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An Old, Broken-down Ford Tractor

July 30, 2015


The man exited the building and paced over lawn and sidewalk. In one hand, he held a cell phone to his ear. He ran fingers through his gray hair with the other. His eyes saw nothing of his surroundings. His only focus was on the past and one particular object that dated back to his childhood.

The old Ford tractor lay in a heap back at home, on the floor of the man’s garage. Okay, it still rested on its tires, but in the neglected shape it was in, it may as well have been lying in a heap. Piles of old, empty computer boxes rested on top of it, as well as a stored, fake Christmas tree. Were it a sentient being, one could say that it was buried alive.

His wife hated it. She wanted it gone and who could blame her?

Once, long ago, that tractor was an indomitable force for order and good on his grandpa’s pear orchard. It hauled countless trailer loads of Mexican-hand-picked, green pears to the ranch house. Workers unloaded the lug boxes, and transferred the fruit to enormous wooden bins, that would later be trucked into town, weighed, and sold. The Ford tractor was the undisputed king-workhorse of his grandpa’s farm equipment.

After his grandpa died, his father made expert use of the old tractor and its front-end bucket-loader — pulling out trees, scrapping brush and and sundry crap into burn piles, and triumphing over countless, clinging, blackberry-bush tendrils. It was used to help lay and stretch barbed wire. His father, a road man for the county, could make that tractor do damned near anything except, maybe, make coffee.

When it came to him, however, he lacked the mechanical know-how, and the will to learn it. He could cast some blame on his father’s lack of patience and almost super-power-level inability to teach his son anything. But the man had to admit that it was his own laziness, lack of focus and ambition of any kind that was to blame.

He had a good friend once who could have helped him. But back then he didn’t want to impose, and now it was too late, because the old friend wanted nothing to do with him.

His sons had their own interests and sets of priorities. They had no emotional connection to the tractor, and valued the old machine not at all. The man couldn’t blame them either.

Today, he’d nearly lost the old tractor. His wife had bartered with a work man to remove ugly, jagged, dead trees from their yard. Outside his work, over the cell phone, he’d pleaded with her to reconsider. He offered to pay the man to rid them of the dead trees.

He was talking to her now.

His wife said, “I know you. It’s been rotting in that garage for ten years. You’ll never get it fixed.”

“Doesn’t matter. It belongs on the ranch.”

“There is no ranch. We live on the last, tiny bit of land your dad didn’t sell.”

“I know. But the tractor was my grandpa’s, and then it was my dad’s. It’s mine. I should have been consulted before you agreed to sell it.”

“We once had a conversation, and you agreed it should be sold and hauled away.”

“Then I change my mind. I can change my mind, right?”

“You’re not being logical.“

“This has nothing to do with logic.“

“Well, you think about it for awhile and call me back.”

The man hung up. People passing by shot him glances. They weren’t used to seeing an old, Hawaiian-shirt-wearing Portuguese man pleading passionately, near tears, with his wife not to sell an ancient, broken-down Ford tractor.

He guessed they needed to get out more.

One Comment
  1. I shed a tear for him. I understand.

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