Differences In Lifestyle Lead To Conflict As Trolls Of Lower Michigan Target Businesses In Upper Peninsula


The Cultural And Economic Divide Between Lower Michigan And Upper Peninsula


The cultural and economic divide between Lower Michigan and the Upper Peninsula is stark, shaped by geography, history, and lifestyle. Lower Michigan, often referred to as “the Mitten,” is characterized by its bustling urban centers like Detroit and Grand Rapids, driving much of the state’s economic activity through manufacturing, technology, and service industries. In contrast, the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) remains a largely rural area with a strong emphasis on natural resources such as mining, forestry, and tourism.


The U.P. ‘s residents pride themselves on their rugged independence and close-knit communities. This divergence in way of life fosters distinct regional identities: Lower Michiganders are seen as fast-paced “Trolls,” while those in the U.P., or “Yoopers,” value tranquility and self-reliance. These differences set the stage for conflicts when economic interests clash across regions.


Trolls Of Lower Michigan Targeting Local Businesses In Upper Peninsula


The Trolls of Lower Michigan have increasingly targeted businesses in the Upper Peninsula, highlighting a growing cultural and economic rift between the two regions. Known for their fast-paced, industrial lifestyle, residents of Lower Michigan often view the more laid-back, community-focused ethos of the Upper Peninsula with skepticism and disdain. This has manifested in various forms of conflict, from aggressive business takeovers to social media campaigns aimed at discrediting local enterprises.


The Trolls argue that their actions are necessary for economic modernization and growth, but locals see them as an existential threat to their way of life. This tension underscores a deeper struggle over identity and values, as each side grapples with differing visions for the future of Michigan’s economic landscape.


Impact Of Conflict On Small Businesses In Northern Michigan


The conflict between the Trolls of Lower Michigan and the businesses in the Upper Peninsula has far-reaching consequences for small enterprises in northern Michigan. The heightened tensions have led to a decline in customer trust and loyalty, as local patrons become wary of supporting establishments embroiled in controversy. Additionally, the negative publicity stemming from these disputes has deterred tourists, a crucial revenue stream for many small businesses reliant on seasonal visitors.


This reduction in foot traffic results in decreased sales and financial instability. Furthermore, business owners are often forced to divert resources from growth initiatives to address security concerns and potential vandalism, exacerbating operational challenges. The cumulative effect stifles economic progress and undermines community cohesion, leaving small businesses vulnerable amidst an increasingly hostile environment.


Economic Repercussions For The Tourism Industry In Upper Peninsula


The ongoing conflict between the Trolls of Lower Michigan and businesses in the Upper Peninsula has begun to cast a shadow over the region’s once-flourishing tourism industry. Known for its picturesque landscapes, serene lakes, and welcoming communities, the Upper Peninsula has long been a haven for visitors seeking solace from their daily routines. However, as tensions escalate, economic repercussions are becoming increasingly evident.


Tourism is a vital lifeline for the Upper Peninsula’s economy. Small businesses, including family-owned lodges, restaurants, and outdoor adventure companies, rely heavily on seasonal influxes of tourists to sustain their operations year-round. The discord initiated by the Trolls—residents of Lower Michigan who perceive cultural and lifestyle differences as insurmountable—has started to deter potential visitors. Stories of harassment and boycotts spread quickly through social media and word-of-mouth channels, painting an unwelcoming picture that contrasts sharply with the region’s traditional image.


As visitor numbers dwindle, so too do revenues for local enterprises. The ripple effects are far-reaching; reduced income means less money circulating within the community. Employees face reduced hours or job losses altogether as business owners struggle to keep their establishments afloat without their usual customer base. This downturn inevitably affects other sectors linked to tourism: suppliers of local goods experience decreased orders while municipal services funded by tourist dollars face budget shortfalls.


Moreover, long-term investments in infrastructure aimed at attracting more tourists may be postponed or scrapped entirely due to financial uncertainty. Marketing campaigns designed to showcase the Upper Peninsula’s charm now must combat a tarnished reputation rather than merely highlighting its natural beauty.


In essence, this conflict threatens not only immediate economic stability but also undermines future growth prospects for an area so dependent on tourism’s cyclical prosperity. The challenge now lies in reconciling these differences and restoring harmony to preserve an essential pillar of the Upper Peninsula’s economy.


Perspectives From Business Owners Affected By The Divide


Business owners in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula express deep concern over the escalating tensions with Trolls from Lower Michigan, attributing disruptions to their operations and local economy. Many argue that the Trolls’ aggressive tactics—such as boycotts, social media campaigns, and even vandalism—stem from a fundamental misunderstanding of the Upper Peninsula’s unique lifestyle and values. They emphasize that their businesses are integral to the community, providing jobs and supporting local traditions.


Some owners have attempted dialogue, only to be met with resistance or indifference. The conflict has not only strained economic activities but also frayed social ties, turning once harmonious inter-regional relationships into contentious battlegrounds. Ultimately, they call for empathy and open communication as essential steps towards resolving these deep-seated divisions.


Cultural Differences Fueling Tensions Between Regions


Cultural differences between Lower Michigan and the Upper Peninsula have long been a source of tension, deeply rooted in contrasting ways of life. Residents of the Lower Peninsula, often referred to as “Trolls,” are typically more urbanized, with lifestyles centered around bustling cities and suburban comforts. In contrast, the Upper Peninsula’s inhabitants, or “Yoopers,” are known for their rugged independence and close-knit communities that thrive on outdoor activities and self-reliance.


These divergent lifestyles foster mutual misconceptions; Trolls may view Yoopers as isolated or backward, while Yoopers often see Trolls as intrusive and disconnected from nature. Such stereotypes are exacerbated when businesses from Lower Michigan seek to expand into the Upper Peninsula, perceived not merely as economic ventures but as cultural invasions threatening a cherished way of life.


The Role Of Social Media In Escalating Conflicts Between The Two Regions


The role of social media in escalating conflicts between the Trolls of Lower Michigan and businesses in the Upper Peninsula cannot be overstated. As platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram serve as digital public squares, they amplify regional differences and turn local disputes into widespread controversies. Social media algorithms prioritize sensational content, often highlighting the most divisive posts that pit one community against another.


This dynamic creates echo chambers where grievances are magnified and opposing views are seldom heard.


When a business in the Upper Peninsula makes a decision perceived as controversial by residents of Lower Michigan—or vice versa—the news quickly spreads online. Hashtags promoting boycotts or support emerge almost instantaneously, with users from both regions engaging in heated debates that further entrench their positions. Misinformation also plays a significant role; rumors and half-truths can spread rapidly, fueling misunderstandings and heightening tensions.


Moreover, influencers and local celebrities often weigh in on these conflicts, leveraging their substantial followings to sway public opinion. As these online skirmishes escalate, they frequently spill over into real-world actions such as protests or economic retaliation, deepening the divide between the two communities.


The Psychological Effects Of Targeted Attacks On Small Businesses In Upper Peninsula


The psychological effects of targeted attacks on small businesses in the Upper Peninsula are profound and multifaceted. Owners and employees often experience heightened levels of stress, anxiety, and fear, stemming from both the immediate threat to their livelihoods and the uncertainty of future attacks. This persistent state of vigilance can lead to burnout, decreased job satisfaction, and impaired mental health. The sense of community that small businesses foster is also jeopardized, as trust erodes among neighbors who may suspect one another of complicity or betrayal.


Additionally, the stigmatization associated with being a target can isolate individuals socially and emotionally. Over time, this pervasive atmosphere of tension can stifle innovation and entrepreneurship, further diminishing economic resilience in a region already grappling with geographic isolation.


Businesses With Once 5 Star Reviews Are Now Falling Down The Ladder Due To Reviews


Businesses in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, once boasting glowing five-star reviews, are now facing a rapid decline in ratings. This downturn is largely attributed to the increasing tensions with Trolls from Lower Michigan. The cultural and lifestyle differences between these two regions have sparked conflicts that spill over into the digital realm, where disgruntled Trolls wield their influence through negative reviews. Once-thriving establishments are now struggling to maintain their reputations as online platforms become battlegrounds for these regional disputes, highlighting how deeply local tensions can impact business success and community well-being.


Tourist Come To The U.P. With Expectations Instead Of Relaxation On Their Minds


Tourists flock to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (U.P.) with dreams of serene landscapes, pristine lakes, and unspoiled wilderness. However, many arrive with expectations that clash dramatically with the slower, more rugged lifestyle cherished by the locals. These visitors often anticipate a level of convenience and modernity akin to what they experience in urban settings or popular vacation spots. When reality falls short—be it in the form of limited Wi-Fi access, fewer dining options, or rustic accommodations—frustration mounts.


This gap between expectation and reality fuels tension. Business owners in the U.P., who pride themselves on offering authentic experiences deeply rooted in their environment, find themselves at odds with tourists demanding amenities that undermine these very qualities. What should be a leisurely escape turns into a battleground of unmet desires and misunderstood intentions.


Moreover, these tourists frequently overlook the delicate balance that local businesses must maintain to preserve their natural surroundings while catering to an influx of visitors. Their disappointment can translate into negative reviews and complaints that hurt small businesses striving to offer genuine U.P. experiences.


In essence, tourists’ expectations create a ripple effect that disrupts not only their own vacations but also the livelihoods and cultural fabric of Upper Peninsula communities.


Ongoing Study of the Bible Variances and the Significance on Social Ideologies. Evolving, Unfinished, Raw

A Comparative Analysis Of Ethiopian, New King James, King James, Book Of Mormons, Catholic Bible, And Lutheran Bible


Introduction To Comparative Analysis Of Biblical Texts

The study of biblical texts across different religious traditions offers profound insights into the theological, historical, and cultural dimensions that shape various faith communities. This comparative analysis delves into six distinct versions of the Bible: the Ethiopian Bible, New King James Version (NKJV), King James Version (KJV), Book of Mormon, Catholic Bible, and Lutheran Bible. Each text presents unique interpretations and canonical structures that reflect the doctrinal tenets and spiritual heritage of their respective traditions. [012]

The Ethiopian Bible stands as one of the oldest and most comprehensive biblical canons, encompassing a vast array of texts that provide a window into early Christian thought in Africa. The NKJV and KJV are cornerstones of Protestant Christianity in the English-speaking world, notable for their linguistic artistry and theological influence. The Book of Mormon represents a cornerstone scripture for Latter-day Saints, offering additional narratives that complement traditional biblical accounts. [34]

Meanwhile, the Catholic Bible includes deuterocanonical books absent from most Protestant versions, highlighting different facets of Judeo-Christian tradition. Lastly, the Lutheran Bible reflects Martin Luther’s reformation ideals with its distinctive translation choices. [56]

Through this analysis, we aim to uncover how each version shapes its adherents’ beliefs and practices while contributing to a broader understanding of global Christianity’s diverse landscape. [7]

Historical Context And Cultural Influences On Ethiopian Bible

The Ethiopian Bible, also known as the Ge’ez Bible, holds a unique place in the tapestry of biblical texts due to its rich historical and cultural contexts. Rooted in one of the oldest Christian traditions in the world, it traces its origins back to the early 4th century when Christianity was adopted as the state religion under King Ezana of Axum. [89]

This early adoption is significant as it predated much of European Christendom’s formalization.

Culturally, Ethiopia’s geographical position at the crossroads of Africa and the Middle East fostered a blend of Judaic and Christian traditions. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church maintains several books within its biblical canon that are absent from other Christian Bibles, such as Enoch and Jubilees, reflecting a distinct theological heritage influenced by ancient Jewish communities that settled in Ethiopia. [1011]

Moreover, written in Ge’ez—a classical language no longer spoken but still used liturgically—the Ethiopian Bible preserves linguistic traditions that enrich our understanding of Semitic languages. Its manuscripts are often adorned with vivid iconography that reveals an artistic tradition deeply intertwined with religious devotion. [3]

Thus, the Ethiopian Bible is not merely a religious text but also a cultural artifact that encapsulates centuries of Ethiopian spirituality, linguistic evolution, and artistic expression. [9]

Translation Differences And Interpretation Variations In King James Bible

The King James Bible (KJV), first published in 1611, is a cornerstone of English-speaking Christian communities. Its translation process involved extensive collaboration among scholars who aimed to create a text that was both accessible and reflective of early manuscripts. However, this effort resulted in numerous translation differences and interpretation variations when compared to other versions. One significant difference lies in the choice of source texts. [12131415]

The KJV primarily relied on the Textus Receptus for the New Testament and the Masoretic Text for the Old Testament. This choice has led to certain passages being rendered differently than in versions that use more recent critical editions of ancient manuscripts, such as the New International Version (NIV) or the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV). For instance, some verses included in the KJV are omitted or footnoted in these later translations due to questions about their authenticity. [1316]

Interpretation variations also arise from archaic language and idiomatic expressions used in the KJV. Phrases like “suffer little children” (Matthew 19:14) can be misleading without context, leading to differing theological interpretations over time. Additionally, changes in language over centuries have necessitated modern translations that aim to convey original meanings more clearly while retaining doctrinal integrity. [157]

Canonical Books And Apocryphal Writings In Catholic Bible

The Catholic Bible is distinguished by its inclusion of certain books and writings that are not found in the Hebrew Bible or the Protestant Old Testament. These additional texts, often referred to as the Deuterocanonical books, hold a significant place within Catholic tradition and theology. The canonical books of the Catholic Old Testament include those accepted by Judaism and other Christian denominations, such as Genesis, Exodus, Psalms, and Isaiah. [171819]

However, it also encompasses seven additional texts: Tobit, Judith, Wisdom (Wisdom of Solomon), Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), Baruch (including the Letter of Jeremiah), 1 Maccabees, and 2 Maccabees. Additionally, there are expansions to existing canonical books such as Esther and Daniel. These writings offer valuable insights into Jewish history, wisdom literature, and theological reflections from the intertestamental period. [202118]

The term “apocryphal” in a Catholic context refers to these Deuterocanonical books when viewed from a non-Catholic perspective. While Protestant traditions typically do not recognize these texts as part of their canon—labeling them Apocrypha—the Catholic Church regards them as integral components of scripture. This divergence underscores broader theological differences between various Christian denominations regarding scriptural authority and tradition. [22232]

Textual Accuracy And Linguistic Nuances In Book Of Mormons

The Book of Mormon, a keystone scripture for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, presents unique textual accuracy and linguistic nuances that set it apart from other religious texts. Translated by Joseph Smith in the early 19th century, the language reflects a blend of 19th-century English with occasional archaic expressions reminiscent of the King James Bible. This deliberate stylistic choice aims to provide a sense of sacredness and continuity with biblical texts familiar to early converts. [24257]

Textual accuracy in the Book of Mormon is a subject of both faith-based affirmation and scholarly debate. Believers hold that it is an accurate translation from ancient records inscribed on golden plates, while critics question its origins and consistency with known historical and linguistic contexts. Linguistically, the text employs Hebraisms—phrases or constructions typical of Hebrew—as well as chiasmus, a literary form found in ancient Near Eastern texts. [2426]

These features serve both as evidence for some scholars supporting its ancient origins and as points for critical analysis by others. [27]

Overall, the Book of Mormon’s linguistic qualities contribute to its distinct identity within Christian religious literature, offering rich material for both devotional study and academic inquiry into its provenance and composition. [28]

Doctrinal Teachings And Theological Perspectives In Lutheran Bible

The Lutheran Bible, primarily represented by Martin Luther’s translation of the Bible into German, is deeply rooted in Reformation theology. Luther’s work emphasized the doctrine of justification by faith alone (sola fide), which asserts that salvation is granted through faith in Jesus Christ rather than through human works. This theological perspective is woven throughout the Lutheran Bible, reflecting Luther’s commitment to making scriptural teachings accessible and understandable to laypeople. [0229]

Lutheran theology also stresses the importance of Scripture alone (sola scriptura) as the ultimate authority in matters of faith and practice, rejecting any additions or traditions not explicitly grounded in the biblical text. This perspective challenges doctrines that rely heavily on church tradition or ecclesiastical authority outside of scripture. [230]

Furthermore, Lutheran teachings emphasize the priesthood of all believers, suggesting that every Christian has direct access to God without mediation by a priestly class. The sacraments—Baptism and the Eucharist—are regarded as means of grace instituted by Christ himself, with particular emphasis on their role in conveying God’s promises and presence. [2]

Overall, the doctrinal teachings and theological perspectives within the Lutheran Bible reflect a profound dedication to principles that fueled the Protestant Reformation: faith alone, grace alone, scripture alone, and Christ alone. [2]

Spiritual Significance And Comparative Theology Of Religious Scriptures

The spiritual significance of religious scriptures lies at the heart of their respective faith communities, shaping beliefs, practices, and moral frameworks. The Ethiopian Bible, for instance, is not only a collection of sacred texts but also an embodiment of Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity’s unique theological perspectives and liturgical traditions. The New King James and King James Versions of the Bible hold profound importance within Protestant Christianity, revered for their majestic language and doctrinal clarity that has influenced countless believers over centuries. [03132]

The Book of Mormon adds another layer to Christian theology from the perspective of Latter-day Saints, offering narratives that extend beyond traditional Biblical accounts to include teachings believed to be revealed to Joseph Smith. Catholic Bibles, with their inclusion of the Deuterocanonical books, provide a broader scriptural canon that enriches Catholic doctrine and practice. Meanwhile, the Lutheran Bible reflects Martin Luther’s reformation principles, emphasizing sola scriptura—scripture alone—as foundational to faith. [33340]

Comparative theology reveals both shared core beliefs—such as monotheism and salvation—and divergent interpretations and emphases among these scriptures. This comparative analysis deepens understanding by highlighting how different religious communities find divine guidance and spiritual meaning in their sacred texts. [3536]

Conclusion: Understanding The Theological Implications Of Different Bibles

In conclusion, understanding the theological implications of different Bibles reveals the diverse ways in which religious communities interpret and practice their faith. Each text reflects unique doctrinal emphases, historical contexts, and linguistic nuances that shape believers’ spiritual experiences. Recognizing these differences fosters a deeper appreciation for the rich tapestry of Christian traditions and encourages interfaith dialogue. By comparing Ethiopian, New King James, King James, Book of Mormons, Catholic Bible, and Lutheran Bible versions, we gain insight into the multifaceted nature of scripture and its profound impact on religious identity and belief systems. [73738]




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Minnesota Winters: Chapter 4

Chapter IV
Turmoil And Change

A young woman is sitting patiently in the waiting area of a doctor’s office in East Saint Paul. She notices the putrid stagnant air of sickness lingering while she fills out a pile of paperwork the receptionist handed her. Mumbling to herself “Goddamned hippie chicks; their crazy hairdos drive me nuts!”

The tan metal door that appears to have been painted on the teal wallpaper with embossed silver floral design swings opens with a horrendous squeak. A nurse with a beehive hairdo, cream color scrubs and a pair of tan leather knee high designer boots, steps out and calls the young woman’s name. “Rose Brungart.” The young woman stands up, the two of them went down a tacky orange hall with Curious George painted everywhere. They enter a small room with faded apple green tiles, and an examination table with stirrups and a chair.

Rose sits on the table for almost an hour, finishing up the paperwork, and reading the October issue of old Rolling Stone Magazine. News articles about the death of Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix. Feeling overwhelmed from the overused bleach and low lit room ambience and getting annoyed, She is almost ready to get up and leave, suddenly a knock at the door and the Doctor walks into the room, “Hello Rose, How are you today?” Rose shrugs a little, “Well that depends on what you have to tell me Felix.” Doctor is looking over the paper work, “Well it appears that the cancer is in remission, and the abnormal growth seems to have disappeared.” Rose loses her composure, sobbing into her hands. Doctor sits confused “I thought this is good news?” Rose “I’m just happy, I was worried.”

“Rose, I’m afraid there is a downside to this.” Rose, cheerful voice “Couldn’t be worse than dying of ovarian cancer Doc.” Felix puts his hand on Rose’s knee “Your chances of having a child are slim to none given you only have half a set of ovaries” Rose looks at him for a moment, “Felix, it’s ok.” Rose stands up, puts her hand on his shoulder “You’re a good Doctor, Thank you for the wonderful news.” Felix tries to interject, Rose leaves the room before he even gets a word out.

Later that evening Rose is sitting at the dining room table with her arts and crafts box, doing cross stitch patterns, while she is waiting for dinner to finish cooking in the oven. She hears the lock on the door rattling and Stanley walks into the apartment. He sits down on the burgundy velvet cushioned, dark mahogany chest bench that he made for Rose the previous summer as a housewarming gift. He turns to put his large lunch box and thermos down next to him. Leaning against the wall, and reflecting, he takes a slow deep breath and bends forward, reaching, grunting, tiredly, unties his sawdust caked boots, picking them up and neatly sets them on the rain mat on the door side of the bench. Standing up he removes all his work clothes and tosses them into the wicker laundry basket sitting on the other side of the bench. He closes the cover and walks into the bathroom to shower.

Rose enters the bathroom shortly afterwards, gets undressed, slowly eases herself into the hot shower with Stanley. He is surprised and instinctively embraces Rose. “Guess what!” Rose grinning “What?” Stanley says while grabbing a handful of her butt cheeks. Rose chuckling “Hey now, wait a minute… I went to the Doc today.” After a few minutes of groping, “Well, are you going to tell me or not?” Rose wraps her arms around his shoulders “Felix told me I’m cancer free today.” Stanley responds by lifting her up, and she straddles him.

Rose gets out of the shower, walks into the kitchen naked, pulls dinner out of the oven, sets it on the stove top. She opens up the cupboards gathers up the dishes, and puts them on the table. Turns about, walks back to the bedroom to get clean clothes. Stanley already at the dresser, she sees him standing there still wet from the shower. She pounces him, knocking him down onto the bed, he starts laughing. “Hey now, go easy. I had a long day my back is sore.” Teasingly, Rose “I’ll give you something to be sore about!”

While in the through of love making Rose whispers in his ear “I want to adopt a child.” Stanley shocked, pushes her off without even thinking about what he was doing, “Wait… Adopt?” Rose tries to climb back on top of him stubbornly. Stanley pushes himself into sitting position, resting his back against the headboard, and just stares at her for a moment. Rose stares back, “Yes, We both knew I was never going to be able to have a kid after the treatment.” Stanley stammers from mixed confusions “But hon, the wedding, the plans for the house, we can’t afford to have a child yet!” Rose hugs him, using her feminist wiles to coerce him “Yes we can Tiger. If I have to get a job too, we can make it work” Stanley just sits there, back against the headboard, Grabs a pillow from the side, and shoves it behind him, and then with his arms wrapped around her waist, she is sitting on top straddling him. Stanley is deep in thought while staring blankly in her eyes.

“I’m hungry!” while he nudges her off. He gets up off the bed , throws on his slippers and a robe, then heads out to the kitchen while deep in thought, flipping his fingers about in the air as if he is scratching invisible stuff from a check list. Rose throws on her nighty and follows him. “Can we talk about this?”

Stanley grabs the deep dish fried liver on baked mash potatoes and gravy, off the stove using a pair of brown hot mitts covered in orange and brown mushroom designs and puts it on the table, Rose reaches into the refrigerator and grabs the dressing and salad and a gallon of Kemps milk and sits down at the table across from Stanley. After saying grace, they eat their food in silence.

After taking the last bite of food off the plate, and washing it down with milk, “If we do this Rose, you know I will have to work longer hours, and take on new responsibilities that John Schroeder has been begging me to assume?” Rose nods with a glimmer of happiness. Stanley protests “I’m going to have to think about this. You are asking a lot, I am not sure about it yet.”

Rose stands up, starts gathering up all the dishes and cleans up the table. Stanley walks over to the stereo and puts a vinyl on the turntable, gently moves the arm onto the blank part. Listening to the snap crackle of the needle hitting the wear and tear edges of his overplayed favorite, The Everly Brothers, cranks the volume. He goes to sit back in his leg-kick lazy-boy recliner with aquamarine and beige designs. He kicks up the leg rest, leans back looking up at the Aphrodite hot oil rain lamp and watches the oil slowly drip down the wire glistening under the amber light. listening to Rose clean the dishes, Wake Up Little Susie playing and thinking.

Rose washes the last of the dishes and walks over to the chair seeing that he had his eyes shut and sits down gently in his lap. “How about this hon, We go to church this sunday, and we pray on it?” Stanley puts his left hand on her knee, and the other one reaches up and pulls her down to his chest, without even opening his eyes. “Ok, that sounds like a plan!” Rose and Stanley snooze in the chair together until the 10 pm channel 11 news comes on. Rose gets up and turns on the television, the last of the Hee Haw show was wrapping up. Gil Admundson the Anchor Man at WTCN News giving headline news about Vietnam war efforts, Violent Hells Angels incidents involving drugs and guns in South Saint Paul, Plane carrying Wichita State U football team crashes killing 30.

When the weather came on, Rose got up from the couch and headed to the bathroom before bed. Stanley gets up and goes to the fridge to grab a cold Schmidt beer, returns to his recliner and kicks up and watches the Johnny Carson show and Mash. After the shows were done he strolls back to the bedroom and slides into bed under the covers and snuggles with Rose who is already sound asleep.

A few months later Stanley walks into the house after an arduous day at work, without taking his clothes off at the door, he b-lines to the kitchen. Rose is sitting at the table with her embroidery kit open, see’s him standing on the carpet in his sawdust coated boots and dusty clothes, she jumps to her feet and walks towards him. In a haughty voice “get off my carpet Stan, you’re filthy!” grabbing Rose by her butt cheeks lifting her off the ground and smiling “Shroeder just gave me a $1.25 an hour raise today!” Rose squeals in delight and kisses him all over the face. Stanley trying to avoid the kisses “We can go to the adoption agency if you still want to!” Rose doesn’t say word instead she just starts ripping Stanley’s’ clothes off.

Stanley flops into his chair with Rose all over him. They take the little red bronco for a spin. Then a snapping sound followed by sharp cracking, before the two of them can react the chair butterflies. Laying there on his back shocked, Rose sitting on top of him starts laughing, Stanley shouts “FUCK!” pushing Rose off him. “That was my favorite chair. FUCK!” Rose couldn’t stifle her chuckling if her life depended on it. “I’m sorry Stan, But I love you!” Stan looks at her, glances at the chair “Fuck it!” Picks her up and goes to the bedroom with her straddling him.

It’s a frigid day in February 1971, Stanley took the day off from work to go with Rose to the Catholic Charities in downtown Saint Paul. The two of them bundled up, and jumped into the dark factory blue Ford Fairlane, and drove 20 minutes into downtown Saint Paul. They stopped off at Mickeys Diner on 7th Street. Stanley’s favorite place to grab lunch while at work. Mickey’s Diner is a trailer car built in 1945 with silver and red Art Deco style. This is a landmark in Saint Paul, that ran 365 days a year 24 hours a day, family operated, and Stanley knew all of them personally.

They sat down in a booth and ordered food, and chatted about what they were going to do at the Catholic Charities. They finished up their breakfast, and headed up the road. They arrived at the south wing of the old Saint Catherine’s Psychiatric Hospital that was converted into the Catholic Charities home for wayward children. Rose a bit creeped out by the eerie red brick six story building, grabbing Stanley’s arm, “I don’t know about this hon, this place makes me uncomfortable.” He pats her hand “It will be fine babe, we are only here to inquire.”

The two of them walk into the building and are greeted by a woman in a light blue habit, “Hi I’m sister Angeline, how can I help you today?” Stanley looks at Rose as she clears her throat “We are here about the possibility of adopting a child.” Sister Angeline happily escorts her into Mother Superior’s office and invites them to sit down on the chairs. “Mother Superior will be with you in a little bit.” she turns to leave the office, “Can i get you some water?” Rose smiles “no thank you.” Sister disappears into the hall.

Stanley is admiring the craftsmanship of the dark rich mahogany desk, running his fingers along the intricate trims and moldings “Whoever made this desk Rose, is a true master of the craft. I’m going to get that kind of reputation some day.” Rose puts her hand on his shoulder “I have no doubt.”

An elderly woman walks into the office with a deep obsidian habit and a huge rosary wrapped around her hand. She walks around the desk and sits down. Looking at both of them “How can I help you today?” Feeling a tad relaxed, while looking at Stanley “We want to adopt a child.” Mother Superior “Very direct, I like that!” Stanley, “This is our first child.” Nodding in recognition, Mother Superior pulls some paper work out of the desk drawer, lays them out on the desk, grabs a pen “What are you looking for in a child?” Stanley, “Definitely want a boy.” Rose is affirming “Yes a boy, and we want him to be a newborn.”

Mother Superior gets up from her chair walks over to the file cabinet and pulls out several files. Sitting down on the chair she opens each one of them, and pulls out one. “There’S a newborn boy whose mother was far too young to have a child, he was delivered in October of last year. He’s only 4 months old.” looking at the chart some more, shocked “He was born 12 pounds 3 ounces, oh my!” Stanley gives a shocked expression, “How old was the mother?” Mother Superior “Normally we don’t give out that information, but the girl was only 13 years old.” Rose reacts with awe “That poor child!” Mother Superior confirms it with the same sentiment.

Stanley, curiously “What is involved? Process, fees, so on?” Mother Superior cordially “Well first, you will have to go through an in depth interview to see if you are a good match for parenthood. Then Catholic Charities will appoint a Social Worker check out your home, contact relatives and references.” Rose, rhetorically “So basically we will be under a magnifying glass.” Mother Superior in an affirming tone “Yes, we take the safety and well being of the children in our care with the utmost priority.” Stanley, still curious “What kind of fees are we looking at?” deflecting Mother Superior “we will check out your work history, credit history, and see if you have any kind of complication in the legal.” Stanley bluntly “What Kind of Fees?” Mother Superior “when all is done it will cost about ten thousand dollars.” Stanley sighs, Mother Superior “However, healthcare and educational allowances will be given for the first 9 years.”

Awhile later Rose and Stanley are signing papers, and writing a check for five hundred dollars to begin the process. Mother Superior stands up reaches over the desk with her hand extended, Stanley rises to his feet and grasps her hand firmly shaking it. “Good luck to the two of you, I hope everything works out.” Stanley “Thank you!” Rose and Stanley leave the office and head to their car.

Heavy showers on April 3rd, a depressing day, Rose is in the kitchen baking muffins, a knock at the door startles her. Grabbing the dish rag and wiping her hands, she walks down the stairs to the door and opens it. “Hello?” A woman with two other people standing behind her “Are you Rose Brungart?” Rose a little anxious “Yes, how can I help you?” The woman “My name is Sandra Whitherton, I am with the Social Services, do you mind if we come in?” Rose steps back and motions into the house “Sure come on up.” The three of them enter the house.

Rose walks past the three at the top of the stairs and motions them to sit at the dining room table. “If you don’t mind I need to grab these out of the oven. You came unannounced.” Sandra “No problem, that was kind of intentional, we wanted to see what you do on a normal day.” Rose eminently “Well, not to sound rude, but that is kind of rude, don’t you think?” Sandra casually “Like I said, it is to see how you are in everyday life with out a charade.” Rose nods.

Sandra sets her satchel next to the chair, pulls out a huge file of papers. Laying them on the table “Rose, we have good news for you.” Patiently Rose looks at Sanra while she takes the muffins out of the pan. Sandra “You have been approved for adoption. You and your husb…” Rose interjects “Fiancee, we are getting married next month!” Sandra “Of course, fiancee, have checked out and Catholic Charities has the perfect little boy for you.”

Rose holding her composure over her excitement, “So what do i need to do next?” Sandra, “well do you have a room set up for the child?” Rose motions Sandra to follow “this way.” The four of them walk down the hall to a small room, with tall ship wallpaper, brown shag carpet, and a bed. A toy box that Stanley made, filled with toys, and a tyco basketball hoop. Sandra smiling “Wow you really did go all out, this is impressive, you guys will do great as parents.” Rose gratefully “Thank you.” Sandra looking at her two escorts then back at Rose “Call Mother Superior up tomorrow morning, arrange a time to pick up the child. You will need to bring your checkbook, and you will need to come up with a name for the child for the birth certificate.” Rose looks at her curiously “Didn’t the biological mother name him?” Sandra “she did but we can not share that with you. It’s just policies” Rose curiously “Did the mother want to keep the child?” Sandra, hesitantly “Policies prevent us from going into great details, but I can share this much. The mother was devastated. She cried for days when she handed the baby over to one of the nuns. She returned with her family. There are accurate records for the child should he choose to seek her out in the future.” Rose replies “I am hoping that we are such great parents that he will never want to seek them out. But we will cross that bridge when it comes to that point” Sandra smiling “You will surely do well with this child. It was nice to meet you, have a great day” as the three of them gather up their things and exit the duplex.

Rose is so ecstatic, she got dressed, walked over to the walgreens to catch the number 12 bus to downtown, then hopped on the 16 to where Stanley worked. The bus dropped her off right in front of his work place. She gets off and runs into the building. She bumps into Mr Hanson, the foreman, “Hey Jeff, where’s my boy, I have something important to tell him!” Mr Hanson points to the far end of the building, “he’s putting finishes on a cabinet at the moment.” She pecks him on the cheek, and runs off. He smiles and shakes his head. She runs up to Stanley startling him,”Baby.. I got the most awesome news!” Stanley shocked, “What are you doing here?” Rose slightly winded “We got the baby, we can get him tomorrow if we want.” Stanley grabs her in excitement and picks her up off the ground and start hooting and hollering. The men in the shop stopped what they were doing, silence was like a drum beat, Stanley instantly picks up on the silence, and yells out loud “I’m going to be a daddy!” All the men start cheering and congratulating the two of them. Mr Shroeder comes out of the office, gets second hand news from one of the other guys after inquiring what was going on. Mr Shroeder walks over to Stanley and Rose, “Darlin, you shouldn’t be here, but congratulations to the two of you. Now clock out and go take care of your business. I’ll see you on monday!” Stanley shocked with disbelief, “thank you Mr Shroeder, thank you so much!” The two of them walk to the locker room to grab his stuff, and they shuffle out to the ford and jump in. They head home.

It’s Monday morning, the sun is just peaking up over the horizon, Stanley was restless in the middle of the night. Rose woke up noticing he’s gone and smells coffee, she threw her robe on, went out to the kitchen, Stanley is nursing a giant cup of black coffee. “Oh honey, you’re nervous about picking up the baby today?” Stanley drinks deeply, and just stares at Rose, trying to hide his nervousness and doubts. Rose, fretful “You’re not having second thoughts are you Stan?” Stanley just continues to nurse his coffee staring at her.

Stanley’s thoughts are raging with an overdrive of what if’s. {What if he gets sick? What if I’m a bad father? What if my wife dies? What if he is a problem child? What if he has medical needs? What if I end up losing my job?} Rose picks up on his body posture. “Oh baby, everything will be just fine, trust me. We are doing really well so far.” Stanley puts his coffee down, kisses her cheek and walks off to the bathroom to take a shower, locking the door behind him.

Rose heads back to the bedroom, chooses her sunday best, and gets dolled up. Stanley comes out of the bathroom, a towel wrapped around his waist, and steam flowing off his body. Rose is shaking her head because she is already dressed, she can not help how she is reacting. She clears her throat and exits the bedroom as fast as her feet can carry her without going into a full run. Stanley is smiling because he knows exactly what he is doing. He dons his business casuals and leaves the bedroom.

The two of them walk out the front door, locking it. Then get into their trusted ford and drive off to downtown St. Paul. They stop at Mickey’s diner, ordering breakfast and a pot of coffee. Cutting into his country fried steak, “Rose, do you really want this child?” Rose looking through squinting eyes of annoyance “You know I do Stan, why the sudden change?” Stanley washing down his food “Because I worry about things, I am just curious if you thought it through completely.” Rose leans back in the corner waiting for Stanley to finish up his food. “I have been think about this for 5 months now, I’m positive Stan.”

Stanley pulls out his wallet, lays a 10 dollar bill on the table, and gets up to leave. Rose follows him. The two of them stroll out to the car, Rose grabs his arm “It will be adventurous Stan, have faith, we are going to be fine!” They get into the car, and drive 4 blocks over to the Catholic Charities building.

Arriving, parking where the car can be seen from the windows, they get out and walk into the building, and up to Mother Superior’s office. Knocking on the door, Mother Superior in a cheerful mood “Good Morning, come, come sit down.” Stanley “Thank you.” He waits until Rose is sitting first before planting his bum to chair. “Are you ready to see your new son?” Mother Superior in an excited tone. Rose anxiously “Yes… Yes we are.” Stanley is nodding. Mother Superior presses a big white button on a small beige speaker box “Sister Angeline, bring the boy into his new parents.” A few minutes later Sister Angeline walks into the room holding a bundled up boy. Rose couldn’t help herself, she starts chuckling. “Omg he’s a watermelon!” Stanley starts laughing. “Hey now… “ He reaches out, Sister Angeline hands him the bundle. “Oh My Lawd he’s heavy.” Sister Angeline “He weighs twenty two and a half pounds now”
Rose, shocked “Good Lawd!” Stanley and Rose are looking into the boy’s eyes, cooing, the baby reaches up and touches Stan’s face, while smiling big, with a giggle, kicking at his blanketed cocoon. Stanley is instantly attached, completely mesmerized by the brightest blue eyes he’s ever seen. Mother Superior is looking over Stanley’s shoulder, softly “What are you going to call him?” Rose replies “Oh, we haven’t really discussed it.” Stanley speaks almost as a knee jerk reaction “Joseph Bradley Alfred Derszcwski” Rose looks at Stanley for a few moments. “That’s perfect!” Mother Superior “Saint Joseph the Patron Saint of Churches. That is a strong name for a boy.” Stanley replies, “I named him after my grandfather who was the first of my family on American soil. And Alfred is her father who served in the Korean war.” Mother Superior, “Well usually there is only one sur-name but we can write this on the birth certificate.”

In the car driving to Stanley’s parents house, where everyone is waiting to meet the new addition to the family. Rose turns “Stan I think I’m going to call him JB for short.” Stanley nods while he concentrating on driving. “That’s ok, I’m probably going to call him tiger until he says he doesn’t like it anymore.” Trying to hold a burst of laughter back, chuckling.

They arrive at his parents house in Maplewood, a beautiful 2 story port wine red victorian design with white trims half way down the hill on Arlington Street. The house and detached two car garage are surrounded by pines and a wooden fence encompassing the entire lot. Exiting the vehicle, Stanley goes to the trunk and grabs the baby bag which Rose bought the day before. Rose picks up JB and the two of them walk into the house. Immediately upon entering, not getting a chance to fully get inside, Beth, Ann, Louise, Lynn bouncing Jewels on her hip circle around. Cheerful Beth “Oh my saints! He’s a beautiful baby!” Louise affirming “Rose, you did our families good with this one, he’s gorgeous!” Reaching in and lightly scratching his cheek, Ann “He’s going to be a big kid!” Rose, chuckling “He came out almost a full 13 pounds!” Beth shocked “Oh The Heavens that poor girl!” Rose “That’s what I said!” Ann continues to induce smiles from the baby by scratching his cheek.

Stanley’s Mother Beth, a thin woman with a distinctive personality that matches her looks. Curly haired woman of a second generation german family who survived the depression. Her bitterness about life in general is shrouded by her love and stoicism towards to her family. Stanley’s sister Ann a chubby dirty colored auburn hair woman who works for DataControl, a busy body and town gossip. The two of them walk into the kitchen together. Louise is Rose’s mother, thin and pale dark haired woman with thick horn rim glasses and frumpy grey single piece dress, a third generation german who fared well during the depression since she grew up on an army base, where she met her husband Alan. Lynn is Stanley’s sister in-law whose personality is a little mousey. The three of them are standing there ogling over the baby. Rose “Lets get into the kitchen, I need to put him down, and I need a pop!” Stanley weaves through the women like a spindle through a loom,


Minnesota Winters: Chapter 3

Chapter III Innocence Lost

Sister Ann is walking Mary into her room, Mary is calling back to Frank “Daddy, why are you doing this? What did I do wrong?” Frank turns his back to her, and starts to tear up. Sister Ann and Mary disappear around the corner into the room. Frank glances over his shoulder, sees she is no longer in the hall, and walks down towards Mother Superior’s office. Walking to the chair next to May and sits down.

Mother Superior calmly explains how Catholic Charities operates and gives May some options. “May, your daughter is under the best care here at Saint Catherine’s, we are minutes away from Ramsay County Hospital, she will be well taken care of” May interjects “Since we can not have the child aborted, we just want this situation put behind us” Mother Superior sadly responds “All children are God’s children May” May disgustingly replies “This child is a product of incest Mother Superior!” Mother Superior has a shocked look on her face “Oh I see”

Sister Ann walks into the office “Mary is settled in, I gave her a book and some food, she’s crying pretty hard. She is unaware of what is going on. She wants to know why she is being abandoned” Mother Superior looks at Frank “You haven’t told her?” Frank shakes his head. “Well this is interesting, I think it is for the best to let her know what is about to happen to her, psychologically it will damage her. She will experience pain like she has never known, she will have a child come out of her, she is going to go through a lot” May sternly looks at Mother Superior “I don’t want Mary to see or know this child. Once it is gone, we want to move on with our lives”

Sister Ann speaks up “This child can not just have a child with out…” Mother Superior interjects while glaring at Sister Ann “May, your child will be under the best care. We will call you once she has the baby and you can come pick her up after she recovers” May nods and quickly jabs a question in “How much is this going to cost us?”

Mother Superior pulls a bunch of paper work out of the desk and lays them out in order. She explains the expenses and what is involved. Frank is silently sitting there teared up and desperately wanting to get up and leave. He makes and attempt to grab May’s hand for some comfort. May pulls it away to grab the paper work unaware of how he reacts. May looks at the total and in a shock state of mind “Twelve Thousand dollars! Are you out of your Christ loving minds?” Mother Superior is offended by the comment, but remains stoic understanding the situation.

Frustrated and emotionally charged he stares at his wife with helpless feeling as his eyes start to tear up, an epiphany hits him like a punch to the gut, he jolts to his feet and walks around to the back of the chair. Standing there trying to hold back the potential onslaught of endless tears, jaw is pulsating as he stews, hand is clenching the chair like he wants to whip it against the wall. Shaking his head, starts casing around the room mulling over the thoughts mumbling, returning to the chair, stops and looks at May again “Seven kids, a large farm, and our son is in Vietnam, school just started” his voice starts to quiver “We can not afford this May” May reaches over to touch his hand, nodding at him, mouthing the words in silence to him “I know”.

“Sir, calm down please” Mother superior with worried concern, “There is the option of handing her over to the state as a ward, the expenses will be covered.”

A loud smack echoes the room as Frank smacks his hand on the chair, blurting out loud “Like fucking hell, We will sell the goddamn farm!” He abruptly turns around to walk out the door, as he steps through the threshold into the hall he says in a sullen and angry voice “Sign the damn papers.” disappearing around the corner.

Walking into a quaint little room, no bigger then a jail cell, walls white, with a single cross hanging over the bed. A lamp sits on the table with several books, and a tray of food uneaten. He sits down next to Mary, reaches over to her wraps his arms around her pulls her inclose and begins to explain to her what is going on. “Mary you’re twelve years old, you are old enough to understand. …Those stomach pains that you feel all the time now, the reason why you gained so much weight in a short amount of time, it is because you are about to have a baby.”

Confused in total shock and disbelief, choking through sobs “What? Why? You don’t love me anymore? You have to lie to me because you’re going to abandon me here?” Frank trying to keep his tears back, “No baby girl, this is a place where young mothers go to have their child. We are not abandoning you, this is for a short time until you give birth.” Baffled “How can I have a child?” Frank loses his composer and starts crying holding Mary tight “Just trust that everything will work out baby girl” Sitting with her while she cries herself to sleep, rocking her through his own tears and grief.

May arrives in the doorway, shocked “You Didn’t?” Frank gets up and lays Mary in the bed, and pulls the covers over her. With out a single word, The two of them walk out of the building, and get into the truck. They both sit quietly for a spell. Frank speaks up in a quiet tone “I don’t care how it happened, I care about my baby girl, you will not disrespect me for loving my child, do you understand me May. I won’t have it. I will do as I see fit” May responds with a grunt and silently looks out the window as Frank starts up the truck and pulls away to head back home.

Half way through Saint Cloud, they pull into a McDonald’s drive through and order lunch. After paying for the food, they drive a few miles outside of town and stop at a rest area to eat. May grabs Frank by the elbow, and she breaks down. The tears flow like a torrent river, and the sobs almost sounds like she is choking for air. Frank sits back in the seat trying his damndest not to lose his emotions too, he puts his arm around May and pulls her in close, sitting silently he lets her cry.

Frank whispers “We will get through this May”

May composes herself, “I think we have to sell the bar.” Frank looks at her shocked “That was your dream! No we can mortgage the farm.” May shaking her head “No Frank, we can not, I used the farm as our collateral instead of the bar. We can sell the bar, pay off the farm and the rest”

Frank becomes very upset, pounding the steering wheel in pure rage “I swear to God if Tom ever returns I’m going to put a shot gun to his head and pull the trigger!” May slaps Frank hard and starts crying again.

Frank rubbing his cheek “If it wasn’t for him, this wouldn’t be happening. Of all the kids, why did we get cursed with one like him!”

May doesn’t stop crying. Frank gets out of the truck, runs to the outhouse, does his doody. Returning to the truck he stops at the artesian well pump, lifting the red painted iron lever up and down until the water flows, he rushes up front to wash his hands off, and splashes some cold water on his face and vigorously tries to wash away everything from that day, puts his face under the faucet and drinks until the faucet stops.

He jumps back into the truck, and they ride silently the rest of the way. Occasionally May lets out a heavy sob, the tears keep flowing. Frank is deep in thought, until they pull into the driveway. He looks at May “I’m selling all the cattle, and going back over the road again” With no objections May just nods in agreement. Both of them exit the vehicle and slowly walk into the house. Frank goes to the fridge, grabs a handful of beers and walks out to the barn.

An hour later he strolls into the house, eyes are swollen, his knuckles are bleeding profusely. He yells into the house calling for everyone to come to the dining room. After a few moments everyone is sitting around the table. With a monotone voice “Mary is sick, she is going to be gone for a while. There are going to be changes around the farm. Big ones!” Nana speaks up “Frank, what’s wrong with Mary?” Frank quickly responds with heightened agitation “She’s sick Ma, that’s all you need to know!”

May with her puffy red eyes, and flushed cheeks, and looking like she aged 10 years in a single day, speaks up seeing Frank is about to start losing his composure. “We are going to sell all the cows, and Your father is going to be going back on the road again.” Marc speaks up “What’s going on?” Junice interjects “Shut up Marc” Bonnie punches Junice in the arm and whispers “Shut up” Junice slaps Bonnie across the head and sits back down.

May looks at the kids “stop it right now!” Kenny speaks up “If we are in trouble with Money Pa, I can give half my paycheck to help out with the farm” Marc enthusiastically “I will too” Frank shakes his head. “That is your money, you save it for college or a car. We won’t have any of that!” May nodding “Our options are limited, sell the cows and Frank goes over the road, or I sell the bar. Right now since the bar is our primary source of income atm, it’s the last option”

Kenny and Marc walk away from the discussion onto the porch. Frank looking at them angrily wondering what they are up to. The boys come back a short time later. Marc “How much is each head selling for then?” Giving a curious look at the boys “just about five hundred twenty five give or take” Kenny blurts out “We’ll take Bernice, The Red face bull, and the pregnant heifers” Baffled “What you boys on about!” Frank scratching his chin. Happily, Marc goes into his usual long winded reasoning “Bernice is our milking cow, The bull is the sire, and the two heifers we can start from scratch. We have a combined total of 2500 between the two of us. We worked over time at Bjerges and did side work for the farmers before we quit Mr B’s. We want to buy 4 cows” Frank can’t help but to laugh “My boys… My boys…” and starts tearing up.

“Wait a damn minute… You quit your jobs?” Completely bewildered, May starts to get upset. “What the Hell do you think you’re doing?” Kenny shrugs away her comment “When you took Mary down to the cities, Mr B. said my services were no longer needed, and after asking him why, he told me about a rumor going around town about our family, and that he didn’t want to be associated with that kind of image. He said it will hurt his reputation.” Marc interjected “That’s when Kenny told me to get in the car, and that’s when we left. We actually picked up our last check this morning. He was nice enough to toss an extra 300 in for each of us. He said he felt bad and had no choice. Fuck the old bastard”

Frank angrily jets around the table to Marc and smacks him across the head extremely hard. “You will not use cuss words in this house, or in front of women EVER!” Marc fell over the table face down, Frank not realizing how angry he was smacked him to hard. Marc starts to cry and slides off the table falling into the chair like a cloth slipping off the counter. “I’m sorry pa”

“Doesn’t change what he is and what he aught to do” Nana speaks up loud “That’s enough out of you young man, that’s no different then saying it the way your brother just did.” Kenny shrugs “Don’t care, he’s an ignorant jerk, and glad to be away from him”

Minnesota Winters: Chapter 2

The Summer of Confusion

It’s late afternoon on Friday in the middle of July, May is busy working in the office, Kathy is at the bar, tending to the customers, Frank and the boys are outside building the veranda and the kitchen addition. Nana is at home watching over the younger kids. The humid blistering 101-degree heat of the sun is beating down making the Minnesotan summer a miserable day to be working in. all of them are trudging through the sweltering misery.

May gets up from the desk, turns on the air conditioner, walks out to the bar and grabs a flask and fills it with ice and tea, fills it half full and adds lemonade to it. Puts a few glasses on a tray and brings it out to her boys outside. “looking good, keep up the good work” All of them look at May and smile.

Julie and Pam are playing with their barbie dolls in their bedroom, Lori, Junice, Bonnie, and Mary are playing up in the tree fort. Junice rudely “Mary you’re fat!” Mary looks at herself “No I’m not” knowing that she is getting fat. Lori looks at Junice menacingly punches her on the arm “Shut up” Bonnie stands up “I’ll beat all yahs if you don’t knock it off” goes over to the box in the corner, pulls out 4 bottles of coke. Mary blurts “where did you get those?” Bonnie snickers “I went into Tom’s chest in the basement and swiped them, he isn’t coming back” Junice looks shocked “You’re going to get your ass beat if he does” Mary nods “You know he will find a way to hurt you, and blame you for it” Bonnie “I don’t care, I’ll tell dad, and watch him kick tom’s ass” all 4 sit down drinking their bottles of warm coke and chuckling.

The girls clamber down out of the tree fort, and start running in the fields where the hay is growing, playing tag. The cows are scattered everywhere. Junice “let’s go down by the creek” Bonnie “Yah we can go throw rocks at the fish.” Lori looks at Bonnie

“you’re such a bitch” Bonnie turns and starts chasing Lori through the field towards creek. Mary and the Junice take flight and follow.

Bonnie can feel Lori’s hair, brushing her hand as she reaches out to grab her, the two of them come up to the creek, Lori suddenly stops and squats, Bonnie wasn’t paying an attention took one to many steps, and flew off face first from the embankment into the creek. The pool was deep enough that all she did was create a big splash. Mary and Junice stop behind Lori, and start laughing extremely hard. Bonnie takes a handful of mud and whips it at them, they all get sprayed with the dark red and brown mud. They all jump in the creek and a mud fight commences. Screaming, hollering, laughing, and calling each others names.

Bernice the family pet slash milking cow, comes strolling out from the hay field, stops few feet up the creek from where the girls were playing, and ignores them, and drinks water. Mary walks over to Bernice and scratches her ear, and strokes the velvety nose. Bernice responds to her touch and starts walking towards her, and enters the creek. The girls started splashing water on Bernice, and the happy cow lets off a very long high pitch mew.

10 minutes later half the herd is in the creek, some laying down some just want to get splashed. Others just staring warily looking on. The girls were having a blast when Nana walks up to the edge of the Creek. Junice looks up and blurts out “OH SHIT!”

Nana angrily “Junice, get to the house I’ll deal with you later” looking at the girls, “look at you girls, you’re a damn disgrace, you’re caked in mud, you probably smell, and what in tarnation do you think you are doing playing in a herd of cattle?” Lori replies with a sneer “We were bathing the cows, it’s hot out” Nana in a demanding voice “you girls get out of the water this instant, get to the house and get cleaned up right now!” The girls run back to the house, standing on the porch, removing all their clothing down their undies, laying them over the railing, and stacking their shoes on steps,they run up to the bathroom and take turns at the sink washing off the mud.

Nana walks into the bathroom angrily, Grabs Junice by the ear and pulls her to the sink, grabs a bar of soap and shoves it in her mouth “you ever swear again, I’ll smack you!” storms out of the bathroom on her way down the stairs, the girls hear her yelling back “Five minutes Junice, then you can take it out”

Junice knew if she took it out Nana would know. The other girls were chuckling and taunting her. Lori “oooh Junie you got in trouble, Bonnie is only bitch junior now.” Bonnie turns around with a rolled up towel and smacks Lori in the face like a whiffle on a stick, starting a ruckus, and laughter and commotions, Nana walks back into a bathroom in complete disarray. “What!. What the HELL!”

Girls are trying to stifle their laughter, Junice is gagging and laughing at the same time, Nana yanks the soap out of Junice’s mouth “What the hell are you girls doing?”Junice tosses her cookies in the toilet, and the girls couldn’t help themselves started laughing again

Nana starts yelling “I don’t care how long it takes, you kids get this place cleaned up NOW!” Mary responds “Yessum” Nana red in the eyes, “If you girls can’t stop your nonsense, I’m going to pull out the bobby”

Bonnie’s mouth drops open in shock. She starts cleaning the other girls follow suit, quietly putting things away, with in 10 minutes the bathroom was clean. Nana still standing in the doorway, “Now get downstairs and start cleaning the kitchen since you have so much energy” The girl’s single file trotted down the stairs as fast as they could. Nana smirking and shaking her head, lets out a long sigh, and follows them down the stairs.

Jim, Kenny, and Frank come walking into the house full of sawdust and sweat, smelling of body odor and wood, see all 6 girls sitting in the living room watching cartoons, Nana is in the kitchen sitting at the table with three empty bottles of beer, working on a fourth, she looks at Frank, red in the face, she sneers. Frank looks at his other “What’s wrong?”.

Jim and Kenny ignore the commotion and walk up the stairs, not caring, Marc grabs a bottle of coke out of the fridge and goes to the barn to do his afternoon chores. Nana walks out of the kitchen onto the porch, Frank follows her. “Son, I’m not watching those monsters anymore, I can’t deal with it, you need to find a babysitter or something?” Frank looks at her with frustration “What now ma?”

Nana sits down on the porch swing, swigs down some beer “Those little shits drove me to a nervous breakdown today, playing in the middle of the herd, mud over everything, destroying the upstairs bathroom, and swearing!”

Frank peaks into the house, looking down the hall into the living room, then back to Nana “you’re kidding me right?” Nana gets up from the swing “Get cleaned up Frank, supper is in a half hour” Frank grabs his mother elbow “Mom, they’re just kids, let them have their fun. If they’re not in the house, you have it to yourself do you not?” Nana yanks her arm away, walk into the house annoyed.

Not thinking twice, Frank walks to the back bathroom and shuts the door.The girls get up from the television and disappear up stairs, knowing that when Frank gets home, the television is his domain. They don’t like what he watches, so they find something to do in their bedrooms.

Frank comes out of the bathroom and flips the telly on and flops down on the chair, Tom Brokaw is reporting current affairs about President Nixon and the war efforts in Vietnam. Nana get’s annoyed at the news “Frank shut that off!”

Nana finishes setting up the table and yells “Dinner!” everyone starts piling into the dining room. Kathy arrives in the Buick. Walks into the dining room “Mom is closing tonight, don’t expect her”. heading over to the sink and washes up “She yells out the kitchen window. Marc! Get your ass in here” and goes to the dining room table and sits down. Marc comes running in from the barn, washes up, and sits with the rest of the family.

Jim is reaching for the Rolls, Nana lets out a whip crack smack across the wrist, “you say grace tonight Jim.” Jim sighs “Yessum” Jim looks at everyone with their heads bowed “Lord bless this family for the bounty you have granted to us, and bless our business, health, and keep us safe from harm”

Nana smiles at Jim “Dig in kids”

Half way through dinner there’s a knock at the door. Frank gets up and sees two men in uniform outside the screen. “What can I do for you gents?” A gruff voice speaks out “Sir we need to speak to you and your Son Jim” Frank looks at both of them, “What’s this about?” The sharp dressed shorter one blurts out “Sir this is important, is Jim home” Jim comes walking to the door “I’m Jim”. Frank pushes Jim back into the house and steps out and closes the screen door behind him and stands in front of it “You gents have not answered my question. What is your business?”

The gruff voice “Sir your son is being drafted” Frank “What’s your name son?” Gruff voice “Sergeant Wikimson sir and this is Private Brackson. Your son is required by law to come down to the recruitment office for a physical and testing”

Frank with a dead stare “I served in the Korean war as a decorated marine, My family already did their civic duty! You are not taking my son. He is needed here on the farm to run it”

Sergeant Wikimson “Sir these are perilous times, we do not have a choice, President Nixon has ordered all able bodied men to join in the effort to keep the communist north Vietnamese from invading their southern counterparts” Frank looks at Sergeant Wilkimson. “When does he need to be there?” Sergeant Wilkimson “Technically we are supposed to drive him in right now for testing, But if you wish you can bring him on Monday” Frank stands there silently for a few moments “Fine, I’ll drive him there on Monday myself. Now if you please, you are interrupting our family dinner” motioning them to leave the porch.

The two gentlemen walk to their green studabegga with a large white star on the door. They climb in and nod at Frank before they drive off. Frank turns around and walks into the house, Jim is standing there looking at his father, Frank dead tone “We will discuss it after dinner when the kids are in bed” Jim nods and follows him back to the table. They all sit in silence eating their dinner.

Nana gets up from the table to get the honey sweet cake for desert. Lori blurts out “Daddy is Jimbo going to fight the rice eaters?” Frank jerks his head “Lori, you watch what you say, NEVER disrespect someone. I swear I’ll smack the stars out of yah” Lori sighs “Yes daddy, but does Jimbo have to leave?

Frank looks at Jim, “Well honey, that’s up to your brother really. We will be discussing his options later tonight” Marc looks at Jim “If you go, I’ll enlist to” Jim pushes Marc off his chair “you’re too young, and you’re a pussy” Marc gets up and punches Jim in the face. Frank angrily “Marc sit your ass down right now!” Jim in a forced whisper, “I’m gonna beat you later” Marc flips him off under the table.

Frank looks at the girls, Kenny and Marc, “Take your desserts and go watch some television.” Nana sits down next to Frank “Jim, I forbid you from going” Jim shrugs, Frank blatantly states to Nana “he doesn’t have a choice Ma” Nana interjects “Like hell, he doesn’t 5 generations of this family has seen every war since the civil war. ” Frank shaking his head “It doesn’t matter Ma, it’s a presidential order, you might as well consider it Martial Law

Jim looks at Frank “I heard Mr. B at work the other day say something about something to do with agricultural deferral” Frank nods “That’s the option I was going to present to you, but there is a catch to it” Jim nods. Frank continues “If you get the agricultural deferral you will have to quit your job at B’s Feed and work on the farm round the clock. You will have to increase the livestock almost 4 times what we have, and you will have to provide some kind of crop. ” Jim nods again. Frank stares at Jim. “you do realize what this means right?” Jim shrugs, “not really pops” Frank puts Jim on the shoulders, “You’re going to be working yourself into an early grave. You will be getting up at 4:30 in the morning, working until 10 at night. You will not get any pay. You will not have any help. Your mother owns and operates the bar, I drive semi, and the kids will be in school in a few weeks”

Jim looks at his father and contemplates. “I’ll think about it and give you my answer on Sunday, tomorrow I am going to go see My girlfriend, I am going to discuss it with her.” Frank nods “Fair enough, just remember, your choices are limited, and once you decide, you have to commit or you will end up in a stockade with a court martial” Jim nods.

Jim gets up from the table and walks upstairs. Nana looks at Frank with painful eyes and as she is about to say something, Frank blurts out “Don’t Ma, I already know what you are going to say.” He gets up and grabs a bunch of plates from the table, walks into the kitchen and stands over the sink while running water over the plates. He begins to silently weep, and mumbles under his breath, “Curse you lord for your need to allow men to kill one another” Nana overhears what he said bringing in more dishes. She puts her arms around him and whispers “Everything has a reason”

Frank drops the plate in the sink, breaking it in half, he walks over to the fridge, grabs a 6 pack of Miller, and walks out to the barn. He grabs his fly fishing equipment off the walls, and clambers into the truck and drives off. Nana watches with sad eyes. “Lord save my family”

May comes rolling up the driveway around Midnight to see Nana sitting on the porch swing with her coffee cans smoking with sage. She parks the vehicle. Walks up the porch stairs and sees she has drunk 7 beers, and working on an 8th. “Well shit Ma, I know you can put them away, but what’s bothering you” Nana looks at her “You will have to talk to Frank and Jim. Frank is probably sleeping in the back of his truck drunk near First island”

May confused, “seriously tell me whats going on? The only time you drink this much is when something serious has happened” Nana looks at her trying to act angry “I’m too drunk, tired and sad to discuss it with you tonight” Talk to Frank tomorrow.

The next morning Saturday, by noon the boys completed their chores. Jim tells the boys to get in the back of the truck, they are going to go find their father. They drive down to the shores near First island where they know their father loves to fish. They find him laid out in the back of the truck, all the beer bottles empty and a basket of brown trout rotting and stinking in the afternoon sun.

Jim walks over to the truck, grabs the basket of fish and tosses it into the river, comes back and tosses the basket in the back of the truck and yells out “WAKE UP!” Marc and Kenny followed Jim and started shaking the truck. Frank in a loud voice “Get the fuck out of here, go home!” passes back out with his head resting on the wheel well.

Jim looks at Marc, “you drive that truck, I’m going to drive this one. Stay behind me and don’t fuck around!” Marc runs to the truck and starts her up, Kenny jumps in the passenger and blurts out “This is fucked up you know that?” Marc nods. Jim throws all the gear into the truck and closes the gate. Gets in and starts driving slowly down the dirt road.

Both trucks come rolling up the driveway as May and Nana are standing on the porch. Both trucks stop in front of the porch. Marc and Kenny get out of their truck and walk over to the truck with their father in and open the gate. They reach in and grab Frank by his britches and pulls him to the tail gate, lifting him up and wrapping his arms around their shoulders they help him into the house, and dump him on the living room couch. Jim walking behind them looks at his grandmother and mother “let’s talk”

Nana and May are sitting on the porch swing trying not to cry or be upset, but they can not hide the red eyes or the beat red faces. Jim comes walking out of the house “I’m going to see my girl, we have a lot to talk about. I won’t be home for dinner, don’t wait for me”

Sunday morning Jim walks into the kitchen, washes up and heads over to the dining room and sits down. Everyone is staring at him silently. Frank takes a drink of orange juice and gulps loudly and intentionally and shoves bacon in his mouth while staring at his plate.

Jim clears his throat “I see you said grace already” as he reaches over to grab the biscuits. Kenny speaks up “Jim… Don’t go, stay here I’ll help you with the farm” Jim smiles at Kenny. Shakes his head and grabs the gravy. Nana speaks up “So you made up your mind didn’t you?” Jim grabs the coffee pot and pours some coffee and looks at Nana while shoving the coffee cup into his face. Frank speaks up “Your grandma asked you a question son!” Frank and Jim lock eyes.

“My girlfriend threatened to leave me if I join, I don’t want to run the farm single handily, and I do not want t go to fight with a bunch of niggers and grunts!” May gets up from the table and walks over to Jim, Smacks him across the face, “Don’t you ever say that word under this roof again. You will respect everyone!” Jim rubbing his face “I’m sorry ma”

Frank pushes his plate away from him with anger “You’re a disgrace, Jim. I taught you better than that” Gets up from the table and walks out to the barn. Jim is looking bewildered. He continues to eat his meal in silence.

A few hours later Jim walks out to the gnoll where his father is laying out bales of hay for the cattle, “Why are you so angry Pops?” Frank shuts off the tractor, jumps down, strolls casually over to Jim and punches him in the face. “We are Not racist people Jim. I fought next to Indians and blacks during the Korean war.” Jim tries to rub his jaw as he lays on the ground, looking up at Frank “But, why do so many people in town use that word?” Jim sighs. Offers his hand to help, “Son, they are ignorant hateful people, that is not an excuse to disrespectful of people.” Jim grunts as he yanks on his father’s hand to stand up “I’m sorry pops” Frank nods

Frank climbs back on the tractor, before starting it up he looks Jim dead in the eye “You’re going aren’t you?” Jim looks down, and sighs. Frank nods, starts up the tractor and goes about his business. Jim stands there looking over the cattle, contemplating. He turns around and walks towards the house. He sees Kathy, May, Kenny, and Marc in the car driving down the driveway.

He walks into the house, grabs a beer, and goes out to the porch and sits down on the swing. Nana comes out and sits next to him. Looks at him “Jim, I do not like it, not one bit. But if you do not have a choice, you have to do what is necessary.” Jim gulps down the beer angrily.

The next morning, Frank and Jim get up early and drive down to St. Paul to the recruitment office. The sergeant on duty motioned them to sit down. He started going over options with Jim. Jim stands up jams two fingers on the desk, looks the sergeant in the eye “I’m not joining the army. I’m joining the military!” And turns to walk out the door. The sergeant stands up “But Sir, the army is a better choice for someone like you” Jim opens the door “No it’s not. My father is military, so I will be too.”

Frank walks out of the office gets into the vehicle, sitting down next to Jim and smiling “You made a fine choice son” Frank starts up the vehicle and they drive down to the USMC recruitment office.

Later that evening everyone is sitting down around the table. Frank clears his throat “Jim is joining the military, and because his aptitude is off the chart, he is being sent to a military training school for education. My son is going to be an officer” Nana, with a smile “You mean he won’t be fighting” Jim speaks up “No mam, I am going to military school and training on the east coast. It’s a 27-week training and 6-week boot.” May in shock “You’re going to be away for almost a year?” Jim nods “Possibly more when I am shipped overseas.” Nana speaks up “So you are going to be fighting” Jim responds “no I will be working in the officers quarters”

It’s the towards the end of September, Jim was shipped off to West Point, the kids are back in school. May is working in the bar. Frank reduced him over the road hours to tend to the farm more. Kathy moved out of the house into her boyfriend’s house, whom she was just engaged to a few weeks prior to Jim’s departure. It took the family some time to get over the emptiness and sadness of Jim leaving. Kenny is still working at Bjerges feed after school, Since he is a senior he’s allowed to drive the truck. Marc was able to get a job there too since he just turned 17, and Kenny put in a good word. Turned out Marc is a hard worker, he went from stock boy to granary foreman in a matter of months. Thomas moved back home shortly after Jim. He was forced to live in the loft of the barn Since Nana wanted nothing to do with him being in the house.

May was in her office when she got a call from the Nurses office at school, claiming Mary needs to go to the hospital because of her intense stomach pains. May calls up the house and asks Frank to come to the bar and watch over it while she runs to the Highschool.

Frank jumps into the truck and drives over to the bar, he leaves the truck running as he walks in, May kisses him on the cheek as she walks out the door. Frank “Hey! Not in public!” May “Oh shoosh Frank!” and leaves.

She arrives at the school 15 minutes later, parks the truck and walks into the office. The clerk recognizes her, “Hello, follow me. I’ll take you to the nurse’s station”. She gets up from the desk and May follows her down the long hallway.

May enters the office, and the Nurse immediately greets her with rather a cold statement “Your daughter is experiencing extreme stomach distress, she is so fat, you really ought to stop feeding her so much!” May looks at her like she is going to knock her teeth in, walks over to Mary. “Come on hon, let’s get you to the doctor”

Couple hours later after a thorough examination of Mary, the doctor pulls May into the hall way “Mam, I have some pretty disturbing news for you” May “Yes.. and..” Doctor nervously responds “Your daughter is having contractions. She is going to have a baby soon” May’s mouth drops, she practically falls over forward almost fainting. The doctor stabilizes her. “Are you alright mam?”

The doctor helps her over to the chairs outside the room, and gets May to sit down. He motions the nurse over, “Get some water for me quickly.” May sits quietly for a while, and starts to tear up. “My baby, my poor little girl” Doctor changes his tone, “You had no idea what was going on?” May shaking her head and through sobs “I just thought she was gaining a lot of weight like typical girls do during that age” Doctor responds with concern “should I notify the authorities?” May goes into a shock response, “No one is to know, this is a family matter got that?” Doctor nods.

May asks the doctor about some pain medications until they can figure out how to deal with it. She didn’t want Mary to know what was going on. The doctor prescribed some heavy sedatives that would have her sleeping a lot.

May grabs the medication from the pharmacy, comes back to the room and gathers up her things and Mary and head home. When they arrive the girls were on the porch drinking lemonade with Nana, May ushers Mary into the house up to her bedroom. She grabs a heating pad and a glass of water from the bathroom. She gives Mary the medication, puts the heating pad on a pillow and lays it on her stomach, and instructs Mary to lay in a fetal position until she gets home and not to move.

May watches as Mary falls asleep, and walks down to the kitchen, picks up the rotary and dials up Kathy. Kathy picks up “Hello?” May “Kat, no time to explain, I need you to come to the bar. Emergency” Kathy “Be there shortly mom”

May gets into the truck and drives to the bar, she sees Kathy pulling up at the same time “Great timing Kat, I need you to close up. Family emergency, your father and I need to have a long talk” Kat looks at May confused. “ok sure thing mom” May walks into the bar and tells Frank to follow her to the truck.

The two of them drive down to the island where Frank likes to fish, and where she knows there is no one around. Frank looks at May “what the hell is going on May?” May looks out the window, and starts crying really hard. Frank is confused and feeling helpless. “MAY! What the HELL!”

May looks at Frank “Mary is pregnant and she is about to give birth” Frank stares at her with disbelief. May continues to cry. Frank just sits there staring. A while later, May composes herself. And it hits her like a punch to the face. “I know who did this!” Frank looks even more confused. “Talk to me May, don’t leave me hanging!”

“Last February I caught Mary coming up from the basement, she had a limp, and she said she was patching up his face. You remember the nasty gouge he had on it. Well, I think he might have raped her” Franks’ face turns bright red, “That Fucking Piece of Shit, I’m going to Kill him!”

After about an hour of talking, they came up with several plans. Then the two of them drive home. When they arrive, May walks into the house, Frank walks into the barn. Frank climbs the ladder up to where Thomas is lying sprawled out on his couch. He grabs him by the scruff of his neck and tosses him off the loft. Thomas in shock and pain “What the Hell, what the fuck did I do?” Frank climbs down the ladder walks over to the work bench, picks up an ax handle laying on it, and starts swinging it at Thomas “You get the fuck off this property, Don’t ever come back here. You are not a part of this family. You are no son of mine” Thomas avoiding the swings and in tears “What did I do pops” Frank runs at Thomas’ shoulders rolled forward and tackles Thomas to the ground and starts beating him “you raped your sister you piece of shit!”

Thomas realizes what has happened struggles to get out from the beating and runs to the far side of the barn “I’m sorry Pa, I’m sorry” Frank angrily “I’m not your pal, you are nobody to me, now get off this property before I get the twelve gauge” Thomas in tears and frantic “Where am I suppose to go? I have nowhere!” Frank “It makes no difference to me, you are are trespassing, now get the hell out of here” Thomas “fine I’ll grab my shit.” Frank responds “No you wait right there!” and climbs back up the to the loft grabs the big duffle bag off the top rack which he used during the Korean war. Packs all Thomas’s stuff into it. And throws it at him. “If I ever see you on this property again, I’ll kill you!” Thomas throws the pack over his shoulder and walks out of the barn, down the dirt road. Not to be heard from again for many years.

May is upstairs packing Mary’s clothes, and getting her ready to leave. Frank walks into the house. Nana notices what happened and simply walks into the kitchen not wanting to know. The expression on Franks’ face was definitive. Everyone knew not to be around him in this mood. He walks up the stairs. May grabs the suitcase, and Frank picks up Mary who is sound asleep. The two of them walk quietly down to the truck, May tosses the suitcase in the box, Frank lays Mary in the middle seat. The two of them get in and drive away.

Minnesota Winters: Chapter 1

The Long February Night

It’s February in Brainerd Minnesota, with storm clouds brewing on the horizon. The newscaster’s voice disturbs the white noise emanating from the new Grundig transistor radio, sitting on the fireplace mantel, announcing the wind-chill factor will be a negative 3 degrees Fahrenheit with winds up to 15 miles per hour. Cautioning all listeners not to go outside tonight.

The cows on the 1200 acre farm are huddling close to one another for warmth, they lay down under the giant oak perched in the center of a sunken knoll, enclosed by a perfect barrier of huge white pines and stubby hemlocks. The cold air is brutal, however the wind is dulled to an almost eerie still  by the circle of pines.

The horses are restless in the barn, several cats lay perched above on the hay bales stacked half way point of the barn, a great white horned owl looms lazily on a truss, the half wit pet of the farm lets off a single hoot. The chickens are snug in their roost inside the large coop attached to the backside of the barn. The glaring bright lights installed inside to keep them warm, doesn’t seem to bother the hens, the rooster struts around the barn pecking at the ground.

Nine siblings are settling in for the night, their mother, May, a 37-year-old woman, is getting ready for work and trying to get everything set for the morning so she can sleep in instead of bustling the kids off to school. Packing the kids lunches while yelling at them to wash up and get into their pajamas.

Frank a 40-year-old jack of all trades, is walking into the house after a long 8 day trip. His sky blue and chrome trim rig sits in the yard next to the barn, steaming from the heat in the cold air.  He beams at his wife, “You going to be performing tonight babe?” May nods, “Plus we had a call in, I be tending deh bar too luv, care to come help out?”

Frank with a glimpse of confusion “You know I just got off a long haul, …why are you asking that? I haven’t even showered or eaten anything yet. Please let me be for a moment and get me bearings love” May sighs “you betcha, there is some leftover fried chicken in the fridge I have to leave now” Frank nods and vanishes down the hall. May gets herself bundled up in her bulking winter clothes. Walking outside with her clumsy over sized pink and black wool lined coat, thick handwoven wool cap, and mittens made for a man. Tossing obscenities to empty air while fumbling with the key and lock to open the vehicle, takes off her mit and unlocks it, “Fuck!”, she climbs into a rusty 1967 ford truck, sits down on the long seat worn out with use and sighs. She inserts the key into the ignition and turns over the engine. The engine whines and groans with reluctance, making a noise like a goat getting  beat over and over. Then the rumbling and the backfiring black smoke, the engine comes to life. She puts the truck in gear, backs around the rig, puts it in drive and goes on down the long driveway. Looking at the house in the rearview mirror, with a sigh of relief as it fades.

Frank just finished his shower, walks into the kitchen to grab the fried chicken and a bottle of beer, when he hears the girls arguing upstairs in the bedroom “You three lil shits better simmer down, close dah lights, or Nana gonna come up and beat deh tar outta yer hides.

House falls silent, Frank flops down on the thick wooden chair  to eat his cold food. Marc walks into the kitchen, whining about the girls causing problems and acting like idiots.“Boyce, you bedder get outta my sight, you’re 17 years old, get a job, move out if you have problems with your sisters, I don’t wanna to hear it.”

Marc protesting “I don’t have a problem with my sisters pops, I have a problem with not being able to tell them a piece of my mind!” Frank glares at him “Get with it, are you a boy or a man, get the fuck out of my face, I’m eating diss here food and going to bed, I had a long week, yer grating on dah nerve boyce!”

Marc stomps up the stairs, Lingers in the  doorway of the girls bedroom, glaring at the them, belching out in annoyed tone “If you three bitches can’t shut up and let a guy sleep, then get your asses out to the barn with the other critters” The girls slam the door shut in his face and giggle. Marc mumbles under his breath “Stupid bitches” and goes back to bed. Frank overhears it, smiles, sinks his teeth into the chicken leg, with the leg in his mouth, stands up,  grabbing the bucket of chicken, two more beers from the fridge, he walks into the living room, flips on the television turns it to channel 11, flops down in his favorite recliner in the corner of the room opposite of the fire place. .

Few hours later, Frank is passed out on the recliner holding his ninth beer, with Johnny Carson on the black and white television set, Thomas, a hippie stoner degenerate, embittered high-school drop out comes shuffling in the door stoned out of his mind, to the point he is toppling over everything. Mumbling, unaware his dad is snoring to sudsy dreams, in drunken slur “sorry pops, I was out with the guys” Frank half alert, grunts out “Shaddup I’m sleepin Tommy boy”

Thomas tries to make his way to the basement door and opens it with difficulty, chuckling because he can not feel his extremities. Tripping down the stairwell, making a loud ruckus, he got himself undressed, and popped two barbiturates and laid sprawled out over his broken down couch with an old unwashed quilted comforter. Mumbling as he falls asleep “I hate this family, this town, and my life. Everything and everyone is fucked up.” Sighs and passes out.

May arrives at the bar, the owner strolls out “May is your offer still on the table?” May replies “Which one are you referring too” with a hint of excitement and hope, she smiles a little. The owner “To purchase this heap, I’ve had it with these town people!” May locks up the vehicle, not saying anything until she gets to the door “You know Doreen, I offered to buy this 2 years ago, why are you selling now?”  Exasperated “Come to my office we need to talk!” May and Doreen walk through the drunken crowd, a patron “Hurry up May, we want some music.”

May turns around to the people in the bar area “In a few, I promise.”  She shuts the door the quaint stuffy room, once a storage room for kegs, now converted into a small office. With a big metal desk, a gaudy lamp with cowboys and Indians on the lamp shade. A large pine and leather couch and one desk chair. A black and copper safe from the Gary Safe Co. with Doreen Heifferman written across the top and and Buffalo N.Y. On the bottom, sits in the corner of the room.

They both sit down on the couch at opposite ends “May, can I offer you a drink?” May shaking her head, “You know my rules about job and spirits, Dor seriously now!!” Smiling, Doreen looks at May, grabbing her hand “This is why I think you will be great owning and operating this gin joint.” May elevates her voice, yanking her hand away “Quit with the bullshit Doreen, why are you selling it now?”

“Because I am tired, my family is gone, my husband passed away, and this bar lost all its meaning to me. It’s time to move on, experience life before I’m dead.” May nods, sits quietly for a bit. “You know I will have to pass this by with my husband, our finances and family changed since two years ago.” Doreen replies “Take your time!”

Doreen gets up from the couch with some effort, walks over to the safe, and kneels down, she spins the dial left, right, left then opens the safe, pulls out a yellow stuffed envelope, “Here’s your cut for the band from last week, you should get ready, your gig is starting in 40 minutes” May nods and walks out of the office. Doreen looks around the office as if she is soaking in a memory for the last time, closes the door to the safe and jerks the handle to lock it. Closes the office door and flops on the couch.

May walks across to the bar and leans over the counter to the bartender, “Henry mind staying for a few hours more, Jen called in sick tonight, and I’m about to go on stage.”

Henry, a 56-year-old grouch, a long beard, and tattoos all over his arms, stands there pouring spirits into a row of shot glasses “May, for you I would move the moon.”

May walks up to the center of the stage “Hey boy’s and girls, we are about to bring the sounds of harmony” sixty three regulars start hooting and hollering with excitement “Get with it May, sing your heart out!” May chuckling on the microphone, looking at the drummer “Dizzy, babe.. 1… 2… 3…” (drummer starts out with Tommy Roe’s: Dizzy)

Thomas jerks from a dream and ends up doing an airborne cartwheel into the coffee table, waking up from the white searing hot pain, blood gushing from his face like a garden hose. He gets up muttering, whimpering like a kicked dog, strolling into the bathroom, looking in the mirror and sees a gash below his eye down to his jaw bone, “Fuck my life!”, strolls to the coffee table he grabs a bottle of superglue and returns to the mirror in the bathroom, struggles to get the big red cap off, then squeezes the glue into the gash, dropping the glue in the sink, and pushes the wound together with both hands.

After a few moments of grunting from the sting, he shuffles back to the couch, flops down face first. Mumbles “Fuck my life!” Grunting as he rolls over, reaching to the coffee table, grabbing his favorite pastime, he flares up his bong and takes a big drag. Leaning back exhaling slowly, giving out a dry cough. Relaxed, he stares at the ceiling for a half hour.

Looking at the clock mounted over the wash machine. He props himself up enough to get off the couch, he leans forward, struggling to his feet and proceeds up the stairs. Strolls over to the fridge grabbing a beer, a drumstick and a Tupperware bowl of potato salad, sits down at the table and consumes his snack.

Belching, gets up walks over to the steps leading upstairs, hesitating as he puts his hand on the banister post, contemplating whether to go up. The 2 am chime blares off, the LeCoultre Atos on the fireplace mantle. Startled he looks at Frank passed out on the lazy boy in the living room, hesitating from being petrified. He takes the first step to ascend the stairwell.

Halfway up the wooden stairs, a step creaks loudly. In sheer terror he stops, squatting down to look through the banister rails into the living room, to see if Frank is awake. After an exhalation, steadying himself, he goes quietly up to one of the bedroom doors.

Tapping lightly on the door and pausing for a moment to listen for a response. Opens the door slowly and quietly, tip toeing across the room to the farthest bunk bed, and squats down onto one knee. Grabbing the shoulder of his kid sister, he shakes her gently, whispering “Mary…. Mary… wake up.” Annoyed Mary mumbles “What do you want Tom, you know you’re not allowed upstairs anymore!” Tom shakes Mary again “I need your help with something, come get up already!” Mary angrily “fine!” Rolling out of bed in her ankle length gown, she almost trips onto her face over it. Tom “Stop playing Mary I really need your help.”

They make their way down the stairs quietly, through the kitchen into the basement. “Mary I need you to help me with this wound, can you clean it up for me?” She looks at him “Tom, you need to stop getting into fights!”. Tom shrugs “This isn’t from a fight , I fell over and hit my head on the table. You see?” pointing to table then the stain on the potato fiber rug. Mary chuckles “Maybe if you stop being a pig, you wouldn’t trip!” Tom looks at her with disdain. “Why do you have to be so judgemental?” Mary looks at him “I’m 12, you’re 19, you’re supposed to be telling me to be mindful, not the other way around!”

Tom looks at Mary, “You know something Mary, you are right, you are a grown woman, I respect that.” Mary cleans up his wound without another word. “There, I am going back to bed Tom” as she finishes up putting the bandage on his face. Tom grabs her hand “Mary do you want to know how adults treat one another when they are thankful?” Mary turns her head and gives him the stink eye “What do you mean Tom?” “I mean would you like to know how we show our appreciation?” Mary hesitates, “No… not really. Why is there something I should know?” Tom nods and gives a half ass smirk. “Just sit down on the couch, I’ll show you!” As she sits down on the couch, he sits next to her “Just keep quiet now, it won’t take long, and it will make everything better.” He slides his hand up Mary’s leg lifting her nightgown, while kissing her.

May sang her last song about half hour ago, the musicians already packed up and left for home. The tip jar at the edge of the stage is overflowing as usual. Most of the patrons left for the night, just a few of the exceptionally drunk people, the loyal barflies were lingering around. “Ok John!” as she pats her favorite customer on the back. “You need to get home. If I let you drink anymore your wife is going to give me an earful on Sunday!” John, “Yah yah May, I’m going!” John guzzles down the last of his beer, stands up and almost falls over the stool, May steadying him “You alright there big guy?” He slowly walks out the door as he steps outside, he quickly lights up a camel. “May you are the reason I come to the bar all the time, you sing beautifully.” May giggling “You are such a charmer John, go on now, get home!”

Closing the door and turning around to gather the glasses on the table, May shouts out “Last call gents it’s closing time, I got kids to mind in the morning”. The last three guys at the bar “We are good, just finishing the last of the beer, and listening to the jukebox.”

An elderly world war II vet who is sitting with two others at the bar slurs “You know May, I’d ask you to be my wife. But I don’t think it would work out!” May shaking her head, “Why is that Joe?” Elderly guy chuckles, “I think your kids would cause me to have a heart attack!” He tries to stifle a laugh, “I’m to damn old!” May laughs out loud, “Joe you are an ass! That they would! So why am I still alive and breathing?” Joe laughs too, “Because you’re an Irish woman! A runaway tractor could run you over, and yah bounce up with fists in the air!”

The three guys are laughing, as they get up laying money on the counter for tips, one of them speaks up “When you going to sing again May?” May hands Joe his coat “It will be awhile before I do that again, I have other obligations that need attending.” All three men protest. “Come on guys let me close up and get home to my husband, see you all tomorrow!” Letting them out, ready to lock the door, May notices it’s snowing pretty hard. “Ok Gents drive safely a’ight!” The men almost in unison “You betcha!” She runs  over to the bar jumping on top of it and reached to grab the keys, she runs outside to the truck and starts it up. After a struggle it idles, she gets out to let it warm up. She runs back into the bar swearing up a storm, shivering from the biting bitter February Minnesotan Winter air. “fuck the heavens that’s freezing meh titties off!”

After doing the final touches of cleaning up and putting chairs up on the tables, she counts the till. Taking the tip jar, ecstatic “Gosh Darn those guys were generous tonight, three hundred twelve dollars in tips, damnnnn!” She divvies up the tips amongst the band members, puts the money in separate envelopes. She writes their names and draws a daisy by each. Putting all the money into a giant satchel and drops it in a drawer in the office, turns around and to lock it after exiting. She notices the owner is sleeping on the couch. May shuts the lights off, smiling. Locking the door.  She goes outside the bar, turns to lock the door, smiling, “I get to have you to myself!” Locking up. She walks to the truck, gets in and drives home.

May takes the fastest route down the highway to get home, she is trying to beat the thick of the storm. Half an hour later she is pulling into the driveway. The snow is coming down so hard she can barely see the haze of the front porch light. She pulls the truck up to the barn, quickly gets out, opens the barn doors, then runs back into the truck, puts it in gear and drives into the barn. Knowing the engine would warm the barn up a little for the horses and keep the truck from stalling the next day. She turns off the engine, hooks up the glow plugs to the generator. Then runs to the doors and closes them and drops the latch from the inside. She didn’t think she had a choice the wind was picking up, and she didn’t want the doors swinging open.

As she is walking into the house, shaking the snow off her coat, she notices Mary emerging from the basement, “What are you doing in the basement child?” Mary looks at her mother’s feet, “nothing ma” “Don’t you sass me now child, I’ll bust her hind end. What were you doing in the basement?” She demanded in a forced tone. “Tom busted up his face, I was helping him put a bandaid on it, he was bleeding all over” “Get on up to bed, don’t you go down there again. Tom is a bad influence on you girls, and I don’t want you girls smoking his dope or listening to his trash music” Mary looks at the floor and tries to masquerade that she isn’t in pain, as she lightly limps away. May unaware of what really happened.

May sits down at the table in the kitchen, notices the empty pot on the Monarch Malleable stove, she gets up, grabs some wood, throws in the log on top of the embers in the basin part of the stove. Grabs the clay jug from the fridge, filled with fresh milk squeezed from Bernice the morning before, and fills the cast iron pot with cold milk. Puts the lid on the iron. Setting the clay jug on the table, She turns around and reaches up for the can of Nestle cocoa and the tin of sugar. Taking her time, she makes some hot cocoa using a wooden spoon to stir it. Sets the pot on the edge next to the burner to allow it to simmer without boiling. She walks out of the kitchen into the hall.

Removing her jacket and hanging it on the rack at the end of the hall next to the front porch door, kicking off her boots, and arranging all the other boots in a neat order. She goes back to the stove, grabs a big A&W mug and pours the hot cocoa in. She opens the center lid on the stove to half crank, and flips the overhead flute on full ventilation. As to not overheat the house, until the log burns down to embers. She grabs her favorite book on top of the fridge, sits down at the table, and starts reading. Waiting until 5am to roll around.

Nana strolls into the kitchen at quarter after 5, looks at May in her usual disapproval. May snarks out  “Don’t even think about it, woman! I don’t give a shit if you were the Mother of God herself, I will not put up with it this morning!” May gets up and grabs another log, puts in the bottom of the stove. Walks over to the hutch and grabs a mixing bowl, then to the larder for some flour, sugar, salt, lard, cream of tartar, baking soda, cornmeal, setting it all on the table, she starts adding it to the bowl and mixes it by hand. Wiping her hands grabbing the giant deep cast iron pan hanging on the wall over the stove, she takes a hand full of lard and greases the pan. With the same greasy hand she scoops out the batter and flopping it in the pan one by one. She finishes up and takes the clean hand to slide the heavy iron into the bottom part of the stove. Walks over to the faucet and washes up.

Nana “No wonder my son is a chubby man, you feed him all that fatty food,”. May turns around, stares at Nana for a moment, “WOMAN! I’ma warnin yah, I’ll toss yer scrawny ass in deh snow you betcha I will!”  May hesiting for a bit “ …My family loves my cooking, it shows when I don’t have any left overs,” She walks to the icebox, grabs the 2lb bag of sausage, drops it in a deep cast iron pot, browns it up, adds in some cream and butter, and sets it on the side of the stove with the lid slight off, so it can simmer.

Looking at the clock over the kitchen window, May yells at the top of her voice “BREAKFAST!” Poor white-faced startled Nana “Why are you so rude?” May smiles a little. May pulls the biscuits out of the oven and set them on a hot pad in the center of the table, grabs the gravy and set it next to the biscuits. She throws in the last of the sausage, then scrambles up some eggs with the meat.. Sets the skillet on the table, stacks the plates, silverware, and glasses. She walks to the stairs. “GET UP! Breakfast”

May didn’t need to eat, since she was tasting everything she made she had her fill. The first of the kids ran down the stairs, May walks up the stairs, “Your lunches are in the fridge with your names on the bags, don’t be late for school!” May walks into the bathroom, draws a bathtub of hot water, she intends to soak and sleep for several hours. She turns on the little hand held transistor, puts it on the jazz station, lays it on the edge of the vanity. She feels the water, “perfect!” undresses and she slides in, pulls the towel of the rack, rolls it up, puts it behind her head, and she falls asleep instantly.

Lori, Bonnie, Junice Mary, Marc are racing down the stairs pushing one another, Kathy is standing at the bottom of the stairs already “What are the rules in this house about running?” Jim strolls past the kids, behind Kathy to the kitchen, ignoring them as if they don’t exist.Frank wakes up from the smell of breakfast, gathers up the empty bottles. Walks into the kitchen and puts the bottles into the cardboard crate they came in. Jim “Pops I’m taking deh buick into town, I got an interview with Bjerga Feed, they are looking for a supervisor”

Frank, curiously “What time is the interview Jim?” Replying directly “9 am sir”. Frank nodding “Ok fine you can drop me off at the Trucking station on the way in, just makes sure you have that car back at the trucking station by the time I get back from this haul, you got it?” Jim looks his dad in the eye “Yes pops, promise, whats wrong with the rig though?” Frank, responding in a monotone “It’s due for an overhaul, I’m taking the company truck, in the meantime, you will do whatever errands your mother asks you to do while I’m gone, got it?” Jim looks directly at his father again “Yes pops, I’ll take care em”.

Tom comes strolling out of the basement, his face is swollen, he walks over to the table where everyone is standing and gathering up their plates of food. He pushes Marc really hard, “Move over, pussies go last” and grabs with his dirty hands a couple of biscuits and grabs another beer from the fridge and walks to the basement door.

A loud smack could be heard throughout the house, Frank had just slapped Thomas across the back of the head, “You mind yourself and your brothers and sisters, this nonsense has to stop, or you can move out” Tom looks at his father, shrugging, goes into the basement.

Nana speaks out with disapproval “Frank!… You’re going to tolerate that kind of disrespect in your house?” Frank whips and stares at his mother with absolute deafening silence. Nana cowers into the other room. The uneasiness in the kitchen has caused everyone to disperse into the other rooms to eat their breakfast. Frank sits down at the table, scooping up the food onto the plate, emptying the last of the gravy, and eggs. He eats his food in silence. When he finishes up, he grabs his plate puts in the sink and calls out for Jim.

Jim walks into the kitchen, “Go get everyone rounded up, gotta talk before they go to school and I’m gone for the week.” A few moments later, everyone is dropping their dishes off in the sink and standing around the table. “Jim, you will get on the tractor this morning and make sure those cows have fresh hay, use the bale fork to crack the ice on the creek if you need, make sure they have water. Kathy you help Nana take care of Pam, Julie and cleaning. Tom you WILL get out of this house, and you will find a job, or I’ll take you down to the recruitment office and make you enlist. You will also pitch the stalls and lay new hay for the horses, Junice, Marc you’re going to help him, put feed in the buckets and water in the troths. Kenny you’re going with your brother to the feed company and apply for a job there too and help him with the cows. Thomas! Warning you once, if you don’t stop picking on Marc, I’ll beat yah with in an inch of yer life. Bonnie, Lori, Mary you do what ever your mother and Nana tell yah to do. I don’t want to hear anything about you giving lip or attitude” he pulls off his belt “Or I swear, you know what will happen.” Almost in unison “yes pops”

Frank gets up from the table, heads upstairs, Nana comes into the kitchen after he leaves, “Mary, Bonnie you two do the dishes, Kathy you go fetch your sisters Pam and Julie, change their diaper and feed them” Almost in unison again “yes nana” Nana grabs a broom, and fills a bucket so she can clean the kitchen.

The boys finished bundling up, Thomas pushes Marc over sideways, Jim laughs, “Marc stop being a girl, hit him back!” Thomas “You’re such a pussy!” Marc almost in tears “I’ll show you pussy one of these days!” Jim laughs hard, Thomas jolts out an insult “Need a tampax Marc?” both Jim and Thomas laugh together. Marc walks out to the barn to start his chores.

Jim, through his chuckling “You know Tom, you ought to ease up on him, he’s your younger brother” Thomas looks at him with seriousness “Who the fuck do I pick on then?” both chuckle together. Leaving the house to do their chores. Kenny speaks up “you two are assholes!” and walks out behind Jim to take care of the cows.

Jim cracks open the barn door, Jumps into the truck, starts it up and backs it out of the barn, parks it on the side. Walks back in and gets on the tractor. Firing up the old red, Kenny jumps on the back hitch rod, and the two of them head out to the hay shed. Marc is feeding the horse, and Thomas is tossing the hay into the middle of the barn.

Jim glances over his shoulder “Ken go unlock the gate to the shed, be quick we have to finish up early this morning, we got an interview to get to” Kenny jumps off and unlocks the gate, swings it open, and ken drops the bucket on the tractor with the long pole called the fork, jams it into the bale of hay, and Ken loads on other bales. Stacking them 6 high. Jim backs out of the shed, and Ken closes the gate, and runs to catch up to Jim. Jumps on the back of the Tractor and they drive out to the knoll.

“Jim, the cows are acting weird this morning. Why are they advancing towards us?” Jim looks around, “I don’t know Ken.” Ken jumps off the back of the tractor and walks through the cows, pushing them aside. “Yo Jim, I found the reason. Shut off the tractor and come help me.”

“One heifer gave birth over night the calf is between those two over by the tree, there is another one over there off to the side, the snow is pink, the other cows are surrounding her as if protecting her.” Jim in awe “holy shit Ken, dump those bales NOW, get on the back we need to hurry.” After dumping the bales, the two ride back to the barn as fast as possible. Jim yells out “Marc get the shoulders, Thomas help me with the trailer, Kenny grab the horse blankets and rope, Junice grab the princers and tarp” They all work in unison knowing what has happened. Jim hops back on the tractor and backs it into the trailer, Thomas latches it on, the four of them jump on the back with all the material and rush out back to the knoll.

Frank see’s them out the back window, panicking, starts dressing. Nana “Frank what’s the rush?” Frank blurts out “one of the heifers is breached, the kids are going out to take care of her. I need to make sure they do it right”

Redo all this… Working on chapter two since this chapter is pissing me off

The four of them arrive at the gnoll, Jump off together, Marc and Thomas putting their differences aside throw the blankets over the heifer laying on the ground, and Jim jumps off the tractor and has Kenny help him with the shoulder length rubber gloves.

“Marc, Thomas, push her sideways. Junice go in front and talk to her. Then Marc sit on her upper belly, Thomas, you pull her tail back. Kenny you stand there with the horse blanket for when this calf comes out.”  Jim kneels down next to the heifer “easy girl, just trying to help” He reaches up her, and pushes on the calf’s back legs and pushes them forward, then reaches up with the other arm to grab the front legs and pulls hard. The heifer lets out a long and painful mewing sound.   “Damn thing is stuck!” Thomas push on the back of the belly near the loins, Marc feel where the head is, and push on the head as if you’re trying to squeeze a strawberry out of a straw.”

Jim yanks harder as Marc pushes. The three of them feel the calf spin around. Yanking even harder the calf slides out in a massive sloppy mess. Gagging Jim tries to say “Kenny, blanke….” Tosses his cookies on the snow. Kenny blurts out “Fucking hell that smells like a fat womans asshole on a july afternoon”  Jim continues to puke while the other boys laughed. Junice blurts out “Kenny you’re a fucker! Nasty nasty fucker!”

Frank is pulling up, jumps out of the truck, runs up to the boys, observes. “Damn proud of you kids. Knowing that someday if I ever die, this farm is in good hands. Damn proud of yahs.”

Jim wiping his mouth off with a hand full of snow, “Thanks pops”  Looks at the two laughing. “Get the two heifers and tie them to the trailer and Kenny get the two calves onto the trailer. Junice wrap them up with the blankets, We need to get them to the barn to get them warmed up”

Frank smiling, jumps back into the truck and heads back to the house. The kids drive back to the barn with the two heifers in tow.

Returning to the barn, after clearing out the back of the barn, the boys make a barrier with the hay bales from the rafter, Junice grabs some lamps off the bench and hangs them, turns on the lights to warm up the back of the barn for the cows.  Marc and Kenny grab a troth from one of the empty stalls and fills it up with water. Jim looks at the three brothers and Junice “you know, even though we may not always get along, we somehow just click when shit needs to get done.” The other three nod.

“Marc, Kenny, get into the house and get showered up quickly, you’re already late for school, Ill drop you off” Jim and Thomas finish cleaning up and putting the Tractor and trailer away. Jim gets back into the truck and drives it into the barn. Thomas closes up the barn and disappears into the house.


Needs editing*

Jim runs  to the house, “Pops let me change my clothes, we are going to be leaving shortly, boys are late for school and I’m late for the interview” Frank smiling he goes into the back room, grabs his travel case, and a fresh set of clothes.

“Nana, be nice to my wife, please. For me” Nana looks at her son, “drive carefully my

boy come home safe!” Frank nods.

Junice, Marc and Kenny jump into the back of the buick, Jim starts up the car, frank throws his stuff in the trunk and gets in the car. Frank pulls out his wallet, and hands each of the kids 10 dollars. “You boys have made me proud. “

They all ride in silence to the truck station. As Frank gets out, Jim says “See yah pops, drive safe” Frank nods hands another 10 to Jim, “Be sure that miscreant gets his share too will yah” and walks away.

Jim drives off towards the school while marc and kenny fight to climb over the seat to run shotgun. “Nope. Both you sit in the back!” Jim wasn’t having any monkey business while driving on the icy roads. Junice clambers over and flops down quietly.

Arriving at the school, Junice. Marc and Kenny grab their backpacks, and start to exit the car. Jim quickly snaps “Kenny you aint going to school today, get your ass in the car!” Not arguing, Kenny gets back in the car “This isn’t fair!” Marc blurts out. “you’re a freshman Marc, Kenny is a senior, he’s got an interview this morning now get!”

The two of them start to drive off, and marc whips a snowball at the car, bouncing it off the back windshield, Jim slams on the breaks. Marc runs into the school. Jim starts to chuckle, “he really is a pussy”. Kenny mumbles out “you’re still an asshole!”

The two of them ride to the feed company quietly.

Upon arriving at the feed company a half hour late, Jim blurts out “Kenny follow my lead, and don’t say anything unless Mr Bjerges asks you anything ok” They walk into the office. Look at the receptionist “Is Mr B around by chance?” Receptionist “who is asking for him?” Jim “We were suppose to have an interview half hour ago” Receptionist “suit yourself, he’s in the grainy, don’t get your hopes up kid”

Jim and Kenny walk outside, down the lot to the tall silos, The see Mr Bjeges standing on a ledge with a huge Multi colored stick. Mr Bjeges “What can I do for you gents” noticing the pungent smell, he steps back a bit. “Problem with the stock I assume!”

Jim nods “Sir I was suppose to meet with you a half hour ago, but we had two heifers to take care of this morning, one was breached, I hope you don’t discount that, I really need a job” Mr Bjerges smiling, “So you want a job eh, boy. What makes you think I need anyone?” Jim hesitates “to be honest with yah sir, I don’t know and won’t assume, I just know I need a job”

Mr Bjerges quietly finishes up his job of measuring the grain in the silo, looks over to Jim “Boy, first off, you have been bluntly honest with me, and you don’t sling no bullshit and butter, I respect that in a person, the fact your father and I are also good friends from Korea, I’ll give you a chance. But don’t be late for work, and don’t screw around, I don’t have time for half ass workers!”

Jim replies “no sir, you can count on me, I won’t let you down” Mr B nods “When can you start?” Looking at Kenny “Who is this?” Kenny replies “I’m his brother, I need a job too sir, and as soon as you want sir.” Jim speaks up before Mr B could “Sir, he’s a hard worker, and he is serious about perfection. Could you see a way for him to have a job too?” Mr B nodding “Jim the pay for your position is 3.75 an hour but I pay salary, 5600.00 a year broken into monthly payments, Ken your position only pays 2.25 an hour and I only need a part time stock boy. Do you kids agree to the wages?” Ken and Jim in unison “Yes Sir”. “Good, Ill see you gents on Saturday, I know He needs to get back to school, and Son, you need to shower that stink off yah fast, even in the bum chaffed cold that is just rank!” Jim and Kenny both shake Mr. B’s hand thanking him, and run off to the car, as they are driving off Mr. B chuckling, mumbles, “Damn I hate livestock!” turns around, hangs the measurement stick on the wall of the silo, and walks to his office. “Patty, get the paper work ready for two new workers will yah.” Patty looks at him shocked and quietly goes back to working.

Jim drops of his brother at Brainerd Highschool, and drives back to the farm. Parking the car next to the barn, Jim goes inside and moves the truck out, and gets back on the tractor, backs it out, slips the beast into nuetral, hops off and closes the doors. He hops back on and heads back to the gnoll to finish the hay job they started earlier. After spreading the hay about the oak, and punching several holes in the ice along the creek, he drives back to the barn. Puts everything away, checks on the calves, laying snug against their mothers, one of the heifer lets out short a mew of gratitude. Jim smiles and walks out of the barn, and shuts the door.

After entering the house and taking his outer layer off, and kicking the boots off against the door, Nana burst out “I heard that Jim, put those muckers on the plastic” “Yes Nana” as he bends over and puts them neatly under the coat on the plastic slab.

He walks into the kitchen, grabs a Coke, and heads upstairs to take a shower. “Jim get Thomas out of the house after you’re done. Make him get a job” “No body can make him do anything Nana, he is his own. Tell pa about it if you don’t like it” and walks up the stairs.

Kathy walks through the living room in a panic, muttering obscenties. “I’m taking the buick jim” A loud boistering “Like Hell you are Kathy, I have to be somewhere in an hour” Kathy not caring, grabs the keys and starts walking out the door. Jim knowing what she was up to come running down the stairs with nothing more than a towel around his waist. “I said no, and pa didn’t say it was ok for you to use it” Kathy pushes jim out of the way, “Fine ill take the truck!” Jim angrily replies “You aint taking shit Kathy, there is a reason you’re not allowed to take anything with out their knowing or permission. You aint waking ma up either!” Kathy gets up in Jim’s face “I am late for work Jim” Jim shrugs “It’s not my problem, it’s yours, but if you wait for me to get dressed, ill drive you” Kathy sulking for a moment “Fine hurry up”

Jim and Kathy walk out to the buick, jump in, and drive off. Half way down the driveway “Jim why are you such an ass to me” Kathy bluntly sneers it out. Jim acting like she isn’t in the car stares out the front window and continues to drive. Half way to work “Kathy you disrespect Ma and Pa constantly. You take off with their vehicles with no permission, you return them on empty, and you dinged up the truck with that little stunt you and your fiancee pulled last fall. You owe pops money and still haven’t paid him back, It’s not being an ass, it’s simply keeping the peace. Learn respect and I wont be an ass!”

Kathy sneers “you’re not an ass! You a fucking ass…hole!” Jim smirks and stops at her work. She gets out and walks towards the building “You will have to get your own ride home, no one is coming to pick you up” Jim replies as he is driving off rolling up the window.

Jim gets home, and walks up to the bathroom to finish his shower, and relax. Nana is knocking on the door “Want some Lunch Jim” Jim turns off the water “Whatcha makin nana?” Nana “Beef stew and fresh bread” Smiling Jim blurts out “Heck yah be down shortly” Nana “Watch you mouth boy” Jim stares in the mirror, and mouths with no voice what the fuck and chuckles.

Jim walks into the kitchen to see Thomas stuffing his face, grabs a bowl of stew and rips off a chunk of bread “Use a Knife Jim, foolhearted boy!” Jim takes a bite out of the bread “Yessum” mumbling out as he sits down. Nana shakes her head. “Did you finish your chores in the barn?” “Yessum” replied jim.

Thomas looks at Jim with detest “Why you still here?” Jim gives Thomas the stink eye as he shoves some stew in his mouth. Swallowing hard “Because I’m the only one who is a responsible farm hand at this table!” Thomas rebukes “Like hell you are!” Jim slams his spoon down on the table “Thomas, the moment you stop getting drunk, acting like an idiot, get your GED, and make something of yourself, you will be respected.” Jim gets up from the table leaving his half eaten bowl of stew and storms out of the kitchen.

Nana turns around “Jim! Finish your lunch!” “Not Now Nana, I lost my appetite!” Jim throws on his clothes, walks out to the car, starts it up and tears out of the driveway. May is walking down the stairs with Julie and Pam in tote.

What the fuck is the commotion, I’m trying to sleep, and the girls are hollering”

Nana looks at May “These two are bickering like children” Shaking her head, she grabs Julie and puts her on her raised stool, pam climbs up on the chair and kneels at the table. May fixes them a bowl of stew, looks at Thomas “Tom, get out of here, I’m liable to throw something heavy at your head!” thomas gets up, tosses his plates in the sink “whatever” and walks into the basement.

May goes over to the phone, calls the Trucking station. Receptionist answers “how can I help you?” May blurts out “is Frank there please?”. The receptionist replies “One moment” A few minutes later “This is frank” May “Frank when are you scheduled to rig up and depart?” frank “in about 4 hours why?” May “I’m coming down there we need to talk!” Frank “Ok I’ll see you in a bit”

May goes upstairs and gets dress, returns to the kitchen, “Nana can you watch the girls for an hour, I need to discuss something important with Frank” Nana nods and washes the dishes.

May throws on her coat and mits, walks out to the barn, opens the big doors, gets in the truck and starts it up. Backs out, gets out to close the doors, hops back in and drives off to the trucking station.

She arrives at the trucking station and heads directly to the sitting room where all the truckers hang out. She sees Frank, and motion for him to come outside with her.

They both walk out to the truck and get in. “Whats up hon, has to be important for you to drive all the way over here” May nods, “Doreen just offered to sell the bar to us” Frank looks at her inquisitively “Well if the finances are in order and we can get a loan, go for it. I know you have been wanting to buy that place for years now.”May smiling “So you have no objections?” Frank shakes his head “No, I’ve been putting money aside just for that reason, just take the safety deposit key, there is money in the safe at the bank, it’s 15% of our original offer, that is enough for the bank to ok a loan for us.” May reaches over and kisses Frank passionately. “I love you. You’re the best husband ever” Frank pulls away “enough of that May, not in public!”

Frank gets out of the car, walks around to the driver side opens the door Whispers in her ear “I love you too sweetheart” Pecks her on the cheek “You better get over to the bank and start negotiations. May starts up the truck before Frank even steps away. “ok hon, I’ll get hold of you on the CB if there is any news” Frank nods and closes the door. May drives off in a hurry and frank smiles as he walks back into the trucking station.

Arriving home, she parks the truck right next to the front door, and runs into the house, into the back room, starts scrounging around the desk and drawers, Nana walks in “What’s the rush?” May glances up “I’m looking for some important paper work and a key” Nana “my sons saftey deposit box key?” Nodding May responds “yes, that one”

Nana “I’ll have to call Frank up” May stops what she is doing, glares at Nana “you moved it didn’t you?” Nana crosses her arms. May blurts out “Woman I swear one of these days you aren’t going to wake up from a nights sleep, stay the hell out of this room and my husband and my things, now give me the fucking key!” Nana storms out of the room, returns a moment later “I’m calling my son immediately” Slamming the key down on the desk. Grabbing the land deeds, and other documents, she walks towards the front door, she hears Nana talking to frank, frank is giving her an earful, loud enough May can actually hear the whole conversation. May smiles, walks out the door, and slams it intentionally as if to deliver a message to Nana.

Getting back into the truck she rides to the bank with all her documents, walks in and goes directly to the back office with out stopping at the receptionist desk. “Hello Jerry, how are you today?” Jerry a long time family friend, military buddy of Frank’s, and chairman of the bank looks up, sees May, scrambles to his feet and runs over to May “My darlin, how are you today?” then plants a heavy kiss on her cheek and a bear hug. “Easy there big fella!” Jerry starts laughing “I’m sorry May, I’m happy to see you, it’s been almost two years since we talked”.

“Jerry, I’m here on business today, and I am hoping that it can happen right away” Jerry motions for her to sit down, May sits down and sets the paper work on the desk. “You know Doreen right?” Jerry responds “You mean the one tha towns O’nearys bar on the other side of town?” May nodding “Yes”. Jerry quickly responds “Why whats up?” May takes a deep breath “You remember we came to you two years ago for a loan to buy the place, but Doreen declined the offer?” Jerry nods. “Well she offered to sell it to us over the weekend.” Jerry smiling, turning around grabbing a big ledger book and flops it on the desk. “Well, let’s take a look at your financials”

Jerry starts flipping through the book, jotting notes down on a big pad, making noises “mhmm… hmmph… ok… “ Closes the book and looks at May. “well it appears you only have about 2500 in your bank account may, that’s not enough for a down payment.” May gives a sharp smirk, “sure it is Jer’, we need to go to our safety deposit box” Jerry looks at her inquisitively.

The two of them descend into the basement of the bank where the saftey deposit boxes are kept, the two of them grab the box, and goes to the private room. May opens it up, “this should cover the down payment” Jerry looking slightly shocked “Well that explains a lot, Your husband has been coming here one a weekly basis depositing in the box instead of an account. Smart!” May nodding, smiling. “Lets go upstairs and count it up together” Jerry grabs a black basket, and puts all the cash in it, and they put the box back in it’s place with all the other valuables.

Jerry spends 20 minutes counting up the money, typing every few minuts onto the Maria Bellini Accounting Machine, he looks up at May “Well, I have to say, I’m impressed, not many people can save like this.” May tilts her head inquisitively. “You have a total of 14,200 dollars plust the money in your account that gives you more than a 1/3 down payment.”

Jerry pulls out some papers from the drawer, “We have several options for you. First you can choose to leverage the bar itself, or you can mortgage your house” May immediately “The bar will be the leverage, and I plan on making 1200 dollar payments every year at the beginning during tax season” Jerry states with conviction “It doesn’t work like that May, you have to make monthly payments.” May sighs “oh, well.. we can work something out right?” Jerry nods.

After lengthy discussion, Jerry reaches to shake May’s hand “Go ahead and make your offer to Doreen, then two of you come back here to wrap up the transaction, and we can notarize it and make everything legally binding”

20 minutes later, May is on her way over to O’neary’s bar, where she knew Doreen would be doing paper work. She pulls up and parks in the handicap parking spot, gets out, walks to the building, unlocks the door, walks through the bar into the office. She sees Doreen at the desk with her nose buried in the paper work, unaware, May sets her purse on the floor and sits down in the couch, and waits for Doreen to notice her.

After sitting for a half hour, May gets a little agitated “DOREEN” Doreen startled so bad her pen flew out of her hand, the paper work flew off the desk “FUCK! What!”

Looking around the room she sees May sitting there smirking “Goddamn it girl, you made me piss myself, scaring an old woman like that, What’s wrong with you?” May chuckling, “Oh don’t be so damn melodramatic, it was funny though!” Doreen gets up and grabs some paper towels, and starts whiping down her chair “how long have you been there?” May still chuckling, “About a half hour, I’ve been waiting for you to notice!” Doreen patts her crotch down with the paper towels, “As you can see I was busy, sorry!” Annoyed she picks up the papers and pen, and sits back down to the desk “What can I do for you?” May stands up “You want to sell?” Doreen looks up with curiousity “Well of course, I didn’t offer on a whim!”

“Our offer is firm, the same as it was last time, We will give 50,000 plus 5,000 more for the closing cost.” Doreen leans back, looks up at the ceiling for a bit. She quietly reflects, blurts out “there will be some stipulations if you buy the bar May” May inquires “What?”. Doreen “ you can not change the name of the bar, and you can not fire anyone for at least one year!” May replies “I wasn’t even planning on that” Doreen gets up “Accepted” After further discussions for over an hour, the two of them go to the bank and close on the deal. After they were done with the bank, May drove Doreen back to the Bar. Doreen “You know you should run over to Courthouse and apply for your liqour license. And since I can’t give you the beer, or sell it to you, we can work something out on the side so we can ease the sales to undercut the losses”

May looks at Doreen confused “You mean I have to get rid of all the booze on sight?” Doreen nods, May “So I have to buy all new stock?” Doreen nods again, May “ Well in that case, until the paperwork and deeds are finished, Id like you to continue running the bar to make a smooth transition.” Doreen “Since you were a loyal worker and close friend, i’ll stay here until all the booze is sold and the place is licensed. “

May smiles, and walks out the door, and heads straight over to the courthouse, found the county clerk, and inquired about liqour license. The clerk handed her a stack of papers to fill out and showed her to a room with a big table. Finishing up the paper work, she turns the over to the clerk. Clerk looks them over “Everything looks like it is in order, that will be 1250.00 dollars please” May stares at the clerk with shock. “I have to run to the bank, mind holding on to those” turns and walks out the door.

Arriving at the bank she walks directly past the secretary again into Jerry’s office, knocking on the door lightly as she enters. “Jerry I need an additional 2,000 dollars, and I’ll put my truck up as collateral” Jerry nods “That’s ok May, we will just apply it to the loan you already have with the bar as collateral. I had expected this much since it is your first time owning a business.” May blushing “I had no idea about the fees and expenses” Jerry chuckles. “Expect some hellacious speed bumps over the next 2 years, you are going to experience some serious changes, and shrewd salesman”

May looking overwhelmed sits down on the chair “What have I gotten myself into Jerry?” Jerry walks over to the door and closes it, pulls the blinds on the windows. Returns to his desk, sits down, opens a drawer and pulls out two glasses and a bottle of single malt rum with no label “This is a family brew, have a taste” Both of them grab a glass and chugs it. May gasping “Holy shit Jerry!” Jerry laughs out loud “May Smooth huh” May still trying to catch her breath “That shit goes down smooth but Hell boy that burns once it hits the gut” Jerry nodding. “I keep this on hand when i’m about to enter a tense situation, helps calms the nerves” May shaking her head “Calm them, more like kill them dead!” Jerry laughs even louder. May laughs too.

After about 45 minutes of chatting, May departs the bank with 2 grand in her hand, returns to the courthouse half hour before closing, walks upstairs to the clerks office and lays the 1250 dollars in 50s, counting out loud. The clerk grabs the pile of cash and recounts it. Writing may a receipt, “It will takes 3-7 weeks before you receive your license. As long as you do not have any criminal history” May nods and leaves the building.

After sitting in her truck for a half hour contemplating everything that transpired over the day, she smiles in the mirror, feeling like she accomplished a milestone in her life. Feeling good, she opens her purse, pulls out the 750 dollars, and counts out 500, she rolls it up and puts that on the side of the pruse. Takes the other 250, and goes to Montgomery Wards.

When she gets home, she notices Jim is back, and she calls out to him, “Come help me!” Jim walks out of the house, “Help me get these off the back of the truck” Jim looks in the truck “What’s all this stuff mom” May smiling proud “This is for your father, and it has a dual purpose, I’ll explain it later”

The two of them finish up and walk back to the house. May opens the refrigerator and pulls out a bottle of Coke and sits down at the table and sighs. Jim copies her. “Ok spill” May nods. “Well you know the bar that I work at?” Jim nods. “It’s mine now” Jim confused “wait, what, you mean to tell me you bought the bar?” may nodding and smiling, “Yes finalized the loan and sale this morning. Doreen asked over the weekend if we wanted to buy it. Your father and I discussed it and I made it happen.” Nana overhears the conversation, comes strolling into the kitchen “What kind of fool hearted bullpucky did you get yourself into now Woman!” May sneers at Nana “I own a business now, this family isn’t going to be sniffing the dirt for entertainment anymore. So shut it Nana” Nana walks out of the room with an attitude grumbling and mumbling to herself. May smiles at Jim “Your grandma is a piece of work!”

May grabs the bottles off the table, “Jim, go get the fool of a brother of yours and have him tend to the horses. I’m tired of him just sitting in that basement listening to that trash reading comics all the time!” Jim gets up from the table “Sure thing ma” He walks into the basement “Get up, we got chores to do” Thomas flips Jim off “fuck off, I’m busy” Jim grabs Thomas by the collar and yanks him up the stairs “I swear Ill beat you senseless” Thomas pushes Jim off him, slurring his words “Fuck off Jim, you can’t tell me what to do.” May standing in the door way “No but If you don’t get your ass out the door and get those fucking animals fed, I’ll throw your ass out in the snow!”

Thomas angrily “Can’t a guy get some peace and quiet!” May smacks him across the head “ill give you peace and quiet”

Thomas leaves the house after getting budled up. May looks at Jim, “I hate to play favorites, But you and marc make me feel like he was an accident!” Jim sighs, “don’t talk like that Ma. Not everyone is perfect” May sits down at the table, puts her head into arms and starts to weep. Jim tries to confort her, but my brushes him off “I’m overwhelmed atm, just let me have a moment.” Jim confused about how to respond, leaves the room and head up to his room, flips the black and white mini-tv on, and flops down on his bed and watches the afternoon game shows.

Thomas walks back into the house about half hour later, sees his sisters running around the kitchen playing tag, May is passed out at the table “as if she actually does any work around this place” Walks into the basement pissed off. May gets angry.

After resting on the table, she looks up realizing the kids will be home in a few minutes from school. She fixes Julie and Pam lunch and sets them on their stools, and calls down the stairs “Thomas get up here!” Nana hears the tone in her voice and walks over to the kitchen entry, thomas comes walking up the stairs. May looks at him sternly, pointing to a chair “Sit your ass down!” Thomas sits and stares. May angrily blurts out in a loud voice “I heard what you said earlier, I was resting, for your information, I do more than you could ever possibly know, if you were not such a loser and sitting in the basement all the time getting high you would see what really goes on. Things are going to change in this house, particularly for you! You’re going to start working the bar, or you can move out. You’re going to start helping Nana with out giving her lip. You’re going to help around this farm with out being told to do so. Or you can find a new place to live!” thomas blurts “But..” May smacks him across the head “Don’t sass, dont talk back. Enough is enough. There are 14 people in this 6 bedroom house that Nana and I take care of. You will respect your grandma, you will stop sassing me, and you will stop being a miserable shit” Thomas tries to blurt “but..” May smacks him across the head again “I said shut it, I’m not done. You have managed to alienate yourself with most of the family. You will not bring your drugs into this house anymore, you will not come home drunk, stoned or otherwise!” Nana is smiling in the doorway

May looks at the girls, they are confused and looking scared, then she looks at thomas again “you will stop being the rock around our ankles in this house. You have a choice to make. I want to hear your answer tomorrow morning. Not tonight tomorrow, you sleep on it. Do you want to move out, or do you want to be part of this family?” May notices the girls are finished eating, she grabs their dishes and puts them in the sink, and picks them off the stools and pats them off to the other room. Nana standing there looking happy “About time” She turns around and walks away. May looks confused.

Thomas gets up and walks to the stairs, “Jim!” Jim yells down “What Tom” Jim “Come down will yah” Jim gets up reluctantly. Walks to the top of the stairs and looks down “What” Thomas blandly states “I need a ride into town” Jim nods, “ill be down shortly” Thomas turns to head into th basement.

Jim bundles up and goes to the buick and starts it up. Thomas comes walking out the side of the house with a sleeping bag, pillow and a duffo bag. He throws his stuff in the back of the car “take me to the salvation army” Jim not saying a word drives off. They arrive at the Mission, Thomas starts getting his shit out of the car, Jim hands the 10 dollars to him, “That’s from dad, he gave us each 10 this morning.” Thomas takes it from him angrily. “good luck thomas” throws the buick into drive and takes off down the road.

That is the last time Thomas is seen for several months.

Chapter 2 >>