Baling Hay for Pedro
About an hour from Montevideo the sun disappeared behind overcast skies.
“This could be Ohio,” Rich said. “At least where I’m from. It’s flat like this and the farm fields almost look the same. I wouldn’t be surprised the see a farm-fresh girl around the next bend named Jenny.”
“Was that her name?” Dennis said.
“Yeah,” Rich said, “farm girl all the way; fresh, healthy, and…”
“…and keep it to yourself,” Dennis said. “the best words are unusually the ones felt and never uttered.”
“I just wonder about her, that’s all,” Rich said. “I haven’t thought about her in a long time and suddenly seeing these fields, it was like she’s always been there waiting to be introduced.”
Silence enveloped the car for another five miles.
“She was pregnant,” Rich said and added, “but not by me. She probably has a child two years old by now. I hope she finds a good man to take care of both of them. She’s a good person, Dennis. She just made a mistake.”
“That’s what life is, my friend, mistakes,” Dennis said. “We can’t avoid them, only minimize them and try to gloss over the bad effects.”
They drove until time for lunch and ate at a restaurant at the closest small city. The route back to Montevideo was different than the one driven away.
The next day they headed northeast. After an hour and half drive a hay field seemed to appear from beneath the earth.
“That’s a baler just like the one back home,” Rich said excitedly. “Stop.”
Dennis pulled off the road.
“Look,” Rich said, “that guy needs some help. He makes about five bales and has to stop and stack them on the wagon. Come on, Dennis, Let’s give the guy a hand. I’ll show you how I used to bale hay.”
“Who’s gonna watch Zeke?” Dennis said.
“Zeke stays on the boat by himself,” Rich said. “Come on. It will be fun.”
Rich and Dennis tramped across the field.
“I’m a writer and city slicker,” Dennis said.
“It will build character,” Rich said.
“I worked summers for an uncle in the garment industry,” Dennis said.
“What did you do answer phones or do the books?” Rich said.
“I loaded trucks,” Dennis said. “I got plenty of character.”
“Let’s just call this characterization re-familiarization,” Rich said.
“When you load docks in New York,” Dennis said, “believe me those are characters you don’t want to be re-familiarized with.”
“Look at that man,” Rich said. “He looks helpless. I bet his name is Pedro and he’s a poor but kindly and humble farmer.”
As they drew closer the man hoped down from the tractor and started cursing at them in Spanish. He pointed toward the wagon being pulled behind the baler and ordered them upon it. Rich and Dennis climbed on the wagon and it tugged into motion. Bales spit from the baler at frequent intervals. Rich showed Dennis how to stack the bales.
After a half hour Dennis said, “This is not so bad. Just like loading trucks on the dock.”
They enjoyed the work. The farmer driving the tractor continually looked over his shoulder at them with contempt. Occasionally he’d say something Rich and Dennis were certain it was cursing.
“I thought you said he’d be kind,” Dennis said.
“I bet his name his is Pedro,” Rich said.
Another hour passed.
“Don’t you think it’s about time for us the tender our resignation?” Dennis said.
“We’ll quit at lunch time,” Rich said. “It’s getting close.”
A few minutes later two men walked toward the tractor. The farmer stopped the tractor and shut off the engine. The two men and the farmer engaged in a spirited discussion lasting for quite some time.
The farmer walked back to the wagon and said, “quien eres tu?”
“We don’t speak Spanish?” Rich said.
“You are not my workers?” the farmer said in English.
“No,” Rich said. “We saw that you needed help, so we got out of our car and helped. I used to work on a farm.”
“And I loaded trucks for my uncle,” Dennis said.
“He loaded ladies’ dresses,” Rich said.
“They’re heavy,” Dennis said.
“My apologies,” the farmer said. “I thought you were the two men my brother sent and you were late. I cursed at you terribly.”
“Well,” Dennis said, “we were certain you were, but it wouldn’t be work without somebody cursing. We both worked for uncles who cursed at us. We just couldn’t understand you.”
After everything was explained all five of them had a good laugh.
The farmer tried to pay Rich and Dennis, but they refused.
They walked back toward the car and Rich turned to the farmer. “By the way, what is your name?”
“Pedro,” he said. “Pedro Chapa.”
“What did I tell you,” Rich said to Dennis as they climbed into the car.
They drove away and Dennis said as he was shifting gears, “Let’s find a place to eat and if it looks like they need help, keep your mouth shut.”