Do you love to dance, sing, write, sculpt, paint, or debate? What’s your favorite way to express yourself, creatively?
Hmm, I never thought of debating as being a creative endeavor. Although when debating I do make up facts to support my position. Some may argue, that is laying, but as the post suggests, I’m only expressing my creative abilities. In fact, laying is the sincerest form of creative writing. (first said here by me)
Seriously, writing seems to be the only endeavor for which I have ever shown any sort of creative flare. (and some doubt that) Certainly the ability to create a painting, a sculpture, or play any instrument, that gene has never seen the light of day in my family, only the desire. I can’t even draw a proper stick man, whistle a tune, or whittle a pointed stick. Well that’s not really true; all my art looks like stick men, everything I whistle sounds like the theme to the Twilight Zone, and all my whittling turns out to be pointed sticks, for which without them my family would have nothing on which to roast hot dogs.
What follows is the 5th episode in the short story, The Match. I hope you are enjoying it. There are a few more to go.
Rusty pulled onto the highway, drove for a while, and eventually headed west. He was a man in no hurry. He drove wherever his own inclination guided and at what ever speed the wind allowed.
Sometimes he stopped at a rest area and sat on a bench and wondered himself tired. He slipped back into the camper and rested until he was no longer able to close his eyes and then drove on some more. He drove into the night. He watched the sun rise in his side view mirrors.
Montana. Why Montana, he thought? Was it a secret passion of his father? Was it where he dreamed of some day living? It was a puzzle. Perhaps the missing piece will be there, but most likely not. His dad was always sort of a mystery and would remain so.
Rusty drove on.
There is nothing like driving that can sort a man’s thoughts. The entire act of driving is a metaphor for life; solving problems, making slight adjustments in steering, gauging speed, watching for the unexpected, enjoying scenery, looking forward, and forgetting what was left behind. Somehow it prepares and gears the mind for mediation and problem solving.
There are places in these United States that are there and it’s a mystery why. One such place was where Rusty was heading, Plevna, Montana. There was nothing there, only 40 acres of land.
He wondered how his dad even came to own it and nearly as important, why?
He wondered much about his dad as he drove. Details he was able to put together over the years from whispers and newspaper accounts. Sam owned a construction company. He had a partner, Conrad Billings. Billings was the investor and Sam actually ran the business. Billings did the books, but Sam caught him stealing from the company. Sam killed Billings. That was too simple Rusty always thought, but it was all he had.
The trial was over before it started. Conrad Billings was a well known man. Known to be generous, kind, and upstanding. The trial was two days.
That was something that Rusty lived with. Of course, few actually knew he was the son of Sam Collins, but Rusty knew. It kept him locked away emotionally for fear he might be exposed as the son of the man who killed Conrad Billings.
Montana looked like a bright new beginning. The sky opened as if forever lay in front of Rusty for his taking. There was nothing but nothing and everything including everything. The eyes could not fill with all the openness and wonder. It was flat, clean, and spacious.
With help from a local grain elevator worker Rusty was able to locate the land. He drove to the location. There was nothing on it. I was flat and unoccupied, not even a tree. Rusty shook his head. “Why?” he said.
Rusty drove to the nearest farm. He knocked on the door. No one was home. He walked to the a large metal barn. The doors were open. Rusty leaned in. There were three tractors and a large combine. He heard the sound as if someone were working on one the pieces of machinery. He heard a grunt.
“Hello,” Rusty said.
“Yeah,” a man walked from between two tractors. “What can I do for ya?”
“My names Rusty Collins,” Rusty said. Suddenly it seemed strange. It was the first time he remembered saying his name without fear of shame. “I have a deed for 40 acres of land south of your place. Do you know anything about it?”
“Yeah,” the man said wiping his hands on a rag. “My name’s Bob Chapman. Me and my dad have been farming the land for as long as I can remember. You come to sell it to us?”
“Well,” Rusty said. “I just got here and I don’t know anything about the land. Can you tell me what you know.”
“We lease it,” Bob said. “A $1 a year, we pay taxes, and a legal fee. A lawyer takes care of everything for somebody back east. I guess you’re that somebody.”
“That was something I didn’t know until a few weeks ago,” Rusty said.
“I’ll give you the name of the lawyer,” Bob said. “His office is up the road in Miles City.”
“Is there anything else you know about the land? Rusty said.
“That’s it,” Bob said. “You tell me?”
“My father died some years ago,” Rusty said. “I just recently came across his papers. He left the land to me. I don’t know why he bought it or when.”
“If you’re looking to sell it,” Bob said. “I’d appreciate it if you’d let us have a crack at it before it goes on the market. We’ll give ya a fair price.”
“You’ve probably come to think of it as yours anyway,” Rusty said. “Don’t worry I’m not the haggling type. If I decide to sell I trust you’ll offer a fair price.”
“How do you know that?” Bob smiled.
“Well, ya got me there,” Rusty said. “I don’t, but anything is more than what I expect.” Rusty offered his hand and they shook hands. “I’ll be getting back with you.”
“Been a pleasure,” Bob said. “Harry Proxmire.”
“Harry Proxmire?” Rusty said. “The lawyer in Miles City.”
“Gotcha,” Rusty said.