The First few minutes of \"Toby and God, an Experiment in Life\" Written By Ivan Wickert and Available on Audible
Middle Aged (35-54)
US General American (GenAm)
Note: Transcripts are generated using speech recognition software and may contain errors.
the narrow two lane highway followed the railroad tracks of the northern pacific Railroad through an endless sea of corn and soybean fields. Every mile or so the highway intersected with a narrow farm road running north and south, and every 20 miles or so there was a grain elevator and water tower looming high above the seemingly level landscape. The population of Eden was 108 souls, and that included the inhabitants of every farm within a 60 mile radius, there was no main street in Eden, just a wide spot along the narrow stretch of two lane and three narrow tree covered streets that ran south for less than 60 yards to the bank of a slow moving river. There was a hardware store and a mini mart with three fuel pumps out front, filling the wide spot along highway 1 38 directly across the two lane to the north was the grain elevator water tower and the railroad tracks. Behind the shamrock mini mark. On First Street was the Eden bar and grill, and directly across the street from there was the Eden waffle house. The rest of the houses along First street were small, single story dwellings, with for the most part well kept front and back yards Halfway between the highway and the river. On 2nd Street was Eden elementary, skirted by older modular homes and a few single wide trailers. The entire west side of Third Street was a mix of mobile homes and older stick frame houses, and with the exception of Eden's only church and funeral home. The entire east side of the street bordered the Eden cemetery. It was the morning of the last day of August 1960 and the late summer heat and humidity and still ruled the hours between Dusk and dawn. The sky was just beginning to show signs of the sun's appearance in the east and the stars were slowly beginning to fade from view. Toby Anderson slowly opened his light blue eyes when Ben Wilson's red bantam rooster started crowing. He had spent the long night outside on the front porch of the old single wide trailer house and he and his mother had called home for as long as he could remember. He stood up and to avoid waking his mother and the stranger she had brought home with her after work that morning he opened the front door as quietly as he could. The small living area reeked heavily of cigarette smoke and stale beer. So he left the door standing wide open and walked into the small cluttered kitchen. His mother, Carla Anderson was a 27 year old single mother who tended bar at the Eden bar and grill. She worked from six PM until closing at two a.m. Every Tuesday through sunday it was sunday so he knew better than to wake her up early in the morning. He opened the door to the small refrigerator very quietly removed the carton of milk. Then he pushed one of the chairs over to the sink to stand on, removed the almost empty box of cheerios from the cabinet and rinsed out the bowl he had used the day before. He poured the last of the cheerios and some of the milk into the bowl, picked up a spoon that was lying on the table and wiped it clean on his flannel shirt tail. He only took one bite, then quickly leaned over the bowl and spit it back out. This milk tastes really bad today, he thought to himself, he walked back to the sink and poured the contents of the bull down the drain. Then he walked back into the living area and picked up his mother's purse. He was only nine years old before the last two years of his life. He had watched his mother's slow decline into alcoholism. He had come to accept things as they were. He counted out just enough money to buy himself something to eat at the mini mart, and without hesitation walked out the front door. The sun was just peeking above the corn and its golden shaft of light had found the wings of the stone angel in the cemetery just across the deserted street. As Toby walked along the narrow sidewalk, tears welled up in his eyes and his lower lip began to quiver. It broke his heart to see what was happening to his mother and he felt helpless. He never knew his father whenever he asked about him, his mother just said he was a drunk and then he up and left one day without even saying goodbye. Toby was afraid that because his mother was drinking all the time lately, she might just up and leave him too, and then he would be all alone. As he approached the end of 3rd Street, he noticed an old man with long white hair and beard. Across the street. The old man was sitting on a wrought iron bench next to the old Civil War Canyon, in the shade of a large walnut tree. He was holding his hand out toward a gray squirrel that was on the ground at his feet. Toby was just about to turn away when he noticed the gray squirrel run up to the bench next to the old man and take something from his hand. Then, to his amazement, the squirrel did not run away, but instead it sat down on the far end of the bench facing the old man from across the street. It looked as if the old man was talking to the squirrel, and the squirrel seemed to be listening intently to what he was saying. Toby had tried many times in the past to coax that gray squirrel close enough to eat from his hand, so watching what was transpiring on that small wrought iron bench threw him off the sidewalk and into the middle of the street before he realized it, he was standing on the lawn just inside the high iron gates, with only six ft separating him from the old man and the squirrel. The old man slowly turned his attention away from the squirrel, prompting the tiny creature to scurry down off the bench and up into the branches of the looming walnut tree. What brings you out so early on this glorious sunday morning young man? He asked, in a deep baritone voice. I'm going to the store. How did you get that squirrel to eat from your hand? Mr Toby inquired. The old man smiled. I simply offered her an acorn, and she chose to accept my gift. It looked like you were talking to it. Do you believe that it is possible for humankind to converse with a gray squirrel, young man, I don't know maybe. What does converse mean? It means to have familiar discourse or to talk! The old man explained, while reaching into the pocket of his long black wool overcoat. He removed a white linen cloth and held it out toward Toby. Why don't you sit down and share my sandwich with me, and tell me what weighs so heavily on your heart, young man. What kind of sandwich, Toby asked, with obvious hesitation in his voice. Well, what if I told you it was an egg salad sandwich? Toby's eyes lit up. That's my favorite! He exclaimed, accepting the sandwich without hesitation