Archive for November 18th, 2012

In A Split-Pea Shell

“Have you got a secret, Alexandra?” he asked.

She heard his question, and smiled at it, and nodded a couple of times as if to someone a long way off. “My secret is called Tatiana,” she said.

“That’s a good name,” he said. “Tatiana. How did you come by that?”

Raising her head, she smiled radiantly at the icons on the wall. “It is forbidden to talk about it,” she said. “If you talk about it, nobody will believe you, but they put you in a clinic.”

“But you are in a clinic already,” he pointed out.

“Are you God?”

“No, I’m just an ordinary person.”

“Mother Felicity says that in every ordinary person, there is a part that is God.”

This time it was his turn to take a long while to reply. His mouth opened, then with uncharacteristic hesitation closed again.

“I have heard it said too,” he replied, and looked away.

—John Le Carre, Smiley’s People

Days Of Heaven

I been thinkin’ what to do with my future. I could be a mud doctor. Checkin’ out the earth underneath.

—Days of Heaven

There is something very restful about a cornfield. When I was a young sprout, I spent a lot of time in them. I would go in about three or four rows, and then lay down, to set about examining the world of the cornfield. Which is unlike the world anywhere else.

Another cool thing about a cornfield is that from there, three or four rows in, you can still see into the outer world. But it can’t see into you.

Eventually I’d go to sleep. Because there is something about a cornfield that acts on the corporeal container like that field of poppies in the Wizard of Oz.

I would also journey into cornfields with L—. There in the cornfield is where she and I taught each other night moves. We could see her house from where we were, three or four rows in, but her house couldn’t see us. This was good. Because if it had been able to, her father would have come rushing out, with many shotguns, and my head would have flown right off my body. He didn’t think his daughter should be learning about the heating properties of bodies. Certainly not with me.

But, you know, apparently, just like the Secret Service boys Say, there is, everywhere, Danger—even in cornfields.

This the lesson learned last Wednesday by a man who laid down to rest in a cornfield outside Billings, Montana, and woke up inside a harvesting combine.

Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Lt. Kent O’Donnell said the 57-year-old, whose name will not be released, was passing through town on the Greyhound bus from Washington, D.C. He was walking along the 4900 block of Grand Avenue when he decided to take a rest.

“He said that he stepped off the busy road and about three rows of corn into the field,” O’Donnell said. “He said he didn’t have intentions of sleeping, but fell asleep anyway.”

At about 1:15 p.m., the landowner drove a combine into the field to harvest corn. The farmer drove about 50 yards when the combine shuddered, O’Donnell said.

“The farmer thought he had driven over a fence post or an irrigation pipe, but once he turned the machine off, he could hear a man screaming,” he said.

The machine had caught the man’s clothing and sucked him into the cutter, O’Donnell said.

The man was successfully sucked back out of the combine, and treated for “non life-threatening injuries” at a nearby hospital. There are some deep lacerations, and these may require skin grafts.

“For this situation, the man is incredibly lucky to be alive,” O’Donnell said. “And that’s about all you can say about that.”

When you think about it, we’re all incredibly lucky to be alive. And that’s about all you can say about that.


When I Worked

November 2012
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