Short Story Saturday: Clipping Bud
For the next few Saturdays, we’ll be posting some tales by local writer, Charles Wilson. He takes a nugget of local color and adds some imagination (maybe a lot of imagination–you be the judge.) We haven’t posted fiction for a long time (since the well-received SoHumBorn stories–go here to check them out.) Let us know what you think about adding a touch of invention to the world of fact. If you have a story you would like to submit, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
There they were, three young women standing by the road with backpacks in a pile behind them. One of them, a short blonde in jeans and a tight tee shirt was holding up a big piece of cardboard cut to resemble scissors while another had a sign saying “got work?”
Yeah, I had work!
I had been on a town run to get lunch for the 2 local gals I had trimming weed back at the cabin. One wouldn’t eat anything with gluten (whatever that is) and the other was a vegan so none of the grub I had at home was satisfactory. They were trustworthy but their diets were a giant pain in the ass! So I asked them to make me a list of what they wanted for their midday meal, took the list and some cash and headed for town to keep them happy.
That was essential since I had a greenhouse full of pot that urgently needed harvesting. Far more than I could deal with myself so I did what any grower in my shoes did, I put out word that I was hiring at 20 an hour and got a couple local pros. These girls were fast and thorough, they had been doing this job for years and knew what the market wanted. They earned every dollar of the 20 per that they demanded!
Since they were locals I only had to provide their lunches and drinks, at day’s end they drove back to their homes and dealt with their dietary peculiarities themselves. Thank Jah for that! But as good as they were I had far more than the three of us could process and these chicks looked interesting. And pretty good too… At best they were 6 more willing hands and just maybe a little sex. At worst I could always play Donald Trump and say “Yer fired!” then drive em back to town. It certainly didn’t hurt that they were young and pretty good looking either.
So I’m a sexist pig. Got a problem with that?
I pulled the shiny black king cab up next to them and stopped, toggled the power window on the passenger side of the truck down and said “Got any experience?”
“Oh yeah, do we ever!” It was the blonde that said this as she smiled at her friends. They smiled back. Her eyes were pale blue, the color of sunlight viewed through ice.
“20 per hour and a place to lay your bedrolls. I provide 3 meals a day if your dietary needs aren’t too weird. I can probably keep you busy for a week or more.”
“Sounds good, yer on! Right girls?” Again it was the blonde that spoke, she seemed to be the leader of the group. The others agreed enthusiastically.
“I’ll have to ask you for your cellphones.”
“Whoa dude, what the fuck?? Are we supposed to trust you that much?” This time it was the tallest gal, a willowy brunette, that spoke and she was clearly pissed off. “Do we really want to work for this guy or just wait for someone else.”
“I need the money, let’s do it!” It was the third woman that spoke up this time as she looked into the faces of her companions.
I said “Look, where I live the damn things don’t work anyway but I don’t want pictures taken so it’s gimme the damn phones or I’m outta here-by myself. Next question-any weird dietary restrictions or can you gals eat normal food?”
“Whatever dude! And what do you mean by normal food”
“Ham sandwiches for example. Or pizza, chicken, steak, pasta, vegies. You know, normal food?” They laughed, the tension lifted, and all agreed that they did indeed eat normal food. Then the blonde dug into her pack and removed a smart phone and handed it to me through the window with a grin. The other two did the same. All 3 phones went in the glove box.
“My name’s Buddy. Toss your packs in the back and hop in” I hit the switch that unlocked the back doors on the crew cab.
“Climb in you mean!” One of them said. This sucker is big enough you almost need a ladder to get into it.”
They smelled nice, pretty clean for three girls supposedly hitchhiking so I figured they had split a room at one of the motels in town.
A couple minutes later we were heading up the Alderpoint road. The big diesel ate up the miles about as fast as it drank up petroleum and within an hour we were back at the ranch.
The two groups of women eyed each other warily at first. The locals were not happy at what they saw as competition but they had also seen the inside of my greenhouses. They knew there was more work, urgent work, than we three could hope to accomplish. It was a warm autumn day so the gals had been trimming outdoors at a picnic table. I pulled a couple plastic chairs over to the ends of the table, went in to prepare lunch for the newcomers and myself and invited the locals to come in and prepare their own delicacies from the stuff I had just gotten in town.
I carved some thin slices off a ham I had cooked a couple days before. I had been craving ham so I had purchased and baked a small one but… Some wit once defined eternity as two people and a ham. Well I was only one so having 3 other mouths was actually kind of a welcome addition. In a few minutes I had constructed 4 ham sandwiches and a pot of strong coffee. By the time I was done the locals were back at the picnic tables and all the women were starting to talk and laugh. I set down the plate with sandwiches, another with condiments, then went back in for the coffee and cups.
45 minutes later the food was gone as was most of the coffee. The conversation was getting animated and scissors were snipping their way through big baskets of buds. I was constantly bringing fresh-cut stuff from the greenhouses or taking the clipped buds and laying them on screens in my drying sheds. These were just a couple of portable mini-barns loaded with screen trays that spanned the width of the structures. These were spaced 6 inches apart and took up both ends of the sheds. The narrow gap in the middle contained two dehumidifiers, an array of fans and a small electric heater controlled by a thermostat that kept the interior at 90. An hour after loading the screens the places felt like aromatic jungles and the dehumidifiers needed draining every couple hours but after three days the product was dry enough to bag for sale.
At the end of the work day I would go out to the cash stash and get enough to pay everyone for their days work. The locals would take their money and go home for the evening and the trim sisters would stay at the ranch. I would make dinner for all of us, we’d smoke a few joints then they would retire to the deck and their bedrolls. I hadn’t tried to hook up with any of them yet but figured it would be easy after a few days. I wasn’t bad looking, I had a bitchin new truck and it was clear I had the peacock’s tail of the human species-money. When I made my move it should be easy, like taking candy from a baby.
With just the three of us working we were alternating sheds, one was being filled while the other was drying out product but with 6 of us I wasn’t sure they would be able to keep up. I was right! First I started pulling the stuff out in 2 days and putting it in open cardboard boxes in my loft to finish drying then I went and rented a big U-haul van for a couple weeks and bought some more fans, dehumidifiers and another heater. Plus a lot of screen and 2x4s. While the women clipped I franticly kludged the back of the box van into a drying shed. Soon it was full too.
It was getting time to convert a bunch of the dried stuff into cash. The cabin loft was filling up with weighed pounds so I called my broker and a price range was agreed upon. He would be up in a couple days and in the meantime the harvest was slowing but not over. I took my stuff out of the rented box truck, swept the interior and returned it. It was still pretty aromatic in the back but the guy that took the keys and put the charge on my card said nothing about it. After all, this was SoHum and I did return it in spotless condition…
I figured when my man came up and we did the deal I would take the scissor sisters out to dinner at the cove, feed em a couple bottles of champagne and then make my move. I had my eye on the tall one. Tall she was but then so am I. She had eyes dark as chocolate and a nice athletic body. I’d been flirting with her a little and she was giving me these knowing up from under smiles in return so things seemed mighty hopeful. She was starting to get me incredibly horny. I was figuring I could charm her into my bed and maybe even get her to stick around. I could use a pretty woman around the place and she was just my type. I was playing it cool while there was work to be done though. I didn’t want any complications with my staff while the crop needed clipping.
I gave my man a buzz, we discussed prices and it seemed like we could come to a deal pretty easily. He of course wanted to be able to inspect the product before committing to a price. I was confident he’d like it, I grow good shit!. He showed up two days later. I loved the rig he used to run weed back to the city, a tow truck with “City Long Distance Towing and Delivery” on the doors! The weed went in the diamond-plate aluminum toolboxes in the back that were then padlocked. Who’s gonna suspect a tow truck?
He sampled my products, we haggled a little, agreed on a price then started weighing, bagging, and heat-sealing the stuff up. Thirty pounds later we called it a day. He paid me a tidy chunk and set off, tow hook swinging jauntily. There was more weed drying in the sheds, more in bags, but most of the stuff had been picked. All told there might be another shed full to pick then I was done for another year.
After I paid the women I tossed in five hundred bucks each as a tip. And maybe as an aid in bedding that sloe-eyed gal I hoped. Then I invited the sisters out to dinner to celebrate my good fortune. And loosen them up a little with champagne…
I seemed to be the one that drank most of the champagne however. The sisters each had a glass of the first bottle but on the second they all said they had drunk enough so… I was pretty fucked up by the time dinner was over with and it was time for the two hour drive home. The women all rebelled at me driving so I surrendered the keys, the tall gal got behind the wheel and I got in beside her. I told her how to adjust the power seat and when it was where she wanted I told her how to start the diesel. The big engine rattled into life, she put it in drive and started out smoothly. I promptly fell asleep.
To awaken with something prodding me in the back of the head. Something hard. It was a short ugly pistol in the hand of the short blonde. It didn’t tremble a bit, it was as steady as her voice. We were back at my place and I didn’t think this was just a bad dream.
“OK pal, we’re going to walk to your cash stash. It’s payday! And don’t get cute, I assure you I know how to use this thing and you wouldn’t have a snowball’s chance. Two tours in Iraq Buddy Boy, as an army communications officer. Before they sent me there they taught me how to shoot. Now, shall we both get out of this rig and take a walk?”
She produced a flashlight from her jacket pocket, turned it on. Then said “Tell me where we’re going Buddy Boy and I’ll light the way”. I pointed at a path through the grass and we set off. A couple minutes later we were standing by the top of a plastic garbage can sticking about 6 inches above the dirt.
I got on my knees, pulled the lid off and slowly put my arm into the container. I grabbed the first bag of cash, said “coming up” and slowly brought the bag to the surface and set it on the ground.
“Get the other one too Buddie boy. Then put it next to the first bag, stand and walk 3 steps over there then sit down! Do what I say and you’re safe!”
I stood, stepped, and sat. She bent, picked up both bags by their tops, stood, then told me to stand up again and head back to the cabin. The muzzle of her automatic followed me on the walk like a faithful dog.
When we got back to the cabin the other gals had all their stuff packed up and in the back of the truck. They were ready to go. The tall one came over , took the cash and put it in one of the packs, Then the short one asked “got his phone? The tall one grinned and flourished it like a trophy.
“We got it. This was as simple as taking candy from a baby.”
She turned to me and said “River and Jane will be here in the morning and we’ll leave your truck will be in town.”
“And Bud, you’ve just been clipped!”
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