(Copyright @ 2018 Anthony M Villanueva) All rights reserved
Ian Macgregor planted a knee into the barren soil and rested the weight of his world on it. From a distance, he looked like a man deep in prayer.
A wide-brim hat protected his tired eyes from an unkind sun while a stained handkerchief sponged glistening sweat from his neck. A stained glove on a clenched right hand held a rusty spade that stabbed at the earth, again, and again, and again. His eyes stayed focused well beyond the dirt he knifed, and well beyond the roots of the dead weed obliterated minutes earlier. He was so engrossed in his slashing and eviscerating of the earth that he didn’t hear the metal-rimmed wheels from the wagon that approached on the road along an aged fence nearby.
“Ian, Ian Macgregor!” The man in the wagon yanked on the reins, leaned way back, and drove his boots hard into the foot board. The horse snorted, shook its head and mane in protest as if to shout out––“NO,” but the animal stopped as commanded. “Ian! How are you, my friend?”
Ian Macgregor looked up and half-heartedly stared into the direction of the shouting wagon driver. He continued to cast his vacant stare, nothing more.
The man in the wagon hitched the reins to the seat and jumped from the wagon. He ambled over to a section of whalebone-gray fence, not far from where Ian knelt. “Ian! Are you well? How are you, Ian?”
Ian Macgregor finally offered a smile of recognition.
“I said, how––are––you?” the man from the wagon shouted into cuffed hands.
Ian gave one final, white-knuckled stab to the dirt, leaving the spade embedded like a tombstone. He lumbered to a bent stance, rested his hands on his knees to give his back a chance to catch up, and then squinted at the man making all the ruckus. With his hat and gloves, he dusted free the dead soil that clung to his knees. He covered his head again and began a slow walk to the fence. It was a walk of a man walking to the gallows. He dragged his shadow along with him underfoot, along the uneven field as he trekked his way.