DANG IT ALBERT!

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: DOWN-HOME


Central Georgia farmer weeding his cornfield, is suddenly overcome when nuclear bomb blasts changing his life forever.

Submitted: January 03, 2018

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Submitted: January 03, 2018

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“DANG IT, ALBERT!”

Painting & Story by Virgil Dube’ - Copyright 2018

 

His alarm clock awakened Benjamin Vickers at a quarter of five. He dressed in his customary overalls, felt he needed a flannel long-sleeve shirt because yesterday the weatherman reported a morning nip would greet everyone in central Georgia Tuesday morning. He laced his heavy work boots then went to the kitchen and prepared his breakfast. Wife Martha-Sue sleeping an additional hour had just risen to face her workday in and around their moderate-size farmhouse. Ben eating the last of his scrambled eggs and buttered toast spread lightly with blackberry jam, could hear her stir, knew she was up. He rinsed his plate and silverware at the sink, then poured a second cup of steaming coffee. He moseyed out on the front porch and settled in a wicker bench to read briefly from the daily Atlanta Herald newspaper for which the paper carrier had tossed on his porch before sunrise. His old hound BoBo lying at the end of the porch got up and came to him, nuzzling to receive an affectionate rub on his head. Satisfied, he settled at Ben’s feet as his master removed the rubber band and unfolded the newspaper.

The peace and quiet of Gay, Georgia, a small rural community southwest of Atlanta contrasted greatly from the bold headlines, ‘RUSSIA AND AMERICAN PRESIDENT’S AT ODDS – BOTH HINTING NUCLEAR WAR’. Ben swore bitterly, as he sipped his coffee then placed the cup to one side on a wicker table, where sat a recent issue of his favorite magazine, Scientific American. He folded then dropped the newspaper on the bench beside him and picked up the magazine. Thumbing through it, he came to an article theorizing the fundamental properties of Quarks, the small entity and central makeup of nature. He began to read the article by a prominent Cornell University Professor of Physics Jonathan T. Davenport, several instances within it referring to Albert Einstein and his Theory of Relativity.

Ben from youth studied science when he had opportunity, had participated in and won some science fairs in grade school in Atlanta, where he originated almost sixty years ago north in the country near Marietta, Martha-Sue also, she two years younger than he. Though he had keen interest and had learned much about nature, he had no aspirations to become a scientist, just work the land, as had his ancestors over the ages since immigrating to America from England in 1652. His interests weren’t restricted to the article involving particle physics. He was a curious layman dabbling into inquiries of biology and its origin on Earth almost four billion years ago, the formation and evolution of the Solar System and Milky Way Galaxy, star and galactic clusters comprising the Universe through astronomy and cosmology and astrophysics, Earth sciences, such as: meteorology, geology and plate tectonics, and paleontology. And, he was keen at delving into anthropology - the study and evolution of man and his cultural diversity. In truth, his interests of limited depth included the entire gamut of scientific disciplines the magazine covered.

His reading was interrupted by Martha-Sue in her robe, as she appeared and leaned outward in the doorway, “Honey, looks like a nice morning; good day ahead. What’s on your agenda today?”

He placed the magazine aside, and answered a tad short, “Since my tractor is in the shop getting repaired, I’ve little choice but challenge weeds worsening by the day in the cornfield … the old-fashion way, with a hoe.”

Martha-Sue didn’t answer immediately. She sighed, then after a moment, replied, “Ben, you’re getting up in age. Don’t overdue it. That old tractor will be ready soon enough when Todd McDonald cleans the carburetor. She started to withdraw inside, but stopped. Leaning backward, she commented over a shoulder, “I turned the radio on earlier in the bedroom, the national and world news doesn’t sound good, got people scared all over, including me.” She turned around to face him, and with seriousness in her voice, added, “Egomaniac world leaders seem to be brandishing their swords with increasing insults, and threats and counter-threats of nuclear war. What’s the world coming to, anyway?”

“Needn’t overly worry, Martha-Sue. Not regarding these men as total idiots, I believe common sense will prevail and they will settle differences in due time. Loudmouths are generally lacking in the confidence department and cowards anyway, and will back away from idiocy.”

Ben stood, stretched, then stepped near his wife lingering in the doorway and kissed her on the cheek. “Mornin’ hon, left plenty of coffee in the pot, some toast in the oven you might want to reheat. I mixed extra eggs to scramble; they’re in a bowl in the refrigerator. Got to go and get a demanding job underway, see you around noon for lunch.”

BoBo slowly got up and shook himself vigorously. He lapped water from his bowl near the base of the wicker bench, ate several nuggets of dog food from the adjacent bowl, then went into the yard to await his master, sensing he was headed into the field to work.

Martha-Sue reached inside the door to get Ben’s floppy hat from the wall peg it hung near the doorsill, and handed it to him. He put it on his hairy head and strolled to the porch steps, where he paused to light his pipe. Discarding the match and taking a puff, he turned, a frown on his weathered face, and said, “Martha-Sue, we put trust in a promising candidate and voted for this man for President of the United States of America. By-jove, I stick with our choice, still believe in him and maintain confidence he’ll not yield to insane impulse. Pride and emotion is at the heart of these two dueling leaders’ overt displays, guys like two barnyard roosters showing off to save face by insulting one another. Much in society seems topsy-turvy, ethics and morals changing to effect rules and meaning outdated from the world you and I were raised in. So, hon, please don’t overly worry.”

Martha-Sue and Ben’s eyes locked several moments, she lifting her shoulders and finally saying, “I love you dearly, Benjamin Vickers.”

“I love you too, Martha-Sue. Say we shower later this afternoon and enjoy each other’s company lovey-dovey.”

“Sounds lovey-dovey to me,” she replied, smiling, winking, puckering her lips and sending him an air-kiss before she shut the screen door and vanished inside.

 Taking Martha-Sue’s advice, Ben worked the morning steadily, not at a blistering pace. And, he broke periodically to drink water from a thermos he almost forgot, she charging back outside and lastly handing it to him. The breakfast had charged him physically, the day also, it beautiful with a light wind and temperature stable at sixty-nine degrees. Growing tired, he looked upward to see the sun’s high position and figured the time approaching noon. He had one small patch of weeds to clear in the immediate area before returning home. He drank from the thermos then began chopping the last weed patch when a deafening roar and jolt knocked him to the ground. Though stunned and utterly shocked, he braced himself with the hoe and struggled to his feet to see a mushroom cloud rise northward in the direction of Atlanta. Close by, a mocking bird went totally berserk in flight. Terrified, BoBo charged across the cornfield.

The sky brightened as another nearer blast in the direction of Warner Robins Air Force Base jolted and blinded him; the roar so piercing it burst his eardrums. Before eternal blackness overcame him, he glimpsed to see bombs falling across the countryside, raining from the blue abyss overhead. He turned his back to the oncoming shockwaves from north and eastward, and whimpered realizing he would never see his Martha-Sue again, nor she him. He did see before being swept into eternity the bomb arching across the sky he imagined was labeled ‘FARMER’, seemingly falling straight at him, he imagining it targeting him personally. His last utterance was, “DANG IT, ALBERT - You would have thought E=MC2 had amounted to – MORE THAN THIS!”

From this day onward minus Ben, Martha-Sue, and ultimately billions perished, humankind would never recover to be the same.

 

THE END


© Copyright 2018 Virgil Dube. All rights reserved.

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