32."

The young vet nodded. Then Tommy looked at the farmer and for the first time the farmer could see how tired he was, bone tired. The farmer didn't want to see that before, but now it was so clear. Of course.

Sometimes there really isn't anything you can say. And there is only one more thing you can do. 

Later that night - what time was it anyway? Two in the morning? Three? - we saw the farmer walking all over the farm. Looking for something. And not finding it. But just looking. Into the tack room, where Tommy's bridle, the English bridle with the Kimberwick, hung on a hook on the wall. And there was his saddle, the fifty dollar stock saddle from that used tack store in Spanaway, the one that always seemed to fit him even back in the days when he was so fat. So much better than the expensive saddle. Go figure.

Dolly followed the farmer everywhere, two steps behind like an altar boy. Peering into the stalls where the baby goats were sleeping. Down into the fat girl pasture. Then into the front pasture, where the round pen is. The farmer and Dolly sat in the round pen for a long while, side by side. It was such a beautiful night. The lilac was finally blooming, and you could smell it everywhere.

After a while the farmer laid down in the grass, looking up at the sky. There was the bright beautiful moon looking down, almost full.

"That is the Flower Moon, Dolly," the farmer explained, pointing. Dolly looked up, somberly.

"He went home under the Flower Moon."

there is thunder in our hearts.