UNITED STATES—The farmhouse was farther away than it looked. The brothers, flanking Zorba –former Detective Zorba– trudged as the crow flies toward the white clapboard house and they crossed through a cornfield that was tall, almost tall as they were.
The razor-sharp edges of its long silky green leaves cut Zorba’s bare hands. The former detective pondered an urge to ditch the farm boys who drugged and kidnapped him. Now that they reached “up there,” it became “up here.” Just then he fixed on one of the brothers and saw that his smile was missing a few teeth and had the features of a poorly cut jack-o-lantern.
Zorba entertained that escape just so long, watching another of the brother’s plaid-clad arms machete thought the tall corn stalks. Zorba knew he wouldn’t get very far on that flat golden plain of wheat. Big drops of sweat rolled down his forehead, he was dog tired. They must have walked up 10 miles of spiraling stair like a double helix to get from the Underground City to the top of the silo.
The thump-thump of his heart clenching and unclenching: repeated slavery/emancipation, slavery/emancipation. As a servant of a law, a detective, he recognized that we toil in our prisons a while and crave freedom, and when there is surfeit of freedom, we’re only too happy to get back to our snug little jail. After the long march across the wheat fields and through the corn forest, Zorba’s knees wanted to collapse.
Finally, he asked the burning question:
“What do you want with me?”
“You knows when you needs to know,” said the brother high cheeked and chapped red, differentiated by the blacked-out teeth. Another grabbed one of the ripe yellow corn cobs off the stalk and sank his teeth into it. “Boy, that’s sweet,” he exclaimed, wheeled on Zorba and said, “Is you hungry?”
He was more tired than hungry after scaling the silo, enduring the dull pain of an opiate pill-pod near L-4 of his spine. More significantly, a hint of care crept into the brother’s voice when he asked if he was hungry. Zorba was at the place where fatigue supersedes hunger.
They came out of the cornstalks into a clearing behind the farmhouse. It became immensely clear that the house household lived in the most unimaginably rustic conditions. It was well outside with its iron pump-handle.
At the outskirts of the farm, where some scraggly lawn commenced, Zorba noted a big galvanized zinc tub; above it tilted a ribbed washboard. There was a dour youngster running wet soapy laundry over the ridges of the washboard. Off younger by the barndoor by some red roosters pecking corn, lay the rusty disemboweled components of a tractor. Technophobia with a vengeance, Zorba thought.
The sky was soft, cloudless and daunting. There was a single cottony cloud to the far left that looked for all the world like it was slinked away, in search of shade. Off in a pasture penned by barbed wire, a few skinny oxen munched grass lethargically, looked at the walking party and then went back to their munching.
Soon they crossed a porch, there was and elm an oak and ash tree, a girl in a swing. It was inky dark as they crossed the threshold, vivid green dots danced on Zorba’s retina. They were of a natural source: the screen in his retina had fizzled out. They were beyond the system. One of the hayseed brothers shooed a child, a baby with a toy doll, from a side room. Zorba could not believe his eyes in the penumbra of the first room, he thought he had seen a woman with her shirt off. It must have been the heat; it was very hot and curls of woodsmoke came to his nose.
“You is tired” said the brother #1, who’d tagged him with the pill-pod in the metro station. His nodded yes.
They guided him to a lower bunk bed—it was comforting to be under that low spring ceiling—and a nice warm wind blew in a window from the plains. It was all so quiet, so deafeningly quiet around and, like a thirsty sponge, the plains silence soaked up the clucking of roosters, the crackling of fire in the kitchen stove. From beyond came a deafening, humming silence of an exquisite wavelength.
Sleep engulfed tired Zorba. Soon as he snored, he dreamed of helicopters making clover-leafs in the sky.
He hoped for a four-leaf clover…
To be continued…
Graydon Miller is the author of “Later Bloomer: Tales of Darkest Hollywood,” https://amzn.to/2Ljky3v