Chapter 1: Morning

This is a very true story about the healing power of Love.

Workers of the earth are early risers by nature, but Farmer Jack woke up late. The later he woke up, the less of his life he had to witness. He stumbled into the bathroom and watched his beard through the mirror. Outside he could hear the sounds of a failing farm, and the screeching of Timothy, Jack’s magical monkey that could twist time like a wire hanger. Here’s how he did it: he used his magical time-controlling monkey fist.

Jack stared at his own fist. It couldn’t control time. It couldn’t even pay off the loans that had been piling up on his father’s extremely valuable antique desk for so long that he was forced to burn the desk to make room for more bills. It couldn’t even punch his brother Percival in the stomach, for Percival was more than an armslength away.

It could, however, punch Jack in the face and it did so, now, repeatedly. Punched him as some sort of atonement for the laughable series of horrendous business decisions he had visited upon his own farm, his own land, the very land he had inherited from his father’s father. I mean, his grandfather. Jack grew up with an innate knowledge of the farming life—the feel of living, breathing soil in his hands, the seasons of... well, I guess he pretty much just knew about the feel of soil. The beginning and end of his farming knowledge was his own filthy hands. It was Percival who had always tended to the business side of things after their father had passed, as well as the farming part. How to handle the men from the bank. How to hire farmhands to do the actual work. What a “combine” or a “wheat” was. You know, farm crap. Under Percival’s steady, guiding hand, the farm had carved a successful niche for itself, put seeds in that niche and sold what sprang forth a few months later. But Jack...

Jack’s attempts to keep the farm were immediately disastrous. Jack had nowhere near the business experience of his brother, and didn’t know a thing about money. When the somber men from the bank came around to extract their due, Jack vainly attempted to pay them off with a small pile of coins commemorating the Helsinki Olympics, some tokens from FunTime Video Arcade and a Levi Strauss Jeans Certificate of Quality and Authenticity.

Jack wandered out among the farmhands. He’d have to somehow “get his shit together” if he wanted to inspire confidence in his men, just like Sun Tsu did. He pulled an open carton of Parmalat milk from the Fridgadaire and took a long pull. He gargled another mouthful, and walked out into the noonday sun.

The first order of the day was to visit Tim Rudall, who was overseeing the livestock. Rudall grunted a greeting to Jack. The words were unclear but the meaning was obvious—this farm sucks major ass.

“I got your note about the summer season, Jack” Tim began. “And we’ve got some problems.”

Jack tried to feign an air of nonchalance, but he could no more disguise the look of heartbreak in his eyes than he could the beads of milk, dribbling from his mouth and onto his trousers in puddles of despair. He’d stayed up well into the night all week to put onto paper a new, more profitable direction for the business. “You wanna tell me about it, or what?”

Tim drew in a long, calculated breath, then began to shoot down Jack’s suggestions, one by one, like ducks at a carnival game which the carnie had somehow lost the will to rig.

“First off, we can’t have foxes guarding the henhouse. It’s stupid. There’s even a goddamn saying about it. Everyone knows that.”

Jack looked at his dirty, dirty boots. “I know the saying. That’s where I got the idea. I guess I’ve just been using it wrong all these years.”

“And here you say we should ‘reap what we sow.’ Well, we were already doing that.”

“Yeah. Honestly, I don’t even know what that means. It just sounded sorta farmy. Anything else?” Jack was growing more distraught by the minute.

“Yeah, actually there is. We can’t cut corners by not buying the animals food. They need food to live.”

“I thought I addressed that point in my...”

“You wrote that the animals should just ‘eat each other.’ That’s not going to work out in the long run, is it?”

“Is that it? What about the new animals that you were supposed to order. I thought we were going to diversify our livestock.”

“I’ve got news for you. Whales generally don’t do so well in this part of Iowa. Dinosaurs have been extinct for millions of years. And Jesus Christ, Jack, Care Bears never even existed in the first place! What criteria exactly were you including in the selection process?”

“I don’t know. I guess I thought they were all pretty cool,” said Jack, defensively.

“Shit, man. Care Bears?”

Jack squatted down and dug his finger into the ground. He raised his hand and let the dry, barren earth sift through his fingers and fall back.

“Tim. Do you know what this is?”

“Oh Jesus” Tim groaned. “not again.”

“It’s dirt, isn’t it? That’s what you were going to say, right?”

“Whatever.”

“No! It’s not just dirt. This is life. This is the land that sustained me and my family for three generations.”

“Is it cool if I just go feed the cows now?”

“The who?”

Tim stormed off with another grunt, leaving Jack alone with his life/dirt. This was not going to work. If there was one thing Jack had learned about solving problems, it was to get someone competent to do it. He was going to have to track down his brother in the big city. And he was going to have to do it quickly.

The next day, Jack woke up earlier than he had in months. He gathered up a few things he would need for the road, some water, a box of matches, a map of the Big City and a tie, and stuffed them into a handkerchief, which he then tied to a long walking stick. Then he put that into a large Samsonite suitcase, along with most of the rest of his material possessions (including lots of porn) and walked towards the door.

To be continued...