By Amy McCollom
The road was bumpy and I can still hear the crunch and then pings of the rocks hitting the underside of Dad’s pickup truck. Riding in the back wasn’t so bad on short trips. I didn’t like the long trips, though, like when we went down to Darwin, near the Wabash River. That’s where we lived right after I was born. We still had friends there, and the fish was good eatin’ fresh from the river. Still, a long bumpy 70 mile ride to Darwin nearly left bruises on my skinny little frame back in the day.
This Friday night, though, my parents were just going to Jim and Janice’s house, a few miles out in the country near Tuscola. We left before the sun went down. It was the beginning of fall, and the cornfields on both sides of the road were tall and dried up like straw. My sister and I sat in the back, leaning up against the cab of the truck.
It only took about 15 minutes to get there. Jim and Janice lived on a large two acre plot surrounded by cornfields. My sister, my little brother, and I were like 3 hound dogs that had been penned up for a month. We didn’t know what to do with ourselves with all that room. We ran, and ran, and twirled, and jumped! It was so freeing! I felt like I could fly! Of course, I was seven, so I probably believed that I really could fly. My sister did cartwheels, and my brother and I played leapfrog, and the adults sat on the porch and talked. When the sun was good and down, and the mosquitos were bitin’, we all went in the house and Janice gave us all a glass of orange Kool-Aid that tasted funny because it was made with well water. When no one was looking, I would pour a little bit of mine into my sister’s cup, you know, because I liked to share.
Janice put on the television for us while the adults talked and played cards in the kitchen. The sound was turned low because my little brother had fallen asleep, so we heard everything the adults were saying. They were talking about this ape monster that had been spotted over near Farmer City and around there. I had also heard about that monster on the news that morning. The interesting thing about this “corn monster,” as my dad called it, was that it was not aggressive. It appeared to be afraid of people. It ran away when it came into contact with anyone.
Immediately I felt sorry for this thing. I had dragged abandoned bunnies home, half dead baby birds, and one-legged toads; all with the hopes of nursing them back to a healthy happy life. In my heart, I just knew that this “corn monster” was just one more wayward creature that needed my kindness to help it heal and survive. (As if my 7 years of worldly wisdom was enough to tame a Sasquatch.)
On the way home that night, my sister and I sat close to the cab of the truck. It was colder now, so we pulled the blanket we had been sitting on up around us. I couldn’t stop thinking about that corn monster, somewhere in that old dry cornfield, lonely and cold and scared. So I moved to the side of the truck bed and started yelling out,
“Corn Monster! Corn Monster! It’s ok! Come out!”
My sister kicked at me, and yelled for me to stop, but I kept on.
“Corn Monster! We won’t hurt you! I want to help you!”
My sister yelled even louder and started crying. She kicked me harder and then started hitting the window of the truck.
At this point my dad stopped and rolled down his window and asked what was going on. My sister explained that I was scaring her by calling the Corn Monster, so my dad told me to knock it off. I could sense aggravation in his voice, and not wanting to hear that leather belt swiftly clearing the loops of his jeans, I knocked it off. Sorta. I whispered to the corn monster, and hoped he could hear me.
So I said all of that to say this: Love thy neighbor, even if it is a corn monster.