5 months ago


Selected Writings & Artwork by Harriett Copeland Lillard


A Journey not Measured in Miles - Rash she would not miss the implication of the marker 's placement. Having done this, he stepped out of the car and, looking down, noted with a finehoned esthetic pleasure, the beauty of his ostrich-skin boots with their elaborate stitching and the perfection of his trouser legs as they broke at just the right angle across the arch of his foot. ˜ The sale barn was little more than a glorified shed. It was big enough, but there were few attempts at comfort or decoration. It was a corrugated tin building, freezing cold in the winter and scorching hot in the summer. The floor of the entrance area was bare, hard-packed dirt. This central meeting place was heated on this cold day by a huge, old-fashioned wood stove, but everyone kept their heavy coats on since the only warmth one gained was on that side of the body directly facing the stove; every other appendage or portion of the body simply froze. Just inside the entrance and on the right was the café; it had been hastily partitioned off from the main area at some point in its history. It was only open on sale day and the cook who ran it was well-known for her greasy hamburgers and good coffee. Now the heavy smell of frying meat filled every corner of the building and brought a small comfort to the day; at least it smelled warm. Inside the small room, the truckers, cattle buyers, and ranchers hunched over the jumbled tables and dirty coffee cups, discussing their eternal problems. Napkins, used for scrap paper to figure prices and cut tentative deals, littered the table tops and frequently fell to the floor. Neatness had no priority here. The activity was intense and strained. Everyone was feeling the crunch of the falling market, and pinched faces full of anxiety were now a common sight, in contrast to the loud talk and laughter in evidence during the rare good times. To the left was the office. It too had been partitioned off, by a waist-high counter, topped by glass with a pass-through opening at counter level and another round opening higher up through which the office girls talked to those at the counter. The office now had a concrete floor which set it off with some distinction from the rest of the building. Inside, the adding machines and calculators were neatly arranged on the counter along with assorted pads of blank counter checks and drafts from all the area banks. There was a long table in the center of the room where the purchase tickets were posted and then stacked on top of each buyer’s invoice. Every head of livestock passing through the barn was numbered. The owner had a stub, the buyer had a stub, and the office had the hard cardboard back. Each of the stubs was backed with heavy blue carbon, so that by the end of a busy day, everyone involved in these transactions had blue fingers, as well as blue carbon stains around the shirt pockets where they stuffed the stubs. Jassamine busied herself at the long table arranging the papers in preparation for the start of the sale. There would be no time for organization once the first head of livestock hit the sale ring, no time to eat, or think or go to the bathroom, just one long continuous state of pandemonium until the last purchase was bought and paid for. She was as out of place in this setting as the exotic flower her name implied would have been. She could barely contain her hatred for it and the resentment she felt for having to be here against her will. She wondered what quirk of fate or unknown sin had earned her this imprisonment in a life over which she had no control and in which she could find no delight. If she loved Walter, as a good wife should love her husband, perhaps she would have taken pleasure in helping him run his business, regardless of how distasteful it was to her. 30