“Did you know Rick was a mentor?” Bobbi asked, as she leaned over the wooden fence surrounding one of the goat pens.
Alletta stood up, placed her hands on her lower back and attempted to stretch out a few knotted muscles while she considered the question. “About five years ago,” she replied. “The Wilson boys.”
“The Wilson boys?”
“The family left the farm about a year or two before you moved here.” Al replied. “The boys were teenagers when they arrived. Good kids, for the most part. The family thought the farm would be good form them because it provided space and time for riding their dirt bikes. It wasn’t until after they moved in that we discovered the problem.”
“100% suburban thrill-seekers. Both of them.” Al chuckled. “They heard ‘mentor’ and decided it was exactly the same as ‘teacher.’ They heard ‘chores’ and decided they were both optional and unimportant. They heard schedule and decided it was an opportunity to practice playing hookie. They did reasonably well at school, and they were hard workers, when you managed to either force or coerce them into staying in one place for more than five minutes. But they had a habit of placing riding, racing and practicing tricks on their bikes ahead of absolutely everything else. They also did not seem to comprehend just how dangerous a farm can be. They kept doing things that, rightfully, should have killed them – nasty, messy and painful-to-think about deaths. Talking, threatening and punishing the two didn’t work. They just didn’t get it. We had a community meeting where we actually debated locking up the more dangerous areas vs throwing the family off the farm. that’s when Rick offered to ‘handle it.'”
“Yeah. Handle it.” Al laughed. “We were desperate enough to agree, no questions asked.”
“Wow.” Bobbie replied. “So…do I want to know…?”
“What he did?”
Al shook her head and laughed out loud. “He invited the three-leggeds and Archie over for some conversation and cigars, started a bonfire, and sat the boys down to listen.”
“Who are…?” Bobbi began.
“The three-legged wolf pack,” Alletta explained, her face clearly expressing her opinion of middle aged men beating their chests and howling at the moon. “A group of local farmers – men who’ve lost a body part while working their farms. I think they’ve lost three arms, two legs, seven fingers and a couple of toes between them. Archie isn’t, technically, a three-legged, but he survived the most horrific farming accident I’ve ever heard about, much less seen. The man lost half his face – literally. One ear and one eye no longer work, and his ability to talk, however slow, is a miracle. It’s impossible to meet the man without…just…staring at the mostly-paralyzed and horribly scared half of his head. Believe me, I’ve tried. The most unbelievable part of Archie’s story is the fact that he still works the same farm. He recovered enough to drive a tractor, declared himself blessed and got back to work.”
“So, Rick introduced these boys to a group of accident survivors and…?”
“I honestly don’t know. I wasn’t there. From what little anyone could get out of the boys, they spent half the night listening to the men talking. I can only guess they were telling farming horror stories. Real ones. The kind you can look up in newspapers. Whatever they did, it worked. Those boys were the most respectful, careful and obedient teenagers a person could hope for. Of course, the oldest only lived here for two years before heading off the college, and the younger joined the military very soon after.” Alletta laughed out loud. “Would you believe the oldest decided to become a New York City cop for the same reason the younger joined the Marines?”
“And that would be…?” Bobbi asked.
“It’s safer than farming.”
Bobbi had to admit, that was funny.