This new tractor didn’t vibrate as much as the old one did. Everything must be in balance the thought. There wasn’t any clay stuck in the impellers of the thresher unit which would have felt like the world was coming to an end. There were many nights working the field last year where it felt like his brain had been attached to one of those automatic paint stirring machines down at the hardware store. You know the kind – strap the gallon of Sea Breese Blue into the contraption and it would spin and vibrate all the paint layers together. That’s what the Deere was like before Uncle Dave was able to trade it in for this new Case tractor. A beauty.

The cab was better than Stephen’s apartment he thought. Air conditioning when he was hot, warm air when he was cold. A nice stereo to listen to XHIC to get the daily crop prices and weather reports. Even Wi-Fi, though way out here in section 12 there wasn’t a cell tower within 10 miles. XHIC or Merle Haggard CD’s or the sound of his own voice were the only choices open to him. The lesser of all evils was his one voice, so Stephen rode the big machine down the quarter mile furrows in silence. It took nearly 20 minutes to thrash a row of beans before he leaned on the big wheel to head back again over the next row. It was simple work but it required concentration and attention to detail. There wasn’t a year that went by where Stephen didn’t hear from this feller who know this guy who knew someone who tipped over a big Case or Deere and got himself crushed. Farming wasn’t a pretty way to go – it was usually gruesome.

At mid-day Stephen stopped for lunch. He knew better to drive the big rig with a sandwich in one hand and 4 tons of tractor in the other. He was against the western edge of the field and pulled in under the shade of the oaks. Across the horizon he could see the harvester, and trailer who were about 6 hours behind him. Now that he had separated the beans from the plants, the harvester would pick them up, and shoot them into the safety of the trailer. That would be Ed and Sylvia. His Brother and Sister-in-law.

He liked Sylvia a lot. You could even say he was attracted to her, but that would be an emotion he’d take to his grave. Ed met her at Ag school and as they say it was love at first sight. Only it wasn’t. Sylvia grew up in Cedar Rapids and the closest she ever got to a farm was on a field trip in high school. She had no idea what she was getting into when she married Ed. On paper she knew, but she was now learning that movies were sometimes nothing like the books they were based on. Life on the farm was nothing like she imagined, or how Ed had explained. She was ready to bolt and head off for Cedar Rapids. Stephen could see it in her eyes and he knew Ed saw nothing. It made him sad.

If he said anything at all, it would alienate one of them or both. And if he said nothing at all it would kill Ed when Sylvia left. He saw the train hurtling down the track to the washed out bridge. He promised himself that when it happened, he’d be at the bottom of that canyon and salvage what, and who he could.

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