Mystery and Crime Fiction posted November 12, 2019

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Amber Waves Of Grain

Whitewash 2

by Brett Matthew West

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Beads of perspiration dotted Larsen's forehead. He'd forked over ten thousand greenbacks for the prime specimen, more than he'd paid for any other prototype, and the syndicate would frown heavily on this unfortunate development. He'd never misplaced a package before. Errors were not tolerated. The consortium's policy was lose a package...become a package. Worst still, if the boy was discovered the secret would destroy everything Maxwell Larsen had spent his entire lifetime building. A nauseating wave of panic overcame Larsen. He bolted upstairs and out the door. This quandary simply could not prevail.


Amber waves of grain are where Seth Crawford called home. Just for orneriness, as he strolled down the alley behind Morton's Truck stop he kicked the overflowing dumpster with his Tony Lamas. For a moment, the act made him feel better. Seth was glad his dad hadn't seen him misbehave. He knew what the consequence for his action would be.

Seth's father kept a tight rein on him. He would snatch the well-worn piece of brown leather from around his ample girth and proclaim, "Nothing straightens a boy out faster than a good hiding."

Dressed in her long-sleeved, brightly colored, high-necked floral muumuu, Seth's mother would step in and caution her husband, "Now, Norman, don't lose your temper. He's only a boy and boys make mistakes."

"Eloise, Seth's got to learn his place," his father would retort. "He can't go through life doing just as he pleases."

Seth mouthed the words that mimicked his progenitors and laughed out loud. He knew he made a lot of mistakes. Although he tried as hard as he could, on occasion Seth struggled to please his father enough to avoid the unpleasant circumstance that followed.

That's when his father would stare at him with a mean snarl and demand, "March up those stairs to your bedroom immediately, young man. It's time for a lick or two!"

The loud bang from the youngster's kick made a large rat scurry out from underneath the wheeled bin. Brazen, the murine stopped and sniffed the air. The rodent scrutinized the boy for a second as if to determine who dared disturb its hideout, then scuttled on. Seth was taken aback.

He recalled his father's words, "Be proud of your Nebraskan heritage, son. Don't ever forget your roots run deep in her Oglala grasslands."

When dark storm clouds gathered as they were prone to do, especially on a Midwestern summer afternoon, Seth heard his dad grouse, "Damn this rain and damn this wasted day! There is nothing worse for a cornshucker than time squandered by inclement weather where you can not plant your livelihood."

"Feed me," the pit of Seth's empty stomach bellyached.

He fished around in the pocket of his jeans. They were barren, except for some miniscule lint scraps, and he couldn't swallow those. Seth's mind went to his mother's delectable banana cream pie and his mouth watered.

He reflected on how many times he'd told her, "Topped with Cool Whip, your blue-ribbon winner at the county fair is Dessert Heaven, Momma."

Seth wondered if his parents remembered him...since he'd been taken such a long time ago? Did they search for him? Was it possible his parents even missed him? Seth tried to force those negative compunctions, and many others like them, out of his mind. Being freed from the chains that shackled him was what mattered and he aimed to remain untethered. Seth understood going forward he needed to proceed with caution and trust no one.

Unknown voices reverberated as Seth rounded the corner of the truck stop but remained in the darkened shadows.

"C'mon, let's go get a hot cup of joe," one driver encouraged another.

"Aww, the drink of the common man. After eight hours running up and down 90 all day it'll do my soul good. I'll buy," came the response.

Curious, Seth observed the busy parking lot from his undisclosed vantage point. He felt like Don Quixote embarked on an adventure like he'd read about in school. Seth listened to the sounds of the night. There were many.

Off in the distance a hoot owl screeched. Two short, deep "Hoos" we're followed by a longer, "Hooooooo!"

Seth was familiar with the hoots, as well as the "screaming women" screeches, and the low barks of these nocturnal birds. On silent nights back in Nebraska, while he curled up in his comfortable bed with his New Avengers comic books and faded off to slumberland, their sounds could be heard from several miles away.

The "pssssst" of applied air brakes grabbed Seth's attention. He noticed the hubbub of the truck plaza's parking lot. Semis and vehicles came and went in a long procession as if they were red ants marching in the glow of the moonlight. Seth counted thirty-eight potential opportunities to make tracks away from wherever he was as fast as he could hitch a ride with one of them.

Seth mustered his bravery. He stepped out of the gloam as a black Lexus pulled into the lot. Gobsmacked, his aqua eyes locked on the driver.

"Holy shitake!" he exclaimed. Seth told himself, "Calm down. Maybe Larsen didn't recognize you."

But, Seth's pipe dream was short-lived.

With the barrel of a pistol pointed at him, Larsen called through the car's rolled down window, "It's time to come home where you belong, Seth."

Seth knew the gig was up. His survival depended on his quick response. He needed a security blanket. Perhaps solace could be found inside the crowded convenience store? He sprinted for the doorway with Larsen hot on his heels.


Harvesting the wheat, by Lawrence g photos, selected to complement this portion of my story.

So, thanks Lawrence g photos, for the use of your picture. It goes so nicely with this portion of my story.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by Lawrence g photos at

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