Thoughts of a cakesniffer

Alright you cakesniffers listen up. This is MY blog filled with the bestest and truest and rarest fiction in the world, and you only get to read it if you are the prettiest most bestest dancing ballerina princesses in the world. And if you're not me than you'd better get lost or i'll wack you with my wet tagliatelle!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Mexico

I felt that Rick Bass really captured the feel of a small town in his short story Mexico. Even though there wasn’t a whole lot going on in the linear plot itself, I found the characters feeling very familiar to me by the end of the story. I suppose it also helped that I am from a small town and have seen a lot of people that are very similar to Tricia, Kirby, and Gus. In small towns there are those who seem to sit around and wait for happiness and those who have figured out what makes them happy. And neither group lets the other try and tell them that their way is wrong. That was a concept that I thought was at the forefront of the story. Gus knew how to make himself happy and Kirby and Tricia were sitting around the swimming pool waiting for happiness to fall in their laps. Once Shack was taken away it was as if Kirby and Tricia no longer had any reason to hope for happiness let alone strive for it because that’s not something they did anyway.

That was originally a story about the town mouse and country mouse, but mice are icky so I changed it and made it special. And it's better this way because I say it is.
The most special fairy princess in the world,
Carmelita Spats

Buying the Anderson's Farm

There’s not too much to do around here. Not too many people coming or going either. But when someone does, that’s when people start to gossip. Once people come to Redmington they rarely leave, no reason to. Well, except to go to the market or go buy a fancy new truck. Those who are here are happy to be and those who don’t, well we never get to know them so they don’t really count as people do they? That’s what made that one guy seem so very, very strange. He showed up one day in a fancy suit with a briefcase. His suit was too fancy for him to be a teacher. That’s what made me notice him the most. He got on the school bus with all the Anderson kids, but he wasn’t their dad, or a teacher, or anyone I’d ever seen before. I figured he was just a traveler from the airport that somehow got lost heading to Lincoln. So here was this man, sitting there in the middle of the bus with a rolling suitcase and a fancy briefcase. He tried to make a call on a very small, very portable phone, but the kids were a bit rowdy 'cause it was a Friday and everyone was having sleepovers. Sleepovers make for extra kids on the bus. I figure the guy finally gave up because he suddenly came to talk to me as I slowed down to drop off the Murphy twins. “How much longer until you drop off the Anderson kids?” He demanded to know. I told him that they were one of my last stops so it would be about another 35 minutes.
“You’ll make an exception today and drop them off first won’t you.” I looked into my shirt pocket and saw that he’d tried to give me $50.

I smiled at this stranger. “Nope I’m afraid not, all these kids have just as much right to get home. Why don’t you have a seat and enjoy the scenery.” I don’t know where he was from but it was easy to see that he did not know the way that a public school bussing system worked. Grumbling he snatched the money out of my hand and sat in one of the empty seats. Aside from making several irate phone calls to people he called punk and several vulgar names, he was quiet for the rest of his ride. Now I don’t condone eavesdropping but he seemed to be talking to several clients and it sounded as if he knew a lot about the field of law.
When I pulled up in front of the Anderson farm I made it a point to pay particular attention to the man’s reaction to the place. At first he was disbelieving but the disbelief soon moved into a look of slight contempt. He picked up his fancy briefcase and marched directly off the bus. When he got to the front door of the farmhouse he rapped loudly on the door before opening the door and proceeded in.
“Do you know that man Jimmy?” I asked the oldest of the three Anderson children.
“No, but Mom said that if that man likes the farm then we’re going to get a lot of money to move to another house. She says they’re going to dig under the house and find bones of dinosaurs, but I don’t believe her.” With that he hoped off the bus and headed straight to his bike there was nothing I could do but turn the bus around and head back to the school, I’d hear about this man soon enough.

The first thing this strange man did when he got to the front door was survey the layout of the farmland. It didn’t appear to be anything special, but he’d been in this business for long enough to know better than to think that. He knocked on the door in a series of loud rapid knocks. There was the sound of a dog barking from the back yard and movement in the room just beyond the door that stood in the way of his plans. As soon as the door was opened the man burst into the house talking rapidly.
“I’m Mr. Collins. We’ve spoken on the phone. You are Ann Anderson correct? No matter, down to business. Now as I said over the phone we at Swanson, Swanson, and Collins are willing to put down a pretty penny for this rat hole that you call a home and a livelihood. I stated over the phone that we are willing to give you $250,000 for this land and the rights and titles to it. I came out here to get the papers I need to have the files signed more quickly. There you go, now sign it so I can leave. By the way you do drive don’t you because I need a ride back to Lincoln and I’m sure as hell not hitchhiking.”
By this point the woman seemed to have recovered her composure somewhat and she replied with a predictably cheery “Hi.” Mr. Collins pushed right on through.
“Once these papers are signed we will need you to evacuate the premises within the next five days because I have already contacted a wreaking crew and they will be here on the twenty seventh to knock down your house.” You do know how to read correct. If not just sign it and we’ll be finished.” Mr. Collins conveniently forgot to tell Ann that there was a fortunes worth of oil underneath her husband’s property. Besides, he told himself, what’s one slip of the mind when you’re trying to get what you want. He stared at the woman as she looked at the papers. She shakingly took them from his hand and flipped to the second page.
“There’s nothing more in there than I already told you,” the man snapped as he snatched back the pages from her. She looked up blinking slowly at him. It was then that Ann Anderson finally spoke up.
“Well, it’s just that we didn’t expect you to move us outta here so soon. We thought we’d be here for another couple of months. You know, just get the kids used to the idea of moving.”
“Well you’re not lady, you’re going to be moving so that we can harvest the oil off this land. I uh I mean so we can dig up the ancient Aztec artifacts that are buried underneath your house.”
By now Mr. Collins seemed to be very, very irritated by the situation. So it irritated him even more when Ann told him that she would drive him into town so that he could find a place to stay overnight and that she’d pick him up in the morning to discuss this further. “You know, once ya got some sleep drilled into ya by a pillow.” Ann giggled as Mr. Collins grumbled under his breath and looked out the window at the fields and fields of plains land that he’d seen since he’d left the city.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Iowa

Last May it was decided that the new town sewage lagoon was going in the middle of Greg’s farm land. Small towns are strange like that. What’s good for most is best for all. In a town that has more barren buildings and broken windows than it does businesses it’s an unwritten agreement that citizens are to be compliant to the fancy of those on the town council. Now even though there were a dozen other spots that would be suitable for this monstrosity the politicians of the town did not want it too close to their homes and children. Therefore Greg inherited this pleasure.
The news was broke soon after the town holiday so as not to offend those visiting the town by having machinery placed smack dab in the center of the pristine flat cornfields with all of their new furrows. Farm equipment wasn’t given a second thought, after all most of the floats in the parade were either pulled by a tractor or a combine just passing through throwing candy. In fact, Greg had been driving the tractor that pulled the local booster club and school board members on it. These were some of the same people who would later tell him that it was okay for him to give up his land because it was for the greater good. It can be speculated that all two hundred and fifty members of the community were out to the park for a portion of the weekend. People have fun, or have a lousy time and still paste a sappy smile on their faces and talk about the weather and corn prices.
Greg had always been an amiable man. He participated in the town events and his family had spent years building the respect of the towns’ people. However, on the day that the location was announced Greg suddenly felt a little bit less than welcome in the place he’d called home all his life. When Greg went to the council meeting to contest the placement as outlandish and ugly he was informed that regardless of his feelings the project was moving forward by force of eminent domain.
When Greg set out looking for support from his friends in the community he realized that those people had become scarce or too busy to stand up with him. The new lagoon had been deemed necessary for town convince. After 150 years people were finally tired of having their own waste in a holding tank in the back yard. It seemed to make no difference that the location that was chosen was two hundred feet away from highway 20, the only real source of outsiders coming through town. There was no reason that the towns people would care until everything was built. That’s the way in small town Iowa, the few that have vision of problems down the road are silenced by those who want what they want now and are only willing to give up other peoples’ belongings.