This arti­cle is part 1 of 10 in the series Beijing Acupuncture

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.

  • Chuck Witt

    Chuck is a retired archi­tect, a for­mer news­pa­per colum­nist, and a life­long res­i­dent of Winchester.

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