Day 2: Store Credit
I woke up to the sound of a rooster crowing. Groaning and looking over at the clock on the wall, I slumped back onto my pillow in frustration. It was only five o’clock in the morning. ‘I’m not in the city anymore. This is how things are done in the country. You’ll get used to it,’ I had to tell myself as I rolled out of the bed.
“Ugh… What happened yesterday?” I groaned. “I came here, talked with Mayor Thomas, and then decided to run this farm. Nothing to be sore over…” “Wait a minute,’ I thought to myself. ‘Didn’t I fall down? Why’d that happen again?’ For the life of me, I couldn’t remember.
‘Oh well, better get started,’ I yawned and scratched my butt. Mid-yawn though, I heard giggling outside.
I stopped and strained my ears. Nothing.
Shrugging my hallucination off, I stretched and walked over to where ever I’d thrown my rucksack before I crashed. Dumping all of the contents onto my bed (there wasn’t much in there), I stripped down and changed. I slipped into some clean undies (boxers, if you’re wondering), donned my shirt, put on my overalls one leg at a time, then slipped the suspenders over my shoulders, pulled my boots on, tied a red handkerchief around my neck, and then placed my hat on my head, backwards. My sense of style wasn’t going to score any points with the ladies, but I liked it and it got the job done.
Now that I was fully awake, I looked around my new place. Sadly, there wasn’t much to look at. There was the bed, a table in the middle of the room, some boxes in the corner, a toolbox in another corner, an outdated pinup calendar on the wall, and a bookshelf with volumes of nothing interesting to read. Seriously. Most of them were books on anatomy, books on psychology, and old magazines of aborigines out in the jungles. Basically, everything that had nothing to do with farming.
Just who the heck was my grandpa anyways? I’m sure my father had some reason for not telling me about him for all these years. Instinct says that he must’ve been crazy and would be a danger to me. But these books… they made him seem like he was a genius. I guess that kinda makes sense. Weren’t geniuses somewhat crazy anyways? They were so smart that unless they found things to entertain them, they’d be bored into insanity?
Something caught my eye in my musings. There was something peeking out from underneath the bookshelf. I got down on my hands and knees and pulled it out. It was another book caked in a thick layer of dust. I took a deep breath and blew as hard as I could – which was a mistake because the air was now full of dust and my lungs were empty.
I started coughing like crazy. I scrambled away from the dust to the bed. When I had clean air in my lungs again, I looked at the book. It was mainly yellow with red corners. On the cover and spine, it read Photo Album. I opened it up and something fell on my lap. I didn’t care though. Right now, my attention was completely focused on the picture taking up the entire first page.
Jack, Jack, and Jack
“Wow,” I whispered softly. I flipped through the other pages real quickly and noticed the rest of them were empty. This was the only picture he had. There wasn’t one of him and his wife, or even him and my dad. The only picture he had… was one with me.
After what seemed like hours, I closed the photo album and set it aside. Tears started coming to my eyes so I quickly wiped them away. After I composed myself, I looked at what was on my lap. It was nothing but a map of Mineral Village. Thinking it would come in handy, I stuck it in my rucksack.
Finally, the last thing that occupied the shack was a huge tube TV. Not only that, it was so old, it still had knobs on it. There were only two. The top one turned it on and off. The bottom changed it between any of the four channels it picked up.
I walked over to the TV and turned it on. When the screen came to life, it showed a good looking blonde sitting behind a desk with some papers in her hand. To the left of her head was a picture of a sun. “Here’s tomorrow’s forecast! Clear blue skies from the morning!” the weather lady immediately said in a very peppy, perky attitude. Her smile showed way too much gum so that she kind of looked like a horse.
‘Terrible English but helpful information,’ I thought as I turned the knob to number two.
This time, the image was of a man behind a desk. He was fat and had a squished nose so that he sort of looked like a pig with a black toupee and an ugly blue suit. To the right of his head was a calendar. “Day two of Spring!” he snorted. “This month’s events are: eighth – Spring Goddess Festival; eighteenth – Local Horse Race; twenty-second – Cooking Festival.”
‘Ugly, yet informative.’ I switched the knob to number 3.
“Happay New Year everyone!” cried a very mousy Asian. “Todae, all our guest will demonstrate skills they have learned very special here todae just-a fo you!”
‘PASS!’ I thought loudly as I switched the knob one last time.
On the right side of the screen was a lady with pink hair in a flowery dress. On the left side of the screen was a puppet. The puppet had big, bulging eyes that were pointed in opposite directions. Instead of hair, he just had a couple wires poking out here and there. And the teeth they gave him? His teeth made him look like a back woods yokel.
“Farmer Fran, Farmer Fran!” the puppet cried out like a retard.
“Yes, Timmy?” Farmer Fran asked the puppet with a look that plainly said that she thought something stupid was going to come out of his felt mouth but that she needed to pretend to be concerned anyways.
‘Why is it that they always seem to name the loser character Timmy?’ I wondered.
“I planted seeds but they didn’t sprout or anything. They’re still seeds! How come?”
“Because you’re an idiot, Timmy!” I answered.
“Did you water them with the Watering Can?” Farmer Fran asked condescendingly.
“Durr, what’s a watering can?” I responded for Timmy.
“What?! I have to water them?!” Timmy asked.
Farmer Fran looked at the camera and shook her head while the catch phrase Oh, Timmy… played in the background. Farmer Fran looked back at Timmy. “Of course! That’s true for all seeds except for grass, which can grow without water.”
“Oh…” Timmy said like the idiot he was. “I get it now. I have to water the seeds if I want them to grow…”
“Well that was gay,” I snorted as I turned the TV off. “I’m never going to watch that again.” But I knew I would.
Finally deciding to stop goofing off, I walked over to the tool chest to see what I was going to be working with. Inside were five rudimentary objects; a sickle, an axe, a mallet, a gardening hoe, and a watering can.
I picked up the watering can and crossed my eyes. “Derp de derp. I gotta water da seeds with the watering can!” I said as I started banging the ground with it.
“No, Timmy!” I shouted in falsetto. “You water the seeds with the WATER you put into the watering can!”
“Dooooooooooooooooooh!” I said as I kept banging the ground.
I laughed to myself and put the watering can back, now slightly banged up. Looking once more at the tools, I sighed heavily. ‘Where was I, the stone ages?’ I thought to myself. Remembering back to the horrific sight yesterday, I knew I was going to need everything. One by one, I tried to stick all the tools in my rucksack, but they wouldn’t fit. Until I got a bigger rucksack, I was going to have to plan ahead.
I picked up the sickle, the hoe, and the axe to start off with since I’d need to start clearing the logs and weeds in order to plant. I didn’t think I would be able to clear the stumps and the boulders any time soon. The rocks, I could probably use for a makeshift fence.
Satisfied that I had everything I needed, I left the house and locked the door. When I turned around, dumpy Mayor Thomas was standing right behind me.
“GAH!” I cried out in alarm.
“Good morning, Jack! Have thome candy!” he said, cheerful as always as he placed some candy in my hand. “I came to thow you around the village, if you’d like.”
He was still wearing his tacky red suit with matching top hat, blue vest, and yellow bowtie. His nose looked as if it was constantly swollen due to an insect bite. I also noticed that he wore spectacles. It was hard to see since his mustache distracted you from looking at anything else, except for his balding head.
“Uh… No thanks,” I politely said. If I was going to check this village out, it certainly wasn’t going to be as a tourist. “I’m sure I’ll figure out where everything’s at. I found this map in the shack. I also want the chance to meet the villagers on my own.”
Mayor Thomas seemed really disappointed at hearing this. Him giving me a tour was probably the highlight of his day. Being the mayor of a village of thirty people must give him a lot of free time. “Oh, well… wonthe thingth thettle down on the farm you thould take a walk around the village.”
“Thanks for the offer,” I rolled my eyes. “I’ll be sure to do that.
He brightened up a little. “Just one thing. If you leave the farm and turn to the right you’ll find the Poultry Farm and Yodel Ranch.”
“And if you head north, you’ll find the Blackthmith –”
“And if you head eatht after heading north, you’ll arrive at the Thupermarket –”
“Goodbye Mayor.” I started escorting the mayor off the farm.
“And if you keep going, you’ll reach the Clinic, and then the Church!” was the mayor’s last cry before he was off my property.
The mayor walked off a bit and then turned around. “I’ll thee you later!” he said, and then he was gone.
No sooner had he left when a huge muscled man in a grey wife beater with a rag over his shoulders walked up to me. I thought this guy was about to pummel me for no reason at all, but when he stopped in front of me, he gave me a huge grin. “Hello Jack, it’s nice to finally meet you again!
“Excuse me?” I asked.
“Oh!” he said, suddenly remembering something. “Hello Jack, it’s nice to finally meet you… for the first time!
“Ooooookay?” I said, a little skeptical of this man’s sanity.
“I’m the buyer, Zack,” he said, extending his hand out to me. I grabbed it and he shook mine enthusiastically, almost causing me to bounce up and down. “The mayor told me you had arrived. Well, you should know that as a farmer, there’s just one thing you need to remember. There’s a Bin on the farm, and that’s where you place the produce you want to sell.
“What about remembering to tie my shoes?” I asked
“Uh…” he said.
“And remembering to brush my teeth before I go to bed?”
“And remembering to wash behind my ears?”
“And let’s not forget about wiping.”
“Well, you should know that if you want to get paid, there’s just one thing you need to remember.” I think I broke him. “I’ll drop by every evening at five o’clock p.m. to see if there’s anything to pick up. If there is, I’ll pay you on the spot.”
“From where? Are you just going to be carrying a sack full of gold with you every day just in case I have things to sell? And what if I have a lot to sell? Are you just going to carry it all back with you?”
Zach looked confused. “Well… yeah.”
“Oh. Okay then. Will this be your routine every day?”
“Yes. Oh, but I won’t drop by on festival days. I want holidays too!! Hahahahaha…”
“So not every day.”
I looked at Zack skeptically.
“There are also Bins in the henhouse and in the sheep and cow barn. You can sell the vegetables you’ve harvested as well as the things you’ve gathered in the mountains. Of course, you can sell eggs, wool and milk too. Got it?
“Good,” he continued on either ignoring my comment or not hearing it. “I’ll come again at five o’clock p.m. Nice meeting you, Jack. I’ll look forward to getting to know you.”
With that, he shook my hand again and walked off laughing. “Wahahahahahaha!”
‘What have I gotten myself into?’ I thought to myself as I watched Zach leave. ‘I don’t think I’ve met one sane person yet. At least they’re friendly. If all the people are this friendly, I could really enjoy it here. You certainly can’t find this in the city.
‘Of course, people usually aren’t this friendly either. Maybe I’m actually trapped in a village full of backwater crazies waiting for the first opportunity to kill me when my guard is down… But then again, I’ve only met two people. Three, including Greg. I’m sure not everyone is that crazy. There’s got to be some sane people here, right? I just hope those ones are the same age as me. Maybe I can finally find a girlfriend and settle down. Now that would be a wonderful life.’
After I took in the scenery for a bit, I pulled the gardening hoe out of my rucksack. I walked over to a clear part of the field and hoed a bit of the land. “Whew! That’s enough for one day,” I said to myself as I threw the hoe over my shoulder where it landed on the ground unceremoniously. “It’s time to go check out the village.”
After looking at the map for a bit, I decided to head north first instead of east like the mayor suggested. This place was rather nice. It was full of trees and greenery. The city certainly didn’t have this. The paths had quaint street lamps every so often. It was really beautiful here.
The first building that I came to had a sign out front that said Blacksmith on it. It also said that it was open from nine to four everyday but was closed on Thursdays. I’d have to go visit that place if my tools ever broke and needed fixing. The owner might even have more tools for me to help me with the farm, I assumed. The next building over was Aja (Ah-ha? Ah-Jah?) Winery. This building was open from nine to noon and was closed on Saturdays. As I continued on down the path, I came to a house with the Library attached to it. If I ever wanted to check out a book, I could come from ten to four on any day except Monday.
After the Library, the path cut east. There were a couple more houses that I came across. Since I didn’t know who lived there and that it was still early, I decided to just avoid them. I didn’t want to piss anyone off just as I got here. Farther down the road, I reached the Supermarket. This place was open from nine to six and was closed on Tuesdays and Sundays. I looked at my watch. It was after nine, and it was Monday! I guess today was my lucky day.
As I walked through the door, the first thing I saw was a man with black hair, wearing a white lab coat and a stethoscope around his neck, talking to a guy behind the counter with combed back black hair and wearing what looked like a parlor shoppe uniform. Just from looking at the back of the man in the lab coat, I could already tell that he constantly wore a look that he thought everyone was beneath him. The person behind the counter was a coward.
I walked over to the produce section of the store and began perusing the merchandise when I heard the guy in the lab coat say, “I’ll bring the money next time.”
“Huh? The next time…?” the guy behind the counter whimpered.
‘This is none of your business,’ I told myself as the guy in the lab coat walked past me and left.
From the back room, a woman with light brown hair pulled into a tight bun and wearing a simple blue and white dress came running out. “Jeff!” she asked incredulously. “You sold on credit again! Ugh! You’re such a pushover… Honestly, sometimes I wonder why I even married you.”
“Sasha… I…” Jeff mumbled.
Sasha sighed. “That was the doctor, right? I’ll go to the Clinic to get the money.”
Sasha rushed out of the Supermarket, probably not even aware that I was in there too. I crossed the room to check out a larger rucksack I had just spotted when another man came in. This one was bigger in stature and very well-to-do looking. His hair looked like a dead skunk was keeping his scalp warm though. He walked over to the produce section and grabbed a loaf of bread.
“Hey Jeff, I’m taking this. Put it on my tab,” he said.
“Oh… that thing… Okay. Yeah, next time,” Jeff moaned.
I’d had enough of this. When this prick made to leave, I stood in his way.
The guy stopped. He had a look on his face that said, ‘who would dare stop me?’ But then that look turned to realization and he smiled big. “Say, aren’t you Jack, Grandpa’s grandson? I heard you took over his farm. Congratulations! It’s nice to know that Grandpa was able to get a relative of his into the family business.”
I folded my arms and stared at the guy, but otherwise I said nothing.
“What’s wrong?” Skunkhead asked, completely oblivious to the situation. “You don’t look good.”
“You should pay,” I told him straight out.
Skunkhead started laughing obnoxiously. “Hahaha! Good one. Me, pay? That’s a laugh. Anyways, it’s okay. Jeff and I go way back. He’s cool with this.”
I leaned over and looked at Jeff. “He doesn’t look like he’s cool with it to me.”
That’s when the back door was kicked open. This time, a smoking hotthotthott girl came barging out. She had light brown hair with blonde highlights that fell down to her waist. She wore a wife beater with a black bra on underneath. You could totally tell. Not that I was staring there or nothing. Her wife beater was tucked into short shorts that exposed some nice looking legs. Over the wife beater, she wore a purple vest that made her gorgeous green eyes pop out. This girl was beautiful. I knew it. She knew it. There was no hiding it. This girl got what she wanted, there was no mistake.
“Duke!” she shouted with a voice that could both hypnotize a sailor and send demons running in fear.
I quickly hid behind Duke’s girth before she could see me.
Duke cringed and turned around. Feigning ignorance, he said, “Oh… Karen! You look as lovely as ever. I was just about to go and –”
“Hold it right there, mishter (hic)! You’re not taking another shtep. You should pay when you buy shomething!”
“But… But… Jeff is cool with it,” Duke mumbled.
“Well I’m not.” Karen started cracking her knuckles as she slowly approached Duke. “Your mumbling is giving me a bigger (hic) headache than I already have. You should know by now that you shouldn’t pissh me off when I’m shober enough to see straight.”
Duke threw his arms up in defeat and shuffled forward, giving Karen a wide berth. “Okay! Okay… You, I can’t escape. Here you go Jeff. Man, you’ve got one heck of a daughter.” The cash register opened with a ding and coins were placed inside.
I got the strange feeling that I should probably run for it, but truth was, I was scared out of my mind. I didn’t know where to go or what to do. My feet took me left – righ – left – this way – that way. I finally just stopped and faced a plate of rice balls when I heard footsteps walk past me and out the door.
After a couple moments of hearing nothing but my heavy breathing, I actually wondered if I was all alone. I turned around and - “Jack?” Karen said, inches from my face.
“GAH!” I cried out, and jumped backwards into the display table. When did she get next to me?
“Jack?” she said again. I noticed that she was having difficulty standing straight. She kept leaning to one side or the other. Also, her eyes kept going in and out of focus. If this was her seeing straight, I couldn’t imagine what she looked like when she couldn’t. She was giving all the signs that she was wasted drunk, except there was no alcohol on her breath. Instead, I got a face full of what smelled like mint and strawberries. The mint was obviously toothpaste. The strawberries, her shampoo?
“Y-yes?” I said, hesitantly.
There was a brief pause as the information slowly made its way to her brain. When it registered…
“AIIIIIEEEEE!” she screamed. Jeff and I both slapped our hands over our ears at the same time. I swear I heard one of the windows shatter from the pitch. “JACK! IT’SH YOU! OH MY (hic) GODDESSH!” she squealed before she jumped on me.
Her arms chocked my neck while her legs wrapped around my waist. In a knee jerk reaction, my arms flew out, not wanting to place them anywhere I shouldn’t. She kept jumping up and down, almost as if she were… I needed to get this girl off of me! The added weight plus the vigorous movement made me try and compensate to keep my balance, but instead I over corrected and fell over backwards. Karen leaned back and moved her hair out of her eyes as she straddled me. The view I had was the underside of her boobs.
“Jack! I can’t believe you’re back!” Karen shouted rather loudly. “You’re back!” She did a small jump and all the air was knocked out of me. “You’re back!” She did it again. “You’re back! You’re back! You’re back! You’re back! You’re back! You’re back! You’re –“
“Alright! That’s enough Karen! You’re going to kill our customer!” Jeff said, pulling Karen off of me.
I clutched my stomach and rolled on my side in the fetal position. I could swear Karen was going to push Jeff away and start doing it again, but instead I saw her throwing up in a garbage can while Jeff held her hair out of her face. The excitement must’ve been too much for her. That gave me enough time to get back on my feet. When she finished, she actually did shove Jeff away and came stumbling back over to me.
“I’ve missed you so much. You wouldn’t believe how boring this place is without you. This whole time you’ve been away, all I’ve really had is Rick to keep me company, and he’s nowhere near as fun or as hot as you are!”
‘Me? Fun and… hot?’ I thought to myself. Those were two words that no one (my age or older) ever used to describe me.
“Oh, this is so wonderful! I can’t wait to show you all the clothes that I’ve made! And since the weather is nice outside, you’ll get to see me in all my bikinis! I couldn’t swim before, but I can swim now! I had you to inspire me, after all. This will be so much fun! I’m so excited! And the Spring Goddess festival is coming up! You’ll finally get to see me in my mom’s ceremonial dress! You’ll get to see me dance, and then afterwards we can –”
“Excuse me,” I whispered. Karen shut up immediately. “I don’t mean to offend, but I think the alcohol in your system is affecting your memory. Could it be that perhaps you think I’m my grandpa?”
A look of sudden realization and horror flashed across Karen’s face. “Oh! Oh…” she said and she quickly backed away. “I’m sorry. Yeah. You’re right. Grandpa’s dead. You must be his grandson Jack. You two look so much alike. I was mistaken. I’m sorry. It was my bad.” She looked like she was on the verge of tears
“That’s okay,” I quickly said. “Don’t worry about it. For some reason, I keep getting that a lot.”
Karen nervously chuckled. “Yeah. It probably won’t be the last time either. The resemblance between you two is uncanny. S-sorry for earlier…”
“Oh, don’t worry about it,” I laughed as I scratched the back of my head. “I guess there are worse things that could happen than having a beautiful girl jump on you.”
“Y-yeah,” Karen blushed further. “A-a-anyways… Thanks for the help… I mean with Duke… Thanks for the help with Duke. My names Karen… if you didn’t already know that. If you didn’t then my name is Karen. If you did then I just said my name twice for no reason at all. Hehehehehe… Well… Anyways, it was nice to meet you! I – uh… gotta go now!”
And with that, Karen hurried past me. She tried running out of the door, but the frame stopped her. After steadying herself, she kicked the door open and ran out as if her life depended on getting as far away from me as fast as she possibly could.
“Sorry about Karen,” Jeff said next to me. “She likes to drink. We’ve all tried to stop her but… you know how it is. It’s hard for her to give up the happy sauce.” He chuckled. “Glug, glug, glug,” he said as he pantomimed drinking.
“Yeah,” I said absently. “Yeah… Hey, can you tell me something?”
“Sure,” Jeff said.
“Did she normally jump on my grandpa like that?”
“No reason,” I said. Then I quickly ran after Karen.
Before the door closed and I got too far, I heard Jeff moan back in the Supermarket. “Oh man… I have a stomachache…”