Looking For Luck
A novel about a young man seeking to make an old man answer.
By John Bach
It was an early fall day, about the middle of the afternoon. The sun was still a ways up in the sky, and there was a lot of daylight left. The sky was a brilliant blue, the likes of which typical fall days produce in the Midwest. The corn, strict rows of golden sentries telling in their browning and dying of the coming harvest, stood tall in the surrounding fields. It was a little town by the name of Loomis, in south central Nebraska.
In the local café, many men sat idly together in small groups, he-gossips, pitching their stories of broken machinery and lazy hired men, and the coming bounty of the crop. Their ball caps, worn and dirty with blackened smudges from being grabbed countless times by grease and work-smudged hands. Strong, weathered hands, some now holding cups of half drained coffee. The men talked freely. By early evening, the café would be empty again, waiting for the same collection of fellows the following morning. If a stray visitor to town happened into the café for a bite in the evening, he might wonder to himself how the place stayed in business. Little would he know of the throngs pulsing through, mornings and evenings, spending the lucre from the land. Corn prices were good. Bean prices too. Money was to be made.
Across the wide and uncluttered road and a couple of blocks down sat the nursing home. It was not loud this time of day, or any time of day, even though the old women and few remaining old men were hungry and unsettled. The remains of Loomis of old, tailings of time. Some of the old women wondered where their old men were, forgetting that their men and their own days of visiting in the café across the road had long expired. The few old men, rare widowers, their strength gone and their hands grown crooked and calluses softened, these men sat silently in stuffed upholstered chairs. This, the last stop on their route across the earth. Indeed, one could be born on the East end of town in the Paul F. Harr Memorial Hospital, spend one’s early years in the Loomis schoolhouse, move on over at maturity to the café, and then finish the course at the Thela Fieldstone Memorial Rest Home, all without leaving town, if one were so inclined.
These remaining elders had been born well before either Paul Harr or Thela Fieldstone worked into their respective bequeathments. Many of them were now alone in mind as well as body, having forgotten their families, as their families had forgotten them. Few disjointed memories of bright afternoons in the café or town shops remained.