Bill Little

November 8, 2010
By Tomorrow SILVER, Wayne, New Jersey
Tomorrow SILVER, Wayne, New Jersey
9 articles 1 photo 1 comment

There is a wonderful farm. It hides away from paved roads and off of most maps. On that farm is a white barn with a red roof that sits next to the green and blue pond that looks like a two-acre footprint. Out of that pond jump small mouth bass and upon its still waters rest two swans and the occasional duck. And in the reflection of that pond rests placidly, the farmhouse. Another red roof sits upon another white building that displays countless windows that line the walls in a cookie cutter fashion. Smoke pours from a chimney that rises out of the ground as if grown from a red brick seed. A wide white porch lies like a dog on the front of the house with thin white columns adorned with flags holding up the little red roof. And eating his lunch, on his black iron bench, sits Bill Little.

Bill Little is a big man with wise eyes and an old, joyful face. When not wearing his wide-brimmed straw hat you can see his untreated half head of hair atop of wise forehead wrinkles. Bill’s broad shoulders and tanned skin compliment his old flannel shirt and his slightly torn jeans. While the outside world seems to change around him, Bill does not. His shirts are the same old flannel and his jeans are the same slightly torn and everything around him as been the same for at least twenty years, except for one thing, his shoes. Bill always wears new shoes. His old aching feet get abused when walking about his fields and tending to yard work. So every six months, Bill buys new shoes.

Bill’s lunch today is the same as it was yesterday, and last Tuesday, and the month before last. His lunch consists of three spoonfuls of ham salad, two tomato slices, and two leaves of iceberg lettuce sandwiched between two slices of rye bread. To drink, Bill always starts with a cup of black coffee, followed by milk, and drains the last crumbs and caraway seeds down with a tall glass of water. Dessert is a bowl of melon or cantaloupe and a slice of pound cake. Lunch takes a total of twenty-three minutes from start to finish. Bill then washes his simple white dishes and puts them neatly back into his handmade cabinetry that was new when Watergate came as breaking news over the rabbit ears. Bill then returns to his day’s work.

Today Bill is mowing the grass. Millions of helpless blades of grass have feared the whirling metal teeth of Bill’s green and yellow one ton John Deere tractor. Bill spends a lot of time mowing because he has a lot to mow. While he may take care of ten acres of fields after lunch, he probably has already trimmed twenty acres before his cup of black coffee. Out of the white barn Bill will drive the green and yellow tractor. He will drop the yellow belly mower onto the ground and leave a swath through the long overgrown green grass. And out of his back pocket Bill will pull a can of grainy tobacco and enjoy the spit with the grasshoppers that occasionally jump from the tall grass up on his straw hat or his slightly torn jeans or his new shoes. The pedals will be worked up and down as the eight-speed tractor navigates across the quiet field. The big black wheels of the tractor will angle along steep hills and over dangerous gopher holes until the whole field has been mown. Then Bill will drive back to the red roofed barn and bed the tractor for the night, feeding it with a can of gas and patting it as he walks past to close the heavy wooden doors.

Skinny-dipping is a regular practice for Bill after a hard day’s work and so with a crusty bar of soap in hand; he will saunter down the small hill to the pond and wade into its cool water. After the long scrub, Bill will slowly ascend the hill and dry off his wet leathery skin. Dinner will either consist of spaghetti and ground beef or a short drive to Cracker Barrel for a steak. The waiters know him there. They know his straw hat and his wise forehead wrinkles. The flannel shirt and the slightly torn jeans that compliment his broad shoulders and tanned skin are no surprise. And there he will sit; at the table near the corner window that faces the small coy pond. He will order bread with his steak and throw small crumbs out the window into the pond to watch the fish jump in a frenzy, splashing to get their dinner. His steak will be devoured slowly and meticulously, just as it is every time, and when he is done, he’ll walk quietly to the counter and leave twenty-five dollars at the register. This will cover the bread, the steak, the coy show and a very generous tip.

After dinner, Bill will drive home and change into his French blue, silk pajamas. He will walk from his bedroom, through the kitchen, and into the living room where he will turn on the television and watch NPR news from his rocking chair. And as the hot heads talk, he will feel the cool breeze of the open window touch his cheek. When ten o’clock comes around, he will get out of his rocking chair and walk from the living room, through the kitchen, and into his bedroom where he will lie in his bed. Under the goose-down comforter he will stretch and reach out to turn off his bedside lamp. And as the lamp is silenced, the moon will shine through one of the many cookie cutter windows. The pale light will shine upon Bill Little as he peers through the window and looks at the pond; the pond in which he skinny-dipped after his long day of work. Moving from the pond, his eye will catch sight of the white barn with the red roof in which his yellow and green one ton John Deere tractor sleeps. Then he will sigh, and turn over his pillow so that the cool gold trimmed fabric rests against his cheek. His eyes will then slowly move from the window to his shined rifle that sits against the wall near his closet. From the gun they will move to his nearby dresser as he observes the fine Amish craftsmanship and the gold-gilded handles. And finally, atop his dresser, his eyes will rest on the only picture framed in the whole house. In the frame is a portrait of him and his wife. The black and white photo has sat in the same spot for many years, fighting dust and time as if it were invincible. Then Bill will remember. Their walks through the wild fields, and the building of the white barn, the painting of the red roof, their skinny-dipping before dinner, the spaghetti and ground beef which he never really liked, the late nights of NPR, and the times when they would lie together on the cool gold trimmed fabric under the goose down comforter as they talked about their work or children. Then Bill will smile. And his warmed heart will steam out one lonely tear that will rest just beneath his eyelid.

Then, after all of this, Bill Little will go to sleep.

The author's comments:
My Grandfather is an amazing man

Similar Articles


This article has 1 comment.

Shaniexox said...
on Nov. 21 2010 at 6:55 pm
That last paragraph is beautiful i felt it


MacMillan Books

Aspiring Writer? Take Our Online Course!