Ranch Hands by S.L. Danielson
Coming April 2, 2010 at Silver Publishing!
Sid was in trouble; he'd be wronged in every way one could be. His farm was failing, his lover had left with no warning, and the mortgage is 6 months overdue.
Desperate and pushed by the bank, he hires a live-in boarder, Roger. Unbeknown to Sid, Roger has just escaped his own personal hell and is grateful for the opportunity and new surroundings.
Things are not rosy, however. Neither man will tell the other their secrets due to a huge lack of trust of people in general, especially other men. They have a few incidents, including a couple with the town deadbeat, Jerry.
Finally, an ultimatum is issued. Will things turn around? What will become of the farm and all the hard work? Can these two work past the problems and sow the seeds of love instead of anger?
Sid Rosen slumped his 6’3” frame down a bit further in his chair and ran his thick, gnarled fingers through his red hair. He glanced down at his watch. It was only five minutes later than the last time he’d looked; 3:30PM. He unbuttoned his worn brown barn jacket completely and removed it. His green eyes darted around the building. The lobby at the bank was getting full, even on this snowy day. His banker, Miles, hadn’t come back yet. He’d gone to speak with the loan manager. It was a bustling time at the bank; many of the farmers had come in to negotiate their past-due notes.
It’d been a terrible year for the region. The summer heat had singed every field for 100 miles around. What the summer had in heat, this winter had matched in precipitation. Already there had been a major ice storm, which knocked out power for over a week. Then there was the blizzard that shut the town down even further.
Sid cleared his throat and uncrossed his legs. He glanced at his boots; they were finally free of the snow he’d brought in with him. A small puddle had gathered on the berber carpeting just beneath him. He sighed and observed the footwear. They were probably 10 years old. He smiled to himself and remembered opening them up as a Christmas present on his 24th birthday. He traced the pattern in the leather, a paisley design. The heels were worn down and the tabs were long-since gone. Sid felt as old and worn-out as his boots. Though he was only 34, he felt much older, especially lately. Suddenly, a voice broke his train of thought.
“Sorry about that, Sid. Didn’t mean to keep you waiting so long.” The man interjected suddenly.
The farmer turned his attention to the flustered banker. His red tie was askew around his neck and his pace was fast. The rail-thin financier took a seat behind his desk and set down the large file in front of them, knocking his nameplate over. He adjusted the placard engraved “Miles Lunsford, Lead Banker” to sit squarely at the center of his desk as it had before.
Sid sat up quickly and leaned forward in his chair. “So, what’s the verdict? What’d he say?”
Miles adjusted his black-rimmed glasses and opened up the file. It was a 2” thick folder. He avoided Sid’s gaze and rifled through the papers for what seemed to be at least two full minutes. Finally, he looked back up, and folded his hands.
“I’m sorry, Sid. I tried every argument I could think of. To put it bluntly, it looks like you’re going to lose the farm if something isn’t done very soon.”
Sid’s scowled. “What do you mean I’ll lose the farm? That’s my grandfather’s ranch! I was born and raised there. Sure, things have been bad, but-“
“Too bad, apparently.” Miles interrupted. “You haven’t had a crop there in three years, the economy is in the toilet, and the local developers have stopped looking in that area.”
Sid clenched his fists and leaned onto Miles’ desk. He looked him square in the eye. “What the hell am I supposed to do? I am one man! I ain’t got no kids or a wife, and my family is gone! How can I be a single farmer with 200 acres?”
Miles swallowed hard and pushed his chair away a bit. He fidgeted with the pen in his hand and fumbled through the papers on his desk. “I don’t know. I’ve never been a farmer. Look, have you tried the credit union?”
“Yeah, I tried them too. Look, how long does the place have left on that crooked mortgage?”
Miles scowled. “Pardon me? If you remember, I was the one who helped save this farm in the first place! To answer your question, it has five more years left. Now, if you can show a profit in the next six months and make a payment again, my boss agreed to talk.”
Sid slumped back in his chair and put his hands to his face. Miles pursed his lips and leaned forward.
“What about taking in another boarder? You had that one over a year ago, things were doing-“
“No!” Sid blasted back. He sat up so quickly that it nearly knocked the chair over. “That was a complete mistake. I don’t want to do that again, not ever!”
Miles frowned but softened his tone. “Sid, if you don’t do something, you will lose the farm. I’m sorry.”
The redhead sat in silence for a few moments. He rolled his eyes skyward and recanted aloud.
“Dammit, Dad! Why did that old kook sign that damn mortgage! He just loved to hit that damn casino. Put us in so much debt. Thank God my mama didn’t live to see it.”
Miles wagged his head. “I’m sorry, I truly am. But you know the consequences; either hire some hands and turn a profit soon or lose the farm and find another line of work entirely.”
Sid nodded and rose from the chair quickly and threw his coat on over his broad shoulders. “I guess we’ll see, won’t we?”
He strode from the room and walked out the door. The icy air hit him as a slap in the face. He pulled the coat up around his face and briskly walked to his vehicle. He scrambled into the cab of his rusted out 1962 Chevy truck and drove home.
After much soul-searching, Sid decided he had no other recourse. He wrote out a simplistic ad for a boarder and looked it over. He climbed back into his truck the following morning and drove towards town once again. It was his only choice. 30 minutes later, he slogged his way through the deep snow to post his homemade flyer at the local marketplace. He looked over his shoulder at the ad, sighed aloud, and walked back out to his truck to head for home.