Hank by Bob Lane – ©2018

Bob watched his stepfather’s face as the hail pounded down on the fields west of them. The face of a dry land farmer: leathery, lined, stoic. That face usually revealed no emotion, but for a moment Bob thought his Dad would cry. Then anger clouded his face like one of the lightening flashes announcing that the hail was coming east toward their half-section. He had only seen that look once before in the six years they had been on the farm. They were all coming back from town on Halloween and had spotted a strange pickup in their farmyard. Three young men were about to load their outhouse onto their pickup to take to town for some Halloween mischief. His stepfather had confronted them, carrying his 12-gauge shotgun.

“Better put her back now, boys,” he had said quietly.

“Oh, shit! Yessir, yessir, we will. Sorry about that; don’t know what got into us. We were just funning around. We’ll get ‘er back right away.”

The outhouse was put back and the three partygoers left. But with the hailstorm there wasn’t anyone to threaten. Mother Nature didn’t give a damn if you had a 12-gauge shotgun or not. You could just watch and do nothing.

In ten minutes it was over. The damage to the neighbors to the west had been total. Their own wheat was bent over but not completely destroyed. After the clouds passed by they walked out into the field.

“Well, it looks like we can harvest some of it, but goddamn it, it will mean a lot more work.” His stepfather leaned over to hold up the plants to see how much of the grain had been knocked from the golden heads. “We’ll have to put pick-up teeth on the bar of the combine to lift all this straw up to the cutting sickle. We better go up to the house and call Hank.”

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