09/14/2020 Snippet, THE THING IN MY HIP FLASK.

Academic sneering!


Going out to the Pierce farm in daylight was interesting — traveling there at night, you do not realize just how wild the countryside can get; or rather, you assume that the wildness is all in your head. But the dark, narrow glens and deep woods are, if anything, darker and deeper in the first light of day. I do not really understand why people live out here, away from the pleasures of town. It is a fifteen minute drive by car, but in spirit it feels more like a century.

From my point of view, I met Gershon Pierce far too early in the morning; from his, I arrived half-way through his working day. This did not help me in our conversation, as I was half-asleep and he was completely irascible. “Look at that wheat!” he said. “Just look at it!” There was an odd undertone in his voice that I only realized later was apprehension. At the time I just heard the anger. I mention this mostly because I tend to get obstinate at people getting angry at me.

“It’s… wheat,” I said after a moment. “It looks fine.” And it did! I mean, at least from a distance. When I got closer it had a smell I did not quite recognize, but aside from that it looked like a fine example of grain. Or at least, I assumed; I was not an agronomy major. I would not have minded hiring a few for my increasing labor pool, but that was one of the valuable degrees.

Pierce gave me a look that made me bristle a little more inside; it was the sort I normally give to humanities graduates. “It’s not fine,” he said. “The smell’s wrong, and the taste’s wrong. I don’t know what you put into your spent grain, but whatever it is, it’s bad stuff. It made this part of the wheat grow all wrong. Fast, but wrong.”