83 / 365 – Long distance

DOUG MILLER

I’m the one who hauls the grain, who gets it out of here so that people can finally get paid for it. Well, there are some who do it themselves, around this time of year. I think Lars Nilsson still does it — he has that old truck parked over at his farm. Some of the Nygards do. I take care of the rest, and I do it all year. I’ve been doing it for almost twenty years, and I thank God every day that I’ve been able to do it and stay here and keep our farmstead. I don’t know what would have happened to me

I started doing this full-time when my brother and I lost the farm. It was not long after Mom and Dad passed it to us. We were doing well, making more money than my father had on it. The machinery was nothing like now, where it’s practically a giant computer, but we had the newest equipment that would let you cover a lot more acres than we’d ever farmed growing up. We bought a whole section that had come up for sale, and we contracted to farm a few more quarters. But we were very prideful. We had to have new trucks, every couple of years. We had the best equipment. My brother liked the demolition derby — especially this time of year, he spent a lot of time out in the shed working on his car. He called it the Crazy Horse. His trick was extra steel. He used to weld steel across the wheel wells, so other guys couldn’t take out his tires. He was always cutting off strips of sheet metal and welding them onto the vulnerable parts of the car. Eventually one day he took some of the strips and welded them on the roof, sticking straight up in the air like a Sioux headdress, like you see on the state highway signs. And that’s when he named it the Crazy Horse. They were wild times.

And then there were those years in the early 80s, when prices were low and the interest rates suddenly jumped through the roof. We got caught. I cursed him at the time, but it was really the start of the best thing that ever happened to me. I didn’t know my Lord in those days, and if it hadn’t been for that, I’d never have have found him. Or, I should say, that’s how he comes calling back his flock. I’m sure this was part of his plan to call me back — he always had a plan for me. It was good for me to swallow what tasted like failure, swallow that pride. Pride will lead a man to hell, they say, and it’s true.

I think about how lucky my am. When we had our farm sale, we had to sell off everything, all that land, our equipment, the land my great-grandfather had homesteaded — that was the worst part. At least I kept the farmstead, so I didn’t have to give up the old house. My brother, though, it was too much for him. With the money I bought out his share of the house, he packed up Crazy Horse in a nice new trailer and drove off down to the Twin Cities. He called pretty often, at first. I’ve only seen him once since then when he drove up here. He had a nice new car and everything and it sounded like he’d had a good run of things, until the morning he left, when he hit me up for money. I didn’t have much. I was still driving that old truck I’d had when we’d sold off the farm, and I don’t earn that much from hauling. Enough to keep me here, but not much else. I did give him a hundred dollars, which is most of what I had, but he seemed disappointed. I don’t know what he thinks it’s like up here. He hadn’t had much fun up here, there was no booze in the house — I don’t keep it any more. Most of the time he was here, at night at least, he was in town hanging around at the Uptown.  I didn’t expect him to come back, and he hasn’t. He’s called once since then, asking for money. It sounded like he was in some trouble, but I sent him some anyway. I offered that he could come back up here, find his way again, but he hasn’t done that. I don’t think he ever got married. Sometimes I ask the Lord, if he could reach out and save me from my pride and stupidity, why not my brother? I don’t quite understand that.

The one part about hauling, especially this time of the year, is that I’m going longer distances. I know some people think, since the millennium passed and nothing happened, that the Lord isn’t coming soon, like we thought. I think the opposite — the signs point to it happening soon. I don’t want to be away when it starts. I know I’ll be fine once the rapture comes, but until then, I don’t want to be in the middle of Chicago or St. Louis when all hell breaks loose, if you know what I mean. There are probably worse places but I don’t know what they are. They say you should be ready, and I am ready, especially in my home.

But I shouldn’t worry. The lord will take care of me — he always had, even when I’ve been stupid. You’ve got to have faith about that. Things will turn out in the end. They always have.

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One thought on “83 / 365 – Long distance

  1. Another great character sketch. I know this guy. I see him repeated from town to town and farm to farm and church to church. Presidents like George Bush rely on him. Thank you once again for pulling me into another life in the character journals of WM Rine.

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