white car on road between trees during daytime
This arti­cle is part 1 of 17 in the series The D.C. Reunion

Tuesday, September 20th.

Living on a small farm in cen­tral Kentucky has both advan­tages and disadvantages.

There is a peace­ful seren­i­ty here that allows one to rev­el in alone­ness if that’s what one desires — and the moments of qui­et rever­ie can help refresh a per­son from the rig­ors of the day.

But frankly, there are few rig­ors here to be over­come with intro­spec­tion. And some­times the soli­tude grates on a per­son, mak­ing one want to cry out for some­one to talk to, for a few moments of con­ge­nial companionship.

But for the most part, I enjoy being alone, to read, to lis­ten to my own pref­er­ences for music, or just to sit out­side with a cup of cof­fee or tea and lis­ten to the sounds of nature.

So I was quite sur­prised the day I heard a vehi­cle approach­ing along my grav­eled dri­ve­way and, as it came into view,  did­n’t rec­og­nize it as one of my neigh­bors who may occa­sion­al­ly drop by for a chat.  Looking through the front win­dow to see who was com­ing, I was even more star­tled to see Lionel Trane — affec­tion­ate­ly known as L.T. — emerge from the dark blue Ford Taurus and come strolling rather casu­al­ly toward the house as if it were an every­day occurrence.

I moved over to the door as he reached the front of the porch and opened it a split sec­ond before he raised his hand to ring the bell.

“L.T.,” I exclaimed, “what the hell are you doing here?”

“Good to see you too, Michael.” A sheep­ish grin crossed his lips.

“Oh, I did­n’t mean it that way, L.T.,” I said as I pushed the screen door open and extend­ed my hand to shake his.

“I know, Michael.  I can imag­ine how much of a shock this is for you to see me vis­it­ing, con­sid­er­ing that I usu­al­ly con­tact you by letter.

“And, as you prob­a­bly already sus­pect, I’m here on busi­ness and this time it’s so cru­cial that I could­n’t waste time going through the mails with their atten­dant response times.”

“Well, come on in.  I’ve just made a fresh pot of cof­fee.  Can I offer you some?”

“That sounds great.  Black, no sugar.”

“I remem­ber.  And I think you’ll like this batch.  I decid­ed to make some Kona today so it should bring back mem­o­ries of our Hawaiian adventures.”

“Some of which I’d pre­fer to for­get, Michael. But the Kona sounds wonderful.”

“Have a seat.  I’ll refresh mine as well and be right back.”

L.T. moved into the com­fort­ably arranged liv­ing room and seat­ed him­self in a large uphol­stered lounge chair near the window.

When I returned to the room with two cups of cof­fee, the steam gen­tly ris­ing from each and dis­si­pat­ing quick­ly, I saw L.T. had ensconced him­self in the chair direct­ly oppo­site the one I always occu­pied when in the room.  I could­n’t help but think he was so per­cep­tive that he had noticed the some­what worn appear­ance of the oth­er chair and real­ized it was the one that I most often used and had refrained from sit­ting in it as a way of not infring­ing on my territory.

Setting the two cups on the low table between us, I began with small talk.

“So, L.T. how’re things with you?  And what’s so urgent that you had to come here in person?”

“I hate to talk busi­ness right off the bat, Michael.  Even though there is urgency as to why I’m here, I have to say I like your place.  It’s nice and seclud­ed.  Beautiful coun­try­side.  And undoubt­ed­ly a good place to get to after your work.”

“Yeah, it’s always com­fort­ing to get back here and shed the rig­ors of an assignment.”

“You a farmer, too?” inquired L.T. “in addi­tion to oth­er things?”

“Oh, God, no.  I have a neigh­bor who’s a real farmer.  He takes care of near­ly every­thing on the place and watch­es after it while I’m gone.  In return, he gets a gen­er­ous per­cent­age of what­ev­er the farm pro­duces.  I just usu­al­ly sit around and watch him work.”

“Tough life,” inject­ed L.T. with a friend­ly sneer.

“Well, it keeps me out of trou­ble.  Most of the time.”

We were each sip­ping our cof­fees, assess­ing one anoth­er, and prob­a­bly both of us judg­ing the right time to get down to the rea­son that L.T. was sit­ting in my liv­ing room instead of safe­ly bil­let­ed in some super-secure office some­where, eaves­drop­ping into oth­er peo­ple’s business.

  • Chuck Witt

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

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