Today we introduce book three of the Chronicles of Michael Tate series by Chuck Witt. If you haven’t read the first two books, it isn’t absolutely necessary, but you may wish to read them first. Links: Book One: The Cincinnati Favor | Book Two: The Hague Massage.
My name is Michael Tate.
My little farm at the south of Winchester, Kentucky is running along quite smoothly under the capable hands of my neighbor Nelson, who is a real farmer — unlike myself. I’m just glad that I make enough from my other endeavors to pay the taxes and mortgage and take a small share of the profits from the tobacco and cattle sales.
It was raining that day as I walked down the driveway to the mailbox. The forecasters had predicted that rain would continue off and on for another twenty-four hours and it had already been raining steadily for the past twenty-four. It was a welcome rain as the previous three weeks had been without any precipitation at all and all the crops around were thirsting, so there were no complaints from the farmers who couldn’t get into their fields at the moment.
My driveway, composed simply of crushed stone, had developed, over time, a few ruts and depressions, and these were filled with water colored gray from the limestone dust. I sidestepped them as best I could since I was only wearing an old pair of loafers, one of which had a hole forming in its sole, and I could already feel the sock on that foot getting damp as the water worked its way through.
I pulled my somewhat ragged and faded baseball cap down a bit over my brow and pulled up the collar of the cheap plastic raincoat I was wearing. Rain dripped from the front of the bill of the cap and, as I pulled the collar up, the dampness that had already accumulated on it rushed down my neck to the muffled exclamation of “Damn.”
The lower part of my jeans were also getting quite damp from both the blowing rain and from the moisture that ran down the slick surface of the plastic onto the exposed legs of my trousers.
“I’m glad we’re gettin’ the rain, but days like today sure make me wish I had door-to-door mail delivery,” I muttered to myself.
LeAnn, our lady mail carrier had just removed some outgoing mail from the box and lowered the flag as I approached. She apparently didn’t see me as she was about to put incoming mail into the box when I shouted, “Hey, LeAnn. Wait up,” and jogged on out to stand beside the open window of her small mail truck.
“Mornin’ Michael,” she offered cheerily, extending a handful of mail to me. LeAnn had finally gotten comfortable with calling me Michael instead of Mr. Tate. I guess the fact that I always called her LeAnn made her accept me on a first-name basis.
I took the items from her outstretched hand and quickly stuffed them under my arm inside the raincoat.
“Nice rain we’re gettin’,” she opined. “I guess you farmers need it after the dry spell we’ve had, and I’ve got to admit the break in the heat isn’t all bad either.”
“Yeah,” I responded. “Nelson was tellin’ me the crops were gettin’ pretty dry so I guess it’s come at just the right time.”
“I hear we’re supposed to get another day’s worth and that some of it may be pretty heavy at times. I just hope the creek doesn’t get over the road down at the bottom of the hill or I may have trouble making my last few deliveries.”
“Well, you shouldn’t have any problem today at least. John has been up and back today already and didn’t seem to be having any difficulty.” John Nash is a neighbor who lives on down the road and has to cross that section of road where the creek does occasionally block it.
“Well, that’s good to know. If I can get through today, the rain will probably be gone by this time tomorrow.”
“Yeah. Well, you be careful. Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow,” I said as she closed her window and pulled away.
I turned and headed back to the house, still trying to avoid the puddles but feeling my sock getting wetter and wetter with each passing step.
“Maybe it’s time to get these shoes re-soled,” I thought, angry at myself for walking out in the rain in them.