Tuesday, November 12, 2013

We ain’t got it so bad, now do we? Part 8.

Part 8.

The men had been invited to the main ranch house for a meeting with the owner of the farm last we heard of them. They had no idea what he might want of them but it was worth a look see….

When they arrived at the ranch and invited in to the kitchen area, the owner’s wife said “Have a seat boys.” after all the introductions were done.
She was a sturdy woman of medium height and weight with a brightly colored cotton dress looking to be one of the store bought kind. The other women in the kitchen wore clearly home made clothing of a much rougher material, so Guy and Lester assumed by her general appearance she was hired help for the kitchen. By the ladies gentle friendly banter as they busied themselves in the kitchen, they figured she’d been there quite a while.

The owner was dressed in coveralls, clearly store bought, with pencils and paper sticking out of each built in pocket. He had the dry leather complexion of a man who’d spent his hard working life under the suns rays. He was setting at the table smoking a pipe and had a relaxed confident manner, which put them at ease immediately.
After the helper set a cup of steaming coffee in front of Guy and Lester with their thanks, Joe the owner, after tapping his pipe into an ashtray, then setting it down, started. “Well boys. I’m glad you could stop by. I’m a man of few words, so I’ll get straight to the point. You boys have been doin a mighty fine job here this season. Several of my men pointed that fact out to me.”
Seeing he was waiting for some kind of response, Guy Answered. “Why thank you sir. We were raised to always do a good job, no matter what it was, so you’ll have to credit our dad for that.”
“The fact is you’ve done such a fine job that I’d like to offer to keep you on during the off season to help with everything needs doing around here.”

That took Guy and Lester back a bit to be sure. It had been so long since they’d had real work, much less an offer of a long-term job, they didn’t know what to say.
After looking at each other with raised eyebrows, it was Lester who found his voice first. “Well sir, that is mighty fine of ya. We really hadn’t given much thought yet what we was going to do next.”
Then after another quick sidelong glance at Guy, who gave him a tiny nod to continue, he said. “You’ll have to give us a little time to think on that sir. We got some talking to do first.”
“Well,” Joe started as he reached across the table and grabbed a piece of paper, then after writing something on it and sliding it across the table toward them, he said. “Here’s what I can pay you each a day ifen you decide to stay. Of course you’ll have Sunday’s off for church and such.”

After they both tried their best to look casual after looking at the number he wrote without gasping like schoolboys just having heard yes for a date from the school cheerleader, Guy folded it and stuck it in his shirt pocket as if it was nothing.
Just as they wondered if the meeting was over, the helper placed a plate in front of them with the most delicious smelling pastry still warm from the oven they’d ever seen with a tiny mischievous smile.
Truth was, Lester was so shocked with the numbers and the pastry, he was setting there with his mouth open, not moving, like someone who’d lost their mind, until Guy gave him a wake up kick under the table, which elicited a little unexpected yelp.
They knew Joe had noticed because he dove into his pastry past a barely hidden smile with gusto.
As starved for real food as they were, it didn’t take them long to finish off the pastry, so after the owner shook their hands on the front porch, they took off walking back to camp. Even though the offer was something they never figured they’d see, they had some serious thinking to do.

It was oddly quiet back at camp. Most folks had packed up and moved on to wherever they figured they might find work now that the orange season was rapping up. Luckily California, with it’s unbelievably long growing season, had plenty of other crops in season or coming soon, having the most productive farming areas in the country.
One of the notable things that Guy and Lester noticed was the utter cleanliness of the river encampment. Folks would think with such utter poverty and gloom, the people would leave all their garbage behind for someone else to deal with. The truth was, these were proud people, raised to always tend to their own business, so every scrap of garbage, every tiny piece of paper had been cleaned up. Hell the very ground looked like it had been swept with a broom in most places. Even the orange peels had been buried sight unseen somewhere. The campfires so long established were watered out and smoothed over with fresh earth with nary a warm spot to cause trouble.

They weren’t in much of a hurry now, so they headed down to the river to catch some dinner and do a little talking. They had some decisions to make. Do they stay with a sure thing or move on hoping for something better?
As they sat on the riverbank watching the light slowly dim, they were caught up in the almost majestic interplay of nature. As always just as dusk laid its soft blanket on earth, the dragonflies would hover just inches above the waters edge. Then the fish with a small leap find their own substance hovering there within easy reach.
Soon as nature’s blanket lay true, and full darkness arrived, Guy and Lester took their catch back to camp and hustled up a fire to cook their evening meal.

As they watched with growing hunger the fish drip their greasy essences onto the embers below with dancing sizzles of smoke, Lester was the first to start. “Well brother. Whater we gonna do?”
“Damn ifen I know.” Guy quietly answered. “We got plenty of coin to last us a while now for sure, ifen we decide to move on a bit but having a sure thing at the orange farm is temptin. That’s a fact.”
”There’s that fur sure but I’ve a hankerin to move on and see what better we might find. This here California seems to be abustin with opportunities.”

To be continued:

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