Pernell Rogers was born in Cleveland, OH but was transported to Chandler, AZ in 2000. The supernatural world is his realm and that’s where he pulls his stories from. He’ll write anything with an obtuse twist, so hang on. He discovered he loves writing in 2011 and has no plans of stopping.
Curtis Weems was a quiet, sensitive twenty-six-year-old man with a secret. He lived in a very modest one bedroom, one bathroom house on the outskirts of Arnold, Nebraska and found it difficult to keep a job. Not because of his attitude or character flaws. Instead, it was his meek personality. His overt shyness and unwillingness to stand up for himself opened him up to torrents of teasing on most of the jobs he took. It was his meekness that made him endearing to those in the community that knew him. Nevertheless, he tended to keep to himself most of the time.
When Curtis awoke one spring morning, getting out of bed seemed to be a waste of time. He had something to do today, and he was sure it would be useless. However, he was a man of his word, so he dragged his feet as he moseyed from his bedroom to his small bathroom. The disgusting sound of him clearing his throat filled the bathroom. Then it was over to the toilet to relieve himself. The sound of his flushing toilet wasn’t much to listen to either. He didn’t think his reflection in the mirror was very special; his hair was too long, his eyebrows too thick, one nostril was larger than the other, and his teeth . . . well even he didn’t care to see them. His faded orange washcloth needed a lot of help. It possessed frayed edges, small holes thatched with threads, and stains set in so deep, no washer had a chance. After wetting it, he rubbed his bar of soap on it twice, barely producing any bubbles and wiped his face and underarms. That was it for washing. A small jar of baking soda sat on the old, stained sink next to a toothbrush that should have replaced over a year ago. Bristles were missing and those that were left were flattened around the toothbrush’s head. He barely wet the bristles then dipped the toothbrush into the baking soda. He brushed his teeth with his mouth closed so he wouldn’t be tormented by what he saw. He saw no need in sprucing up. He felt as long as he was sort of clean, that was okay.
Today he was going to try to get another job. He wasn’t sure if he’d get hired, but he needed money. Bills were due, and he needed food. His best clothes were a pair of jean overalls, a long-sleeve white button shirt, and a pair of worn black boots. He didn’t think his appearance would be very relevant anyway since the job entailed that he work outside on a farm. He found an ad in the Arnold Gazette where old farmer John Putnam needed some workers for his soybean field. Curtis didn’t mind how much money he made, as long as he made something. John Putnam was always nice to him, and he felt their years-long relationship would help him seize the job. He closed to the door to his home and hopped inside his beat up 1982 Ford pickup. As he pulled away, he hoped the other folks John hired wouldn’t pick on him.
Curtis drove through the open gate within the faded white fence that surrounded John Putnam’s farm. He immediately noticed the other cars and trucks parked on the grass and in the gravel driveway in front of a barn. It was disappointing, but he knew what he had to do. He pulled into an area as far away from the other vehicles as he could and trekked towards the table where John sat. It looked like maybe ten or twelve men were standing in line for the jobs. He didn’t know if John had already hired anyone. His unusual saunter always called attention to himself. Some of the men in line saw him coming, and Curtis knew what was going through their minds. He recognized a couple of faces, and that was disappointing also. He took his place at the end of the line, his hands deep within his pockets, without talking or acknowledging anyone.
Curtis stepped up to the table and saw the John recognized him. Without showing any teeth, Curtis smiled as John gave him a neighborly greeting. Curtis wasted no time asking if any jobs were left. Fortunately, John saved the last position just for him and instructed him to show up tomorrow at six o’clock in the morning. Curtis extended his hand, and they shook. Curtis couldn’t remember the last time he had a good day, and he planned on enjoying it. While returning to his truck, he recognized two guys leaning against an old pickup. One had his arms crossed and spat out a wad brown, soupy tobacco. The other held his fingers in his belt loops. Both men shouted at him, calling him slow and stupid. Curtis continued walking, trying not to let their words get to him. He climbed into his truck and pulled away.
Come that evening, Curtis found a can of pork-n-beans in his near empty cabinet. That was to be his celebratory meal for tonight. Having some type of meat to go along with his beans would have made the meal more special, but all he had in his small refrigerator was a half-empty pack of bologna. A sandwich was out of the question because he had no bread. He wasn’t greedy, and he accepted his meager meal knowing that in a week, he would have some money to go shopping. Before sitting down to eat, he turned the dial on his old transistor radio to his favorite classic country station. This would be the highlight of his evening. Holding his spoon with an overhand grip, and it dipped into beans and shoved it into his mouth. Sauce from the bottom of the spoon dripped onto the table. He thought about the gentlemen that called him names; Jake Tannery and Clint Prichard. He’d work with those guys before, and their teasing often pushed him to his limits. He prayed to God for relief from their teasing tomorrow.
Curtis drove with his windows down as he drove to his new job the next morning. The cool air invigorated his skin and freshened the inside of his pickup. He was in good spirits knowing that he’d be doing a full day’s work. His attitude changed after parking his pickup. Not far away sat both Jake’s and Clint’s pickups. There was another dusty, rusted out 1985 Chevy Malibu parked near their truck. It belonged to Sweeny Holmes. Any memories of Sweeny Holmes weren’t welcomed. Curtis always seemed to run into Sweeny at the most inopportune times, and this was one of them. He resigned himself to his situation.
As the morning progressed, picking soybeans became more difficult. With slippery hands, he tended to drop the beans instead of placing them in his basket. The morning sun was unforgiving and when he removed his hat to wipe his brow, Sweeny was staring at him with a nasty grin. Curtis didn’t like that look and tried to ignore him. Seconds later, Sweeny began walking in his direction. Sweeny stepped up and stood next to him. Curtis said hello and Sweeny politely responded in kind. Then, without provocation, Sweeny knocked the basket from his hand, spilling beans onto the soil. Sweeny’s course laugh roared through Curtis’ brain. Off to his left, he heard the chorus of Jake and Clint. Embarrassed, Curtis bent down to gather his beans. Sweeny stepped away and called him a name Curtis never uttered. During the day, Sweeny, Jake, and Clint took turns tormenting Curtis. Later that afternoon, John Putnam joined the workers in the field and informed them about a change in the weather that was coming soon. John pointed towards the horizon. The demarcation between the pale blue sky and the towering cumulous clouds was exceptional. John warned everyone that he would be cutting the day short, knocking two hours off their eight-hour day. Curtis hung his head over the thought of losing some money, but he understood that Nebraska’s weather was unpredictable. The clouds grew much darker and were right on top of them. It started drizzling as they stashed their harvest in John’s barn. Curtis hopped in his truck just in time as the rain began peppering his pickup.
Curtis’ head bobbed back and forth as he tried to find the road through his windshield because his wipers couldn’t keep up constant torrent of rain. His steering wheel had a mind of its own. He felt the rear of the pickup slip from side to side. At the sight of his house, his spirits lifted. He turned into his dirt driveway, and the rear of his truck slid left and right as it struggled forward. The engine revved and the wheels spun, spraying a shower of mud to the rear, but he refused to let it get stuck. He mashed on the accelerator with Sweeny, Jake, and Clint in his thoughts. The pickup inched forward until it was where he wanted it to be. He hated what he had to do next. He jumped out the cab and ran into his house, getting drenched the entire way. After he closed the door, he wiped his feet, but he still managed to track mud on his dirty wood floor.
Sitting at his kitchen table, Curtis felt grateful to be working for his friend John Putman, but Sweeny, Jake, and Clint wore on his nerves. What they did today haunted him. As much as he tried, he couldn’t shake their actions or words from his head. I wish something would happen to those guys so they’d leave me alone. He worked himself into such a frenzy that his head fell upon the table while he entered a state of unconsciousness.
The rain became unbearable in and around the town of Arnold, creating flash floods everywhere. Sweeny Holmes was caught in nature’s onslaught, and while driving over the Nachez Bridge, his truck hydroplaned, crashed through the railings, and tumbled down the embankment, killing him. Jake Tannery’s truck became bogged in the mud, and he was forced to leave it. While running across an open field, lightning struck him, lifting him high into the air, frying his internal organs. Clint Prichard barely made it home and parked his truck under the large oak tree in his front yard. His wife held the front door open for him as he started running towards his house to get out of the rain. A bright flash of light, followed by a boom, forced Clint to duck. Then a thick tree branch tumbled down on top of him, causing his ribs to puncture his heart. A loud clap of thunder spread through the atmosphere of Arnold.
Curtis awoke the next morning still at the kitchen table. His head pounded and trying to focus was difficult. The dusty clock on the wall read five fifteen. He gathered himself from the table and rush to make it to work on time. As he drove, he felt a strange sense of relief, but unsure why. When he arrived at John Putnam’s farm, he noticed John sitting outside his barn at a table, and a few men were standing in line in front of it. Curtis walked towards the table, but a worker he didn’t know tapped in on the shoulder and said,
“Hey Mac. I ain’t sure you heard but Sweeny Holmes, Jake Tannery, and Clint Pritchard was all killed last night in freak accidents. John Putnam’s lookin’ for replacements.”
Curtis looked at the man, displayed the hint of a smile, then turned and walked into the barn to retrieve his basket.