Sunday, 24 July 2011

Sweet Grass Summer

This is an excerpt from Sweet Grass Summer. I plan to start a new page soon with chapters from my books. So look for more of this novel on my Chapters page.
EXCERPT from Chapter 2
 J.R. McIvor grinded along on an endless track to nowhere. He hardly paid attention to his wife anymore and the worry lines at the corner of his eyes grow deeper daily. He knows that's was what his wife thinks of him. According to Janet, he’s a workaholic. She’d spued those words at him many times. “All you care about is your damn land and those cows,” she would scream. But lately J.R. had a new worry, the farrier, Tom Blake. It seemed every time he showed up he spent more time on J.R.’s farm than any other considering they only had one horse. George Arnold bragged on the new farrier saying how quick he was at getting Angie’s horse done up. J.R. didn’t agree. Oh, he knew the farrier did a good job all right on Champion’s hoofs, but was he doing a job on his wife as well? J.R. saw the dreamy look on Janet’s face and how she took special care to what she wore whenever Tom was coming. And he was coming again tomorrow. 

Hell, he wanted to spend time with his wife, but he just had too damn much work to do. He closed the door leading from the kitchen to the upstairs hallway. He didn’t want to disturb anyone. He knew Jeff needed his sleep, and as far as Janet went, if she came down now, she’d probably start nagging him again about coming in so late, and on and on in her usual tone. If only Jake, his hired hand, wasn’t so damn limited. Good workers were so hard to find. No one had the interest in his farm that he did. Jake did what he could but he was agrevatingly slow and there wasn’t money to hire anyone else. Without Jeff, J.R. shuddered to think how he’d manage. He kept hoping he could pursuede Jeff to stay on the farm, but Janet kept encouraging him to pursue a career in art or at least go to university. Just when he thought he had Jeff leaning in his direction, Janet pulled him her way. And Jeff was hard to read. He never really said much of what he wanted.

J.R. made himself instant coffee and turned on the TV. Damn, he’d missed the news again. He slumped down on the sofa and stared at a late-night sports repor not really seeing or hearing any of it. He heard the rain start up again lashing across the window panes. He’d been waiting all week to get plowing the back fields and to be able to plant a new crop of barley. He needed the sunshine. Where was everything and everyone when he needed them? Right now he needed his wife’s arms around him, telling him soothingly that everything would be all right, that when fall came he’d be able to meet the bank loan he needed. But Janet didn’t grow up on a farm and she didn’t understand how everything had to mesh together. She was too damn impatient.

A crash of thunder jarred the house so thoroughly that J.R. almost felt guilty for thinking bad thoughts about Janet. It almost seemed that the heavens were chastising him. He grinned sheepishly. He wouldn’t be surprised if a thunderous voice from above called down, “Go to your wife you foolish man and be with her.One crash after another jarred J.R. off the sofa and over to the window where he could observe the barn. Before coming in, he’d left a light on near the birthing pen for the cow that was due anytime. He hoped the rain would let up soon so he wouldn’t get soaked going out to check on her.

He returned to the sofa with a second cup of coffee in hand and thought of Janet. He recalled an all too familiar scene. Janet screaming at him. But this time Jeff was in the room. He was only a little tyke and had been playing with his trucks on the kitchen floor. She stopped herself from swearing at him by calling him a cowman. If Jeff hadn’t been there it would have come out as bastard. He slurped the coffee and burned his lip and cursed himself. Would she ever desire his body again? Goddamn her if she was getting it from that black-haired farrier. But he wanted to believe that hadn’t happened. Yet in reality he felt it was just a matter of time. He could force her to be his, enter their bedroom in the dark of night, or right now, before the dawn awoke her or Jeff. But at the moment his desire wasn’t that strong. He let it go.

He got up and went to the kitchen. He hunted through the radio channels for a weather report, but all he could get was music. That damn rap music that Jeff liked. What made him the most angry about Janet was how she tried to get Jeff away from him. He wanted Jeff to study farming, but Janet was against that. She’d be glad if he went off to the city. J.R. knew that cities destroyed people, took them in and used them up. If Jeff did come back, he’d be broken, unable to withstand the constant drone of the farm, ever again. He finally tuned in to a weather report which told him the forecast was for a return to fair weather. J.R. got on his raincoat and trudged to the barn.

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