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THE FAMILY FARM
THE FAMILY FARM
A Brown Fedora Book 2
THE FAMILY FARM
Copyright © Jim DeFilippi This book may be downloaded, printed, and read for personal use only, and only with the author’s name affixed.
THE FAMILY FARM
To all the old guys
THE FAMILY FARM
THE FAMILY FARM
THE FAMILY FARM
PART ONE: SUGARING
“The bloodroot awakes in soil…”
THE FAMILY FARM
the same time each year, during that strange,
fifth season shoulder-shoved between tired winter and beforetime spring, the mud and the sap would arrive— simultaneous, untroubled, ascending, descending,
accelerating, finally slowing to stillness. The mud bubbles up through the roads and the gullies that slice the fields to sit quiet in the ruts left by the wheels of rusting machines. It leaks through the
corner cracks of the shed-room floor. The farm bleeds the stuff, spackling boots and splattering throw rugs, creeping into the bedroom with the weary at night. With a room of its own—the mudroom—it nevertheless wanders the entire farmhouse unimpeded, inexorable. And the sap, having pumped its way up to the uppermost branches of the trees each cold night, perks 7
chiming her harness bells. and that would send thirty—forty? 8 . instinct. and so he too is awakened and alive. but that could also spill the tub. only the top two of the five lugs showing above the brown. one of its wheels off the trail again. her criticism both female and superior. These returns of motion—the run of the sap. habit and heat. Driving the ton and a half of horse forward would most likely pull the wheel free. was pressed hub-deep into the mud. down-pressed by gravity.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi itself back down toward the mud. The right rear tire. which Warren had switched on when it had gotten too bald to pass inspection on the pickup. for the third time that day. leaning their weight into the fog. both horses brown-streaked and not interested. the flow of the mud—remind the farmer that the farm lives once again. *** Stanley and Oliver stood before him like twin immobile shacks. Stanley shook her huge head as if to clear it from her disgust at the situation. The wagon hung skew-jawed two yards behind them. dragging the rig back onto the trail. with the sun’s location announcing it to be not yet noon.
He was losing hold. moving 9 The . Partway down. He heard the sound of the sucking mud letting free. mud was being held on a saucer of granite. Something—maybe his leaning. Warren made his way around back and onto the bank. The bank was steep and muck-slippery. maybe the looking— made his boots start to give. taking a look at the edge of the tire. auguring them in until he felt them hit something near-solid underneath. Warren allowed his eyes to open. He took hold of the bottom of the wagon's rear corner. Instead. red clay and more mud. he twisted his boots left and right a few times. felt the wagon beginning to lift.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi —gallons of the fresh sweet water down the bank. With a small sideways twist of his head. With a quiet but necessary grunt. into a gully clogged with broken slate and wet leaves. steadying himself by palming his meaty hands against the rear wood of the old wagon. now clearing ground. he choked off his breathing and began trying to raise the wagon by straightening his legs. hoisted by determination as much as physical force.
both soft and powerful at the same time. His head snapped back as he felt the wagon easing into his lower chest. With the beginning of a growling curse. A black smudge closed like a thunderhead into right side of his vision. going someplace determined by something other than himself.” turning the word into 10 . A moment later. swirling its warning as he felt himself get carried a few more feet. the wood pressing up across his groin. a spray of cold sap hit him in the face—late—like an old vaudeville joke.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi without want. getting hit face-first with that rotted feeling of being in motion without control. With his feet skidding across the top of the mud. barnacled over its top. his month opened within the cloud of splashing sap. "Shit. he could not find the traction he needed. Pinned there. getting dragged down the bank by gravity. The wagon was sliding sideways. his arms embracing cold wood. He was riding the wagon. the purchase he was straining for. Warren fought to stop the slide—but the momentum of the thing was building beyond him. then get slammed into the crotch of a double-trunked maple. he said.
then down the ridge of his nose. elongated syllables. dead grass. Sugaring was close to done—the boy could finish up—spring fixings would not be needed as of yet. The fingertips of his right hand stuck out through the oily work glove. If a farmer had to get himself laid up. all-powerful prison guards. Another curse word was cut short by a cautionary look at the horses. stupid things were standing still. feeling only the solid pressure from the wagon in front and the tree trunks holding him from behind like a pair of mute. found no pain worth considering. letting them linger on lips and chin. staring ahead at the next sugar bush. With the same soft caress. passed them over his mouth. He took both gloves off. the two of them now pulled back by the slide to the edge of the trail—the incline covered with matted. he moved the hand across the top of the graystreaked wood of the wagon. as he thought: Not a bad time of year to break a bone. Warren 11 . waiting for his command. ran his fingers across the top of his forehead. the bells on Stanley's tug were quiet. The big. let it be now. soft. He checked. threw them down.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi two slow.
These arms. he checked the stubble of his beard. just as stupid. stood as still as his horses—Was he just as bulky. except for a small involuntary clicking movement of his jaw. The wagon did not move. even now the wagon felt insignificant in its hold. muscled and thick. He twisted his head. later. then smelled his palm. were like a part of his chest. spat dark. the tree did not move. felt the tug of the gray thermal underwear that stuck out above the neck of the shirt. Warren turned his head. To a man used to dwarfing and dominating the things around him. with Ollie beginning to show lather. this chest. Finally. his powerful back. began twisting his body left and right from the waist. had gotten him out of a lot of difficulty in fifty-five years. was as solid and gnarled as the tree trunks that held him. then stood motionless. He farted out the sound of a kick to a deflated football. His arms. stretching out of the sleeves of his flannel shirt. They could crush him with the wagon—never know they did it—then. never care.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi saved the malediction. Feeling nearly bored. His body. and into some too. as they? —hoping that they would not decide to start. browned by age. but from somewhere he managed to 12 .
made him look up toward the sugar house. With the boy gone. too low for pushing from beneath. Silently he watched Eddie disappear into the shack. waited—quiet—his body like a third trunk. His right hand felt wood. Warren leaned back into the tree trunks. an ineffective angle for the arms to work. feeling none. he checked for ripping pain. far away. felt his face clenching with the pressure. too high for pulling up. doing nothing. His hands were hooked onto the wagon at a bad height. He pulled up. determination. his left felt the cold metal of the axle brace. His breathing was coming too hard.THE FAMILY FARM wrest a few inches of freedom. 13 . As he pulled. stubbornness. he felt the wagon pressing into him each time he took a breath. Even with the bit of space that he had managed to work. he began closing down his mind. Jim DeFilippi A trace of movement. directing all of what he had—energy. Warren placed both hands under the carriage of the wagon and used the pressure of the tree to brace himself. pushing the peavey ahead of him like a hockey stick. he saw the boy at the woodpile. strength. foolishness—down into his back and legs.
feeling himself deflate. sucking grasp of the mud. He relaxed. re-bit the tower of weight. It was not the sap holding Warren. palm was covered by red powdered rust. and lifted it without trouble. then turned meekly to the audience. So—maybe thirty gallons left? Less? It was not sap holding him down. Years ago at the Essex Fair. then he took a handkerchief off the pile. It covered the palm of his right hand now. and much of it had splashed out when the wagon slid. apologized. a man performing a stage-show had tried to pick up a tower of chairs and tables using the bite of his teeth. The boy would be sitting inside. he tried to remember how full the wagon had been. Eddie had not Warren's left The damnable. A good show the man had put on. it was the mud. He looked up at the shack again.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi He opened his eyes for a moment and saw a vein on his forearm run the color of a robin's egg. tried again. it had caked on from the bottom of the wagon. staring at 14 . It had been a leaky run the night before. said he could not do it. He had tried. reappeared.
The muscles in his upper arms and hands were beginning to flutter with resistance to his will—this would have to be his last try. Then the boy had shrugged. and he had taken a fish-hook to the cheek.” As if this boy had to be told that. then released and again grabbed the undercarriage of the wagon. his eyes were closed again although he still could see the black swirls of dizziness closing in from the corners of his sight. embarrassed.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi the bubbles and the foam. then he could lift the wagon. “Hold steady. jerking pull. he kept pulling. Using his fingers. Warren pressed his lips together like a rosebud. dryeyed. as if the idea had just come to him. Nothing moved. Warren had brought the boy fishing back when he was maybe five. he grabbed hold. each electric-silent swirl moving closer together. It was time that 15 . His mouth took in a bite of the air. Didn't say a word until his father had noticed it. and had lifted his face toward the needle-nose pliers brought forth from the tackle box. sitting like a stone with the airy sweetness sticking to his skin. made a sudden. If he could put in the time and the will before he blacked out. He kept straining.
like something ripping loose. His body flew into the air as the wagon wheel rolled over the top of the bank. and he was slammed back down onto the top of the wagon's side. horse. He kept straining and lifting. The horses bolted forward. Then everything was back on the trail. He kept pulling.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi would break the hold of the mud. The wagon rose. and he opened up his eyes. but he knew that he must not. Warren hung on. He kept pulling. The horses had already come to a stop when he yelled. as it should be. After a long time. whoa. More movement—he knew that the mud must be giving up its hold. he sucked in enough air to yell "Yoah.” 16 . He was tempted to ease it back down. when he was sure that the rear wheel of the wagon must be cleared of the mud by a halffoot or more. He could not tell if it had come from the wagon or from somewhere inside his body. He felt wrinkles of tightened flesh crowding together across his face. He felt or imagined a slight movement from somewhere. Then…Yes. unsure if he was helping move the wagon or simply getting dragged along by it. “Whoa." at Stanley and Oliver.
So much work and time and energy spent. One late winter. He checked the front of his overalls and his shirt. some fresh dirt. too dumb to know it. hiding beneath a small patch of 17 . too much effort. A farmer should little waste his time and effort. but no blood. just to get back to where you belonged. his arms were electrified and numb. back to where the work could begin. they were his only resources. He could walk along beside the horse team. He had just a bit of breathing pain. Warren had tried pulling the sap wagon with his big Farmall. He went back to work. found a few rips that he did not remember. his neck tight. The horses seemed to know that their haul was on track again. his legs were tired from the lifting. bored already. and only one was renewable An ice puddle. a tractor did not know where to stop or when to pull again. He would remind himself to check his back and chest that evening. they moved forward. but the hoping off. the climbing back on.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi Back on the pathway of work. had burned off too much time. The only thing that the slide had not cost him was money.
He snapped off their rain covers. but never a chipmunk. beetles. Some of the pails hanging from the taps hooked onto the south side of the tree held a few inches of sap. the rest was crystal. Warren would not permit another delay. maybe a red squirrel once. the crystal-frozen body of a chipmunk. He had found spiders in the sap. It had been trying to drink 18 . tree frogs. each big enough to hold three. some nights four taps. One pail held a color and shape that did not belong. he leaped forward and with a single shove righted the wagon's direction before it got too close to the bank. nothing more than working blood. pressed two big fingers into the white fur of the belly. caused the wagon to fishtail a bit to the right as the horses plodded on. He tossed the thing to the ground. held it a moment. The team stopped at a sugar bush of nine or ten maples. which hung half an inch above the surface of the liquid. Some of the fur was soft. He noticed some blood coming through his gloves now. where it had not frozen. The rest were nearly dry. Warren ripped the little body free.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi sugar snow. the neat little stripes of red and black and gray fur stuck solid into the crust of the ice. unaware. its eyes turned to glass by death.
Now the crows stayed right through the winter— When had that changed? —and the tax man. Even though the sun was coloring the south side of the tress a deep rusty color. like the crows. He watched as the clear tree-juice flow into the pan. the day had been wet and cold.C. The tank was gradually ripping itself free from the wall of the shack. pipe. not worth the bother. never left. It was pointless to be sugaring today. continue through a line of P.THE FAMILY FARM the sweet water and fallen in. too close to April for anything except low grade syrup. with anything after that taxable. then splash into a holding tank that was barely managing to hang onto the barn-board. The horses stopped at the shack and Warren unplugged the tug. finish up on April Fools. Jim DeFilippi Warren poured the sap from the death bucket into a bigger collecting bucket— nearly filling it—and he carried it back to the wagon. and a few warm nights had slowed the sap flow to next to nothing. he looked around at the 19 .V. He would have to see to that. As the sap was emptying. the roofing nails losing their grip. Used to be you could start your sugaring each year when the crows began their cawing.
Other farmers had turned to sucking the sap out of their trees using ugly plastic tubing that looked to be strangling the woods. they had been bigger yesterday. and the Free Press had an article last year of some fool trying fall sugaring. sucking the trees to death. then the acid that the Extension Service said was coming in from the West with the rain. barely able to keep up with their own progress. Warren did his sugaring by carrying four full buckets in his massive hands. their wire handles barely making an impression in his palms.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi He patches of snow. No tubes of any color would ever get strung across the dirt of this farm. First the tubes of plastic. their nights burning. acid falling from the sky. he and Eddie had been flat-out running. A week ago. 20 In early Using blue . tubing. some fatass captain tapping his trees in October. leaking revenue where the woodchucks had chewed and the snowmobilers had sliced. moved slowly around front. heading in to check the evaporator. What were things turning into? Crows all winter. spending their days collecting.
studied it as it flowed off the blade back into the pan. He would do this again and again. "See to the horses then. waiting for the sheeting 21 The man and the boy looked at . labeled as Syrup. canned. Warren simply dipped a spatula into the stuff. Every year.THE FAMILY FARM springtime." Eddie left. "The pails been washed then?" "Yuh. B. Fancy." "Get those taps out? Down back?" The boy nodded. or a hygrometer to test the density. Jim DeFilippi He saw that Eddie's fire was burning all right in the arch. almost forever. then filtered for niter. He moved easily into the shack. before the drawing off. until finally a tenth of itself—less—was left to be drawn off. each other. Most sugarers would use a thermometer to check the consistency. for hours. the slow smooth current in the evaporator was controlled and proper. There was nothing for Warren to do now but to watch the sap boil away its water. A. dipping the spatula more than he had to.
When he was a young farmer.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi to begin. barely aware of the shack or of the evaporator or of Eddie or of time. and the work usually was. holding the spatula like a pocket watch. He would press his lips and tongue onto the hot blade. newspaper editorials. letting another few gallons of cold sap into the evaporator. he would use these times to think—to build logical. His mind would go over prices and the costs of things. he would be dulled from the hours. or stories he had heard on the radio. aware of nothing more than staying 22 He could deal with them that . The new stuff would chase the sweeter liquid around and through the channels. That was the way he worked best when the work was long and routine. solid arguments and ideas and worlds in his mind. snaking back and forth. flowing off in a blade-wide drop that signaled it was ready to be drawn. Before the day’s work was done. and feel content. way. and he always knew. He drained off a bit of syrup and then turned an old nozzle rigged to the holding tank outside. Now he just stood there dumbly. never missed.
Where was the dog? Why keep his foolish ass around if the damned thing was too deaf to hear. as people from not around here did when they met people from around here. Maybe next year he would get a fishhook looped into the side of his face and decide to do something about it until later on sometime. standing a minute before heading up the path toward him. 23 . He could feel them there. too lazy to bark out a warning when need be? Warren was vaguely aware of the two people getting out of the car. Think of that. studying him like a chunk of something in a museum. He did not hear the car drive up until a door slammed. he hoped they would go to the house instead of coming back here to the shack. he looked through the propped open window of the shack to see a little red two door.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi put. both of them looking around at the trees like day-trippers. getting the job done. when he got around to it. its low-slung undercarriage barely able to clear the mud. He had no interest. Maybe he was becoming more like his son. When he heard the shack door opening. he did not turn. too old to care.
THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi Salesmen. they did not belong here. misplaced skiers. tourists. *** 24 . Montpelier stumpers. the two of them. Whoever the hell they were.
At the bottom of the Interstate exit ramp. each time he nodded and answered. "Yeah. she took the road map from him.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi TWO They had left Boston a little after nine. hadn't stopped till now. shadows of telephone polls sweeping across his face. The box hung onto a fence post which was slanted precariously out of an old fifty-gallon 25 . Sarah had done all the driving. I think so. Three times she asked if things were beginning to look familiar. with her husband sitting quiet and remote beside her. she pointed to a mailbox that had "Lareaux" painted in dark block letters across its age-rusted side." then flipped the map unfolded back to his side of the car." Fifteen minutes from the Interstate. traced her finger to the word "Baker.
26 . slammed the door. She looked over at her husband. checked him again.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi milk can. She recognized this as an old trick that he used whenever they were entering strange or hostile territory—a lawyer's office. got out before he did. started to say a word that turned into a sigh. and began walking ahead. hoping for a look of confidence rather than condescension. Sarah braked. tanned indoors maybe a bit too early for the season. Her arms. A cupola leaking a sky-bound trail of gray-blue smoke told them that the shack was occupied and working. a marriage counselor. She tried on her smile for him. managed the wheel with a pattern which she had seen diagramed once in a racing magazine. She pulled the car onto a smudge of brown next to a browner shack and let the vehicle slump to a stop. At its entrance. seeming to lean into the nonexistent wind and traffic. he swung the door open and he held it for her. a review board. then turned the Celica up onto the dirt driveway at a slow but confident five-miles-per-hour. The door creaked like an elongated note of a flute. up the slippery incline. Steven came up behind and then passed her.
She heard the spring-loaded door shut behind her—more dissonant flute music—as she began to catch glimpses of the figure standing before them—first an arm. she had worn her sleeveless yellow top with the tiny semaphore design across the chest. weak. The temperature up here was noticeably cooler. then the massive shoulders—pieces of a mountain breaking through the clouds. With the door still opened. who had stepped up beside her. She turned to Steven. One of his 27 . His face was handsome. except inside this room of slow moving sugar-steam. their shoulders touching. the thick mist was being swept off the top of the boiling pan and toward them. sticky.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi Inside. He was slouching—his thin frame twisted to strange angles at the waist and neck— angles that only Steven could attain. She wondered where and when she could take her first Vermont shower. The weather had been warm when they left the city. moving— clinging to her face and her bare arms like oil. then part of a face for a moment. It took her eyes a moment to locate the man within the gray moving air. the air was sauna-like—sweet. squinting through the fog.
seeming to bully his way through the solidness of the steam. No one was speaking. again. She stood waiting. a bit louder. then nodded. Both times he had shrugged. studied her husband for a second. He had remained hollow and echoing—as empty as a rotted-out log—and disoriented. or a weapon. The giant was holding a steel spatula like it was an old-fashioned wooden schoolroom pointer. too clogged with the significance of the whole thing. She had told him twice that they did not believe in the Devil. once even running her hand along the inside of his thigh. He circled the shiny metal of the Then machinery. looking at her husband—she must not be the first to speak—until he finally called out Warren's name. Jim DeFilippi During the entire drive she had been trying to shore up his resolve—talking a bit loud. He stopped his progress before them. coming around with purpose. then nodded. ignored her. 28 . using a surprisingly clear voice. Warren was looking at them with his head slanted a bit to one side.THE FAMILY FARM fingers came up to touch the corner of an eye. complimenting him as she nodded.
Warren thinking about maple syrup. she managed to tuck her right shoulder behind and under his left one. grabbing onto her hand awkwardly. She saw Steven remember to extend his own hand then—an afterthought—and Warren's engulfed it. while neither was stooping nor going tip-toe." The smile she gave him as the giant glanced down toward her came out stilted—phony. it would be: Steven concentrating on the firmness of the grip. It almost vanished inside of his. Steven: "Warren. After a few chafed moments of very small talk and 29 . The shoulders fit together like a union of dancers. she could tell—so she pulled herself up to full height and offered her hand.” The tone of the greeting sounded like he could have seen the younger man just the day before. how you been? You look just the same." No question required no response. If she had to guess.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi “Stephan. Warren laid the spatula on a shelf and took up the challenge. not hers—and. so Steven added. "This is my wife. Sarah moved herself even closer to her husband's side—for his sake. like muscles making love. and got none. This is Sarah. or maybe half a lifetime ago.
embarrassing to Steven. They passed an old black barn with a smaller barn beside it." Steven said to her. They followed. gangly. The boy saw them. She had on white Reeboks with a light blue trim. probably natural to Warren—they moved. until Warren told him. with Warren leading them from the shack further up the grade towards the farm house. See the pan don’t burn. nodding . Steven called out to the farmer’s back. not looking up. asked if the car was all right where it was. toward it. empty-faced. The boy shifted his stance. came out. didn't stop or turn around. He 30 "Milking parlor. "Finish things up down there. She saw patches of snow and The farmer manure in their path which Warren didn't avoid. and silent. and stood in front of them.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi very long silences—silences interesting but awkward to Sarah. Through the slanted-open barn door they saw a teenage boy tossing a basketball into a wooden crate that sat on the hay covered floor." The boy turned away and tried to bounce the ball into another crate that was half full of kindling wood. as if by instinct.
" Warren called after him. he turned and headed down toward the shack that they had just left. The three continued their climb and Sarah studied the farmhouse as they approached." Warren called. variously ornate. Sarah remembered driving through Quebec once. It was just another of the unmatched series of little out-buildings. White clapboard—de rigueur—with that peculiar blend of uniqueness and familiarity that the old houses in northern New England offered. "And see to the horses. barley audible. its smell worst than the others. without turning back to them. just a few miles north of here. "Fine. The boy made a sharp turn and disappeared inside a decaying little chicken house that was clinging onto the side of the barn for support. I think." the boy said. and seeing the houses up there—each one pastel. 31 She . Instead of chasing it. mosaic. to see the differences that the border seemed to make. She had wanted to swing up into Canada on this trip.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi missed and the ball rolled under some shiny metal machinery. The low edges of each of their roofs curled up like a pie crust. "Take a dozen eggs down.
their growth fertilized by a mixture of practicality and procreation. 32 . A woodshed was hooked on and later became a bathroom as the farmer was made to admit that indoor plumbing wasn’t just a fad. where he was kicking off his boots. instead of a touch of Versailles. they were looking at places like this one. Montreal. Sarah knew that houses up here grew organically. Steven had told her. which seemed to roll forward to meet them as they climbed the little hill. and the people there somehow Old World and so civilized. let's just keep thinking one thing at a time.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi remembered how across the boarder the land suddenly flattened itself out and the trees turn sickly and thin— somehow looking like they had a French accent. "No. A And house both solid and dull against a land that had yet to turn green. okay? Okay?" They drove directly here to the farm. hadn't gotten a motel yet. They followed Warren up onto the porch. The original box would be joined by a milking shed that became the boys' bedroom. So.
about it?" had been his answer. its every fixture visible through the open doorway.THE FAMILY FARM A porch appeared. in the halls of the Gardner Museum. Common water supply and drainage with the "So? What kitchen sink. to remove their shoes.” as they leaned. None of this cell division followed any master plan. Hardened black smears marked the places where bathroom tiles had fallen. seeming 33 . but what about aesthetics? She had asked Steven that once. Jim DeFilippi The attic lifted again into more bedrooms because the girls were growing. As Warren led them into the kitchen. back in Boston. then hopped. coming down to meet them. Sarah admitted to herself that there was something correct about architecture like this. Is this place safe? Should we all be wearing hard hats? From off the kitchen she looked into a first-floor bathroom. Lovely. Warren told them. she noticed a staircase which somehow managed to turn not once but twice on its way up to what looked like an attic that was swaying its belly. “Don’t bother. A woman stood at the center of the kitchen. Dormers sprouted. it was fueled and driven by the nature of need alone.
Sarah told herself. she could take to this lady. then Sarah’s. shook Steven’s hand. a shade that probably didn't change with the seasons. calm eyes. Jen’s face held a few pale freckles but was tea-cup white. her arms folded. the boy returned with the dozen eggs. let her hip fall against a counter. as tall as Sarah. Jen wiped her hands a last time on the dishtowel and glanced up at Warren. given a chance. Jen 34 . The woman's overall softness was strengthened by the cheekbones so visible beneath the skin. Sarah supposed. which he apparently had boiled in the bubbling sap. The eyes of the farm wife who had taken some hits in her life. who wouldn't complain about any of them. who was bound to take some more. this farm wife now who stood rubbing her hands on a towel and looking at the floor. and the strong. Sarah smiled for a second. then over at the couple. Jim DeFilippi The woman came forward. heavier. Her hair had started out blond. she leaned there.THE FAMILY FARM to be a part of it. but had darkened and toughened through the years. Jen was tall. probably like the wife herself had. Warren pointed out his wife. eyes out of a photograph book of New England faces. After a while.
Sarah took a black swallow of it. They had been at the farm for fifteen minutes now. "Are we keeping you from your sugaring?" "Would not do that. 35 "It’s been a pretty good Ya think the rain’ll hurt the . Go on. she didn't have to move any muscle in her face to get him a message.THE FAMILY FARM called him Eddie. and the major words of consequence had been. to rub some of the chill from her bare arms. Steven turned to Warren." Warren slipped a whole egg into his mouth. He remained standing as the other three adults sat. subtly. turned to her husband. enjoyed the sweet maple taste. rhubarb any? Finally she heard Steven say. "Looks to me like the farm hasn't changed much. Warren had taken a Genesee beer from the fridge. "How you been?" Sarah bit into an egg. Jim DeFilippi She asked them to sit at the kitchen table and she poured coffee." Was is "Would not" or "Could not" that she heard through his egg-crushing? Sarah managed to catch hold of her husband's glance. Warren. seemed to squash it with the roof of his mouth. who turned away. and she tried quickly." "Never does.
" Steven said. "Clean up. Was this Steven's Protestant Work Ethic or simply a plan of escape from her prodding? As Warren passed by his wife. Sarah thought." Jim DeFilippi Pregnant pauses. He was dismissing them. Steven shifted in his chair. give you a hand. When nothing happened. he slipped on a jacket that had been hanging off a chair back. "Going back to the pan." Warren told them as he turned toward the door. this was almost as bad as watching a baseball game. Warren walked over to the sink. Warren turned. She must not be the first to speak." "I'll go with you. Make sure the boy’s been checking on the burn. Christ.THE FAMILY FARM year? I mean. Sarah looked quickly out the window. stood silent. Sarah saw her ask 36 . He slid the empty beer can onto the counter. very pregnant—I could conceive. her stare stayed there. rising out of the chair too quickly. his fingertips seeming reluctant to let go. waiting. gestate. and deliver my first child during one of these pauses. farm-wise?" "Yet to start.
and in church. Didn't Ty come out for supper once in awhile anymore? Maybe not. Probably used to get him in trouble in school. not used to company at all." Warren told her. The lady wanted to know just what the hell was going on here. something Jen called johnnycake. Steven knew that some families perpetually This discussed the food as they ate it. warmed-over baked beans. homemade bread that couldn't hold its freshness like the store-bought kind. 37 . Everybody in the kitchen heard him say it again. franks and hamburger without buns. some did not. "Marie's boy. on Christmas. but he was one of those people who had never learned how.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi him something with her eyes. Maybe once a year. Not used to company for dinner. family didn't talk about anything. He had tried to whisper it." *** Dinner was crowded and uneasy—a three-bean salad served in the plastic bowl that had stored it. who were these people in her kitchen? "Marie's boy.
his wife had learned to present herself as effortlessly beautiful. Warren wouldn't cut back on his eating. She had taken only some salad and a slice of bread. sat among the tinkling of the silverware and plates. Jim DeFilippi So Steven sat among the silent ones. eating their food. It took some observation to notice that her lips were small. Steven knew that much. as if for protection. her neck a bit much for her frame. After all. Since puberty. Steven guessed that the lack of room for his plate and arms was unsettling him more than the atmosphere. and the people she met always accepted that. Sarah sat in what passed for her usual easy posture. trying to figure if there would be enough. the boy. Eat to win. 38 . He was what—maybe fifteen? —so he would sit and eat and refuse to believe that someday soon he would be sucked into this absurd adult world of meaningless conversation.THE FAMILY FARM with plenty of warning. his elbows held close against his rib cage. right? Eddie. her face strangely disinterested. Did he even feel the charge in the air? Probably not. it was the farmer's food.
Out of Warren's left sleeve and onto the back of his hand ran a thin scar that Steven 39 . He had been embarrassed there once as a kid. What was it? What exactly had happened? He chewed and looked over at Warren. Steven saw the big man's hands—brown and wrinkled like his face. displaying its cold porcelain toilet to the dining party. unable to slow himself down—the meal simply an obstacle between him and a cigarette. The soil coating them was old. or pieces of flesh carved out of dirt. who seemed to be using his finger tips to probe his chest. sitting in that absurd place with people out here. Since he had bitten into the hard-boiled egg an hour before. These could weigh him down. he knew. of this house and this man. Steven knew that Warren would be satisfied with that.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi Steven was biting and chewing very quickly. pieces of the earth. without tasting. Steven bit the end off a hot dog and looked into the stupid bathroom. his head had been swirling in memories. but the memories were too irradiated to resist—visions of the fields and the sugar shack. as if searching for something. probably permanent. make him sluggish and hurt his performance. nearly indistinguishable from the skin.
the only part of him that wasn't the color of the earth. Even the farmer’s clothing was all tans and Steven remembered Warren browns. we're going to live where there are tress and fields and animals." Steven chewed on his meat and wondered how many seconds he had before he had to give an answer. The only thing unearthly about the farmer was something there above the eyes. Warren stayed silent. watching—watching what?—enemy or prey. He had been four years old when his mother had brought him here to live in the house of the Cyclops.THE FAMILY FARM remembered. "Steven. We'll be happy and both of us will be there 40 . "What brings you here? Get on with it. Steven brought his glance down to a coffee cup as Warren looked over at him. and the eyes tucked in there underneath. the way the bottom of the forehead curved out like the bumper of an old car. constantly adding and shedding layers of clothing like snake skin. like dead leaves. with the black brow covering the mound like matted wire. Earth tones and earth smells. but his stare was asking. Jim DeFilippi The scar was twisted swirls of white and bright red. mean and cautious.
you know. and the reader. was looking at him. Answer the man. When the Cyclops came 41 . the reader was actually Warren." The Cyclops had never been mean to him. Could that be? The Cyclops himself had read to him about the Cyclops? Answer the man. Down in Boston. So the monster in the book had one less eye than this one. we've both just finished up our studies. So maybe he had gotten the name a little wrong.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi all the time. "Warren. the little kid had figured. nor growled at him. that didn't mean much. Sarah and I. in Boston. It was him all right. but that was just dumb luck. Steven had been petrified of the Cyclops since the day they had arrived here. all right?" What for? Why go live somewhere else? Warren had stopped eating. when someone had read him the description from a book on mythology. although he didn't realize that it was the Cyclops they were living with until later. nor tried to rip his legs off and eat them when his mother wasn't around. Answer. maybe Bullfinch.
then toward Warren.” Little Steven's fear had soon stunk up the whole house. radiating from his monstrous body like a bad smell. so he would have climb into his bed and cry. A real ordeal. hot feeling always in his stomach. "So. those noises. They would be sticky and green and Steven. decided to climb right into bed with him? They could if they wanted to. Steven looked over at Sarah. usually in his little room upstairs. He went through his days with tears always right behind his eyes. those voices. 42 . so he would try. who was nodding like a play doll. But footsteps and voices and noises that made no sense were banging in the walls. first to him." fucking man. it was the perfect time to get onto things that we've been planning. For both of us. he brought with him the little kid's fear. “All the studying. please. Kids were supposed to play. and a sick.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi into the room. but she wouldn't hold out much longer. And what if those steps. for us. just answer the would clog his ears and mouth. his whole world. She was doing well about shutting up.
and it was there in the classroom too. behind the old clock and in the coatroom and on the playground and reflected in the teacher's eyeglasses. but that putrid fear was already sitting on the bus waiting for him. Warren had spoken Steven's fork was carrying beans. 43 . Up here." As a kid." "Yeah. "I guess it's the land that does. deserved the punishment—but sorrow for his mother.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi He had begun school. nor come back here at three. The only other emotion he remembered from this place was sorrow. that brings us on up. And by then his mother would catch on and try to help. "What is it brings you here?" and people were waiting. because if he thought about it too much it would grow and gain control and humiliate him and then exhaust him. he would try not to think about the fear. He didn't want to go there in the morning." "The land. he placed it down onto plate. Sorrow not for himself—his life was as it was supposed to be. he had probably asked for it somehow.
Steven's mother had already tightly wrapped the two giant arms in a green blanket. Steven nodded." Warren seemed to come alive. We come to talk to you about it. you say. it's a beautiful place. It was just too confusing. It’s the farm. It would take the two of them to pour the boiling water into the Cyclop's face. the land. He was sick. 44 At the ." Little Steven had run to the kitchen. This land?" Pointing at the kitchen floor. Settle some of the things. "What about it?" One morning he had gotten up and realized that the Cyclops was still in bed. caught up with feelings of teamwork and bravery and freedom. "Your farm. Tell him what we want. and then they could help each other stab him again and again until they were free to go back to the city. The move. Tell him what is ours. He knew he could help. "Yup. Our reason for this trip. She was in the kitchen boiling a huge pot of water.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi and then she would have to carry that curse along with her other one—she had to go to the Cyclops's room every night to sleep. "So.
he saw his mother gently placing a washcloth on the monster's forehead. just for a moment. broken apart by long silences. He let the fear and the sadness take him again. They were unnatural. and he would always be glad to live with that fact. Shit. it made him afraid for his 45 . but different than usual. The Cyclops and his mother were in the parlor. "Go ahead then. Something was different. thinking about a comic book where a blade had gone into a chest. discussing something." Too late. He remembered that his mother was simply an absurdly kind and forgiving woman. "Steven and I have a bit of a proposition that we'd like to talk over with you. He knew then what betrayal was. and then forced his hand to move and grab the knife. Sarah had begun to speak. and he joined his mother in the Cyclops's room. I’m listening. but just for a moment. A few years after that near-knifing." Running in. he was woken up in the middle of the night by voices that seemed to be not quite shouting. But Steven prayed for strength. what it felt like.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi knife drawer he hesitated.
"There's the question of the farm and the property and how we should proceed. sun-baked and stubborn. ten?. but the fear kept him pinned tightly in bed this time. pronouncing his mother's name and his own. lifted his chin in question. She sat there as he pretended to be asleep.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi mother. but it was just such a long ordeal.” Warren looked just like he did to a little boy—dark. He knew that he should run to try to save her. He felt his mother enter his room and sit on his bed.. the Cyclops's rumbling and cruel. Now Warren had leaned in toward Steven. He wouldn't move as she touched his head. his mother had left and 46 . Sarah had taken a slow drink of milk. as other voices rose and fell and stopped and started and even cursed. The little boy had stayed like that for hours. staring down at the Genesee beer can in his hand.... she put the glass down. The voices had finally stopped. His mother's voice sounded shrill. When Steven was. It was getting light out. Later she left and he looked up. bring himself to wipe his eyes or nose. and he turned over to put his face into the pillow. The boy tried to keep his sobbing He couldn't quiet.
eventually to go insane.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi taken them back to Boston. baked all day in the oven." Jen answered him. this meal was great. "We generally eat better in the fall." Steven was going to tell everyone that his mother made beans like this. She would not stop talking now." Steven heard himself say. he motioned toward it. "I had forgotten about beans like this. reacted. very good. He looked up at an odd-shaped. then over at the farm wife. Tell them what we want. But he knew that Sarah was looking at Warren. silent. "The can goods get low this time of year. wood top banjo hanging from a wall. do it before Sarah does." Eddie got up and left the room. the boy supposed. With brown bread. You can never put enough away. They left the Cyclops in his house. "Jen. looking at his hands now. He No one imagined sparks flying through the room at the mention of her name. 47 "Does . and pull the beams of the place down upon himself until he was crushed to death. leaving even more suddenly than they had come.
” Steven reached for his cigarettes. "Well. there's something that I didn't know at all. Warren?" "Now see. asking permission. cutting off Steven's view of Sarah." Jen told her." Jen said." Steven was telling Warren. but she wouldn't care—"We've been thinking about the best way to deal with things. "I'm sure he is."—he felt himself tap her name a bit too hard. He held them out to Jen. she smiled. "About what?" 48 You . know. He let the cigarette rest in one cupped hand.THE FAMILY FARM somebody play that? Does it work?" Jim DeFilippi "Warren's father would play. for everyone's concern. "You speak of this property?" Warren looked from Steven to Sarah. who shook her head. He moved the pack toward Sarah. then back. Sarah here and I. “Speak up. its pack in the other." Sarah said." Steven didn't have a match and didn't want to ask for one. Warren leaned forward over the table. "Didn't he used to." "He's good. "I used to play the guitar a little bit.
He assured us For that everything could be worked out just fine. keep going. and nothing more. you had to hit the edge just right. you get all busted up. "A few changes. they're as important to us as our own benefit is. wouldn't notice the blood coming close to the skin's surface. 49 .THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi Steven felt like a ski-jumper." He kept his eyes on Warren. try to keep your balance and form. vaulting out of the shoot. "So. He hoped Warren wouldn't know that. then kick yourself off. That's the God's honest truth. who did not seem to hear his voice. everybody's benefit. out onto the ramp—once moving. Steven's fingers had fallen to the edge of the chair between his legs. you couldn't do anything but lean into it." Heat was rising like sugar-smoke up into Steven's neck and lower face. Warren. we talked to a lawyer"—wrong word—"Down in Boston. glide and land and come to a stop safely and bravely. Because your benefit. your's and your wife's and your family. if it's okay with you folks…"—another wrong word. That are fine with you. hesitation would twist and break you and screw you all up. "We'd like to make some changes that are all right with you. Without confidence. Only those.
a deal we have. It was cocked to one side. "Very well indeed. like a wrestler's. A deal we want to work out with you." 50 . the picture going to fuzz and snow. but everything else he had doubts about." Something like this had happened to him once in Boston. eyes blinking. pole-ax it onetime with a two-by-four. "What is okay? So what is okay with us?" Steven looked at Warren's face. you couldn't really believe people who said. Of course. "Well. I should smash a fist into that face.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi The cigarettes on the table in front of him seemed real enough. Get his attention. afterwards a couple of people had told him that it had gone very well indeed. watching the whole scene like on somebody else's poorly tuned television. and he had been surprised. when he had to give speech to an auditorium full of grad students and professors. But Steven was the one lost in this conversation. as if the man were trying to remember who Steven was and what the words meant. the sound cutting in and out. He was younger then and had smoked a joint. The old man's face looked incredibly stupid.
Talking's done." The word exploded out of Warren like a stereo suddenly twisted to ten. "You had There's been enough talk for the evening. Warren's wife had stood up. 51 Because there's . her eyes opened maybe a bit more than usual. the volume not distorting the contempt or the anger. we have to tell this one thing to you. We'd like to run it by you. Steven heard Warren say a word he couldn't make out. if that's okay. Warren wouldn't repeat it. Let's process some information here. was out of view. Warren seemed to be just repeating everything that was said to him. somewhere off behind." "Talk's all done now. but when he asked him what. no it is not. "Sarah and I have a plan for the place. but watching. Ready to leap. Warren. Sarah was silent for now." "No. see? something else." "No. Warren." "There's nothing. buddy." The Cyclops was standing above him.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi Now he was trying to figure out how to clear his head without shaking it. better be gone now.
his fingers pressed together near his mouth.” This was the first time since the shack that he had actually acknowledged her. before his food." Steven said." Sarah was trying to tell Warren. Jen produced a broom and dust pan out of nowhere. Everyone— even Warren—seemed to apologize for it. then shattered across the linoleum. what you must think of us. "Just plain business." "It's been a dream of ours to relocate. his knives and forks. standing above them who were seated in his kitchen." "Business." Sarah said. "Just coming into your house like this. Warren's eyes were closed. "Business. Jen. keeping things on that level." Warren faced her. sweeping. her eyes were reddening. They all watched her pour the shards of glass into a garbage can and go over to Warren. "God.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi "This has to be business. hardly turning. relieved to be moving. and she was down. who had sat back down. but he did not. please. She took his shoulders. 52 . Something rocked the table and a glass dropped off its edge. his plates. Steven waited for him to shrug his wife's hands off.
and for counseling too. studying Warren. I think it was. My husband's farm." Sarah explained. Build. the Knob is a beautiful spot. What beautiful surroundings to help people with their problems. you see. A young fella up from New Jersey. It's really very beautiful. Wanted to use my old windmill. I know.. Twenty year ago maybe." "Really. "We were thinking maybe a place for us. 53 ." "Oh. It seemed to relax now. and he stood up to leave. "We don't understand any of this." Sarah told them. And to live. "Steven pointed it out to me on the way in. one corner of his mouth nearly smiled." Warren's face rose up from the cup of his fingers. we think." Steven said. come right up here to the house in order to talk to me. it seems.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi Jen answered. "Would be a beautiful spot to build on. really. Small. Private." "Wind power. "Yuh." "I know. "This puts me in mind of another man one time dropped by here. and our place. For our practice." Steven nodded. "We're just talking about the Knob.. Jen." Jen agreed." Steven said.
" A trace of a French accent had crept into Warren's words." Warren went on. mostly. it was. I could move a few of the cows out of the barn." And without an apparent change of tone. Warren 54 . we're serious. no. our house." Steven told him. "is the electric fence. save on taxes too. "Warren. I suspect it could be juiced up some. where are those chains I use for the pigs? Steven and his wife here may have a need. see. "And counseling. I mean it. You could keep them more violent ones in there. then." "No." Steven wanted to point out that a home office would make money in the long run. but not much voltage there. "A nut house. because we are dead serious.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi "To watch for flying saucers. here at home. speaking slowly." Sarah said. Maybe someday some cabins. Jen." "No. come on now. Fine for keeping the pigs in. Warren leaned forward over the table. He began "I suppose." Steven repeated. but Sarah wouldn't want to hear him talk of that. because we are serious here. "Only problem I see. A place for us. you want?" "No. Have a tower for that. That's all.
even if you could clear it. Steven choked in a little laugh. "Look. then you are dead serious. anyway? The same one." Warren seemed to be through with his joke. after all. as if that would end it." "What?" There was no response. that was one hell of a lot of years ago. same place? No.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi responded. Whitehead? "You mean the Same The one you used to tell us about? one?" Grinning now. Warren. Sarah said." Steven explained. up there. "Yuh." Steven saw Warren react to that—the bitch knows the acreage. And it is half ours. "We figure a couple acres. maybe. It's rock and it's ledge. Warren? How long can those things live. "it's not even farmable land. "An animal lives up there. come on. am I right? I mean. "Don't they ever move on." "Warren." "Could be. Out of the two hundred and fifty.” Sounding very serious now. after 55 . if you are serious. as if now they would go and forget it. it's not level.
to you. Steven looked at him. who was still sitting at the table. we should. how we were to come here. put it back into his pocket. We're very sorry. Warren did not move. took the loose one with it.THE FAMILY FARM all. folks still spot it? Could not be. Maybe in the mail. wasn't it? Jim DeFilippi Is it like the catamount up here? Long gone. decided something. even Warren. And it is. Jen was still standing behind Warren's chair. Now she left her spot to usher them out of the house. they all looked at her." Steven reached for the cigarette pack on the table. held the look for a longer time than he could have just awhile ago. Jen turned and 56 . At the door. *** As she heard their car drive away. like a hospital nurse after visiting hours. "We have to go now. The visit ended with apologies and vague promises. We're sorry about this." "It could be. we should have thought it out some more. Steven and I did it all wrong. Steven could tell that his wife had She told them all. or a phone call first. Steven turned back to Warren." Sarah stood up from the table. I mean.
looking at the table top as if there were a map drawn there. for Christ sake. "Damn-ass fools. at best met with some strange farmer code words that she would never figure out anyway." *** 57 . "Two asshole fools. ignored." he told her.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi asked her husband for an explanation. among the bread crumbs and food stains. There's the Whitehead lives there. Just one more in a list of millions of explanations which she had requested of him over seventeen years. Another quiet appeal that would go unanswered.
liked it still. He reached up. and slid his fingers across the 58 . almost gone. but it did not have the strength. rolled his head far back to loosen up the shoulders. him feeling the puffy rings of fat double up behind his neck. He needed to get it right this time. except for that "Gumption. let his mouth fall open. even after all the noodling and re-writes.” that would solve things. until the spot on the yellow legal pad paper had been worn away to see-through.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi THREE All Ty needed was something for "Gumption. Get something for "Gumption" and the rest would be gravy. having already crossed out twice." He looked up from the page. even licking the eraser a bit. He reread the last paragraphs of the piece. The word had to shore up two of the last few paragraphs of his piece. behind. erased twice.
THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi dent that his cap had caved in across the back of his head through the years. running through the hair—what was left of the formerly thick stuff. the Chief dancing deftly across crime scenes. He scanned the room for his Thesaurus. then his dictionary. Was the indentation only surface deep. Not going to move or change for anybody. maybe even singing "Gigi" at the next Select Board meeting. The Maurice Chevalier of the Baker Police Department—hat set at a rakish angle. now oiled and wispy—or had the trench actually been sculpted into his skull? He ought to start wearing the hat at different angles." and realized he had switched into "Venus. on different days. then began to sing "Gigi. Give it up.” Avalon." but soon turned the second line of the lyric into "Goddess of love that you are. front and back. reading rights with a charming accent. From his desk Ty looked across the office to the bookcase. spotted the red and black Roget's lying flat on 59 Frankie . weekends and holidays. After an officer’s cap had rested for so many years across the same exact line of the skull—then that was it. maybe even a bit sideways.
Saturday mornings. with their toes still holding onto a military spit shine.” but this would involve a long walk followed by a tiring alphabetical search. store clerk style? He split the difference and tossed it onto the blotter. So instead. absence of spill-able ink. one was Chief of Police. allowing the brogans to remain hoisted and at ease. nobody came into one’s office. One was allowed to keep one’s feet up on one’s desk if: One. The doggers would remain aloft for quite awhile today. plus the one Sunday he 60 Must be a direct result of the . look up "Gumption. cracked. go on over.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi top. The boots were creased. worn by the years into slipper-like comfort. and Two. He should stash the Thesaurus right here at the desk. He could get up. but then the men would jive him about it. asking himself why you don't see blotters atop desks much anymore. he would lay off the writing for a bit. Ty gave himself no demerits on shoes. or just slip it behind his ear. Should he toss the pencil back into the cut-open coffee can on his desk top. He rolled his chair back so that he could lift his brogans up onto the desk top.
Weekend mornings—the Writers Time. four-thirty. or sleeping in. trying to keep their profiles low and their energies recharging.THE FAMILY FARM worked of each month. This piece of writing—an essay? —a story? —would eventually fall to completion today. or sleeping with. He would have to rip a piece of writing from the pad. business to be transacted—he almost never got much composing done at his desk. There was a joke-free paragraph here and there. Weekdays." type the whole thing up tonight at home. but he could always stick in something. Ty had already canned ninety percent—only the ending was offering any real resistance. were always slow. he would reread what he had 61 . Shift over. fold it into his shirt pocket. were a different story. The final draft would be history by eleven. Jim DeFilippi Everybody would be sleeping off. file it and forget it by tomorrow. Ignore the inadequacy of "Gumption. four o'clock. if the piece was still battling him by then. work on it a bit while sitting in the cruiser or waiting to talk to an official or some clerk at the Town Hall. plus Friday and Saturday nights. Those times brought forth calls to be made.
even though eventually it always won the big one. patches of snow still sloshed about in shallow right-field. at least pretend to. quietly proud that they had made it through one more Vermont winter. Folks knew that you could steal a few quick victories from the climate. The little suckers would make a go of it though. he could see a bunch of kids trying to organize a baseball game in Doreaux Park. still cool enough to keep vandals and hoodlums inside by the fire. if Ty leaned forward a bit. The clear air would have people in a good mood. That was a given in the life of the 62 . He would smile if he missed. No sense in taking garbage home with you at night. anybody see that?" Today was a time just made for creating happy chunks of literature—no ice left on the roads to cause fender-bends.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi written. Through one corner of the office window. people around here liked to show the seasons who was boss. and ask the room. Sometimes he would squeeze the draft into a paper ball. "Hey. decide if it were a keeper or just another crumbleand-toss. First and third would still be mud holes. toss it over his shoulder. try to kick it off the side of his foot. Rushing the season a bit. laugh if he hit.
telling the Brits to cash in their chips.”—only half kidding. It wasn't the Ticonderoga raid that was important to Baker's history though. Ira and Ethan. a guy Ty always got a kick out of—Remember Baker." was Ty’s sobriquet. "In the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress. the Ol’ Town Woodchuck himself. them roughed-out and untamed Green Mountain boys who had settled or seized or stolen so much of the land around this part of the state. Ty loved that stuff.” and later had gotten himself thrown into jail a few times on both sides of the Atlantic. Named in honor of a pre-Revolutionary hero of sorts. used for towners and strangers alike. Great name—was a cousin and crony of the Allen brothers. "Beautiful Little Baker. rather it was Ethan and Ira and Remember and fellas like that bringing civilization to the 63 .B. Big brother Ethan had snuck his way into the national history books by virtue of his raid on Fort Ticonderoga during the Revolution.L. Jim DeFilippi "B. before finally breaking his neck falling off a hay wagon coming back from the Champlain Islands drunk.THE FAMILY FARM people of Baker.
still took some workshops down in Proctor. gunslinger. brogans up and relaxing. Lareaux—Chief of Police. older. made it as the eighteenth century Town Constable. thus drawing a direct line from Remember Baker to Tyler J. though he had never beaded down on anything more human than a ten-point buck with a Remington. He had the size for it. Jim DeFilippi Not “civilization” like people meant “civilization” now—water in bottles for five bucks each and thousand dollar paintings of Campbell soup cans—but a different version of civilization. and sometimes even could explain things to lawyers that they didn't know or couldn't apply in the real. 64 . the kind people needed in 1760. And he was better educated in the law than most. everyday world.THE FAMILY FARM area. he knew that. close to two-thirty now that his belly was growing and rolling over his buckle a bit more each day. at present sitting and thinking about Baker and about gumption. Ty wondered if he could have made it back then. six foot. And he could pistol shoot all right. Back then a patch of maple and elm forest had become a lumber mill that had become a town called Baker. ink-slinger.
foreseeable future. he had it all—maybe he should change the carved wood nameplate on his desk to read "Mr. Everything. Size and strength and skill and knowledge. something that was needed just to survive? Something that told them to get up from their damn desk. and the 65 . telling a joke on himself that got everybody a little calmer. and do something for a change. Yup. forget about it. chuck off that yellow legal pad full of silly scratchings. That was the number that had convinced him that. he was mortal all right. not tomorrow maybe. sure. the jury had still been out on the immortality question." Chief Wonderful. he was sure enough going to die. will you? This frame of mind kept sneaking up on him more and more since he had hit forty. willing to go home. that skill he had. Previous to forty. but now every day reminded him of that fact somehow. he had the knack of soothing things over.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi Most importantly. But didn't those adventurers back then have something more than that. but sometime in the semi-distant. getting hackles and ruffled feathers smoothed back down. stop screwing around and hoping nothing happens today. Here was a man soaked in mortality.
Warren could have gone out to pick up a drunk and disorderly Ethan Allen. He had given up on taking real courses at Champlain and Saint Mike's. toss him in jail for the night. still read to improve himself.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi reminder always brought along the guilt that he just wasn't getting much accomplished. Plodding slowly toward nothing. that. except that it implied that he was moving forward. knowing all along it was leading nowhere. wrote funny little stories every chance he got.” would be about right. and still respect him. and have his respect. and keeping track with written words. An unfamiliar car—foreign. in the cool and sober morning. To call the Chief "plodding.” to call his very life "plodding. probably a Toyota or a Datsun or whatever they called them now—had pulled up 66 Warren could have done . sent them off to his friend the amateur editor. Was there something amiss in the make-up of a plodding law man who could sometimes start laughing so hard that he couldn't get the cuffs onto a D and D? But who did? Who did have that pioneer toughness these days? Who had that blood and thunder? Warren maybe.
harder time figuring out what He would have a really on the was complainant’s mind. If someone walked into the office with a complaint now—like the kid who just got out of the little car looked like he might be planning on doing—Ty might not even be able to place the face. Good luck getting someone to fix your concrete steps if you didn't have time to do it yourself. had been slapped up in the Thompson field. Sitting with its toes already dunked into the urban sprawl that was slopping out more each year from Chittenden County. Sometimes at a Zoning Board or Planning Committee meeting. or the family. Mass murderers on a motor tour across the backlands. People were not just farmers or tradesmen or craftsmen anymore. because Ty no longer always knew whose family had hated whose other family for the last 67 . Late skiers.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi and parked across the vacant Main Street. to patch the corner of your foundation. now called the Industrial Park. he could hardly keep up with things. to re-plumb the porch. The town was changing everyday. too quickly. Two pre-fab factories. storehouses. Ty thought he saw out-of-state plates—Massachusetts? Tourists.
quiet for the most part. the selectmen would be telling voters. couldn't tell yet—was a machinist in a factory. New sides to be taken. most of the flatlanders seemed to be friendly enough.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi fifty years. car-pools into IBM everyday. 68 . or maybe he was a commuter.000 houses the builder had thrown up on Old Burr Hill. being played by folks just relocated up from New York and Massachusetts. Turn around. new games with all new rules. keeping to themselves. And his woman. All of these changes in town. wallpaper holding the place upright. she’s an artist come to paint the fields and barns and make sculptures out of cow flop. Give us the tour. were good for the local economy. Ty pulled his feet back down off the desk. a computer operator. not faded. girl. but who could tell? Hadn't taxes gone up. not down? Still. turn around. Clean jeans. or a designer. maybe he had bought one of those $100. flashy shirt. maybe into Burlington to work at a public relations firm. Maybe that Toyota boy crossing the street now. and was out to get them good this time. holding onto the girl—she might well be a looker.
Lareaux. and of a lawman’s badge. familiarity breeds contempt. He had to be careful though. two or them just part-timers. could you beat that? Forever discussing benefits. salaries. they treated him with more respect than the boys he had grown up with. There were two tickets in his desk drawer right now that he was meaning to put the kibosh on. Could you beat it? Jesus Christ. that sort of thing always pissed off his three patrolmen. That was natural. I don't know how the hell 69 . as it also breeds requests to tear up parking tickets.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi respectful of others. Lewis than law men. In general. and he was Management. instead of police work—sounding more and more like school teachers or John L. They were Labor now. they knew that. working conditions. he knew that. Three patrolmen. They were still his friends—allies together against the forces of the town politicians and the liberals in Washington who were greasing up the revolving doors so the killers wouldn't have to push too hard to get back out onto the street—but each patrolman was less friendly than years ago. and they were trying to unionize.
She was good-looking all right. Ty stopped chewing his gum long enough to study him. you're not. Yes. The office door opened. thought about the words. The young man held out his hand." Ty took the hand. "Steve. You don't recognize me. Stevie boy? Really? My God. Ty couldn't come up with anything specific. you are. The Toyota couple was quietly entering—she was wearing jeans like the guy’s—no contest who filled them out better. you 70 . Marie's boy. Steven Lareaux. but her expression said she might be trouble.THE FAMILY FARM you do it. so Ty stuffed the paper holding "My Brother" into his shirt and got up to meet them. somehow familiar. Her man looked like a piece of cake. "I’m Steven. "Ty. aren't you? Jeez-um. brought his hands to his hips. Nobody worked the desk on weekends. some image running through his mind of the old swing out on the farm." Ty dropped the hand and stepped back. No. Jim DeFilippi Here’s hoping that this young lady appreciates the fine job you do everyday and desires to thank you for it both physically and effectively.
Christ. not the French anymore. all dressed in black. Hey. A truly beautiful woman. This is my Sarah. That's good." "Ma'am. pulled Steve toward him. We all say 'Le-Rocks' up here. This is my wife. but no." "I remember that. no? I remember. Steve. great. Well. so Ty tried to only look at the proper places. Everything's the English way. then turned back to Steve. I've been good. used to use a whip. Sure. You're too young to remember him. "Yeah." "Good. the old cowboy." Ty Jim DeFilippi reached out. my mom always used the French. You look so growed up. You know." Was Steve's wife. Ty's mind put a quiet toe-headed ten-year-old on that picture of the swing." "Lash Larue. now I see. if you'll excuse the compliment. turned him a quarter turn. draped his arm across the little shoulders. you confused me there a second with the last name." 71 . huh? Lash. Sometimes in school I was Lash Larue. you are. aren't you?" "I remember a lot. That's good.THE FAMILY FARM are. "So you got yourself married. it's you all right. Ty. but you're too young.
too bad. Lots of That was sad. You know. more than a few years now. Too bad. I said to her. I just couldn't come up with it. we heard about your mom. And how's your wife." "Yes. we are very sorry Happy with her lot." "Oh see. Usually he could come up 72 . of course. you don't know this. Steve." "Too bad. Got divorced. It would change the subject. yes. Ty? I'm sorry. too bad. excitement. So really. lots better catches for her down there than some fat. No.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi "Sure. old cop. it was sad. She's happy. about it. I told her she had better choose between those damned cats of hers and me. I’m happy. she's down working in New York now." "Oh. New York City. I tried to remember her name all the way up. it was. And listen. cause no way she was getting both." "We write each other once in awhile. and Steve's pretty wife would get a kick out of it." Ty tried to think of a cute story about when Steve was a kid. see." "Well. So I caught her on a bad day. a few years ago.
"She has family down there?" Jim DeFilippi "Not a soul." the wife 73 . She wanted to try it out. did he? "Steven and I are psychologists. He began chewing his gum with just his front teeth. looked around for his hat." Who? Sure. "I guess they were." Steve hesitated. "What brings you in then?" Ty meant both the town and the office. Warren had adopted the kid somewhere along the line." "My father's farm. Steve. but he couldn't. adventurous." Ty cocked his head. thinking. "We just been out to the farm. "The farm. In her way. Sheriff. the young man was looking across at his wife—so this was no social call.” Ty let his arm fall from Steve’s shoulder. To see Warren then. but Steve never called him his father. I suppose." “I just mean. like he was sifting through the remark for traces of sarcasm or criticism.THE FAMILY FARM with stuff like that. she was something like your mother was. but then he seemed satisfied. I guess.
" "Uh-huh." "We’re both excited. And lunch.V. eh?" "We're both teaching up at U." "Oh. Took me. I'm afraid. that's fine.THE FAMILY FARM offered as some kind of explanation. we won't actually be full professors for quite awhile." Steve was apologizing. Sarah will be teaching full time. Nobody ever made it that far before. And now we have two professors." "Professors in the family. I'm on a fellowship. Jim DeFilippi "Psychologists you are. both of you. a counseling service. Be working on my doctorate. I know of. Cared only for the writing and the fatboy sports. in the area. My mom almost had a stroke when I got through high school. "Actually. Couldn't figure out which one was algebra. six years maybe. which one was chemistry. what. I'd better watch my step around you then. in the fall. "and our long range plans are to set up a private practice. Fine. He was trying to imagine what kind of people would pay for a counseling service. that's great. Had they said that they had been out 74 ." Ty assured them. good money in that.M." "Well." Sarah continued his story for him.
Ty was trying to keep up. eating disorders. To explain to him. for the live-in patients. He just sort of exploded. "And our plan.THE FAMILY FARM to the farm? Jim DeFilippi "Steven and I are both primarily interested in family counseling. our dream actually. thought about a lady like this here one mentioning sexual problems. On the farm." Sarah's explanation was racing right by him. Eventually have some cabins built. We couldn't really talk at all. how they affect lives in and out of the home. A sort of retreat. I guess. family relationships. How they affect and are affected by substance abuse. a ‘This is the way it is. this is the way it should be’ type atmosphere. sexual problems. like it was the weather. "You say you stopped in out there?" 75 . to figure out what the hell family counseling was." Ty nodded. "So of course we stopped out to talk to Warren first thing. Maybe: Who gets how many sausages at the supper table." The woman stopped her talk to light up a cigarette. everything really. is to do counseling right at home.
then maybe guest buildings. outrageous. out on the farm. for the future. First our house. I’m lost. saying here? I admit it. Out there on the farm?" Ty looked from the woman to her silent husband. It's probably years away but it’s something to dream about. himself not to look stupid. and then later. getting clearance from the 76 . "Well. "What are you folks "You plan to build on Warren's farm then? No. our farm too. “Building costs." Steven was saying. even up here.” She was waving the cigarette in the air as she spoke. I'm sure. expenses. building. Out there? explanation.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi "We'll use a few acres only." but he didn’t see." He shook his head by way of kept moving his head side to side. For our place to live." "The Knob? Your farm?" Ty had to grin at that. He told her "I see." Ty heard some annoyance creeping into the Ty reminded woman's voice. maybe expand a bit." "So. "We just plan to use the Knob and that's all. actually. He felt his confusion leaking through his fake smile. was not seeing at all." Steve looked at his wife. "Yes.
miss. We thought he might not make it out the He didn't want any hospital. held up the half-full pot to the couple." "It has to do with that. He looked at Steve. you know. remember when Warren had the real bad pneumonia? Back then?" "I do. he's always been closed-mouthed. "Remember. Sure. Signed the papers. they put everything in joint ownership. more so about things legal and the farm and such. cream and sugared it. Ty went over to the white plastic coffee maker." They did. what does she have to do with it? I'm sorry. 77 . I see Warren hasn't told you anything then. He was. Ty. he poured himself a cup. Sit down here. "Ty. Steve. hoping he would be the one to start the talking. When they both shook their heads. your mom had a stake in this? Sit down. I'm not getting any of this at all. She's left it to me now. You see. other side. folks.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi tower to take off. my mother had half that place. That's the way people are." "Left it to you? No. returned to sit behind the desk. Steven. The two of them back then. couldn't stop working the farm. could you please? Warren. listen. Why not explain it nice and simple to a dumb old cop.
Look. She just went on back to Boston. Ty. I've got his name. no nothing. he never did. he never got it back? part of it? I'm feeling damned at all this. raising me. just him now. right. Warren never asked. Her I suppose my mother never offered." "That's right. Ty. And all of it from her." Steve paused. working herself to death. Ty. I was a kid and I don't know all of what went on. I don't really know. A man owes his son something. from punching thread. Nobody else. that was wrong. But I do know that he owed her something. His voice was flattening out into a slow whine.THE FAMILY FARM I've got everything. Not a loan maybe. No nothing. 78 . No. without a buck in her pocket. you know?" Jim DeFilippi Didn't think I "And Warren. but I have to tell you. paying for more education than I know what to do with sometimes. sending me to school. Ty. I guess nobody does except them. "And I was his son. after the divorce he never gave her a single dime. you say. Just her. adopted or no? My mother there. got my mother's will. No support. to start a new life. dragging me. You know. He's your brother. alimony. more than I'm comfortable with. would bring it on in yet though. All of it from money made sewing mostly.
right? You knew her. I guess you are. Finally: "Steve. I don't know. tough woman. that's a lot of sewing. "I don't know. maybe he offered her help and she didn't take it. He works it. isn't it. if there exist fine points of the 79 . or his belief. he did give her half the farm." "But we're right. I guess. Ty. Like I said. for all those thousands of dollars. just his alone. He didn't say anything for awhile. but I know my brother. Some proud. I don’t know all this. right?" Sarah asked the cop. You follow? As far as the farm." “Of course you are. But to Warren. it's his.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi Punching thread through. you see. I'm sure that in his own mind. And that's his whole life. He wished he were wearing his aviator sunglasses. Nothing but that could get his respect. Maybe I'm being too hard on him. But I don't think he even did that much. he gave her nothing of the kind." This cold tidal wave of honesty was making Ty uncomfortable. Now he let his body relax back into the chair. somehow. “You must see that. she was proud. listen." Steve had leaned forward toward the top of Ty's desk. it has to be his. proud.
for now. That must be the only way he figures it. he cares for it. Steve. I'm just not sure. I’m sure I know this about him. He works it. So what happens?" "Ma'am.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi law. and Warren gives his life to his farm. which he didn't intend to use. ma’am. Steve. then they're just that. it's his farm. anything at all you got. sir. "It's a situation. First off. Ty took a breath. really. Part of the farm to build on?" "To build a house." "It's all of it true. vice versa. Ty reached for the yellow pad and the pencil. "We don't want to cause trouble for Warren or his family. A home for now. Marie gave her life to you. what is it you want. Please. tried to sound like a peace officer. and that's just the way things are. Simple pieces of paper. "Repeat again. If all you say is true—I’m not doubting you—then we've got ourselves a thorny state of affairs. let me finish. the wills." "And that's wrong. Please. the documents. nothing more. To his way of thinking." but no one responded. Wait. a place 80 . always will be. right?" the woman was asking him. I'd like to see the papers. Wait." Steve was telling him. Let me explain.
"Yeah. financially. we get a tiny chunk. getting up to leave.” Ty said to her. Warren naturally continues to work the farm. we can get this whole thing ironed out. I'll take a ride out to Warren this afternoon. Ty. We don't want any splits or rent or anything. We're certainly being more than fair. It’ll help him out. keep all the profits. It's twenty-five cents. Subdivide. We have a copying machine right in the library. That part is a long way off. "I suppose to anyone but Warren it might be. Taxes and things we can work out. I'll be getting back to you. Look. share expenses. don't you think." "That would be fine. everything. This all really ought to work out fairly easily. talk things over with him. We'll get Xeroxes.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi to practice medicine later. that's it." "We have them all. Ty?" Steve seemed pleased to have gotten things this far along." "Thank you. He mostly gets it all. I'm very sure. we'll work things out." Sarah told him. Or else I can print them at Town Hall for free. and Sarah and I are happy. Just bring me in copies of the deeds and things. All of it up on the Knob. “if 81 . just about. what I’ll do. we were thinking on the way up.
friendly Chief of Police could work things out with Warren. "Our hope is all this doesn't bring on trouble." She didn't laugh. out of place. The imitation leather covering on the chairs was cold and hard. He's my brother. They were confident to different degrees that the big. made to be 82 . red.THE FAMILY FARM Warren doesn't kill me first. with Steven showing his wife scenes of this part of his childhood. He saw absolutely no way in hell any of this could ever be resolved. "Let's have confidence. he took the re-write draft out of his pocket. Ever. Once back in the motel room. Jim DeFilippi Following Sarah out of the office. then returned to their room at Ma's Squire Motel. Steven turned to Ty and said." As the door shut. Steven quickly began to feel disquieted. the couple had a surprisingly good meal at Polly’s Main Street Restaurant. *** Following an afternoon of walking the town." "Well." Ty answered.
There was nothing in the small drawer of the desk except a paper clip and some dust." "No. "You down. sat on the bed. He came out still wet. Sarah dropped down onto the carpet and draped her arms over the tawny bedspread. The bathrooms fixtures were too small. sloppy? paper? No Bible? No postcards? The Gideon’s getting Where was Ma with the ballpoints and writing Who was Ma? Was Ma the guy drinking Sprite who had checked them in? Steven went in to take a shower." "More than ours. Little bit. lit a cigarette." "Was a pretty good day though. He lit a cigarette. "I can't feel easy about things since we got here. the only place that he could make himself even vaguely comfortable." "I guess so. it’s not. it is Warren's." He slid the ashtray across the top of the bedspread toward her.” She shrugged." 83 . the lighting unnaturally yellow. the farm. a little. “I mean. baby?" "I guess so.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi looked at instead of sat upon.
It took him awhile to find the police God." He waved his cigarette helplessly at the room. And I miss Boston already. ask him how he made out at Warren's?" He looked at her. we'll find an apartment. I just wish the whole thing were settled. You?" "Steven. "Go ahead. have our own house by sometime next year. Steven talked them out of the home number. called there. you know? I hate all the uncertainty of it. number.THE FAMILY FARM "In a way. huh? stars?" "Sarah. he turned to face Sarah. hesitant. "So?" 84 . Ma gets four He was told that Chief Lareaux was off duty." He could reach the phone and the book from where he was sitting." Jim DeFilippi "And this place." "A year from now. "Classy. long way off." "Why don't you call up Sheriff Lobo. After a brief conversation. even next week seems a What do you think. You’ll see.
screwed up the situation. Sarah." "What? What kind of things?" Jim DeFilippi Couldn't. Things came up. maybe this morning he wasn't." "You didn't ask him?" 85 . Was it clinical? Part of the therapy? She would just keep punching now and— before it was over—he would be made to know that he had screwed up the phone call. "What things? I don't know. Maybe tomorrow. And so it had started. that's all. screwed up his entire screwed-up life." "When is he going out?" "I don't know.THE FAMILY FARM "He said he didn't make it out there. He went to the ashtray that was now on the little desk. I guess. right? So the man has his certain responsibilities. How should I know? Things. this afternoon he was. He is the Chief of Police." "He didn't look all that busy this morning. I don’t know. did you think?" "Well. Which maybe he had. It seemed to him that her assaults were coming more suddenly and fiercely since he had gotten better.
would end it. and I can't just call him back. So it's nine-thirty." "It'll look like you just forgot to ask him. Nothing he could say or do. so?" Jim DeFilippi He looked at the clock." "He's not Sheriff. c'mon. or what 86 . Jeez. for Christ sake." "So?" "So?" Who cares what fucking year it was. he's Police Chief." "So it's nine o’clock. you told me to call him back. that's all. "Steven. so what?" Now that the stone was rolling down hill. or didn't do or didn’t say. it'll look like I forgot to ask him until I got off the phone and you reminded me. Just call him back." "So?" "So I'll look like an asshole. he couldn't stop it." "Steven. or not say or not do. It would have to be put to rest by something she did or said. "It's nine-thirty. I just got off the phone with the guy. ask him when will he be going out there. it's nine o'clock. you can't just keep going to bed and hope things will work out. that’s all." "Yes.THE FAMILY FARM "I’m getting ready for bed. for God's sake. Sarah.
THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi fucking decade." As he picked up the receiver. for my feelings. even if it would be so much easier. or how people were doing a marvelous job of breaking down sexual stereotypes. got it wrong. He beat her to the phone. "Gimme. She was so close to him now that she too could hear Ty’s answers. This is the bad part now that we're fighting through. She should still have some empathy for me. and there'll probably be worse parts to come. held fast to your hands. Steven felt his own 87 ." she said. She should care whether or not the whole world thinks I'm an asshole. mother. All right? We just have to weather out the shitty-ness for now. shitty part of the stream. it's your property. out the other side. Given to you by your You cannot give it up. dialed. we have some beauty and some glory waiting there for us. or how many states ERA had just missed by. "Okay. had to punch down the button and try again. But at the other end. "Steven. unpleasant. or any other damn thing. all right?" He nodded. he stopped. I'll call him back then. This thing now is stuck onto you. he asked her if maybe they should forget the whole thing.
nearly impossible? Where would they eat breakfast? How much would they spend? How much do they tip up here? When should he call Ty back to see how it went? Or should he wait for Ty to call him? How long should he wait? How much did it cost to heat an apartment? How much did it cost to heat a house? He had read in Psychology Today the exact number of decisions that the average person makes every single day.. 88 . worked out on their old couch back in Boston. In bed.. This plan of theirs.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi voice a bit weak. it was phenomenally high. but he couldn't remember what it was. but he managed to state the question. "He's going out there tomorrow. Clear. he lay awake and felt Sarah awake beside him. Flat. where just getting through the next day seemed hopelessly complicated. Could he make his wife see this? Didn't she ever have to weather storms like this. didn't everybody. starting to take control over them. "Ty.” She told him she knew. was starting to rage. He tried to remember the number." Hanging up. we’ve been just here wondering. He began with.
THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi He was a future psychologist. He smoked a cigarette and watched some horror movie with the sound turned down. and he was a moron. anyway? He turned to his wife to ask her questions. And what the hell were they doing here in Baker. The two states of being would have to exist co- dependently. Vermont. keeping it low. he got out of bed and turned on the television. Instead. *** 89 . It was about a crazy guy who kept throwing people into his big vat of acid. The people were always so dumb in these things. dumb enough to walk right into a madman's vat-of-acid room.
"God don't have me go to church. and I don't make Him register His dogs.” He had slept late. “We just might be able to dig ourselves up an amiable solution to this mess. suggesting. but the delay rested easy on him. St. in his Sunday brown suit and tie. Parishioner Bill Bandy. coffee and Sunday Morning—and headed out without uniform or gun. I take care of His ." Ty had hung his head out the cruiser's window to yell back. taken his time making and eating breakfast—sourdough pancakes. had called to him across traffic. 90 Plus.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi FOUR Ty rolled the black and white cruiser into the dirt drive-way that led up to the farm. Mark's letting out. "Didn't see you in church this morning. He got caught in the only traffic jam Baker saw each week. Chief.
what did they ever do? As a kid. looked at the house and the farm. and on the way up to the porch. grinning. She would be out here soon. right there where the caulking had left in a huff. checked Jen's flower beds there by the pressure-treated steps. The triangle of square head nails driven partway in. but only if Jen pushed at it. 91 . as Ty's lane had inched forward. Ty hesitated at the front door. at eye level—what were they there for. On the porch. redoing the spring—babying her crocuses and the painted trilliums that all the locals called “Stinkin' Benjamins.” Warren never cut the Timothy grass in the dooryard." Jim DeFilippi Bill just shook his head.THE FAMILY FARM tickets. Brown dead grass was wrapped around last years stumps like shaving towels. he had wondered about those nails. never asked. The space around the door frame where the clapboard never quite met the one-by-six. he might hay it once during rowen cutting. It was late morning when he parked on the patch of weeds and grass in the dooryard of the farm house. checked his flannel shirt and corduroys. He climbed out of the cruiser.
who had never said more than three words on any given day. where Ty stood alone. but always still with that inflated sense of themselves. He heard some movement and then Eddie’s face appeared in the cracked-open doorway. The dog came over. just didn't have that much to say and was okay with that. Ty enjoyed this sad-eyed boy.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi He had trouble remembering that this had been his house growing up. He said Eddie’s name and stepped in as Eddie moved back without speaking. even before Ty's knock. He could do it. Sometimes his efforts to get them to laugh got him 92 . maybe not. went back and lay against the couch to again sleep. There wasn't a trip when he didn't have to ignore some comment or barely disguised scorn. Eddie led him to the parlor. finally get them smiling. Ty hated going to the high school when a bomb scare or a fistfight called him up there. Not so much shy. remembered him. certainly not testy. He had to work twice as hard at getting a teenager to act proper. of their rights. sniffed Ty out. maybe the kid was going off to find his dad. Eddie was much better than most kids that age.
The late was molasses-like stuff. found that Jen had appeared in her kitchen. Pots of syrup were lined up like an enemy army facing the jars. Ty knew. A darker. the color of her hair. 93 . the pressure cooker was pushing steam.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi into trouble—the time he suggested to the School Board that he make an appearance at the last home basketball game to give out plaques and bouquets to any of the cheerleaders who had gone four years without getting herself pregnant. strong. Some things were beyond the Chief. because Warren could not get a fair price for it up to Monday's. beyond all mankind. When Eddie didn’t reappear. beyond George Carlin. It had been years since he had given up on trying to get Eddie to laugh or even crack a smile. Ty made his own way through the house. heavier grade usually came from the late sap. Ty told his sister-in-law that the syrup looked too good for this late. The family usually used it themselves. but Jen was here working with Grade A or Fancy now. light and golden. Fifty or so Mason jars were lined up across the counter along with a corresponding number of lids. good for cooking.
” she told him. "Warren around?" "When is he somewhere else?" She called out to the next room. Flavor’s lighter. "Eddie. She ran a splayed hand through her hair. "People pay more for the delicate. she turned to face him as he began thinking about her past. or to the house in general." Ty stood looking at Jen from behind. going." Jen turned to put a hot jar on the window sill. without asking she poured him a cup of coffee. where it caught the sun coming through. go bring your father. when you're door on his way out to the barn. Has a bit more of a kick to it. about what people said when they didn't think he was within listening. She had Ty sit at the small table. Ty had rounded them up from among the shoppers 94 ." They heard the boy slam the side “I'll save you some. don't you think?" "Maybe. please. You remind me.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi "It’s early syrup I'm just now getting to." "I like the stuff black as my boot just as much. Within two minutes he was telling her a story about some cows that had escaped in town.
Ty’s brother filled up the big kitchen. 95 Warren's head was . and I can almost swear he's cursing. For the thousandth time. I won't tell you now what it is he's saying. and Father Weir. and that's just getting it worse. and everybody’s letting their dog loose to come out. so I bait him a little. and he yells to me.'" Jen was smiling a real smile—not one you give a story-teller to be polite—and Ty didn't feel bad about not following Eddie down to the barn. I ask him wasn't there a fattened calf in the Bible and all. hanging brown and powerful by his side. help out." he was saying. he's out there in his black robes trying to protect his corn rows by the side of the church. rubber Pacs laced halfway up. "But you know how dumb they are. so they're going five ways all at once. mud and manure. She was using metal grippers to lift a jar of syrup from the cooker as Warren came into the kitchen. He hoped Jen would stick around when the talk started. get them out of here. "and I'm no herdsman.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi and traffic and flower beds on Main Street. overalls. even though she would not add a word. ‘They didn't get fattened on my corn. Ty noticed his brother's hands.
Ty sat directly down from him at six. mostly for himself. he apparently. Jen brought her husband an early day Genesee. Warren sat down at the round kitchen table. you know. the man had been disturbed at work. and Ty had to grin. do we? I mean. confused and curious. taking the twelve o'clock spot." Ty started to say more. He repeated them. "Your Steven. "So. Christ." "Well now. "Shit. he's got the papers and things. And from what I get out of it." The words sounded stupid coming out. "Owns half the place. We have no reason to doubt him. Warren didn't react." Warren said. what he says.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi cocked irritably to one side like a bear's. Marie's. felt himself about to label Steve the provocateur in all of this—take the easy way—appease Warren some—always take the side of 96 . separated from his affairs by his brother." Ty took a glance at Jen. is what he says. of all things." "He told me that too. boy says that he owns half the place. right? So he's going to bring me all the stuff in. Steven comes into the office yesterday. She already looked confused by this thing.
It look like a mental And later. searched Warren for a reaction. "What do you think about that? Warren?" Warren shrugged one shoulder. he says. looked almost embarrassed by all of this. money I don't have. the way you’re talking. maybe some cabins or 97 . "It will cost me some money eventually. Warren. Warren. it comes down to that." "Don't talk scratch. So maybe you'll have to let him do that. thinking. Warren sat." "Warren. from what they told me. Instead. has some plans to build a mental institution. Jim DeFilippi But Ty stopped himself. Ty. and you take him serious. the boy intends to build. house here?" Ty thought the contempt seemed a little forced.THE FAMILY FARM the one sitting next to you. he just waited. The boy comes back here. "You know now. house. It's a house just for them. maybe later. Rest assured. Warren seemed to be speaking mostly to himself. it'll be a state hospital like Waterbury or something. Just a Look around you. as if it wasn't worth effort more than that. but that’s the end of it.
like." "Bullshit. You tell 98 . my land? They change every four years. that's all.” “Yes. I’m still here." "What you got to do.” “Who’s on it now. tell them he won't have the drainage. then he goes ahead and he does it. And even if they would be. not crazy. For people to rent. Maybe you can fight him at the Zoning Board. That election time." "Crazy people. legally— they call them ‘troubled’ now. Warren. that's all. whatever—if he gets the zoning and all. is to come up with a solution the both of you can live with. the Planning Board. then they're gonna let him build. but you know as well as I do if he's got the money. he’s got the land. you are. Huggins the real-estate-er? Developers? Every God-damned one of them working their own angle. like he was sweeping the thing away." Warren swept his hand across the tablecloth. it’s on you. "The Zoning Board knows about my life. make him do the perk tests over and over. they said. could be accomplished. that is why they run to begin with." "No.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi something. Warren.
brother." Ty caught himself after a quick laugh. Ty knew that this could not be. if they're bringing down livestock and I’m called to. does the Zoning Board know where I will die? Right here. had spoken about it for years. I have to go shoot them myself sometimes. are you?" Warren had insisted that a white headed she-wolf lived atop and around the Knob. Still. there. "No. said." Warren's eyes lost focus for a moment. "Right here. right in the middle of the kitchen table? Before supper even?" But he told his brother. Wild dogs in March. "Wally Then he There's the Whitehead lives Whitehead? You concerned about old Wally. about anything? "Warren. "You mean. and you know that.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi me. So maybe it's a dog that's gone feral. I can't farm it. But that's all. You still see scat?" "Is no wild dog." Ty waited. I know there’s coy dogs pass through." Warren pressed the point of a finger into the center of the table." 99 . You can't even farm that anyway. He could have asked. when had Warren ever lied to anyone. all he wants is the Knob. "Warren. maybe.
"Warren. sitting here now. got his own television cartoon show. but you never bothered to tell the raccoon that it was “a question of law. just give it up to them outright. we got ourselves a question of the law here. first you tried to ignore it." Warren had never smiled at anything his brother had ever said." When you got a call from some flatlander folk that raccoons were ripping apart their garbage every night. what else was there to say? "All right. ‘Go head. listen to me." On the ride out.” Yet. we are not facing a question of what lives or what does not live on the Knob. around here no more. suppose’n I give these kids the farm.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi "Warren. it’s yours.’" Warren was speaking with a forced show of good sense. years ago. then maybe you had an officer cruise by there on patrol. you understand? Instead. Ty had promised himself that he wasn't going to mention the phrase "a question of law. then you told them to lash on the can tops with Bungie cords. listening to Warren talk about the Whitehead. like to an 100 There ain't no Wally Whitehead . Saturday mornings. Wally Whitehead went off to Hollywood.
what I did. eh?" Jim DeFilippi "That would be the correct thing then." He held the last word." "I take the fairness of it then. "More’n one doctor agreed on that. Didn't want the God-damned State getting it all. Me and her. at the spot 101 . "We're not talking about right. He looked at the kitchen floor and tried to finish the coffee. Then: "Was back when I was dying. partway." "They ought to be one and the same." He was speaking quietly. And them. it's what's legal. You know that. Warren didn't say anything for awhile. looked at Ty. about what's fair or not. We're talking about the law. Leave the law to folks like you. not what’s fair. Ty was getting tired. The boy says he owns the land. Didn't have nothing else I could do at the time." "But sometimes they are not." The talk stopped for awhile. "You don't get the choice. He asked Warren how it had all happened. I put the place in both our names.THE FAMILY FARM eleven-year-old." He cocked his head toward town. Didn't want no trouble with the law. So then. It's not what's right. looking down like he was reading off his fingers. Warren.
I drive them both out here. They got one. they’re not out for blood. though. like he was forcing something physical out 102 . He doesn't want Still He's not out to get you displaced. Suppose I pick up Steve. Warren. Ty leaned to see if the woodstove was burning in the parlor." Ty told him. Then you just let those two figure out things. I'd have them drag for your body up stream. After a minute. brother. I would. These kids. If you ever drowned yourself there in the Winooski River. "You can't be so stubborn all the time. grew rigid and tight. that much." Warren's face." There was silence. They're paid to do that. he tipped his head back and seemed to drive the base of his skull down into his shoulders. "Look.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi where his badge would be hanging if he had been in uniform. The stubble of beard seemed to rise like hackles. If you yourselves can’t. starting with the jaw. you ought to get a lawyer for yourself. "This can only lead to trouble if you want. "Tomorrow's Monday. we work out some kind of settlement. We sit down." Warren looked out the window. and the eyes grew smaller and mean underneath that ferocious brow of his.
everything he was saying. pretending to be sorting jar lids. what did Steven and his wife say? They came to your office?" "They did. "Ty. He figured Jen already knew trying to sound official. The skin on the nape of his neck folded and bulged. Jen asked. I know he feels like he's out here all by himself. He thinks there’s no other stake in this for me. He stood up and left without closing the kitchen door. He told her he didn't know. I mean…" "No." 103 He always does." "He thinks I'm more interested in doing my job. that’s all right. but just wanted to hear it said by someone in a calm voice. Jen was at the sink. The beer can hadn't been emptied. Well." He told her everything as he knew it. Ty sat at the table. she asked him what was going to happen next. When he got done. know you're trying to help. He doesn't .THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi of his brain. wondering if the coffee was still too hot to drink down quick. "I wish I could help him out. Before he could test it. The corners of his mouth had twisted down.
He doesn't remember I grew up here too. Pa let us know early on. we don't talk the same language. she wasn’t trying to make him feel like he was—treacherous. Me and the cows. conniving—and he didn't feel like quitting talking." "That. With a belly the size of this one. at least." Jen looked at him. That amounts to something. fell into police work. you 104 . that's all. you're not a farmer. but I grew up here just like he did. That part is true." "That's part of it too. I looked around for something else. single night out here. "He acts like I never spent a Never was. Ten years later. I probably wouldn't have stayed. he's my only brother." "To him. even as a kid. this place could at best support one man's family. Warren's never admitted that my life has anything at all to do with this place.THE FAMILY FARM "But there is. Amounts to a little bit. so I fell into police work. But that was not my choice to choose. So after the service. And the farm. Hardly even did that most years." "To anyone I'm not a farmer." Jim DeFilippi "Last time I looked. Art Buchwald already had the only job I ever wanted.
middle of the night. I don’t. Couldn't understand how it was. "And that was thirty-five years ago. How can those 105 . I used to think maybe I was the only one who could do that." He stood up. you stay there. and I could see as far as I wanted to. like Warren does. Like a man who grew up somewhere does. "It can be a beautiful place. but like a man does." He turned back to face her and they both smiled. "What are they." she agreed. "You see those four maples acrost the field there?" He didn't look back at Jen. but she had heard him. maybe two-three hundred yards away? Well. I used to stare out my bedroom window.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi fall into something." Now whose turn was it to be treacherous? "Nah. the temperature around fifteen below. Every branch of them. looked out the window. you can look out and see those maples like you can see them right now. Some kind of magic infra-red in my eyes. That doesn't mean I don't love this place." "Maybe you love it just much as Warren. not that much. and the moon is bouncing off all that snow. Maybe not like a farmer does. I remember on those clear winter nights.
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trees be the same? Everything else is changed. The blue spruces are three times as big, the lilacs are grown bigger than the porch. Why don't those maples ever change?" "They grow and they die, I guess," Jen told him. "That's what happens. They die lovely in the fall, the
whole place does. Even the weeds and the brush turn the most beautiful colors." He nodded. "The fall makes it pretty all right." "Even things you don't like to have around the rest of the year. The ragweed makes you sneeze in the spring, the nettle boils your skin right up in a second, the bloodroot. But everything turns so lovely when it's dying. Even the poison ivy can be the prettiest of all. The earth gets itself decorated. The golden-rod looks like it's been sprinkled on like yellow sugar.” “You got the poet’s tongue, Jen.” “You ever try writing about things like that?" "What, me? No, no I don't. I just write about funny stuff. Nothing that means anything." "I didn't want to embarrass you. you write." "Oh, I don't really. I just take down the funny stuff 106 I think it's good
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"Sometimes I'll stand out on the porch, I look up at the Knob..." The Knob. They both stopped telling each other how beautiful the place could be. He finished his coffee, put the cup by the sink. On his way out, he felt that he had to make some reference to Warren, but all that came to him was, "So, you please tell the boss, I'll be seeing him." Climbing into the cruiser, he looked back at her standing at the window, then drove back down the dirt toward pavement. Maybe she would stand there awhile, thinking, before she went back to her canning. Yes, she would do that. He had forgotten to take the syrup. *** Warren stood atop the Knob with nothing but the sky above him. The spot was a freakish chunk of geology that completely dominated its surroundings. In the middle of the farm's soft, cleared hills and the flat, bristled fields, the Knob was a near perfectly round altar of granite. The 107
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plateau seemed to rest upon the Timothy grass and the hay like a discarded coin of the gods. The cool circle of a wall was twenty to thirty feet high in different places, most of it bare rock, holding a few bushes and small trees in its gray. The top of the formation was pool-table flat, a few acres of unusable land, spruces and brush and rock. The whole thing was smaller than a small hill, but was more impressive than Mount Mansfield on the horizon. Ever since he was a kid, Warren would climb up to the top, grabbing the alders, searching for new paths up the sides. When he was six or seven, his father had
shown him a small crevice on top, where he said a wolf lived with her pups. Since then, over the years, Warren had seen moving shapes around the farm, white-headed canine figures that always made him feel special. He didn't see them much any more—maybe too many new houses around the area, too many people, too many cars and dogs running free. But he knew the big Whitehead was still there somewhere. One tough, crafty animal, clinging to life in her own little place. Feared and maybe hated by the other living things around, but no better or worse off from that. 108
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Just surviving and making a family and handling the days as they came along. An endangered species, but not too worried about it. Young Warren used to throw rocks into the crevice, then listen for movement—he didn't mean this living being any harm. And in return, she never did the farm any
harm—never bothered the cows, never even took a chicken. By the crevice, near the Knob’s edge, was a weathersculpted hollow, perfect to lie in, a gentle curving niche in the rock that always seemed to cradle Warren's body no matter how big it was getting. He used to lie there and look up at the sky on any day from March to November, and he would feel at peace. The granite would hold the sun's heat for him, the limbs of some bigger trees would cut pieces out of the sky. He could smell the honeysuckle. He would turn his head and see the Adirondacks over in New York. The mountains close to Lake
Champlain would be green and sharp, then further away get grayer and more blurred. Turn the other way and he could see the single green band of Vermont's mountains. Then he would stand up, look down at his farm, and he 109
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How many years since he had rested in that stone cradle? Why didn't he rest there any more, when he had the time? Why would he have to feel dumb doing it? Once, when Steven was small and living here, Warren felt that he had to take the boy up to the top of the Knob, to show him the crevice, and the spot to lie in, just like Warren’s father had done for him. Years after that, he had done the same thing for Eddie. But he was glad that neither of the boys seemed to have any interest. As far as he knew, they never came back up. As far as he knew, no one ever did. Not Ty, not Jen, not no one. Just him. It had taken a half hour atop the Knob for Warren to shed his anger. Ty had called him stubborn, but he took quiet pride in that. Instead, it was the fact that he
realized that his brother was not just a helpless, halfway man in all of this. This kid brother of his was being more than a good, fair-minded, public servant, chanting, "Law, law, law." That would be stupid, but forgivable. It was more than that. This man, sitting in his
kitchen, sneaking nervous glances at his wife, was taking up sides against him, not following his own bloodlines in 110
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sizing this thing up. This stranger in street clothes was a cop who would betray his own family, and their property, to honor some book of laws that no one cared to understand. And with that, Warren had begun to hear the Harpies. When Steven had been saying that the land was half his, Warren had begun to hear the Harpies then too. They were a chorus of tiny female voices that had lived inside his head ever since he was a kid. Most of the time they were silent, or near silent, and he could keep them pressed down. But when Warren got angry, they
would start rustling inside him, they would band together and begin chanting. At first it would be a low, musical But if Warren failed to confront
chant, with no words.
them, if he stayed mad, they would get bolder, their chant more distinct, and he could start making out the words, and the words were never pretty, and the voices would do their best to gain hold over the spirit they lived with, and they would try to move the spirit to action, and they would attempt to move the spirit to violence. Warren had to be careful. 111
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This morning he had taken himself out of the kitchen, gotten away from his kid brother before the Harpies had gotten themselves organized, before they could turn their song into craziness and peril. He had come to the top of the Knob and watched Ty's police car drive away. He stood there until the anger left him and the Harpies were quiet again. Then he kept on standing there. ***
a follower of all rules. They both immediately understood that it was going to be a long day. turned to Warren. She was frail. the boss. trying 113 . and the way the teacher asked him where he had been made him unable to answer her. He spent it in the dark of the coat closet. and she asked him again. the pigs had gotten out and he arrived at school a half hour after the second bell. gentle. rubbing muscles. Their stares met and held. smelling hot rubber and lunches. already a head taller than she was. When he got there. He did his time standing awkwardly among the boots and the coats. sullen. refusing to let himself slide down onto the floor.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi FIVE When Warren was in seventh grade. He was quiet. a lot of things were going on. She arose from crouching next to a girl's little desk.
as Warren held himself as silent as his cellmates—the pea-coats and mufflers and mittens. in the empty classroom. her voice from outside the door slid from stern to kind to pleading. her little shoulder brushing against the wood. The light hurt his eyes as she led him to a desk. His insides were aching. What would it take to be able to disappear from that place. His neck and the front of his legs stung like nettle as one thought engulfed him— he had to keep from peeing himself. his release came. her ear at the ready. talking to a silent closet door. tending to the pigs? At three o'clock. he was pumping his knees slowly. to be mind-whisked back to the farm. slowly so that she wouldn't notice.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi to get his eyes to stop playing tricks. like the Shadow could. as she was talking to him softly and what must have sounded to her 114 . He thought how foolish that woman outside must be looking—leaning over. The bell rang in and rang out the separate chunks of the day. held prisoner there in the crowding dark by two unwavering prides—his and hers. someone else's.
and they are still alive. they snap. They survive. before you go home. lecturing him about the palm trees that she had seen on her trip to Florida. "and even when the hurricanes come. those trees just bend away from the force until it's calm again." He tried to nod for her. And then they go back to living on the beautiful sunny beaches. maybe they don't look so proud to us.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi as sensibly. there are no hardwood trees in hurricane territory. with these uppermost leaves bent over and dragging on the sand. waited a moment. You’ve seen that. "Sometimes. haven’t you? Out where you 115 .’ That's Robert Frost. With themselves. ‘I like to think some boy's been swinging them. but did not. they are beautiful. They bend and sway with the force of the wind coming in off the ocean." and with her arm held out she imitated for him how the trees would swayed. about birch trees. I'll give you that poem. "Warren. but after the storm they are still standing. Do you understand?" She looked at him. what they do is. instead. "Warren. The trees that don't know how to sway. tall trees and they've been where they are for hundreds of years. as they do. their surroundings. In peace.
and it stood up to the tons of snow and ice weighted on its branches. He had never seen a palm tree. And it stood up strong against those winds that came down from the Canada so hard. Maybe as saplings they were soft and they bent with the wind. The weather was twenty below in the winter. It didn't seem to make her feel any better. Let's see your palm tree do that. over ninety in the summer.THE FAMILY FARM live?" Jim DeFilippi Warren swallowed. Warren thought about what she had said. and there was disease and drought. The branches took territory in 116 . lady. Except for the leaves and twigs at the very outer edges. but he knew maple and he knew elm and he knew oak. never would. Running home carefully to his bathroom. only so much sunshine and water and support to be had. Survive by grabbing territory and by holding it. She was as wrong as a teacher could be. and the big solid trees were still there every year. And it maybe even took a lick of lightning once in awhile. but there was only so much dirt in one acre. He told her that he understood. you must never give an inch. and that his pigs had gotten out. and he spoke to her then. A grown tree held itself tough and tight and solid.
the only way things should survive. Fixing a fence. And Warren could not tell her. And she would say that she wasn't. and she would worry. taken back and baffled by his stand. And he would tell her not to. talk about nothing. And Ty would leave. and Warren would allow himself another minute to just look at his place. They got their sun and water like that.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi the sky and the roots took territory in the ground. somewhere in town. And so now. But the boy had never 117 . Jen would look at him. writing down on a pad the name of a lawyer in town that was supposed to be a regular guy and maybe Warren should go see him. And Warren wouldn't. forty-some more years into his life. How many years had young Steven lived out here? It had been a bit more than three. She was a schoolteacher and she did not know that. Warren held his ground. Warren would stop working for a minute and think about Steven and the pushy wife. and he would wait for Warren to take the lead and discuss the farm. pretending that's what it was. And Ty would drop by for a visit.
and days and the weeks went by without a word from Steven. but quiet like the boy was busy thinking. A college boy from the city claiming ownership. But “ownership” was not a real word. meaning for that. waiting for the skies 118 It held not enough .THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi been part of anything. Warren was left with nothing to do but stand straight and wait. A strange. quiet. or about nothing at all. Warren never wanted to know about what. Now. not a word worth thinking about or worrying about. and Ty had stopped dropping by. The meddler up from Boston was thinking about taking over the farm. Thinking how to grab hold of land bought and paid for by lifetimes of blisters and worry. To wait. the sap had stopped running. empty quiet like Eddie was quiet. He knew what he was thinking about these days. It was easier to think about other things. all right. And so. things more solid. with no more pressure to lean against or to lean into. and Jen had stopped showing worry. He knew that it was the waiting that finally breaks it for the farmer—waiting for the rain. eerie boy. Not a comfortable.
the grand money maker that never came. waiting for the milk truck. no arguments. had worked at it. just money passing hands and a handshake. How much would it take and where the hell 119 .THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi to clear. The sunset was turning the bellies of the clouds a cottony pink when he decided yes. No lawyers. unless they brought one along for It was the themselves—no law. waiting for the corn to sprout. Farmers up here had been waiting three hundred years. waiting for the snow to melt and the mud to dry. waiting among the rocks and the gullies and the bad weather. with the nights coming later and with Warren sitting on the screened-in porch after supper with a beer in his hand. not touching any fingers except the thumb. waiting for a cow to deliver. waiting for the vet. waiting that finally breaks it. but it was still the hardest thing he had to do. waiting for a harvest. Money. the mosquitoes and black flies were trying to get at him through the screen. Warren was pretty good at it. The Genesee can was pressed deep in his palm. waiting for the big crop. he decided to buy the kid off. And so. he would buy the kid off.
A farmer wins the Irish Sweepstakes. give up pasture land to find a pathway out. The farm budget was deep red. His only holdings were in things—the cows and the house and the barns. Punch and Judy would be happy with that. Warren drained the beer can and tossed it into an upright IGA bag holding empties. the things of the farm. calling for more money to pay off more mortgages and more loans. of course. 120 .THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi would it come from? The savings account had been gone for awhile. they had even said so. Maybe Steven owned half of all of that too. draining down to ruin. just keep farming till the money’s all gone. But all of this was mortgaged and borrowed against. It would not be the Knob. And nothing within sight of the house. he was a nickel closer to a way out. retire? Naw. All of it depreciating and running down. Who the hell knew. Give the boy some of what he already owns and then call it even. He could give them some land. he tells them. The horses and the out-buildings and tractor and bailer and other equipment. The farm that ate itself. they ask him what he'll do now.
no un-cleared fields where he could say. corn and the hay and the grazing. the bitch and the bastard.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi He could not wake up every morning to see fancy houses and spoiled little kids running across manicured lawns." No room anywhere for a nut house. "Here. People with roots not much He had seen it longer than their own curled-up toes. happen. just take this piece and be gone. Money for the bloodsuckers. It always did. 121 Lord. the family always dressed for Sunday. then move in with a bright-painted moving truck with a smiling face on its side. What to give up? The fields were needed for the So was the hollow. And with the hollow went the brook and the falls. please Lord. That he could not have. then a month later they would complain to the Town about the manure smell. keep all evil . There was no unused land. So it came back to money. from my door. and people having cook-outs and waving to him in the fields and laughing and shouting and driving by and having rights. Flatlanders would buy themselves a piece of a farmer's land to get away from the city.
and thirds. was a pear shaped little man with wire glasses that pressed into the baby fat of his face. and people would be fighting to pay 122 . He was smart and outgoing. a combination general store and tourist trap on the four corners in the middle of town. who ran the place with his eighty-year-old mother. the unofficial leader of the Bachelor Boys. He would be getting $37 a gallon this year for the grade A. and Warren knew that his syrup would be all sold by the middle of the summer.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi There were always second mortgages to be had. What's the record for a mortgage? Depending how the banks were feeling that year. syrup to take down to Monday's. they would either laugh in your face or stuff money down your pants—you could never tell. and maybe even fourths. The sap had flowed longer than anyone thought it would this year. Warren got up to go in to bed. Most of Warren's syrup. he wholesaled to Gerard Croul. and he could talk customers into anything. Gerard. No one visited Baker without stopping in at Monday's. the vaporizer to repair. five hundred gallons or so. owner of Monday's. even with the extended sap run. Tomorrow there would be sap buckets to collect and clean.
a biography of Freud." She was whispering as he twisted back to check the librarian.K. "Do you think these are reference materials only for reserve? I'd love to use them to write a paper. Asking could they take a picture. Sarah was enjoying their new life in the little town. Warren was unloading the tins from the truck parked by Monday's side entrance when he looked over across the street and saw Steven and the wife getting out of their little car. the man earned his cut. including I'm O. which was all right with him. and an expose of the Hell's Angles with drawings of motorcycles on the cover.THE FAMILY FARM it. The next afternoon.K. out by the old Methodist Church. He didn't have to deal with tourists asking a million questions and haggling the price. 123 . *** The two of them had just gotten back from their first visit to the Baker Memorial Library. Gerard handled customers like sheep. Jim DeFilippi Warren would get twenty-five of that.. Sarah had held in a smile and dragged Steven by the arm to the section labeled "Psychology". it held about twelve books. You're O.
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which she called "quaint" with the same self-mockery that she would use to call a situation comedy "rollicking" or a horror book "chilling." Every day they seemed to meet
someone who remembered Steven, and reacted with disguised discomfort to the memory of his mother. They had found an apartment that was made up of three crowded, sunny rooms, half the second floor of a semi-restored old mansion; the lower level used as a real estate office. The rent was two-hundred fifty a month,
which she loved to compare to what they would be paying back in Boston. Money meant nothing to her, but getting good deals was a way of winning. She felt them falling easily into Baker's quiet life. They had taken up serious walking, which they labeled "low-impact aerobic jogging." They had ordered a pair of mountain bikes, and were planning on doing a lot of cross-country skiing come winter. They had spent one
afternoon in the Baker Cemetery, looking for familiar names and exchanging exotic stories about how the inhabitants had lived and died, based upon the dates on the stones. It was an easy life so far, as planned, although she 124
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felt a tiny bit cheated because their friends back in Boston couldn't see them living it. She made due with letters and a few phone calls, but you had to be careful not to make it sound like you were bragging or criticizing the life style which had been left behind. Her teaching and Steven's courses wouldn't be starting until fall. They had visited the campus a few Steven kept
times and she was reasonably impressed.
marveling at their good fortune, both getting to U.V.M.. She knew her family had helped, but not much. Had she believed in the Almighty, she would have thanked Him, maybe sent Him a card. As it was, she concentrated on patting herself on the back without throwing her arm out of joint. Still though, hanging in their corners like cobwebs, was the question of the farm. She could see it in Steven's face now and then. They had decided to back off and give Warren—that semi-rabid, obstinate old grizzly bear with feet of stone and a head of granite—time to mellow on the idea. It was easy to let the days slip by and not talk about it. Neither she nor Steven mentioned the vague fact that they were staying busy postponing something potent, 125
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It was difficult, she told herself, to be responsible for two frames of mind rather than the standard one; but she could handle it. She could thrill Steven by taking them leaping into the future—two years, ten years, the house and the cabins, the practice and the techniques, the reputations build, the textbooks authored. Coming home from school one day to decide, "Let's just take this midterm break to go to the Caymans. They say they're so pretty and still unspoiled." They would have to come up with a name for their place. High Ground. "Take to the High Ground and cure your psychosis." Granite Rock. The Knob. Maybe
naming it was too much. Maybe just their names as its name. But they would need a staff. First some blue
collars to mow the lawn and make the beds, then a few younger colleagues. How big could you get without losing that personal atmosphere that we have built upon and committed ourselves to? Is there still room for
experimentation and research? There must be. They who stand still fall behind.
The science of psychology is in its infancy; it will only 126
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continue to exist by developing; its researchers and its visionaries will be its saviors. "The scientist values
research by the size of its contribution to that huge something…something…the most glorious accomplishment of mankind." Sir Peter Medawar. Sarah saw Warren unloading his truck at Monday's store, across the street. Steven’s entire body actually flinched. walking. They kept
He would tell her it was too nice a day for
confrontation. She didn't like the idea of continued lowimpact aerobic jogging away like this; it smacked of retreat. But she took her husband’s arm and kept pace. She was surprised to hear Warren's low voice growl out to them. They turned, stood, and then crossed the street toward him. A fine dust covered the asphalt, the painted center line had been worn away by winter. Warren had sat himself on the top wooden porch step of the store, giving one person enough room to sit by him. Steven did, and she stood to the side, holding onto a support column. "We got us a problem," Warren began. His elbows 127
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were on his knees and his hands hung down nearly to the next step. He looked straight ahead, maybe at the
skeleton of an old Buick in the shade, twenty yards away. She watched him closely, not sure which way he was going. "I guess you got certain rights on the farm then." "Yes, we do," she agreed. Steven turned to look at her, as if even that were too strong. What did he want: If you'll excuse us, sir, we'll be high-tailing it out of the state now? "Course, I got mine too." thinking about each word. Sarah gleaned some pity from inside herself for the old giant. Steven would refer to him as a Cyclops, or a bear, but the curve of his back and the thick hard skin made him more of a dinosaur. The folds behind his neck ran so deep it seemed they should be bleeding. The veins of his neck and temples were so thick Sarah could almost make out the blood pumping through them. Below that Neanderthal brow, his eyes would be glassy and deep; maybe they could see the future coming on. His hair fell across his forehead and down his neck like it was tired. 128 Warren seemed to be
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Steven cleared his throat to speak. Do people still do that? Steven, please don't sell us out for a little
rapport and bonhomie. "Warren, you've been out there a long time." That was all right. Incredibly stupid, but all right. It didn't give up anything. And why was it always "Warren"? Not Dad or Pa or Father. She knew that Steven felt like no man's son. Steven had stopped talking. "We have no intention to violate your rights, Warren," Sarah told him, just for momentum's sake. "We just need some of what's ours." So what if this guy thinks I should be home churning butter and popping out babies. Warren's face was still pointed at the Buick; she could see bees or wasps circling the old car now. "I have done some thinking," he said, "that we can work out what you call a compromise." He raised his hands and spread his fingers, held his palms about a foot apart, as if he were holding the compromise, about to deliver it over to them. She looked at Stephen and saw the beginnings of a 129
THE FAMILY FARM delighted, little boy expression.
Jim DeFilippi Careful, Steven, it's not
Christmas Eve yet, this fat man isn’t Santa. "Most of my equipment I owe on," Warren said, "but there are mortgages to be had. There are loans.
Available. I been meaning daily to go talk to Hebert over to the bank, but haven’t gotten over there just yet. I can not tell you yet the amount we're discussing here." Good-bye, little boy face. "We don't really want any money, Warren," Steven was telling him.” “We're just interested in starting the
construction and all. You still get all the farm profits, of course. We agree that the farm is still yours, yours and your family's. Right, Sarah?" The little boy’s cry for help. "Of course. All we want is the Knob and a right of way, for now." Two words too far, she knew the moment they were out. This is not the time to be thinking about inheritance for off-spring yet to be born, yet to be conceived. "I keep the land, all of it. In one way, you must
come to understand, I got myself paralyzed out there. I would like to buy it back from you, so to speak." 130 She
"It also belongs to Steven and to me. trying for a gentle tone. she felt herself leaning back. But that something wasn't there this time. right away. shaking his head." syllable. And some every year. The She heard herself over-pronouncing each farmer showed only a dull sadness. I remain paralyzed. we've really got our hearts set on needing the land. You use most of it. You have to force yourself to see that. any of my farm. sad and resigned. "I can give you some now." "Except that I cannot cut up." "No. She heard Steven say her name. The place is ours. Warren shifted from facing the Buick to facing her. we use a part of it." "Warren. "Can you see? It's not a horrible thing." Steven was looking down. I don't think so. It's all right. In that respect." Sarah said. 131 . Warren. too. We can work it out.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi could hear Warren having trouble with these words. then some later. No. you see. remembering how something scary had happened to this man in his kitchen that first time. "Oh." She moved a bit closer to the big farmer. it's not just yours anymore.
"Warren. Steven rose and followed her. Gerard would know the right thing. then step down to sit beside him." "Trouble. to work upon." she said. Probably just for home. Could be. and she reached down for her husband's arm." "We'll go now.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi "It has always been my farm. you didn't pry. Mine and my people's." Then her husband allowed her to take him away. of course. their little car driving off with a sewing machine whine. you didn't offer help. stand on the porch. we're sorry. I had words with young Steven there. "Finished up the syrup yet?" "One more run. again. Twice he said aloud to himself." 132 . *** After the two had disappeared. Gerard sat there and blew his nose. might be. Warren remained sitting on the top step." After awhile he heard Gerard come out of the store. you didn't mention it. Our dirt to live upon. If you saw a man We'll talk to our lawyer troubled. turning to say. "I offered good money.
except the Bachelor Boys are coming over later on for cards. good smell? Know what? What that is. you stay tonight for the meat loaf. spend an hour during wintertime when the farm was resting. He sensed Gerard maybe deciding on something. some of your syrup. and spices. smoke a cigar. "You ain't had that for supper for a long while. "You smell that. getting ready to do something. that's what all seem to think it will lead to. a whole flock of things she won't tell." Gerard took his wire glasses off. have you? Tell you what. do you. The two-by-fours holding the steps creaked. They had been friends since school. My mama's.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi "Yeah." Both men knew that Warren had never been to supper there. you call Jen. been 133 . Nobody makes it like that. Uses mustard. She's welcome too. coming from up the stairs. She keeps bugging me I ought to get myself married so she don't have to take the recipe to the grave." Warren felt Gerard shift. started cleaning them on his butcher's apron. It’s been decided. it’s meat loaf. Maybe you'd enjoy that too. Warren? That good. I offered him good money. He had stopped off to take a beer.
They were also known as the "Older Apaches" because a batch of them would be at every home game of the Baker High School Apaches. depending on the game itself and the officiating. wee." Half the Bachelor Boys. Gerard's mother didn't miss much—she would disapprove of malfeasance and remind Gerard to tow the line—but he still managed to live a proud part of his life as the unofficial leader of the Bachelor Boys. They were a town-bound band of boys who went to Boston every June for a Red Sox game. but never considered a supper together. often allowing themselves to approach unruly behavior. three or four. "At the very least. will be 134 . not refusing. Spitwad.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi doing business almost as long. don’t we? Ow. One season. "The both of us know what happens when the Bachelor Boys get together. even got arrested down there once for refusing to leave Fenway after the Friday night game because they had tickets for the same exact seats Saturday afternoon. Yet Warren sat there now. the Headmasters had banned them from the sidelines. Claude Emps. were actually bachelors. the featherless Chief of the Older Apaches.
available wholesale in the frigerator shelves. Racks of beer. when the Interstate was going through. boy?" Warren had never been a Bachelor Boy." Ty wasn't an official Bachelor Boy. except there was blood on his face and shirt in 135 . Warren had been drinking Pabst Blue Ribbons— lots of them—and didn't remember much of what Not much to complain about happened. there. as had been decided on. Play awhile. second with a hangover. but had been known as a steady drinker for years. "We're very apt to play Spades this evening. down to the store. has been known to drop by.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi expected this evening. of course. Even your brother. I could be talked into breaking out the dandelion wine in the cellar. paying for the short-time joy first with cash. drink awhile. three road workers had come into the chosen tavern. Back in the Sixties. which should be very close to being about ripe. Bringing with them money to lose. of course. but kept his hand in just for the sake of keeping up good relations and keeping an eye on things. enjoying a light head and some company in one of Baker's three bars on Saturday nights. now is there.
When he 136 . playing some cards. found that none of the blood was his own. then switch over to poker. old friends in a friend's home. a wrap of bad cigars.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi the morning and a memory of something making an ugly popping noise hitting solid glass at the jukebox. Ty appeared a little after that. He rose. what do you say?” Not long after that it had been the pick-up truck going off the road and a pin inserted in his ankle—arm chores had suffered and he didn't go much to the bars anymore. let Gerard lead him through the store up the stairs to the living space. and school boy attitudes. but Gerard insisted everyone try the dandelion wine. and the five sat down at the kitchen table to play Spades. Warren wanted to stick to drinking beer. This invite of Gerard’s was different. He cleaned up. and felt pretty good about things. This was the Bachelor Boys. he thanked Mrs. and he nodded to Claude and Spitwad as they came in carrying a box of gambling chips. “Warren. Croul for a fine meal as she went off to bed. He hoped that he had not kicked anyone in the face. Later.
" Nose wrinkled. so he had trouble remembering them." Warren was no card player. called Jen. The cards had no meaning for him. came back in. "Bitter. It got harder to think about the cards. He got up a second time to visit the bathroom. because suddenly everybody else was talking at once and talking louder—about anything that sprang into their minds—about ice dams and farm prices and the stupidity of the government and bulk tanks versus milk cans and the growth of the town and the best boots to get and the worst boots and the best beer and the worst beer. each of them just about the same to his way of thinking. He got up from the table once. They tossed crumbled dollars into a pile on the card table and they began drinking the beer from downstairs. Claude told him. Warren felt his mind sliding back and forth between the game and a quiet fog. when he came back he noticed Gerard had gone down to the store cooler for three more six-packs.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi went around the table asking everyone how it was. 137 . "Bitter?" "Piss-bitter. A card was just a little piece of paper.
found a card that must have fallen under the table maybe three hands ago. marveled at the man. he forced his head to fall back so that he would not listen. Warren listened to the familiar voice stop and start. he's 138 .THE FAMILY FARM None of it was making any sense. Turned out it wasn't them anyway. he wasn't mad at anyone.so some big-ass railroad giant hits this pop-up out to him. Warren Warren had never told a story longer than ten words in his whole life. just a toilet running or the steam heat popping on. People like Gerard amazed him.. careful-like. Jim DeFilippi Warren tried to remember which cards were wild ones without having to ask again. he's circling. so Lemuel he puts his beer can down first. A couple times he thought he heard the Harpies. He couldn't figure why they would be there. and then stop again. and then he's under it. he looked down. Gerard had twisted his fat little body into one of the positions the story had taken him to. ". He slipped it back into the deck at his next deal. The game stopped for a while because Gerard was telling a story.. wait and go. move up and down. He just said right out what happened.
Lem's down. From far away somewhere he heard his name mentioned and he thought maybe Gerard was telling the story of how Warren had beat up those boys building the Interstate. but nobody seemed to let on or care. couldn’t tell the good ones from the bad ones. It seemed to Warren that everyone in the room must have heard the story of Lemuel Dulock playing the outfield. so neither did Warren. and he had stood for a full hour with a bucket of sap held out straight with 139 He . and if so. his legs all twisted up like the worms a dog coughs up. which ones. He don't got it at all.. Instead it turned out to be the one about the time he took a dare in the late afternoon of a Town Meeting Day. "Holy shit. and the ball. and he pushed his stare up along his own arms up to his hands to see if they were still holding cards. it's still falling.. ‘I got it! I got it!’ We're all of us laughing like hell." Gerard was all over the room.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi circling." Warren felt his head had fallen. he's screwing himself into the ground. the day on which the town truck garage was always filled with cider and sap beer. he's down.
good-shit brother. they all started making fun of Warren's fat. "And why don't you never let any of us ever read that stuff you been writing." and he was a bit aware of an uneasy moment. He heard Spitwad Giroux talking about a ball park. but they were too technical and smeared together and soon he wasn't listening again. Warren forced his eyes back open and focused on Spitwad. "Naaaah. He heard his own voice shout out something like. huh?" 140 . They were riding him about him wanting to be a writer. a garage mechanic who always had a splotch or two of grease somewhere in his red hair and beard. Sometime after that. Chief. that had a dome across the top of it. Like a checkerboard. major leagues.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi each arm. Warren felt some more of his mind closing down and his eyes began to drift their way closed. He noticed his very own hand coming up and feeding himself more beer. about him scratching words on his pad when he ought to be out catching drunk speeders and dope addicts and mass murderers. But it passed. jolly. Warren forced himself to listen to Spitwad's words.
" Warren wondered what that meant. Course. right out on the field. it's all re-done now. It didn't seen right— how could a Yankee hit a home-run at Fenway Park? He looked back at Ty. then around at the rest. Warren heard Ty say. He winked. in and out. "It's the god-damn symmetry of these places. first at Warren. who was still talking. 141 . Statues on the field. it's all so different. "Statues. They teased him about having a girlfriend in the courts— "Seem to me that be some kind of conflict of interest right there"—then went on to something else. Left field." Everyone hooted. Later. That is what I object to. "Cause you gotta buy the book when it comes out. Was he the only one having trouble? Then he heard Ty mention Joe DiMaggio and a home-run at Fenway Park. but everybody just laughed before he could get it all out. All the Bachelor Boys seem to understand. but his speech sounded slow and silly and slurred—and Warren tried to explain that. right field." Ty seemed to be more serious than usual.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi Ty grinned. someone called him Shakespeare.
"One fucking interlopra. Claude was a pasty-faced retired Claude mailman. Spitwad agreed with whatever had just been said. but Warren called. Warren hadn't really said anything to him that whole evening. and Warren somehow caught on that they were talking about his farm. Claude Emps said.. Warren knew that he should be gone now too. But did not. save me a book." and smiled with pride. "So long.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi Later Ty was up and leaving. and Warren almost told him that too. which Warren couldn't understand. but that would mean standing up out of the chair. the beautiful little boy Warren had opened his home to as a child. there was still the business of the farm between them. probably spent three-quarters of his life thinking about what other folks were thinking about him. Shakespeare. 142 .. The farm was business. Soon they would be talking about other things." He heard Ty answer something friendly. and Warren almost told him so. Instead he just relaxed and listened to voices coming at him through the fog. but he was too tired to stop them. He heard Gerard mention Steven. and then Ty was gone.
. Don't want no part of them.they own the whole damn state.M. If a cat has kittens in the 143 I. "A man like our Warren here. no sir. for Christ sake." "There's kid lawyers. Now listen to me.. because there ain't no real business for 'em because there's just too many to go around. they're making business for themselves." "A man like our Warren here. Fucking Now go diplomas and I-don't-give-a-damn . just out of school." "Listen.M. soon own the whole God-damn state.college attitudes....B. kid doctors." "Ain't worth ten cent." ".THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi The voices came to him like twisting the knob on an old radio...and do they care? Do they?" ". I. if you warn't here originally." ". worth the lot of them.." "They work up to the college..... you don't count.B.." "Howdy.. work up to the hospital. home..." "Flathead businessmen don't know chicken shit. Stranger... welcome to Vermont.
.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi oven." ".. they're not biscuits. Lu was telling me about this one... that don’t count... Fellas. my Mom’s in there. My mother. does anyone here." "." "Shhh. "They make up diseases. Shhhh. and you 144 .does anyone here have the syphilis? anyone here know anyone who has the syphilis? Does Does anyone here know anyone who knows anyone who has the syphilis? Other than the army. and voting for the fuckin’ Sanders crowd." "They work up to the university. they make up legal entanglements that don't exist. He heard Harpies. and that's how they make their living.and jeez'm. too. If a cat has kittens in the oven. Let me go you one better. (Whispering) Damn fucking little foreign cars.." "." "Shh. that don't make 'em biscuits. the head doctors are the worse. You understand?" Warren was agreeing with every single thing being said. okay.so I said. which almost never happened... shhh... And these drugs. ‘Why don't you buy American?’..
On any given day or night. ‘I did buy this here car from an American. soaking wet." Harpies." "My money knows.. bills were hitting the table." "I could flip that car. Chanting." Harpies. The they were saying just yet.." "What's the kid there got." "What?" "My money. Warren did not know why.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi know what he says? He says. A magnet wouldn’t draw ‘em. ." "Aya.. and our Warren here." Suddenly.'" "Does anyone here know anyone. He couldn't tell what it was But it was coming... Bachelor Boys were helping it come. Why in hell were they here? What are you so mad about? "Must weight what? maybe.. not just 145 A ton? A ton and a half... "Jeez'm." "I just don't know." "Just like that. a TOY-ota?" "Got no medal in ‘em.
"I can flip the car. The Harpies were calling and singing. He realized that he was walking through the middle of a new story Gerard Croul would tell. He wanted to show them that he understood perfectly. maybe years from now. could cause him to tumble the whole rest of the way. then everybody was standing up. not just paying for beer tab. 146 Claude was telling him her hearing aid was off . anyway." Whoops like hog calls hurt his ears. He shook off whoever was leading him. bitching and moaning. the damned fool clown was tugging him sideways. Warren felt somebody leading him down the stairs by his arm. this thrilled him.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi singles this time. The trip down the stairs kept going on. Gerard was trying to hit his lips with his finger while pointing to his mother's room. He got up too. More bills slapped down. so he told them. The Boys were quiet and still now— watching him. it seemed for hours. It was then that Warren realized that some of the voices he had been hearing had been his own. off plumb. Then everything stopped.
Everything went still. He realized the Bachelor Boys had been chattering like fools the whole way down the 147 . crouched down. The Toyota was a two-door hatchback piece of shit with a black stripe along bottom of the door and the fenders. standing a few feet from the little red car. Claude Emps said he didn't want no part of this at all and he slunk off like a snake. Warren walked to the car like it was the enemy. then down over his chin. Warren meant to tell him what a snake he was and always would be. He passed his big brown hand over the bump of his brow. He tried to keep his back straight and his mind focused on the task and on keeping the beer and wine down in his belly where it belonged.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi He was out on the street. With the same touch he ran his hand along the rain gutter of the little Jap car. then over the bump of his nose. Gerard and Spitwad were buzzing around. He stepped to its side. then caught himself and gripped onto the frame underneath the cheap sheet metal. half way back. fell against the door. right behind the driver's door. He bent his knees.
He saw Gerard's face for a second. through the car's windows. He let go and tried to pin his open palms against the body to hold it that way. There was still a long way to go before he would feel that center of balance gently start to shift. Suddenly his hands started to slip and before he could re-do his grip the car was sliding back down. and then the car would grow lighter. but now they went quiet. like wonderful magic. and it looked scared. Jim DeFilippi His legs started to straighten out. He imagined the black stripe along bottom of the car being even with his belt buckle. but the car dropped back down and made a sick sound as it rocked back and forth on its 148 . He felt his face get red hot. After that he could just use his hands and arms to more or less just guide it as its own weight took it on over. He felt some pain and thought he was back on the farm getting to working. and the robin egg veins on the back of his hands start to bulge out and twitch. but he wasn't. the blood in his temples pump. Warren felt the car lifting and figured the two wheels must be off the pavement already.THE FAMILY FARM stairs.
moving. making him dizzy. "Shit. He was sitting on the ground. and the world was just a bunch of images. head hanging. Jim DeFilippi The rocking got to Warren and he rolled onto his hands and knees. like a tired animal. and threw up burp after burp of stale beer. He spit some bile off to one side and told himself. down on all fours again. still in blue pajamas. And finally. unconnected. like old friends—being ripped from the ground still holding dirt as they smacked against the red side of the car. wide mouth of a mail box. Noises and people and those bushes again. swirling together. "Hey!" Some bushes shaped like foot-stools— bushes that looked familiar.” The Harpies were still loud. Warren slowly pushed up and walked over to 149 . Steven on the street. staring at him like he was some kind of ugly accident. their red berries staining his hands as he stuffed bush after bush into the solid.THE FAMILY FARM shocks a few times. Steven in his pajamas was opening a second story window and yelling. his eyes were blurred. Gerard and Spitwad were scattering like cockroaches in the kitchen light. hung his head.
"I offered good money.” Jim DeFilippi Then he walked away down the street. *** 150 .THE FAMILY FARM Steven. He didn't remember getting home.
a fir. Ty allowed himself a look around the little piece of grassland—his favorite spot of the farm. a painter's palette of a couple oval acres rimmed by eight trees. 151 . He moved down the bank sideways. His stomach felt uncomfortable. its nasty whine jumping octaves. the others elm. Despite his mood. pushed partway in behind his wide black belt buckle. Once level. two gray birches. He had often wondered if they had been planted that way. without his usual humor or indecision. putting his brogans into a controlled slide on each step.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi SIX A chain-saw was working hard in the distance. as Ty parked the cruiser and skidded himself down into the field. he made his strides long and direct. Neither Warren nor Eddie noticed his approach. growing at equal distances apart—a red maple and sugar maple.
he had brought her out here to show her his spot. each tree would throw its own dazzling color. Warren didn't mind taking them down one by one as the blight grabbed hold of them. In those seasons when everything was turning right. triple that of the 152 . the trees could paint any picture you wanted. now when some did and some didn't. sweet juice through their veins. Ty figured Warren needed maybe five/six cord for the big parlor stove. Next fall there would be seven trees. These trees did not pump that fine. Warren had always burned wood. Now Warren. rusts and golds. then when everybody did. Back in the fall of the year that he and the White Rita had gotten married. if the sun and the rain and the temperatures had been working together just the right way. And even though they were hard to split—the most stubborn of all cordwood—they would offer little resistance to Warren's maul. working mid-field. was halfway through the back cut on one of the elms. The Dutch Elm was taking a few more of the big shaders every year. the fir stayed green. Reds and browns.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi In the fall. Back when nobody did.
a sharpening file. but Ty hadn't seen it around for years.THE FAMILY FARM rough-cut stuff to do his sugaring. Back at the wood pile. Jim DeFilippi Warren was shifting the chainsaw's blade left and right in the cut. depending on the diameter—with Eddie struggling with the peavey to hold up the trunk so that the blade would not get pinched or dig into dirt and dull out. a big ugly contraption that ran off the tractor with snapping black belts. Then Eddie would drag the lengths to the truck and pile them onto the bed as Warren took on another tree. they would use the tractor or the horses for dragging. and his son. The man and boy worked well together. the blade oil. leaving 153 . Maybe it had broken down. Warren would notch the tree. saw the wood into manageable lengths—each running six feet or so. surrounded by his equipment—the gas can. If they were cutting in a less opened area. Eddie would throw the logs one by one onto the sawbuck and slide them up as his father cut them to foot-and-a-half-long pieces. Ty seemed to remember that Warren had rigged up a circular saw for this part once. he would buck it up. then fell it. a peavey. With its trunk on the ground.
but he knew his place. When would the boy get to use the saw? He was a sophomore. 154 . There was a snap. Ty thought his brother looked annoyed. flipped off the saw. watching his father cut. Slow motion. Jim DeFilippi Eddie stood. looked at the paper quick. The boy tapped his father's shoulder and Warren looked up. maybe at the interruption. he took a blue piece of paper from his shirt pocket. and took out a handkerchief. Ty moved to the right to catch Eddie's attention. peeled it away from some notes he had made about old guys playing basketball. Then. a crash smothered the earth and the elm was down. then louder snaps all in a quick series seeming to run up the trunk.THE FAMILY FARM Warren happy to again be using his Homelite. a lot stronger than he looked. put it on the stump he had just made. and Ty walked to him without a smile or a greeting. and handed it over to Warren. a few busted off limbs stuck into the ground like spears. as the tree began moving across the sky. bent and motionless. At conversation distance. and Ty couldn't imagine Warren ever letting him do anything except the grunt work.
" Warren started to fold the bill as Ty asked him. And Ty thought to himself: Well. No one will press any charges." Jim DeFilippi "Steve says his car is all right. For their bushes. Gordy wakes me up at two in the morning to tell me that the Bachelor Boys are at it again." "Spooner's. but now turned and walked toward his father and the job. "So all right?" "I took it. and that my own brother is trying to toss a Toyota Celica in a flower bed. As long as you take care of the bushes there." Warren stuffed the paper into the ass pocket of his overalls. you took it all right. "Yuh. turned. didn't I?" "Oh. Eddie had stepped off. God-damn. held it without reading. then we'll be all set. anyhow. I hump out there. like he was going to use the time for a pee break. spend an hour trying to calm 155 .THE FAMILY FARM Warren took it." "All right. stepped back to the chainsaw. "It's a bill." Ty finally told him.
like putting out a cigarette. So I get everybody calmed down. damn him anyway. The bill's all scribbled out on an undertaker invoice from a pad usually used for God knows what else—caskets. And why ain't I telling him all this? Ty twisted the sole of his boot in the dirt. It was Ty’s signal to get back into town. embalming fluids and limousine rides—a bill he must have made out while he was getting out of bed to get dressed. having trouble restarting it. but he 156 . drive out here. and Warren's pissed off because I interrupted his God-damned lumbering in the wood lot. is shoving a bill under my nose for his God-damned fuchsia bushes. I argue Spooner's bill down to less than the price of the funeral they had for Elvis. grab myself an hour’s worth of sleep.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi down an hysterical kid and his awful wise-ass wife. that doesn't mean he can't be civil for one time. So the man is embarrassed as hell for acting like a jerkoff. He was fiddling with the choke. Well. while the whole time Spooner. pulling the cord a few times. that damn undertaker. Warren was bent over the chainsaw on the ground.
Jim DeFilippi He moved over to Warren's back. As a kid he had always used its shade for rest breaks when he was working the fields. Maybe because it stood by itself. out in the open. maybe a hundred yards off toward the Lake. had so much 157 . he had first spotted. where Warren had his machine burial ground. The elm seemed to be looking down from the hill onto a little area of swamp below. stood there. the patches of yellow. had trouble keeping his eyes steady. Ty knew that tree. After his eyes had circled the horizon. he forced them to come to rest on the standing corpse of a single giant elm tree standing at the crest of a little hill. then kept track of. Next to it the two-foot razor tentacles of an old side rake rose out of the sludge where fiddleheads would grow. Above them the dead tree stood looking down with distain.THE FAMILY FARM wasn't yet ready to leave. Ty could see the skeleton of a 1961 cream Falcon. then the brown—the lifeless twisted leaves spreading out over the green. When driving by for the past few years. The tree had taken a long time to die. keeping its distance from the ugly little beetles and the poison that was dusted across their shells. Maybe it had survived so long because it was just so God-damned big.
" "How many cord. left over from yesterday. followed Ty's glance. Just a big awkward skeleton." "Yuh. But its time had come. He wanted to see it sway and rock and pick up speed and crash to the ground with an ugly. No leaves remained—just black wisps of what had once been foliage. you figure?" 158 lifted his head." "Maybe not. "You planning on taking the big elm?" Ty asked his brother. A lot of good firewood there. "You’ll never get through it with just the chain. Some of the bark was heat-peeled back or gone. Warren had not looked up from the chainsaw. standing alone and waiting.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi life-giving stuff pumping through it. final thud. showing dry. Or maybe it had been just too stubborn to die." "Big tree. . Warren "Eventually. No smaller branches were left. He did not want to leave here with that tree still standing. Come and gone." Ty wanted that tree down. white wood underneath.
with mean looking 159 He was looking at Ty like he hadn't seen him . "On town time. Neither man said anything. "Better than snowballs. before." Warren stopped toying with the chainsaw and looked up at his brother.” "You up to that. I bet." Warren grinned. "I can take the other end. are you?" "Yes." Jim DeFilippi Warren said the word using two "How about the old crosscut? That’d do it. Eddie parked the truck around back of the tree. slightly curved and rusty. Better than snowballs. Ty stood over him." syllables. Then they climbed the hill together toward the big elm. Ty told him." He sent Eddie back to the barn to get the old twoman hand saw. let the kid take the truck. Warren kept fiddling with the chainsaw. Yes. While he was gone. adjusting the blade. The saw that he lifted out of the truck bed had a six-foot blade." "Yuh.THE FAMILY FARM "Just elm. Warren raised a hand. I am. "Takes two men.” Eddie started to say something.
Ty pulled on a pair of blue and white work gloves that Eddie had tossed to him. Warren was wearing his Each man grabbed a handle and Neither seemed too sure of the After just a few passes. had them change the angle of the cut a bit. touched a blade tooth with his thumb. and nodded to Ty to start again. Warren circled it. 160 . They had dug into the wood only two inches when Warren called. fingerless gloves. The tree must have been five feet across at the base. After the layer of bark.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi double-pointed teeth about an inch long. action at first. there was nothing punk here. used the Homelite to notch it in the direction it would go over. Neither of them had said anything for awhile. the blade did not dig deep at all as it swept back and forth across the wood. "Whoa. each one hooked a little left or right." rubbed some chain oil on the blade. The two men went around to the other side to start the back cut. studied it. The varnish on each wooden handle had been worn away to the size of a couple of big palms. big. Ty realized that even though the tree had been dead awhile. they started the cut.
maybe get rid of that silly. none was showing. He decided that he must be still in shape. hoping to see some fatigue. He could see some progress on each run through. His arms and shoulders felt good. answering each one of Warren's tugs with one of his own. Warren nodded to Eddie to smear some more oil on the blade as it kept moving. Yet he sure as hell needed to get more exercise. a little bit at least. Neither man pushed the blade. just as even. Just for the good feel of it. A quarter of the way through the trunk. the pace 161 . He looked over at Warren. they seemed to find a rhythm.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi After awhile. spending too much time with his yellow pad and pencil and imagination and ersatz sense of humor. started to make some progress. Each fifty passes or so. just as forceful. just had to pull it back through to himself and then steady it as his partner did the same. sweating some. Ty was feeling pretty good by now. dangerous belly. loose and powerful. He had stopped playing Old Men's Night Basketball at the high school on Thursdays.
going everywhere on the farm Warren went. Ty had developed a bright red rash around his nuts one time. When Ty had been Eddie's age now. Maybe Warren had always treated him like a kid. but that was what he was. That's all right. He gripped harder and held on. But that's not the way it ever really had been. Warren was already a man. He kept washing it and powdering it. Jim DeFilippi Ty felt his handle almost fly out of his grip on each return stroke. learning and enjoying it. Let’s go the distance on this. and of course didn't tell anybody about it. Warren had never used his size or strength to intimidate him. walking There were the behind. old brother. Pain shot across his palms and into his fingers. burn your sweet self out. The shame of it got so overpowering that one 162 . There had been times when Warren was a pretty fair older brother. you can pull as fast and as hard as you care to. but growing. Prickly little stabs.THE FAMILY FARM was picking up—must be Warren's doing. it gets tiresome being the younger brother of the Abominable Snowman. already running the place. but after a week it didn't go away. years of Ty tagging along.
The two men kept sawing. I think I got clap or something. Neighbors would have to stop. Warren had been okay as a brother. With his back bent to the job. had died. echoing across the field. had told him it would disappear. far off. it had.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi day coming out of the shower he had said to Warren. as if by command. he watched the little showers of woodchips spraying out of the slice in the tree. And. The pulls on the saw were answering each other with more speed." Warren grinned. covering the ground at his feet. okay when Pa. then later Ma. accustomed to chainsaws and gasoline engines. Not yet. "You ever kissed a girl?" "Not for real. look at this. with a quick-spoken mastery of destiny and skin rashes. more power. Ty looked up. Ty heard a dog. "Hey. The sound had a rhythm. saw Warren looking back at him. 163 Eddie had hunkered . like a train. figure Better than what it was." Warren. answering the rhythmic bark of the sawing." "What is it?" "I don't know.
With little clearance on each end for the blade. almost to nothing. Free Press headline: "Cop Shows Farmer What Real Work Is All About." Maybe a farmer's life would have suited Ty. The blade was getting near the center of the tree. It got hot on a day that wasn't. Progress slowed. Ty's arms and shoulders were suddenly aching. A farmer 164 . pulling his arms around his legs and grabbing his hands in front. that magic halfway point that remained a few long inches away. he decided. watching. not so much during his pulls as during Warren's violent.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi down. slowed more. But it would not be the kid brother quitting. it would be between now and when they got to the diameter of the tree. Ty was getting his hands pinched between handle and trunk. the widest part. Ty's lower back was set at a bad angle. not today. even though he had told himself no all these years. harder. If He would grunt and pull the blade back anybody was going to quit. hypnotized by the movement of the two mechanical men. sudden returns.
and get something done. What the hell was she doing grooming horses down in New York? A farmer could groom horses on his own land. A farmer could. to real work. he was working on keeping his breakfast behaved and down. or else treated him like crystal. A farmer could deal with people honestly and above board. he could get down to work. between the fingers. The blade was almost touching a little black spot on the trunk that Ty had decided was the fifty-yard line. with his own wife. if he chose not to. His hands had blistered up and broken open. The heat and friction had turned to acid.. *** 165 . and later on they could screw and enjoy each other. Blood spurted out from a hole in Ty’s right glove. Warren's face was No—worse than blank—it was showing the beginning of a smile. or deal with them not at all. A farmer could respect himself. His whole body was aching now. A farmer would still have the White Rita with him. Smug bastard.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi didn't have to put up with a town full of people who didn't like what he was doing.. blank. loving him.
but it didn't make a difference. and Warren had to plant both his feet by the roots of the tree and lunge backward with all his strength to get the blade back. He had teeth missing in the wrong places. This same saw was in Warren's hands. he was up on the Knob. and there was shame and frustration. He was getting big. He had figured it for some kind of game of rhythm. maybe not even born.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi Ty It was the Depression and Warren was a kid. up and down. almost his father's equal in size and strength. But it was not going like Warren thought it would. Warren had been begging his father for a long time to let him use the saw. was just a baby. Over and again his father yanked him off balance. He felt foolish and helpless on the end of the saw. leaving black spaces a little off center from the front of his mouth. finally he began quietly crying. 166 . Pa had almost pulled him through the tree on that first tug. and now the old man had said all right. On the other handle was a wiry little man with thick glasses and black curly hair that was never combed. using the saw for real for the first time. like swinging or teeter-totter. Things always looked so much easier when you watched your father doing them.
And didn't care who knew it. most always working. she loved gentle things around the farm. except for the banjo on some winter nights. Warren was not mad. He quick wiped the tears on his jacket shoulder. both boys got their size from her side. and she did not close her mind to having a good time now and again. it was a father built the boys. And Warren was his mother's son too. Came to a strange country. a mother 167 . His father either didn't notice or didn't care. and he bought the family a television set before a lot of people had them. His father was a hard little man who had come down from Quebec and made a dairy farm where there wasn't one. because he kept that crosscut saw swinging like a locomotive’s steam piston. Tough-skinned. she laughed when good things happened. doing almost all the work by himself. until the tree broke and fell. He had his father's qualities. Afterward. but this thing upset him. when only Channel Three was on. there were plenty things he couldn't do too well around the farm. But all in all. She was only part-French.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi He wasn't sure why. She was big. dug in and never moved.
okay. He would have shown him the important things. He was no Older Apache. It was restricting him. who had mostly just refused it.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi built the girls. Ty had turned out all right. he was no Bachelor Boy. He also had a pain in his chest that was traveling down his arms. Still. that job fell to Warren. He grew up and could stand on his own. Warren had been eyeing the cut with his head at a slight angle. And Ma's little Abbie had died young. Pa died. And this policeman was holding his own with this elm here. As it was. *** 168 Not if his . Something was stuck somewhere. just a bit foolish sometimes. determination and purpose and reliance. what a man does. He would not steal strength from his pals. the way you steal from a tree by topping it and leaving it to die. Too busy with the farm. even now with Warren feeling a tight knot at the back of his neck with each pull. but he was not stopping. He must be a He was pretty good cop. at least. Pa would have known how to form up Ty. brother did not. and now he realized he could not move it to a different position.
Sitting maybe three-quarters of the way through. a bit closer to the notch that Warren had cut. the pain eased except in his hands. The blade had passed the center without ceremony. Thirty passes and they would be there. no. He had stepped into a little gully of water and felt his feet swimming inside his shoes. the metal hit the little hump. He figured there must be sparks flying. the blade would not grind its way through it. waking up some shoulder pain. Finally.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi Most of Ty's muscles had gone numb. Ty told himself that every stroke from here on in would be in a thinner part of the tree. A tree would sometimes hold a flathead nail within its wood. Thirty more passes and they would be at that knot. But they were not. Ty swore the damn thing was made of iron. He began counting each pass of the saw. But it had become a longer stretch than hoped. metal on metal. something like sixty passes later. a gnarled little black spot. or a 169 . So—twenty more. humped in the side of the tree where a branch had started out before thinking better of it. Still. The tempo of the saw was picking up again.
He grunted again. why the hell was he out here. finding a bit more pressure to bring to bear. His hurting eased Ty’s pain. he could come out some other time to help him finish the tree. Drops of spit were flying from the corners of the big man's mouth. some time when nobody was proving anything. Ty bent into each movement of the saw. Or at least take a water break. Let the saw do the work now. Ty forgot about the pain he had seen in Warren’s 170 . shake his head. on duty. asked himself what this shit was all about. Why hadn't he challenged Warren to a game of Scrabble instead? Enough. so that each tooth of the blade was ripping a bit deeper. blistering himself. with the big yellow teeth clamped tight behind them. trying to prove something that he didn't know to a big brother who he didn’t know. He looked up to catch Warren's attention. He would nod at Warren. drew the blade through clean and smooth.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi stapled-on piece of barbed wire left from a line to keep the cows in. they were moving. but noticed that Warren had pushed his lips out and apart. They were through the knot. But Ty knew this was not the case.
echoing down the hill and across the swamp and fields. hard to notice. the crack began to widen. then ran up the tree. gracefully. Jim DeFilippi He and another man were outside. he gripped the handle for support. The blade was digging wood with each long. but it came louder than he could have imagined. getting firewood for the winter. as elegant as a diver. doing something that needed doing. advancing nearly an inch each time it reversed direction. higher up into the air and then slowly. faster. At the outer edge of the cut.THE FAMILY FARM face. Warren doubled over with pain. Warren fell back as the tree lifted. just a bit at first. making a difference. and his own pain. went over. It was widening more. easing down into the ground. The tree slammed out air as it hit ground. Ty felt the 171 . swinging. A giant cracking sound popped out of the blade. rolling. battling a dead elm. fine swing. but happening. They fell into jibe. actually lifted. then sprang out into the air. the tree's own weight starting to rip itself open. back where they had begun. Ty thought he would be ready for the sound of the crash. a dancer.
He sent Eddie back for a six-pack. crows more likely aim to shit on your head. "Damn birds. Ty flopped himself onto the ground. which seemed permanently bent to the height of the cut. Each man groaned. where black crows were circling. he sat on the new stump. Warren moved off the stump and joined his brother on the ground." 172 . rolled over and propped his head and shoulders on the fallen tree." Ty told his brother. had to scatter out of the way. Their boots were touching and their bodies were like hands of a clock at quarter to twelve. Jim DeFilippi Eddie had misjudged the size of the tree. Warren managed to arch his back. Happens too much to be dumb luck. Ty tried to knead out the muscles in each arm. kicking over the gas can in a jumble of adolescent arms and legs. as Ty saw that the pain was gone from Warren's face. His chest seemed to deflate.THE FAMILY FARM breeze rushing across his face. They both tried to straighten their backs. the size of a dining room table. Warren looked up at the sky. The brothers laughed together. "I had a theory.
trying to clear his ears." Warren looked at him. "Use some Bag Balm on that." 173 . tried to wring them dry. right there in the dooryard. we've done a full-day's work already. "Don't worry about that. "Now we can buck it up to pieces. To me it just sounded like an old man clicking. Who cares?" "The White Rita used to tell me how much she liked the call of the red-wing blackbird. Ninety-eight point six will dry them eventually." Ty pulled off his shoes." Ty made a face and Warren laughed a deep rumble.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi "Had the Extension Service fella tell me there was over seventy-five species of birds." Warren said back. Ty told him." "Yuh. "Well. I asked him." Ty started to pull one sock back on. to me at least. then his socks. "Bag Balm. eh?" Warren was pealing a pus-soaked handkerchief off his palm." "Harder than ripping out Spooner's bushes with the Bachelor Boys. "It was a big job.
In our time. he looked down at his palms. not really. That’s what I heard." He wanted to ask about the pain he had seen flash across Warren’s face. dancing a jig." "Well. from pecker heat to cancer." 174 It just happened to work out that ... remember. you'd be twenty years old right now.Bag Balm. Instead. None needed." "Too bad. Now you're in town." "You got some kind of a police report on that business last night?" "No." "I enjoyed working out here. "We never got a chance to work much together." "Well. Then you were. If you were using it all along. Cure all. when I did. keeping women stashed away all over town. find out how I got my way back home. fit as a fiddle. way." Warren said.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi "I heard you farmers use it on everything. filled with dried blood and flecks of skin. is all. Then I was away in the army." "Never even used it on the cows." "That's what I heard. if you got yourself a hangover. Thought I could maybe read it. "I suppose you were that much younger.
" "Yep. or as a challenge." Jim DeFilippi The last line wasn't spoken as a threat. Still. it is. it made Ty feel uneasy. *** 175 ." "I for one know I’ll always keep at it.THE FAMILY FARM "It's a good life.
THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi PART TWO: HAYING “The bloodroot blooms beneath moistening skies…” 176 .
Look out for your corn and your women. we’re coming through. maybe by a new grocery store. "Don't we look grand together. the green of the mountains nudged itself up against the sky's blue. Even on those special days. the sky could turn in less than an hour. Hon? 177 . The sky would grow friendlier and clear. growing violent and disloyal. fierce and sudden afternoon storms. carrying quick and ominous afternoon winds. an artificial blue on the good days—not a natural color for the people's lives. but a plastic backdrop manufactured out-of-state and trucked in. But on the good days. blowing in off the Lake and roaring up through the valley like a motorcycle gang.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi SEVEN Summers came late and never stayed long. one old lady saying to the other. or some car dealer running a seasonal promotion.
the mountains appeared more civilized. Mount Mansfield was lying quietly proud on the horizon. shoved to the shore. the shanties to be replaced by sailboats and swimmers. To its south. not as high but more majestic. 178 ." Without their capes of snow. but they rarely went outside without checking for a new snow cap up there on Mansfield or on the Hump. then hauled off in pick-up trucks that could hardly hold them in their truck beds. cradled in the miles of lowlands. could catch a cloud and hold it. Camel's Hump. Lake Champlain would catch the blue of the sky and throw it back. imitating a volcano like a scene from a kid's picture book. The ice fishing shanties were gone. freshly painted ferries passed each other on their perpetual journeys back and forth from the New York side. The pure white. Below the mountains.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi Ain't we still got it? I have to get me a picture of this. Never was. People quickened their way about their summer tasks and summer fun. letting you forget that most of the year they would as soon freeze you to death as forgive you. its exposed ski trails just a web of scars now. Wouldn't be long now.
he'd be gone quick enough. the passengers on deck waving at each other. a street person who came north for a couple days each year. The nights were cool and the early mornings were cool and crisp. "I can turn 179 . Afternoons could bring the heat. was the breeze—welcomed and enjoyed. During any heat wave—three days in a row that touched ninety—check the newspaper for the front page picture of a little kid splashing at the beech. or that sticky New York City and Chicago heat. no matter what. taking in the sun while stretched out across an asphalt roof and smiling for the cameraman. whispering. Heat is news around here. but its spirit lived on. Caressing each of these days.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi they would sound their horns to each other. yet always a quiet reminder: winter might be gone. but it wasn't the heat that would kill folks down in Houston or in Mobile. people on vacation waving to people on vacation. like a miser. kept hold of the hint of winter. or a co-ed who stayed in town for the summer. The heat was just a transient up here. passing twice an hour. if you could find the right spot. Subtle and sneaky. buddy. Even on the hottest days the lake water.
the vacation. much too soon. you know. The guy driving the grader for the town got off work. tar-patching the splits and cracks brought in by those changing waters of winter." The mud of March and April had been stopped in its tracks. finally to be baked into solid forms up against the ragweed. the game. the picnic. a few months from now. busted only by flash storms or road graders. to get to the pool or the boat. or to plan the trip. I can do all that. They were out on the pavement. to carry rain and hale and sleet and. Plan those good times. shaving down the frost heaves. drove home too fast. The winter that would come again. pencil them in now while you can. ice and snow. How many weekends could there be 180 . The road crews might water the dirt roads once or twice a season—keep the dust down—but the workmen had little time to treat the back roads. shapes transformed but not gone. The ruts and ridges of the dirt roads were concrete hard. because summer never stayed long enough.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi myself into a full wind in the autumn. then dried to powder. then twisted and pressed into a tangle of different shapes along the back paths and the dirt roads. schedule them.
no more than four hundred in New Hampshire. Time wasted now is money spent in the winter. and lost money was the only reason a farm goes bust. belly-up—because the summer didn't stay long. 1890. another four hundred up in Maine. *** Warren knew that to survive the winter he needed at 181 . Use the growing season to stock up. Now there were maybe twenty-six hundred milk farms in the state.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi between now and the Champlain Valley Exposition. between now and Addison County Field Days? Maybe ten. Belly-up. on your own. seven of them would rain. Every year except for a few after World War II when everybody was bullish and the boys came back home figuring there was nothing better than making your way right here. The farmer felt the most urgency of all. belly- Thirty-thousand. to prepare for the winter so that you could survive another year. your own boss. Thirty-thousand farms in Vermont in Then: belly-up. belly-up. to get a little ahead. Belly up. Those outer edges of the season get here as fast and as regular as credit card bills and the wild canaries. up.
Those around here 182 . one that was planted and cared for and harvested. and long after the sun was gone the headlights of the big Farmall would still be cutting their way back and forth across the hay. he would begin the tight and tiring job of haying. In the high fields. a few years older than Eddie. about five. a few bucks an hour to come and sweat. in a short stretch of good June/July weather. bust their backs. using hard work. with the time and pressure chasing his tractor. Warren had heard that on the business farms out West there was actually a crop called hay. This was the only job all year that demanded Warren hire help. and get it all in while the weather held. So. from your two cuttings of Timothy grass. you had to get it on your own. One hundred cows would eat twenty-five bales a day over the winter. the engine would kick on each morning before sunrise. long days.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi least one good haying and maybe a rowen between the time the corn was planted and when it was harvested. and winter had a lot of days. machinery and luck. You didn't want to be buying that hay. He paid some high school kids.
The tractor. In a good year—"Rain in May. Warren would hitch up the side-rake. that would mean money. because a sudden rain now would rot the hay. which for years had carried an "I Brake For Rummage Sales" sticker on its ass—courtesy of brother Ty—pulled different pieces of clanging machinery one after the other through the fields. That would mean buying. Put your hay away wet and you risk combustion. With quick glances up to the sky. the mower was latched on and the weeds cut. leaving a trail of oil spots and crushed weeds and chattering sea gulls. Warren quickened the pace of everything and everyone. and whatever came up was your harvest. full barn of hay"—you could pull eighty bales.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi just dumped the winter's manure with the spreader. laid on maybe a few hundred bags of fertilizer. First. two tons. Each piece of machinery being hauled around was so covered with dried mud that it looked like it had been carved from a solid block of dirt. off an acre. with its twofoot razor tentacles used to twirl the hay into long winding 183 . shunning bloodstroke. Once the hay was on the ground. fire— more money gone.
it was unhitched from the baler and tugged by the horses to the barn. where the bales were stacked floor to roof for the winter. Finally. shooting the bales mortar high into the air to be caught by the awkward. scooping up the cut. Stack them wet and you'd have a barn fire before August. shifting brown wagons that were hooked on behind. Warren worked and he bossed and he organized. big as a house. packing and lacing it with sisal twine into fifty pound bales. except for three meal breaks a day. and the breeze was right. He rotated jobs so some muscles got a chance to rest up while the others were being stretched 184 . the baler would be pulled along this line. He kept everybody busy the whole time. go to the check book in March. as top heavy as you could let it get.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi rows that would snake around the field like a big unraveled ball of twine. When the air was light. But if the day was thick with humid air. following every twist and turn. was filled to overflowing. the engine noise could travel two or three miles. you could stand thirty yards away and hear nothing of the machine sounds. As each wagon. maybe the same thing. Don't stack enough. Stack them too tight.
On the other hand. or your forearms would get turned to meat. Haying would build up your arms. he enjoyed himself. Sugaring in the early spring had started things off. build up your chest. All was growing. If it was eighty degrees. now things were continuing along their natural way. the farm was helping itself to stay that 185 . Jim DeFilippi After a few hours on the bumpy. your neck and back and ass would grow numb. Working the wagons was as bad. he knew the hired help would look at mechanical failure as a blessing from heaven. Moving at three miles an hour through the fields. Warren would pray every minute that nothing would break down. and probably would sour your spirit on farming for the rest of your life. and outworked everybody at each one of them. Moving within all the Eddie—he probably had no pressure and fatigue and heat. hard- steering tractor. thoughts either way. marking his way with Genesee empties. wear a flannel shirt anyway. build up your will.THE FAMILY FARM and pounded. But everybody agreed that the worst job was picking up the bales and tossing them onto the conveyer belt at the barn. living. Warren took his turn at every job.
she would say. packed 186 . The two had fallen into swapping complex plans of retaliation against Warren. *** In town. and Sarah insisted that the car didn't drive as well since Warren's attack. making progress the way it should.” When he told her he couldn’t feel the shimmy. Steven had gone to see a lawyer. cars are not made to be picked up and thrown around like Tonka toys. but the bushes had scratched the paint on the driver's door and the hood. She said the drop must have loosened up something. “Steven. Joyful conspirators." He couldn't argue. and it shimmies somewhere around fifty. On schedule. "Steven. Mixed within all the heat and machine noise was that smell of cut grass that you had to appreciate as a memory of gold. and it was moving right along. They hadn't noticed damage until the next morning. And—what with working the fourteen hours a day— Warren had little time to think about the other things. there are rattles now that didn’t used to be there. The incident with their Celica had infuriated both him and Sarah.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi way. according to the grand plan.
it was a labyrinth only he stood a chance of escaping. Hell. and that mix all leads to ennui.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi full of retribution and righteous anger. None of their plans involved Ty. They held the legal cards. had locked this man into immobility. and it was easy to see that he didn't want to. didn't they? But Steven figured that holding a winning hand can sometimes fill you with contentment and then overconfident inertia. maybe mixed in with his relationship with Warren and aggravated by his years of policing a town that needed no policing. Something in his make-up. It was 187 . They held financial cards. Steven and Sarah still held all the cards. Neither of them actually said it. especially when his brother was involved. getting their shit of reckoning together. inaction was too laced and tied and entwined with his jokes and stories and puzzles and excuses. they even held the ethical cards. even though the phone calls and letters to their Boston lawyer had convinced them that he was just too far removed to really be effective. Even without his support. but they had both decided that getting Sheriff Andy-Taylor-on-Downers to quit Ty's procrastinating would be neigh-on impossible.
For a twenty-five dollar consultation fee. I'll go to the P. all right. If you'd like. and the Zoning Commish. There he delivered his summation: "Look.B. You could build the Mayo Clinic for all the law cares out there. Baccado. Basically. it's your land all right. what there was of it. R. get some plans drawn up and get a building permit at Town Hall. You sure you don't want to initiate legal procedures over that car mess?" Sarah and Steven decided to take the good counselor's advice. Especially on their own land.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi mid-summer before they actually got around to doing anything. listened to their stories. and then led them to the door of his wainscoted office. he had leaned back in his swivel chair. Basically he told them: Yes sir. We don't stand much in getting in people's way up here. when you want. just go out there and do what you want to do. Then. you sure hold all the cards. The Baker country lawyer worked hard at not making things more complicated than they were. *** 188 . Fifty bucks. Sarah would take on the local bureaucracy while Steven made his way to the formal presence of one Mr.
Any Joe with a Roto-tiller could make money in the spring re-tilling gardens—adding in pig shit cost extra. helped the road crews with snow removal on a vigilante basis. The jobs he did were so varied that he had trouble 189 .THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi Roger Baccado was one of many local independent businessmen who depended for their livelihood upon possession of a specialized piece of equipment. Scaffolding. air compressors—always in demand. He hauled wood for the loggers. Pushing dirt alone could've kept him busy year round. His machinery had saved Roger’s ass from a lifetime of raking curd off the top of the vat at the cheese factory. cleared land at construction sites. generators. he could get enough plowing come winter to make ends meet. If his brother Moe was lucky enough to have a plow bolted onto the front of his truck. From his beloved father he had inherited a John Deere bulldozer and a Chevy dump truck. Roger was luckier than all that. You'd be amazed how many people just wanted their dirt pushed. rearranged the garbage at the town dump. The list of jobs he could do with these vehicles was nearly limitless. with ramped trailer.
But the back-hoe went on the Fritz and then died. Plus. But after carefully printing his name.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi coming up with a name for his enterprise. Roger had no way of So New ones used could cost fifty grand. "Odd Jobs" sounded low class. he couldn't think where to go next. So. he would leave them where they were and 190 . by default and spelling uncertainties. but he was a young buck then. One time on Lost Nation Road he had passed a pickup truck that had written on its door: "Woody's Stump Grinding Service." Inspired by this. and he had a back-hoe too. also left him by his father. and fired up with a sense of personal success. but "Heavy Equipment and Construction" was too much. Roger would be the first one to tell you that he didn't have great plans and expectations for his business. R wasn't in the Yellow Pages. now Roger's business plan was to keep using the truck and the dozer as long as he could keep them running. he didn't really do any construction. he had started lettering the door of his own truck. driven into junk by a hard life. "R Baccado" became the name of his business. When they died. Years ago he had dreamed about adding to his fleet. replacing it.
The jowls were extra beefy. although he didn’t.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi get into a different line. his hair stuck out in exploded chunks from beneath his International Harvester ball cap. It sprang from somewhere within himself. like Nixon. and Roger had more than once been accused of being a mouth-breather. The body of the back-hoe was to this day rusting away in Paul Hambroguiese's field. He accepted the fact that his A From a job that appearance was not as impressive as his equipment. heavy. His eyes looked constantly wet. He got a kick out of 191 . at the lonesome end of a half-dug leach line. He didn't work at it. drooping set of bones that the skin and muscle seemed to have a hard time clinging to and holding all together. The rest of his clothes were not neat. never got done and never got billed. Not because he just didn't care. Roger prided himself on accepting things in the world the way they were. Roger knew that some people who met him for the first time thought his country-bumpkin image might be masking a shrewd inner personality. it went deeper than that. but because he had realized that sloppiness with him wasn't a question of outer appearance.
he reasoned aloud. "Look.THE FAMILY FARM the fact they were dead wrong. And I don't. "Look. and he knew that Warren wouldn't want any road put in to the Knob." "What does that mean?" "I means I just ain't sure at this point." So Roger had agreed. Roger had heard around town about the feud Steven and Warren were having." "When can you decide?" "I guess when my senses and savvy tells me so. Jim DeFilippi He always had plenty work. debating with himself and the client. if you don't want to do it. sir. I suppose. Roger pulled his cap off and on three or four times. you want the job or not?" "Well. A job. Steven told him." Finally. so he was a little squeamish about taking this job that Steven Lareaux was offering him." "When will that be?" "I just ain't sure. was 192 . and he didn't like making enemies. I do. I'll just get somebody else. I do and I don't.
Roger didn't want to start pushing dirt around without checking in with Warren first. Jim DeFilippi After sealing the verbal contract with a handshake." "Well. waiting for the owner to appear. Roger backed the big yellow dozer off its trailer. A half hour later. drove it up the driveway. Fifteen minutes went by without Roger seeing hide nor hair. can I do something for you?" "No. Warren drove by on the tractor and 193 Just waiting to talk to . ma'am." "He's down in the fields. then stood by it in front of Warren's house. So he kept waiting. He owned the man that much. called to him. "Roger. Jen the wife came out on the porch. and Roger had a hard time scrapping a plan once it had been put into action.THE FAMILY FARM a job. Roger showed up the next morning at Warren's farm. for Christ sake." "Why don't you go down and find him?" "Ayah." But he had decided on waiting until Warren appeared here. thank you. maybe I will. okay then. He probably won't be back here for awhile. Warren is all.
" "Yuh?" Roger hesitated. "Swampy. Warren nodded and kept driving. He never knew why. 194 . Warren. It would come out maybe a hundred yards down from Warren's mailbox. Finally. "Seems I got me a job to do out here. The boys scrambled into the house. Roger turned his cap in his hand and read the label. Warren drove up to the house pulling a hay wagon full of boys. and eased himself down from the seat. He closed his mouth. then told the story of Steven contracting him." "Swamp" and "Swamp Gas" were nicknames for Roger. braked.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi He Roger felt vindicated that his plan had worked out. He couldn't be sure. took off his cap and waved it at Warren. but he thought maybe one of the Bachelor Boys had pinned it on him years ago. He used his hands to show how he would bank a road beginning at the Knob and cutting back all the way to pavement. figured it could not be to honor anything good. at about ten-thirty. He shifted in place.
THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi Through the whole explanation. Instead. Finally finished and almost out of breath. Today even. That's exactly it in the nutshell. Same thing with his nails. white and black insignia. now see. You been given a job. "You're not upset. All the one-sided talking was making Roger uncomfortable. I know that. He couldn't read exactly how Warren was taking things.”—Warren didn't call him Roger much— "You're a businessman. then at his feet." "When you plan on starting the excavation?" "Well. that's right. You would be a damned fool not to take it. then at the Knob." "Well. and peered up at Warren. Warren was eyeing him with that big brow and those two eyes and his head sort of cocked to one side. He took off his cap and re-checked the red. bit the inside of one cheek. then?" "Roger. 195 . I sort of planned on right away. he stopped looking at Warren's face. he looked at the sky. Roger took an uncomfortable pause. Without a word. as he spoke. He checked his palms for any clean patches. Who was smiling a little.
go ahead." Jim DeFilippi "And I thank you. "Roger. it looks to me like you already done from here to the Knob." 196 But down in the gullies we still got some ." "Well. I'll put the dozer back on the trailer. What that be?" "You know we been haying.THE FAMILY FARM I’m out here. I would sure appreciate it if you didn't cut straight over the fields to the Knob there. And some of those gullies you talk about are still pretty wet. too. see?" Roger pointed his cap out over the fields. Hate to have you get your machine stuck in there. acrost from the hollow. take it back down the road." "Sure I will. "Partly. This was working out great. Warren." "Ayah. Then I'll just take it along where the road is gonna be. "Tell you what. you do me just one thing please." "Tell ya. Warren. Swamp." Roger turned to mount his dozer. Maybe I could just cut acrost." "Okay. cutting to do." Roger answered. He didn't really. that path is bound to ruin some hay. I see that.
" "Now let me tell you how. "Jeez." "But I am worrying about my hay." Roger often found himself to be oblivious and confused. no worry about that. He yanked himself into the metal seat of the dozer. you just swing your dozer around the house here. jeez'm. Warren walked around and met him there. 197 . which was another step up. that way. just a little more hay is all. Not really lawn anyway. and then you tell me there ain't no way I can get out there to it. I can come around. It grows back. you know.THE FAMILY FARM "Oh. show you the path you ought to be taking. Warren. but now he was also mystified. What you do. but that'll dig up the wife's lawn there." Jim DeFilippi "Well. He figured north was always the way you were facing. you tell me go ahead and start work." Understanding spoken directions on navigation had always stumped Roger. Warren. started her up. out back of the chicken house. won't it?" "Don't worry about the lawn. and drove around back of the house. then you point it to the south.
who was sleeping in the shade of a bush. Roger threw his lever and aimed the dozer down the path.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi "Now. "If you just follow this path here down by the pigs. 198 . and when you get by them just swing over toward the Knob. Strange folks. he figured." The path that Warren pointed to was just a line of lower weeds running across a patch of higher. wetter growth. Roger felt good about finally getting down to action. Warren motioned him a little bit to the left and then gave him a sign that he was on course. as long as Warren was happy with it. Roger moved the dozer within ten yards of the dog. Roger didn't care why Warren wanted him to come this way. Roger waved and went on. He turned round in his seat to look at Warren. who had stopped. Roger traced the path with his finger in the air and Warren nodded." he yelled over the clanging of the engine. Either stone deaf or just didn't have a care about any visiting bulldozers. The old thing didn't even move or open an eye. walking beside him. "Make sure you stay on track." Warren was yelling up to him. Swamp. greener.
Plus. but it was always set to WDOT. all oily and slick. climbing up from the ground toward him. maybe the front was being lifted. the path crossed a six foot circle of green weeds. He leaned over and checked—the steel The whole At first treads were spinning. not getting anywhere. Saw 199 . rear of the dozer seemed to be slowly sinking. A lady was talking. he was sinking. He thought for a second about slow spitting volcanoes.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi and he began mapping out the job in his head. good country music. Roger leaned over to press the little radio to his ear. Roger figured it was his imagination. strange and sudden jolt. trying to figure. Moving across it. then started pointing up. to check if it was working. and he was settled enough in his mind to flip it on now. About thirty yards down. He had duct-taped a transistor radio onto a side post of the cab. and the big machine stopped moving forward. concerned—and sure enough. You couldn't actually hear over the machine noise. there was a mean looking black ooze. so you knew what was on. but he looked again—all confused. then he turned around to look at Warren. Roger felt a The nose of the dozer dipped.
sending its 200 . Roger had more important things to think about.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi a big grin back there. Roger called out "What the hell" to the man. probably to eat lunch. but Warren just turned and went into the house. There was a suction-breaking sound when it finally came free and the foot came out without the boot it had gone in with. but everything was digging in even deeper. who was still there grinning. The smell of things was something awful. Suddenly Roger was a man with a decision to make—either stick with his machine or else bail out. Roger hopped on his good foot and squealed back at Warren. trying to make it over beyond the black pool. A search was out of the question. sped up the tracks. but the whole rear-end was near out of sight. houses put together. Getting it back out took Smelled like hot steel and shit- some effort. It was planted in the ground at a real bad angle. the ooze was climbing and his machine was disappearing. Roger checked his machine. but as he landed his foot disappeared into the sludge. He eased one lever. It had stopped sinking by now. He strained for distance.
took his cap off. stared. Instead. He felt his face and ears get red. threw it back down. He felt as if he had to make a few attempts at doing something. He must've made ten circles. he tried shoving. He backed off. making circles. He knew even before he did it that it wouldn't do any good. picked it up. From the other end. He grabbed the dozer's blade and tried rocking it. He threw his cap down at the base of the old stone chimney. he just stormed around the outside. but he felt things heating up inside him. including the one without a boot. "Was no way at all to treat a working man. and he stormed back up to the house. All it accomplished was a couple times both his feet slid in." he 201 . but not mad enough to enter Warren's house. shouting and yelling and hurling curses that his father had left him. Roger was a man who didn't get mad much. Roger limped a circle around the sad vehicle. banging on walls. rapping on windows. Bulldozers never ought to be so helpless.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi blade high up in the air. then pulling at it. the bootless limp not slowing him down any. so undignified like this. He was awful mad.
Bits of food would spray from Warren's mouth. but for the man. forkful after overflowing forkful. farmers' sons who knew the calamity and the importance of machinery going down.” *** Jim DeFilippi Inside. Even through the window she could make out the veins in Roger's neck as he moved across the yard shrieking like an animal. She finished serving and didn't eat. 202 . But these were basically serious boys. Warren would lean and stretch between mouthfuls to catch sight of Roger through one of the three kitchen windows. She had made casserole after casserole for the working boys. smelly man snarling and shouting outside the kitchen. even when it was going down in a cesspool. She had concern. Eddie ate his macaroni. and now she served and watched their reactions as they ate—with a wild. Some of the boys took their cue from Warren and smiled at each other across the table. Jen herself was the most subdued of all. looking like he didn't know.THE FAMILY FARM finally yelled out. “No way at all. Not so much for the machine. Jen was serving the mid-day dinner.
As she was dialing the phone.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi She was the one who finally went to the window after Roger had calmed down enough to knock on the glass with a finger. *** 203 . He asked her to please call CharlieBoys and have him come out with the wrecker. she glanced over and saw a smiling stranger eating macaroni at her table.
" "Go head. She would begin planning in March. parallel lines. trying 204 . each representing peas or beans or tomatoes or sweet corn. Warren came to its creosote logged edge and stood—eleven o'clock and he was hungry. then drawing neat. "I just want to finish this row. it's a good time. It's so dry.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi EIGHT As Jen was weeding the garden. mostly because of her garden." She enjoyed the summer days. giving the tomatoes more room. raking the showing green away from the heat-hardened soil. but there were always variations within—one crop swapped or deleted. I'm alright. leaning over her pad of graph paper at the kitchen table—blocking out an overview. She kept pulling at the weeds with her hoe. The basic geometric lay-out remained the same each year.
She had been born Jennifer McVei Debereaux. scrape the ground clean of unwanted green. She worked the garden soil whenever she could. she would weed and water. after Warren had tilled the tenby-thirty with his tractor. With the first warm weather she would transplant each in its ordered spot. Except for the eggplant. by the light of an old desk lamp the rest of the time.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi a different kind of squash. 205 . the Extension Service. it was her favorite job. and had grown up with the impression that her parents had long ago lost interest. she grew everything from seed. pumped along by sunlight when it came. which she bought as shoots. helping her vegetables grow. Finally the tiny blades and stalks would prosper. to become a major portion of next winter's food supply. This happened after the first of June. check for shoots—those tiny and fragile signs of life. giving her time to think. the last of nine children. and television. Each day forward. and almost always they would grow to be strong and sweet and large. the freeze limit date decreed by the gardening books. The tomatoes would be started inside the house before Easter.
offering to show them the exact spot where his threading machine had been. From then on she was labeled by her family as true tramp material. a sense of moral outrage. agreeing with his arguments. from her French father. 206 . she had given up the baby and moved out of her parents' place lugging only a suitcase and a stuffed panda. until the place had closed when the company went south in the early 1950's. Jen had inherited a tough streak of Irish from her mother and. Pregnant and bewildered at eighteen. listening to his excuses. and she had tried desperately to live up to that image for too many years. spending most of his years telling strangers about the bum deal the Mill had given him.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi Her father put in forty years at the American Woolen Mills in Winooski. and drinking. with a skinny AWOL soldier who had dreams of being either a professional dancer or a stunt pilot. The pregnancy was a result of her first try at sex. sympathizing with his complaints. praying to his God for his soul. His wife had spent the rest of her life trying to keep track of him. He had worked by fits and starts after that.
Then. Now it was Jen's garden that needed her. She would have made a wonderful P. "What can I do?" would spring from her lips like a reflex action. who was trying to stay busy with the charger for the electric fence. She looked at Warren. when she would lose interest. She reached down to tug out a stubborn ragweed by hand. 207 ." She had met Warren at the Tunbridge World's Fair. cared for and cuddled and fed for a week or a month. grateful. they would disappear. it took a long time to convince herself that this simply was not going to happen. Stray cats and stray dogs came and went from her rented rooms.N.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi She knew that she should be a nurse. announcing the current was alive." "I'm fine. which was clicking like a heart beat. haunted and controlled by a need—an inherent drive—to help others. and she would tell herself that they didn't need her anymore. The animals were no longer only concerned with survival. and gone.. "You're in no rush? I'm almost done here. Show her someone or something in need and she was good for the rest of the day. they were out on the street looking for love— grown.
he needed little else to survive. and he was "dealing with that. She found out later that his marriage to Marie had just broken up. He was the first person she had ever met who was completely ignorant of. He was absolutely confident about so many things having to do with himself and his life. with her. so sensibly correct. that she marveled at each little corner and edge of it that she was allowed to catch glimpses of. or trying to. hiding nothing beneath its edges.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi He was showing his cows and she was working a burger grill. and uncaring about. He seemed so powerful that it took months of 208 . disguising nothing. From this confidence came gentleness—with himself. And soon she was dealing with him. so good. what anybody else in the world thought of him. with his livestock." as the magazines she read now would say. silent farmer was not her idea of the direction in which her life should be flowing. It was a gentleness existing for its own sake. he was sullen and shy and completely unromantic. She found a framework to him—somewhere down deep— that was so pure. This huge. with her strays.
turning red and silent when she bumped into any remnant of her past life. determined to honor it. the Irish Catholic Church. but three years later they were married. any problems below his exterior of calm and iron and energy and one-word answers. Francis was booked. he had permitted her to hear a few words about his first wife. Eddie was born two years into the marriage. She wasn't even sure they were really seeing each other. Steven's. slowly seeing to it that their worlds twined together. so she dug in. because St. Finally. She had kept smiling and asking questions. hidden pieces of him and his essence. Jen realized that this marriage was her first real commitment to anything. Jen had no way of knowing back then that she had already enjoyed her only successes as far as taping into these silent. who for awhile was completely 209 . maybe destined to be the only one she would ever make. this brand new human being. Ty and one of her sisters stood up for them at a simple ceremony at St.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi probing to find any troubles she could help him with. She would remain fiercely loyal to her husband in every way.
steady strength of the farm wife. say. worn right up to the day they hit the rag bin. Her clothes. would be able to catch now and then in a movement she made or an 210 . She felt that she was getting control of all those pressures and qualities inside her—loyalty and looseness. Her face grew a serious. She wanted her outside to show the inside changes. not too much. especially women. She was gaining what she felt was the quiet. Sometimes she feared that the people who had known her before. confidence and fear. now became cheap and sensible. the limits of a magazine model. once cheap and stylish. toughness and sloth. It was a strength that she felt others—maybe even those who weren't farm wives—would see and would respect. She consciously worked on changing her appearance during those early married years. She let her hair take on its own color. but way beyond.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi dependent on her for absolutely everything. and it became the color of hay bales left rotting in the fields. Her figure rounded. sensible look. the baby strengthened and fleshed out her commitment to her new life.
Then. they had never really needed her. the rebellious. froze to death one winter with Parkinson's disease. If he wanted her barefoot in the winter. And he. barren in the summer. after all. without explanation. then barefoot and barren is how she would be kept. but this ending of something quietly bothered her. over the course of the next fifteen years. some quick glimpse of what she had been. shiftless. But people who had not known her before saw her as a woman destined from the cradle to be the wife of a farmer. It gave her a tangible sense of no turning back. but Warren. What image had her mother been holding of her when she had died? Jennifer. thus ending any sense of family that Jen might have felt with her brothers and sisters. She had never been close to any of her siblings. She wanted more children after Eddie. She went to Grange meetings. the keystone of the Debereaux family. owned the farm. slowly at first. Her mother. She was the farmer's wife. she felt her life sliding a little bit sideways. 211 .THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi expression she held. did not. not class reunions. Even at the wake. she sat with Warren and talked with no one.
she felt herself each year feeling more tired. boring farm wife? Probably neither. Eddie was growing up. There was a huge list of topics he would not speak of. But now the hurt was covered over by so many layers of scar tissue and flannel that it might no longer be a factor in anything. "Just a sandwich. Then. She only felt like doing things when there was nothing to do. Probably none at all. more useless." she called to him. And Warren was no longer the quietly injured man of the Tunbridge World's Fair. This mystery woman had hurt her husband. When pushed. 212 .” and he had told her to leave. he had forbidden any more references to her. taking his father's distrust of spoken words to an absurd extreme. without a word.THE FAMILY FARM eighteen-year-old piece of street pussy? Jim DeFilippi Jen. She couldn't be sure. more impassive." He did not turn to her. he disappeared into the kitchen. the solid. She saw Warren stand up from the fence charger and head up toward the house. Now. and the list included his first wife. "I'm through in a minute. living on Warren's farm. Jen knew that. he would only hint again that she had “gotten fancy.
maybe. piled on a plate in front of him. She still did as much for him as ever—served every meal. a few years ago she would have bet that was impossible. no feelings to soothe. his world was twisting in on himself. Warren would be in the kitchen now. gave him love once in awhile—but all of it seemed so unnecessary now. waiting for food. washed his clothes. She felt that her husband's dream world would be one where he survived without anyone else around—without her. no wounds to clean and dress. for this business with Steven—all this confusion about the young couple putting up a building on the property. 213 . uncut. Nothing. She could still smell the open cesspool where Roger Baccado's bulldozer had gone in. no fevers to medicate. without their son—and she bet he could do it in a minute. Except. For good or bad.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi “Just a sandwich” meant three sandwiches. either swaddling him or choking him. She wanted to offer help. He would wait there in the kitchen until they were set before him. seated. but he was. but there were no particulars. Warren was growing more independent.
Anger directed only at the situation. and the eyes could almost pull back in. First Steven's car and the bushes. the whole affair was making her feel even more helpless. more useless.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi She knew nothing about money matters or legal matters. That would be all right. looking like those of an animal peering out of a cave. the rain that was right up there above the treetops but just wouldn't fall.. a horse that got infested with screw-worm. She had been shaken by Warren's actions and his attitude since the day Steven and Sarah had shown up. This business with Steven had turned over a new kind of anger in Warren. that would be 214 . She knew of her husband’s temper. an anger flipped shell-side up to reveal its red underbelly. not the individual. she had seen how his big brow could drop down to right above the eyes. always. maybe a tax bill delivered in a green State envelope and asking for blood from a stone. It wasn't a case of Warren getting drunk with the Bachelor Boys and raising some hell. then Roger Baccado's bulldozer. But it was Anger drawn from a cow who wouldn't let her milk down.anger correctly held..
Only those few truly mean individuals could scare her. Most people rarely turned cruel. an instance. She had always done that—it was good for her—but lately the sitting and gazing seemed to be gaining some control. even when they themselves needed more than they had to give. while making Warren even more independent and malicious. This was different. by and large willing to help. When troubled. Warren and Eddie would sneak looks at her. This was a situation making her feel even more hopeless. so 215 . she would sit and gaze. Warren yesterday— giggling as Roger circled the house like a crazy man—was mean. malicious. Even a hint of malice was dangerous. even when skinned by calamity. That was a thing that Jen could not abide. hidden somewhere within in her own system. And his malice had scared her. it could stir up some more of the same stuff. and then only for a moment.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi good. She could count the number of truly malicious people she had met in her life. This was a festering wound that Jen couldn't see or treat. most people were good hearted. and freeze her. this was Warren digging in for something terminal and tragic. when scared. for a word or sentence.
because she thought He had deserted her. even to pray. went up into the house—to 216 . pray to the God that she had deserted in junior year. the silence that now they each treasured for its numbness. her altar. and the permanence that was building up. The thing to do. to break the silence of their years of marriage. took them off. but she was willing to try. she kept on thinking. She would break the hold of the silence. She stood there within the mingling green smells until she realized she had been leaning on her hoe and staring for far too long.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi she had taken to the bathroom. A real talk—without trial balloons or hints or games of deceit— would be tough. Inside the little room was her sanctuary. She kept the hoe moving. because she had to. On the porch she knocked the dirt from her shoes. The idea that her life was over. For longer than she cared to admit. It had the only door in the house that she could shut without guilt. was to talk to Warren. she decided. she would sit there above cool porcelain—to gaze. If she could do that. then she could fight that other idea that had been coming to her lately.
simple man. He doesn't expect people to be mean. It takes him by surprise. he might have been thinking about mulch. He might have been remembering." Warren did not react. She went to the window above the sink and she looked out. their house sat in the middle. The wellhead was in the front yard. She had only a few minutes before Warren would be done and gone. "Warren.THE FAMILY FARM talk. A proper cycle of nature." He grunted something. Steven won't 217 . she said to her husband's back. Jim DeFilippi After delivering the sandwiches. "You’ll get around to capping up that hole?" "I'll get to it. And not healthy. She saw the ugly black circle of the cesspool in the dooryard." "I feel sorry for Roger though." "I'll cap it. fill it in. you can't fix up all that's happening just by talking some poor fool into your cesspool." "It's dangerous. Depending on the wind." She turned from the window to see if Warren was smiling. "It was a wrong thing that was done to him. I can smell it from the garden. "I had a few things to finish up. up hill. poor. And it smells.
Warren. Soon." To end it. but you don't own half your farm." Chewing. To shut her up. Or years of service. I suppose. Jim DeFilippi "I don't give a damn what he does. any of them." There was quiet again." He followed his words with silence. There's bloodlines." He took a last bite of bread crust. with Ty. “I suppose. There's other things too." "I don't care what my brother does. right. this time. Maybe her life was ending. sure. "It's mine. "Well. all She wasn't There’s people’s final wishes. "You're a farmer. That is all of it. he looked at her. "Be sure. With lawyers. or with bulldozers. "It's not based on how much hard work was done.” "My brother lives in town and I am a farmer. not this time. he will return here sometime again. Warren. This is what people have to understand. silently ordering her to do the same." Maybe Ty had some of the better qualities of her husband without the bad.THE FAMILY FARM give in to that." Don’t allow yourself to be put off by the up-country quotes. Warren." 218 .
fighting together. “Fine then.” *** In town. getting by. "It'll be good to meet some more of the town people. He looked strangely fragile. Go. sharing.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi The word seemed to startle him. She knew she could jiggle him wide awake if she just kept talking. 219 . bloodlines. sharing. He finished his beer and was looking as somewhere miles beyond the kitchen walls. but he was groggy from love-making. the shopkeepers. she couldn't think why. sharing. love. About first wives. She told him she would be going to the Co-op meeting tonight. It was the middle of the day." They had been moving easily around and through the town. He didn't seem to be hearing much. getting along. It was time to talk. asking and getting and paying back. He told her. working things out. helping each other. Sarah was sitting in bed telling her husband about the meeting of the food Co-op set for that night. they were low on everything. getting to know the stores. fathers and sons. being fragile.
All morning. good old Karl Marx socialism. They both felt the outer shell of their new house should be up before winter. They would both let it drop. frustrated by a feeling of losing control on this thing. then one or the other would think of another point to make. He rolled toward her. Their day had not begun like this. there'd be hell to pay. unadulterated. Or is it communism in action at a grassroots level? Steven?" "Communism. They had the financing. endlessly constantly interrupted. slightly hostile discussion of the farm." He glided his arm around her waist and buried his face into her softened stomach. it’s a chance to see capitalism in action at a grassroots level.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi recognizing some faces in the passing cars. "Besides. meandering. resuscitated. had been talking to contractors. had begun the process of planning and getting the permits. But don't tell that to the gals at the Co-op. "Pure. and it would start again. probably." smiling. They had spent the morning in often a usually truncated. 220 Then the wheels had . It might get back to the men-folk. Sarah had been angered. She smiled and mixed her fingers in his long hair.
hopefully from Boston to Camelot. She told him that his decision to hire Mr. She had taken it out on Steven—her boy-man—the wounded soul whom she had swept off his feet and carried away. Now it was the middle of the summer with no ground broken. Sarah turned insidiously bitchy. and this part of their life-plan was not proceeding as foreseen. fallen off. then Ty’s inertia. hopelessly. mysteriously. They were either not mentioning the farm and the house at all. with nothing getting 221 . She was the planner in all of this.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi somehow quietly. Roger Baccado didn't quite rank with the Pope hiring Michelangelo to do the Sistine Chapel. then Roger's stupidity. At various times during the morning she was convinced that their main enemy was Steven's weakness. Steven grew defensive. or else discussing it endlessly. This morning's round had been kicked off by a report from Roger Baccado of nearly losing his bulldozer in a cesspool. finally Warren's stubbornness. The financing might vanish tomorrow—that type thing blew away if not used quickly. they spent hours not quite arguing about it. Four blind mice.
after his mother 222 . "The trouble be. "It's just that the man has always been there. Whenever his tender psyche started crumbling." Steven's voice was thinning out. as she paced about." she told him. "So. He's just a part of it. "It's not his fault though." John Wayne. is that neither of us care to form a posse and ride through his living room. She had decided to lighten up a bit." Steven tried to smile. "sometimes I think that's the only language this pilgrim will understand. Make a shoe-string catch of his spirit. babe. throwing lead. the law. Not bad for a soprano. Maybe we're the ones messing with Maybe all we're doing is bringing violence to a fine old place. all we've established then. the floor falling out. Jim DeFilippi Steven had slouched at the desk in the living room. She did it all the time. Of nature. like the trees and the cliffs or something. like each syllable was in pain. dropping him into depression and indecision. she would be there to shore it up. you see?" She moved to him. it will always be his place. In his mind. exhausted. The worst had been in Boston.THE FAMILY FARM resolved.
certainly a concealed weapon. Don't choose victim status on this." "I know." He looked about twelve and she loved him. you're absolutely phenomenal at seeing other people's point of view. darling. "Have I become a big." "Yes. Baccado's bulldozer—with an armed cesspool?" "And the damned thing was loaded too. But don't forget your own. Jim DeFilippi "Steven. and I'll never. which one is it?" "In your case. Doctor. overbearing. ever do it ag-aaain. Jewish stage mother in all of this." Steven started singing: "I didn't know. She leaned down over him and rested her chin on his shoulder from behind. Have you forgotten how Big Daddy Burl Ives violently and maliciously attacked poor Mr. Steven. and probably unregistered. darling? Should we forget the whole thing?" 223 . Her arms crossed his chest. you're going to be a great psychologist. Tell me. the cesspool was a loaded. I just forget sometimes if I'm supposed to be the doctor or the loony. I think. it's both.THE FAMILY FARM had died.
should we maybe see if we can afford other land? Somewhere else maybe? What is it going for. Isn't that unbelievable? She said she didn't mind dying. When my mother was dying. but maybe our future is just as beautiful without that place too." Jim DeFilippi "I am not. right? Do you think? If it's going to kill you. a thousand or two an acre around here? Should we do that and just charge Warren a few bucks a month. one of his best shticks. she Just get our milk and eggs for free or said she didn't mind. darling. "You say rent when we already own? Whattaya. she told me. then we could live in a condo and rent office space for the practice." "Rent. we have a beautiful future mapped out for ourselves. Steven. you say?" The old Jewish businessman. You're Methodist. You don't even know what I am. If it's going to hurt you. It's not worth it. just to keep our hand in? something?" "Sarah. told me straight out. then I don't want it.THE FAMILY FARM "No. "Listen. don't we?" "We really do. yes. crazy?" He seemed to consider some things for awhile. She told me 224 .
and wondered if the time would come when she would fail with him. The stupid gas station. unsure which way things were going. But I lit my face up. And the whole thing isn't rational or scientific. I don't remember what." Sarah told him gently. you know how kids are. okay?" "Sure we will. I would get home from school. Of course we will. Steven was looking down. "I know it. but something was wrong with it in my kid opinion. in front of him. And now. She told me it was the best dough she ever spent. pushing the little pieces around. Lived to see me get an education. "I remember I was about ten. I know that. not for his benefit. and because I love you." 225 . She had lived to see me grow up." Sarah listened. Maybe I though it was for babies or something. she had this toy gas station for me. even when she wasn't there. because you're with me. But let's stick with it. I would get the farm. I played with it for hours.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi that God had answered every prayer she ever offered up. He said. "And things will work out. go to the station. huh?" "It's not the same." She smiled. I came home from school.
It was a loosely organized group of farmers. honey. grinning. just like the Madisons. the two old friends were gawking. *** Jen was sitting in the formal front room of Doctor and Mrs. Jen reminded herself that she had to get in to more of these meetings. The room was like a magazine lay-out. John Crandle—"Call us Dolly and John. She had to stretch to reach his belt bucket. Steven. anybody who wished to come together to save money and get good food. 226 . You really are. Two members would get a truck each month and drive to Boston or Montreal to haul back wholesale foods." Her chin was still on his shoulder." Jen had chosen a chair next to Teresa Johnson.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi "You're so good to people. an acquaintance from back in Winooski who had never judged her. professionals. townspeople. The discussion had ended. The farmers would turn over any of their unsold produce for a certain amount of chits. whispering price-tag guesses to each other. She used to come all the time. The Baker Town Food Co-op had been a good idea. They were aware of each other. It was "The Price Is Right" but in real life and no prizes.
especially when they were the likes of the homes of Dolly and John Crandle. and fewer members came. except any of the Bachelor prejudice. was accused of being more interested in itself than in its members. had noticed that through the years the good idea had changed—one and a half permanent employees had been hired—and the Co-op. truck farmers. she reminded herself it was still fun to get out and order supplies. for cut-rate supplies. Boys. 227 . who were politely excused without Then everyone met and unloaded the truck. to see the insides of other people's homes. Jen blamed the whole thing on politics. sorted out everything in the tiny Co-op warehouse. really just an abandoned garage on Elm Street. but each time she came to a meeting. Deals were also worked out with local syrup producers. One December. Jen. scheduled for the second Monday of the month at a member's home. with no actual names being mentioned. as well as other charter members. and store owners. Complaints about over-head and quality kicked off each meeting. the truck to Boston was cancelled because no one was available to make the drive.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi All male members took a turn at the trip. apple growers.
she felt that she couldn't just slip out on Sarah. so she left Teresa Johnson in midsentence—Teresa would hardly notice—and went to meet Sarah in the middle of the room. Jen needed more Mung beans. when Jen saw Dolly leading Steven's wife into the room. with 228 . She smiled and sidestepped through the people and took a seat on the couch after two people shoved over.THE FAMILY FARM honey. Jim DeFilippi The group had finished sorting the individual small orders. nodded. She did not notice Jen until she was seated. assured young lady in jeans and a top that looked like the top of a l930's man's bathing suit. Sarah seemed a bit ill at ease. finished the bitching session. and waved. she wondered what to say. Jen saw an intelligent. Jen waved back with a feeling that the meeting had just been ruined for both of them. When things broke up. and was about to begin ordering. finished the organizational business. After hi. but the rest of her order was nothing more than filler—she could do as well at the IGA. Ordering went fine—with fewer people it was easier. then she smiled again.
Jen offered Sarah a ride. They began swapping information and opinions on certain foods and recipes.THE FAMILY FARM "Miami Beech" written across in a crescent. eager to be friendly. looked around and noticed that the room was almost empty. Jen thought its design was just beautiful. On the sidewalk. Oh yes. and that 229 . searching for a topic. mouthing pleasantries. with the talk coming surprisingly easy now. Jen was glad to help. tall. Together they stopped talking. Their lives were just too different. even asking for advice on some of the items on the list. Warren would be delighted with that idea. Dolly let them out. Sarah brought up the Co-op ordering list and that worked for awhile—a better topic than summer weather at least. open. mentioning getting together with all the husbands some time. thin. Jen knew that Sarah and Steven's place was just a few blocks away. and that wasn't talking material. Jim DeFilippi Sarah was She had a gold medallion held tightly to her neck. Jen scratched around for awhile. with Sarah always deferring to what Jen had to say. Only the farm business bound them.
but we're still unpacking boxes from when we moved up." She disappeared into the kitchen. so Jen followed her up to the apartment. 230 . Jen said she had to be going. probably an extra bedroom for the original house. "Steven's doing some research up at U. tonight.V.M. It was overcrowded with furniture. she wanted to add that she did sometimes enjoy a glass of white wine though. "Let me just find that recipe for you. I don't know if we'll ever get finished. making the words sound more important than they were." Sarah told her. and Jen studied the room. but Sarah had promised her an apple-sauce cake recipe. It's here in the kitchen somewhere. the conversation seemed to slow a bit.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi she had walked over. Inside the cab of the pick-up. The food talk had run its course. most of it brand new and showing labels. It was small for a living room. and the walls of the cab seemed to hold their voices and bounce them back. Jen wished she could just drop her passenger off and leave. but Sarah accepted the offer. white wine?" "Would you like some coffee.
That's the kitchen. "I would show you around. she guessed. length mirror was propped beside a standing shelf." She opened the door to the bedroom. "But you can stand right there and see it all. Sarah came back in waving a slip of paper as Jen turned toward her. Believe it or not. "I guess we have more A full paintings and pieces of furniture than we have walls and floors for. I think having art on the walls is so important. and yes. Jim DeFilippi They all seemed to have very distinguished titles that Jen didn't recognize. a young couple shopping in Boston. the bedroom is in there. it helps build a state of grace or something. it's even more of a mess than these two rooms. A guitar case stood among the suitcases and unpacked boxes." Jen thought about them.THE FAMILY FARM Cartons of books filled two corners. on psychology and biographies. stocking up on things from the best stores. 231 . "We went a little overboard at Pier One when we left Boston. Rows of framed paintings and pictures leaned un-hung against each other by the walls." Sarah was smiling." Sarah was explaining. "Ta-daaah!" It was smaller. even more crowded than the living room.
She hadn't always been like this. She had wanted to reassure this beautiful young girl. looked like this. leads to more excitement. You should have a chance at You should have a things. Once. A place of our own." "Will you have children?" Jen wanted to take care of 232 . to let her know that she understood. to hurt any of you. young people deserve that. Jen wished that she hadn't said it." Why was she feeling closer to these young college people than to her own husband? "But the issues are so confusing. more appreciation. I chose this for myself. she herself had been something more than a farm wife. home. Sarah stopped talking. "And excitement. "I guess so. Sarah said." Jen said quietly. that she too knew about dreams and plans and being young." "And you thought you'd be in a house.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi getting ready for their new life." "And you should. later on. aren't they? Steven wants so much not to hurt Warren. This made her sad. appreciation.
"Say now.THE FAMILY FARM things." Jen smiled. "I'm sorry. I'd advise you not to try Planned Parenthood. I don't know about a bunch. we do plan children. And. So they stay quiet." "That's good. when you explain it that way." "You know. I'm joking. someone from far away. if you're ever looking for a part-time job. they think they'll be cheated. sure." "More than one. I bet you'd be great at child 233 Have children. but couldn't think of an answer. then. answering your question. it's nice having an easy person to talk to. Sure. Jen. It's just natural." "Yes. when someone new comes in. Really. them. When things are more settled for us. are you trying to analyze me?" Jim DeFilippi Jen smiled at that. "On the other hand. up here." "I’m that? Thank you. Have a bunch of . It really is." "Well. or they’ll make fools of themselves. Someday. I guess. I think people around here are maybe a little bit close-mouthed because. yes. I don't think you have the right attitude.
you know. what do you say. you can come over and take care of them all for me. Should I copy it down or can I get it back to you?" "Just go on.." Jen reminded herself that these nice people were not asking for any help in anything. I'd be happy to.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi care. But there isn’t any rush to leave. They were capable of taking care of things. He's been in just one place for so long. Let me know how it turns out. take it. it has to do with his first wife. We're not against him." Jen knew that neither of More capable than she was of them were buying that one. "We both understand. running hers.. of running their own lives." "I'll do that." "And. "He's a very good man. trying to show Warren's confusion. certainly. too. Okay. "Thank you for the recipe." 234 With . A sense of loyalty made her stop on her walk to the door. Steven and I will have about twelve little monsters." She waved a hand in front of her face. From me." "Warren might worry. Steven's mother. Steven and I have talked about it. Changes.
"I didn’t know Warren until afterwards." "Does he talk about her?" "Oh. like she understood." Sarah said. guilty about me." "I thought maybe down in Boston.THE FAMILY FARM "Marie. He was worried about his mother. "I guess you knew her?" "We never met. you can't shut him up. He never managed to get us together. I didn't go to the funeral.. There was so much going on. In and out of the hospital. "I'm not even really sure he ever told her about us." She looked into a corner. It was all very hard on Steven. that she was very happy about us." Jim DeFilippi "When Steven and I first met she was already very sick." The two women smiled at each other.." Jen told her that she was sorry. By the time we were married she was having no visitors except Steven. He tells me he did. she wasn't from up here originally. "Have you seen her picture?" Sarah leaned in to ask conspiratorially—two sophomores whispering in study 235 . Maybe if he had wanted to." They smiled again. "Did you know her when she was up here?" "No.
" "No. "Did she wear a Viking helmet. gazing. Four feet tall. I guess. Have you?" "Never. I can picture her." Jen didn't feel guilty for all those hours spent sitting. nose like a hawk. Black hair with white streaks running back from the forehead. Let's see. she had long. you were right about were the shoulders. thinking.THE FAMILY FARM hall. though." was sounding deliciously evil." Sarah said." They both laughed. Jen was laughing." Jen waved her hand. braided hair all the way down to her waist. Sarah had done the same. "Actually. Scandinavian. about six foot. and she was a psychologist. with a black dress with those pointed Joan Crawford shoulders out to here. erasing that picture. but we're in the right ball park. On a need to know basis only. not exactly. Shoulders like a beef. "and we two haven't been cleared yet. Jim DeFilippi "All materials are classified. you're all wrong. And a big round face like a The only thing Sarah And tall. "The Bride of Frankenstein?" "Well. "Never. and breast plates?" 236 .
but the psychologist didn't seem to mind. moving toward the door." Smiles ran out as they got to the door.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi Sarah cupped her hands in front of her breasts." Sarah said." "I'll try the recipe." Jen said. "The woman didn't have to protect herself. "Could this whole thing be about her?" It was strong talk to be dishing out to a psychologist. Good luck. Jen said. *** 237 ." And. Still. with a hand on the doorknob. "making fun of a dead woman who's not here to protect herself. I'll let you know." "Thank you too. "She's got her men to do that. "We're awful. Schoolgirl giggles. this has been more fun than I usually have.
flopping it down with bulk and mandate onto gravel and blacktop. Throttle-jockeying the big yellow John Deere dozer— showroom shiny once again—off its trailer. Roger considered signing out a complaint against the Chief's big brother. Roger was about to resolve some unfinished business. After the coating with cesspool sludge. Heading in. he had sought support both legal and emotional from the town Chief of Police. he decided to check and make sure that he was perfectly within his legal rights to return to the job of scraping out a roadway from the town road to the rear of the Knob. In the office.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi NINE Yes. Roger "Swamp Gas" Baccado—freshly bathed and powdered in purpose—had returned. then cutting tracks up and over the roadside bank. but Roger wasn't sure what the charges would be. 238 .
that much I can tell you sure. but the truth of the matter is the man knew exactly where that cesspool was a situated. driving me right into there as much as he would've got a crane and picked up my dozer and dumped her right on in. with me still sitting in the cab. Chief. trying to lay out for the Police Chief the enormity of the injustice and personal affront that had been delivered by the cesspool thing. Blood was a lot thicker than spilled water—even water that was putrefied. the directions.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi Talking to the Chief. all right. stock car results. and that was exactly his purpose in doing. brakes and shocks—random things like that. Then he squeezed his eyes shut a couple of times in preparation for the telling of the real reason he had come into the station. 239 . Shit-canning my machinery is exactly what he was doing all along. all right. you know me—wouldn't say shit with a mouthful." Getting through to the Chief was like talking to a sack of wet cement on Sunday morning. Roger had desperately tried to make his words match the horse-power of the story that he was attempting to tell. "Look. He would start off with a bit of harmless tongue wagging—trouble with his beagle out at the house. His words.
didn't even need a building permit for the job he was doing. This time doing it right there in the open. Nobody can modify that. Roger stood there in the office—stewing—steaming— 240 . Roger could go back out there to Warren's. that is. Didn't need any help from Roger.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi polluted. and rancid—so there was no use at this point to be crying over spilled milk. expected the same in return. You go out there and do what it is you have to. He best not be writing stories about R Baccado. and not a whole lot on the day’s work schedule either. Steve is half owner of that land and he's the one hired you. usually when no one was looking. but not much of it on Roger. Roger opened his eyes wide one last time and asked the Chief where the hell was it that he stood—legally. The Chief seemed like a man with a whole lot on his mind. The Chief told him. I can't tell you what to do. Swampy. And the man wanted to keep it that way. sure. that's all. writing his stories like he did. that's all. "Look. like telling Roger to scram." The Chief went back to his damn yellow pad.
that's fine then.. Sweet music. Instead. so. and down into the field. and from there he took the big dozer off the trailer. washed his dozer one more time before heading on back out to Warren's place. The plan was to cut through the field by running even with the straight granite wall of the Knob. He checked back in with the Lareaux kid.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi told the Chief.. but he knew he wouldn't be so much of it this time out. 241 . he couldn't think of the word.. setting himself and his machinery up like a ripe apple ready to be picked by some Jamaican who was just shipped in for the picking season and when they got off work they hopped on some old bicycle that looked like the brakes didn't even work on it and rode on the wrong side down the road almost getting you to kill them by accident. Not like last time. up the bank. when it had a job to do.. he found a spot to park his truck and trailer. down the way a bit. This trip Roger didn't go up to the house at all. then go around back and start pushing some dirt. This time out he resolved that he wouldn't be so. One of the things he loved most in the world was the sound of his dozer rumbling. right above Sunny Hallow.
Today. Over his own motor sound Roger could hear some other engine now. not much at first. He leaned forward. Del Reeves was finishing up his tune. the hot gray wall of the Knob was a couple hundred feet off to his right. The dozer was idling and quieted. but growing until he guessed it was probably loud as his own. was Warren's big Farmall. Coming up slow. maybe "Bummin' in a One Bum Town." When Roger dropped the front of the machine down onto the field. but it helped fill up the air. saw nothing for a moment. bigger transistor radio onto the dash. climbing from the gully over a mound of hayed grass at the far corner of the Knob. fished a clean handkerchief from his pocket. owner on-board.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi Roger had strapped a new. sort of like a present for the dozer after the septic snafu. somewhere. He braked. The old radio had taken water. stopped motion for a minute. He could still hear only bits and snatches of songs between machine noises. Warren 242 . He knew for certain a Del Reeves tune was playing. then finally a bit of movement. sweat would be had. studied the field. like a shadow that was growing.
and Roger knew the tractor would hardly fit in the shed built to house it in. Which to Roger it was. 243 . or about to.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi moved the tractor over the mound. curled a big booted foot up under himself there on the seat. The summer air was piss-pot hot. but that was all right—Del was good for sure. looking bigger than Roger remembered. He flipped the radio off with Del Reeves still tweeting. The tune about the bum could be missed when something big was happening. The back wheels were taller than Warren. Roger felt the heat coming up through the weeds like smoke. but he was no George Jones. he would never be a Hank. more machine than was needed for a farm this size. and just sat. A red Diesel 706 that Warren had picked up cheap at a bankruptcy auction a couple years ago. The silver plowing blade was hooked onto the hydraulic lifts at the rear. Warren had installed the lags. idled it. Roger formed a question to himself: What the hell? He didn't like the look or feel of things. Roger ascertained. The Farmall sat there facing him. Warren didn't wave to him.
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heavy steel treads wrapped to the rear wheels for extra traction, hard-bitten and threatening looking. Worse than that, though, was Warren himself. Roger could size up machines better than he could size up people—their moods would change too quick—but Warren, sitting there on the ass-formed metal seat, was looking altogether too strange and too still. Sizing up Roger at the same time Roger was sizing up him. Roger felt his own heart beating. The tractor's silver muffler and exhaust
stuck right straight up out of the engine, cutting off part of Warren's body, that was framed out by fenders.
Something, a weed, hung from the man's mouth. Screwy hayseed farmer anyway. Roger knew Warren as a man with more confidence in himself—in his own big body and mind—than in his machines. Warren had himself a big, strong, dependable, not-complaining set of shoulders that he relied on, that got him through things unaided most of the time. Roger and Warren were different that way. Still, Warren had sat on that tractor twelve hours a day during haying, so now probably it felt like a part of him, just like the dozer was a part of Roger. Warren, along with that tractor hooked 244
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onto his ass, seemed ready for some kind of action, action that Roger was still trying hard to understand. What the hell? He had heard about the night Warren beat up the road boys in the bar years ago. Everybody had heard
about that thing. My God, was there ever blood, people would reminisce, tubs of it. And Roger wondered if—
before it had started—if Warren had looked like he looked now, all kind of peaceful with his mind already made up, and with that big ugly, knurly brow of his tucked down. Whoever had told Roger the story of the road boys had finished up by saying, "Don't mess with Warren when he comes unstrung," and Roger had answered, "Don't mess with Warren when he got his mind made up." Roger didn't want to think about that now. "Jeez'm H. Crow," Roger said to the rising heat. Roger looked at his radio, then back out across the field. Warren spit out the weed, his engine revved. He
spun the machine around, threw it in reverse, started backing across the field toward Roger and the John Deere. The move put the heavy drive-wheels of the tractor 245
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out in front, aimed the rear-mounted blade directly at the brim of Roger’s cap. Warren was twisted around in his
seat, looking over his left shoulder, steering with his right hand. Roger knew Warren could drive the tractor that
way just as good as he could frontward. And Warren had his left hand free to run the accelerator stick, the gear shift, the torque amplifier, and the hydraulic lifts. As he sat there watching, Roger knew his mouth was wide open anyway, so he said, "Bas-ket," hitting each half of the word the same. He still wasn't sure exactly
what it was Warren had in mind, but Roger was a man who recognized a challenge when he saw one. He
clutched, threw in the two black knobs that controlled his tracks. His engine snarled, his dozer started forward. Before he had asked, What the hell? —like it was a question. Now it was more—What the hell, period. When the two machines had each made it maybe a quarter of the way across the field toward each other, Roger could check Warren's face behind the heat waves. It was still a calm face, but that brow of his had come down even more, and the chin and lower lip seemed to be sticking out more than usual. Maybe not. Roger felt his 246
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own face tight, his left eye squinting and almost closed. He felt like he was sighting down a deer, using a crossbow. Now Warren's tractor was passing right below the line of the sun in Roger's view, so he couldn't make out much, just the black outline of a big man and bigger machine coming right at him. Roger reminded himself
that his own blade must be two times the size of the blade on the Farmall. He could see Warren's accelerator stick all the way over, with Warren throwing forward the torque amplifier on the side of the steering wheel. There usually wasn't
much cause for that. The growl of Roger’s own machine kept singing up to his ears, sounding deep and smooth and rumbling, nothing but business. The tractor's hum was higher, loud and mad, with some kind of a clanging that he couldn't make out. The machines closed in on each other and
everything seemed to snap into slow motion for Roger. It took near forever to close those last fifty yards. The
tractor was picking up steam, moving a lot faster than the dozer now. Roger kept his right eye on its blade, but out 247
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of the corner he could see flecks of sun bouncing off the wall of the Knob. The machines were less than thirty
yards apart, Roger's hands were squeezed white and red. A janitor had told him once that you could shut your eyes for six seconds when driving any vehicle and you'd still be okay. No more than that, just six seconds. He used to try it with the truck when there wasn't much traffic, and it seemed to be hold true. He tried it now,
hung on tight for the crash. "One hippopotamus, two..." He felt heat from his own glands coming up from the inside of his shirt through the neck. After six hippopotamus, he opened up his eyes as he heard the sound of Warren's machine moving past him on the right, between him and the wall. At the last minute Warren must have spun the wheel. The two tiny,
diagonally set front wheels on the tractor would have twisted, the two blades just missing each other. Roger let himself breathe, and he leaned himself forward to relax a bit. He didn't want any more of this. His pulse was beating in a complete circle all the way around the band of his I-H cap. He let his dozer just keep driving forward by herself. He would turn her around and 248
THE FAMILY FARM head home, forget the job for today.
The hum of Warren’s tractor was off behind him somewhere, Roger didn't pay it any mind. Suddenly, sensing motion, he turned and saw the steel of the big, hot tractor blade closing in on his right side. Warren must have cut the wheels hard, cut a U-ey, and was closing in on the diagonal. Roger caught a
glimpse of the I-H insignia next to the word "Farmall" above the tractor's engine. It matched the insignia on his very own hat, and Roger felt cheated and fooled, betrayed. Right before impact, he squealed and threw both his feet up into the air, judging that the tractor's blade could hit and sever them off. Instead, the blade dug into the dozer's side. The
stomach-sick sound of metal ripping metal filled the field. His dozer got shoved at least a yard sideways, Roger nearly getting thrown off his seat. He managed to catch and save himself by grabbing hold of the black knobs and the sticks of his dash. He got himself righted as the dozer twisted left, then right, because of his wild pressure on the controls. He must be looking like some drunk high-school kid at the controls. 249
THE FAMILY FARM
Warren had lunged forward in his seat with the crash, but he no sooner snapped back then he was throwing his tractor into low gear and backing out, then throwing it into reverse again—and here he comes already, ramming for the second time. The ramming speed wasn't as much on this one, so the smack delivered less force. Roger saw a bend in the upper corner of Warren's blade, where it had dug into his dozer. Warren again backed out a few yards, put the tractor into reverse, and came in for a third ram, popping the clutch to get momentum. Finally Roger's body and mind and hands and fingers were starting to react. He pulled back as hard as he could with the right hand level while pushing forward with his left and wildly working the foot pedals. This
caused his right track go in reverse while his left one spun forward, and his big John Deere rotated around like a slow moving kid’s top and it was facing the tractor again, blade to blade. Warren skidded his tractor to a stop. Roger got his blade nuzzled up against the tractor's, he pushed both levers hard. The dozer began creeping
forward. Roger’s gums and all his teeth were aching from being ground together, but he couldn't stop himself doing 250
He felt some throw-up rise up into his mouth. Smoke was pouring out of the wheels and the tractor was being moved back like it was a helpless snow-bank. cleared his throat. It was smelling like rubber. the tractor's weight and power were no match for the dozer in traction and weight. He had never held this much power over anybody. then tried braking. Roger was feeling mean and scared and brave. Warren twisted his head away for a moment toward the wall of the Knob. spat. like it was a helpless pile of dirt. but he swallowed it back down whole. None of it could resist Roger's dozer. Foot by foot. like it was a helpless load of garbage at the town dump. Jim DeFilippi He saw Warren checking the accelerator and torque. granite-solid and getting 251 . Roger felt dizzy from the heat and joy. The tractor's big wheels and lags began spinning wild across the top of the grass like it was an icy road. Warren tried rocking the tractor back and forth.THE FAMILY FARM it. But even with both lags digging. grinned. especially someone like Warren. he drove them back toward the wall of the Knob. all at the same time. trying to get his tractor to dig in.
or how many years he had known Warren. pop the clutch. oh yeah. Jim DeFilippi Roger was thinking about that sweet moment when the dozer would crush the tractor into the wall. just like at the beginning. and spin out of the vice. Coffins made of pressed steel. 252 .THE FAMILY FARM closer. oh God. Still. oh God. He said. like the machine down at the dump that turned cars into neat little hot boxes of scrap metal. "God. With Warren's machine just a machine-length from the wall. As the tractor spun away. or if someone could ever win. Roger saw him quick put it into low. He didn't have time to think whether all this was so stupid. That was okay though. Both machines revved their engines in challenge as they sat blade to blade with the wall running to Roger's right. cut the wheels. oh yes. He was gaining a shitload of confidence by now— he knew Warren would have to be the one being careful in this fucking fight." and felt his cock getting hard. Roger rotated his tracks to again face the tractor blade to blade. Roger had to use any time he had to think strategy.
He was never prouder. Bluffing. breathing heavy. making sure he was keeping the tractor right in front of his blade.THE FAMILY FARM Roger took stock. Roger was glad he knew machines. to lurch at the dozer. slow like. It could turn and maneuver quicker. and fear. it was running well. piss. was a lot faster. sweating like a dog's tongue in summer sitting on a sidewalk. running on gasoline. Jim DeFilippi His bulldozer had double the A shitload more weight. still grinding his teeth. backing off. Warren put his machine into reverse a couple times. and thinking. first a little to the left. The tractor had to go slowly in low It swung a big half-circle all the way 253 . gear. traction. then to the right. on the other hand. who still looked completely calm. Except for a leaky hydraulic which had been hit in the first collision. Warren's tractor. some vinegar. He was hot and holding his own. More Plus it could rotate around without going forward or back. Roger felt himself hose-sweating. still hotter than he had ever been before. Sweating more than a pig would. Roger started moving the dozer forward. And it had big Warren up. power of the tractor.
Warren put the tractor in reverse and flipped the accelerator. she could not be hurt. steady. He understood that Warren would have to twist left or right at the last minute again—he could never beat the dozer head on. even though he had started screaming. the wall was to Roger's left now. running out of room. he sped up. plodding bulldozer. gained distance from Roger. The dozer was moving him into a corner formed between the road and a tree-line that ran out from the Knob. Warren was still backing off. but they had reversed position. followed by the slow. The dozer could never catch the tractor. The machines were still showing their blades to each other. then braked. Roger stopped his screaming when his throat hurt— 254 . but as long as she kept it in front. but this time Roger could almost enjoy it.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi around the field. Roger figured that Warren would try to maneuver his way out so he could begin backing another big semicircle. Roger sped up and the two were coming at each other again. But instead. bearing down on the dozer.
It was by him on the left. and he was already pulling back on his right lever.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi If he he had to decide which way Warren would turn. he would run the risk of getting rammed in the side one more time. Instead. But the tractor changed direction again. and he knew he had guessed right. Roger thought. before Roger had time to adjust. The tractor was turning to his right. Warren would swing a circle and clobber him like before. Without actually thinking about it. he decided that Warren would turn away from the Knob. The bottom of the tractor disappeared behind Roger's blade. formed an "S" curve. If he kept heading forward at the same speed. he cut his wheels back the other way. Sugar Ray. didn't block it. Yeah. started backing up. drove his blade directly into the left side of the bulldozer—as hard as a steam locomotive. But Warren was outguessing him—instead of going on in that tight curve. so that he couldn't get himself sandwiched in against it. but no harm if he could make sure he didn't get rammed again. Get inside him. I am a fucking Sugar Ray. he stopped. 255 . So he lost that one.
The right track was still driving forward. but he saw the way Warren's blade was stuck into the workings of his machine. cancer-close and holding. so both machines were pivoting. Roger drove the dozer forward. He sat himself back down. Roger felt a jolt. leaned back in towards the tractor. His Yankee pride reminded him that once before Warren had forced him to take that leap. clumped together like a couple beetles screwing. 256 . trying to pull his dozer back onto the ground. digging an ugly circle. but the tractor hung on him. Warren was lifting up the tractor's blade with his hydraulics. looked for a spot to leap. The left track of the dozer was leaving the ground and the tractor was squatting and straining. The blade of the tractor was so damn high that the dozer was almost at that terrible angle that would send it flying over on its side. He knew that this hit was a bad one. Roger stood up in the cab.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi Roger said shit and really meant it. He was used to the metal sounds now. hung onto whatever controls he could grab. just about raping her. a different kind of jolt. lifting. trying to escape.
It caught the tractor on its side. There was just enough track left to get the dozer moving. He pushed his levers forward. he was thinking about power and revenge. Oil sprayed onto the weeds at the base 257 . In a minute Warren's fucking tractor was pinned and helpless. Warren turned off his torque. started lifting again. so Warren pulled out quick. leaking steam and oil. Warren drove his blade back in again. twisting between the big blade on one side and the bigger rock on the other. and started to drive off. eased the accelerator. Crippled and finished. The blade got all the way back up. but still the dozer would not tip. Roger wasn't thinking about torn tracks.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi The tractor's blade had gone all the way up and the dozer hadn't flipped. Warren pulled out again and—as the dozer was falling—her track caught on the tractor's blade. The moment the dozer hit ground. not looking back. sending the dozer crashing down with a sound of pain. now feeling crippled and finished. It drove the tractor sideways across the field toward the Knob. She sat there in the dirt where grass had been. The dozer's own weight ripped her track almost all the way through.
Soon there would be cum too. directly into the exposed engine compartment. Blood to be spilled. and drove it directly between the raised hydraulic and the blade of the dozer. His eyes and nose were running and he heard himself making satisfied grunting noises. then pushed both levels forward again while raising his blade. Steam hissed and oil sprayed itself out into the air as the bulldozer's engine was all but shoved out the side of the frame. 258 .THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi of the wall. Warren had no room to escape. She was completely paralyzed now. Heat. he could hit the tractor a little higher this time. just a foot. Warren eased his machine out from between the wall and the dozer. only her giant blade moving up as Roger's hands were lifted off the controls by a feeling of doom. but as the dozer moved forward again its broken track torn the rest of the way through and tangled in its own drive gears. Roger felt the tractor frame being bent by his pressure. lifted his blade to the exact level he needed. He backed up the machine. Blood.
He climbed down.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi The tractor's engine stalled just as the steam had finished escaping from the bulldozer. His own blood-heat was burning his neck and his ears. He tried to stay like that. the heat of the metal was burning his hand. At the far side. put a hand on the hot metal to steady himself. he turned. *** 259 . He wondered if the Whitehead had been watching. except for chickadees chirping and Roger blubbering. *** Warren climbed off his tractor and walked across the field. All noise had left in the field. working hard to stay not thinking and hardly crying. But he kept it right there as he cupped his head into his arm.
.” 260 .THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi PART THREE: BUTCHERING “The bloodroot withers in anguish..
On those days. Not the fall that people envisioned in day dreams and talked about to their out-ofstate friends. It was fall. freed months before by the rain and the warmth of spring. Days of clear skies. air without insects—slip on a light jacket if you're going out.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi TEN The mud. of the tourist calendars. then baked solid into ridges and ruts by the summer sun. Not the fall of days when the sun would set the colors on fire. in the late afternoon. now felt the chill of a new season. Those days had more beauty packed into them than the tourists' eyes or camera lens could 261 . the very air itself would turn an elegant orange. but not the fall of the picture postcards. The innocent puddles of water at the bottom of each rut grew paper-thin ice crusts as the mud itself became sharper and brittle.
Their skin told them that wasn't some bright-colored nip in the air 262 . for ten years now. rather just a few days to hook the ass-end of black-fly summer onto the front bumper of the real fall up here.THE FAMILY FARM hold. nor yellow. “Every year this time. cutting off the tops of the mountains. slate that would await. the long.” It was November now. cataract-eyed leaf-peepers had long since rolled back. it wasn't even brown. holding the color of lead statues. Jim DeFilippi That season of russets and crimson and walks in the woods was really no season at all. the tons of snow. honking and sputtering. the same color as the slate roofs on the houses. but those days were solid gone. low gray hung right above the hills. then shed. We’re always either a week early or a week too late. my wife drags me up from Florida to see the leaves. either dead for the season or dead forever. Day after day. Jersey and Florida. Gray was the color. the busses full of grayheaded. The season now was not red. to Boston and New York. The gray governed the sky and the land and the lives of the people. The trees and bushes were pale.
THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi anymore. a different set of chores to see to. Wrap the mind in stoicism and silence. plastic sheets stapled over those doors you wouldn't open till spring. He had heard the first mean winds blowing in from the Lake and from the mountains that many times. a few different tasks to slip into the daily schedule. impressed. *** Warren had seen the gray fifty-five times. Just another season. How did they keep track of He was not what needed doing? How did they map out their days and their years? How did they know how old their lives had 263 . wrap up the house in storm windows and insulation—tar paper and hay bales along the foundation. Wrap the body in flannel and down. He took the heaviest knife from the kitchen drawer and walked outside. It was time to dig in. it was a sting. a sting auguring winter and winter's brutality. in thick underwear and vests. take stock. He wondered how the farmers down South worked things out. He had heard the new-frozen mud snap under his boots. get the wood and the vehicles prepared.
and butcher them once the weather turned cold for good. was fortified against cold and mice by hay bales backed by D-Con.THE FAMILY FARM become? Jim DeFilippi Warren knew how old he was and what jobs needed doing. Good enough. The house was all right. The farm year was ending. was ending now. that feeling of lifeblood that had begun with the sap run in the spring and moved to the busy haying in the summer. It was time for butchering. The rest were sold to Gerard or bartered to the Coop. of living and moving around. then pump cheap feed and garbage into them all summer. he 264 . the north-side foundation. The pork from one was enough for the family for the year. So was the hay. Warren stood sock-deep in the muck of the pen. Jen would complain about the plastic sheeting stapled and tacked across her windows—no fresh air allowed. The wood was in. Each spring Warren would buy six piglets. Water pipes were protected. That feeling of beginning once more. where poured concrete met clapboard. Now.
THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi estimated that three of the hogs had reached the butchering weight. He could work in peace this year. mud packed snout. Ron Sweeney had found him with a . expecting food.22 slug in its side. Warren separated the largest hog in the smaller butchering pen. 265 . and the hog was on its back. facing the same direction it was. and grabbed the front left leg. He walked to the hog's right side. It nudged at his leg with its Warren bent over. Rabbit hunters? Kids for kicks? The dog lay buried in the heavy clay of the sugar bush. the rest in a couple weeks. He yanked sudden and hard. Anything over that was not worth the garbage you could fill them with. Two hundred and fifty pounds. barking till its throat was raw. curled up beside Sweeney’s old plow blade. reached under. and Warren got the ten-inch blade of the kitchen knife pointed just right. He would do the three now. Looked like it had been trying to crawl its way back home. The dog had been shot. once. squealing and confused. outlined by fence posts and three strands of barbed wire. without the dog going crazy with the blood scent. It fought to get back up.
then drifting up from the bubbling and dripping blood. Warren twisted the blade sideways in the flesh. did the same with his hands. It didn't take all that much pull.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi He drove the knife into that exact spot. Below their snout. 266 . The blade as pulled steadily down four inches toward the chest cavity. then a gurgling sound that the pig didn't know it was making. ran it across. he could work at a regular pace without worrying about the meat spoiling. and he kept pushing in until he felt warm flesh on his hand above the blade guard. pigs looked like they were smiling. carving an up-side-down T. The squealing had turned to snorting. The cut would sever the main artery. The arm had been forged years ago by a smith in Colchester. The air was below freezing. wiped it clean on his butchering apron. Cold enough that steam was forming. the carcass could bleed itself dry. At the end of the four inch line. An iron bar had been bolted onto the elm tree by the side of the pen. then back. just below the neck. He drew the blade back out. a prosthetic branch. The bar hung from a hinge that allowed it to swing sideways from the tree.
Eddie was at school. Warren heated up the fire a few feet away. he tugged the rope through the bar. When the blood had slowed down to a single drip 267 . resting in the cinder block holes.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi dead now. the rope hung down a few feet and tied tight to a meat hook that swung in the breeze like a noose. Sitting on top of walls was an old wrought-iron bathtub. The fire-pit was bordered on three sides by walls of cracked cinder block. Warren lifted the bleeding carcass. without needing a winch or a pulley. tied it to the tree so that the pig now hung higher than Warren's head. the flames were licking it from underneath now. With the blood fertilizing the ground beneath. He grunted when he had to hold the hog one-handed for a moment as he dug the hook into flesh using his left hand. the blocks’ own weight holding them in place. Straining. Then. each wall two blocks high. so old that its feet. wrapped the rope around its haunches. were carved like animal hooves. stuck the hook as deep into the meat as he could. filled with water. A thick rope was looped through a hole at the outer end of the bar. The tub had been plugged. holding no cement.
Warren checked the temperature of the water. The higher patches forced him to stand as he scraped. He realized he couldn't do the work on the frame or the blade himself. Warren let the monotony of the work dull his mood. soaked it a few minutes. he had concentrated on getting the tractor fixed up. which had been growing a bit worse each day since the tractor fight a few months before. Jen had turned edgy. he would have to dip at least three times before the carcass was cleaned. It was a slow and boring job. but the repair bill scared him. starting at the feet. like she was struggling. And other things were bothering him. working toward the body. using the candy thermometer from Jen’s kitchen. He swung the bar and the hog over until they hung above the water. focused on things no 268 . let the carcass drop in. swung it back over. began scraping off the hair. He grabbed a steel brush. hoisted the pig. took the rope that was left hanging loose over the edge of the tub. and retied the knot. A hundred and forty degrees. pulled it tight again. so he had taken it into town.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi each second or so. After that battle. He could do without the tractor this time of year. He untied the rope.
This year he had told them no. *** In town. He swung the pig over the tub. or Ty with a summons. or Steven with a lawyer. The day after the bulldozer business. he could hunt right on the farm. He had not heard from Roger with a bill. Roger had dragged his drained and sorry body into Ty’s office. pressing in on him and on this damned farm of his. events had grinded to a stand-still. With none of them pushing. twisting 269 . and he did not know what could be done about it. Eddie seemed disappointed. he himself felt pushed. "Chief. dunked it again into the scalding water. For the last few years he had been going to a camp up in Montgomery with the Bachelor Boys. before things had gotten so built up.THE FAMILY FARM one could corner or lay a hand on." Roger sat looking up at the ceiling. Everything was moving nearer. and weaker. All deer season he had an itchy feeling of things closing in on him. Jim DeFilippi The year had been so gray that he had not gone to deer camp—the first November since childhood that he had not hunted. powerless. At one time around here.
"I just almost got killed by your brother with his tractor. So it had been an easy thing for Ty to lead Roger out of the office while telling him. I have to tell you. he could barely keep himself upright in the chair. but his voice couldn't seem to muster up any muscle. I'll go out Warren’s. like one of those fake dogs in a car's back window." Roger repeated the strange story at least three times. The skin on Roger's face and neck seemed to hang even looser than usual. Will he have me arrest you then? Trespassing. "It's a very confusing legal tangle here. sadder." Ty saw a completely defeated man sitting in front of the desk. "Chief. Just who's to blame here?" "Who's to blame?” Roger shook his arm loose from 270 . Roger seemed just too weighed down by sadness and shame and guilt. Swamp. but who knows what that will lead to. disturbing the peace? Malicious destruction of property? I don't know. slower.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi his head on his shoulders. slow. shorter. You're gonna wanna have to listen to this. He was trying to dig up some anger to show Ty as he told him to get out there and arrest Warren. each time more quietly. If you swear out a complaint.
sitting actually. without any doubt." "How did the wife take it?" "Don't know. in the But he couldn't seem to middle of the mess. picking up steam and momentum on its own. Who cares about her?" Ty went back and sat at his desk. Jim DeFilippi “Who you think?" He told the Chief that the very least he was going to do was go get a lawyer. and act decisively and conclusively. right off center from Warren and Steve.THE FAMILY FARM Ty’s grip. get off his fat ass. sue Warren up the ass. Roger called back. From outside the door. break the inertia. This whole matter was growing. confused by his responsibilities and loyalties. Ty told him fine. 271 . dawdling or hesitation. He was a brother and a cop and he knew somewhere along the line he would have to put his pencil down. He was standing. Once he even crushed a cigarette half smoked into the ashtray and leaned his big body forward. He's pretty pressed and pissed. moving somewhere. "I told the kid about it too. At least five times he decided to get up and go see Warren. It made Ty feel uneasy— guilty.
" To this day. he filled his head with other concerns that needed his attention. looked at him. *** Jen looked out the kitchen window at her husband. then turned down to his writing wooden table that he had dragged out from the barn that morning. pad. He had started cutting up the meat." he had told a teacher in grammar school when she had asked him where his homework was. sawed the hip bone to 272 . "I never got around to it. "You never got around to it? How about getting around to this room at three o'clock today and we'll see. It would probably just make things worse. he hacked off the feet. He had drained the pig. Working at an old Ty looked away. This had gone beyond the range of things he was good at smoothing over. Ty didn’t think it was all that bad of an answer that he had given the woman. One of his patrolmen walked by his desk. For the rest of the day. mister.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi For now he decided against a ride out to the farm. then scraped its flesh clean.
She put her panties and bras into an IGA bag. began folding her dresses and sweaters into an old leather suitcase with straps. He looked at them. 273 . The suitcase was full. pack the intestines into blood sausage. That would be all the cutting for today.THE FAMILY FARM remove the hams. She pretended to be arranging things on the table. He pealed back the slabs of bacon. sliced off the spare-ribs. making trips to the freezer. grind the feet and the tongue and the ears and the tail into headcheese. She went to the mud room to check if there was room enough in the freezer. her husband would smoke the shoulder meat. Later on. rolled its top closed. Her husband had wrapped everything in brown butcher paper and taken off his apron. render down the fat. Jim DeFilippi He cut the roasts and the chops using a vicious looking blackhandled meat cleaver. he came into their kitchen. His work finished. She had brought out the suitcase with three brown bags. they smelled of camphor and had nothing she needed. She heard him She checked the open bedroom drawers. She went to the bedroom. Jen stared at him a long time.
And the onions and carrots. then. I can’t help out with things this way." "Yuh. They’re down the cellar if you look." She looked at him. by doing this. He was sitting at the table. "I told myself when the garden was done." "Where you going to?" "One of my sister's. the tractor and Roger’s bulldozer. I would leave. so she felt compelled. pouring a beer. Maybe a friend’s house. "I seen it before. I can't help but think." "I even got the winter squash in.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi "I'm done with the canning." He asked for no explanation. Been done a few weeks now.” 274 . I’ll help. I'll let you know when I get there." They stood for awhile. the way they have become. She hadn't planned one. I watched you. help the both of us. "I watched out the window. “Can I use the Chevy?" At the kitchen door." "That's the last of it. She picked up the suitcase. she put the suitcase down and turned to him.
mother's taking those. They were all crowded and Catholic and full of their own problems. She tried to tell him he could have stayed." Warren pointed to the food store bags. she tried to talk to Eddie. And all the other stuff." she told Warren. he didn't answer. then fade away. She had lied to him. Eddie was standing next to his father. He rubbed the back of his neck. She said good-bye and left. looked around like he was considering painting the walls. she dropped him at the Higgins farm. Without discussing it. where he could stay in a room above the garage and help out when he got home from school. She wasn't going to any of her sisters. When she came back into the kitchen. like Teresa. "I'll come by for both milkings everyday." Eddie picked up the three bags and went out.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi She brought the suitcase to the Chevy. "That's all there is. She "Your wondered if he listened to the car start up. And she had friends. He did that sometimes when the Higgins were busier that 275 . but no friends you moved in with. In the car. Eddie told him.
feeling dazed. She pulled out and drove into town. something to do. Sarah smiled. made Jen feel that maybe she had chosen right. living someone else’s life. Sarah sat her down. counted twentyseven dollars. "You left Warren?" "This morning. The Chevy was running okay. feeling like someone else. She hoped Sarah wouldn't answer. stepped back. Jen took the cup. Jen realized that she had been carrying a headache with her since she had left the farm. without plans.” Jim DeFilippi She drove off. blew across the top.THE FAMILY FARM Warren. checked her wallet. I decided a while ago. brought in some coffee. but she did. “You need anything? Money?” “I can get it later. for a while in the hot weather it was getting stuck in neutral. "I left home. pulled over at the bottom of the Higgins driveway. Jen was hungry." She was thirty-eight years old. As she was led into the apartment. 276 I was just . it was something to hold on to. It was two hours later when she parked the car in front of Sarah's apartment. as she knocked on the door.
it's all right." Jen forced a smile. You look tired. they have trouble understanding. Alone. Steven was there." Jen blew again on the coffee. or a question. I've been driving around. I couldn't even think of a friend. I don't really understand myself. I understand." "We’re friends. She remembered her headache and asked for some aspirin. Sarah left the room. Why hadn't she 277 . Then when it was all done. I still didn't go. Jim DeFilippi The canning and things for the winter." "Don't be sorry. I just barged in. "I have family." "You don't know where to go." It wasn't exactly a statement the way Sarah said it.THE FAMILY FARM waiting for the garden to be finished. I dropped Eddie at a farm he works at. "I don't know what I'm doing here. She didn't know why she could feel better talking to this young girl than to her own sisters. you know. Until now. of course. Jen heard a noise stop and realized that a shower had been running since she had come into the apartment. Jen. He'll be fine. We know each other. they’re busy. to her mother. But I'm so tired.
Jen turned toward Steven. I do. you don't. He had a towel draped around his neck that made Jen feel like an invader. Steven?" "No. or not. Thank you for the coffee and for everything. put the glass on a wood tabletop. don’t we." 278 "I We have She left before he . "Why don't you stay for awhile?" Sarah asked. "But there is no place for you to go. I'm better now. "We could talk. Steven was behind her in a terry cloth robe. hope it turns out all right for you. I have to go. I came here. She took the Excedrin." “Could I use the bathroom?” As she was leaving. room. swallowed it without water.THE FAMILY FARM realized that? Jim DeFilippi She heard quiet voices in the bathroom. I’ll go. Jen told them both she didn't want to intrude. He said hi. I was just feeling sorry for myself. hoping it wouldn't leave a ring." "Don't be. Sarah came back with an Excedrin and a glass of water. You could spend the night. really. is there?" "Sure I do." Both Sarah and Steven told her to stay and Sarah said. I'm sorry. and she stood up.
and the people in the drugstore if she went for aspirin. she didn't go back to the Chevy.THE FAMILY FARM could answer. 279 Her vision Sometimes cars . beeped. but she just looked down. Her foolishness at Sarah's had destroyed any confidence. She thought she would have to faint. but started walking instead. She couldn't find the answer. She prayed that she wouldn't meet anyone. It was hours of walking. she would cross the street or turn back the other way. She couldn't find any answers at all. but she kept walking its streets. Whenever she did see someone. It was cold and people weren't walking. She tried to put some thoughts together between the ones about her aching head and her hunger. Again and again she would circle up Main Street. She asked herself why she wasn't leaving this town. prayed harder that it wouldn't be someone she knew. She was cold and very hungry. then back down Ridge and over. The sun always seemed to be going down. Jim DeFilippi On the street. but she would know the people in the restaurant. There was nowhere in Baker where she could feel safe or comfortable.
nasty noise and looked up to see a police cruiser coming toward her. She got back up. She had been at a masquerade party for seventeen years. and fell. She was still the easy. She would get herself something to eat. stumbled into some bushes a few yards off the street. She heard a sharp. trying to make it look like she was going somewhere. The Chevy was parked a half block away and maybe 280 . she felt better. aimless girl that the nuns had known she was. Her legs were numb. first setting the colors in her mind vivid and sharp like a Hollywood movie. She stepped off a curb. realized she had to pee and. She was either sweating or shivering.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi was playing tricks. This being decided. All bets were off. she took a breath. sobbing. She knew what she looked like. Too late to avoid it. twisted her foot on a knob of frozen mud. and she came back onto the street knowing that she was a tramp and a whore forever. then smearing them into a dull gray. She looked around quickly. she thought of magazine pictures of migrant workers squatting in the fields. turned and walked. Behind the bushes.
How's Lucy?" Before he answered. she slammed the door and she drove off—as if God had instructed her—to Ty's house. in 281 . but she must not walk too fast. he had painted just last summer and redone the roof. She turned and looked at the driver. He was surprised by Jen's appearance. the upholstered furniture and rugs were unraveling. just one of his patrolmen. Inside. *** White Rita had left during the dead middle of a long winter. magazines and newspapers were stacked in crooked piles in every room. Gordy. and he had kept on living in the little five-room Cape that his wife had abandoned. must not race to it. "Fine. The outside of the I'm just picking up a few things. It wasn't Ty. and covering everything was dust and lint. house was still looking pretty good. She was sliding herself behind the wheel of her car as the police cruiser stopped behind her.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi she could get to it. He had just gotten off duty and opened a Bud when the bell rang. He asked her if everything was okay.
Her face looked more bloodless than usual." He went into the living room. Wine wouldn't help." "That'd be fine." she said. "You want toast?" "Could I drink something?" "Coffee. He asked her what was wrong. He cut the omelet with a metal spatula and slid half onto the plate in front of her. I am the omelet king." thing and didn't care. and it took him a minute to put a name on her. I've got this headache. Jen." "No.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi both ways." He did a pretty good job on the eggs. "I'm starving. 282 . "Well hell. what was going on. From there he called. even his own." "Beer's no good then. "Sometimes it's hard eating alone. Milk. you know me. "Would you eat with me?" He told her he never turned down a meal. and got another plate. She looked up at him. He took a moment. considering the pressure he was working under. Jen was sitting at the She said it like it was an immoral table not saying anything.
he's just scared. I've been driving and walking around all day. he was having trouble being either a brother-in-law or being a cop. he's a cynical old weather-beaten farmer. They ate and drank in silence. "You left?" "Warren. "He's troubled." "Jen. I can't help him. but these days. what's going on?" She had caught him unprepared and off-duty. 283 He had never ." thought of Warren being scared before.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi "I always forget. "Jen. She looked up at him without moving her head. He grinned and told her it was a fairly short wine list he kept." "You guys had an argument?" She just looked at him. he is one sick goose of a brother. that’s all. just her eyes. I know. He came back with some kind of red Gallo. "Everyone's all right. with everything. is it red wine or white wine that goes with burned eggs?" She didn't answer." was her answer.
"I don't think I can. I already talked to him." Ty looked away from her. Ruining machinery. he put the steel lags on the tractor." "Ty. He's cornered by all this. On purpose. I could go as a cop.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi "Ty.” “I can never help him. Jen. Roger was his friend." "He feels trapped. To be a good farmer you first have to be a good man.” “Do something. I could go to him for help. I came to ask you for help. I could only cause him trouble. sap some strength from him. They don't want to destroy him. not a brother. I don't have strength like that. he can put a hand on its forehead. It doesn't seem to work the other way around. When one of the heifers gets the pink-eye or some problem." "He's the only man I ever came close to loving. Maybe if things were the other way around. They want a little space out there. a little plot for a house. Banging it and banging it. You know that. he kept crashing into Roger Baccado's bulldozer. calm it 284 . Ty. they only want a little shred of land from him. that's all. They want to be neighbors. to end his life. Tried to.
” “If a cow is sick. I've seen the look on his face when he’s watching a cow die of ketosis. Did you ever get so much pressure and gravity pulling at you.” “He’s good at what he does. when you look around 285 ." "I know. Jen. Ty.” “I know. this ugliest thing. It's more than the economics. I'm scared. He soothed it. but that's two different things. bending you. sure he is. Even that he did gentle. One of the horses was infested with something.” “A good farmer has to be gentle. "He's acting crazy.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi down like the hand of an angel. picked them all out. talked to it. There's something very good inside him. right there in your hands. shaved it down like a baby. maybe having trouble delivering. Ty." "But now he's going crazy. the feel. He picked out Reached up. up the ass there. you need to have the sense of it." “He hit you?" She shook her head. he's there in the barn all night. those things by hand. Can’t be faked.
It'd depress anybody. "Jen. her fingers went still.” “No. we either one of us could die tomorrow and merely just inconvenience the other one. that's all. so you just start acting crazy for awhile? That's all. She asked him if they could go sit 286 . and Ty wondered if maybe what she said about meaning nothing to her family was true.” “And my son. That's the truth of it. the fingertips raking across the lips. no way out. He'll be all right. me and Warren." "And you're a good woman for him." "You're a good brother. You should head on back there now." She didn't move. What are we to each other anyway? Why don't I feel more? What am I to them both. her eyes filled up. but mostly it doesn't matter.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi there's no one you feel you can ask to help. Ty? What am I to anyone?" She was pleading and Ty didn't know what to do. you're all exhausted. A good wife. For most of me. don't you think?" She drained her glass of wine. "I tell you all these things about him. Both her hands were playing around her mouth.
THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi somewhere. It had 287 When he was on duty he . tell a story. She sipped the wine as she spoke. like he did whenever he was alone and talking to any woman that he had never married. He pushed over the pile of clothes and sat beside her. She looked at him. he could play dumb. but he said. make a face. They were already sitting. With the White Rita. The feeling went back to when he was just a teenager. all of it just to hear her laugh. She He followed her. She was gaining some control and sitting straighter. just like it did with everybody else. beside his cop's hat and some laundry. when they were first married. Funny lines and funny stories and laughs usually helped. then started talking about him. could use the badge. he remembered to grab the wasn't crying. With no pressure attached to it. He got uneasy. wine. started talking about nothing. but not completely. "Sure thing. Come in the living room." She looked so tired getting up and walking in. almost smiling a bit with just her lips. She sat down on the couch. he guessed. except he never got over it. In the living room the talking turned different.
"You still write your funny stories. He had talked to Jen alone before. was still half full. They had been alone and they had talked." 288 She thinks I could get some of them The bottle . And not just because she was here and she was upset. He didn't know why it was so different. They had stayed married for a few months when they were teenagers. I got somebody helping me with them now." "You just write funny. published. I do sometimes. She's more serious in the stuff she writes. But this was different. The only thing he knew for sure was that she was doing it on purpose.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi never been that way with the Black Rita—that had all been a mistake. had enjoyed it." "She's from around here?" "A very educated type. she asked for more wine. Ty couldn't remember ever talking to the Black Rita. I don't know why. but still asks me to send her stuff." "Just about. Ty?" "Me? I guess so. out at the farm. on some occasions. Still talking.
World War II wasn't funny when it was happening. him. at some things. especially lately." Jim DeFilippi "I don't know." 289 It's very sacred to .” “Everything gets funny if you wait long enough. And they're not funny. low on the sides. really. But I'll sit down to write about them. There's jokes about Lincoln." "It depends on the person. But. I wondered. you got Hogan's Heroes. of course. Warren always stiffens up when I ask him about Wally Whitehead living on the Knob. Your car keeps pulling itself off the center line. I keep pulling off to the silly stuff." "Some people won't laugh ever. Things happen. right? They'll be laughing about Kennedy some day.THE FAMILY FARM "I wonder why. it'll be funny too. You don't believe me. It's like driving those roads that have been resurfaced so many times they're high in the middle.” “Funny. We'll laugh about it." "You shouldn't tease him. they're not so good. Ty. all of a sudden I'm being silly. you wait awhile. All this that's happening to us now. I ask him anyway.
He should have made the bed this morning. I just do. In the bedroom. touched her forehead. you lusted after another man's woodpile. She opened up her eyes for a moment. He liked that. It wasn't combed but hung honestly down across her dress color and shoulders. The top button was undone on her dress. I'm putting my sister-in-law to bed. maybe more. closed them again. He put one hand behind her the other under her legs. He was just putting his sister-in-law to bed. not really saying anything. He said her name. Her then Anybody asks. for Christ sake." She closed her eyes. touched her cheek. He came close. funny story. I'll wake up when things are funny. She was exhausted. looked at him. and he talked quietly awhile. He 290 . Then He sat for ten minutes. In Vermont. waited. her hair looked a nice shade in the light. She was easy to lift up. "Tell me a funny story. he put her on top of the messed up blankets. but not his wife.THE FAMILY FARM "I know I shouldn't. body was limp. shoulders. again. He felt clumsy." Jim DeFilippi I'm a sucker for a She put her head back against the couch.
facing the ceiling. Her sleeping face was white and drained. full.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi took off her shoes. he could see himself leaning forward until his face was buried somewhere in her softness. Then he uncrossed them and opened his eyes. He imagined her hands coming up. came out a few minutes later feeling worse than he had in a long time. *** Five miles away. relaxed. dressed. Warren could spend an hour some winter nights checking the kid's mind. but his feet still pushed against the footboard when he stretched his body out full. It was king sized. Her body was white. Eddie had come out for the milking. He sat there beside the bed. he had gone into the On most days he . He thought about being alone. For awhile he crossed his arms on his chest and pretended he was in a grave. kitchen. 291 When he had finished. Warren lay in his bed. just like he said he would. Just being horny was not a crime. This boy of his amazed him. would not say fifty words to her. He went into the bathroom.
THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi checking it for any information. nothing about history or sports. as far as Warren could see. After a while. Eddie didn't answer. He couldn't name a Senator. you know. The President he got. Jen would gently put an end to these sessions. but Eddie knew called him a dummy or a name like that. C's with a couple of B's mixed in. even though the boy didn't seem to mind. I can keep an eye on things. or anything else that Warren could find. There's no shame in it." "I'll be at Higgins. told him that was all. Warren had found Eddie standing mute in the kitchen. "Do you understand any of this?" "Just you make Ma feel like a asshole. maybe not even if we had one. then?" Warren knew she wouldn't be. he was done. Eddie did not know who the Vermont representative to Congress was." "She's not staying there. He was happy. "You can stay. or the Vice-President or Governor." 292 The boy . started to leave. and also did all right in school somehow. Even what the boy knew about farming was only in his hands and in his back.
they want me to decide if I should take vocational next year." "Bring it by. I figured that. You can't get vocational without it. "The guidance councilor give them to me. paper. Don't pay heed to the laughing. I signed up for agriculturing ." If only this boy had seen the big Whitehead up there on the Knob. for the vocational place." "Uh. I always wanted to be a farmer." "Some kids laughed." "That's good." "That's good." "You got it with you?" 293 "You gotta sign a gonna. Warren had to laugh.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi So straight and innocent. "In school. When had this kid said words like that before? Surprised by his own wife and his own son in one day." "I'm mechanics." The boy kept standing there. even just once. Eddie stood there a bit. So maybe it was him didn't know jack-shit about anything. I don't give a crap.
The doctor told them. 294 . pinch his feet." Warren couldn't think of anything to say to that." "Bring them by. and he rode it away. so he put his palms out like to show surrender. He was a kid who never did anything wrong. Even as a baby. always did what was expected. The stillness of the place was closing in worse than before the kid had come out. You want his to cry. spending hour after silent hour in the crib or on the rug. Warren wondered if he should have done more. They're filled in for agriculture mechanics. No. it would have made no difference. standing alone. because you get to eat the stuff you cook. leave him alone." "Either that or culinary. He would figure it out. Eddie had walked the whole way out to the farm. until Jen had worried. ate with the television on. no trouble. Now he went out to the barn for his bike. wondered how the kid would get out to the farm once the snow came. Warren made himself After the news he supper.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi "They're in my locker. Warren. I think.
but pretty good. he took the wood top banjo down from its hook on the wall. an engineer getting scalded to death by the steam. the five strings only a quarter inch apart. The neck was long and made from walnut and maple. played flailing style. His Pa had played. His big. knees pushed high up in the air. Used to do a song about a train wreck. 295 . Cigars were tools for thinking.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi thought about lighting up a cigar. ripping the dirty fingernails of his right hand across the strings as he fret with the left. the wood top clutched in his lap like a long-necked baby. In the parlor. The old man would not play for anyone but himself. It was a strange looking gadget. or Craftsbury banjo contest good. It had no purpose in bringing produce forth from the ground or putting food on the table of his family. dirty fingers looked foolish on the neck of the instrument. It was a tool that did not give milk or eggs or reproduce. like they were choking the air from the thing.” A pretty fair country banjo player. narrow. Not television good. Called it “Claw-hammer. or record good. him sitting on a small stool. the notes bouncing off the plaster walls.
standing right there in front of it. came in this time of year. and still be cold. slow. But the Series had ended a couple weeks ago. He usually kept the fire low. He thought of the wolf in its crevice like a cave. But lately he couldn't get warm enough. He should invite the big Whitehead in. He would stoke the firebox full of oak and white birch. with the baffles closed. didn't mind the inside temperature in the fifties from November to March. Warren didn't begrudge them some space. trying to warm up. A nice. earlier than usual. just for the winter. So now he lay in bed with his eyes blank. battles. It had been a good season. but it was over. They were on the same side. Cold and old and alone and bored. He heard some Mice plaster fall behind the lathe and a quick rustle. He stoked up the woodstove. baseball game. fighting the same Him and the mice and the squirrels and the chipmunks and the Whitehead wolf. went to bed early. he thought about winter coming on.THE FAMILY FARM Warren hung the banjo back on the wall. Jim DeFilippi Too bad no ballgame was on. Just trying to keep 296 . It was because he was getting old.
He began emptying out his mind. He forced himself to stop thinking. He would get no sleep with his mind bouncing ideas like this. You should have to work for your survival. This shitty feeling of being trapped and waiting.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi the wind off their backs for awhile. enjoying the meal and the heat. Just waiting. He would need rest for tomorrow. then it should be easier to keep the wind out and the food on the table and your family sitting around sharing it. but any space he would make would just fill back up with this feeling of being trapped. but when you did. Should be an easier thing to do. and you worked hard and cut no corners. *** 297 . more work to do.
had concentrated on keeping that rage—and his commitment—alive and burning within him.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi ELEVEN Steven walked across campus toward his wife's office. to be nurtured and protected. A single. hot flame eternally aglow in his chest. The plan was constantly shifting and mutating. changing its tone and mood and specifics. But it was only during these last months that he had made a real emotional commitment to it. then paling. as he had done many times. allowed to deepen in its 298 . Not so the anger. He could trace the roots of it—its color and fountainhead—back thirty years. blushing to red. given room to grow. carrying with him—as he had wherever he went for the past few months—his anger and his plan.
THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi hew and strength. he would dress with it. would give him a sleepy nod and wish him good morning. The plan. Assured. share breakfast. the night that Roger Baccado had told him about Warren and 299 It . The next morning. Its original version had been formulated in ten minutes. Steven's body and mind would tire. every day. With his eyes opened so wide they hurt. he could kill him. What was fifty pounds and five inches against anger this strong? With these thoughts running their course. he would relax and lighten. and then be asleep. he would check in on the rage again. and finally running down. and drive with it beside him to school. Steven knew that if the big son of a bitch were to come into the bedroom just then. petrify his body. It stayed alive and quietly glowing all day. He checked on it each morning when he woke. He could grab that ugly tree trunk of a neck and strangle it until it gurgled down into stillness. But their quality time together was that strange little chain of moments when the mind was hopping back and forth between sleep and consciousness after a long day. Then the anger could grow so intense that it would snap him back awake. he could trace back to a specific day.
the little guy seemed so empty and crestfallen." With Roger gone. nor did lawyers. drowning in the stupefaction that he had lugged in with him. as his big hopeless jowls were flapping out the lesson learned to them. nor right and wrong. which held only a sugar bowl. He understood for the first time The law did not that Warren would not be budged. "The man is dangerous. Nor 300 . broken only by Sarah’s announcement. but his narrative managed to pick up some steam as it went along. It took some effort to get him up to leave. Jim DeFilippi The poor rube had stopped by their apartment before going on to see Ty and then a lawyer. while Sarah and Steven listened in shocked silence. And I won't be going out there again. He understood." Roger's vitality had run out with the end of the story. matter. He described the battle’s every movement. cops. like a sports announcer. As Roger had begun the story of the battle. Left me. Steven let Sarah know that it was not the time to talk. she’s gone now. the captive audience: "My dozer. and he sat there. He sat at the kitchen table. and he thought.THE FAMILY FARM the tractor.
real police. even if they had it. with whatever else was within his reach—a bare hand or a tractor. somebody from the County or the State. Later Sarah said to him. she who had seen to it that this thing got rolling in the first place—towing. grabbing for the parking brake." Steven felt her trying to stem things now. an earwig. adding 301 . a silverfish to be squashed in a dirty Kleenex and flushed away. Steven himself certainly didn't matter to Warren—I am nothing more than a summer pest to this man.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi did force nor pressure nor bulldozer nor money. So—Steven's hot pile of frustration and impotence were crated up and boxed into a plan. and nobody else could expend the necessary energy to cause change. silly bug-boy from the past named Steven would never make a shade of difference to the man. because nobody and nothing could ever shift his tunnel-thin view of the world. not when it came to the farm. "Maybe it's finally time for the police. shoving. He and his mother's wills and wants were things to be swatted at with a rolled up section of newspaper. And this stupid. not Ty. Nothing mattered. He was too set. too strong.
unqualified. don't you think? That's what I think. He tried to shake the feeling that this university scene was a bit silly at its core—cloistered. the whole thing is kind of silly. phony and unnecessary." After that. could you explain to the committee as briefly as possible your basic reactions to the concepts at the heart of your thesis?" "Sure. He worked on his doctorate. back when it was just starting to pick up a little speed. "Sarah. except carry his anger and his plan with him for the next few months. this isn't something to be settled between Warren and the police. unmitigated love—with her teaching and her position and the new state of status upon which she stood—the tenure track and all the ornaments attached. Lareaux. 302 . The semester had begun in September. did an incredible amount of research and a bit of writing.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi momentum. so their days were caught up with their new positions." Sarah meanwhile had fallen in love—in absolute. “Mr. kind of stupid-ass. Steven had done very little. He taught a freshman section and corrected papers for full professors. Doc.
Steven would tell Sarah he could see the wire ear hooks whenever Nuworth turned a certain way.” The two profs were at their desks. especially after a haircut. brilliant. they were both done with their classes and had decided to go out to eat. Steven nodded to the secretary of the Psychology Department and tapped on the door of Sarah's office. her roomie. he hoped they wouldn't repeat the joke for him.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi He entered the old red building—its brick covered with the mandatory ivy—and climbed the stairs to the third floor. Probably a punch line only Ph. Before he looked he knew they belonged to his wife and to Dr. As they greeted him. he heard two laughs. As he opened it. It was Friday afternoon. 303 "How's the Near . they cut short their laughing as Steven entered. Nuworth reached for a coffee cup. She answered. “You should read his books.D's could comprehend. Nuworth. Steven nodded and asked Sarah if she was ready. Nuworth was a bald ersatz-intellectual with a professor's salt-and-pepper beard that looked stolen from the Drama Department.
Forget it. Using Cliff's Notes and Magic Marker. We've all been through it. "I'll let you love birds be. Sarah looked up from her keyboard." He looked at Nuworth and grinned. Closing the door. "Oh Jesus. There are a couple things I have to talk to you about anyway. "I have to get out of here myself. you 304 .THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi research coming. Do you mind. I'm buying the Classic Comic instead." Sarah was saying. son." Steven had a seminar scheduled with Nuworth next semester." Steven made his "What a jerk" face. making any headway?" "Fine. he said." No. "Keep at it. "I just remembered I have to write that letter to the State before I get out of here. like he usually had a valet handle it for him but had decided to gut it out by himself this time. Nuworth said. of Steven? I just have to get it down for Maggie to retype. Another week in academia down the tubes." She was asking to be left alone. I really have to get on it today." He got up and made a production of putting on his scarf and thick coat and felt hat. he was wondering how he could get out of it. Steven. "Steven. "Sure. course. you moron.
mumbling at her typing errors. please. I just want to put the address in. I beg you." Finally.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi display your feelings for Ralph as if you were a transfer student from Borneo. you whine. "We talk." Sarah lifted her fingertips up to her temples. He lit a cigarette and said. Steven. rolling a brass Buddha paperweight in his palms. I bitch. anything but farm talk." "He's very." "Oh right. she looked up." "You said you had to talk about something. "No." Dropping the hands. not farm talk." "I didn't really have anything." "About the farm." Sarah made a face and bowed to her typing. nothing happens. "That's it. what is it you want to talk about?" "I don't know. that's right. "Don't worry about mistakes if your secretary is going to retype the thing. maybe. you told me that." "What do you mean? I don't dislike the guy." 305 . nothing happens. very bright. Steven sat at Nuworth's desk. So. She seemed to lose herself in the letter for ten minutes. He's a bit pompous.
You know me." Jim DeFilippi "It is. hot. But still. With guys. You handle things. being married to Jealousy clashes with the color of your eyes. you know what I usually do? For real? I usually key off you. I mean it. Moms Mabley. You just need more getting used to. right?" "Oh. I mean it. You should try it yourself some time. B. or jokes and that crap. you know. Sarah. Pulley jokes now." "The jerk is preparing an article for the New England Journal." "No. some beautiful dame isn't always so easy.THE FAMILY FARM "That's true.” “What are we talking about?” “You. always want to be on top. really. Honestly though. It's wonderful how you do it." 306 . I'm not jealous. so God-damn well. It's that much worse when you're sitting below her on the hierarchy. when my boobs sprouted. All the stuff about your looks." "Why's that? It's so you won't fuck up. you handle your beauty." "I've been on guard for that stuff since I was fourteen. I just wanted to get rid of the jerk. You're the white. S. Babe.
307 No. Why is that? Because of Jen?" Sarah reached for an envelope. No. let's talk about the farm. I guess so. I haven't given up. Steven. Maybe it was the old high school trick of pretty girls hanging out with circus pigs to pick up some contrast points. we can chew the fat about what a looker Nuworth is. We check out all our options." "You can be rational without rationalizing." "Really. No." "Barnyard language. I know you don't want to. Who would Sarah be impressing. really. I'm just trying to be The Bachelor Boys." Sarah." Jim DeFilippi "So let's stop talking about how beautiful I am for awhile. for Christ logical and rational." "All right. please. That's what we do. You don't want any part of it any more. you don't give a shit about it any more. She and Jen had become sort of friends since Jen had moved in with Ty. Steven couldn't figure it out. we look to find their consequences. do you? I can tell. you haven't checked out all the options. You .THE FAMILY FARM "Yeah. Nuworth? sake? "Steven.
the best thing we can do. We . We don't use the term ‘Break-down’ anymore. body-and-brainthat-just-won't-quit psychologist 308 and professor." "I'm not so sure. A lawyer. maybe Rod. It's from the Fifties. young. Marriages ‘break up. Steven. But if my professional position allowed me the use of that term.’ but no one ever has a good old fashioned break down anymore. let’s avoid all contact with Warren. it will take a few hundred years. not a local. Spreading it out for her to see would weaken it at its base. him. You. listen to me. married— you've already admitted—to a beautiful. young. I don't think so.’ analysts make ‘break- throughs. maybe someone else if you want. I guess. Sure. I honestly think. "Steven. Still working on the address. I would stick it right at the end of a sentence with the name ‘Warren Lareaux’ affixed to the beginning. it would lose intensity with two people sharing it. are a bright. same sentence.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi haven't checked out the plan. but that's the way it works. because he's None of this has changed always been the way he is. soon-to-be psychologist. and the lawyers will get rich." "So the best thing we can do is back off.
Counter-productive. What is owed to that guy out there. She put the envelope down. the anger was steadfast. His plan was born of revenge and impotence. which is New-Speak for you decide things. we shall have more. Do you hear anything of what I'm saying. Our future is full of sun. "Look. We and us decide things." "That's bullshit. "No. We have some money now. The words ‘Give up’ were not in there. we don't just give up. we and us." he said." "You don't see the whole picture. I'm so tired of all this 'us' shit." "So we give up?" She was right. Yet. Listen. Ass-backwards. Steven. as was the plan. and for awhile anyway. he hated his wife. You don't see it at all. Self-defeating. Confrontation and conflict for their own sake is insane. not out there every minute farmer-fighting. compromise and retreat.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi should be enjoying this situation of our lives." "We and us. We just don't operate that way. It was a ridiculous lark and 'ass backwards' was the proper term for it.” 309 Steven was . this beautiful professor of psychology. I'm trying to make you see the picture.
Give me some assistance on this. from your mother-love. back me up on this for once. you are less involved." "Tell me what you're doing. Now he sat down again. I'll help you do it. “What it is he should be paying for. Easy." "I don't know. I don't know. then stretched out the fingers. Steven. yes." 310 . all right? I hate the fucking guy. ask yourself if you're gleaning that hatred. You are one So get a little involved. You don’t see any of that. made a fist." "You don't even know." "Just never mind. and I can think more clearly because of that." "Easy. will you. you want me to help. pure and simple." "That's right." "What kind? What do you want me to do?" "Never mind. I'm less involved than you. so that you can give me a little fucking support. I said. "Steven.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi pointing. huh?" "So that I can make all the decisions for us?" "No." He had stood up without realizing it. whole less-involved female.
but just be my fucking wife. I don't need a fucking psychologist. please. Sarah. do whatever it is wives do. "What are you doing?" "Be my wife awhile. locked the door." He stood up. please. walked over." "I know. and looked at her. was that other thing?" 311 So what . I know. don't screw it around. Wives help. so please. you're a better psychologist than I am. gossip with the girls. I am your wife. huh? Do what wives do." "I didn't mean it like that." "Damn. shit. What were those two things again? Washing dishes and…?" "Steven. just be my wife. baby. Yell if you want. there's no dirty dishes around. There's a secretary sitting at the desk out there. Jim DeFilippi "Oh." "I'll just screw you and do the dishes.THE FAMILY FARM He rocked back in the chair. You know what I mean. don't be a boy. just stop We all know trying to out-psyche me. go shopping." "Steven. I think I do the things wives should do. throw things.
"Warren doesn't think I'm much of a man. I don't even care." 312 . looking down.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi "Steven. apart from her. Shrinks aren't supposed to tell their patients they sound dumb. it's still in the theoretical stage. Maybe he should be feelings sad here." "At least you're not using psyche-jargon on me anymore. or at least half-wanged out and puny. he figured. Maybe it is for you. Her expression didn't change. "So what? Whether some farmer thinks you're a man or not is just so much bull. see?" He was keeping his voice soft. Me. because you already are one. are they?" "We make professional exceptions in some real dumb cases. He went back to Nuworth's desk and sat there again. But he wasn't." He sat on the edge of the desk. She wouldn't notice the difference. above her. "If you could only hear how dumb you're sounding." "I don't know. He was feeling good—confident and content and alone. we're neither one of us teenagers anymore." he told her quietly. or humiliated. are you." "I know.
only Steven. which Steven guessed must have been a personal best for R Baccado. On the phone he talked with a hand cupped over the receiver.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi "That's good. Steven didn't care about what his wife wanted him to do anymore. Steven went into the bedroom to call up Roger Baccado. didn't say much at dinner. used double and triple 313 It was . They stayed on the phone for ten minutes. the door shut. Steven. told her. Roger was still a shell of a man. He covered the phone. argued. running this show. You're showing real improvement. Or what his deceased mother wanted him to do." He let her have that last line. He explained to Roger what he needed. Sarah knocked at the bedroom door. back to the apartment. sitting on a corner of the bed. just a minute. telling him that she wanted to go to bed. He begged Steven to just leave him alone so that he could stick to his vow of never going back out to Warren's place. Steven cajoled. They left the office together. Afterwards. Steven thought of the Baccado buttons to be pushed. a man resolved to never again have any resolve. a bulldoze operator without a bulldozer.
what he wants to do on his own land. Very often in the wrong way." "You must be short of cash. My brother-in-law says maybe he can get me a painting job in Essex. A man does They all say the same thing—it's my land.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi psyches. winding down. I'm as broke as the Ten Commandments. but nothing like this. Roger whined and breathed loudly through long indecisive pauses. 314 . I was born short of cash and I don't do any illegal stuff. Not much. that one question—a job’s a job—always gets to me somehow. Roger hinted that a divine law had been violated that day last summer when God had taken his bulldozer from him. this is the question: Is a job a job or what?" Roger paused." "Mister. I've talked to a dozen lawyers. and answer me this." "Nothing's illegal." "What are you doing for work now. said he had to admit it was. "I never would've guessed I would miss her so much. Roger?" "Nothing. Roger. making plans. "Yup. I’m not going back to cheese. The back hoe was bad." They spent a few more minutes on the phone. and so's my dozer.
tweaking his 315 . blasting caps. fuses. On the ride out. There. And "Dukes of Hazzard. and six sticks of dynamite into the bed of the truck. sputtering and spitting as he tried to talk about the country music on the radio. Steven helped Roger toss two spools of wire. some tools. Steven snuck out of the apartment before Sarah was awake and drove over to R Baccado's. his last moan turned into an "Okay." they could sing too. shit. Roger grew terrified. an old detonator.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi It sounded like Roger was moaning the whole time. he agreed to have all the equipment ready the next day. He explained that some guy named Conley had a great voice. when they wanted to. I said okay" at the end. *** Early on Saturday morning. When they asked him what he needed the stuff for. trying to pull the receiver off his ear. Roger explained that he bought the blasting supplies over at Lowery-Klawson in Barre. he told them baby food. okay. They drove out toward Warren's land. a place that Edward R. Finally. Steven sat quietly in the shot-gun seat. if you didn't have to look at him. All he had to do was write his name in a log book. Murrow would have filmed for a documentary.
"No man killed me. every word to be said. Both men were studying the surroundings." the Cyclops had said. but his respiration and pulse were almost getting away from him. Jim DeFilippi He wanted to smoke. followed his sightline to Roger’s Steven bulldozer—sitting abandoned in the weeds—twisted. Roger pulled off the blacktop about a half mile from Warren's roadway. stone-still. Finally. gently. across the field. Roger suddenly froze. Roger parked at the base of the Knob. dangerous. He moved the truck slowly. In the rattle of the truck cab. 316 . checking the horizon. watching the progress. fine-tuning his soul.THE FAMILY FARM emotions. his anger was honed. already turning to rust. went around back to start unloading. I have no fear of the Cyclops. staring out across the field. Steven got out and stood. but it might be He searched again for those thoughts that would spring into his mind each night in bed. With an old wooden crate in his arms. keeping the Knob between them and the farm buildings. Steven sucked in a deep breath and reviewed everything he would do. slid himself out of the truck.
He managed to grab one just as the strength in his arm was giving out. and climbing was difficult. then they helped each other pull up the crate of dynamite. we have work to do. first 317 . Steven signaled him quiet. which had "Austin Emulex Used in 1833 and Ever Since" painted on the side. felt blindly for finger holds. Steven walked over to lay a Top Sergeant’s tough but kind hand on Roger's slightly trembling shoulder. Roger tied a rope around the crate and tied the other end to his belt. hand over hand. Instead of cursing. Steven clung to an outcropping about half way up. At the top." They packed everything they needed into the big wooden crate. tools and equipment. Roger began to slip back once. He started to curse.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi Like a bad war movie. and he pulled. Roger giggled his way up the rest of the wall.” before managing to grab onto a clump of weeds. “Whoaaa. He felt like a commando. moving with confidence and with mission. After that it was easier. hands cupped over knees. "Come on. calling out. Their climb of the fifty feet to the top of the Knob was at the sheerest part of the wall. both men rested briefly. hoisting himself closer to the top.
if need be. Now he studied Roger. Steven saw the first soft spot in his plan. He picked up the sticks of dynamite. his mouth dropping open. his face twisted in confusion.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi Roger. with the two men working. And Steven had believed him. R had mentioned that he could also blast a foundation hole when the time came. When the equipment and supplies were unpacked and lined up in the sun. muttering. On top. shook them. and he was one of the best at it. There was so much rock in this area that people did it all the time. Back when Sarah and he had first commissioned R Baccado to put in a road. Roger picked up the detonator. 318 . Roger bragged that he always used explosives to blast out cellars when people were building on ledge. the granite floor was already sun-warmed in spots. scratched off some rust with a thumb nail. the box banging its way up the vertical. getting hooked and released a few times. then Steven. held each stick up to his ear. He had considerably over-estimated Roger. His eyes squinted as his lips moved with a baffled rhythm. there entangling himself in coils of wire. started reading the words on its side.
"Ordinary. It didn't matter if the hole they were blasting was suitable for a foundation or not. Won't get as much kick that way." "Well. "what I'd do is drill a shaft into the rock and stuff the charge down in that. Roger seemed to gain some control over the explosives. we use that." Roger explained. what did you use." Steven wiped his lips and accepted the fact that he was standing there beside a lunatic who was holding enough explosives to level the land formation on which thy stood. in the press releases to Warren and Sarah and anyone else who was interested. just make sure then. co-starring a moron and six sticks of dynamite. a fucking blowtorch?" "I think I got to be careful. we'll just find us a natural hole in the rock. That would be the official line. He kept his voice low. when you opened that case of dynamite to take out these sticks.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi Steven had been teleported into a Roadrunner cartoon. but what can you do?" That was fine with Steven. "Roger. But this being a secret operation and all. They searched for a spot to place the charge. After awhile. 319 . with Steven's help. back home. don’t let my insulated wire touch my not insulated wire.
floating in it—who could predict that anger could be so therapeutic? Roger called from across the plateau. A Vermont gift from the Boston side of the family. Roger pointed into it.THE FAMILY FARM To Ty. Steven went over and saw a swallow crevice. Roger attached the blasting caps to the sticks. over-sized pliers fairly skillfully. Steven remembered the spot. smiled. to the law. he told Roger. a small indentation between slabs of rock. Jim DeFilippi It was even the reason that Roger Baccado thought they were up here. But building the dream house wasn't even a part of it. He wired them up. yeah. This was simply and totally a mission of destruction. Steven felt his anger heating up like bath water. which were wrapped in a bundle and strapped with duct tape. kicked at it. raised his eyebrows for Steven. Designated and designed only to blow the roof off this precious little chunk of granite and dirt. He reached his arm as far down into the opening as he could. he was reveling in it. okay. twisting his greasy. his whisper coming out a hoarse yell. yeah. his feet and legs spread out on 320 .
Then the world seemed to rumble in 321 Steven pulled his . Roger seemed to be recovering from his months of spiritless-ness. Just some fireworks. palms out.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi rock-top for ballast. Go head. and he pulled himself back out. His hands stayed like that as Roger yelled. held one end of the spool’s axle. Just duck is all. Steven." "We shouldn't go down." Steven took a few steps. hands up. just crouch behind the rocks. Too long. "Right here. We'll be fine up here. and shoved the plunger down. stripped some of the wire end and wrapped it onto the detonator pins. walking backward. then turned and tried to say something. It ain't gonna be no atom bomb. Nothing. "Where we going to be for this?" Steven asked. "Fire in the hole!". He began stringing the wire back across the top of the Knob. tried to stop Roger. gave a loud whoop. push the plunger from down below?" "Nope. He made his way back to the detonator They crouched together as Roger with Steven following.
sliding and swinging. he threw everything he could find into the bed of the truck— chanting the whole time. Roger's spirit fell and died along with the chunks of earth. Roger followed nearly as fast. deflated and panicky. After he watched them crash down in the field. good-bye. keeping pace with the gravity that was pulling him. but the dirt and pebbles kept falling. "Good-bye.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi disbelief. but he stood up straight as the dust and dirt and chunks of stone had rained down. On the ground. keeping the Knob between itself and Warren Lareaux—and the dynamite man and his truck disappeared." His truck bounced away—its wheels spinning across grass and dirt. threw the pliers and other equipment into the crate. Steven watched them go. With R Baccado gone. He had looked up and He had smiled as the vibrating noise shook the fields. shielded his eyes. good-bye. He ripped the wires off the detonator. Hot debris fell like hail. The sound seemed to rise up for whole minutes before it spread out and away from them. with everything returned to 322 . and tossed them off the cliff. the sound had died. bouncing across the fields.
working the last of the pig carcasses. The blood was slow in dripping from the carcass. draining. living her life with Ty. and began walking with calm purpose toward the house. right now. As the tip of the knife’s blade touched the flesh of the animal. but the idea of Marie living the rest of her life in Boston without a man upset him more than Jen. *** Warren had been in the butchering pen. the tub water was beginning to move with the heat it was holding.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi quiet. Warren was having trouble He would jump from keeping his mind on the work. he was holding his 323 . a force moved the ground beneath Warren's feet. Steven went to the edge of the cliff. allowing it to drain into there. so he knew he must have punctured the chest cavity. It was crazy. He watched the tip of the blade scraped back and forth across the hair of the pig's belly. climbed down. then back again. right here in Baker. He picked up the butcher knife and stepped forward to punch a hole into the pig’s chest. then somewhere else. thinking about his soil to thinking about his wives. The body was hanging from the elm.
he saw chunks of rock and trees falling slowly from the sky down toward the top of the Knob. The top of the Knob had returned to calm. The way the muscles of the face were locked seemed unfamiliar. no one should be out there. All Warren could see of him was his face—ugly and confident and twisted. He got nearer but didn't slow down. Steven stopped less than a foot away. Warren waited for the figure to get to him. He looked higher up. and Warren thought he was going to walk right straight into him. the arms and shoulders somehow different. Someone was walking around from the backside. It seemed to be Steven. 324 . Turning. Jim DeFilippi Warren heard the shaking of windows in the house. He stood bewildered. Steven was quickly cutting the distance between them. using the time to latch onto a thought. the rattle of glass. to looking like him but not moving like Steven. Red clay followed like a falling cloud. check the sky. but the knife kept moving. Steven did not speak.THE FAMILY FARM hand steady. took a few steps toward the Knob. the eyes right at Warren.
using explosives? Good land." "On this farm. 325 . his words were crushed beneath a profound sadness.THE FAMILY FARM "What did you do?" Jim DeFilippi The boy's face loosened a bit. You're her son. She could list you all her reasons for the things she did. I'll show you the plans. You blow up You don't want to good land. his voice held things that Warren could not remember. He could almost bring The woman can himself to reach out and take hold of the boy." "What?" "She was bad. There on top of the Knob. I plan on building before the heavy snow." "Maybe somewhere else. not here." After a pause: "She was bad. like he was trying to enjoy things." "No. hear. Won't take long. left to me by my mother. "I blasted a hole for my foundation. two-bath house." "Will be a six-room. you do that to? What brings you to do such a thing? drive you to do this from her grave?" Warren felt no anger. but it did not matter. so I should have known your capabilities.
get out. Warren took one hand from his pocket and grabbed Steven's jacket. Steven started to say something but choked it back. get off this land now." Warren felt a chill. Steven twisted back and almost fell. and she is dead. Warren's grip was not hard. and you continue to treat her this way. Warren saw no tears in the eyes. Like a pig would make. Steven said. You've had it for too long. He caught himself. and a sadness. Get out. He studied the boy. right below where it was open at the neck. like a prize-fighter. Like a boy.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi Steven's voice was rising—like a pig's. but heard them in the voice. you have been here too long. He put his big hands into his jacket pockets and hunched forward against the cold. just jumbles of sounds. The You and your God-damned family. "You have dishonored us since the day you two met. went into a crouch. and a bit of pride. You let her die without a home. This behavior could not be allowed. eyes closed for a moment. He spat on the ground. Warren's 326 . like a child's—without any real words for awhile. just steady.
” Warren’s voice was low. holding him gently. dripping 327 . The boy was sobbing. He stayed silent. and the Harpies came to Warren quicker and wilder and louder than they ever had. slipped in under the Voices. now. but he knew what they were telling him. Warren's left hand grabbed the boy's shoulder as he tried to straighten the boy up to full height.THE FAMILY FARM hand still holding his jacket. sobs came out. there were too many. It reddened. wet was pouring. paining him more than any sound from the outside world ever could. opened. "Sssh. With a thousand different voices. Warren's grip would not let him fall. let Steven fall to the ground. After a moment Steven's face seemed to lose shape. He was crawling away on hands and knees. looking at the boy. Steven was slapping. He could not make out their individual voices. It was only then that the Harpies came. his mouth He crumpled The eyes shut. be quiet. Their noise burst through Warren's ears from the inside. Warren released him. didn't know what to do. Jim DeFilippi Warren couldn't let go. with Warren hunched over him. each jarring and violent. open hands. He was holding the boy upright. down.
It was easy lifting. flailed. Then Warren stood still. He did not seem to be burned at all. crying. his face up toward the sky. The boy splashed foolishly. but his shrieks were spreading out across the fields. He was finished then." He picked the boy up that way. but He his words were still lost within the Harpie sounds. He swung the carcass of the pig over the tub. picked up the knife from the dirt. then felt himself moving quickly. pushed down hard. "Listen to me. The boy had managed to take in some air before the carcass slammed down on him. finally He managed to flip over. screamed. He stood there and watched. the boy facing away from him. driving him under the foot 328 . and he put him into the tub of hot water. They were like a child's shoulders. Warren placed one big hand on the middle of the caved-in chest. easy dropping. They sounded full of shame." Warren said it louder.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi from his face into the dirt where the pig's blood went. and cut the rope. "Stop the crying now. grabbed the boy's shoulders from behind and shook them. got his head above the waterline.
his boots rooted to the bloody ground. but it was lying flat on his chest and he couldn't get leverage. but there was just a bit of space in the tub.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi of water that was left in the tub. He did not seem to mind the temperature or the big pig resting on his belly like the two were having sex together. They looked like eyes that were waiting. After the splash there was not enough water left to float the carcass. maybe some shame still. he leaned his head back onto the cast iron. He struggled to push the two hundred and fifty pounds off. Warren just stood. Warren heard air bubbles escape to the surface and he looked at the face. no panic. about ready to laugh. The eyes were still human. looking like it was smiling maybe. The boy seemed to relax. The boy was trying to lift and kick with his knees and legs. deep red and bloated. waiting for Warren to come over and lift the pig. part of the top soil and the red clay and the rock 329 . Warren stood looking. It was distorted by water. not even fear. Warren saw that the back of the hands had been scalded a bright red. but enough to burn the boy and cover his face.
Warren saw it. 330 . roots spreading out and grabbing land for hundreds of feet. People dying. searching. But he just stood there. He saw Steven open his mouth and suck in a huge amount of water. The water was swirling slowly with blood and it was harder to make out the face.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi ledge of this place. all of it just a part of the way things went on. grabbing for life. People being born all the time. There was no shame in any of it. Roots growing down more every day. with the rot and the poison above making no difference. There was an exact moment when the boy knew what was going to happen. He wanted to tell the boy that he was not alone. Warren wanted to help him in his isolation and shame of dying. sucking water. Warren hoped it was only pig blood and none of the boy's. The loneliness seemed to hit him in front of the fear. that there were mothers and fathers to be had and other people. dying at the bottom of some old farmer's bathtub with a pig for company. no difference at all. Held tightly there like a big elm. There were many things he wanted to say.
What they were losing in reputation. Guilt had burned away in the pan and left nothing but these little chunks of enjoyment—the shopping. They had walked the underground mall. No one there stared at them or made comments meant to be overheard. Ty. holding a beer. Cutman for cut-man. That evening they were feeling lazy after an orange chicken dinner and Ty. a quiet laugh over something silly. Help the helper. he had not thought about touching her. could help her out while asking for nothing. without spite. told her he had to 331 . the snacking. was living with his brother's wife. Jen had someone who could help her through this little stretch of life. without cruelty. shared cookies at the Orange Julius. Since that first night. They both still fought bloodying bouts with uncertainty and confusion. they were gaining in identity. Ty held out a cookie for Jen to bite. but never at the same time.THE FAMILY FARM *** Jim DeFilippi Jen and Ty had been shopping in Burlington. and the further they got away from that side of things. the better everything was. so they would take turns working each other's corners.
" "I thought maybe we could drive up to the Islands. It's too late up there now. maybe get some apples. It reminded her of Warren. you don't have to. don't they? They last so long.THE FAMILY FARM work the next day. *** He walked around the house." "That be nice." "I just wanted to. sorry. Jen. "On a Sunday?" Jim DeFilippi "I'm on. In season. watched the clock's 332 . if you care for them a bit.” “Sometimes they niter them a bit. "Maybe next year." "And they last. okay then. She didn't like to talk about next year." "They'd be all gone." She looked up at him." "A couple good orchards in South Hero. apples do. It's the rotation.” “Could we try to go up maybe after you get off?" "I told you." "I thought I would make a pie." She told him. All winter usually. it's too late. you can get a bushel of drops for a couple bucks. one Sunday a month.
There were only two or three actions you could do in life that could never be reversed. A powder of the same color covered the floor of the firebox. He looked around the house again. and he had done them. Odd spaces sat between new cut slabs. In the kitchen. He looked for shapes and outlines that would be familiar to him. He went outside. it looked the work of careless moving men. Tree trunks were ripped open. Clods of fresh dirt lay scattered. studied a few coals that had not turned gray. as if for an answer. he stood atop the Knob. Ragged and torn chunks of granite were piled on each other. wet roots twisting up into the air.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi hands move. covered everything. The house was cold but he would not feed the fire. showing their inner stock watering underneath the bark. He felt blood-bloated and tired. In the parlor. He swung open the iron door of the parlor stove. Warren walked across to where the Whitehead's crevice would be. at things on shelves and tables. he looked up at the banjo. He knew before he got there that he 333 The fine gray powder . With the sun going down. he wondered how things could have gone like this.
*** 334 . he kept standing on the rock. There were no signs. Long after the sun had gone down. He saw Steven opening his mouth to suck in a huge amount of water.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi would recognize none of it.
M. even though he hadn't seemed very interested in anything academic for awhile. it had been a day since she had seen Steven. She thought she remembered him leaving the house very early Saturday while she was still sleeping—no note on the kitchen table. she became disquieted enough to call the university 335 .V. sometimes he went on campus for some research or studying. So he must be in at U.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi TWELVE Sunday dawned cold with a hint of the first snow. When he hadn't come home for lunch or called her. He and the Celica were gone. and lately he didn't seem to be in a mood for leaving explanatory notes.. She had not been concerned during the morning. nothing on the pad by the telephone. Sarah arose frantic.
Both times her voice cracked as she pronounced her husband's name. hung up. tried Ty's home. offered the same basic conversation as the Baker Police. Late in the afternoon. Finally. feeling foolish. Did I hear Steven talking to him on the phone late Friday? Again.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi library. No answer. No one by that name had been admitted to either place. she made the calls to the two local hospitals. The officer told her that the patrols would let her know if they spotted Steven. No answer. she called the Baker Police and was told that Ty was off-duty and she would have to wait forty-eight hours to file a missing person's report. The Burlington P. 336 . she was just trying to track down her husband. She said she had no intention of doing that. with her right ear beginning to ache both inside and out. Steven was not there. As far as the librarian could tell. on a hunch. Sometimes he would use her office if Ralph Nuworth wasn't around. Then. but with less interest.D. no one like that in the emergency room. no answer. she dialed Roger Baccado. She thanked him. She phoned a few of their new acquaintances.
.V. put on her down vest. and she rose from the kitchen table to begin pacing the borders of the apartment. and went out into the street.. looking up at every passing car and pedestrian. he was poor and she was 337 . each of its members knew that her husband had done something horrible. dinner. she owed Steven that much. ate half of it. Nothing but She decided that there was a massive conspiracy against her. She walked the block a few times.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi With no other ideas to follow. Then she phoned Warren's number. Could she walk all the way to Ralph Nuworth's to talk to him? Should she get a ride or cab over there? No. She hung up. going to the front window whenever she thought she might recognize the sound of their Celica. or else something horrible had happened to him. ringing and a dead line. Her family had posted the official objections ex cathedra after she and Steven had gotten serious—he was young and she not quite. Instead. she walked and thought about her husband and herself and their lives. and the conspirators had all laughingly decided not to tell her. she baked a T. not even to talk to her.
strange little caches of kindness and selflessness that were real. But months later. These traits were hidden and wrapped within his phobias and his innocence 338 . naiveté. You have to see him in a sweater.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi nowhere near. theirs Back Bay." "Not the best of reasons. pinned him into the collection book. just like she would do for any man. he's cute. he was still there. He had I love his qualities two-hundred feet down within him that other men couldn't even fake on the surface. abused his emotions. his family was common. I really do. dear. and she began to peal off and discover layer after unique layer of his persona. he had fallen hard into love with her. he was no charmer and she could grab any man in Boston. as well as a pack of goofs that she didn't. but really. "Come on." "I love so much about him. Sarah. Everybody seemed to back then. at least everybody that she wanted to. a goal which he still had not accomplished. that were based on something other than his desire to get to that little patch between her legs. pulled his wings off." Naturally. So she had tortured him.
sounding like the Celica. The old lady was dying. and that made things fun. kept up his studies. On dates he would bring along his school work and his worries. but there they were. it had never come. It was a skill which she hadn't used for awhile. Sarah had waited patiently for his move. The evening on which she knew he had planned to 339 . She turned to it—a Honda with an old woman in a baseball cap. Sarah could never quite fully understand him or predict him. tapped into his energies. teach him.THE FAMILY FARM and eccentricities. or used it to advantage as other men might. she began to nurture a real love for this man back in those days filled with South End hyacinth. So. and usually side-step his straight-on advances. strangely. He juggled his schedules. Jim DeFilippi A car was coming up behind her now. He was always so concerned about his mother. and from then on she could tease him. nurtured their relationship. but it had dusted off and shined up just fine. but he rarely talked about it. so she had seduced him. he enjoyed it. She enjoyed it. cared for his mom. and he never let it stand in his way of treating Sarah like a goddess.
He was weak for a strong man.. He dropped out of B. She had done herself up for the occasion. Someone back there who knew them. Joe. and call someone in Boston. drop a load of quarters. She kept walking." She was walking past the old-fashioned phone booth outside of Mondays Market now. Their wedding and his mother's death had happened nearly simultaneously and had nearly destroyed him. "What the hell is everybody looking at?" "Not you. feeling slightly decadent in her expensive jewelry. because that's what her mother and sisters would do. get her shoulders and hands to relax. and finally asked. Steven had suddenly twisted left and right in his chair. keeping his student status 340 . and it was a kick. someone she could talk to. or strong for a weak man. heavy make-up and a new hair style. Her light blue dress clung to her and they ordered some kind of expensive wine. She could go in. She ordered the squid.U.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi ask for her hand in marriage—he could even use phrases like that and get away with it—they had gone to the LockeOber Cafe. studying the patronage.
The Vermont Plan came to be. so she took over the case. He seemed to be trying to go as many days as he could without speaking to her. He coupled this with his desires to make love. Thus the project began. and watched. Shut up when you should. stomp ass when you have to. she would work him like a doctoral thesis. They did. careful. and the land that his mother had given him became the bedrock of their lives' future. he can do enough of that for both of you. but Sarah had the idea that although his mom was not actually in the room at the time. Sarah. within In time her work awoke the dormant energies him and channeled 341 those energies toward . and kept on loving him. she was upstairs listening. Sarah waited. Be patient.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi only at the college bars. Then she decided that the patient couldn't cure himself. building-block by building-block. using whatever time and skill and deceit that was needed. Don't get discouraged. Don't let your love for this piece of meat confuse things. Cure him. he wasn't a physician. She would bring him back to the land of the living. She began to rebuild him.
It was nine o'clock at night. where the hell are you? Where the hell have you gone to? She was his savior. so she went to bed and tried to sleep. 342 . in the bathroom. And then one day he was healthy. Oh. she took in the scent of his shaving cream and remembered how his hair looked when he stepped out of the shower. using skill and balance and steadiness and a touch as soft as cotton. Back in the apartment. selfless spirit. like a finger snapping. She couldn't think of anyone else to call. Steven. The sleep had finally come early the next morning. waking from of a hypnotic trance. It wasn't supposed to happen like that in the field of psychology. and he hadn't lost one bit of his loving. until the plan was solid and inhabitable and was more Steven's than hers. she was condemned to be his protector and his servant for the rest of eternity. Like coming out of a coma. but like the Indian who screwed around with fate. her man was suddenly involved and energetic and alive. but there it was. Jim DeFilippi She had built a house of cards upon a deed of land.THE FAMILY FARM something constructive.
I don't know where he went and he hasn't called. I'll drive you down there and we'll talk to him. and started walking over to Ty's. that's all." Jen seemed comfortable in 343 . his car's over here. "But look. Could I talk to Ty? Is he around?" "He's working today." I just He was speaking faster than Sarah remembered. She was glad it was Jen who opened the door. drive a truck. I don't know nothing about nothing. Instead. Then. "Steven's been missing. sitting her on the couch. put on her vest. she hung up. in reverse roles? Jen was smiling gently as she brought Sarah into the room. He answered on the first ring.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi and she had stayed in bed until eight on that cold Sunday. You can come pick it up when you get around to it. Come on." She held down the receiver button. released it and started to dial Ty's home number. almost as an afterthought as he was hanging up. checked the driveway for the Celica." "You don't know where he is? For how long?" "Yesterday morning. Hadn't they played out this scene before. She rose. "Look. then phoned Roger Baccado again.
" On the ride out. that she would be glad to get those apples." Sarah told her. This irritated 344 I wanted to go out . "Well. Jen told her." "Did you phone out there?" "Once. I talked to Roger Baccado and came over here. Jen blinked at the road as she drove. all right." "I'll call up Roger and find out. then dismiss it. Jen told her that everything was fine. I think Steven went out to the farm. Sarah didn't want anything official going on. There was no answer. I don't know what's happening." "He's not saying anything. Jim DeFilippi "I thought he was off. Jen." Jen seemed to consider something else. She thought that Steven wouldn't want it. Sarah kept checking the sky." "I am sure that Steven is all right. anyway to pick up some apples. Suddenly. "Maybe we could go out there ourselves." "What did Roger tell you?" "He didn't want to talk. I'll call Ty and ask him to take a drive out to the farm. He said Steven left his car over at his house.THE FAMILY FARM her role. which was turning darker and meaner.
nervous and weak. Sarah slumped back onto the seat covers and let the car take her forward. Both women took on the silence of the place as they walked slowly through the parlor. feeling foolish and somehow thwarted. it came out hoarse and louder than she expected and it scared her. the rooms had made her a stranger. Inside. *** On the front porch. The house felt cold and neat. glad that this woman was with her. She looked over at Jen driving. They moved as if some stranger were about to appear. canning. She could not remember what was in any of the drawers. everything was as she had left it. thought about knocking. They rode forward in an awkward silence. Jen hesitated. Sarah tried to think of what it was she hoped to find out there. Jen tried to remember washing dishes here. In the kitchen they stood for awhile. then turned the door handle and led Sarah into the house. Jen called out Warren's name.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi Sarah and she wouldn't answer. She went to 345 . but it was not hers anymore. and cooking. She looked over at Sarah and saw a trespasser's face.
She was glad Sarah was letting her treat things this way. The place had a dirt floor. I didn't see him in the barn. parlor. . The only entrance to the root cellar was a bulkhead door that covered three steps leading down from the dooryard. its walls were the foundation of the house. and Jen stopped them at the top step. always cool and musty and dark. Jen always thought of it as having a cave She stored apples there. Jen looked around and led the way down. Must be Warren's in the field. less than six feet from the floor. I might as well go pick them up. Above. lengths of tree trunks hung as beams. a haze rolling out of its coolness. "The apples are out in the root cellar.THE FAMILY FARM each window and looked out. big uneven boulders held by poured concrete. Jen didn't want to go up." Sarah nodded and followed her out of the house and around back. It was a space without windows or seasons. The opening to the cellar looked like a black mouth. Jim DeFilippi They went back to the Sarah looked at the twisted stairs and then at Jen. She said. and 346 underneath your house. The bulkhead was open as they approached it.
blind. her eyes focused on the deep black. the two women turned their heads to the right and saw the stilled face of Steven Lareaux. Its skin was gray. Warren kept broken tools and pieces of small machinery that were not needed. She grabbed it. Jen seemed to go into a trance. matted to the forehead and ears. She felt Sarah beside her. 347 The hair was wet and . They walked slowly. where the lips were pulled back to show teeth clenched together. She slowly raised her right arm and passed it back and forth in front of her. in the middle of the cellar. Jen's waving wrist hit a string hanging beneath a beam. like a magician making something appear. The dirt floor around his legs had turned to mud. felt her confusion and fear. as she had done a hundred times. Together. its eyes reflected the electric light.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi onions and potatoes. and a one-hundred watt bulb popped on. Then. close. She walked forward into the darkness. tugged it. At the bottom of the steps. like a priest performing a ritual. was bloated and hung in folds. He lay with one hand resting on his stomach. The flesh The only tightness was around the mouth.
she grabbed Sarah and pulled her away from the sight of her husband. still she saw both the bulb and the body. Jen couldn't hold her and she went down into the dirt. swaying back and forth. then the terrible thing wouldn't have happened yet. Quiet except for the breathing. but she did not cry or make a sound. But halfway across to the bulkhead. holding Sarah's head against her. Spasms were hitting her like jolts of electricity. With Jen reaching for her shoulders. If they got out of the cellar on time. She started to fall but caught herself. She looked away from the body and into the burning light bulb. tugging her by the shoulders toward the stairs. Sarah pulled herself across a few yards to a big rock that jutted out from the wall.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi Jen felt her bowels and stomach lurch. they could start again. Sarah pulled herself up onto the rock and sat upon it. Jen was rough with her. Sarah collapsed. hoping that if they moved quickly enough. 348 . It had been there a thousand years. Jen stood beside her and caught her rhythm and swayed with her. would remain that long again. She tightened her eyes closed.
THE FAMILY FARM She thought of Warren. She wondered if he had watched it the whole way. Sarah stopped rocking and said something that Jen couldn't understand. emphasizing the words like Jen was an idiot child. until he got back to the bulkhead and to the light outside. they looked up and 349 . She knew that no one had ever helped him." "Okay. and Jen led her to the entrance of the root cellar. that's okay. Jim DeFilippi She thought of how her husband had dragged the body down here. then backed out. "Come on. Come on." Jen took a quick look at the corner where the body was propped. "Come on now. She lowered herself and held the young woman's head tighter to her own chest and told her. propped it in the corner. and that no one could help him now." Sarah let Jen help her stand up. "I'll take him back to Boston. We'll get out. He was a good man whose feet were bound to one spot on earth. She knew that. whose hands and mind were bound to one idea." Sarah pulled her head away and spoke slowly to her. At the foot of the three steps.
He usually could. A few years ago he had figured out that television was for going to sleep. But this book. to get a fresh outlook. and tried to remember how he got to the spot where he was. 350 . his writing pad and an open book on his desk. sitting alone. He tried reading again. and books for changing how you thought about things. He had worked himself into a dead end with his chicken story. He could barely remember each sentence as he read it. *** Ty was brooding his way through another boring work Sunday. had decided to put it away and read for awhile. wasn't changing any of his thinking today.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi saw the gray sky blocked out by the outline of Warren standing above them. The Craft of Prose. grabbing free rides. His eyes skidded across the print and his brain was jumping tracks. The office had a television set and Sunday meant a bunch of ballgames would be on. movies for getting your emotions triggered. but he had settled on the book instead. stepped back. Every few minutes he stopped. bumming itself out to the Coast and back.
probably never considered loving him. and tell her to move out. his brain had banged into the detour sign—forget about losing his job and his reputation and his brother. sitting here removed from Jen. After two train wrecks of marriage." 351 . So there would be a time soon when he would sit her down. We're coming over. so he could worry about the specifics of it later on. maybe he was finally ready for love. I'm bringing Sarah. It was the woman he didn't love. I wanted to make sure you were there. he did not love the lady. It seemed to him to be a warm and proper thing to do. he hit a roadblock: He was not about to fall in love with Jen Lareaux. Wait. talk soft. It would happen. sitting away from everybody. "Ty. he picked up the receiver and gave it the official answer. Yet now. he had considered the idea of loving her. Black Rita and White Rita.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi After an hour of this kind of mind-traveling. wait right there no She had matter what. The phone rang. She had probably already seen it coming. At some moment during their life together the past few weeks.
He loved her almost too much in those early years. he had loved her once at least. right before he would slide down the pole: "Everybody loves somebody sometime. She had been transformed into a restless. always somebody. turning It wasn't always their wife." Well." Jen loved Warren. Dean Martin." Later he found out it was horsemen's talk for a stud that wouldn't perform. woman.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi He almost said to the dead line. where Sarah sat not moving. Everybody he knew loved somebody. give this some thought—us two are not in love. but it was everything he said into something dull or stupid. mocking him. Chief? Who is it you love?" Subject’s Answer: "The White Rita. Jen got out and went around to the other side.” Interrogation: "How about you. 352 . those years before she changed. bitter stranger. Some nights she would call him a "Stargazer. those good years that he didn't even know were so good at the time. "On the way over. He saw Warren's Chevy pull up outside. Sarah and Steven seemed to love each other. Warren loved his farm.
With the Black Rita. There was something wrong outside. crying. and Ty had written a funny story about it. The two women seemed to using each other to stand up. Both Ritas had left him. it had been the right thing to do. "You tell jokes.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi "What is it you do?" the White Rita had asked him finally. friends she never brought out to the house. and coming back 353 . did not satisfy." he had told her. good for both of them. "I tell jokes. She had let the snob-phrase "non-landed gentry" roll off her tongue. Jen was holding Sarah by the arm. before she had gone to the meetings and made new friends in Burlington. Now Jen was taking Sarah back to the car. they were crossing the street." He had loved her once. The White Rita had left him while letting him know that she was being driven out by a need for power over things that a forty-by-one-hundred lot in Baker. even though power over Ty and his life came included. Vermont. before she had read the books that had changed the way she was thinking.
If not. where there was no land at all. surprised she had spoken. She did not speak but was moving toward him slow and awkward. It's shock. She had something yellow-red smeared on both her arms. just power. "A doctor. the smear on her forearms could have been blood mixed with something. Most times. like a drunk." "What?" He imagined Jen somehow hurting Sarah. I'm taking her over there. I'll take her in myself. An ambulance. Her eyes were red and not focused. She went down to New York City. not even a memory of it." "I'm all right. And now none of his love for her was left. I think. but hesitated. If you get one to come out. he would love her again. send them to Sarah's apartment. Not a speck. What? The White Rita had gone to work with horses. Jen walked in. her hands and arms didn't seem able to move. 354 . But if she walked in right now. "Who are you calling?" He held the phone and looked at her. Somebody has done something. He tried to put it together. Ty got up to go to her.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi toward him alone.
THE FAMILY FARM "Ty. You can be taking a wild flower. and it doesn't come off. isn't it." "She cut you?" Jen looked down at the smear on her arms. what's going on?" "I guess the red poison inside stays year round. she got wild. Sarah needs sedation or something." Jim DeFilippi He said he was Chief of Police. that it should be there so late. just call. Bloodroot blooms in the spring. and you look at your hand." He couldn’t tell who she was talking to." "Jen.. "That's strange.. "Jen. it's bloodroot. and a doctor from the health center agreed to send an EMT to Sarah and Stephen's place. and it doesn't come off. "No. then again on the ride here. Out on the farm. hung up and looked closer at Jen. We must have fallen in it. her eyes out of focus. Ty gave the address. it’s all smeared like this." She was talking slowly." 355 . with the lilacs. what’s going on?" "The stain of it sinks into your skin. thinking you have something beautiful. No. "You're bleeding?" "I'm fine. this isn't anything.
he's gone. I'll be something and turned to tell him. there. He looked down at the writing pad. "He had his old shotgun." Jim DeFilippi She took hold of the back of a chair." She walked back across the room. seeming to have grown a bit stronger. I'll go to Sarah's. but didn't touch her. He grabbed the shield on his chest and squeezed it until his fingers hurt." she told him.THE FAMILY FARM "Jen. I don't think he knew me." "It's okay. I'll go out. she looked up at him with more pity than anyone had ever shown him. At the door. "Warren is done." She closed the door quietly and Ty stared at it." "Sure." He went to her. He picked up 356 ." "I'll take you to my house. "Warren killed Steven. "His eyes are as dead as Steven. I talked to him. she remembered "No." She leaned away. I'll go out and get him. and he braced himself.
In the cruiser. and he took out his black Sam Browne belt and his pistol. with the leather wrapped around in a bundle.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi his heavy ring of keys. he tried to think of anyone within his reach whose life hadn’t just been ended. As the engine turned over. he put the gun and leather into the glove compartment and locked it. *** 357 . It took him two or three tries to start the car. He took them. unlocked the top right desk drawer. and he left the office.
”—Giacomo Philips 358 .THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi PART FOUR: MILKING “And then the bloodroot dies.
bend to her and hook her up. just so much cordwood to cut. In each season. Don't straighten yourself back up until each one is dry. he would look to the fields already chopped to the bristle. every day. But the Holsteins would be milked twice a day. Get your lead cow into the stanchion. In the cold. he could remind himself that the sap would only be flowing for a few more cool nights and hot days. just so much machinery to fiddle with and jerry-rig to get running. in the heat.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi THIRTEEN The milking was eternal. there was just so much electric fence to mend. 359 . he could tell himself there were only this many pigs left to butcher and bleed. Exhausted in the fall. existing without season or cease. When he grew weary of the haying. When the farmer grew tired of the sugaring. in the wind.
holding bright polished chrome against the rotting barnboard. let him sleep in. For years it had been nothing more than a collection of strange angles. set at diagonals four on a side. when your back was out. when you had just watched a man die. beneath the rusted tin twist of the roof. *** Warren had called Eddie to tell him that he would handle the milking by himself on the weekends. Eight milking stalls. The cows moved with dull interest into the milking barn. to 360 . Warren kept the twisted system of tubes. on Town Meeting Day. disinfected and glowing. Warren rubbed each teat with a wet rag. They represented his biggest investment in survival. when you were sick.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi On Christmas. wires and gauges cleansed. Too God-damned efficient to ignore. pure. Inside were the shiny milking machines. Warren had not had a choice but to install the things. with kidney stones and rheumatism. that decaying. unpainted shack that could not quite hold its square any more. The boy was not a real farmer yet. Eight sluggish cows at a time would be led into the stalls. barely hanging onto the side of the big barn.
THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi disinfect it and to seduce the cow into letting her milk down. Each nipple was then hooked onto a suction cup and the black tubing would suck the thirty pounds of milk from the cow's system. but the old farmers knew that you could get your milk as clean by filtering it through cheesecloth. and so had turned their farms into real estate. Back in the Fifties. The cups were flipped off with a popping sound and the milk was drawn through the line of pipes and glass containers to be stored in the aluminum hundred-gallon bulk tank. Twice a day. Fringe-line farmers could not afford the switch. Was the ski industry boys behind it. and 361 . then boiling the cloth clean. Each morning the milk tanker would back up to the barn. The Agriculture Department said that it was a question of health and purity. could not secure the banking. It was only the land developers and the second home realtors who had benefited from the bulk tank. hundred of farms had gone under because the State had mandated that these bulk tanks must replace the forty gallon milk cans. Warren repeated the milking routine until each cow was dry. note the poundage. empty the holding tank.
It did not matter. Maybe he should have ordered a plate-cooler for the farm. with his life rotting away around him. This sucking out of the stuff of life was the only thing on the farm which held its own meaning. The milking would go on. but since he left his mother’s breast he had never gone a day without milking.THE FAMILY FARM haul off the milk. Flesh and hair and steel and rubber and chrome. a constant of creation. Warren knew milking for what it was—a job without a beginning or end. Jim DeFilippi Warren rarely spoke to the truck- driver—a pimpled kid with long hair and an earring. So now. he had done that many times. He kept his mind on his hands and his hands on the teats and machinery. it would have made money in the long run. Warren could go a day without eating. and only once did he ask himself how many more times would he be doing this. with someone rubbing the cow and plunging on the cups and checking the pressure. it was not habit or decision that took him across the manure and old hay over onto the milking barn's floor. and a day without sleeping and a day without taking a shit. and from it sprang meaning for everything else. Too late. 362 .
And the next year. would be winter. Through the window. Ollie looked to be getting the winter staggers. went up to the house. The calendar said that winter was a month off. more threatening. he saw the first few real flakes of snow starting to fall. at the same time. Warren left his barn. and pretend again. held there like a thick funeral candle. would be dead by springtime. He checked on Stanley and Oliver. In the next few minutes. and sat down at his kitchen table with a beer in his hand. The same gray that had been hanging above the farm for days. but colder now.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi As he cleaned up. the two big mares. Warren did not see the black and white. they would be caught again. Stan would miss her. more permanent. Every year people in town would complain about how early winter had come. he could see the gray of the sky. a little hint of sun was still poking rays from behind the clouds. did not 363 In the next hour it . but this first real snow was the start of the season. they would pretend to be caught off guard and surprised—Ain't even had a chance to slap on the snow tires yet.
In another ten minutes the mud would be gone. "Where's Steven?" "Root cellar. Ty picked up the shotgun and carried it with him. He did not look up as Ty came in and stood over him. This morning. but in a couple minutes it held a snow cover that looked like cheese cloth. After a long time its door slammed shut and Warren sat with his hands cupped into themselves. Warren watched the frozen mud trying to fight off the snow covering. It melted the first few big flakes. gone until next March. propped by the door. Through the window. the kick swelling up the boy’s shoulder. but he knew Ty's police cruiser had pulled up. he took a look at Warren's old shotgun. but it seemed to know this time it was for keeps. Years ago. Warren had pressed the muzzle up against his neck.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi remember hearing it." As Ty turned to leave. There had been some flurries last week that the mud had been able to burn off. with the mud showing through as a dull brown. Warren had taught Ty to shoot using that big old gun. waiting. 364 . down the driveway a bit.
Warren told him." "There'll be a shit-load of trouble now." Ty reached his hand out to Warren. Like the time you took a shot at the college kid." Ty's face was the color of the new snow. He was straining to talk. all right? Come on." "You could say. We got to pretend I read you your rights and stuff. you understand me? send Gordy out to seal the place." "Warren." Warren looked down at his boots. There be a lot of procedures to go 365 . But it should be all right. Warren looked away. Ambulance. Warren could not remember his brother ever touching him. "God damn you. "We have to go in now. you have to come into the office for awhile. I can help. "I stay right here. Before the hand could reach the shoulder. some kind of accident then. I have to tell you. last out the winter. like there was no air in the room. I'll They wouldn't "There was Crime wagon. Ty came back into the room and stood.THE FAMILY FARM and sugaring. naturally. Jim DeFilippi When the farm was white.
a little grab on the shoulder. get you some legal representation. but Eddie." "Come on now. I'll get someone to take care of the cows. looking dumb at Warren. His eyes were looking at the tiny squares in the linoleum pattern.THE FAMILY FARM through. They'll decide what to do. Warren's fist caught him on his temple and the side of the ear. as if he didn't understand. I stay on the farm. as if trying to figure out whose blood it was. Ty stood there. I guess. Warren lunged out of his chair quicker than Ty could react. His ear was bleeding. 366 . He turned and took a few foolish steps toward the kitchen door before his body crumbled down to his knees and elbows. there's a lot we have to go through first. Ty was studying the puddle." "Been too much gone through already." Warren stayed sitting and this time Ty did touch him. It should be all right eventually. Without considering it. the blood dripping down through hair onto the floor. but it's going to be awhile. Jim DeFilippi Get your statement. spreading the fingers and shaking it in the air. Warren drew his hand back.
they both went across the kitchen. surprised by Ty's strength. encircling his arms and shoulders. knocked it over. Ty had gotten behind him and was hanging on. He went and took his shoulders. started laughing. Warren used his cupped hand to splash some cold drops gently off the side of Ty's head. His punch had ripped Ty's ear. Ty bolted upright. trying to use the counters and cabinets to knock Ty off. He paused for a moment before turning the handle—saw Steven open his mouth and suck in lung-fuls of water. tried to get his brother's head under the faucet. drove him backward. They hit a counter top a second time. Before Warren could think. and grabbed Warren.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi Warren said his brother’s name. He could feel Ty's big. led him to the sink. rose him up. Warren babbled something and swung around the kitchen. Warren tried to wrench his arms free. where it met the side of the head. The beer can fizzed across the floor. slamming into the refrigerator. and he heard Ty laughing too. Caught and held. turned. then the 367 He . The two men crashed into the table. the spray jetting and spinning. foolish belly pressing into the small of his back.
bruising their legs and sides.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi Dizzy. Warren stopped. "It's getting late. Ty still hanging on. Warren driving them and Ty hanging on. so he rolled them both around the floor some. but he was too dizzy and he fell. Warren pushed over to the stove. hitting the floor hard. tried to shake the big fool off. Warren wiggled. Ty let go his grip and they both collapsed onto the floor. Warren's head and shoulders were propped up on the cabinet under the sink. Warren slammed his brother against the stove door. the only sounds were the twin hard breathing of two men. The collisions were damaging them both. With each metallic jolt he felt Ty's fist driving deeper into his belly. When its door vibrated open and crashed down. doubled over forward as far as he could without pitching onto the floor. Ty was flat on the floor next to him. Ty still wasn't letting go." 368 . Then. two bears in heat. lifting Ty off his feet. over and over. around the room. sink. They crashed into the stove ten or fifteen times. Using feet and legs. spinning like one thing instead of two. Ty said something like.
"You're the most stubborn being there is. deeper and deeper." "It's all I ever done." "I guess so." "Lots of men. Hay got too expensive to buy. Warren's chest hurt each time he breathed. they never had something like that. Had nothing else. Don't have enough hay in. Ty put his hand up to his temple." "Just the most scared. Ty wheezed in enough oxygen to say." From where they lay. they could see the snow falling outside." "I'm a man been working hard at something he knows. "For the farm?" "Partly. but he couldn't stop himself from sucking in air." "We'll take care of it for you." Warren could allow himself to breathe slower now. but words were still hard to form. harder and harder. "Heifers to be cared for or sold off. Didn't miss 369 . that's all. No real rowen this year. took some effort. checked his palm. That is all there is—to any of this.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi Both men were drunk from exhaustion.
THE FAMILY FARM it, either." "You could've just given him the Knob.
hell, you could've give him that. That's all he ever wanted. There were people pleading with you to do that much. Now he’s dead." "You get over to John Higgins’ farm?" "I drive by. So what?" "He got his barn with the apartments upstairs. Got himself a blue plastic swimming pool out back. knows what else. Lord
Motorcycles parked all around, those He was a friend of Pa's,
little sailboats for one person.
they came in around the same time. Got good land. It would shame me." "Whatever you can say, it just comes back to stupid, foolish bull-headedness." "What is there without it? Without, then there is no farm, just some dirt to put up houses. Better to just let things die." "You're going to get shelled. You're going to get
hurt, either with me standing by you or standing by yourself. I'm not going home, Warren. I'm here, and
there's a police force backing me, and a town, and State 370
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Troopers, and a God-damn National Guard, if that's what you want. So what do you think, you punch me around a little, you wrestle me around like a couple kids playing, so I go on home and the world forgets about you? You got a dead boy down in your root cellar, big brother, so what's to become of you?" Warren heard just the sounds. He was thinking of the time Mister Higgins had sold Pa some forest land, then helped clear it into fields. turning point. Pa always said that was the
Adding to the grazing pasture like that He
made damned sure the farm was here to stay. remembered Pa always smelled of cigarettes and farts.
He thought of Pa dying. Lying there, withered away to even less than usual, letting the French slip into his words more and more, a luxury from up north he had not permitted himself in years. The old man had decided to leave all that Frog heritage back in Canada, but Warren saw in Ty, strangely enough, some little of the old French. The way he talked and moved, chewed his gum in the front, with his lips curled in against his teeth. “Warren?” The only thing the dying old man had to leave was 371
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the farm. And by leaving it all to one, he was insulting one son and cursing the other. There was a long French word for it—the oldest son always got the land. Pa had called Warren over—the
sound of death in his throat louder than the words—and he told Warren things about the farm that had to be known. Ty, lying here on the kitchen floor beside him, had closed his eyes now. Years after Pa's death, the bank had almost taken the place. All the debts and bills had Warren feeling so guilty and confused that he worked himself sick, mostly doing things that didn't even matter, and the pneumonia took hold of him until it had almost killed him. Then
Marie, with half a farm in her back pocket, had slowed him down, nursed him, saved his life, and destroyed it too. Now there should be someone. Someone to call to his side and talk to, telling things about the farm that had to be known. Like Pa had done for him. "This was going to be Steven's place." Ty’s eyes opened. "What do you mean?" "This would have been for Steven." 372
THE FAMILY FARM "No."
"Eddie's a good boy. Better than most. He can work the place, but could not run it.” Warren was shaking his head. “He knows very, very little." Warren felt his face
spread out into a grin. "Does not know one God-damned thing." Ty smiled. "But you'd give it to Steve? To Marie's boy?" "Might have been my boy too. called a ‘furlough child.’ Might be what we She was
I was in the army.
down in Boston. She never really said." Both men went silent awhile. Then Warren said, "There was many things I had to say. Before the boy died." "What is it about the Lareaux men and our families?" Ty, trying to spread the guilt around. "Each day after she—Marie—left here, went back, each day I would stop to look up the road. This was for many years, you see. Even after Jen came here, I would still be out looking somewhat." "Maybe she came back, in a way. She sent Steve." Warren didn't try to answer. 373
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"Same thing with me," Ty told him. "I pick up the Free Press, turn to the sports, I'm scared stiff I'll see a headline, a picture how White Rita's become a forty-yearold female jockey." He laughed but said, "I mean it." Both men were tired. "I guess making a go of marriage is uphill both ways." "With Jen and me, me and her never really had words. Hard to make out what happened exactly. I knew she was bothered, never said a word. Just packed and
left. A strong woman. I had my mind on other things, so I never noticed how troubled she was." "She’s been staying with me." "I know that much. Take care of her." "Well, she's gone now too. I just helped her out for awhile. I'll look in on her, though, whatever happens." Warren nodded. "Seems like we all been just banging into one another, doesn't it?" Ty asked. "Slam-bang, go out a
different direction, slam-bang into something else over there, slam-bang on back. stop moving." "We do cause pain, that is for sure." 374 Pool balls, until we all just
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"Warren, why don't you just come on in with me now?" "I think not. No stomach to go through it all. The State or some big company will acquire the land, I suppose." "You own half this land. So you draw up a will, you give it to Jen and Eddie, whoever you want to. options open here, I could work out with you." "Wouldn't want you to." "Jesus, Warren, let your people in when need be." "I never learned how to do that." Warren slowly There's
pushed himself to his feet. He stood over Ty, who didn't move. "An awful lot is expected of a big man." He went over the cabinet below the breadbox. "Too much
sometimes." He opened the drawer and raked his hands through the cooking utensils, looking down. "Takes its toll after awhile." He grabbed and took out the black-handled meat cleaver that he used for butchering. "Now you go on, Ty, leave me be." He motioned Ty out of the kitchen,
making sure to show him the rectangular blade hanging from the black handle. Ty pushed up from the floor, looking a little 375
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disgusted, but staring right at Warren. Ty started to grin. "Is that for me? So we’ve had us our talk-time, so now it's time to chase me out with a meat cleaver?" Warren said nothing. He stepped toward Ty. Ty
backed off, grinning, watching. Warren felt very little, just resignation and fatigue. After a few steps, Warren swung the cleaver at Ty's eye level, like a round-house punch. Ty cocked his head back; he didn't have to— the blade had cut the air maybe six inches from his face. His barrel chest and beer belly got thrust out forward as his head snapped back. Ty was watching Warren instead of the blade. Ty started laughing. "Jesus Christ, Warren. Come on." Warren swung the blade back across, cut through the space Ty's chest had just left. Warren kept measuring distance; Ty kept backing off but didn't turn and run; Warren kept stepping forward. When they had crossed the kitchen, Warren sent the shiny blade in a swinging motion again; it missed Ty, hit the refrigerator, cut into sheet metal with a quick ripping sound. Ty, with another burst of laughter, used the
moment to bolt. In his rush he slid on the beer that had 376
Ty. Ty threw his arms out. That was just yesterday. Warren had the cleaver dig into the wood of the door frame as his brother left. let him get to work. coming down toward Warren and the blade. Weary. Maybe he had known already the afternoon Steven had appeared to him through the sweet steam of the sugar shack. without dignity. Ty should go. the meat of his right hand smacked into the cleaver. standing over him. twisted around when his leg got knotted up in an overturned chair. he stood and thought about what needed doing. half-crawled. He knew. he stumbled back. half-ran from the kitchen. doors were slamming shut. He stood for awhile and did nothing. He had already known the evening he had stood atop the blown out Knob. when—he already knew. he grabbed for the pain but didn't look. He knew before he had lifted the shotgun up and felt the steel press into his neck. Warren had seen deer brought down by dogs. Instead of falling forward.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi sprayed the floor. he looked up at Warren. Gates were closing these past few months. On the floor. Way back—he couldn't remember Instead. watching calmly as the dogs ate. back 377 .
once off the porch he slid and sprawled onto the ground. picked it up lefty. slamming his hip on the wheel. *** Ty had forgotten about the new snow. As he looked out through the windshield. He took a breath but couldn't hold it in. because that is what he was. dropped it from his stinging hand. making a snow angel as he hit and twisted. Warren was a dead farmer with a dead farm. He pulled himself into the seat. Jim DeFilippi He had known for sure when he saw Steven open his mouth and suck in a huge flood of water. He squeezed the transmit button on the side of the mike and brought it up to his mouth. back to the police cruiser.THE FAMILY FARM in March. and reached with it to the radio box. with his head pounding. He had given himself over to something. cursed. grabbed the mike. he skidded and stumbled across the yard. Geometry: If a madmen had the strength of ten. black swirling 378 . smearing the white. one insane Warren Lareaux would have the strength of how many? Static popped out of the speaker and Ty knew he would sound like a scared-shitless rookie.
starting to block his vision. carrying a gas can. forget an ambulance. he sat in the cruiser. the one he used with his chainsaw. He blinked that away. Forget the State cops. Maybe a lot of stuff Warren did was just show.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi masses were moving in from the sides of his eyes. First thought: Warren was nuts. then Warren moving through the whitened air into the house. Some cold winter mornings. it would take an hour of collecting every bit of strength and courage he had. He saw only snow falling. He slowly opened his eyes. It was show. felt it numb and wet. just to get himself moving. but he wasn't trying to kill him. tried to think himself clear. Ty did not want to go back out there. His fingers could move. He closed his eyes and tried to think them away. That one sick moment at his brother's feet had shown Ty that. It was time to do something. Without opening his eyes he touched the cut on his hand. But he wasn't trying to kill. If the black smudges from each side met. forget everybody. then more snow. This he could be sure of. his sight returned in double vision for a moment. he would be out cold. 379 .
took the keys from the ignition. He could get by easy on that. he pressed the revolver into position. that the world would not get along fine without him. walked toward the house. unlocked the glove compartment. He was already wounded. 380 .THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi just to convince himself to flip off those warm covers. Ty clipped the mike back onto the side of the radio. He was moving past the barn when he smelled the smoke. Pushing with his left hand. and took the Smith and Wesson Police Special from its holster. bruised up. and he would get by. His hand was still bleeding and he had trouble fitting his fingers around the handle and trigger. but whatever it was that needed doing. It was seeping from the closed windows. He left the car. from under the door of the house. Why not stay comfortable and warm? Why worry about what was at life's center? Not one person could deny him his performance today. slightly heroic. letting the gun hang heavy at his side like a suitcase full of regret. He didn't know what he was about to do. he would do it. Warren would die.
He saw Warren backing out of the door. Warren was still backing up. 381 . Now he used both hands to lift up the revolver and bead down on Warren's shoulders. or scared Ty just awhile ago.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi Ty looked for flames. picked up a splitting maul that had been leaning against the milking barn. but Warren ignored it. not turning around. Not now. There was no anger or fear in Warren's eyes. brother?" Ty kept the revolver raised and ready as Warren walked across the yard. Ty pointed the gun at somewhere below Warren's throat. Warren circled back toward him. "Ma never told you about Cain and Abel in the Bible." Ty told him. Warren turned around as if he knew his brother would be there aiming a gun. "Everything's about done. Ty had helped Warren and their father put up that porch. Not anymore. Warren held it like a soup ladle. Warren didn't turn his face away from the house. coming off the porch toward him. within a few yards of the gun muzzle. It had a twelve pound head. just a stillness that could have scared someone else.
none of this matters. even calmer than before. just an inch and thought back to Proctor. Feel the trigger with the pad of the finger. Keep your knees bent. in the kitchen. Hold the gun loose. Jim DeFilippi "Meat cleaver. Warren took another step. then black. finished. his marksmanship points. Lock in a lung of air. He lowered the gun. Warren was a few feet away. you can take out the chainsaw if you want. Hold your weapon loose. Blur 382 . The fire was upstairs now. see? Everything has already been done. I'll help you get it started. Doesn't matter any more. the Academy.THE FAMILY FARM took a step toward his brother. Hold it in. There were flames inside the bedroom windows." Behind Warren's shoulder. Warren. Warren was very calm. Use both hands. Ty saw the first flames break out of the door and lick up the outside walls on the porch. The paint on the clapboard was burning into gray. holding the maul across his chest. The flames were growing bigger. splitting maul. Warren took another step toward him. The snow on top of the house was sizzling and the new flakes melted before they hit the roof. He could hear them now. Ty stepped back. support the weight and steady the weapon with your left.
Deer. He could not close his eyes and feel it and think. squirrel. don't yank it. Now here he was. like he would think. deepening. lying in mud. The gun discharged. One year he had even tried shooting the pigs before butchering them. raccoons. *** Warren's only thought was that he had never been shot before. focus on your gun-sight. Squeeze.. The house would be gone in a few minutes. He had spent much of his life shooting things. a sleeping dog. He should have called for help when he was back in the cruiser. like the fire in the house. flames. There was a mud spot on Warren's pants knee. Ty's face felt the heat of the Don't pull the trigger. The pain surprised him. broad and covering his whole leg. cutting. himself shot down. like a pig. like a coy-dog.. right there is where the bullet went in. coy-dogs. Inside the house there was a sickening sound of wood collapsing. It was not sharp and It was spread out and burning.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi the target. just slowly squeeze it back. Warren swung the maul with a clumsy backhanded motion. 383 .There. startled partridge.
As his fingers hit the butt of the gun. There was more pain coming to his leg. his eyes were swirling. His back was to his burning home. moaning fire. and there were the Harpies. The cold must have felt good to him. He put some weight on his leg. He was trying to look up at Warren. he looked back. He let himself cry out and it echoed above the crackling. so he crawled to the barn and used his arms against the cement foundation to raise himself. Ty's fingers looked broken. Warren grabbed him by the front of the shirt and lifted him off the 384 . searching for the pistol. Ty was kneeling on the snow. cradling his hand against his chest like it was his infant. jumping. Ty began running his hands across the snow. then hobbled toward the man who had shot him. They were far away and singing together—harmony. and he let his thoughts give way to instinct. He could not push himself up. crippling it more than the cleaver gash could have. he felt the heat on his neck. seeming half blind. Awkward. The splitting maul had caught the hand.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi He saw his red-soaked pants leg with white flesh showing.
Ty's body hit the wall at a spot with no beams behind it. Warren picked up the maul. his duty done. That would not be hard to do. in one of the milking stalls. Warren held him hanging in the air. But leaning his head in through the hole in the barn wall. It was the way it had to be. arms and legs twisting crazy. 385 . then grunted and carried him and threw him into a black patch of barn board. tried to lift his leg over the hole in the wall.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi ground. Ty's body went through. He would have to do something more now. landing inside. Harpies and hymns. Warren saw his brother grabbing the shiny rail of the milking stall. broken and bleeding. Maybe more than he had ever done in his life. using elbows to get leverage against his stomach. Warren knew that his kid brother would lie there now. Just more jobs. no guilt to be felt. With pride and anger. jobs—jobs to get done. Ty had done more than Warren had expected. No decisions to be made. he was trying to pull himself up. probably more than he himself expected. where the wood had rotted away from too many years of rain and snow and heat and wind.
Jim DeFilippi The lower few feet of the barn board were still intact. He moved into the milking barn. He wiped his eyes and spit the pellets from his mouth. He heard Ty saying. stay away from me. hit his face.THE FAMILY FARM He had never done anything else. As he was making his way around. Ty was circling him. the last white patch of clapboard on the house went black. he couldn't raise his leg high enough to step over. "Get away. Then he felt something. He went around front of the barn to the big double doors. on his way to either help Ty or kill him. but could not find Ty. then blistered and went into flame. maybe dirt or grain. then let the maul drop. Ty staggered toward the triple run of barbed wire fence that circled the butchering pen. Warren stood there stupidly. He hung there on the fence. but his legs didn't work and his knee buckled. twisting his body into all three strands of the wire. Warren stood for awhile. He tried to step by it. Stay! Warren watched his brother leave the barn and make his way out across the snow." Warren spit again and opened his eyes. He did not care. did not try to get 386 . holding one hand out like he was talking to a dog.
hanging on wire. and aimed the two tiny diagonal wheels at the figure dangling on the wires. Warren came out of the barn. He thought the Harpies must be too weary to work. He had nothing left to do but lie there suspended.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi up. He looked at Ty. kill your son. hung-up sack. His fatigue had turned him into a fat. He watched as the front of the machine began to block his view of the man on the wire. waiting until someone went to him or he bled to death. The chorus had steadily gained volume so he could make out the lyrics now." The sound of the words mixed with the sound of the engine. He pulled himself to the top of the tractor and started it up. bleeding a trail across the top of the snow. His right leg worked pedals as he inched the accelerator stick over. turned the wheel. 387 . The Harpies were all chanting as one: "Kill your brother. then made his way back to the side of the cow barn. but their song was still pressing into Warren's ears. where the Farmall was parked.
and the cleft meat of him was raw and exposed. Ty had closed his eyes. but he looked at peace. he would enjoy the silence. Ty looked at rest. If Ty was crying. Warren listened to the chorus and watched the distance between his wheels and his brother disappear. 388 . to anyone. He was hanging on rusted wire. The ragged. too much struggling. waiting. cut-down jumble that was left had been milked dry and could do nothing. to the Harpies. Underneath. Warren tried to speak sensibly to someone. just holding onto the tractor. His poisoned blood was drained. He pushed the accelerator a bit more to the right and the Harpies raised their volume with it. The house seemed almost gone. anyone—to the noise. to his brother. He tried to explain that once he had been a man confident in his own strong shoulders and back and arms. was resting. like Steven had looked when he blew up the Knob. the wheels were crushing a black design in the white snow. but all that strength and confidence had been sapped out by too much waiting. Warren knew that any tears were for his big brother. Afterwards.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi Driving forward.
existing on its own.THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi Warren saw something moving across the field in the snow. Her head was the color of the wet snow. but they had not 389 . Ty had not seen the Whitehead. but seemed to have no interest. a new beginning. There were some puncture marks on his arms and back. and two gray pups were trailing her. His life was a separate thing. Warren stood and watched the spot where they had disappeared. carrying powerful shoulders and chest. only Warren had. The three disappeared into the trees. Ty must have been thinking his own thoughts as his brother gently pulled the wires off him. His vision of the three wild animals had run into a brown smudge. An animal with matted. He was filled with a freedom he had never known. then the pups. She was larger than a coy-dog. His eyes burned from inside. stopped and looked at Warren. The mother. He had trouble switching off the tractor and getting down and helping Ty loose. She was making her way along the edge of the field where it met a run of maples. dirty hair. They were staring. but with a nervousness too—a nervousness brought on by a search for a new place. They moved with canine confidence.
Warren's eyes were higher and less focused. Warren lifted him up. took his left arm and placed it around the big shoulders. *** 390 .THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi begun to bleed. Each man was trying to remember the last time Warren had cried. Ty looked at the ground passing directly in front of them as he tried not to fall. *** The two big men began hobbling and helping each other down the driveway.
THE FAMILY FARM Jim DeFilippi 391 .
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