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Snouffer’s Field

Verlin settled into the porch swing, glad he was too old to be a working man. It was going to be a hot bitch today. The sun was an hour up and already the new breeze turned the morning dew into thick steam, lapping across his skin like warm cow tongue.

Out past the yard, the highway was turning to liquid. He could see the heat rising off the asphalt, a wake rippling behind the traffic that raced towards Louisburg. Beyond, the south pasture swirled under the rising wind. Verlin watched the gusts stir the long grasses, rattle the old cattle fence, kick dust across the highway, before feeling them blow hot against the porch. The old man missed getting his hands dirty, but not on days like this. Driving a tractor today was death by slow cooking. Half of the water jug would go for drinking, half for wetting the iron seat that became a Farmall brand burning its shape into his ass.

Verlin pulled the pouch of tobacco out of his overalls and turned his eyes from the field. There was a time he could roll his cigarette with one hand and wrestle the tractor around the field with the other. Anymore, his hands were like having a pair of teenagers at work; as soon as you turned your back, they were screwing things up.

The paper stuck to his fingers and the cigarette came out an egg-eating snake, one big lump in the center and down to pinholes on the ends. His Zippo snapped shut and the smoke washed over him as the hot wind rushed the porch again.

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