I now fell to my knees in the wet snow and with anger in my eyes, I shook my fists towards the sky. Like a soldier in battle who has seen the enemy plant land mines all around his pathway to victory, I smelled defeat but craved conquest. This was flesh and blood fighting a mere machine of steel and rubber. My body had the brains, the truck did not.
I stepped back for a moment to take inventory of available resources needed to remove the hated vehicle from the jack pine stump. All I had was what I brought-- my Allis Chalmers, a logging chain and a misanthropic neighbor who had fallen into deep trance thinking only what his wife was cooking for supper.
The sun had slowly moved to the west casting long shadows across the wet Minnesota snow. Numerous crows had taken seats on the branches of the barren white oaks as if to observe what was soon to become the shoot out animals of the wilderness had long waited for.
Once again the tractor followed the worn path to the bumper of the truck which must have been welded solid to the frame of the truck. Enough torque had been applied to both frame, axle and bumpers to pull down the Empire State Building. Still the beast just sat there as if it took deep root into the forest soil.
After jumping down, I told my neighbor this was the last battle. Either I take total victory or the truck would be left there for developers in the next century to stumble across. The deep forest, my friends, hides many secrets.
The tempered steel chain had a double-twisted-multiple knot across the frame of the truck and a twisting lock across the 3 inch thick plow bar. I pulled the grain shovel from the bed of the truck and cleaned off a runway. Sweat now soaked my flannel shirt and the vain across my forehead projected itself into plain view.
The showdown was soon to begin. My neighbor once again took his place in the truck, shoved the long black gear shift into 2nd gear and awaited the approximately 4 inch ride off the stump, onto the cleaned pathway then to the logging trail.
I carefully eased myself onto the cold steel seat of the tractor and pondered the choice of gears. Should I slowly ease the embedded truck off the pine stump or remove it with all the fury the forty-five horse powered orange utilitarian machine could give me.
The crows were rubbing their wings with glee as I chose high gear. I slid the gas feed down as the RPM’s wound up. Much like the brutes at a county fair tractor pull, the black smoke soon cleared out from the stacks and the launch looked like a go.
I waved backed to my neighbor who just snuffed out his Winston. He gave me the signal to let ‘er rip. My foot lifted from the clutch and the Allis sped off with the cold chain rattling behind. In a blink of an eye the chain would be taut and by all technical purposes, make the truck fly lose from its platform and be propelled with the same velocity of the tractor.
The best laid plans of mice and women often fail. My tractor gave all it had, the chain took hold and the truck slid into gear, but instead of following through the final plan, a weak link in the chain snapped and like a starved boa constrictor, it wrapped around my neck several times and then clobbered my head like a back-handed fist.
Stars are lovely when gazed upon in the middle of a frigid Minnesota night, but in the late afternoon they have more of a sedative effect and for a moment in time the constellations swirled about me. A bigger man would have been decapitated by the force of cold steel wrapping its deadly manacles about ones neck, but a woman, who had little time for death, soon awoke from the cruel blow.
I could not believe my truck shot me in the back!
In the wild west stealing a horse, shooting up the only bar in a fifty miles radius or firing a bullet into the back of an unsuspecting cowboy had to be the lowest form of human behavior. But this was the upper mid-west and the unwritten code stated one must load a 12 gauge and make Swiss Cheese out of the offending varmint. My four-ten, would only hurt the green metallic assassin enough to make it angry.
My neighbor dashed from the truck, likely thinking she deserved her fate. The crows flew into noisy hysterics and the truck, well it still sat there upon the stump. By all medical standards of sane behavior I should have allowed him to rush home and call in the forest ranger so they could pull me out in a cot attached to a snowmobile. But standard behavior was not in my plans.
As the truck swirled in a visionary circle I turned the tractor around and took aim for the International. I cared less that I might destroy my only remaining piece of motorized farm equipment--the truck had to be removed. My neighbor foolishly jumped in front of the tractor and stopped the suicidal crash from taking place. He ordered me to the truck and slowly drove down the trail with the Allis.
The lukewarm cup of coffee poured from the beaten thermos tasted good. I had no idea what my neighbor was up too, but a short time later as the afternoon chill set in he reappeared. In his hands he carried a simple jack that he slid under the bumper. With a slab of wood snugly placed under the lifting device, he started to levitate the rear of my deadly pickup.
The truck bed creaked as the slab sunk deep into the snow pack and when the rear-end finally lifted from the stump he took the broken chain and wrapped it into place behind the tractor and gently pulled the truck from the stump. The monster was free and the only accumulative damage was the broken chain and my devastated spirit.
I asked my doleful neighbor why he didn’t suggest it from the start and he simply shrugged his shoulders as he snuffed another Winston into the snow with his Sorrel boot. His only comment as he jumped into my truck for the short ride home was, "I guess I was bored and I know you were always worth an afternoon’s entertainment."
A few years later the 120 acre mosquito farm fell into disrepair. The daily ritual of milking goats, putting up hay and cutting firewood lost its charm and I downsized to a more manageable 15 swamp free acres.
The truck took its last attempt at killing me during a frigid morning ride to a local nursing home. The two-lane highway became a blinding disaster as the huge green hood flew open, cracked my windshield, soared about 30 feet in the air and landed straight up in a snow bank.
The International monster never returned to the farm.