At first, we didn’t even know they were there. Little things started happening in our idyllic, semi-rural community of farmettes. First it was Old Lady Capshaw down the lane – accusing the kids of stealing her apple pies or reading glasses off her front porch. We didn’t pay it much mind then – she’s 92 and her memory isn’t what it used to be. Chalked it up to her misplacing the glasses or not actually baking the pie. After it kept happening over months, we questioned all the kids – ranging in age from 5-17, across all 7 farmettes – and they all denied stealing anything. Had no reason to doubt them, they loved their old granny Capshaw, wouldn’t’ve done anything to cause her distress on purpose.
Other things started to go missing, and not just off front porches. Hens didn’t seem to be laying as many eggs over the summer, and small items missing from the clothesline. A hammer taken out of Horace Johnson’s tool shed and little Charley Harris’s jr Big Wheel. We were all trying desperately to be neighborly and not blame one another, but it was obvious a thief was in our midst. We’d smile at our neighbors on the street but cast an eye of suspicion after they passed.
They got bolder in the fall – parts being taken out of tractors, locks broken, bags of grain missing from silos, an entire hog taken right out of her pen on the Henderson farmette! And on around Halloween, Charley’s big brother Jimmy was out in the pumpkin patch to collect future jack-o-lanterns one evening and heard a rustling in the corn nearby, then claimed to have seen a shadowy figure running away with a sackful of corn. He used it to scare the little ones, so we only half believed them, until other strange things started happening.
First Jenny Larson, who was 12 years old and never told a lie in her life, said she saw three dark figures near the Johnson barn when she was walking home from the Sadie Hawkins dance at the Junior High, which lent credence to Jimmy’s story. She turned away to ask if her friend Hannah had seem them and then they were gone, but she swears she saw ‘em. Old Man Jones was fishing out by the Snyder Pond - which is way out on the periphery of the community – and says he found a small lean-to under a big boulder with four little bedrolls and a bunch of other stuff, but when he brought some of the other men to scout it out, it was gone. And strangest of all were the...mobiles? talismans?...that started showing up all over the place, in trees, under porches, inside milkboxes and barns – small, crudely-fashioned figures of animals and people whittled from wood or woven from reeds and cornhusks.
That Thanksgiving was tense as we all gathered in our houses, gathered for meetings, took turns walking the parameter keeping watch for any weird activity – and weird activity we did see, but always at dusk, always on the periphery, always out of the corner of our eyes. We tried to keep a watchful eye, but eggs, hens and livestock were still disappearing out from under us, and several folks heard giggles even as they heard quick footsteps taking flight.
As the first snows started to fly, the odd footsteps that led to nowhere started appearing. And early on Christmas morning, young Harvey Weaver and his new wife had gotten up with the chickens to milk the cows and as they headed back to the farmhouse, saw four dark figures leaning up against the fence on the Larson’s north field, watching them. Standing and sitting, lined up against the fence, watching, unmoving, unafraid.
That’s when the kids started disappearing, one by one.
Which American do I pick? The Mormon or the Texan? I probably shouldn’t be so confused – after all, I already have plans to marry the Texan and go to Texas with him. But...
I’ve been dating the Texan for two years. He’s funny – he makes me laugh, and I can completely be myself around him. He’s cute, too – in a nerdy way. I’m just not sure I ever pictured marrying someone like him – it’s not as romantic as I expected it to be with your beloved.
The Mormon is here on his mission, we’re not actually dating, but...I allowed him to “convert” me. Ha ha – not really – I’m Jewish, after all, and that’s how I’ll stay, but he’s cuuute and so very earnest, and we can’t date because of his mission, so yeah, I allowed myself to listen to his teachings.
My parents would be scandalized if they knew this – they like the Texan – he comes from a good family, though he’s not jewish, either.
But the other day, something happened. Me and the Mormon were talking through a chain link fence. He told me his mission was almost over, that he was leaving. My hand was on the fencepost and...he covered my hand with his...which is a HUUUGE no-no, because he’s on his mission! So I knew I wasn’t imagining it, that there was something between us! My heart nearly exploded, it was sooo romantic.
I went home and cried.
I went out with the Texan. He could see how miserable I was, and figured out why. Well. Do you know what he said?
“I hate to see you so sad. I know why you’re sad. I have money saved for us to travel back to Texas, but you can have it. You can have it, and you can follow him. I just want you to be happy.”
Now how’s a girl supposed to respond to that???
I married the Texan, after all. We married here, in Montevideo with our families there to witness. I moved to Texas with him, but we didn't stay long - moved to California to teach at Peace Corps camp, where we had our oldest daughter - then moved onto Vermont. I took a trip back home when the baby was about 7 months old, so she could meet her Abuelos, and do you know what my mother told me?
The Mormon came back.
Yes - around the time the baby was born, the Mormon knocked on her door. He was done with his mission, and had come back for me. HE CAME BACK FOR ME! Now that's something out of a romance novel if ever there was. IN the novel or the film, of course, the heroine would drop everything to be with her ONE TRUE LOVE - but of course, real life is stranger and more mundane by turns. I loved The Texan too, and now we had a baby to think of. And I was happy in my new life.
The Mormon married someone else and had three kids. The Texan and I saw the whole world more than twice over! And also had three kids. The Mormon and I exchange holiday cards every year. Everything worked out the way it was supposed to, but I'm a storyteller, and sometimes I wonder what might've happened if...
MEETING AT THE RAINBOW BRIDGE
By Carolynne Wilcox
Woman walking through unformed haze of underworld,
searching for something.
Hello...? Is anyone here?
Sound FX: purring
Sound FX purring & kitty trills
Vixen? Vix? Is that you? Here, kitty!
Vixen enters, woman dressed in vague suggestion of a
beautiful, dainty, but feisty calico cat.
Oh, my sweet baby!
The two reunite, joyously.
Oh, sweet baby, I missed you SO much!!!
Missed you, Mama.
You can TALK!
All speak language heart. Meow.
I can’t believe it. I never thought I’d see you again.
Vixen headbutts and nuzzles woman vigorously.
Woman scratches Vixen’s head..
I’m so sorry.
What sorry for?
Wish we’d taken you to the vet sooner. Wish vets would check more deeply
at the first sign of something wrong. Wish those cretins making medicine for
cats would make the pills smaller.
You always wanted me to watch you & pet your butt while you ate.
I’m sorry I didn’t do it often or for very long. If I could go back...
Okay! Mama. Love.
Awww, sweet pea, I love you, too. You can’t imagine how much.
Losing you was one of the worst things to ever happen to me.
Know, Mama. Stayed around – watched. Talked you. Talked Echo.
Silly black cat.
Echo took care of me...after. In her janky way.
Silly black cat. Brat.
She missed you, too. You were her whole world!
She stepped up! I hope I didn’t...make you...stay around.
Wanted to. Missed you. Love. Love.
Vixen rubs all the way around woman’s legs. FX: purring sounds.
Awww, Vix. I’m so happy to see you.
She walks towards the exit.
Smiling through tears
Yes. Go together.
Woman follows Vixen out.
Day to day thoughts, rants and mental detritus.