This is the conclusion to Calamity In A Cornfield, from my book, Go West or Go Weird. Click this link for Part 1.
Calamity In A Cornfield (Conclusion)
I walked back to the farmhouse as the band attacked again. There were long screeching sounds punctuated by howls, thumps, and mind-altering rhythms. Sounded to me like I’d died and finally gone to the place those preachers always said I was headed for. I looked over at the corn, and it seemed as if the stalks were slowly beginning to droop over and wither away.
Sitting in my farmhouse, with the muffled noise of the heavy metal band banging at my windows, I tried to think. For a few hours nothing came to me. Then about an hour after they’d packed up and left for the day, the silence enabled my brain to work again. And I got an idea. An idea that was so simple it was stupendous. An idea I was sure would succeed.
Early next morning I dragged some sprinkling equipment over near the property line. The same stuff that I use to wash my cornstalks when the leaves get too dusty. Dusty leaves are bad for photosympathesis, you know. ‘Sall there in a book I read once.
Anyhows, I hooked it all up and then waited like an anxious general for the day’s battle to begin. But I was off in hiding, back behind the water lines in a stand of corn.
My violinist showed up promptly at 7:00. I gave him my battle instructions. He was to begin his concert of whatever-it-would-be standing over behind the sprinkler equipment. Then as soon as the enemy showed up—those damned demons of demented mayhem—and started playing their screeching, scritching, hissing wailing that they called music, he was to quickly retreat as far away from the sprinkler equipment as possible.
My violinist smiled slowly, and nodded. He understood. Yes he knew what I was going to do. He realized exactly. He told me that today he was going to perform Handel’s Water Music. Felt that it would be appropriate. I did too.
He began his concert, and the sweet soothing notes that emerged from his violin seemed to have a curative, restorative effect on my battered corn. The corn seemed to be uplifting its leaves, and the whole scene began to look greener and greener and greener.
Then about five minutes later a van with naked ladies in chains painted on its sides, pulled up in the distance, and a group of hairy-headed men jumped out. They pointed at the violin player and began hauling equipment out of the van. I snickered softly.
They quickly dragged the large speakers, the amplifiers, the electric guitars, and the long extension cords out to the property line, and set them directly opposite from my violin player.
My stringed instrumentarian stood his ground.
I waited, hidden in a secret stand of corn.
They were shoutin’ and cussin’ and grinnin’ and spittin’. You never seen such varmints-on-two-legs before. They were greasy-headed, with hair down past their shoulders, wearin’ old dirty tank tops with weird designs on ’em. Designs like giant spiders killing people with razor blades, eagles with swastikas, sharks eating musical instruments, and one tank top that had a guy in a straight-jacket who was barfing up a big old wad of money. I tell you, these guys weren’t much in the way of musicians, but they’d of made damned good scarecrows.
My violinist kept playing that Water Music.
And I kept waiting.
They must’ve had about 1600 feet of extension cord leading from their electronical musical contraptions over to Rutherford’s farmhouse. They finally got it all hooked up and got ready to play.
As my violin player hit an especially high, sweet and uplifting note, they bombed him suddenly with a roaring squelch and riff of satanic squealing. Then they peppered him with an atrocity of mutilating synthesizer tones, and strafed him with an electronic whumff that came from God-knows-what, traveling down a long line of speakers, and back and forth again several times.
My violin player recovered from his shock and remembered my instructions. He took off and ran for the opposite side of the cornfield. The band leader—Rutherford’s nephew—the one who held his pants up with a motorcycle chain—screamed in satanic silly delight when he saw this.
But I was even more delighted. ‘Cause just then I reached for the water valve and turned it on full force.
Well, first they just kind of stood there in disbelief, and got themselves soaked. But when that water began to seep into their electronic equipment, a few things began to snap, crackle, and pop. And then you never seen such a bunch of fools trying to pull their electric guitars from around their necks so fast. Comical it was. I tell you, I was rolling down the corn rows.
Their guitars would touch their bodies and shock the shit out of them. So they’d grab ’em, and their hands would get shocked. So they started dancing all around with their necks craned over, trying to make those damned guitar straps fall over their heads.
Yessir, this was sure fun to watch. But it wasn’t the best of it. What happened next was the cream of the crop. I would have paid to see this, but didn’t have to, since I was right there causing it all. Seems like Rutherford’s nephew’s guitar couldn’t take the strain. It started to spit out all these sparks, and then it exploded and caught fire.
Why, he just went plumb crazy when this happened. He started to scream like a coyote in mating season. He started yap-yapping and half-howling. Then he grabbed his guitar by the neck and whipped it off his body. I could tell he was getting shocked, by the way his body kept convulsing, but he held on tight to the guitar. And with eyes ablaze, and spittin’ and screamin’, he spun around and around in circles, then let loose of the guitar and sent it flying.
It landed in a cloud of smoke and fire right at the edge of Rutherford Abercrombie’s corn crop.
I ought to tell you now, that when a cornfield catches fire it burns up like a toothpick in a torchlight. It just goes ablaze in seconds, and before you know it nothing’s left but ashes and corn flakes.
That’s exactly what happened to Rutherford Abercrombie’s cornfield. That flaming guitar caught the cornfield on fire, and before you knew it—poof!—it was wiped out. And so was Rutherford, who stood to lose a lot of money.
Well, war is hell. Especially on the loser. But I was doing pretty damned good myself. Once the ambulances had taken away the band members, the fire department had poured their last drops of water on the ashes, and the sheriff had stopped knocking on my front door, I was able to sneak out of my stand of corn where I was hiding.
As I walked back to my farmhouse, a proud, happy, and triumphant general, my violin player emerged from his hiding place, too. He lifted his violin toward me and I nodded my head. He then put the violin under his chin and began performing again. And Water Music never sounded better to an old country boy like myself.
But I preferred my country music, so I went on inside and turned on the radio just in time to catch a George Strait tune.
But I could almost feel what was happening to my cornstalks outside. Their ears were growing bigger and bigger as they listened to the soothing classical music. I could feel that. And their leaves were growing greener and greener. I could feel that too. But what I could mostly feel were dollar signs.
Eat your heart out, Rutherford Abercrombie, for this year I was having a bumper crop.
Click to the next story, to read The Empty Purse.
Categories: Series (Stories): Go West Or Go Weird