The following fictional short story was written during my downtime from my full time work. I needed to escape the ceaseless demands and create a fictional story which enabled me to expand my writing genre. Enjoy the read.
Before he started to speak, he placed a hand over the microphone to seek further clarification on how he was to start his official statement of events. Once satisfied that he knew what he was to say, he commenced:
“My name is John Patrick McLean. I live at 26736 Concession 10, Billings, Ontario, Canada, and have done so for the last 30 or so years. I swear on the Holy Bible that what I am to tell you is the God’s honest truth…that I had no knowledge of the murders committed by my neighbour Johnny Durbin.
I guess the first time I thought that something wasn’t right was about 5-years ago when I was tilling my fields and hit a batch of what I found out to be skeleton parts.
Normally my boy and I walk the field to check for rocks before starting to turn the soil, but my boy Jimmy was at school and the weather was going to be wet soon enough, so I thought I’d take a chance and get as much done as I could. I was coming around for my third pass on the east side of the field when I heard that unmistakeable noise one hears when you drag metal against stones. I remember that because I didn’t walk the field first so I better not put the radio on in the Deere just for such an occasion.” (For those not familiar with farming machinery, you should know that when one owns a tractor made by John Deere, they call them that by name. All other tractors are just that: tractors. It’s kind of like “all Jacuzzi’s are hot tubs, but not all hot tubs are Jacuzzi’s sort of thing,)
“I popped the Deere into neutral and hopped out to make sure I wasn’t in for some repair work on any of the blades. From a distance I could see broken pieces of white and grey stuff littered about where the blades had just passed earlier, and at first glance I thought I busted up an old piece of wood as the pieces were jagged and oddly-shaped. As I got closer to the freshly ploughed spot, I noticed that it wasn’t wood or stones that I busted up, but rather bones. Can you imagine my disbelief? My land is nowhere near the County Deadyard! So I took a quick gander at the rubble, and since nothing looked menacing, I figured someone must have taken up the space to bury some pets or roadkill. I jumped back into the Deere and was lucky to finish just about all of the field before the rain broke.
A couple of weeks later I was down at the Co-Op and ran into Johnny. I guess him and I had the same rodent problem and we were on the hunt for some smokers to gas-out the buggers. We was talking about mainly nothing, when I told him about my newly discovered pet cemetery…or at least that’s what I figured it was. My mind was put at ease a bit when Johnny told me he too had uncovered a similar find. I didn’t think that Johnny would be stringing me a line, so I took him at his word and figured that even though I’d never seen anything like this before, and now I wasn’t the only one, that I probably wouldn’t see anything like that again. That is until the next year.
The weather wasn’t exactly our best friend a few years back, so I was about a month and a half behind in prepping my fields for the next season. I had to have my boy take a week off of school to help out with both the harvest and tilling work, which he didn’t care for much ‘cause he was in his last year of high school. I think he was saying he was a “super senior” because he had to take a fifth year to get his marks in line for University. The kid thinks he’s going to be rich on his smarts, not with his hands. I hope he’s right.”
John’s voice tapered a bit at this part of the interrogation, as he was proud of his son and his intellect, but knew all too well that without him, he would have to sell the farm in the years ahead. And, now that it appeared his neighbour Johnny had been arrested for a number of murders…enough to call him a serial killer, and that John was being implicated as an accomplice, given that the bodies were buried on his lands…the future did not look bright at all. John continued on:
“So as I was saying, this time I made sure Jimmy and I walked the field before we tilled, and to help get the work done in time I borrowed Johnny’s tractor. I didn’t like his tractor much ‘cause it wasn’t a Deere, and you know “nothing runs like a Deere”, so I had my boy drive Johnny’s tractor and we drove offset of each other to get the best of our work. I was trailing Jimmy on the west side of the field, on I think our fifth or sixth pass, when I noticed some white debris shoot out of the back of Jimmy’s tilling work. I gave a quick honk of my horn and flash of the headlights, signally my boy that he’d better hold-up. The scene looked eerily similar to last year, and my mind was thinking that there was no way Billings could produce that much animal carnage to cover two plots of my land. It didn’t take long this time to figure out that those bones weren’t animal, as my boy picked up half a skull, looking at it as if it was an art exhibit or something.
Well I gotta’ tell you, I had no idea what to do at this point. The bones looked old, but not as old as the ones I saw last year, and now I was thinking my field must be home to some sort of Indian burial site or something. I found myself now looking to my boy for some guidance, as he was the smarter of the two of us, and I’m not too proud to say so. We tried to see how many skulls there were, but couldn’t get a clean count, seen as Jimmy’s tilling took care of that. So we stood there a bit and chatted about what or who these bones belonged to, not once thinking they were there as a result of someone’s killing. Our best guess was that this was simply either a family plot from years past or even further back when the Indians were running the land. Yep, I know that goes against the fact the bones didn’t look that old, but logic wasn’t something we were strong on at that point in time, as we were more thinking about what to do next. Remember, I’m going to be selling my land soon, so I’m not a fan of holding that land up in the courts or with the local Band Council either. Since we couldn’t figure out numbers or anything, we decided to take an overlap pass of the area to break them bones up some more and keep the matter to ourselves.
Come springtime, I happen across Johnny again at the Co-Op, only this time we were booking our seeds and since I shared with him my first finding, I felt some comfort that I could tell him of my second finding. This time Johnny didn’t say that he found something similar, instead he said that I made the right decision to keep things quiet. He said that it would be the last thing I’d want to happen to my farm; that something like this would bring every nutball out of the woodwork; the police, the Redskins (as he calls ‘em), the nosy press, and maybe even the women’s quilting club. Yep, I did the right thing by keeping things quiet.
The next couple of years were pretty normal with my fields. I was tilling again without any broken bone surprises. Jimmy had gone to University in Manitoba, of which I was okay with, seen as he was still able to make it home a few times a year. I guess that brings us to this past year when Jimmy was in his third year at school and had taken a work placement down at the Co-Op. I was happy to have him back at home and took full advantage of using him back on the fields when he wasn’t working.
Jimmy and I decided to do a jaunt around the fields about a month or so after the beans were put in the ground. We’ve done this before when the boy was younger, and now that he’s looking and acting more like a man, I thought maybe a look at the fields by foot was in order. I guess I was hoping that maybe he was looking to stick around and take over the business.
We had just settled into a conversation about that new danged tax system the government put into place, when Jimmy kicked what he thought was a rock. It turned out to be part of a bone instead. We both froze right where we were, and looked each other straight into the eye. We knew that something wasn’t right, and I can’t say why, but we just knew. Keep in mind we still weren’t thinking that these bones were on the land because somebody did them wrong, but rather they belonged to someone’s family. Indian or not.
Jimmy figured the best way to see whether we need to call the Band Council or someone down at the Church was to have the bones tested down at the University. That way, I wouldn’t need to call you guys, and I wouldn’t have no real estate agent taking me for a lower bid on my land. The idea seemed right at the time, but I guess knowing what I know today, I wish I had of called you guys five-years ago. Could’ve saved a few more folks I suppose.
Well I guess you know how we got to where we are today from here. The University found out that the bones Jimmy brought in belonged to a couple of missing person’s cases down in Toronto. They called those cops, and then my life went into the tank from there.
You know, when Johnny moved in to the farmhouse next door, I don’t think I saw him more than once a year…and usually at the Co-Op. I guess I never thought much of it either. When either of us needed an extra tractor or an equipment piece, we just helped ourselves. A gentlemen’s agreement I suppose. Johnny travelled a lot, and I guess I know why now.
You have to believe me on this, I had no idea what he was about. I’m just glad you caught him when you did. Go ahead and tear up my fields. They’re not worth much to me now.” Post Script: Johnny Durbin was arrested and charged with multiple counts of murder in the first degree. John McLean and his son Jimmy were also arrested and charged with multiple counts of accessory to murder in the first degree. Following an extensive investigation into the actions of Johnny Durbin, and statements from both John and Jimmy McLean, the accessory charges were downgraded to obstruction of justice, with time served. John never did sell the land, as no one was willing to buy it…even for a fraction of the going rate. Instead, he stayed on the land until his death, and the land was willed to the County, and remains vacant and unused to this day. Jimmy graduated, moved to Chicago, never to look back on his past again.