A Place To Lie

In these last rows are the people the farmer knew. There is the man he sought to raise a gun. He would pull the double-barrel from its bag and raise and aim in one motion. Before the noise fled across the field the beast was down, folding from the front and eyes up at the darkening sky.

There is the man with the kindly eyes and grey hair he brushed back with open fingers. He sat in an open office and if he sensed trouble he looked down over his glasses. He didn’t drink but he carted jars out in a crate to the men. Here, he said. Help yourself, and they unwound the white caps and flipped off the plastic caps and filled filthy glasses with warm beer and all you could smell was ink and beer in unequal measure.

Over there, beneath a stand-out headstone, is the quiet man who stood aside when the drinking began. That was not his way. He kept to himself and sometimes in his blue-collar work he wore a tie. It was a matter of dignity. His companion is hereabouts. He wore a tie also and the story goes that on the one day he did not, he had to sit in a courtroom in which one was demanded and was asked to leave. All those years, then that.

Now they are joined in a bond of knowing in the far north-east of a cemetery. How odd, now, to see their middle names. How odd: to know the foibles, the lives, the wives, the vices, the houses and the streets but not the name in the middle. They did not plan this place to lie. It is fate and the sexton’s hand that farm neighbours are nearly side by side. Close enough, this side of the pines, to feel the nor-west.


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