With apologies to the Beatles, the Federation of Egalitarian Communities, and the state of Vermont.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Chapter Eight: Stan Moves On

   "...Stan, old boy, this is a showdown..."

Things at the farm were a little less busy with new members to take up the slack.  And maybe there was just a little too much slack in some places.

It was Wednesday night, time for the regular commune meeting.

Dinner had been cleaned up and the dishes had been put away. The dining room had been swept and the kitchen floor had been mopped.  Now both rooms were empty.

Everyone was gathered in the living room of the middle farm house, which, at this point, was packed with people.  Fairly upset people.

Ed and Ralph were visiting and simply sat in, not saying anything, while new members Marge, Darren, and Ken watched the meeting quietly, still trying to figure out how this commune thing worked.  Cat was facilitating.  And everyone was looking at Stan.

Stan was sitting with his back against the wall looking up at the ceiling.  His hands were fidgeting in his lap.  His legs looked like they wanted to move of their own accord.

"We've given you several chances to clean up your act," Luna said.

"Yeah, and I don't think you're good at cleaning up anything," Sal added.  She turned her gaze to Nancy.

Nancy didn't say anything but shifted in her seat.  She in turn, turned toward the facilitator.

Cat looked bewildered for a moment.  "I... I really don't know what to say to you, Stan.  I've seen everyone else working away and nobody had the least idea where you were."

"I know where Stan was, at least where he was sometimes," Dan said.  He seemed ready to explode.  He sat and took a deep breath before he spoke again.  "I've found him in his room napping while the rest of us were working."  Dan stared at Stan.

Stan looked at Dan.  He started to speak but stopped.  He looked around the room.  Everyone looked back.  He looked back up at the ceiling as if he might find some comfort there.

The meeting got very quiet.  Cat sat down and stopped facilitating.  The new folks seemed to be holding their collective breaths.  Luna looked like she wanted to say something more but sat on her hands instead.  There were a couple of minutes of rather uncomfortable silence before Stan finally spoke.

"I forgot to tell you!  There's a fairy festival happening out west!  I'm going!  Tomorrow!"

   "But Stan he got caught, he left in a shot..."

Breakfast was quieter than usual the next morning.

Things were still busy enough that soon Cat and Nancy were baking away, Marge and Darren were setting up the baked goods stand, Sal was setting up the produce stand while Dan was trying to make his way from under the spaghetti squash, Ralph and Ed were bringing vegetables in, Ken was transporting goodies from the kitchen, and Luna and Viv were out in the fields, harvesting.  Stan was in his room, packing.  And no one said an unnecessary word.

Lunch seemed even quieter than breakfast, if that was possible.  Stan walked to the room in around the middle of the meal, but no one spoke with him.  The silence was disturbed only by the clinking of silverware and the occasional request to pass the pepper.  Everyone seemed to be eating in slow motion.  Eventually people got up and began bringing their dishes into the kitchen to be washed.

As the last dishes were being stacked and the table was being wiped down, Stan looked out the farmhouse window for the umpteenth time and this time he saw what he had been looking out that window to see.  He announced to everyone, "My ride to the fairy fest is here!  I'm leaving!" and, dropping the dish that he had been holding, he ran up to his room to get his belongings.

A purple station wagon with a giant pink rubber raft strapped to the roof was pulling up the drive.  Moments later, two bearded men in long colorful dresses got out.  They stood there for a couple of minutes just looking at the place before Stan came barreling out the door with two suitcases and a large box of his stuff.  The two guys hugged Stan and then spent a several minutes contemplating his things.  Then they looked back at the packed station wagon and gave an audible collective sigh.

It took them a while but somehow they managed to shove all of Stan's stuff into the already very crowded vehicle.  Then it took another couple of minutes for them to create enough room for Stan to squeeze himself into a space he made for himself in the back seat.  Once that happened the guys stood outside, leaning on the wagon, while they stared at a paper full of directions and slowly figured out where they could get on the interstate and where they would be headed to next.

When they finally got back in the car and were able to start the station wagon engine again, Stan rolled down his window and waved at all the people that were gathering.

In spite of all the harsh words of the night before, most of the commune had come out to wish Stan a fond farewell.  Dan had a couple of pieces of chard coming out of one of his pockets.  Luna seemed to be holding her breath.  Cat was jumping up and down.  Ed looked amused.  Viv looked confused.  Several people waved back at Stan and a few folks shook their fists.  As the station wagon left the drive and drove onto the road, Sal yelled out those familiar words: "And if we ever see your sorry..."

    "...and Luna collapsed with relief and laughter."

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