It’s a quiet night in Iowa when the phone rings…
Bill curses from under his breath and glances away from the TV.
Who on earth could have the audacity to call at this hour?
He heaves himself off the couch and staggers towards the phone mounted on the wall.
Bill! Hey, are you alright?
Yeah, what’s the matter?
On the other line, Damon Frother takes a deep breath trying to quell the anxiousness bubbling up within him.
I’m sorry for calling so late, but this is important… You’re probably going to want to grab a chair.
Bill sighs, trying to suppress the fire of panic before it can go full inferno. He’s the President of the Dairy Union, and if there’s one thing his constituents respect, it’s his steely composure.
You’re never going to believe this…
Bill feels the pressure in his jaw as he clenches his mouth shut. Even though the world is silent, inside, he’s screaming.
You know that corn we had earlier?
Bill’s eyes narrow.
Do you remember the butter?
Well… that’s just it.
It wasn’t butter.
Bill pulls the phone from his face as if it just insulted his wife. He watches his fingers interlock around the phone’s body as if he was strangling it. Then he quickly wipes the stress from his face.
What was it then? Bill meekly asks.
Bill nearly shits himself. He starts to pace back and forth as far as the old phone’s cord will let him.
Are you sure?
An uncomfortable silence fills the void.
Ok. Thank you for telling me; I know this must have been hard…
Bill goes to hang up the phone when he hears a crackle.
Hold on… there’s more.
Bill palms his head and brings the phone to his ear.
They took photos.
Silence. The quiet of the house is somehow loud. Deafening even.
…Ok… thank you.
The line cuts out.
Bill slowly hangs up the phone when the weight of reality sucker punches him. He grabs the phone and smashes it into the wall repeatedly, trying to pound his problem into tiny little bits of dust.
Fuck. Fuck. FUCK!
He knew it was too good to be true. Restaurants don’t just give you an ear of corn when you show up for breakfast. Let alone do strangers ask you for photos holding said corn.
He damned his accommodating spirit as his mind began to race.
The Johnson County Quarterly is going to have a field day with this!
Losing balance, he falls on his ass, scoots to a corner and begins to run his fingers through what’s left of his hair. He imagines The Quarterlies’ ratty beat reporter, Dan Kenny drooling over the photos when he starts to picture the headline:
With a nice fat photo of him chomping down on an ear of corn.
Just my fucking luck.
Bill starts to massage his face trying to push back the wave of dark thoughts. But it doesn’t work. Instead, he pictures the first dairy meeting and how the boys would be giving him Hell.
He pictures Jason Thompson, his long-time friend, and farmer, looking him up and down with disgust and saying, “Hey Bill, I thought you were one of us.”
He winces at the imagined accusation.
The world continues to spin, causing more problems to arise than solutions.
He figures news of this caliber would spread fast and worries that soon he won’t be able to show his face at the fairgrounds without wearing a bag.
Fuck. Fuck. FUCK.
But then he looks over at the mantel and notices his sweet wife holding his favorite cow Bessie. His heart begins to beat slower.
Get a hold of yourself! You’re the President of the Dairy Union dammit!
He stands up and pours himself a thick glass of milk, and takes a swig. Then he feels his toes wiggle while his breathing slowly returns to normal.
Who would do this?
Bill starts pacing around the house looking for any clues. The old floorboards creek with indifference. Then, in a moment of inspiration, one name sticks out like a butt crack on a plumber.
He smiled with a devious amount of certainty and took another sip.
It had to be him…
That bastard with the stupid mustache had been gunning for his job for years, and now he was making his move.
Bill leans back on the counter as his mind drifts, looking for evidence. His head nods. He found it.
Whenever they had meetings of the important things: Bob always disagreed. The betrayal was obvious.
When Bill wanted red shirts for the Union, Bob wanted Blue.
When Bill proposed Hamburgers at the grill out, Bob proposed hot dogs.
And finally, when Bill wanted Ford trucks for the Union, Bob wanted Chevy.
That fuckin’ bastard.
Bill watches an old dead leaf fall from a plant and smiles.
He had his man, and all he had to do now was crowd control. So slowly, he picked up the phone and called Damon. He speaks first.
Meet up at the union in 15 minutes, and don’t be late.
And bring gloves.
Bill downs the glass of milk, grabs his keys, and shoves a dark metallic object into a crinkled paper bag. He steps out the door with a sick look on his face when…
The entire dairy union cries out from his driveway.
Bob Baskins steps forwards holding a cake lit with candles and Damon speaks up.
We figured the only way we’d get you to come out of your house and celebrate your birthday was with a lie like this. Did you really believe it was not butter?
Bill faints. The metallic object falls out of the bag and Damon quickly covers it up so as to not draw attention.
10 minutes later, Bill comes to after someone rubs a stick of butter under his nose.
Bill, Bill, BILL! Are you alright?
A smile wraps around Bill’s face when he speaks.
I can’t believe it’s not butter.
Please like, comment, share and tell me what you think. Can you believe it’s not butter?