WHAT IT IS
The three hundred and twenty acre farm had been in the Hislop family for over five generations. Corn and soybeans were the mainstay crops, but tomatoes and cucumbers were planted some years with decent results. The land had been good to the Hislops, providing steady income and a modest hard working lifestyle the family had come to be known for. Proud as they were, the Morgan County Hislops spoke very little of Frank Hislop, the 1930’s patriarch of the family who ended up in a mental institution, having declared that spacemen had visited the farm on more than one occasion.
Frank was on Fay’s mind as she drove the John Deere around the edge of the partially harvested corn field and came to stop at the precise location where Frank’s contorted, quivering body was found by sheriff’s deputies. The shotgun across Fay’s lap was to make her feel better. In the very early morning hours of the same day, Fay saw a blue light at the edge of the corn field, eerily close to where she now sat on the tractor.
It was fall now, but the honeybees still rummaged through the corn tassels, Japanese beetles enjoyed the banquet, click beetles roamed freely and tree swallows feasted on these and other delectable treats. Looking around, everything looked normal to Fay, except for the hysterical laughter coming from beyond the wood lot in front of her. Fay used the shotgun to knock aside the branches as she made her way through the woodlot. The laughter grew louder until she could see two men sitting beside a two car freight train, looking completely out of place in her neighbour’s field.
WHAT IT IS NOT
Jaden drove Mary Sampson to the greyhound bus stop in Mount Pulaski. Mary wanted to go on to Missouri, but Jaden needed to return to her police duties in New Orleans. Hugs and kisses went postal with Jaden leaving her cell number with Mary along with strict orders for the two to keep in touch.
Jaclyn and Jaden’s cruiser inched its way along a Louisiana back road, eyes peeled for a motorcycle reported to be in the ditch. Jaclyn gently slapped the dashboard, motioning Jaden to stop the car. A crude wooden box housed a clutch of tree swallows and the adults were kept busy feeding the hordes. Both women puzzled over what they were seeing, neither women had children or ever remembered wanting kids or ever remembered wanting the questioning looks of family and friends as they aged out of prime child bearing years into older adulthood. Some people were openly hostile, others crushingly condescending, but few exhibited genuine understanding, and all this was OK because no profound principle was at stake, just a path taken, consequence chosen and a quiet desire to live unjudged. In many ways this passage to the outside made them more resilient and better prepared for the irregularities that oppression, poverty and mental illness occupy in the policing world.
A knock on the window; two heads turned to see Samantha, Cathy and Leo Barnard peering inside the cruiser.