Dream of: 01 November 1995 (2) "Of Mice And Men"

I was at the foot of the hill in back of the Gallia County Farmhouse, down by the milk house. I walked into the milk house and looked around. The last time I had been in the milk house I had seen a large black snake in one corner. I hadn't killed the snake and I wondered if it were still here. I doubted it; the snake had probably become frightened after I had discovered it and had moved on. However, I still kept a wary eye on some wood stacked along one wall of the milk house, thinking a snake might be behind the wood.

When I walked back outside to the front of the milk house, I found an antique bureau about waist high. The bureau was quite long – about three meters – and had sliding drawers in the middle and swinging doors on both ends. My grandmother Mabel had given the bureau to me, but I had then given it to my sister. Over the years the bureau had been varnished and lacquered many times until it was quite dark. After I had given the bureau to my sister, my brother-in-law had decided to refinish it. He had already started working on one of the swinging doors and had taken off all the varnish, revealing – to my astonishment – that the door was white underneath.

My father had walked up and was standing nearby. I pointed out the bureau to him, and showed him how white it was under all the stain and varnish. But he didn't seem impressed and I realized he normally didn't care about that sort of thing. However he asked me where the bureau had come from and I told him how my grandmother had given it to me and I had given it to my sister.

He and I walked over by the fence next to the milk house and looked up through the long wooded hollow which stretches out behind the milk house. In the distance amidst the trees I could see some black and white objects which apparently were cows. Thinking about how big the Farm was, and how much space I had there to roam, I said, "It boggles the mind."

But what mostly attracted my attention were some dogs running around in the field right in front of us. Picasso was among them. One of the dogs walked up to me carrying a dead baby mouse in its mouth. When the dog dropped the mouse on the ground in front of me, I shouted at the dog to carry the mouse away.

Some strange dogs were also in the field; I pointed them out to my father. I didn't like strange dogs coming around. I had seen them here once before and didn't know where they were coming from, we were so far away from everyone here. Two of the dogs were gray Weimaraners, one of which was quite fat. Two more dogs were large and brown, and I told my father that they looked like bears. One of the large dogs ran toward me, and as it bounded at me over the fence, my father hollered, "It is a bear!"

Indeed, the animal was a bear! As the bear reached me, I thought it was going to attack. But it only wanted to play and be petted like a dog. Clearly the bears weren't wild, but were tame and belonged to someone. However I was still afraid the bears might attack someone, and I didn't want them here.

Just then I turned around and was rather startled to see that four black men had walked up, apparently coming out of the other hollow behind us. Three of the men were a dark jet black, while the fourth had a rather light complexion. All were dressed in blue jeans and rather rough work-clothes. They seemed like coarse, uneducated, working men.

I was immediately on the offensive. Although they weren't carrying any weapons, I thought they might be hunters, and I hated hunters. Clearly the strange dogs and the bears belonged to the men. At the very least the men were trespassing, and as far as I was concerned, they had no right to be here. Although the Farm belonged to my father and I had no authority here, I thought I had his tacit permission to deal with the intruders.

I spoke to the three men with the darker skin and asked what they were doing here. I wanted to know if they had been hunting. But they didn't seem to think they had to answer. When I smelled alcohol on their breath, I thought of saying something derogatory about that, but I didn't because I reflected that I myself sometimes took a drink, and I didn't want to be a hypocrite.

Several more times I asked what they were doing there, yet each time they refused to answer. I said, "What makes you think you've got the right to be on this land?"

Still no answer. Finally I sputtered, "We can call the sheriff."

I quickly added that I didn't intend to call the sheriff. However I wanted them to know the option was open to me if they didn't tell me what they were doing here. They definitely reacted to my threat to call the sheriff – but not as I had hoped. One simply took out a dollar bill and tried to stick it in my pants pocket. He almost seemed to be poking fun at me, as if to say by giving me a dollar he would be paying for any damage he might have caused me. Offended, I pushed his hand away, still determined to know why they were there.

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