a short story
He should be able to see for miles across the barren corn fields, if it wasn't for the snow. Heís looking for a house, any house would do. The neighbors are all pretty nice around here. He isnít lost, he knows where he is. He also knows there arenít any neighbors within walking distance. None within walking distance on a bitterly cold day like today. Heís hoping that maybe someone built a new house that he isnít aware of. It happens sometimes. Heíll be driving along on a road heís driven hundreds of times and all of a sudden thereís a house that wasnít there the year before. Usually just some yuppies who want a place big enough to keep horses, but theyíd still have a phone. They'd have one of those security lights that he could walk towards, with it getting darker now, even in this snow.
should have gotten one of those cell phones. Seems like everybody has
one, but it probably wouldnít work out here anyway. His friend Bill
has one and just as soon as you get a few miles from town, the thing
stops working. Still, it would be something.
There was a lot of rain just before everything froze up. The field he stopped to look at always collects water and when it freezes it canít drain off. Itís just a big sheet of ice for about three acres. He was able to free it up last year by cutting away a couple of fallen trees. This year there isnít anything blocking the ravine, it just froze before it could drain off. It will take twice as long to get into this field in the spring if that water doesnít drain off.
Harvey wasnít prepared to actually work on the ravine at all today. He was just trying to see what the problem was so he could bring the right tools tomorrow. It was too late to start any real work† now anyway. He planned on coming back tomorrow to fix whatever was keeping the water on the field. Heíd have his coveralls and thermals on instead of the horribly inadequate jacket he left the house in this evening. He'd have gloves, winter boots, a warm hat, and a thermos of coffee for when the cold crept in on him.
seat in his old Ford tilts forward and opens up a little storage space.
There is usually an old work coat back there, but his wife took it in
to wash it a couple of weeks ago. She always does that. No matter where
he leaves his jackets, she finds them, washes them, and replaces them
clean and smelling of fabric softener. She probably has the extra jacket
hanging up near the door, expecting to put it back in the truck when
he returns. There are still some gloves back there, but the fingers
are nearly worn through and they arenít winter gloves.
Ten below is just about cold enough to allow for thirty minutes of exposure if you had a really nice coat, some good gloves and a nice hat. Harveyís wearing a flannel jacket, worn out work gloves, and an old John Deer ball cap. He didnít put his thermals on this morning. The heater in this old truck works exceptionally well, at least when the truck is running, and it quickly gets too hot to wear a coat while driving. He left his thermals at home so he wouldnít get hot while driving.
been watching the headlights from the cars on the state road reflect
off of the falling snow as they pass by, timing them. Thereís been one
about every ten minutes. Sometimes thereís more, sometimes there arenít
any. None of them turn towards the road heís stuck on. Heíll have to
walk. There arenít any houses, not even a new one that just popped up
when he wasnít looking. Heíll have to flag down one of those cars on
the state road.
thinking about it, looking at his gloves, wishing they were insulated.
The snow is falling faster now. It's nearly covered the windshield of
the truck, and he pounds his hand against it to knock some of it down
so he can see the headlights on the state road again. It hurts his hand
more than usual and he realizes that his fingers are stinging. They'll
never find him out here, he knows that. The truck has nearly disappeared
in the new snow already. Ice crystals have started to form on the inside
of the truck's windshield and he brushes them away in a effort to see
those distant headlights better. He can't see them at all now. He looks
at his boots and wishes for an extra pair of socks, buttons the jacket
up and notices the missing button in the middle.