A Man Called Thomas

This is a short story I recently finished. Part one of Three

Sara awoke with a start. She began shaking her husband, “Wake up Andy. Something’s not right.”

“What? What’re you talking about?” he replied groggily and irritated, “what do you mean, something’s wrong. What time is it? The sun’s not even up yet.”

Sara responded, “It’s five and something’s not right. I can feel it. Would you go out and check to make sure things are okay.”

Andy grumbled something about being too early to get up and needing coffee. He dressed and went outside, returning fifteen minutes later, now sounding more irritated, “Everything’s fine. I looked all around. The garden is good. Chickens are fine.”

“I’m still uneasy, Andy. Something’s not right.”

“You’ll feel better after some coffee. Since I’m up so early, I’m going to  run to town l after I eat something. We need some fuel for the tractor. I’m hoping we get delivery on that electric tractor soon. It’s taking forever. Anything you need?”

“Stop by Natural Foods and get some ghee and yogurt. And see if there’s any news on the fires. I notice less smoke today. Last I heard they had around seventy percent contained. I’m hoping for rain and an end to this drought.”

After he had breakfast and his second cup of coffee now in his travel mug, Andy jumped into their electric pickup and headed to town.

* * *

 Two hours later Andy rushed into the house, out of breath and shouted, “The town’s completely deserted. Nobody’s there. Nobody!”

“What’re you talking about?” responded Sara, “Deserted? That’s absurd. Did you go to the grocery store?”

“I did. But nobody was there. Shelves were stocked, meat counter full, veggies seemed fresh. I called out but it was . . . well, it was completely deserted. I went in the back, no one there. I got what we needed and left a note by the cash register for what I got. It was the same at the gas station. The pumps worked, but no one was there. Then I checked around town. Cars were in driveways or on the street, but no people. Nothing. What the hell’s going on? It’s like all twelve hundred people all just, I don’t know . . . just disappeared.”

Sara responded, “Did you eat some of those mushrooms again? Hallucinating like you always do when you do that? You know it pisses me off when you get this way. Especially driving.”

“I did not do any mushrooms!” he said defensively, “I swore off them after the last incident. Come on, let’s go in. You’ll see.”

She glared at him, “You’re acting nuts, Andy. I’m not going to town. What the hell’s wrong with you?”

Exasperated, he replied, “Please. Just come with me. I’ll show you I’m not crazy.”

The Awakening of Russell Henderson

 I am posting some excerpts from my latest novel, The Awakening of Russell Henderson, here for the next while. Here is another. Stay tuned for next week.

Dad said, “Russell, good to see you, boy. How’re doing? Hear you’re moving back. Big city life finally got to ya?” with a chuckle.

Then Donny stuck his head out from behind a tractor, “Yeah, he’s back with his tail between his legs ‘cause he couldn’t handle his woman. Always was a loser.” He laughed. “Heard she run off with another woman. Wait’ll the boys around town hear this.” He laughed sarcastically.

I ignored him and tried to continue talking to dad. But he wouldn’t shut up. “Big city boy comin’ home with his tail between his legs. I always knew you were a loser.” He laughed. “What ya gonna do now loser? Big city bank fire the loser?”

“Shut the fuck up Donny. I’ve been here two minutes and I’m already sick of your mindless bullshit. Any DUIs lately?”

That did it, he came around towards me with his fists clenched, “Fuck you, you little shit. I’ll fucking tear you a new ass — !”

Dad said in a sharp voice, “That’s enough! Both of you! Donny get back there and finish putting the oil in and shut up! Russell, I don’t need this from you either!”

“Sorry , Dad. I think it’ll be better if I just leave. It was good to see you.”

“Awe, you don’t need to run off just because of — .” He nodded his head towards where Donny was.

“Is mom up at the house? Like to say hi.”

“Naw, she went into Iowa City for some groceries and a few things she needed to do. Should be home soon.”

“Tell her I said hello. I’ll see her another time.”

I turned to leave, “You don’t need to come around no more. Nobody really gives a shit about you . . . loser.”

I flipped him the finger and left. Dad was always nicer and more understanding than mom. I would have liked to spend some time with him, but, all the same, I didn’t go back.