The next day, an incessant knocking befell upon the door of the boxcar. Al approached the source of the noise and opened the door. Instantaneously his jaw dropped in awe as his face lit up in excitement. He gave the visitor a long, intense embrace, causing the visitor‘s cargo to drop onto the ground.
“Al!” Agnes called from the other end of the boxcar. “Who’s at the door?”
“It’s my bro’her, Noah.” The Wainwrights rushed towards him simultaneously, nearly colliding at their destination.
“Noah,” Al began, “These are the Wainwrights. This is my fiancé, Agnes,” Al gestured towards Agnes. As Noah exchanged in a handshake with her, Al continued “and these are her ma’ and pa’.” The two reached out for Noah’s hand, but found that it was occupied with the task of handling a small cloth sack.
“Wa’s in that ther’ bag?’” Al inquired.
“Seeds,” Noah replied. “Two of ev’ry kin’ we can grow here.”
“Where’d you get that?”
“Like I said, I lived off the land.” Al and the Wainwrights welcomed Noah into the boxcar. As more time passed, Noah became more outspoken than he had previously been. As he conversed with the group, he advocated that the flood was an event of divine vengeance upon the rich farmers and abusive police. After a week had passed after his arrival, Al gave him a suggestion.
“Noah,” he started, “We’ve been starvin’ here for the past few days, and I think someone should go out to hunt some meat.” Noah needed no further inclination. He took up a knife from the kitchen and ventured out into the soaking marshland. His feet sunk deep into the soil, so that he nearly could not walk. Still, Noah scouted the area surrounding the boxcar studiously, but found no animals. Knowing that he wouldn’t find a meal, nor could he be swift enough to kill it in the mud, he returned to the boxcar. Al greeted him to the door.
“Did you find anything’?” He asked hopefully.
“No,” Noah answered. “The animals mus’ still be off in hidin’ from the storm, an’ I ain’t quick enough to get at ‘em anyways, ‘cause of all the mud.”
“Don’t worry about it.” Al responded encouragingly. “We’ll jus’ eat less is all.”
The rationing of food grew harsher day after day. What was once one cup of milk shrank to one teaspoon. Finally, after another seven days had elapsed, Al sent Noah out once more in search of meat. Again, Noah took the knife and went through the door, but he found the ground firmer than it was in his last adventure. He ran towards the woods and was able to find tracks that appeared to be fresh. Concealing himself in the broken bushes, Noah followed the tracks deeper into the forest. As he advanced, a soft ring became increasingly audible. Finally, he tracked the sound to a cow, who he supposed had broken out of its holding area during the flood. The cow had its back turned towards Noah and was grazing upon the leaves of a fallen tree. Silently, Noah crept closer, taking precautions to avoid stepping on any twigs. He drew the knife. It glistened yellow in the sun, but the color soon was transformed into red as Noah lunged towards the cow and stabbed it in the back. A horrific cry filled the air, followed by the sound of stampeding hooves. The cow could not escape, however, for Noah clung to its back, grasping the neck for balance. Briefly, he reduced his hold to one hand to slit the cow’s throat. Noah became soaked in blood as the cow made a desperate effort to dislodge him. The cow’s efforts were to no avail. Slowly, the rampant ringing subsided and the cow fell. Noah decided to let the cow bleed before bringing it to the boxcar so it would weigh less. The ground begrudgingly accepted the cow’s blood, for the saturation from the rain had lead to further saturation from blood. After the red flood was over, Noah dragged the carcass to the front door of the boxcar. As Noah maneuvered the defeated animal around an olive tree, a leaf got caught on the cow’s teeth. Al opened the door and was shocked at the size of the bounty.
“Noah!” he exclaimed in ecstaticy. He attempted to speak to him, but this was the only word that he managed to utter. He hugged his brother and kissed his cheek. After Agnes cooked and salted the meat, the group devoured the first meal that they had had in weeks. After a week had passed, with the meat not a third consumed, Al sent Noah to trap some small game. When Noah left, he took neither the knife nor any trapping materials. He instead went off into the wilderness, never again to return to the boxcar. Perhaps he found the Joads wandering in search of work, or perhaps he reengaged in his previous lifestyle of living off of the land. The seeds still laid in the boxcar with Al and the Wainwrights. After they were planted, the seeds of redemption grew into healthy crops and multiplied, being carried by the wind to germinate in distant areas while repairing the flood’s devastation.
© Copyright 2016 jp23. All rights reserved.
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