They were coming to take possession of the farm. He couldn't pay the mortgage, which was now a second mortgage, and the payments were almost six months overdue. He'd have been all right if he hadn't gotten laid off at Alton's last spring . . . but he had. He'd have been all right, at least for a time, if he hadn't had crop problems two years running and had to spend just about all his savings . . . but he had. He had nothing in reserve, and nothing coming in. He couldn't pay the mortgage, and that was that. He'd have to leave the farm, find somewhere else to go. That wasn't going to be an easy thing to do. No, sir. Not easy at all. You needed money to get another place, and he was down to his last few dollars.
He stood, put his hands on his hips and stared fixedly at the water. It'd be so easy--just to jump in and end it all. He couldn't swim a lick, so that would take care of that. If you can't swim, you drown. Period. All his problems solved in the blink of an eye. That was the way of it.
He took the first step toward the water's edge, trembling. This was something he had to do.
"You gonna take a swim, Mr. Johnson?"
The voice startled him. He looked over his shoulder. Johnny Sturgis, the bank manager's smart-ass teenaged son, was sitting on his bike, back at the edge of the meadow, grinning at him.
"Aren't you a little old to be swimming in the cattle pond? But I guess it's all right. Dad said you wouldn't be around here much longer, so I guess you better do your swimming while you still can!"
Dave Johnson stiffened. It was like someone had smacked him full in the face with the bottom of a cast iron frying pan.
He turned back to the pond. What in God's name had he been thinking? His daddy hadn't raised him to be a coward--but he almost took the coward's way out. He felt an overwhelming surge of anger at himself for even thinking about giving up.
The boy's words had jolted him back to his senses.
He turned, climbed back up the bank and walked to his pickup truck. At least he still had that. And a few friends who would probably help him get started again--if he'd stop being too proud to ask for help. And he'd find another job, too, and work himself back up. Sure, he'd lose this farm, but eventually he'd get himself another.
He opened the door of his truck, turned and waved to Johnny Sturgis. "Thanks, boy!" he said with a hearty laugh. He climbed into the cab and drove away, leaving the Sturgis boy staring after him in wonderment.