A Little Knowledge
A short story by Michael R. Lockridge
“What the hell is all this?” Exclaimed William Jensen. He had just arrived home from an extended business trip. A month away from home, and his hired hand does this!
“It’s what you told me to build.” Responded Sandy. The hired hand looked confused. Of course, he often looked confused. Jensen often said that Sandy had been born in the state of Confusion, and still retained his citizenship. Sandy never got the joke.
“I told you to build this?” Asked Jensen. “When did I tell you to build anything like this? You don’t have the imagination. I don’t have the imagination!”
“Just before you left. You said, ‘don’t forget to put up that eclectic fence.’” Said Sandy. He looked so sad; Jensen lost the edge on his anger. The man may be as big as a house, but his attic was virtually empty.
“Sandy, that was a joke.” Said Jensen. “I must apologize. I have to remember my audience before I play with words. I wanted an electric fence in that pasture.”
William Jensen, professional writer and aspiring gentleman farmer, looked at Sandy’s creation.
“Tell me about it, Sandy.”
“OK.” Said the young man. He realized he wasn’t in trouble, and felt a little better. “I asked Sue Beth what ‘eclectic’ meant. She explained it to me.”
The gentleman farmer knew Sue Beth. Young, pretty. Smart. Town librarian. How she hooked up with this gentle giant he did not know. Arms as big around as most men’s legs. On second thought, perhaps Jensen could imagine the attraction.
“She explained that something eclectic was made of parts from all kinds of places and things.” Sandy went on.
Jensen looked at Sandy’s creation. An eclectic fence. Imagine!
“I guess that explains why the front part of the fence is in sections of wood, metal, and stacked hay bales.” Observed Jensen.
“I found the boxcar doors down by the old railroad siding.” Sandy said, proudly.
“When did you librarian friend begin helping you?” Jensen asked.
“After I used up all of the things I could find, I asked her to help.” Sandy said. “She found the bamboo screens I used down there.” He pointed along the length of fence.
“She didn’t figure out what I really wanted?” Asked Jensen.
“We were pretty well into it before she suggested that I might have not understood.” Sandy said. “It kind of took over. Started growing on its own.”
“Sue Beth found the bagels. A huge truckload was messed up somehow. Had to be thrown out. She talked them into dropping them here.”
“Yeah. Sue Beth found a way to seal them. They may last forever.” Said Sandy.
“And that colorful section down there?” Asked Jensen.
“Cinder block. I found some kids working on the bridge south of town. I told them they could decorate this wall without getting into trouble. They went to town!”
“Get in the truck, Sandy.” Said Jensen. “I want you to show me more.”
As they drove along, Sandy pointed to a shiny section of the wall. “Those glass bricks. Sue Beth says they are ‘art deco.’ I like that part the best.”
“You going to marry that little librarian?” Asked Jensen.
“I don’t know. Haven’t asked her yet.”
“Well, don’t.” Said Jensen. “The two of you are dangerous as it is. A lot of muscle and a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”
The young man said nothing.
“Sandy, that was a joke.” Said Jensen. He sighed, and shook his head.
“Yes, sir.” Said Sandy. “I’ll tell Sue Beth. She can tell me how funny it is.”