by W.C. Fleischman
Bud Robert abandons the pile of medical bills lying on the kitchen table. He stands near the sink and stares at the sodium vapor yard light burning away in his farm yard through the pre-dawn darkness. His Big Bud tractor stands near the shop door, it’s 16 valve Detroit diesel 900 hp engine idling and ready to pull an 80 foot plow accross sixteen hundred acres of winter wheat stubble. Bud Robert is used to its size. At fourteen feet tall and nearly 30 feet long, it dwarfs the small farm house and is easily the biggest tractor still in use in Montana today, perhaps even in the world.
Bud Robert once dreamt big until the doctors could not save his wife of 35 years. He once thought his dreams a reality. But now, dimming the lamp which burns in the cold darkness above his shop, and surrounded by the stars of a limitless universe, the pale morning sky lightens the roll of Bud’s eastern fields and he is not so sure anymore. The bills from the hospital will surely bankrupt him. The mortgage on the place held by the farm credit bureaucracy will not allow for any more borrowing against this year’s crop. Today Bud Robert must hand over the keys to the place at the bank. He will eat a good breakfast at The Mint in Chester, and drive the world’s biggest tractor out into the middle of Highway 2, also known locally as the Hi-line, and park it where no-one and no vehicle can go around. He has staked out this place carefully beforehand. There is the Marias river on one side and a high bluff on the other. Bud’s Big Bud tractor will block a major national highway for a time anyway and it will inconvenience people. Bud knows this.
There will be anger and cursing. Sometimes when you set into motion something that creates a problem there is no telling what can happen. All Bud Robert knows is that Bud Robert and his tractor will be on the news today and as much as he misses her, he is glad that Doris will be spared the humiliation of her husband making an ass of himself on the nightly news.
When the newspeople ask Bud Robert why he is doing this, Bud Robert is prepared. He will say that he is fed up and enough is enough. This country rewards bad behavior and punishes good behavior and he is sick of it. Then he is going to fold his arms and wait for the state police.