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  • Jaelle

Well, I'll be Dammed





It all began when Bob and I were checking a field of new shoots of corn that were eagerly pushing their heads through the soil. Bob just happened to look up past the head gate and saw a wall of water bust over the top of the cement dam and shoot down the irrigation ditch in our direction and towards our field of budding corn stalks.

As if he’d been poked with a pitchfork, Bob’s hands flew up in the air and he looked like rigor mortis set in. “What’s the matter, Bob? Those beans from supper getting to you?” I asked with concern. Bob ignored my concerned remark and yelled at me, “Lay down in the ditch, Sarry. Lay down in the ditch.”


“You’re kidding, right?” I answered. “You’re going to record this and put it on YouTube, right?”


Like a rooster looking for a fight, Bob hopped up and down, “Oh, gees Sarry, just lay down. There’s an ocean of water coming down the pike and you got to be a dam, now!”


Okay, I did instantly envision a rice paddy where our beautiful field of aspiring ten-foot tall corn stood, so believe it or not, I didn’t argue. I just yanked off my Justins and wool socks and crawled into the ditch, curled up like a comma, and rested my head on one side of the ditch and my feet on the other.


Bob started to pitch dirt all around and over me but the dirt wouldn’t adhere to my nylon windbreaker and Bob wouldn’t quit complaining so I took it off, exposing what was no longer Victoria’s secret. Bob pitched dirt over me again and after a few beneath-the-breath remarks, Bob openly insinuated that I was bow-legged. Now, that I argued with. He then covered me from chin to heels with soil, leaving my topside hand free to itch my nose. I was packed in there tighter than ten Holsteins in a two-horse trailer. In retrospect, I suppose my Cool Ray Sunglasses made me look too casual, but I was packed in dirt––in a ditch. Who really cares?


Bob assured me he would be back in a moment with a real dam, which I mistakenly assumed would be soon. Then he gave me a buss on the cheek and patted the dirt on my hip. As he headed to his pickup, I hollered after him, “How long until the water gets here?” Bob smiled at my reflection in the side view mirror and left.


About five seconds later, I found out. A tidal wave thundered around the bend in the ditch like a roller coaster. It roared up one side of the ditch and then the other. It made the Death Trap at the carnival look like a kiddy ride. I grabbed the right bank of the ditch with my free hand and sunk my toes into the left bank. Bob would appreciate this if he ever returned.

Two feet of arctic water pounded my body, backed up and pounded me again. This time one of the white-capped waves bounded over my head. After a few smutty remarks about aquatic parasites, I plucked several creatures from under my collar and threw them back into the ditch. The only thing on me that could have convinced a biologist that I was a mammal was the hair plastered to my head.


My sunglasses wallowed in the churning water for a moment and then rested on the nose of a tumbleweed that was quickly discharged from the ditch by the avalanche of water. I saw the last of the tumbleweed as it bounded across the field, my Cool Rays still intact.


At that moment, Gus, the ditch rider fogged up the road like there was a fire–or a flood. He waved at me as he flew past, slammed on his brakes, backed up, jumped out of his pickup truck and stormed over to the ditch. I started to explain, but Gus briskly interrupted and didn’t seem to notice that I was a human dam. He stood on the ditch bank, chopping the air with his hands and yelling at me that the main gate broke and I’d better get prepared for some mean water coming down the ditch.


Then Gus wheeled around, trotted back to his pickup, and fogged on down the road. I was grateful for the company and the timely news and fluttered my free hand in farewell.

Since I’d never been a dam before, I was at a loss for things to do while waiting for Bob’s return. It was hardly a time to consider a manicure and a mud facial didn’t sound enticing either. As the bitter cold water chewed at my mudpack, I began plotting my revenge.


A short while later, Merle, the mailman, drove by. I peeked over the top of the ditch bank just in time to see Merle’s hand jut out the window, stop in mid-wave and jerk back inside the vehicle. The truck came to a screeching halt and Merle extracted his glasses from his shirt pocket like they were an impacted molar and wiped them clean. He stuck his head out the window, narrowed his eyes and gave the ditch bank and my head a quizzical look. He then gazed down the road a bit, then back at me. I smiled like the Cheshire cat and tried to act nonchalant.


Merle hollered, “Go-ooman arrr eee.” Which I translated as “Good morning, Sarry.” I’m sure Merle could have said it too, if he hadn’t been doubled over with laughter and pounding the steering wheel with his fist. After he regained his composure somewhat, Merle ground the gears into first and lurched down the road.


I soon realized I was losing ground in this effort to hold the water. Some of the mud washed away as water seeped through cracks and crevices. Perhaps Bob was right, I was bow-legged.


Just in the nick of time, Bob arrived. He slapped an irrigation dam into the ditch and plopped mud on top of it. I could have crawled out of the ditch a lot sooner if Bob had stopped giggling and helped me remove the mud that suctioned me to the bottom of the ditch. My neck straightened out and my bones warmed up about eight days later.


One hot, sultry day in August, when the mercury shot to 95 degrees and the sweat bees swarmed in droves, I got even with Bob. His pickup truck ran out of gas in the far south pasture–the one that’s twelve miles from anything, including trees and water. After a miserable, back-breaking, foot-flattening, sweat-pouring trek home, he had to trudge all the way back to his pickup truck with a gallon of gas because Bob couldn’t find me or any of the keys for our other vehicles.


That closet was pretty stuffy, but it was worth it.

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