I’m bent under the black walnut trees that line the road down the lane, across from my house.. There’s a lot of nuts on the ground this year.
I search through the dried grass, find handfuls of black shelled nuts and toss them into the street. I bend, scoop, and toss until there are masses of hard shelled nuts on the pavement.
The crows on the wires and I watch and wait for cars and trucks to roll by and snap the nuts making multiple, sharp bangs. The weight of vehicles crack the shells exposing the soft meat.
Bang, crack, bang, crack, crack, bang! The sound is very satisfying.
Every fall I feed the crows their walnuts this way.
At last, turning from my good deed I head down the long lane across the street from me. The cars rush by behind me as the volley of banging continues to hit the air.
Suddenly, there is a man racing out of his house toward me, across his field, headed to the road.
Well, what do you know, it’s my new neighbor, Jim.
The first and only time I saw him while walking last year he was very quiet when I tried to engage him in conversation. Now, he is yelling.
“What’s happening!?” he’s shouting. “What’s that sound out here, what’s going on!”
He’s waving his arms like they aren’t attached to him.
“Oh,” I call out, “it’s just walnuts. The cars are cracking walnuts!”
“What? What?” he yells.
“You know,” I shout back. “Every year I toss black walnuts into the road for the crows. The cars run over them so they can get to the meat.”
Jim is now standing in his field, staring at me.
“I do it every year, ” I yell. “It’s my good deed.”
Jim heads back to his house. I watch him as he enters the enclosed area around his pool. He puts his head cheek side down on the wood topped wire fence and looks sideways at me.
The nuts are still popping. They sound like the 4th of July.
I approach the fence around his property. I’m always friendly.
“How do you like your new place?” I ask.
The man is good looking. He’s handsome, really. He has longesh hair and a dimple in his chin.
Jim tells me the story of his place. He tells me the story of his life.
He’s looking directly into the sun as he looks at me and he shades his eyes with a hand.
He tells me how his wife said she didn’t love him anymore, and how she left him years ago but they got along fine until the kids left home and then she didn’t get the support check from him anymore and then she treated him like the devil.
His daughter works in a resturant and has kids and he had to go up north to be a ‘butler’ for his other married daughter who’s husband got into cystal meth, but he’s OK now, and how he, Jim has been married 3 times but he’s been single now for 10 years and he works down the hill and just got a man friend as a room mate and he used to live on the other side of town and the fellow who lived here before him had big parties and dog fights in the out buildings and now the former dog fights have caused him trouble with the county and ..”
I’m so blazing hot. I inch back under a tree to cool off. I am ready to head on home now and I need to pee, but Jim is still talking, spilling his whole life to me.
Eventually he says, “I’m a Vietnam Vet,” and I think “No wonder you have issues with your life,’ but it is not until hours later after I have been home all day and well after Jim has talked some more and some more and I have almost peed my pants, and after I have said, ‘Well, gee, it was nice chatting, I’ll see you later,” and Jim has said ‘Well, if I get lucky,’ as he wipes the sweat from his face…it’s not until nighttime actually….that I finally get it.
Jim was racing out of his house and across the field towards the road, shouting about the noise…because..dang..those walnuts popping madly sounded just like gun fire and he is a Vietnam Vet!
One of my last boyfriends was a Vietnam Vet and he patroled the periminter of his property every night, many times a night and he had papers he showed me to prove he was certifiably crazy from the Vietnam War.
I know the crows will be waiting for me to walk tomorrow and toss walnuts to the cars but I just don’t know if I can do it. It was fun to meet a handsome single guy but ..I don’t think I can recommend this approach as a sure fire way to meet a single man.
The word ‘fire’ is the clue.
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