A "yarn" (in writer speak) is a long and rambling, often implausible, story. Hard to do as a short story, let alone a 1000 word flash. So the hosts at Write..Edit..Publish have tweaked the prompt to THE UNRAVELED YARN for the June challenge.
word count: 999
The rumble of a John Deere rivals the thunder as it parallel parks out front of my store. Had to be Mike Shirley; the only idiot farmer with a tractor large enough to brave the flood waters and come in from the fields during a winter rainstorm. Three reasons for his being here, and only two would set easy with me. His wife needs milk and meat because there's no way out to shopping on the county roads; he just wants a beer and bullshit. Or another city slicker idiot ignored the warning signs and drove his Mini Cooper up 7 mile road.
Well, I hoped it was AFTER a rescue. It’s been several hours since I last heard chatter on the scanner from my county volunteer fire fighters. The code-speak told a tale of a car with three passengers floating in a fifteen foot dip. Mike's John Deere has the towing capacity of a tank, and Mike is a certified scuba diver. I know, you're wondering what use a County volunteer fire department in the middle of rice farm country has for a scuba diver with a John Deere tractor.
Mike and his family moved here about ten years ago. Why a Navy Seal with no family ties to the community would ever want to settle in this land-locked county of farmers nobody ever bothered to ask. We’re not rude here in the sticks, and his wife hired on to Social Services before they moved here. Mike and his wife bought fifty acres, planted wheat, rice and barley, hired on local immigrants; fit right in with the community. The two boys made friends quick and easy, joined the FFA; they raise high quality pigs that bring in top dollars, and donate the entire profit to the school.
Mike didn't join the fire department right away, but he seemed to be around every time a crisis was happening, and just tagged along. Always knew what equipment would be needed, what trucks to take. Whether or not to have an Ambulance or helicopter on standby. Just too much weird; but in a good way. Didn’t take long for him to make Chief.
The Mennonites think he is a demon who causes calamities so he can be a hero and won’t let him on their properties. They pray for the souls of those he rescues; the living and the dead. The Baptists think he’s an Angel with a direct line to God. The lives lost are not his fault; people don’t always listen when God talks through his emissaries.
“Hey Mike,” I say as he practically falls through the door. The wind has been picking up over the last hour.
“Yo Del. Got any coffee?” He slams the door, shakes water off his slicker and tugs at the zipper.
If he's taking off his raincoat and galoshes there isn't an emergency.
“Good.” He kicks his galoshes to the side and walks in his socks to the coat tree beside the deli counter.
I keep a few camp chairs in front of the fifteen cup coffee pot. There’s a rug on the concrete floor, an old pot belly stove, a basket of near expired muffins and cookies, and paper coffee cups. And the scanner. Nobody ever sits there in the spring and summers – locals have too much work to do and the travelers mostly seem to know the area isn’t for strangers. Late fall and winter though, its usually filled with old farmers and well known duck hunters with gossip on their minds. I don’t charge them for the coffee and treats. Can’t put a price on good company.
“How’s that family you rescued?”
“A close thing, but all are safe. Even the one I had to dive for,” he says, pouring the last dregs of the pot into a cup. He immediately dumps the filter, pulls out a fresh one, adds coffee, then turns with the empty pot and starts around the deli case where a mini kitchen and toilet is hidden. “Ah, mind if I make more?”
This makes me a bit worried. He could want to hang out – its Wednesday and he’s known for hauling his wife to their parked car at the edge of the flood zone. Or he needs a pot for the road. I shrug and return to my cigarette count.
“We’ve no coffee at the Fire House,” he announces, interrupting my count. The Fire House is next door to my store. “And, all the thermos’ are missing. Again.”
Damn. I put down my pencil and paper. “The crew turned in a few last week. And I got a stash upstairs in my apartment. Should I, make another pot upstairs?”
“Nah,” he says, pouring the water into the compartment. He pushes the button, then retrieves his cup and sits down. “But if you could bring me those thermos’ I’d be grateful. Damn, but its cold in the House.”
“Uh huh,” I say, and head to the kitchen and the stairs to my apartment.
I dally a while, praying that Mike is just bored and wants to get the House stocked for the next call. Or maybe the crew is having a meeting tonight. This last call was tough on everyone; a babe trapped in the car seat, Mike going down before the gear was fully attached, parents screaming in their cell phones on top the sinking car as it floated downriver.
When I go down the stairs I hear Mike on his cell phone.
“Yeah Babe, I got this. Won’t hit the call center, I promise. Already got the coffee going. I’ll stop them with my badge and tractor, and nobody turns down free coffee on a day like this. Bet Del will let me take all the stale muffins too. That casino bus will turn around.”
I send better than stale muffins when Mike leaves half an hour later with the Deere, three thermoses of coffee, and the last of my paper cups.
There's my submission for the Unraveled Yarn. Of course if you prefer the more recognizable yarn story involving a ball of woolen string, perhaps you should visit the WEP linky and read what other participants have written. I'm sure there is something cozy or kittenish submitted.