View Full Version : The Field

September 22nd, 2010, 10:15 PM
I'm not exactly sure that this is the title I want to keep for this short story.

She hated to leave him there. He was just a kid and he didn’t understand why she had to go. She had to make a living though. God knows she seldom asked his drunken father to help out.

She looked into the rear view mirror and saw him standing by the side of the road, one little hand waving to her and the other wiping snot and dirt from his face. He finally disappeared in the dust that the car had kicked up on the desolate gravel road.

It was only for a few days, she thought, as she choked back a tear. Surely his father could manage to look after him for only a few days, four or five at the most. She only hoped that he could manage to stay sober, or at least not drunk.

The boy turned as the car disappeared into the dust and looked at his father sitting on the front porch. He walked to the house that was direly close to the road and stepped up onto the porch. He went over and sat next to his father on the flea ridden, piss stained sofa that at one time had occupied their family living room. The boy did not remember that. The man hardly noticed him. The boy slouched over and rubbed his hands together and stared at his dirty tennis shoes, still sniffling from the crying jag he had gone on when his mother had said goodbye. The blue tick hound on the other side of his father raised his head and twisted it to one side, trying to figure out the strange sounds coming from the boy.

The man rose from the sofa and walked past the boy, rubbing his hand on the boy’s head as he passed. He left the boy and the dog alone on the sofa and went inside, not bothering to close the door behind him. The hound only stayed a few seconds longer and then pulled itself up and lumbered down from the sofa, following his master into the house. The boy sat in his solitude, not quite sure if he should follow the man that he hardly knew, but knew that he was his father or if he should just sit quietly. At least that was something he was good at. So he just sat.

Occasionally he would hear a noise from inside the house that sounded like glass clinking and he would wonder if perhaps the man was making something for him to eat. He eventually turned around and climbed onto his knees and looked through the window that was filmed over with years of dust and grime. The man was sitting in an old recliner, a metal oscillating fan, perched on an antique bureau, slightly moving his hair each time it shuddered through its monotonous path, clattering just as happily as if it had not traveled the route before. He finally mustered up his courage went inside. He stood before the man and did not speak. The man eventually opened his eyes and asked the boy what he wanted.

“I was wondering if you were going to make anything to eat?” the boy replied.

“Your momma left some food in there in the kitchen for you,” the man said, pointing toward the other room. The boy walked into the kitchen. There were three paper bags sitting on the table. He climbed up on a metal chair with a plastic seat cover that was partially torn away to reveal some old cotton padding and a plywood base, and rummaged through the bags. He found a box of Lucky Charms and a gallon of milk that had been sitting out as his father had not bothered to put away anything or to even look in the bags for that matter. He pulled the chair over to the counter and stood on it and looked in the upper cabinets for a bowl. He found one and retrieved a spoon from a drawer and made lunch for himself. He ate two bowls of the cereal and lustily drank the remaining milk from the bowl each time.

He went into the other room and asked the man where the dishwasher was. The man ignored him. He put his bowl in the dirty sink and went through the bags and removed the other items that required refrigeration and placed them and the milk in the small Frigidaire. He went back outside and sat on the sofa. The sun baked down on the faded orange and white pickup that was parked next to the house. The boy stood and walked off the porch and leaned against the truck, relishing the warmth that came from it. He picked up a rock and threw it into the field across the road. It clanged on something metal or glass but he couldn’t tell which. He heard a noise behind him and noticed that the dog had come out of the house and was walking toward him. It sat next to him with his ears drooping and a sorrowful look on its face.

The boy crossed the road and put his hands on the rusty barbed wire fence that encircled the field of tall sage grass. The dog followed again and sat next to him. He wondered if the dog had a name. He figured it did not so he decided to give it one. He had always wanted a dog of his own but couldn’t have one in the small apartment that he shared with his mother. His eight year old mind conjured up several names that may fit the dog. He thought of Brownie, or maybe Blackie since the dog was a little bit of both. He almost decided on Blackie. He suddenly thought that this might be the only chance he would ever have to name a dog, much less own one and decided that neither Blackie nor Brownie would do. No, this dog needed a special name. He asked the dog what he would like for his name to be. The dog did not reply. After many agonizing minutes he had finally settled on a name. This dog would now be known as Comet. He squatted next to the dog and put a hand on each jowl and rubbed the dog. The dog almost smiled.

He stood and returned to the fence. Comet followed his new master and soon they were romping through the field together, as much as a blue tick romps that is. Suddenly the boy didn’t feel so alone anymore, there, in the solitude of his fathers’ presence. He now owned a dog and had a stomach full of Lucky Charms and a wonderful field to play in. These next few days might even turn out to be not so bad. They sat together under a shade tree that was in the middle of the field. The boy watched a trail of soldier ants carry small bits of leaf up the tree in a single-file formation. The dog lay with its large head on its paws, except for the occasional roll onto his back as if to rub a little bit of the sunshine from his hide.

Their serenity was suddenly interrupted by the man’s’ hoarse voice and Comet jerked his head to one side and almost lifted his ears as both he and the boy heard the man calling them from the front porch of the house. The dog stood and loped toward the house. The boy quickly followed. They arrived to find the man standing at the edge of the porch.

“Where the hell have y’all been?” he demanded.

“We were just playing in the field across the road,” the boy replied.

“There’s snakes in that damn field,” the man said. “Don’t be going back over there.” He turned and walked back to the sofa. He sat and picked up the beer can that was sitting next to the couch. He drank it down and told the boy to go inside and fetch him another one from the Frigidaire. The boy returned from the kitchen to find the traitorous Comet lying on the couch next to the man. He handed the man the can of beer and called Comet to come and follow him and play some more.

“Comet? Where the hell did you get an idea that this dogs name is Comet?” the man asked, both laughing and coughing as he spoke.

“I don’t know. I just decided to name him that.” The boy stared at his dirty tennis shoes again, he could feel the tears starting to well up in his eyes and his shoes became a blur.

“Well he don’t need you to name him. He’s already got a name. The damn dog’s name is Mutt,” the man said. “Ain’t that right, Mutt?” The dog didn’t answer. The man opened the beer and turned it up. The boy felt that Mutt wasn’t a particularly good name but did not wish to anger the man any further than he had already. His mother had told him not to make his father angry so he just decided that he would call the dog Comet whenever his father wasn’t around. He walked over and leaned against the truck again, this time his face lying on his crossed arms as he tried to keep the man from seeing his teary eyes.

The boy spent the rest of the day throwing rocks and writing his name in the dirt and counting the cars or trucks that passed by the house. The total by nightfall had been one car, two trucks and an old Farm-All combine. Each time one had passed, with the exception of the combine, the dust on the road had risen up like twin streamers behind the tires and hedonistically comingled with one another until they were all spent and then laid back down in the worn out ruts like lovers that had just extinguished a post-coital cigarette. He also found time to play with Comet when the man was inside the house. They did not venture again into the field across the road for fear of angering the man.

When darkness fell the boy went into the house to ask if the man was going to prepare supper. The man was slouched in his recliner with the fan doing its relentless pacing back and forth like an expectant father in a maternity ward. He did not respond to the boy. The boy walked into the kitchen and retrieved the Lucky Charms and milk again. He reached into the sink to get the bowl and spoon that he had used for lunch and a nonet of flies arose in syncopation from the dirty dishes and scattered in nine different directions to await the boy’s departure so they could return to their wallow and resume their feast of filth. He rinsed the bowl and spoon and had dinner, enjoying it just as much as he had enjoyed lunch.

He went back into the other room and closed the front door. It had no lock on it. Comet lay on the floor next to the man’s chair. He raised his head as the boy came close to him. The boy wondered what Comet usually ate for dinner. He went back into the kitchen and looked for dog food. There was none. The boy wasn’t surprised by this. He hoped that the man had at least fed him this morning before he had arrived. He would have to try to get up especially early tomorrow to see if the man fed the dog.

He went to ask the man where he should sleep but could not rouse him. He walked to the door of the only room he had yet to enter and reached inside to try and find a light switch. He found it and flipped it up. A naked bulb on a cord hung from the center of the ceiling and showered the room in a harsh light. There was a single bed in the corner of the room. It had no headboard or foot board. He went over and sat down on it and removed his shoes. He lay back on the dirty sheet and pulled the equally dirty blanket over himself. He felt some movement on the bed seconds later and realized that Comet was climbing in bed with him. They lay there together in the blaring light and eventually their wakefulness gave way to dreams of running in the field across the road.

When the boy awoke the following morning he immediately realized that he had not gotten up early enough to see if Comet had been fed breakfast. The sun was already coming through the window with such great voracity that it almost made the naked light bulb appear to be dim. He looked around for Comet but he was nowhere to be seen. He threw the dirty blanket off and swung his feet to the floor. There was a familiar smell in the air but it had no reason to be in such a place as this. He pulled his tennis shoes onto his feet and sat on the edge of the bed as he tied them. He walked out of the bedroom and realized that the smell was coming from the kitchen. He went there and saw the man in front of the stove with Comet lying close by his feet. The man was frying bacon and scrambling eggs. The boy walked over and squatted next to Comet and stroked his fur. The man looked down at the boy and asked if he was hungry. The boy replied that he was and excused himself to go to the bathroom. He relieved himself for what seemed like a very long time and then washed his hands and returned to the kitchen.

The man had made a plate for him and put it on the table. The boy sat at the table in front of the mound of eggs and bacon and even toast. The man brought a glass of milk and sat it next to boy’s plate. He returned to the stove but soon joined the boy with his own plate of food and a cup of black coffee in a mug that looked like it had never been clean. They ate in silence but the boy believed that he had never tasted anything in his life that tasted nearly as good as the breakfast he was sharing with his father.

When they finished, Comet came over and sat next to the man. The man took the boys plate and scraped his remaining bits of food onto his own plate and then sat it on the floor for the dog. He got up and went to the stove and came back with more eggs and even some bacon and put it on what was now the dog’s plate. The boy now realized how and when Comet was fed.

After breakfast, the man had piled the dirty dishes into the sink and carried his cup of coffee out to front porch and had sat down on the sofa. Comet had followed closely behind him and had lumbered his way up onto the sofa to join the man. The boy came out and sat on the steps. The wind rustled through the tops of the sage grass in the field across the road and the boy would have sworn that it was calling out his name. He rose and walked to the end of the porch and looked at the field. The grass swayed back and forth in the breeze and the boy had a sensation that not only was it calling to him, but it was also motioning for him to come with a million skinny fingers.

He went back and sat on the steps. He hoped the man would fall asleep again later so he and Comet could sneak over to the field. A short time later, the man had resumed his place in the recliner inside the house and had turned on the television. The boy heard the man swearing and climbed onto the dirty sofa and watched the man through the window. There was an old wire clothes hanger sticking out of the broken antenna that protruded from the back of the plastic television. The man was wiggling it back and forth to try and get the set to have a clearer picture. He finally gave up and turned it off. He retired to the recliner but did not fall asleep immediately. The boy left the sofa but returned every few minutes to see whether the man had fallen asleep.

He and Comet crossed the road and stood next to the fence that ran around the field. He heard a crunching noise and looked down the gravel road to see a sleepy trail of dust reluctantly rise from behind a rusted old car that he was pretty sure he could run faster than if they were to engage in a race. The car finally made its way to where they were but the driver didn’t slow or even look in their direction. The boy waved but there was no reply. He ran back across the road and onto the porch and jumped up on the sofa and looked in the window. The man was finally asleep. He bounced back off the sofa and was immediately headed back across the road with Comet loping along behind him.

The boy climbed over the barbed wire fence and then reached down to the bottom wire and held it up so Comet could shimmy underneath it. He remembered the rock that he had thrown into the field and the noise it had made as it landed on something that had been buried or simply discarded in the grass. He ran to the spot where he thought it might be and went to his hands and knees and began searching for what it might have been. All he found was an empty bottle that certainly at one time had belonged to his father. No gold, no silver, no money or diamonds. Just and old vodka bottle. He didn’t care. In his imagination he had been searching for pirate treasure or maybe even cannon balls left over from the civil war. At least he found something.

Just then Comet jumped up and started sniffing the ground ahead of him as he made his way frantically through the tall grass, following what he was not sure but sure that he was following something. The boy ran along behind, amazed at the sudden display of speed by the hound. He certainly hadn’t run that fast during any of their times playing together. Then he saw it. It was a small brown rabbit that was hopping away from Comet as quickly as it could. The rabbit was much faster than Comet and was easily outdistancing him. But Comet had a tool that was better than speed; he had a nose, and quite a powerful one at that. The boy momentarily lost sight of the dog, camouflaged as he was by the similarly colored grass, but espied him again quickly enough as his large head popped up above the tips of the sage. He was still on the trail of the rabbit but following by scent alone and not by sight. The boy caught up with the dog as he had slowed considerably, relying only on his one superpower. Presently they broke into a clearing and the boy saw a rusted piece of tin protruding from underneath the grass. Comet made a beeline for it. The boy hadn’t seen it because of the grass that was grown up around it, but there was a hole in the foliage leading to underneath the tin where the rabbit had darted and Comet was headed straight for it. The boy saw the hole now and saw Comet run directly through it, tail and all, and then saw the sly little rabbit bounce from the other side of the tin.

He waited for Comet to follow but there was no Comet coming out of the other side. He ran over to the far side of the tin and called the dog’s name. He did not answer. The boy began to panic. He tried to find something to use to lift the tin. He found a half rotted two by four and stuck one end under the tin. He pushed with all of his strength on the other end of the stick but to no avail. The grass had grown over the edges of the tin for years and it held it down like a weighted net over a snared animal. He dropped to his knees and began tearing at the grass. He finally thought he had enough removed for the two by four to gather purchase and do its work. He jammed the board under the edge and lifted again. This time the tin tore loose from the earth. Using the board the boy flipped the piece of tin over and was terrified to find a hole there that was about three feet in diameter. He leaned over and peered into it. He could see nothing but blackness but could tell that it went straight down. He could not see Comet but was certain that he was there. He lay down on the ground and cupped his hands around his mouth and called out to the dog. After no success with calling out to Comet, he decided to call out to Mutt. He heard some shuffling from below and maybe even a small splash.

He panicked as he realized that Comet had fallen into an old abandoned well. He had to do something to get him out. He decided to go and get the man. He jumped to his feet and tore off in the direction that he and Comet had come from just moments earlier. Then it dawned on him as he suddenly stopped and put his hands on his knees. The man had told him to stay out of the field. What could he do? He couldn’t go for the man. He had to find some way to do this by himself. He just had no idea how. He turned and went back to the well. He heard a yelp from the dog and it both scared him and comforted him. At least he knew Comet was still alive but he also feared that he was hurt.

He needed some rope. He looked all around the area but there was none anywhere. He decided to run back to the house and see if he could find some there. Hopefully the man would still be napping. He ran all the way to the fence and then along side of it until he came to the place where he had climbed over and Comet had shimmied under less than an hour earlier. He quickly scaled the fence and crossed the dirt road and ran to the house. He bounced up on to the sofa to check and see if the man was still sleeping. He wasn’t in the recliner. The boy saw the door to the bathroom open and then the man came out. The boy ducked down onto the sofa hoping the man had not seen him.

The man walked out onto the porch and lit a cigarette. He turned and saw the boy. He did not speak but turned back and looked out across the dirt road. He stretched his arms out to each side and let out a yawn. He finished the cigarette and flicked the butt into the yard. The boy watched it lie there and smolder, all the while wishing the man would leave him so he could search for rope to use to save Comet. The man turned back to the boy and asked him where the dog was. The boy lied and said that he had fallen asleep on the dirty sofa and that Mutt was gone when he awoke just minutes ago. The man went back inside and resumed his place in the recliner. The boy scrambled from the sofa and ran to the old truck. He jumped up on the rear bumper to see if there was anything he could use to try to free Comet. There was nothing in the bed of the truck except a few tree limbs and a couple of empty Pabst cans. He leapt down and ran to the driver’s side of the truck. He climbed up on the running board and peered in the window. He thought he saw the end of a rope with blue duct tape on it sticking out from underneath the passenger side of the ragged bench seat. He tried the door but it was locked. He wondered to himself why the truck would be locked when the front door to the house didn’t even have a lock on it. He ran around and tried the other door. It was locked also. The man must fall back asleep soon so he could search for the keys to the truck. The man walked back out on the porch with a beer in his hand.

“What the hell you doing up on that truck?’’ he asked the boy. The boy thought quickly.

“I just thought maybe I could play in there,” he replied.

“Play in there? That ain’t no toy. Can’t you find some other place to play?” the man asked.

“I guess so,” the boy said, “but I promise I won’t hurt anything. I just want to sit behind the wheel and pretend to drive.” The man turned and went back into the house. He returned a half a minute later with the keys and pitched them to the boy. The boy tried to catch them but they fell to the ground and slid under the truck. He jumped down and retrieved them. He slithered all the way to the driver’s side and climbed out there.

“Don’t even think about puttin’ them in the ignition,” the man said. “They’re just for unlocking the door with.” The boy unlocked the door and carried the keys back to the man. He turned and scurried back to the truck and climbed into the driver’s side. He closed the door and cranked down the window and made a show of pretending to drive the truck. The man walked down off the porch and came to the open window and leaned inside. The boy smelled the beer on his breath. He said nothing though, just kept turning the wheel from side to side as he growled like an engine.

“How old are you now, boy?” the man asked.

“I was eight on my birthday,” the boy answered.

“And when was that?” the man asked.

“May the second, just about two months ago,” the boy said.

“Huh. I guess I should have known that.” The man looked off down the road. He turned his weather worn face back to the boy and said, “How ‘bout if I teach you how to really drive this thing?” The boy thought before speaking. He would really love to learn to drive the truck but knew he had to get back to Comet.

“I think I would need to check with my mom first,” the boy told the man.

“Check with your momma, huh?” The man laughed and turned up his beer and went into the house. The boy sprang into the floor of the truck and began pulling on the rope. He pulled and pulled and it kept coming and coming, along with some trash and a tire iron. He finally got it all gathered into his lap and he piled it onto the seat. He slid past the rope and climbed out of the truck. He crept back up onto the porch and climbed up to peek at the man through the window. He had sat back down in the recliner with the fan blowing in his face. The boy hoped this was a good sign. He hoped the man would fall asleep but he couldn’t wait. He had wasted enough time already. He ran back to the truck and grabbed the rope in both arms and ran back to the fence.

By the time he got back to the well, Comet had already been trapped there for over an hour. The boy didn’t know if he was bleeding or had a broken leg or anything like that. He just knew he should probably work as quickly as he could just in case either of those situations happened to have befallen Comet. He ran to the nearest tree and tied off the rope as best he could. He took the other end and ran back to the well. It was just barely long enough to reach down about two feet into the well. The boy had no idea how deep the well was but he knew that the rope was not nearly long enough. He looked around for something closer to secure the other end of the rope. He saw nothing. He then heard the familiar crunching sound that he had heard earlier when the old man drove past. He jumped up and bolted for the fence. He climbed over and jumped into the road. The same crusty old man in the same rusty old car that he had seen a little while earlier was coming straight for him. The boy waved his arms frantically in the air and the old man came to a stop. The boy ran around to the driver’s side of the car. He was breathing hard and bent over and put his hands on his knees as he caught his breath. After a few seconds he was able to speak to the old man.

“Mister, I’m sure sorry to bother you but my dog fell in a well over there and I can’t get him out. Is there any way you can help me or loan me some rope or something?” He could faintly smell the old man’s sweat-stained fedora. The old man was looking directly into the boy’s eyes but he didn’t reply at all. He just took his foot from the brake and put it on the gas and drove away. The boy was almost in a state of panic now. He climbed back over the fence and ran to the edge of the well. He dropped down on his knees and tried to see if he could make out anything. He thought he saw some movement but he wasn’t sure. He decided he would have to involve the man in this rescue if Comet was going to get out of the well alive. He began conjuring a plan in his mind and he jumped up and ran back to the spot where he and Comet had entered the field. He climbed over the fence and ran to the house. He slowed down and caught his breath as he came up onto the porch. He went inside and although the man was awake he had not missed the boy.

“I changed my mind,” the boy said.

“Changed your mind about what?” the man asked.

“I changed my mind about learning how to drive the truck. I don’t need to get permission from my mother. Besides, you’re my dad. If you say it’s okay then I guess it’s okay,” the boy replied.

“I don’t know.” The man said. “Your momma can get awful mad about some stuff. She might come back and beat the crap out of both of us if she was to find out I let you do that.”

“I promise I won’t tell her. Please, please, please teach me,” the boy implored. The man leaned forward a bit in his chair. He seemed to be pondering whether or not he should do it. He thought to himself that the boy was right. He is, by God, the boy’s father after all. If he wants to teach him to drive then he’s going to teach him to drive.

“I don’t even know if that damned thing will start,” the man said. “It may not have a drop of gas in it.” He stood and pulled the keys from his pocket. The boy ran to the door and held it open for his father. The boy ran around to the driver’s side and the man followed. The boy opened the door and jumped in and scooted over to the passenger seat. The man climbed in and put the key in the ignition. He pumped the gas pedal a few times and the boy could hear movement from somewhere behind the dashboard of the truck. The man turned the key and the engine turned over stubbornly but did not spring to life. He pumped the gas a few more times and turned the key again. The engine reluctantly roared to life but the man had to keep the gas pedal pushed down to maintain its’ life support. After it had warmed up for a little while, the man let up on the accelerator and the truck was capable of maintaining its’ own heartbeat. He backed the truck out of the dirt driveway, which was actually just a washed out area of rock-hard red clay where no grass would grow, and onto the gravel road. The boy asked the man where he was going to take him.
“Just down here a piece,” the man said. “The road is a little wider and it’s nice and straight for about a mile or so.”

“I don’t know if I should try to learn on the road or not,” the boy said. “Maybe I should try to learn in the yard or something.”

“The yard ain’t big enough. Besides, I got faith in you. I think you’re gonna be a natural at this,” the man replied. The boy sat quietly for a moment as if calculating his options. He had managed to get the man into the truck, but how could he get the man and the truck into the field. He had an idea. He would ask the man let him learn in the field. If that didn’t work he didn’t know what he would do.

“Is there any way we could drive in that field over there?” the boy asked. “It’s pretty flat and there’s not really anything I could run into.”

“Well yeah, there is a way,” the man said. “There’s a gate right up here to drive through if we wanted to go in there. But like I told you before, there’s snakes in that field. Not only that, there broken glass in there too. Wouldn’t take much to flatten one of these old tires and I ain’t got no spare.” They drove about a quarter of a mile down the road and just as the man had said, it widened a bit and became straighter. They continued on for another half of a mile or so. As they passed, the boy stared into the field where he knew Comet was languishing in the well. The man stopped and turned the truck around and took it out of gear. He asked the boy if he was ready. The boy shrugged his shoulders.

As he settled in behind the wheel, the boy was still trying to think of a way to get the man to drive into the field without telling him that he had disobeyed him and went into the field with Comet earlier. The man told him to slide up to the front of the seat and he did so without thinking.

“Now put your foot on the brake and pull it down into drive,” the man instructed him.

“Which one is the brake?” the boy asked.

“It’s that little one on the left,” the man answered. The boy stretched out his foot as far as he could and depressed the brake pedal. He reached for the gear shifter and pulled it down until it clicked into drive. The boy could barely see over the dashboard and what he could see was only through a film that arced on the bottom of the windshield where the wiper did not reach. He slowly let his foot off of the brake as the man instructed him and the old truck slowly rolled forward.

“Now put your foot over there on the gas pedal and goose it a little bit,” the man said. The boy did so and the truck lurched forward, frightening the boy. The man laughed.
“Hit it again,” he said. The boy did so, more evenly this time and the truck slowly accelerated up the road. As he began to near the area close to the well he had an idea. He could pretend to accidentally run off the road and through the fence and over to the well. He felt he should not but as he got closer and he knew that it may be the only chance he had he began to warm to the idea. He pressed the gas pedal a bit harder to get up some speed to make it through the fence. The man chided him and told him to slow it down. The boy complied but just barely. He suddenly jerked the wheel hard to his left and the truck bounced off the road and over the small ditch and was instantly through the fence. The man had tried to reach for the wheel to correct the trucks’ flight but when they had hit the ditch he had been bounced to the far side of the cab and couldn’t reach it. He had been right about the old tires though. As soon as they hit the barbed wire, three tires had gone flat almost immediately. The truck came to a halt about thirty yards from where the well was. The man asked the boy if he was okay. The boy answered that he was. The man reached over and turned off the ignition. He opened his door and climbed out. The boy slid across and followed him out. The man walked around the vehicle, surveying the damage. The boy wondered how he could lead the man to the well. The man leaned over and put his hands on his knees and laughed.

“Damn boy. You did a hell of a job on this,” he said.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to. I guess I was just going too fast,” the boy said.

“Oh well. It don’t matter none. I guess she was due for some new tires anyway. There’s an old man up the road with a tractor that we can borrow. We’ll go get it and come down here and hitch it up and drag it home. I got some rope in there under the seat that we can……, the man stopped short. He had noticed the rope with the blue duct tape on it tied around the tree. He crossed the twenty or so yards to the tree. He saw the other end was running over to the well. He scratched his head.

“Well I’ll be damned,” he said. “That’s where that damn dog is. He’s in that old well ain’t he?” he asked the boy. The boy didn’t answer but instead ran to the edge of the well. The man followed behind him. They could hear the dog whimpering in the well. The man suddenly realized what was going on. He saw that the boy had been too afraid to tell him about the dog falling in the well and he felt terrible that he had made the boy feel that way. He knelt down beside the boy and pulled him close to his chest. He told the boy that he was sorry for scaring him and that he would never do it again. The boy hugged him back and began to cry. The man’s eyes moistened as well. They both relaxed their grasps as they remembered the task before them. The man stood and said, “Alright now, let’s see about getting Comet out of that hole.” The boy smiled all over his face. The man walked back over to the truck. He thought maybe he could drive it even with the tires flat. They had to get it closer to the well so they could tie the rope to it. He looked underneath the truck and saw that the barbed wire was wrapped tightly around the rear axle. He knew that there was no way to move the truck until they got all of the wire off there. He lay on the ground and pulled at the wire. It didn’t appear to move. He wished that he had a pair of gloves. He grabbed the wire again, more firmly this time and pulled as hard as he could. His hand slipped and one of the barbs on the wire sliced a deep and rusty incision into his palm. He let out a yelp and rolled from underneath the truck, blood spurting from his hand. The boy ran over to be with his father. He saw the blood and quickly leapt into the truck and retrieved a cloth that he had seen in there earlier. He jumped back down and wound it tightly around his father’s palm. The boy began to cry. He knew that his father would not be able to help him now. The man grimaced in pain.

“We’re not beat yet, son,” he said as he rose to his feet. “Let’s see what we can figure out.”

They walked back over to the well. The man instructed the boy to go and untie the rope from the tree and bring it to him. He didn’t know what he would do with it but it was all he could think of at this point. The boy went and did what he was told. As he walked back to the well, he and his father both seemed to hear it at the same time. Chuga chuga chuga chuga. It was coming from just out of sight. The boy had no idea what it was but the man was pretty sure he knew. The boy asked the man what was making the sound. Chuga chuga chuga chuga. Closer and closer it came until it rolled over the hill and into plain view. It was the old man that had driven past earlier. He had gone home and gotten his tractor and had come back through the gate and into his field to help get Comet out of the well. The man smiled and waved to the old man. The boy jumped up in the air and laughed. He ran over and hugged his dad and the man hugged his son right back. The old man backed the tractor up to the well and they tied the rope to the tractor. The old man gave the man his leather gloves and a flashlight and the man climbed down into the well. There he found Comet lying on the musty floor of the well. He surveyed the dog for damages but couldn’t find anything broken or cut in the dim light. He fashioned a harness of sorts and tied it around the dog and the old man and the boy hoisted Comet from the well. They dropped the rope back down to the man and through a combination of efforts were able to extract him as well. The boy hugged the dog and rubbed his jowls. The dog smiled at the boy. The old man untied the rope and climbed up on his tractor and drove away. The father, the son and the dog walked back home, the dog limping slightly, the father bleeding mildly and the son smiling broadly.

The next few days were hardly remarkable. The old man had returned and had driven them into town to get the man’s hand sewn up. They also bought four used tires for the truck and were able to get it disentangled from the wire and up and running again. The boy also learned to repair a fence. Other than that, he and Comet did not return to the field. When his mother returned, he said a tearful goodbye to his father and asked if could return very soon. His father answered that he would have to discuss that with his mother but that he would love it if he came back. The boy and his mother drove away and left the man and the dog standing next to the road, the man waving good bye to the boy. The boy waved back with one hand and wiped the snot and dirt from his face with the other.

September 29th, 2010, 02:13 AM
A touching story.

I like the fact that the man is never referred to as a father until the two find each other, however I feel this could have been given more emphasis. It's the final turning point of the story after all, and a very good one at that. I also enjoyed how the father actually calls the dog Comet at the end.

Another thing I feel you could emphasize more is the mans change of heart. You mention only briefly that he feels bad when he realizes the boy was scared to tell him about the accident. I think there's more here that can be told. As a reader I am placed on the boys side. I am partial to him, and the man is a menacing, foul and distant character. You reconcile the boy with his father too abruptly.
Logically the reader can deduce why the two get over their past issues, it makes sense. Now what you need to do is share that feelig with the reader. As a reader, in order to properly sympathize with the father, I need to forgive him as much as I need the boy to. Actually, no, the boy can keep his issues, it's the reader that needs to forgive the boys father. This is how we manage to really sympathize and share in the amazing bond between a father and son finally finding each other

Other then that, great, a really good story. Heartwarming and believable, with very real and human characters.

October 29th, 2010, 08:40 PM
So I respond a month later. This story was originally written about a year ago for a contest that I entered and I was supposed to keep the word count between 7500-8000 words, hence the abrupt conclusion and lack of character development. I do appreciate your taking the time to read it and also your honest criticism. Thank you.

October 29th, 2010, 09:57 PM
Aha! That's why the too-quick resolution of the problem. Stretch those last paragraphs to match the rest of the story and you'll have a real winner. There are some usage problems that need to be smoothed over, but you have an excellent story and a good narrative voice that suits the story perfectly.

And keep the title. It fits.