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Crop of Death

By Shane Tibbs

“No, my boy! My voracious piglet! My intemperate shoat!” howled Gump, hunched over, his besmudged white suit hanging at his sides. He patted his brow with a kerchief, screwed up his face into the headlights and hastily stuffed the rag back into his pocket.

Behind the wheel of the car: Shane Tibbs, rubbing the pad of his bare foot against the gas to a slow, steady beat. Blank stare.

Brian Schropp sat some yards behind Gump, propping himself against the curb, and, having removed his glasses with one hand, rubbed his eyes with the other.

Through sobs he whinged and spat:

“I’m sorry. I. AM. FUCKING. SORRY!”

His defiance lapsed, he slouched against the curb with a whimper.

Chained to the back of the Lankville Motors Luxe Marquis was a rusty harvester.

Shane purchased the equipment at the Lankville Outland’s Distant Farms Machinery Auction a week earlier.

After producing Gump’s change purse (chatelained black velvet; silver frame at center displaying a rhinoceros’s eye embalmed in amber) and paying with three large uncut diamonds, Shane had been asked about his crop by Lanes Kravitz, sole proprietor, DFMA Ltd.

“My crop?” replied Tibbs junior.

“Yessir.”

Gump Tibbs

“I plan to attach this device to the back of my Daddy’s car and mow down Brian Schropp in cold blood. I suppose you might say my crop is death. Will it do?”

Kravitz tilted his weather-beaten face skyward and squinted.

“Well,” he said after a pause, “You have to understand: the harvester, or more simply put–combine,” Kravitz paused again. “You see, it’s name comes from it’s capacity for combining the three separate operations comprising harvesting—reaping, threshing, and winnowing—into a single process.”

“Reap. Thresh. Winnow,” Shane now muttered to himself through clenched lips, as he lurched forward in fits and starts. The spikes of the machine, leaping from the pavement at odd intervals, clanged and hissed.

Gump was now fully erect, balancing on his toes, his back arched, the contents of a liter of gin splashing against his face and mouth.

Harvester (file photo)

“Shane, my boy, the balance of your emotion has tilted too far in the service of indiscretion. To be behind the wheel of a motorized instrument is a deadly proposition! But I grant you–you have my word, my word, my boy–you shall endure no punishment by my hand nor furthur discomfiture by my affection. I am not mad at you for filching my auto. Slightly amused, in fact,” Gump added with a nervous laugh.

With max force, Shane jammed one foot on the brake and the other on the accelerator. The Luxe Marquis’s rear tires bucked against the road as the back end of the car waved to and fro. Smoke engulfed the desperate trio.

Through the haze, Shane screeched with the tires in terrible discord:

“I WILL NOT SHARE BATH TIMES WITH BRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!”

Brian stood up with false bravura then promptly fell to his knees, clasping his hands together into a fist:

“Never again, never again,” he shuddered, “never again, never again,” now clambering forward on his knees one painful, awkward motion at a time, “never again, never again,” each breath more labored, more insistent than the last, “never again, never again . . . NEVER AGAIN!”

Satisfied, Shane slid the shifter into park and scooted across the bench seat.

“Daddy, drive me home.”

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