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

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Chapter Fifty-Five: Don

Don was a guy in his late thirties who claimed to be an artist, a farmer, and a worker.  He showed up at the commune almost a week to the day that Dick showed up.

“I’m here to work,” he said to Ken when Ken answered the door.

“Let me get someone,” Ken said and fled.  He found Sal in the kitchen.  “We’ve got another one,” he said.  “Will you handle it?”

Don didn’t look like Dick.  He had a goatee and a beret and a laid back somewhat cynical style that was very different from Dick’s aggressive earnestness.

“What kind of work do you want to do?”  Sal asked.

“What kind of help do you need?”

“We’re about to put up a new building.  Do you know anything about construction?”

“I know my way around tools and building supplies,” Don said.  “I should be able to help with whatever you’re doing.”

Sal took Don to meet Dandelion and Sowbug.  

“Why do you want to live on a commune?”  Dandelion asked.

“We work better when we work together,” Don answered.  “We’re all in this to learn.  We’ve all got to deal with challenges and the trick is to learn to endure them.”

“We’re trying to figure out how we can work together on this project,” Sowbug said.  “What do you bring to the table?”

“I’m creative,” Don said.  “I’ve learned to adapt.  I grew up in the Yukon so I can deal with anything.”

Sowbug and Dandelion looked at each other.  Sowbug shrugged.

“Okay,”   Dandelion said.  “Can you tent?”

“I can tent right through the winter,” Don said.  “I did it in Montana one year.”

“Fine,” said Sowbug.  “I’ll show you where you can pitch a tent.”

As they were walking out to the field, Dick passed them by.  He gave Don a hard look.  “I’ve got everything lined up for tomorrow,” he said.

“Fine,” Sowbug said.  “We’ll start first thing in the morning.”

“Who was that?” Don asked after Dick left.

“That was Dick,” Dandelion replied.  “You’ll be working with him and us.”

“Is he a hard worker?” Don asked.

“He’s a very hard worker,” Sowbug said.

“Good,” said Don.


Dick had already started organizing the construction work with Dandelion and Sowbug when Don arrived.

“You’re late,” he said.

“So,” Don said.

“So we need to get this thing up and we need to get it up soon.  We need to get going now.”

“That sounds like you’re being obsessive,” Don said.

“I’m being obsessive because care about this,” Dick said.

“Yeah, be careful that you don’t care so much about it that you can’t think straight,” Don said.  “Do you even know what you’re doing?”

“I’ve been doing construction work for fifteen years,”  Dick said.  “I know what I’m doing.”

“Where were you working?”

“Out in the Bronx.  So, how about you?  Have you done construction?”

“Yeah, only I was doing it in the Yukon in the dead of winter.”

“So, were you planning to wait until winter came to get started here?”

“Who cares?  I think you folks have it too easy.”

“I think you’re crazy.”

Dick and Don stared at each other.  Don picked up a brick.  Dick picked up a stick.  Dandelion walked between them.

“Look, you two,” Sowbug said.  “We’re not going to get anything built if you stand there arguing.  Work now, you can argue later.”

Dick put down his stick.  Don dropped his brick.  Dandelion and Sowbug began directing them on the construction of the building and the team got to work.

Don and Dick grunted or gave one word answers when Sowbug and Dandelion asked them anything, but didn’t say a word to each other.  They worked all morning, broke for lunch, and went back to work in the afternoon.

Lunch was a tense affair.  Other communards walked in, took one look at Dick and Don’s faces, and didn’t say a thing to either of them.

The afternoon went much the same as the morning.  Slowly, Sowbug and Dandelion realized that these guys were doing more and more in an effort to out do each other.  Work was getting done at a record pace but the two ex-Trollworkers surreptitiously inspected all the work to make sure it was being done correctly.  Surprisingly, they found very few errors.  The two men were both experienced builders and knew what they were doing.  It just wasn’t very easy to work with them, especially when things were this tense.

Finally, Dandelion called it a day at nearly six.  “Stop already.  We’ll start again in the morning.”

“Sure,” Don said.

“I’ll be there,” Dick said.

The two men stalked off.

“Oh, my,” said Sowbug.  “That was unpleasant.”

“F’sure,” Dandelion said.  “Do we have to go through this again tomorrow?”

“We should talk with Luna and Dan,” Sowbug said.  “Maybe they’ll have some ideas.”

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