The Grid

Posted: October 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

Here’s a little short-story for you folks:
THE GRID
Todd and Janine Weathersby were a couple of kooks who lived over the hill and down the dirt lane from me. When I say kooks, I really mean it. You might know the kinda folks I’m talking about. Used to be this guy who picked up cans on the side of the road all the time going into town, day-in, day-out. Had him a little four-wheeler with a big basket on back for the thirty gallon sacks he’d fill up and a little pole sticking out the side for those spools of plastic trash bags they sell for a buck-fifty at the value-mart. A real goony-bird, that one. Never waved, never did nothing excepting pick up those cans with a long stick with a bent nail on the end of it. The Weathersbys were like that can-guy. Only the Weathersby’s were mad about the grid. Getting off of it, that is.
Point of fact, I stopped by the Weathersby’s once to see how they were getting along after the tornado came through and tore the hell out of half the county, and there they were, not a shingle out of place, Todd filling up a five gallon jerry-can from this spigot on the side of this grain-silo-looking contraption, and I asked him first had the tornado come through his property–to which he nodded “no”–and second asked him what the hell he was doing–to which he replied, “filling my gas tank–what’s it look like?” A real smart-aleck, that one. Mad about the grid, I’m telling you.
See what I mean? Now at that time gas was less than two bucks a gallon. Maybe it was about a buck fifty. And the Weathersby’s weren’t the kind of folks to give their hard-earned money over to the oil companies. Hell, if it was up to me, all those oil executives would be strung from the power lines along the highway, which in itself brings up another topic completely: the Weathersbys didn’t take any electricity from the cooperative. None! I don’t mean they didn’t burn their lights at night or something, what I mean is there wasn’t even a wire running from some pole somewhere over to their property and into their danged walls! How’s that for kooky?
“Self-sufficiency,” Janine once told me. She was as mad as hatter, that one. They didn’t buy nothing from town but raised their own food on their little postage stamp south forty out back which wasn’t really south but north and not really forty, but more like six. Acres, that is.
So when my missus took them over a cherry pie for Thanksgiving, on account of we’re such Christian folks and Thanksgiving is an official Christian holiday, why those Weathersbys just opened the front door and looked at my missus queer-like, as if maybe she had horse ka-ka all over her shoes or something, which she didn’t. Anyway, they wouldn’t take the pie. They just smiled these cheesy, fake smiles and told my missus how they don’t eat refined white sugar. Let me tell you it was like a slap to the missus. She got redder than a beet and high-tailed it home with that pie and wouldn’t say anything about it until well after midnight. Nuts, I tell you.
Anyway, the grid. Now don’t misunderstand me, I’m all for being sufficient by one’s own self. I’m very strongly for it. But I’m not a bit strongly in favor of being a kook.
Which brings me to what I’m telling you about exactly.
Todd Weathersby, you see, wasn’t just a kook. Nossir. He was what you might call a genius kook. Had himself all these contraptions you can’t find at the Farm-all place or the John Deere place. Likely half of those things come from kit-plans ordered through mail-order catalogs for kooks like Todd. You know the kind I’m talking about. Where they’ll have pages and pages of little kooky things like radio-controller helicopters next to ads for how to blow up the government by ordering a book and such things as “build your very own air car”. Kooky shinola like that. Only I expect, as does the missus, that the other half of the stuff you can see out on his property–and let me tell you, that ain’t likely half of what’s hidden!–was funny stuff the old kooky beanpole invented on his lonesome. A bona fide Frankenstein’s nut case, that one. But slick in the brains department, if you discount the social graces, of which Todd and Janine has the cube root of zero to work with.
The Weathersbys took themselves not only right off the grid a few months back. In fact, they took themselves right off the map!
Here’s what happened.
That morning Leroy Samuels comes by and takes coffee with me and the missus and says something strange. Samuels is our postman and he’s a stout fellow, so he’s all the time drinking our coffee before it gets too green and eating up all the spare pies before they go bad, so he’s alright. Safe to have around I mean. Anyway, Samuels says to me and the missus: “what are they gonna do, I wonder, about that hole.”
“What hole?” I asks him.
“The Weathersby’s hole,” he says. I swear the missus very nearly spilled her coffee on herself. A nervous girl, that one.
“Samuels,” I says, “just what in the sam hill are you referring to?”
“You ain’t been down the lane lately?” he asks me.
“Nope,” I says. “No call to.”
Then Samuels tells me about the hole. So, being of an inquisitive nature, and having Christian concern for my neighbors, I took myself and the dog and a shotgun with extra shells and went to find out.
The Weathersbys. Real goony-birds, I tell you.
There wasn’t no place left to speak of. There was this six acre hole, only it wasn’t six but more like ten because parts of the Weathersby’s neighbors’ cow pastures was missing on three sides, and a good piece of the dirt lane as well. It was a good thing that lane ended at their property, let me tell you.
The hole was a deep one, too. Perfectly round. Must have been a few hundred yards down there, and there was nothing but smooth bedrock at the bottom.
A real ‘vestigator is what I am. Maybe I should hang out a shingle and charge folks for finding their lost pets or something useful like that. By way of saying that I went to the source and got the straight dope on what the Weathersbys gone and done.
I knew that old Neil Bear, the county agent, hung around the auction barn on a Saturday, so that Saturday I took myself and old Blue over to the barn and jawed with Neil a bit.
Neil told me the whole story.
It was the night of thunderin’ lightning two weeks back when the missus and me was certain another twister was coming through. The rain was coming down horizontal like and there was these great flashes of lightning that made you want to unplug everything in the house and break out the candles just in case. Weathersby had these funny-looking poles in the center of his compound–that’s what you properly call a place like that, a compound–and both them poles was wrapped around with about a thousand turns of spool copper wire, twelve gauge, I’d say. On top of the poles he had these two shiny steel balls about six feet across. The missus told me it was “modern art”, but I remembered something from grade school, and old Neil Bear confirmed it. He called it a Tesla coil. Them things were thirty feet tall if they were two.
“They gone and done it,” Neil says.
“Done what?” I asks him, real private ‘vestigator-like.
“They took themselves off the grid. Only they took part of the Earth with ‘em when they did.”
“What in the sam hill?” I asks him.
“You see,” Neil says, “I went inside their place ‘bout a month back when they was in town closing up their post office box.”
“You trespassed?” I asks him.
“I was ‘vestigatin’,” Neil says.
“Gotcha,” I says, and drops Neil a wink.
“Anyways,” Neil says, “there was this strange book open on the coffee table. Talking about other dimensions and ‘stantaneous travel, which is faster than the speed of blink.”
“Ya don’t say,” I says.
“Real kooks,” Neil says, and I couldn’t have agreed with anybody more strongly when he says that.
So me bein’ a semi-professional ‘vestigator, I puts two and two together, and guess what I got? It’s like this, see. What I figured happened was this: since at the height of that last thunderstorm there was this clap of thunder what shook the whole house–and me and the missus was certain it was one of our fruit trees done been hit by a big bolt of lightning, but the next morning I couldn’t find anything like that, but, I promise you, it sounded like it was ten feet from the house, only it wasn’t though–it was them kooky Weathersbys. The weatherman on TV says that thunder is just a bunch of air. It’s air rushing back in to fill the place where the lightning bolt has turned the air to nothin’. And that’s what we heard, only it was the air rushing back in to fill up the whole dad-blamed Weathersby place, a mile down the dirt lane.
So that’s what they gone and done. They took themselves right off the grid, by which I mean the whole gol-durned map!
Just this morning the missus was fussin’ at me, wanting to know what I was readin’. I showed it to her and she fair took herself into her room and slammed the door and commenced praying. A powerful pray-er is my missus. I can’t recollect what set her off so, I’m here to tell you. It was just an innocent little thing. A circular I got in the mail–Samuels delivered it himself–titled something like: “How to save a little extra in gas mileage.” Something like that.
I wonder sometimes what sets a woman off so.

Just a bit of fun.

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