My thoughts this evening are wandering back to the time of being a teenager, which come to think of it, took place many years ago. It was a very hot summer and I was struggling to find relief in the cool shade of a big elm tree in my home town of Jackson, Minnesota, but that dream of sitting the day out at Ashley Park was not to be. A friend called and asked for my help in bailing hay at his father’s farm. They were short handed and two hours later I found myself stacking hay in the direct heat of the day. My friend was driving the tractor while I was stacking the hay bales on the flatbed. I quickly found that wearing a short sleeved was a big mistake. I looked down beyond my short sleeves and I could see deep scratches forming on my arms. They not only hurt, but they itched as well. The hot sun was directly above us and I had to glare into it every time I tried to stack each new layer above my head. By the time I had reached seven rows high on the rack, I was totally exhausted and unbelievably hot. I was so looking forward to the cool ride back to the barn, and that of getting a cold drink of water from their well. Since we had a full rack of hay, I found that the only place for me to sit was at the top of the hay bales. I must say though, I was looking forward to feeling the breeze on my face as we slowly sauntered back to the barn. While enjoying the slow ride and the soft bales of hay beneath me, I glanced over my shoulder, to my left and I could see a lake nearby and my thoughts went to the pristine blue water and thought how cool it would feel on my bloodied arms.I imagined myself running into that pristine lake all the while its water was rushing over my body. This dream was soon shattered by my friend, he must have noticed that I was eyeing the lake as he saw me drenched in sweat looking out over the horizon of the body of water before us. His voice then obliterated the calm that surrounded me as he hollered from the tractor, “I know how to cool you off!” He then put the tractor into road gear and I found myself bouncing through the pasture atop 7 layers of hay, all barely staying on the flatbed trailer. At that moment, I tried to yell with all my might for him to stop, but he would have none of it. To my horror, up ahead I could see a dried out creek bed with its depression in the ground, all fast approaching us. I knew that if the flatbed hit the creek bottom just right, I would end up being catapulted into the air along with a ton of hay following right behind me. As we hurdled toward the depression I could see my life fasting approaching its untimely end. The only thought going through my mind was, “I am only 16 years old and I want so to live a long life!"
We suddenly hit the creek bottom and instead of the wagon digging into the dry dirt, it miraculously skidded over the hard ground instead. I thought, “I am still alive!” as I checked all my body parts to see if any were missing. No sooner did that thought flash by in my mind when all of a sudden I became acutely aware that the bales of hay were separating under me. I frantically looked down and I could see 8 feet below to the flatbed’s floor. At that point in time the bales separated further and I found myself dropping helplessly to the floor, all the while the hay bales above me were crashing together as quickly as they had come apart. I then found myself shrouded in darkness. The stifling heat from bailing now seemed nothing in comparison to the confined space of the hay holding me in place. I could hardly breath as the tractor slowly came to a halt. When I thought I might indeed live, I heard my crazy friend speak, “Are you all right?” I muffled out an angry response that was full of threats that I knew I could not carry out in my present state. I then demanded that he get me out of this mess right away. Expecting an apologetic response, but all I heard was, “I’ll just wait until we get to the barn, no use tearing the bails apart and have to put them back again.” At that point my anger was beyond control, but my screams went unanswered due to the fact that all I could hear was the old John Deere slowly putting up the pasture lane to the barn a quarter mile away.
Needless to say after being unstuck from the stifling hot bales of hay, I shared my thoughts of what I knew him to be. He just looked at me and smiled and said, “I think you will live!” At that point I wasn’t responsible for my actions, I Jumped over to the nearby hay pile, spotted a clutch of very old hen eggs that had sat there in the baking sun for I don’t know how long, and I went for them. I grabbed several eggs, very gently, and began to toss them at my perplexed friend. At that point he began to realize the gravity of the situation and sprang like a wild cat behind the bales, but not before one of my rotten eggs found its mark. A short time later I found that it was not as gratifying as I had originally thought, because I thenrealized that I had to put up with his stink for several more hours of work. My sense of smell was begging me for relief during this very difficult time. My anger was soon melting, along with my resolve for getting even. I was certain at that point that vengeance was not sweet at all, it was indeed very painful for the both of us. My struggling friend and I seemed to realize that the only way out of this conundrum was either for him to take a bath or for the both of us to dive into the lake.