Friday, April 5, 2013

FFF: Codger

Every Friday Kurt posts a new piece of a original flash fiction. This week...

Codger
Word Count: 598

The old codger sat on a rocker on his porch, staring out at his land. He had a tall, sweaty Arnold Palmer on the table next to him, and a shotgun laying carelessly across his lap. His house guest, a fellow named Tyrone, sat on the steps a few feet in front of him. The old codger smiled. He so rarely had company.

“That windmill,” said the old codger, pointing, “my father built that when I was five years old.”

“That right?” asked Tyrone.

“Mm-hmm,” said the codger. “Cut the wood himself with a handsaw. We didn’t have table saws back then.”

Tyrone nodded.

“Put his own blood and sweat into that windmill,” said the old codger. “He loved it. It was an accomplishment, something he made. To the rest of us, though—my brothers and sisters—it was just another part of the farm. Hell, it was almost as old as we were. Hard to imagine a time when it didn’t exist.”

Tyrone nodded.

“It’s funny,” said the old codger. “All this stuff around us, somebody made it. You ever think about that?”

“Not really,” said Tyrone.

“You should,” said the old codger. “This house, that windmill, this porch—somebody made all of those things. To somebody, they were projects, and they were special. Nobody builds a house without it being special to them. Don’t you think so?”

“Sounds right to me,” said Tyrone.

“A house is unique,” said the old codger. “A house has personality—just like that windmill. But we forget about that. We treat everything in the world like a commodity. You know what I used to do for a living?”

“No, sir,” said Tyrone.

“I was an ad man,” said the old codger. “I didn’t inherit the farm until my dad died. Before that, before I retired, I spent forty-three years in advertising. Loved it. I was good at it. But, when I look at that windmill, I can’t help but wonder if I wasn’t making the world a worse place. I didn’t build anything; I took things other people had built and turned them into commodities.”

Tyrone nodded.

“You want to hear something crazy?” asked the old codger.

“Okay,” said Tyrone.

“In ad copy, you never call a house a house. You always call it a home. That makes it seem more personal to the buyer. Houses are expensive and require upkeep; homes are where you raise your kids. A man’s home is his castle; a man’s house is his mortgage. So what I was doing was taking things that people made, wrapping them up in a box to make them easier to sell, and then prettifying the words on that box to make people actually want to buy it.”

“Huh,” said Tyrone. “That does sound a little crazy.”

“Anything worth buying was created with love once,” said the old codger. “You can’t ever forget that.”

Tyrone nodded.

“You see what I’m getting at with all this?” asked the old codger.

“I think so,” said Tyrone.

“That all you got to say?” asked the old codger. “You’ve been awful quiet all evening.”

Tyrone turned back and looked at the old codger and the shotgun in his lap. “Look, Mister,” he said, “I’m real sorry I tried to jack your car. If you let me go, you won’t ever see me on your property again. I promise. You gotta believe me.”

“I believe you,” said the old codger.

“So, can I go?” asked Tyrone.

“Not just yet,” said the codger, adjusting his grip on the shotgun. “Now, that barn over there…”

Edited by Carolyn "Glare At It With Your Shiny Eye Lasers" Abram.

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