He checked his watch, thought for a moment, and then finished writing the story: "As the two men stood in the doorway to the huge potato shed, the banker turned to the farmer and joked, “Joe, you could bury a semi-truck under that pile of potatoes, and nobody would ever know!”
Joe smiled and replied, “Yep. It was a good year, Mr. Jameson. A very good year.”
As the banker turned and headed for his car, Joe could still detect the faint tire tracks in the dirt floor leading into the potato pile. Jeez, he said to himself, that damn Javier forgot to wipe out the tire tracks last night. Good thing that city-slicker banker couldn’t tell a truck tire from a bicycle tire!"
He leaned back, put his hands on the back of his head and stretched. It was late, but it felt good to finish the story on time . . . another Joe Dell story ready for the local paper to publish next week. He shut down the computer, turned out the desk light, and headed for the refrigerator for a snack before heading up to bed.
Winnie, his wife, would want to check the story before he sent it in tomorrow morning. After all, she was the one who last Winter suggested that he add a more sinister thread to his Joe Dell stories, and she was right. She suggested that Joe Dell, a successful potato farmer, hire Javier Garcia as a labor foreman, even though Javier was known to have relatives in the Cartel.
And when the Cartel approached Joe through Javier to use his farm as a distribution depot, well . . . let’s just say that it opened up a vast new array of storylines that never would have been possible before. Even he had to admit that his older Joe Dell stories were pretty boring affairs in hindsight.
And his readers, those who religiously read his stories in the County Trumpet, circulation six hundred and twenty-three, couldn’t be more thrilled. The bloodier, the better! they always told him at Sam’s Breakfast Nook every Sunday morning after church. Keep it up, they said! Things were really dull around the County after the crops were in and Joe Dell and his crooked ways kept the town humming.
In a way, his wife’s plot ideas surprised him. She was a church-going woman, never raised her voice in anger, always had a good word for everybody. So when she would drop hints about how Joe should be more aggressive with the Cartel about getting involved with their operations on a deeper level, it caught him off guard. Where did she get these ideas about gun-running and human trafficking, anyway? When did she even have the time to learn about these things, given that she had the kids to raise and the farmhouse and livestock to manage, and even drove some of the equipment in a pinch. But he took her suggestions to heart and his stories were almost like they’d been ripped from the headlines from big cities. You know, like Spokane and Boise. Being a farmer’s wife was hard. So, anything he could do to make her life a little bit more exciting was fine with him.
He helped himself to three scoops of chocolate ice cream and sat down on a kitchen stool to eat his snack. Every Winter he’d usually gain ten or fifteen pounds, and this Winter was no exception. In fact, he’d been putting on a lot of weight as he got older. If his wife had caught him eating this huge bowl of ice cream, he’d never hear the end of it. He was sure that his newfound heft was the reason she went to bed early these days and was always sound asleep whenever he arrived.
He cleaned up the empty bowl, dried it and left no traces of his late-night snack. Taking one more look around the kitchen, assuring himself that all was in its place, he turned off the lights and headed upstairs to bed.
Quietly he padded into the bedroom and noticed that she wasn’t in bed but was in the bathroom. The low glare of the bathroom light showed through the bottom of the door, and he could hear her moving around. He took the opportunity to undress, get into his pajamas and slip into his side of the bed. He’d pretend to be asleep when she re-entered the bedroom.
Laying on his side, he saw the bathroom light go off and heard the bathroom door open slowly. His eyes half open, he could just make out her silhouette against the little night light that still shown from the bathroom.
He blinked and then opened his eyes wide but didn’t move otherwise. There she stood, dressed in a flimsy black negligee, one hand resting up against the door jamb and her other hand on her hip.
She stood like that for a good thirty seconds and then seductively moved over to her side of the bed and gently slipped in next to him.
He still was motionless as she lay on her side facing him, covered herself, and in the darndest voice he’d ever heard, say, “I bought this just for you, Javier. Do you like it?”
And just like that, things would never be the same.