WEEKLY WRITING PROMPT #8: “While relaxing on his porch swing, a pig farmer hears a tremendous crash in a nearby field.”
Bob Jones was a farmer who had seen and done many things in his less than extraordinary life. None of his endeavors had been exactly noteworthy, nothing to write home about as they say, but he had one or two anecdotes that could be employed over beers, or to stave off the ever-lurking awkward silence, that were, at the very least, quite entertaining. With his boot heels resting on the wooden railing of his rambling front porch, Bob looked out upon the burning, setting sun. It had been a long, hard day, filled with menial maintenance and more extensive manual labor – fixing broken fences and unreliable machinery – that left his body sore in a special, fulfilling way. He could feel heat coming from his face in waves and knew that it’d be nice and crisp come tomorrow. Despite the aches and burns, Bob felt good, really good. The embarrassingly antiquated radio on the floorboards beside him was crackling out some cover of Hank Williams, Jr. It wasn’t good, but it wasn’t completely terrible, so Bob tolerated it and after a verse or two, actually began to believe the song added to the atmosphere perfectly. He was at peace with everything and everyone around him and at this particular moment, that was enough. He took a long, steady drink of beer from his favorite mug, which he had frosted all day for this very occasion.
All that he cherished of the day was shattered in one loud metallic crash that chilled Bob to his core. It was big, it was bad, and it was loud – it was a cacophony that announced the arrival of something awful and unnatural, something like death. In the impending, eerie silence, Bob got to his feet slowly and stood simply, straining his ears for more, for some kind of screams, some kind of sirens, some kind of logical continuation. It did not seem possible for the displeasing and varied sounds of chaos to sound so suddenly without some rational conclusion. The silence made it worse, left the ending open to be written any kind of way. Bob waited a moment more before taking off, bounding down the steps to the soft dirt. He pumped his arms and legs past the stables, past the barn, through the rows of corn, and damn near tore up the field of grain that marked the end of his property, along which lazily snaked a country road that led to a small town with a single stoplight. It was all Americana and perfect and picturesque. But the crash had been as mighty as a resounding tear in the fabric of reality itself. His lungs burned from the effort, his chest heaved, and his already aching muscles were singing, but he ran and ran until he spotted what he assumed had caused the commotion.
What had once been a beautiful, jet black sports car was now nothing more than twisted hunk of metal. The car had plowed into a post well beyond the shoulder and such an excess of speed that it had impossibly wrapped itself around it, been morphed and warped into fragments that could not possibly be combined into anything of use, let alone a vehicle. Steam was billowing from where the engine would normally reside and Bob assumed the car was moments away from catching fire. In a moment’s decision, he hurled himself forward to the driver’s side. Had anyone survived, Bob would have to extract him or her and pull them to safety, far from the explosion waiting to happen. Bob had underestimated his speed and could not gracefully slow to a halt at the window. He collided against it, breathless and sweating and terrified. He looked through the opening where the window should be. It was open, not shattered, and had been securely rolled down and away. As a result, there was nothing separating Bob from the horrific tragedy before him; only air. Slumped against the wheel was the terribly young and beautiful face of a man. It was smeared with blood, and his dark hair was matted with it, but his green eyes shone bright, sparkled and gleamed through the absolute carnage. His rusted-orange tee-shirt hung loosely on his thin frame so that Bob could see his chest falling rapidly. His breathing was rapid, but the rest of him was still, as if this young man had already resigned himself to a particular fate. He was dying.
“Hang on, man,” Bob yelled. Later on, he would wonder why he yelled. He had no other noise to shout over. “I’m going to call an ambulance, just stay with me!”
The young man did not stir and in no way acknowledge that Bob had spoken, let alone yelled. He stared at a landscape Bob could not see; all Bob could ascertain that it was somewhere near the lower left side of the man’s vision. He licked his lips and wheezed, “I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay,” Bob replied automatically and Bob was always glad he said that. “I’ll be right back, I have to get to the phone.” Bob reached in with every intention of squeezing the young man’s shoulder, of providing the poor guy with a human connection, the comfort of a human touch, but Bob thought better of it. He would be horrified if he somehow further injured the already decimated body or, worse, inadvertently killed him. Bob took off again, running as fast as he possibly could, when a second catastrophic noise filled the air.
It was the car exploding. It burst into flames. Bob turned slowly and dropped to his knees.