Horse High and Pig TightbyDecayed Angel©
The guitar hummed, in a strange offbeat rhythm that danced in time with the locusts. The sound, different from all the Christmas Music, was soothing on a cold night by the fire. An old man plucked at the guitar strings, in a slow taffy of movement that stretched each note around his fingertips and then rose into the air. You could almost taste the notes hovering in the cool breeze.
As he began to play, everyone would get quiet, so quiet that all you heard was his guitar and the distant locusts singing along. Many times he talked as he played, sometimes telling a story, sometimes reciting a strange poem. His voice was deep and rhythmic, but he spoke quietly, just above a whisper. You had to keep very still and absolutely silent to hear him speak.
"My brother, Bill built fences," he started, "so very long ago. He built his fences all the same: horse high, pig tight..."
"And bull strong," someone whispered as the old man paused.
"And bull strong," he replied. "For half the year he built fences, cutting the wood from the old Bois-de-arc trees along the river bed. The wood was hard and strong, covered with wicked, wicked thorns, some as long as a man's finger. The Caddo Indians used to use the wood for their bows and their bows were the best in the state. Well Bill built his fences the same way, destined to be the best in the state."
The old man stopped talking for a bit, letting his guitar build the fences around the listeners, each melody, each chord, each note drawing them in, closer to the fire, closer to the warmth. Looking closely at his wrinkled face, red with a leather tough skin, the people could see where his tears had streamed down his face as he told the story. He took a deep breath and then continued his story.
"Now Bill spent the first half of the year building his Bois-de-arc wood fences and then in the second half of the year he'd mend fences. Each year people would wait for him to travel around to them so they could hire him to mend their fence. When he was finished each customer would tell him, 'Oh Bill, how I wished I hired you to build my fence once, instead of mending it so many times.' Bill would only smile telling them his fences were: horse high, pig tight..."
"And bull strong," several of the listeners chanted.
"And bull strong," he continued after a brief pause. "Bill was mighty proud of his fences, mighty proud of his plan, so proud of his plan he decided to live his life the way he worked his fences. So he lived hard, building his life, not worrying about Religion and stuff, there would be time for that, time he'd spend mending fences. Yes he'd live half his live building and then half his life mending fences, or at least that was his plan.
He paused again, silently strumming his guitar slowly looking at the faces around him. His light blue eyes seemed to immediately welcome anyone who would take the time to pause and truly see the old man. His eyes seemed to speak of a good, but hard life, one that had many happy times and some very sad ones. A tear tumbled down his cheek reminding everyone that this was one of the sad times. In a moment he blinked his eyes, shook his head slightly and then began his story once again.
"Problem is Bill only lived half his life. Just about the time he planned to start mending fences, a storm appeared across the plain. The storm quickly rolled over the flat land and before he could think about running for cover it raged over him with pouring rain, heavy winds, thunder and lightning. Already soaking wet, he worked to finish up the fence. While he was driving his last fence post the lightning struck him down.
"Now, each year at this time, I come out and play by the fence. It's my way of asking the Lord and the locusts to forgive my brother for never getting around to mending his fences." He continued to strum the guitar for a few more minutes and then he just stopped, grabbed the guitar case and headed toward his truck.
I wandered away, thinking of my own fences. I looked back at him from my car. The moon cast a gentle light over him as he climbed into his truck. I paused just a moment, longing to taste one last note from his guitar. One thought came to my mind: "forgiveness."