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|John (youngsters:adventure, 746 words)|
|Author: whistler||Added: Mar 02 2002||Views/Reads: 4183/0||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|They thought him a fool. They didn't know about the dream.|
The sun is as unrelenting as the cement mixer's appetite, which has two men shoveling sand and gravel, wrestling bags of cement, eight hours a day. I'm eighteen. He's sixty-three. I doubt that he was a better man at thirty-three. After each two-hour stint at the mixer, we are given an easier job. Except for John. He tells the foreman this is what he wants to do, all that he wants to do. He has his own scoop, says it ‘fits his hand'. Bookton, or rather Bookton's Ryan ranch, is one of John's stopping-off places. Maybe once a year, sometimes less, rarely more. Been a routine, he says, for years. He doesn't know when he'll drop in. Neither does Mr. Ryan, but it doesn't matter. John is always welcome. When he arrives, Mr. Ryan makes a few weeks work for him; if just mending fences. When he finishes, he looks for work in town. If he finds something, like this time, he continues to bunk at Ryan's. When the work is done he moves on. He doesn't have to. He is welcome to stay year round. But he won't hear of it. He doesn't accept charity, he says If he has roots anywhere, they are at Ryan's, though his real roots are deep within himself. I learn this as I get a glimpse of him during our lunch hours. Confident. Born of wanderlust, alone, but not lonely. Steely, but a little tattered. Much like his old Mercury. Most of its chrome has been shaved away by getting too close to something, replaced with scrapes and bruises. Rather like a piece of Michaelangelo's work except unintentionally formed. He shears off the other side against a concrete fountain. He doesn't even shrug or survey the damage. Some of the guys snicker behind his back, or pass him off as mindless. John knows about it. But, like the contact with the fountain, he knows about it, he just doesn't consider it worth his concern. There is as a penalty for their foolishness. John doesn't tell them of the dream. Buried treasure, he says, buried treasure. He has stories. He has maps. He hopes to track it down. He's looked a time or two. Of course there is the obligatory Lost Dutchman's mine, and the wagonload of Confederate gold that ended up hidden in a cave. And he has three or four tales of lesser wealth. This all sounds familiar to me. My dad often recites these yarns. Dad even has some that John hasn't heard, and vise-versa. “John, you have to meet my dad, you just have to.” “Why's that?” “Trust me.” He does. They sit on the sofa for hours, as excited as two little kids, eyes sparkling. Before they finish, they both have all the stories memorized. Dreams are nice, but work is reality. Word is out that they are hiring at the drilling site. The pay is better. I tell John. He tells me to go on and apply. They wouldn't have work for him, he says. I see him on a couple of occasions, and then I don't see him. I ask about him when I run into Mr. Ryan. Apparently, John moved on about the time I saw him last. A year passes. A pickup is stalled on the road with its hood open. I stop. It is John. He has been on an errand for Mr. Ryan, and the old truck just quit running. He is unfamiliar with it. While we tinker with it, we visit for a few minutes. He has been back at Ryan's for just a short time, he says. We finally give up trying to fix the truck. Mr. Ryan has been notified, and help will be here soon. I drive away. A few days later, I see John driving a new rig. A really, really nice rig. Gee, I wonder if the pickup was so serious that Mr. Ryan decided to just trade it in? If so, this is pretty fancy for a ranch truck. I cringe as I have visions of John getting too cozy with a concrete wall, like he did with the old Mercury. When I next see Mr. Ryan I rib him about that possibility. “Oh, that isn't my truck”, he says, “that's John's”. I gasp out that he must be paying awfully well for John to make the payments on a rig like that. He smiles slyly. “John”, he says, “isn't making payments”. Tweet
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