Moses is Monk’s father, who, along with the Mackinaw brothers founded the commune where Monk grew up. Moses and Monk do not see eye to eye on many things. This is from earlier in Monk’s life, when he was young and still living on the farm.
“Take it in your hand, take hold of it.” Moses took a handful of dirt from where I stood and put it in my hands. “Feel that? Compress it; run it through you fingers; smell it; it is the foundation of our lives, the soil that forms our bodies, our connection to Mother Earth!”
Yeah, yeah, yeah!
I didn’t care. It had been a long day and I was tired. What I wanted was to go into town and have a cheeseburger platter at the Big Boy, not stand here with a handful of dirt! I’d had more handfuls of dirt pushed on me than I could stand. I made a solemn vow then and there to never be a tiller of the land or a guardian of the soil or a goddamned farmer!
“Sunshine!” The old man was glaring at me.
The exasperation within him was manifest. Moses Bohrman contemplated me, his first born, as he had so many times before. “Do you hear a word I say?”
“Yeah, earth, dirt; I get it, love the land.”
“Love the land,” he mimicked.
“That’s what you tell me isn’t it?”
He sighed. “You don’t hear anything I say, do you? I imagine the only thing in your head right now is running off with Miguel and James so the three of you can get into more trouble.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
Moses’ face tightened. “What does that mean? You know exactly what that means! You don’t think I know what the three of you are up to? People talk, you realize that, don’t you? Do you honestly think you can keep screwing around without consequence? You’re going to end up in jail, you know that right?”
“It’s not like that,” I equivocated, knowing full well he was probably right.
“It’s exactly like that! When are you going to grow up! I also heard you’re running around with some girl in town; are you being responsible?”
“What do you mean responsible?”
Moses stood there aghast. “What do you think I mean? Do you honestly think you’re ready to be a father?” The veins on his forehead were throbbing.
“It’s not like that…”
“Are you using birth control? Do we need to get you some?” I was surprised by how adamant he was.
“It’s not like that,” I mumbled. It was too late for that.
We stood there upon the dirt. I could see his anger and frustration fade into disappointment, which I considered his default opinion of me.
“I don’t understand,” he said as he took my hands and brushed the dirt from them, “you’re not an idiot, I know inside you there’s a bright young man. I know you have promise, but you seem bound and determined to throw it away…” Moses held my hands tight. “I don’t know what to do with you and it’s obvious you have little interest in the gravity of what you do…”
“It’s not like that!” He was making me angry.
He let go of my hands.
“Then what is it like, Sunshine?”
“Please don’t call me that, it’s a stupid name!”
“Why is it a stupid name?” We’d had this argument many times.
“It’s something you’d call your dog,” I shouted.
“You don’t have to yell and I think you’re wrong; it a beautiful name…”
“They laugh at me because it’s a joke, like, like…if… you might as well have named me bumblebee!”
We heard laughter. Sterling, my six-year-old half-brother, was standing about ten feet from us.
“Bumblebee’s funny, Daddy,” he said.
“See,” I pointed at Sterling, “everyone’s laughing.
Moses shook his head. “It’s a beautiful name.”
“It’s only beautiful to you!”
I left him there.
There was nothing else to say.
©2019 David WIlliam Pearce
One thought on “Moses and the Soil”
Reblogged this on David William Pearce, Writer and commented:
Another short Vignette from Where Fools Dare to Tread, A Monk Buttman Mystery. In this Monk and his father, Moses, argue about life.