by Holley Mesler
The scars of our nations corruption and greed have changed me forever emotionally. You can assume I’m crazy, which I may very well be, for I have bared witness and harbored my disgust, I am a victim of my countries energy lust. Wyatt Wilson thought about his past often, he was a simple man that grew up on his daddy’s farm, in the beautiful rolling hills of West Virginia. Everything Wyatt loved about life was on that farm, he would drive to the highest point of his land every morning, welcoming the warmth of the rising sun as a new day began. His wife May, was a petite woman with more strength than most men. Wyatt and May had the kind of life that many would consider poor, but they were rich with love, family, and food. They worked hard for everything they had, which made them appreciate it that much more.
It was around seven o’clock on a Friday and May was putting dinner on the table, when Wyatt noticed the lights of a vehicle approaching his home, he sat on his front porch with his sawed off double barrel twelve gauge pointed at what he considered trespassers. Two very large men wearing suits approached, Wyatt called out “state your business from there.” One of the men replied “we are from the Natural Gas Company; we were sent to survey the land.” Wyatt cut the man off “that’s about enough, you have about five seconds to get the hell out of here.” Wyatt wasn’t a stranger to these corporate types he knew they were fueled by money. Several farmers had gathered at the local pub that night discussing the gas company and how to keep them from fracking. An older gentleman stood up and said “if you don’t own your lands mineral rights, they can do as they please.”
The next day Wyatt and May drove to the court house. Wyatt explained to Commissioner Stevens about the two men from the gas company, how he didn’t own his mineral rights, and how he has worked too hard to risk losing his farm. Stevens listened and nodded as he said things like “I understand” and “I will see what I can do” he then stood up and opened his office door. Wyatt and May exited the office where they noticed two men, the same men from the gas company. In that moment Wyatt had realized that Commissioner Stevens was not a County Representative, he was like most politicians, a Corporate Representative. Wyatt squeezed Mays hand, as he filled with rage, “it’s okay” she whispered “we will find another way.”
Driving down Main Street May noticed the Community Center and Smiled, “Wyatt” she asked “what if we make flyers and ask our neighbors to join together to protest the gas company?” Wyatt grinned, her auburn curls were now highlighted with silver, but her baby face was still as sweet as the day he had met her. She was the air that he breathed, the love of his life. May made flyers at the library. They drove all night hanging them on posts, trees, and buildings, they put them in mail boxes and on cars, they hung all but one. May held that last flyer as she read aloud “Farmers and Friends please do attend a community meeting June seventh, ten a.m. at the Smithtown Community Center, say no to natural gas and help save our farms.” May said a silent prayer before looking at Wyatt with a touch of sadness in her eyes, “I hope this works” she whimpered, “me too” he replied.
The morning sky was a canvas of colors surrounding the old farm house as they arrived home. May hadn’t seen the notice hanging on the door, Wyatt scowled and raised his voice to a tone May was unfamiliar with, he read “you have 14 days to sign a release for a survey or we will be forced to take legal action.” May was exhausted, but she turned towards Wyatt, his gaze softened as she flashed her innocent smile and softly said “we will make some phone calls, we can still make this work.” Wyatt knew how stubborn May was, he couldn’t help but laugh as he said “I almost pity those sons a bitches, May Wilson is a force to be reckoned with.”
The Community meeting had begun and two men joined Wyatt on the stage. They were both farm owners, Cletus Brown was a small, round, old gray haired man. His dairy farm was west of Smithtown and gas wells were installed on neighboring property. Some of his cows began dropping dead, from the chemicals that the gas companies use in fracking gas wells. Wyatt expressed his sympathy to Cletus and thanked him for sharing his story.
The second fella was Big Jim, he owned a small organic produce farm. Big Jim showed a video that he had made. The video was of his kitchen sink, a hand turned on the faucet and water poured out, the same hand lights a match and the flame ignites the running water. Big Jim looked out into the crowd “my fifth generation farm is finished we can’t sale, we can’t farm, the only good that can come from my experience is stopping it from happening again.” Wyatt and May thanked Big Jim. They began to tell their own story and asked the community for help. They passed out petitions to ban the gas companies from fracking, and requested the presence of as many people that were able to protest at their family farm on the day the Gas company was enforcing the survey.
The day of the survey, Wyatt climbed onto a tractor wagon that was doubling as a stage, he gazed out over his land, watching May greet the protestors that were arriving in hoards. Four trucks approached followed by a fleet of police cars. Wyatt began his speech “Good morning we are grateful for everything all of you have done for May and I. We are proud of our community for uniting for a cause that may affect the lives of many. The land upon which we stand is more than just mineral rights and money. This land and I share a story, we are bound by the blood, sweat, and tears of the countless hours, days, and years my father and I, put into nurturing this farm. And we were repaid with a bountiful harvest and…” Before Wyatt could continue, police officers in full riot gear lined up, Commissioner Stevens spoke into a bullhorn. “Attention if you do not leave now the officers will arrest you,” said Stevens. The crowd began to chant “we won’t go” over and over.
Commissioner Stevens instructed the officers to use tear gas and to arrest those who do not comply. Soon after there were clouds of gas and people trying to escape. Wyatt jumped off the wagon and ran towards Big Jim who had been filming the protest, a police officer was trying to wrestle the camera from his hands. Wyatt grabbed the officer and Big Jim escaped. Three other police men subdued Wyatt in an inappropriately rough manor, May watched in horror. The officers kicked Wyatt until his body grew limp, May was enraged as she ran towards her love, she just had to get to Wyatt before it was too late. All of a sudden a shot was fired. Wyatt had heard the gunshot but it hadn’t seemed as loud as the quiet hush among crowd. He raised up filled with fear, he watched May fall to her knees and touch her blood stained blouse. The cops didn’t move as he ran to hold her, she whispered “I love you” as she took her last breath, Wyatt kissed her warm lips one last time. He held her and rocked her lifeless body and wept.
After Mays funeral, the weeks that followed seemed like a blur. The gas company withdrew its permit requests, ultimately deciding to avoid any more negative press. Big Jim asked Wyatt for permission to use footage from the protest, for a documentary. Wyatt obliged, offering to give a statement on film. Big Jim turned on his camera and signaled Wyatt to begin “My name is Wyatt Wilson, I recently lost my Beautiful wife, I would like to read an entry from her journal.” He continued “The scars of injustice are embedded in the minds, of innocent civilians that have paid too many times. At what cost are we willing to pay? I would lay down my life, if it meant that you would be free. Corrupt corporations backed by the greed of Government will scar our Nation in such a way that we will have a Revolutionary change.” Before finishing, Wyatt took a moment to wipe a tear from his eye, “My wife laid down her life for something she believed in whole heartedly, let our story be the emotional scar that produces the Revolutionary change.”