Grandpa, What's Progress -- Final Installment
What was in the cornfield?
The ride home from the cornfield where Bob "Big Rock" Decker and his grandson, Tommy, was long and mostly silent. Hardly a dozen words were spoken. Bob's eyes were glued to the road and Tommy just stared out the window. Both knew that something was in the cornfield, but neither wanted to talk about it.
Bob finally broke the silence in the pick-up truck cab. "Guess I'd best be watching for deer, huh?"
"Yes, sir. But if we hit one, we can have meat for supper," Tommy replied with a nervousness in his voice. For a young man, he did not want grandpa Bob to know that he was shaking inside at watching the black blur of something dart down the corn row where he and Bob had been spending time.
Bob and Tommy reach home
"You hungry?" Bob asked.
"Yes, sir. I could eat a stack of grandma Sarah's biscuits," Tommy quickly replied.
As the two neared Bob's modest-but-big home, Bob blurted out, "Hey, look at that! Grandma Sarah Anna is out in her flowers. I've told that woman that I do not want her outside especially when I am gone."
Tommy nodded and agreement as he chuckled to himself at Bob's remark. He wanted to ask grandpa Bob when and if the subject of what it was that ran down the corn row would ever be discussed, but chose to keep the atmosphere peaceful and not be the root of discord.
Bob parked his pick-up truck in the parking area among his other vehicles and got out scolding Sarah Anna.
"Girl, how many times have I told you to not be out here by yourself when I am gone. You know how mean some of the folks nowadays are."
"Okie, dokie, Bob. I hear you. I just wanted to pick some fresh flowers for the dining table," Sarah Anna gently replied admiring the bouquet of roses in her smooth hands.
"Grandma, when do we eat?" Tommy asked rubbing his stomach and letting a childish grin take root in his face.
"About an hour, son. Go ahead and wash up," Sarah Anna said as she walked toward the house.
Tommy was happy because his main happiness was sitting his feet underneath grandpa Bob and grandma Sarah Anna's dining table and eating until he was as full as a tick. But the thought of the sight in the cornfield still nagged at him until he sat down on a wooden bench that Bob carved and put near the front door of the house. While Tommy sat and thought over and over what that sight might have been, his imagination drew-up a number of things ranging from an undiscovered species of animal to the ghost of one of grandpa Bob's employees who had passed away.
Sarah's meal: A taste of Heaven.
During the supper meal, Tommy and grandpa Bob seldom let their eyes meet for fear that the subject of the sight in the cornfield would accidentally be spoken then grandma Sarah Anna would worry herself into a tizzy and not be her gentle self.
Supper went by as fast as a summer shower. Tommy was so full of Sarah Anna's tasty food that he could hardly move. The same can be said of grandpa Bob. Only grandma Sarah Anna was up and clearing the table while humming, "Precious Memories," her favorite hymn. This put a certain peace into the kitchen as Tommy and Bob would glance at each other now and then, but not speak.
Sarah Anna finished clearing the table and started toward the living room.
Bob rose from the table and said, "Girl, me and Tommy will be out in the shed if you start looking for us."
Sarah loved her living room.
Sarah Anna smiled and nodded as she slowly made her way to the haven she had grown to love: The living room that had photos of her and Bob, Grant and Julie, Tommy, and other family members' pictures hung on the walls. The photos gave Sarah Anna a secure mind and peace that Bob's huge bank accounts couldn't do.
As Bob and Tommy entered Bob's workshop, Bob looked at Tommy and told him to sit down and they would have a secret talk about what they had seen in the cornfield provided that Tommy's lips would not tell one word of the talk outside of the workshop.
Tommy was quick to agree with Bob's conditions. He looked at what happened more like a comic book adventure than he did something fierce and deadly while Bob on the other hand, was seriously-concerned.
"So truthfully speaking, we both cannot really say what it was in the cornfield. Right, Tommy?" Bob said gluing is eyes straight into Tommy's eyes.
"Yes, sir, grandpa. You are right. We both do not know what the thing was, so why should we worry?" Tommy stated with an adult-like wisdom.
"Well, Tommy," grandpa Bob began. "Your grandma and me live way out here by ourselves and well, if we are outside or one of us is outside, there is that danger of whatever it was coming to get us. Do you understand, Tommy?"
"Yes, sir. I see what you are saying," Tommy replied. "But grandpa, what do you think it was?"
"Well, son, I can't answer that. If I were on a witness stand in court, I would have to say that it looked like an old man who used to loafer around here near my fields and he up and died one day, but nobody ever knew his name. That's what I think," Bob explained.
"But if he's dead, then why . . ." (Tommy was interrupted by Bob).
Creature or man?
"Shhhh. Be quiet. Did you hear that?" Bob asked ducking away from the window in the shop door.
"What was it, grandpa Bob?" Tommy whispered as he knelt on his hands and knees.
"Be still. I am going to ease back the curtain . . .and see if . . .oh my stars, Tommy!" Grandpa Bob said in a fearful tone.
"What is it, grandpa?" Tommy asked again not moving from his place on the floor.
"Let's get behind my work table--NOW. It's him," Bob advised.
"Him who?" Tommy whispered as he crawled toward the work table.
"That old geezer who I told you about just now. He's out there at my pick-up truck and God only knows what he's doing," grandpa Bob said with his face turning pale.
"Tommy, you stay put. I am getting my 30-30 and going to put a stop to this creep," grandpa Bob said grabbing his rifle from atop the work table.
Bob's footsteps couldn't be heard as he walked slowly toward the shop door. Tommy's breathing was strangely-normal as he was remained stationary and not making a noise. He watched as his grandpa, an experienced hunter and woodsman from his younger days, slowly open the shop door. Tommy's heart then began to race. He felt the danger that was infecting the air around him and grandpa Bob.
"Hey, you! I said get away from that . . ." Bob's voice ceased. Before Tommy could get up and run to him, he heard the loud pop's of Bob's 30-30 and Bob lowering the rifle slowly to his side and not daring to move.
"Grandpa Bob! What? What is it?" Tommy exclaimed. "Look, grandpa. It's trying to crawl to where we are."
When the "creature/man" finally reached Bob and Tommy, it collapsed on the hard ground as Bob and Tommy's eyes grew wide and their mouths flew open.
"Let's get that mask off of him, Tommy," grandpa Bob said pulling back the mask of an old man from the face of a black man in his early 50's.
"Wy' this is Simpson Ferguson if I am a man at all, " Grandpa Bob said while looking at the man laying on the ground.
"He's still breathing, grandpa," Tommy said.
Bob stooped down and tried to revive the man whose breathing was now frantic and hurried.
"What are you doing on my place, Simpson?" Bob said in a low tone.
"Oh, sir. (cough, cough). You don't know of me. Most folks (cough, cough) don't. My granddaddy, Leroy Ferguson was a loafer and a bum who lived on the (cough, cough) goodness of others, and one day, you and some men of a younger age (cough, cough) was hunting in them lower woods out by that cornfield where you seed me and (cough, cough), one of you shot at my granddaddy and hit him in the back and well, (cough, cough), seeing that we was black folk, I couldn't come to you and tell you for afraid a little fella like me would get put in the ho-scow." Simpson explained.
Grandpa Bob stood and wept like a schoolboy with a broken heart.
"I was just hoping that just maybe, there was something of value (cough, cough) in ye' truck that I could have to buy me some pretty flowers for granddaddy's grave I made fer him (cough, cough) out there in them low woods." Simpson said what he knew were his last words. His head laid over on his shoulder and he passed away.
"Come on boy. We got some work to do," Grandpa Bob said.
Before Bob and Tommy left, they sat down with Sarah Anna and told her the entire story and she accepted it with the peace of a fine southern gentlewoman.
Grandpa Bob and Tommy drove to the lower woods past the cornfield where they had seen Simpson running in the corn rows and found the grave of Simpson's granddaddy, Leroy Ferguson's grave with several smooth rocks stacked upon it in perfect design.
"Tommy, I have got something sad, but needed to do. So you can go with me," Grandpa Bob said in a low voice.
With Bob's connections in the probate judge's and sheriff's office, he had the remains of Leroy Simpson exhumed and reburied in his own family cemetery along with his grandson, Simpson. Bob also had two of the most-respectable and expensive tombstones placed on their graves and had the local church pastor drop what he was doing so he could say some proper words over the two.
On the way back home, neither grandpa Bob and Tommy said few words. Words at that moment were futile.
It was Gradpa Bob's giving gestures that made Tommy grow into a man quicker that day.