neighbor notes

Posted: April 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

Things had been weird ever since my buddy’s younger brother had taken off.  I was there at their farm, the day he left.  The whole neighborhood had wondered why their dad was selling off animals and equipment – it seemed like he was trying to raise a lot of cash fast.  They were such a stable family that we were all surprised.  People speculated.  Was someone in the family ill?  Had he developed a gambling problem?  Why in the world would they want to sell so much?  Finally I asked my buddy, one day when we were out in the fields.  That’s when I heard:  his younger brother was taking off, leaving the area, and taking his half of the family inheritance with him when he went. 

I never heard of such a thing.  It just wasn’t done!  No son with any respect would ask for it.  No father with any backbone would tolerate it.  If the kid had his heart set on leaving, why not just let him go?  Why turn over funds that he had no right to at this time in his life? 

Though the family didn’t say much, word got around and it was a quiet scandal.  People talked about it in the marketplace and around dinner tables.  Lots of us sons were told in no uncertain terms about the unmitigated wrath would be visited upon us if we dared to make such an inappropriate request of our families.  If that was the kind of thing he would do to his own father, they were probably better off without him.  Good riddance. 

He stayed gone a long time.  We heard wild stories about him, from the far-off city where he had gone to live.  Booze.  Drugs.  Women.  Police interaction.  He had to be running through that money hard.  Most of us agreed it would probably be best if he just stayed gone.

But then one afternoon I was out working on the fence, near the road.  Here he came, dragging along.  Skinny and ragged.  Limping and unshaven.  Looked like he hadn’t been clean in a very long time.  Watching the ground in front of him.  No glances up or around.  Just trudging along, so slow and sore that I didn’t know how he was going to make it the rest of the way home. 

I wanted to run ahead of him.  To warn my buddy.  We had talked so many times about what this kid had done.  About the betrayal of money basically stolen from the family.  About the way his parents still pined away for him, even after all of that.  Shouldn’t they be warned that bad news was on the way back to their farm? 

But I stood still.  Best not to interfere in family business.  Let them work it out.  I knew if my buddy got to him before their dad did, he would probably issue some good old-fashioned corporal punishment to his brother. 

But that was their business, not mine.


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