Monsoon Sidebar, 1953

by Nando

An early gust from the approaching monsoon front noisily swung the windmill tail, pointing its accelerating blades northwest as Miranda climbed to his favorite sitting position atop the ranch’s decades old main corral fence.

The corral fencing was of mesquite branches and pieces horizontally packed between vertical posts paired about a foot and one-half apart. At 6 feet, it was two taller than the eight-year-old Miranda, politely eavesdropping on the nearby ranch owner’s and his father’s grown-up conversation. Monsoon lightning was not yet visible, the thunder still distant and infrequent.

From his perch he now saw the approaching front’s dust cloud and he began sliding carefully down one of the slanted, bailing-wire and barbed-wire entwined posts. A half-inch barb slit his small palm cleanly along the “life-line” from his right thumb’s base to just below the forefinger. The blood’s flow slowed as his fingers folded to press the wound.

Miranda walked to where the adults were talking, each smoking, using their cupped cigarettes occasionally as props to punctuate their gentle discussion. The boy stood quietly next to the men while they chatted about the cattle, if the next rain might really occur today, and specifically about one cow in the corral that appeared weak and had arrived without her calf.

He pushed his wide-brimmed hat back off his forehead to more easily look upwards at the adults. Moments, a minute or more, passed, the blood soaking the pocket of his jeans as he awaited an opportunity to respectfully interject. It came when the first heavy raindrops paused the men’s conversation, diverting their attention, seeing the boy. Miranda felt intrusive as he offered his wounded hand as punctuation, in a tearless if not embarrassed open handed expression of need. Close thunder joined the now pelting rain.

The adults moved briskly towards shelter.

Miranda put his folded hand back into his pocket, and left handed, lowered his hat brim as shield against the arrived monsoon’s increasingly dense rain.

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