Nowhere Men- Part 1
Ugh... it took about four days before I could walk. And the entire time, my grandfather lounged around the house and accomplished absolutely nothing. He must've thought he was Pete Townshend or something on that ukulele he picked up in Hawaii, horrendously doing what he thought was playing through every sixties rock number he could recall.
In the middle of the 'Revolution' solo, I had to get up to go out back and go to the bathroom. And I was tired of peeing in beer bottles, so I tried my hardest just to walk. I'd never been out back before then, and my screams at the appearance of the back field were enough to prove that as soon as I turned around.
I think I screamed for a solid three minutes at the sight of monstrous weeds choking the ground alone. Then I noticed the sun bleached cow skulls, the piles of beer bottles and cans, and the crushed styrofoam cups from those instant noodles. Finally, I hit new, higher decibel levels and glass-cracking pitch when I found the rotting remains of a small dog at my feet.
"Poor Max the First..." Grandpa said behind me, strumming a somber, down tempo tune on his ukulele. "I guess I forgot to feed him."
By then my voice was too shot to scream, but I turned on him.
"You're a horrible man!" I cried in a raw voice. Grandpa shook his head.
"Nah," Grandpa replied. "I'm just lazy."
I huffed and turned away from him, shaking my head and muttering. As I was walking away, I could've sworn I heard a car engine rumbling, and knew Marv and Melvin weren't far. I saw them drive up in front of Grandpa's house just as we rushed out to meet them.
Melvin slammed on the horn, letting out a screaming honk, and Marv pulled himself out of the sun roof and looked down at us.
"Hear ye, hear ye!" he said in a broad voice. "Mayor Hamilton has kicked the bucket! His son, the asshole Junior Hamilton, will take over as mayor!"
I showed a baffled face to Grandpa, and he looked back at me incredulously. In fact, he almost looked a little sick.
"Jesus! The Mayor's son hates my guts!" he exclaimed, and for once wasn't playing his ukulele. He hung his head and hid under his bucket cap.
"Why does he hate you?" I piped up. I waited patiently for him to reply, but it took him a while between all the head-shaking he did.
"A lot of personal stuff," he finally replied. "And the fact that I've gotten to live easy on this farm after inheriting it from my grandfather. I did marry the girl he liked a long time ago." He shook his head with a sly grin on his face. "The most patient woman in the world... until she got fed up with me and ran off."
"And you don't know where she is? Or how she's doing? And she left you and dad alone?" I cut in. Grandpa shrugged again, keeping the grin on his face.
"Oh no," he said. "She became a very successful novelist, and she's rolling in money." He paused, remembering the last part in my barrage of questions. "And don't worry. She left after your dad moved to the city."
She must be a very, very patient woman. But what bothered me was Grandpa not at all choked up other Grandma. I shrugged it off though.
"So," I began again. "You never considered planting crops? Or raising animals at least?"
"You saw my animals," Grandpa replied in a serious tone, and I shuddered when I remembered them. "But I never planted any crops."
"So you just let Marv and Melvin drive around in the field and throw beer cans around?"
"Yup, and they live there too." He cleared his throat. "Anyway, I think the biggest gripe the guy has against me is that I got to live well off government checks and the rest of the inheritance from my grandfather, and his father had to work hard to usurp the position of mayor of our town."
"Ummm... well I guess I'd have a gripe with you too if you weren't my grandfather," I replied in a shaky voice.
But just as Grandpa was about to reply, a voice rose up from behind me. I swear, I jumped fifty feet out of my skin at the first cackle.
"Looks like the boy's a smart one, eh Randy?"
I spun around and Grandpa cocked his head over my shoulder. Standing right there was a silver-haired man dressed in a pinstriped, black suit. I looked to my Hawaiian shirt, khaki shorts, flip-flop clad grandfather with his white ponytail and scruffy beard. Compared to the classy, clean-shaven man with the arrogant air and despite my Grandfather immense stature, I was quaking at the sight of this stranger.
"Junior!" Grandpa exclaimed, feigning a smooth grin. The new mayor cringed at being called 'Junior', and glared at my grandpa as he continued. "What're you doing here?"
"Getting right down to business," he replied coldly, leaning in over my shoulder to drive his glare at my grandpa. I slumped under him, getting a view of his flaring nostrils. "Because my first action as mayor will to see it that your joyride is over, and you get booted out of here!" He cleared his throat.
Grandpa and I exchanged sick faces. By that point, I was practically rammed up against his broad chest, and the mayor finally backed off.
"See you tonight, Randy!" he called, not even looking over his shoulder. My grandpa fixed a glare on his back the entire time he was in sight. After a while, I sighed and turned to drag myself back inside.
"Maybe we should get started working here, or something," I mumbled, my head hanging low. But Grandpa acted like nothing was said. "Did you hear me?" I asked again, spinning around to face him.
He shrugged and began digging around in his pockets. With a sigh, he pulled out all the chump change he could amass, holding it out for me to take.
"A hundred wingwangs," he announced, strolling away from me. "Go to the flower shop and buy some bags of seeds if you want."
I had a thousand gold, or wingwangs, myself. But it wasn't that. I had no idea what to plant, and much less where I would even buy seeds. With a huff, I strode past my slumping grandpa and made my way to town.
I never thought I would live in a town where I could stand at one end and see the outskirts of the other. And I wasn't even on a hill. There were only a handful of structures, all similarly built and about as far from closely cramped brownstones and dingy buildings as Hackettsburg could get. There was grass between houses. There were trees. And everything growing could be described as verdant. In fact, I was even breathing clean air.
Of course, I got lost on my first romp through town. I had no idea which little rustic building the flower shop. I think the first one I passed was some kind of livestock dealer, complete with the first living cow I'd ever seen in my life staring at me with endearing eyes. So I tried the building next door.
I nearly jumped at the sound of the little bell ringing above the door, and let out a scream when a woman who could pass as a professional wrestler leapt out at me from out of nowhere, failing her brick-like hands and barking commands at me at the top of her lungs.
"SIT DOWN AND ORDER SOMETHING, PRIVATE!!"
And I mean pass as a professional wrestler and remain as the reigning champion for her entire career, leaving every other wrestler wetting their beds at night at the very thought of being in the same room as her. She had bigger arms than Grandpa, with taut, sunned, leathery skin and the biggest neck I had ever seen on anyone, ever. Her hair was drawn back in a tight bun, leaving her beady eyes in full view to burn a hole in my forehead. And hell, she was over six three, I swear.
"SIR, YES SIR!!" I cried, my trembling hand moving itself to my forehead to give this woman salute. Her face was shoved right in mine, and I could see right up her nostrils. Then before I knew it, she pulled back and was laughing her happy butt off, hands on her sides.
"Oh, man!" she whooped. "That was price-less. That damn look on yer face!" She was having a good time laughing, and I was still shaking. "Didja shit yerself while y'all were at it?"
I shook my head.
"Good!" she beamed, clapping her hands and revealing two rows of teeth in serious need of an orthodontist. "Why don't y'all let yer pretty little toosh have a seat over thar, an' I'll be right along wit ya in a jiffy." She jerked her thumb over her shoulder at the counter and stools to my left, but it took me a good minute to recover. She made her way behind the counter, and I was still at the door.
"A-a-aaactually..." I stammered. "I was looking for the flower shop."
"Ohhhh... y'all should've said so!" the woman replied, bustling out from behind the counter again and heading for the window on the other side. "Lemme call Lily an' tell 'er yer on yer happy little way over." She leaned out of the open window, and said something under her breath about a girl named Nina being in sight:
"HEY NINA!! SHOW HIM TO YER SHOP!!"
The woman pulled herself back inside, and turned to me.
"Oh, and try not to excite Nina too much," she warned me. With that, she came up to me and gave me a strong-armed shove right out the door.
"Umm... thanks?" I offered, and the woman nodded warmly.
"Oh, no problemo!" she replied. "By the way, y'all can bring yer scrawny ass back 'ere fer free next time, ya hear?"
I nodded weakly, only for the door to slam behind me. And right in front of me was an even weirder looking person.
It was probably Nina, and the first thing I noticed was it was impossible to tell her age. The girl had fluffy, pink hair and stared at me with green eyes that resembled coffee saucers. She cradled a wicker basket full of pink flowers in her arms, and wore a joker grin for me.
"Hi!" she bubbled when she noticed I wasn't going to break the ice. I nodded weakly, muttering out my own greeting and reluctantly holding my hand out for her. But when she left it hanging there, I just became all the more nervous.
"My name's Jack Lawrence," I choked out. And all she could do was giggle.
Again, I nodded weakly. I would've slipped into a bout of social anxiety, caught up thinking it was just me for being weirded out at Nina, but we reached the flower shop. She waved goodbye as she skipped off to the back yard, glittering in her garden.
I let out a ripping sneeze, and with a frustrated groan, went inside. And I counted how many times I sneezed in the few minutes I was in there. Fifty-six.
"Good afternoon!" the pink haired lady behind the counter beamed. I briefly contemplated the number of people in the world with pink hair and came to the conclusion she was Nina's mother.
I couldn't reply right away, and even when I was done sneezing, the sight of flowers hanging from every possible square inch of the store left me feeling dizzy. Finally, I managed to mumble a "Good morning," and got my thoughts straightened out.
"Ummm... what should I buy?" I half-murmured, slumping. My baffled expression wafted through the air and slipped right under her face. "My grandpa..." Then I realized she had no idea who I was. "Err... Randy sent me."
She either had no idea Grandpa was back from Hawaii or knew I wasn't serious. She cocked her head at me, and I had no idea what to say or do next.
"The bar's not open till later," she said bluntly, and I idiotically nodded as I turned on my way out. But something caught my way along the way out, obscured in the mad tangles of flowers and ferns on the wall. It was a picture of a corn field, with a little boy and who I assumed was his grandfather standing together in front. The boy looked bored, but the father carried himself with pride.
"Seeds!" I exclaimed, spinning around and dumping my pockets on the counter in almost one motion, but when she cocked her head at me again, I continued. "Whatever ones grow this time of year!"
I guess she had to succumb to my insanity sometime soon.
"Okay," she agreed, scooping up my pitiful scrapings of gold and dumping them into an ajar cash register till. "How about half and half?"
Sure, she was really friendly and helpful, but of course I had to reply with: "What about coffee?" She shook her head.
"I give you three bags of corn, and three bags of tomato," she explained, still wearing her warm smile. I nodded, but she leaned back and placed a finger to her chin. "But that'd be really heavy for you to carry all home." Eyeing my stature up and down, she added jokingly: "Or for you to carry one at all."
"How heavy are they?"
"'Bout a hundred pounds each."
Yeah. I'd die.
"But don't worry," she finished, stepping out from behind her counter. She managed to find a window underneath all the wildlife, yanked it open, and made use of Hackettburg's telephone lines.
"MARV!! MELVIN!! GET YOUR TRUCK READY!!"
They did hear her, one of them calling back with a "COMIN', LORELEI!!" Lorelei turned back to me, offering another warm smile.
"Good luck on finally getting to work on that farm," she beamed. I sneezed.
Marv and Melvin pretty much dumped out all six bags of seeds at the entrance of the farm and drove off to their territory in the fields to drink And my grandfather was nowhere in sight. I knew he could definitely lug all the bags around, so I set out to look for him. I crossed to the back fields, around the cow barn and chicken coop, and near the tool shed. I took a glimpse to yet another pitiful looking field to my left, but he wasn't there either. Then it hit me.
Of course, he was fiddling with his ukulele in the house. And he had his muddy flip-flops perched on the dining nook table.
"Afternoon," he said, not even turning around. I felt my hands clench into fists at my sides.
"You know, I at least thought you were going to start working on the fields!" I huffed, folding my arms over my chest. "I went out and got your stupid seeds!"
Grandpa stopped playing, getting up and leaving his ukulele behind on the table. He knew I was following him to every corner of the house, and said:
"Yeah, I said if you wanted." He managed to stay cool about it.
"But I thought we were gonna work on this farm!"
He stopped in front of a bureau tucked in the corner, pulling the doors open and taking out an old, black suit.
"Get dressed," he said curtly. "The wake starts in a bit."
I slumped over to the bed, got down on my knees, and yanked one of my duffle bags out. I managed to pull out something decent for mourning, cursing the whole time under my breath.
I wasn't about to quit though. I hovered behind my grandpa the entire way to the church, throwing demand after demand at him. He took every one of them and kept his composure, and I kept looking for more fuel.
"Answer me!" I finally ordered, jumping in front of him with my arms spread. "I want to know why you won't make any effort on that farm!"
He rolled his eyes, chuckling.
"You're always too serious," he replied. "Lighten up."
I glared at him. He knew that wasn't what I wanted to hear. But with that, he shoved his hands in his suit pockets and walked past me. I didn't let him get far.
"Maybe you need to wake up!" It fazed him, and I knew I gained the upper hand when he turned around with something more than a jaunty laugh. His expression was stony, his disapproving frown hanging low and his eyes digging into mine.
"I'll take advice from you when you put that college education to use," he told me.
I took no notice to the fact that we were standing outside the huge, open doors of the town church. I didn't care the residents of Hackettsburg were flowing inside, even if some sighed and made the effort to veer to the left and right to enter. Grandpa read my face and knew I had more to say, so he stood patiently as he waited for me.
"No!" I declared. "You're sixty-something years old, and you've made nothing in your life!" People were stopping to stare, but I wasn't oblivious to them. "It's like you're content doing nothing all your life."
He didn't care if everyone in town was standing around us, and brought his broad hand up and whipped me across the face. Gasps rose up from every direction as I reeled and winced. I tried sucking up enough to shoot a glare up at my grandpa, but I was mortified.
"Boys, boys," an all-too-familiar voice sneered. Grandpa gritted his teeth and craned his head over in Junior Hamilton's direction, while I slid off to the side to nurse my sore cheek. A girl a bit younger than me and an older woman kept a close distance behind him, until he stepped ahead to meet Grandpa face-to-face. Anyone could see the electric glares they passed between each other, but from the looks of it, nobody wanted to sit through a showdown.
"You think you could stand to show some respect to our late Mayor, Randy?" he asked, leading way for the rest of the townsfolk to jump on the bandwagon. They all threw in their input about slapping me, or at least having terrible timing when it came to it. Junior Hamilton stood there the entire time, his dirty grin growing wider.
What a way to get acquainted. After they all spat out the last of their insults and opinions, they shuffled inside in one stream. But Junior Hamilton still hung around, making sure no one else was in an earshot. When he knew it was safe, he continued.
"You have a year to clean that dump you call a farm up," he told Randy, leaning in as close as he could. I thought I was going mad, but I saw Grandpa cracking and growing uncomfortable. "Otherwise you and the boy are gone." He stood up straight again, making a motion like a rooster ruffling out his feathers. "And I'm sure after your display tonight, the villagers are going to be questioning your character. Better not push it."
And with that, he turned on his heels, shooting us one last pompous look before heading inside.
Grandpa didn't carry himself with his usual jaunty stride on the way home, shuffling despondently. It wasn't his sullen air weighing me down, but my guilt for making a fool out of him like that in front of the whole town. No, it was tearing me apart.
The farm seemed so desolate at night, and it wasn't just that Marv and Melvin were at the bar and we were alone with the untouched bags of seeds. Grandpa groped in the darkness for the keyhole to the house (yeah, Marv and Melvin fixed the door) while I hovered a few feet behind him, idly kicking dirt and dust.
He finally opened the door and entered, but I couldn't take it.
"Grandpa?" I croaked, standing in the doorframe and watching him kick his shoes off any old place he wanted to throw them. He turned and stared at me, looking tired under the dim lighting. He didn't show it, but I knew I nailed a nerve that night.
So I tried saying something.
"I'm sorry for what I did to you," I told him, taking off my glasses and rubbing my eye. I inhaled deeply, quickly putting my specs back on.
"No," he replied. "I should be the one who's sorry."
Grandpa shook his head, throwing himself into the dining nook chair. With a heaving sigh, he knocked his head back on the wall and threw his legs out in front of him.
"Because you're right," he answered. He lifted his head up from the wall and looked at me with all his vulnerability laid out before him. "And because of my slacking, we're in jeopardy." He threw his head back on the wall. "'Less you wanna go home and avoid this trouble. That's fine too."
I shook my head.
"No!" I exclaimed, dashing to the dining nook and standing over him. I managed to catch his eyes again, and that's when I continued. "We've got something we can do now!"
He didn't say anything.
"We can do this!" I continued, throwing my hands out in broad gesticulations. "We'll both have something to finally do in life!"
That look of vulnerability was dissipating into resolution. He pulled himself out of his chair, turning to me with a firm nod and a familiar glint in his eye.
"You win," he said, wrestling a smile out of me for the first time in a few days. "We're gonna do this."
He told me to crash on the bed and get a good night's rest. Come sun-up, our first day of a lifetime of farming would commence.
Okay, so we got a few more characters in, and a threat going. It looks like Randy and Jack are gonna develop more than just a grandfather-grandson relationship, but a friendship as well. Hopefully. Anyway, I know something's probably confusing you all right now: The mayor. Okay, it goes down like this: the mayor as we know him is dead (since Junior Hamilton's definitely not the silly, pudgy guy from HM:SNES), and Maria is Junior's daughter. Weird. Anyway, I'll get to introducing more characters in the next chapter. So far, we've got the shipper (and his friend, who probably wasn't in the game), the Mayor, Nina, her mom, and the restaurant lady. Pretty good so far.
And as if we needed more drivel on the story… I'm not sure what to rate this one. I don't want it to be as heavy as In My Life (my BTN fanfic), so I'm thinking a PG. I know there's drinking and some light swearing. Any input?
Anyway, hope you enjoyed this installment of Nowhere Men. I know I'm looking forward to great things with this and In My Life. Onto shout-outs!
azn anime addict47- Bubba: Yup. Cletus: Yup. Bubba: Yup. Cletus: Yup. Okay, so replace "Bubba" and "Cletus" with "Marv" and "Melvin". I felt I needed a peanut gallery (of sorts) duo. Thanks for reading!
Anime26angel- I hope Jack pulls out a lot of surprises… or on second thought, maybe Randy should do the farm work. Xp Hmm… I'm sure the boys will figure it out. Thanks for reading!
Quack-Wabbit- Yup. I didn't want to work all the characters in at once. I knew it'd get a bit crazy. But don't worry, they'll all show up. Thanks for reading!
Lady-Mikki- Beatles 3 something-I'm-not-hip… bullocks. Beatles just rule. Thanks!