Tales of Moore, Indianabymsnomer68©
The summer had been long, hot and dry, the heat seemed eternal. At long last summer had lost its grip and autumn had come. The first leaves began to change as the main street of this little town known as Moore unfurled its décor in preparation for the annual Labor Day parade. Moore wasn’t really big enough to be considered for a notation on the state map, the only thing the town had to offer was a gas station, a bar, and corn, row upon row, field after field, nothing but corn.
By early October Moore had seen the first frost, glistening on the drying stalks of corn, melting fast in the early morning sun turning to dew. The harvest moon hung in the clear dark sky, the air laden with the perfume of burning leaves. Day and night the combines ran harvesting the endless fields of corn. Corn prices had fallen through the floor, although this was a tragedy and the talk of the town at the local Co-op, the farmers proceeded with the annual ritual of harvesting anyway. Except for one, he had an idea that might bring in more money than the harvest; he would create a maze, a maze out of the drying stalks of corn. He would charge $5 a head to wander through this maze of maize. That was another commodity the town had, besides corn, teenagers; an endless supply of teens. The farmer and his combine began to carve the maze through the forty plus acres of his corn field, the stalks which were now the golden brown that comes with autumn.
It was one week before Halloween. Luckily, Indian summer warmed the air, one last brief romance before the winter snows began. Tonight at the local high school, the Harvest Moon dance was in full force. Blue jeans and tennis shoes had been traded for tuxedos and formal gowns, the gym had been transformed into a fantasy land of crepe paper and balloons. The theme this year was a simple one, “Harvest your future”.
Laura stood in front of her full length mirror styling her long blonde hair; applying the last touches to her makeup. She stood back to examine herself, her pale blue taffeta dress clung seductively to her maturing curves. She was a senior now, she had the best looking boyfriend in school, she was popular, she made good grades, now she was going to be the queen of the Harvest Moon and get her picture in the local paper. “Life is great” she thought to herself. She waited patiently for her date to pick her up, waited patiently admiring herself in the mirror.
Beau was running late as usual, he had spent all day in the fields trying to help his father repair an aging combine. He scrubbed himself down in the shower, trying desperately to get the engine oil out from underneath his fingernails. Hurriedly he dried himself and threw on his tux. He ran some gel through his shower damp hair and checked his inventory. He had $40 in his wallet, his driver’s license, a condom, and a little bottle of peppermint schnapps for after the dance. He and Laura had never had sex, she drove him crazy with her petting and kisses, he wanted more and with the help of the peppermint schnapps and his enduring charm, he planned to get it. He wrapped the bottle up tightly in his duffel bag, uttered a hurried goodbye to his family and brought the engine of the ancient truck roaring to life.
Beth looked out of her bedroom window as she heard her neighbor’s truck roar to life and the crunch of gravel as it pulled away. She didn’t have a date for the dance, in fact, she never had a date. She looked at herself in the mirror, she didn’t see anything to admire. She was of average height, above average weight, mousey brown hair, just an average girl in an average town, on an ordinary Saturday night. She flopped dejectedly onto her bed, and re-read the flyer she had gotten at the gas station. It read:
October 25 – Halloween night
Hours of entertainment and fun
Try it if you dare
$5 per person
$8 per couple
9pm till you find your way out
Located on Highway 41, just north of Moore
Can’t miss it.
Her brother was only a grade behind her; she could smell his cologne wafting through the hallway from his room. Marilyn Manson blared on his stereo; she could hear him singing “The Beautiful People” in his best imitation. He was getting ready for the dance. “Even a freak like him could find a date and I couldn’t” she muttered to herself. She pulled on her mud boots and an old jacket, gathered up her flashlight and headed out to the maze. She pounded on her brother’s door “Hey, Jake!” “Hey asshole I’m leaving without you!” Not only was it bad enough that he had a date for the dance, she had to drive him and his “woman” to it, as he only had a learner’s permit.
Jake’s bedroom door flew open, clouds of marijuana smoke mixed with gardenia scented air freshener wafted out. “What do ya think?” he asked as he strutted down the hallway. It was Jake’s first dance. Beth nodded her head approvingly, pointed at her watch which now said 7:30 and pushed him down the hallway toward the front door. Her parents weren’t home, luckily for Jake. They were in Bakersville at the Grotto having supper and no doubt copping a good buzz from their martinis. She had been lent her mother’s car for the evening, a 99 Dodge Neon. Jake took out the CD of classical music their mother so enjoyed and with the roar of the engine Marilyn Manson commenced crooning. Beth rolled her eyes and headed toward town to pick up his date.
Laura’s heart pounded as she heard the truck pull up her driveway. She wished he could find a job and buy a better mode of transportation, but the bed of the truck was perfect for stretching out and petting. Maybe tonight I’ll let him get to third base she thought to herself as she grabbed her evening bag and rushed down the stairs.
Her mother was waiting for her on the landing, snapping pictures. “I want you to remember this night” she said as she snapped away. “These are the best days of your life” she went on to say. The door bell rang, Saved by the bell, Laura thought to herself as she opened the door. “Oh! Let me get a picture of you two” exclaimed Laura’s mother. A quick pose and the blinding flash from the camera and they were on their way.
The 99 Dodge pulled up to Jake’s girlfriend’s house. “Gonna get some tonight sis” Jake exclaimed as he hopped out of the passenger side and bounded up the walk. He pounded on the oak door to Chrissie’s house, she emerged, Jake trotted to the car and opened the door for her, a true gentleman.
The door to the back seat flung open “Hi, Beth” whispered Chrissie as she slid in to the car. Beth liked Chrissie, Chrissie was in Beth’s homeroom and they sat together at lunch. Chrissie was a waif of a girl, slender and tall, way too good for my brother Beth thought to herself. Beth gunned the engine, barely giving her brother enough time to shut the door.
Music wafted through the halls of the school from the gym, mixing with the scent of cheap perfume, bubble gum, and the clacking of high heels. Beau navigated Laura through the crowds of teens mingling in the entrance and on to the dance floor. The gym was decorated in pink and blue crepe paper streamers, hoards of teens swayed back and forth to the music in couples. Laura thought to herself “This is going to be a magical night”. Beau pulled her a little closer and slid his hand down the small of her back resting it on her rump. She immediately repositioned his hand to a more proper location.
Beth pulled the car up to the curb dropping off Jake and Chrissie, he didn’t help her out of the car, he didn’t wait for her, but proceeded to make his way over to where a mass of his cronies waited for him. He gave them high fives and the usual male greetings “C’mon Chrissie” he said impatiently. Chrissie trotted after him as best she could in the unfamiliar garb of formal wear and her mother’s high heels.
Beth pulled out of the school parking lot and turned onto the highway. She slid a bottle of Crown Royal out from under the passenger seat and took a quick sip. The liquid burned her throat and left a warm feeling in her stomach, she pointed the car northbound on 41 toward the maze.
The local bar had its usual Saturday night crowd in attendance. Mike sat at the barstool propping himself up on the bar. He had been at the bar since early that afternoon. He sipped beer after beer and was feeling no pain at present. The bar was a small and crowded place, smelling of a mixture of sweat, beer, cigarette smoke, and cheap perfume. The town had fallen on bad times, local factories had lain off, the harvest wasn’t brining in any money, and this is where the townspeople came to drink away the woes of their misery.
Just as the town had fallen on hard times, so had Mike; he had spent years of back breaking labor at the foundry in Bakersville only to be laid off due to cut backs. He drew his weekly unemployment checks and spent them here at the Moore Bar and Grill. The bar hadn’t served food for many years; it only technically served food to satisfy the requirements of the state in order to be open on Sunday for the convenience of its patrons.
The jukebox played country music. In the back, women gathered around the pool table where an intense game of stripes and solids ensued. “You want another Mike?” asked Rosalie the barkeep. Mike passed her his empty mug nodding his head yes.
In walked a couple of Mike’s ex- coworkers from the foundry; dirty, and smelling of sweat. Their clothing and bodies covered in a fine black film, dirt and grime from the foundry. The black film wouldn’t wash away; it was deep in their nostrils and lay deep in their lungs. Mike had been laid off for 2 months now; he still woke up in the middle of the night with a stuffy head full of the fine black powder. “Hey Mike” they said as they walked by taking seats at the bar next to him. Mike shook his head in their general direction, gulping down his beer.
After the game of stripes and solids was over, someone at the back spoke up, addressing the patrons of the bar in general. “We’re going out to the corn maze if anyone wants to go.” It was Nancy; at one time she was the sparkle in Moore’s eye. Queen of the Harvest Moon dance year after year, cheer leader, she had a promising future. Now here she stood in her mid forties, overweight, wrinkles forming, hair bleached blonde. The sparkle had gone out. Nancy had gotten pregnant right after high school and had married the man, who not to long after her son Beau was born, left her. She had remarried; a farmer, of course, who tended to his fields more lovingly than he tended to her. Beau was now in high school, and she worked the deli counter at the Food Shoppe in Bakersville.
Mike glanced over in her general direction then returned to his beer. He felt a tug on his shirt; “C’mon Mike, it’ll do you some good to have a change of scenery.” Nancy spun him around on his bar stool and mustered him up onto his feet. “Rosalie” she went on to say “I’m steeling one of your number one patrons” she navigated Mike and the others who were up for adventure toward the door.
As the truck sped up highway 41, the musty odor from the fields assaulted Mike’s senses. Mike pulled his jacket up closer. The night air was cold and damp. Mike thought to himself, “Why did I agree to this?” He had been born and raised in Moore, he spent most of his life planting, tending, and harvesting corn. He hated corn, hated the smell of it, the taste of it, and hated the stalks with their razor sharp blades. He hated the summer heat, the stink of the autumn harvest season, he hated the town, the foundry, hated everything about his life. He liked two things, winter and Nancy. The cold snowy winters quelled the stench from the fields and made the town look fresh and new again. In high school, he had the biggest crush on Nancy, he went to every game just to see her cheer, he voted time and time again for her to be queen of the Harvest Moon. She hadn’t known that he existed, but he was here with her now, she was the reason he had agreed to go.
The truck slowed and turned onto a gravel road. The dust from the road choked Mike, bringing him out of his drunken revere. They had arrived. An old farm house stood looming in the light from the harvest moon, the farmer known as “Old Man Jones” stood taking money from his patrons. His wife was selling home made hot apple cider for $2 a glass. “Quite a racket” Mike thought to himself as he hopped out of the back of the pickup, joining the other adventure seekers.
After the obligatory photos and glasses of punch and weak conversation; after repeated refusals by Laura, Beau was starting to loose patience and interest in the dance.
Beau had been approached by his class mates, they were bailing out of the dance and going out to the corn maze, Beau wanted to go. At first, Laura was resistant, she wanted to be here to receive her crown, she was certain she’d win. “Can’t we stay just a few more minutes?” she’d ask as she snuggled in closer to him, causing him considerable distress below the belt. He begrudgingly agreed.
The night drug on, his friends had already skipped out. He stayed and dutifully danced with Laura. She had won this round, but not without giving in some major ground, she allowed him to rest his hand on her rear, it stayed happily there. She had even allowed him to sneak a peek at her breasts, now that was a major accomplishment he thought to himself.
The queen of the Harvest Moon was announced, Laura had won, as expected. Proudly she wore her crown and posed for pictures. This was her moment of triumph. Beau snuck into the girl’s locker room and gathered her sweats, gym shirt and tennis shoes; he knew she’d never consent to going to the maze in a formal gown. He waited for her to soak up her glory by the entrance to the gym. She glanced in his direction, he made a come here motion, and she obeyed.
He kissed her on the cheek and handed her the clothing he had gathered. She knew that she had to change and go with him; to stay any longer would be pushing her luck. She went to the locker room and changed. When she emerged, he was waiting for her by the truck, he had abandoned his tux and had donned a ratty pair of jeans, mud boots and a jacket, and he held the door open for her and motioned for her to come inside.
He slid the bottle of schnapps out of his duffle bag and handed it to her. “Here it’ll keep you warm” he said as he unscrewed the cap for her. She took a sip and felt its warmth in her belly, it was good and sweet, and tasting just like the Christmas candy canes she so loved and she took a bigger gulp.
Beau coaxed the engine of the truck to roar to life, pulled out of the school parking lot and headed up highway 41 toward the maze. Laura leaned back in the seat, her head starting to spin from the schnapps; she thought to herself “life is great.”
Jake and Chrissie made a brief appearance at the dance. They didn’t take time to have their photo done or to drink the punch. The slipped out of the gym and snuck into the music room where Jake produced a joint of enormous proportions. He lit the joint inhaling deeply and passed it to her. She hesitantly took the joint from him “What if we get caught?” she asked. Jake shrugged his shoulders in response exhaling the intoxicating smoke
. She took a short drag off the joint coughing and gasping as the hot smoke burned her throat. “No, deeper” Jake coached. She tried again, her head was reeling and she felt strange as she inhaled again. Midway through the joint, she had become a master. Everything was funny to her, Jake buried his head into her breasts; that was funny too, and caused another strange rush of sensation to assault her. Uninhibited due to the effects of the drug, she lowered the straps of the gown and unhooked her bra, inviting him in. He greedily and lustfully accepted the invitation. He took her hand and slid it down the front of his tux; she could feel him and how much he wanted her. The moment and the sensations escalated and she gave in to his advances, allowing him to slide his hand up her dress, allowing him to slide his pants off, allowing him to take her.
Afterwards, they lay on the floor of the music room in a pile of abandoned formal wear. Jake lit a cigarette and handed it to her. Neither one of them said anything they just lay there amidst the woodwinds and brass, contemplating the mystery of adulthood they had just experienced.
Footsteps echoed up the hall, Chrissie threw Jake a terrified look. He simply held his finger to her lips bidding her to be quiet and still. The footsteps of the security guard walked past the door of the music room and on down the long corridor. Hurriedly they got dressed. He whispered in her ear about the corn maze and how a bunch of classmates were going to go after the dance, she didn’t feel much like dancing anymore, and the dance was coming to an end, she agreed to go.
Beth navigated the small Neon up the gravel road listening to the rocks ping off the under frame of the car. She sipped away on the Crown Royal and was beginning to feel its affect. She pulled up the lane to the old farm house and put the car into park. “Oh shit” she thought to herself, Beau’s mom and a bunch of the adults from the local bar were paying admission and entering the maze. Hurriedly she fumbled in her purse for a stick of gum, chomping on it to deaden the smell from the whiskey.
She slid the rest of the pack of gum, and the remainder of the pilfered bottle of Crown Royal into her bag, grabbing her flashlight she headed toward Old Man Jones to pay the $5 admission fee. Old man Jones eagerly took her money; this was definitely paying more than the Co-op would for his corn. He pointed out that his wife was selling home made hot apple cider and directed her to the entrance to the maze. She stumbled over the uneven ground and entered.
Beau and Laura arrived at the farm house, Laura was feeling light headed and giddy from the schnapps Beau had offered her. He slid the truck in park, paid their admission and directed her into the maze. She leaned heavily against him, tripping over the uneven ground in the darkness. He hadn’t thought to bring a flashlight, it didn’t matter, his plan was to lead her in, slide away from the path, and have his way with her. They had dated for eight months, it was time. He had been a good boyfriend, putting up with her and her prissy friends; he had given in to her time after time, now she would give into him.
Giggling she stumbled again in the darkness grabbing onto Beau for support. Her crown which she had insisted on wearing tumbled into the darkness making a tinny thunk as it landed on the dry hard packed dirt of the field. “Beau, get my crown” she whispered to him. Obligingly he obeyed, feeling the dark earth and locating her crown. Without a word he placed it upon her blonde tresses.
Jake helped Chrissie up into the bed of the old Chevy truck driven by an upper classman. The truck was full to the brim with partying high school kids, his kind of people. It careened up highway 41 toward the farm house leaving a trail of beer cans and cigarette buts in its wake. The teens cheered as the truck made its way to the farm house. They gathered all of the money they had and somehow managed to pay admission. A laughing, yowling, mass of teens they entered the maze.
Chrissie held tightly to Jakes hand, she was quietly contemplating what she was doing here with him, entering a maze of dried corn stalks in a formal gown and high heels. She tumbled to the ground almost pulling Jake down with her; he steadied her on to her feel and suggested that she remove her high heeled shoes. She readily agreed, carefully picking her way through the dried stalks of corn.
For as drunk as he was, Mike stealthily led the group to the center of the maze. If there was anything Mike knew, it was corn. The stalks loomed above him the dried leaves looking like arms reaching out, the ears of corn hanging precariously off the stalks. “Hang on a minute” said a member of the group “I gotta take a piss.” One of the male members, a tall, hulk of a man wandered off the path of the maze to relieve himself.