COUNTY AGENT GUY
Sally slammed my pickup’s door so hard, I thought it would break. I flipped the ignition switch and … nothing.
Flummoxed, I mumbled that there must be a problem with the battery. Sally stared ahead in stony silence.
I was a young and lonely bachelor dairy farmer. I had met Sally, a young and pretty college student, earlier that evening at a party.
Hoping to impress her, I asked Sally if she would like to tour my nearby dairy farm. To my surprise, she agreed.
Few things are more romantic than a moonlit prairie meadow, so I pointed my pickup down the rock-strewn dirt path that led to my cow pasture.
“Hang on,” I warned.
Any farm kid knows that the words hang on means hang on. Sally, a city girl, ignored this admonition and ping-ponged between the pickup’s seat and its roof.
We arrived at the edge of a charming slough. I doused the headlights and invited Sally to slide over.
“I have a headache,” she said rubbing the top of her skull.
I knew that those four words were the death knell of romance.
I didn’t have to tell Sally to hang on as we bumped back to my farmstead. College had at least taught her how to learn.
Arriving at the farmyard, I struck upon an idea. I murmured to Sally, “I have something to show you.”
I ushered Sally into my barn and we strolled amongst my slumbering Holsteins.
Sally was impressed and things were looking up until she slipped on a fresh cow pie.
I tried to salvage the evening by introducing her to my baby calves. Sally petted them and they enthusiastically slobbered on her leg.
Staring at her jeans with revulsion, Sally commanded, “Take me home. NOW.”
I was out of magic bullets, so we got into the pickup and discovered that its battery was dead.
I peered into the engine compartment. The battery was gone.
I finally located it, wedged between the engine and the frame.
As I surveyed the damage, Sally demanded, “Why won’t it go?”
“The battery jumped from its holder and cracked. Looks like you’ll have to stay the night.”
“I’d sooner walk home,” Sally hissed as she stomped off to my farmhouse. “I’ll be inside. Let me know when it’s fixed.”
I struggled valiantly to repair the pickup. I periodically checked on Sally, who was laying waste to my beer supply.
I cautioned her to take it easy, but she responded with a loud belch and a cutting glare.
I patched things up best as I could. I didn’t have a battery charger, so I fired up my John Deere 4020 tractor and tried to jumpstart the pickup.
The battery had cranked its last. I broke the news to Sally, who had become quite tipsy.
“Thash OK,” she slurred. “I’ll jush walk.”
My male ego was cut to the quick. Glancing at the 4020, I said, “There’s another way.”
Jouncing along in the cramped tractor cab could not have been comfortable for Sally. I was in the operator’s seat and Sally was obliged to sit partly on its arm rest, partly on the steel cab frame.
A hole in the muffler let a steady trickle of diesel exhaust into the cab. I knew that Sally’s hair would smell like a smokestack for several days, but chose not to mention it.
A short distance from Sally’s dorm, she shouted, “Shtop here. I don’t want anyone to shee me.”
I hopped out of the cab and helped Sally wobble down the ladder. Safely on the ground, she turned to face me.
The street lamps cast a soft glow, the tractor purred, and a bluish haze of diesel smoke swirled about.
It was not unromantic.
An unspoken question hung in the air: a goodnight kiss? I had tried to show her a good time; it wasn’t my fault she’d had such bad luck.
I leaned in, but a pair of hands pushed me away. I peered soulfully into Sally’s eyes.
She held my stare a moment, then swiveled her head and yorked on the tractor’s front tire. Well. That’s not much of a thank-you.
Without another word, Sally turned and swayed toward her dorm. I drove off into the night.
Angry red lights soon flared behind me. I dismounted the 4020 and asked the policeman if there was a problem.
“This your tractor?” he asked suspiciously.
“Yup,” I replied, thinking quickly, “I just finished plowing up north and my pickup wouldn’t start so I decided to drive the tractor home.”
Satisfied, the cop said, “Just checking. You never know about those mischievous college kids.”
“Yeah. Dang college kids.”
I haven’t seen Sally since. It’s just as well, because while I may have forgiven her, I can’t speak for the 4020.
Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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