The Old Silo

Jim was nearly done for the day, he had and couple a few acres left to finish and then it was time to bed the tractor down and put all the tools back where they belonged, close up shop as they say, only it was a barn.  When at the bottom of the last hill the old beast started to choke and sput.  Then came a big kick, almost throwing him from the rusted out seat held together by little more than an old towel and some duck tape.  He held on to the wheel though and stomped down on the clutch.  Waiting for a little chuckle of the engine with his hand on the choke, ready to pull that baby out and slam it back in after she coughed a couple times he realized she was down for the count.

He gave it a couple of turns, talking to her “come on baby, you got this, just get ‘er goin’ and we’ll roll it up for the night”.  But all she gave him was the reeling sound of the starter pulling all the juice from the battery that she could.  Nothing, no more, no less.  He put her into gear and set the brake.  Climbing down from the old war horse he could tell she was running hot, but not too hot.  She wasn’t smoking any more than normal and there wasn’t any steam coming off her.  She just seemed tired.  He gave her a walk around, sniffing the air for anything burning, plastic, rubber, metal, just the same as always.  A quick tap on the tank and it rang like a bell.

“Damn It!”, he wrenched the cap off and sure enough, she was outta gas.  “You gotta be shittin’ me…….well better that than anything else old gal.”  Cussing himself and everything between, he started across the field wondering how he managed to run out of gas.  It was a good thirty minute ride back to the barn and now he had to hoof it.  He lit a cigarette and started one foot in front of the other, boots caking up with Georgia clay.  Topping the hill he thought “maybe I oughta cut through the holla over to Parson’s and see if’in he’ll give me a hand, a ride at the least.” It was closer and he wasn’t looking forward to the long walk home. So he traipsed through the wood, jumped the creek and started up towards Parson’s place.

When he got up to the barn he had another cigarette going and there was Parson, hauling a load of wood up from around the back.  “Heeey mister, whatcha’ doin’ poking about this time a day?  Ain’t nothin’ on fire is there?” Parson greeting him with a smile.  Jim told him about the tractor and asked if he could he spare the time, and some gas.  Parson  willfully obliged and the two of them started back towards Jim’s fields with the gas and whatnot.

They were moving kinda slow, Jim knew Parson was old so he tried to spark a little conversation to pass the time.  “So I was eyeing that old silo on the way over here, looks like she’s about passed her prime, huh’? Whatever happened to that old thing anyhow, ya’ ever get any use outta her?”.  That’s when Parson came to a stop, turned his head to Jim took a deep breath and looked up at the old silo.  He exhaled slowly and started to talk.

“Ain’t been up there in some time now, nothing left in there but soot and pitch. It was a long time ago, used to be a fine silo, kept her full’a grain, filled her to the top every year.  Couldn’t tell ya what happen though, something gone wrong I guess.  One year, grain went bad, had it all through it. Nothing I could do but light her up, she burned forever.  Never seen a fire so hot, just kept burnin’ and burnin’.  After about a month or so it just smoked.  Smoldered and smoked. It was a shame really. She wouldn’t go out, so I just kept puttin’ stuff in there to burn, and she kept burnin’.  Hot too, could barely get near her, burned the earth grey.  ‘Bout six years I kept her going, finally she died down one year, middle of the winter it was.  Decided it was time to give up I guess, just didn’t have it in her anymore.  I do miss her though, shinin’ throughout the night.  Like a lighthouse guiding me through the dark.  I can hear her still though, at night, when the wind blows.  Those old walls whistle and moan, like she’s calling me out to light that fire again, one more time.  Just as well though, she’s all hollow and empty.  Sometimes I sit up at night in the kitchen lookin’ out at her wishing she was burnin’ that fire, bright and hot.  But then, that’s another story Jim.  Let’s go get that tractor o’yours runnin’ before the sun goes down and I won’t be able to see how’da get back home.”

16 thoughts on “The Old Silo

  1. Hmm, leaves a person thinking. Where did the inspiration for this come from? And, did you grow up on a farm? Just wondering–your imagery, tractor sounds, etc. are right on. This made me think of our old tractor, Gerald, as in Ford. Gerald’s seat would have been held together with wire, some piece of many that one tends to find lying around a farm.

  2. I can’t recall a lot of details. Haven’t thought of Gerald since your story here. My memory says he was just an old metal color, like the monkey bars on an inner-city playground. I’ll see if anything else comes to mind.

  3. Another enjoyable read; very nice work.

    Those old walls whistle and moan, like she’s calling me out to light that fire again, one more time.

    Just like a Siren’s call. It’s hard to not look back sometimes.

    Hope you’ve been doing well, Christy

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