(Continued from yesterday.)
Dad had his head stuck in the engine of a Minneapolis Moline calling it everything except a tractor.
“Good afternoon,” Bowden said. “Looks like you got a problem.”
“You’re so used to being in the problem business that you see every endeavor beyond breathing as a problem,” Dad said.
“You’re the one doing all the cursing,” Bowden said.
“You call it cursing,” Dad said. “I call it vocalizing and giving form to my primal grunts.” Dad smiled, wiped his hands, and shook Bowden’s hand. “What brings you out this way?”
“I was coming back from Ft. Wayne,” Bowden said. “And thought I might drop by and see ya.”
“Well,” Dad said. “Could you hop up on the tractor and make yourself useful and turn the key until it starts.”
Bowden dressed in his black suit climbed up on the tractor and turned the key. The tractor started immediately.
“Now don’t go telling folks this was a faith healing,” Dad said.
“It had to have been the Lord,” Bowden smiled.
“The Lord works no better for you than he does for me,” Dad said. “Quit trying to bait me into an argument, because we’ve already did that dance.”
“And that was a dance we were both in step with each other,” Bowden said.
“What have you got for me today?” Dad said.
“Here’s something I propounded to my theology students when I taught,” Bowden said. “Suppose you were immortal.” Bowden paused. “No sarcasm?”
“Not yet,” Dad said. “But hold on to your collar. Okay I’ll play along; I’m immortal.”
“What changes in your personality would you work on? Will you live differently knowing that you have immortality?”
“Once again, Bowden,” Dad said. “Your are trying to steer the answer. You want me to pick something. Perhaps I choose nothing. When you try to put me in a corner or elicit a response that you can exploit it makes me very suspicious of your aims. Are you trying to convert me?”
Bowden hopped down from the seat of the tractor.
“If you ain’t here to convert me than get the hell out of here, because you’d be laying,” Dad said. “It would be a huge feather in your cap if I’d come to church and drop money in the plate. You’d probably retire after that because there would be no more mountains to climb, rivers to span, or wayward to convert.”
“So how would you answer the question?” Bowden said.
“Have you thought long and hard on this?” Dad said.
“Yes,” Bowden said. “I have. It was quite an exercise for my class.”
“With all that background on the subject,” Dad said. “I feel like this is some sort of an ambush. You came in here with your guns a blazing.”
“Well I wouldn’t go that far…” Bowden hesitated.
“Well I would,” Dad said. “You practically got out of your car before it rolled to a stop. I heard the door shut, open, you turned off the car, and you shut the door again.”
“I’m forgetful,” Bowden said.
“You got the mind of steel trap and the focus of a hawk, Bowden.” Dad said. “You already have arguments in mind. You taught for twenty years and used that question all twenty years. You’ve looked it from every possible angle, so, Bowden, you answer first.”
“I’m the teacher here,” Bowden said.
“No you ain’t,” Dad said. “You’re the guy I told to get up on the tractor and turn the key. Your knowledge of what happened to start the engine is scarcely better than an Amazon tribesman‘s. For all you know magic spirits made tractor go putt, putt.”
“It really didn’t take long for the sarcasm to surface,” Bowden said.
“Please,” Dad said. “Put me out of my misery and reveal what you would under the circumstances you described.”