Red Wheelbarrow Dependency by Dugan Tomczak

The sun sneaks through my curtains, hitting my eyes and telling me to start my day.  After bacon and eggs, I make my way outside to begin all the duties of the day. Walking out into the rain, I walk to the tool of the day: our two wheeled, sun faded, red wheelbarrow that we got for cheap at a garage sale, way back when I was a kid. The day that my mom bought it, she had planned on it just sitting in the yard as a lawn ornament, but, boy was she mistaken.

The red wheelbarrow has been on the farm ever since I can remember; it has had its fair share of bad days. I vividly remember one day my little brother Charley and I had the bright idea of riding it down the hill.  When it was his turn to go, I strategically placed a jump at the bottom of the hill and aimed him right for it. By the time he had realized my plan, it was too late; he was racing directly for it with no breaks. A loud line of curse words flew out of his mouth and then he took flight, and landed a spectacular, gravel belly flop. An instant feeling of remorse came over me, not only for my facedown brother, but also for the wheel-less barrow.  Night came on fast; my dad didn’t have time to reattach the wheel, and for my punishment, I had to feed the horses with no help of the handy tool. By the time I was finished carrying the ten bales at least 75 yards to the pen, it struck me that I depend on that old red wheelbarrow.

Another day that will be cemented in my memory bank for ever, was when yet another boring day lit the fuse of another idea. After Charley and I completed our lunches we went outside; we weren’t searching for trouble but like always we found it. The lonesome barrow sitting by the hay stack called our name, along with the four-wheeler and a key ingredient: the rope. We harnessed the rope to the four-wheeler and started racing around the yard, up the hill, and down the road. We did this for hours, and eventually we needed something more. We then set up a racing course with one too many hay bales.  I swung my brother out and torpedoed him into one of the extras. As he went rolling across the yard I looked at the now three piece barrow. The tub got torn off of its base and one of the handles was lying in the nearby weeds. The next thing I know my dad came sprinting across the yard yelling, “Bob what in the hell are you thinking? You just about killed Charley!” It was a sentence that I had heard before but didn’t seem to have the importance or scare factor that it did this time. As was most things that happened to me during my childhood, this was a blessing in disguise, due to the fact that I got to learn to fix something and also spend time with my dad, who I hadn’t got to see much that summer because of him working.

Time went on and everything changed.  I grew up and moved to my own house on my own farm but one thing has stayed the same and that is the very helpful and always reliable red wheelbarrow. I still use it every day and my kids, Spencer and Steven, are doing the same shenanigans with it as I did, but I know that I can’t get mad at them because I put that red wheelbarrow through so much and it is still intact and always will be. It is not just depended upon by my family, but also by my animals. This morning the chickens clucked and roosters crowed when they saw me coming their way pushing the wheelbarrow half full of crushed corn and layer feed. I make my way into the pen and fill up the food bucket and all the little critters run up and start pecking away. It takes me a minute to realize exactly how much the chickens depend on that dang red wheelbarrow.

Once I finish up my chores, I park it in its designated spot next to the white ceramic chickens that my wife Sindy had to have. Walking back inside, out of the newly falling rain I glance back at it as the rain drops gather together to simulate sweat beads; I then think maybe it is about time to retire it, but then again it has too many memories.

And too much depends on my old red wheelbarrow.

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Categories: Fiction, Issue 1 - Fall 2011, Periodicals | Leave a comment

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