Dean truly was a crusty, old bastard. Aged to imperfection. Dissociative and detrimental to all who crossed his path.
The TV flickered over his lifeless body. While reclined in his La-Z-Boy, a carefully balanced, burned out cigarette rested between two smoke stained fingers.
He had nothing or no one.
Early morning light peered through the window. In the distance, a cock crow is heard. And then another. Dean sat up in bed and thought of his upcoming chores - a lot of responsibility for this 10 year old. With a deep sign, he stood and walked down the hall. The old, wood floors creaked with every step. The sound was comforting. Reassuring.
Cool water fell from the make shift shower. It felt nice. Well water with that faint smell of cucumber. Dean stood there, motionless. With his head back and eyes closed, he soaked up every possible drop - before hearing the daily rant from across the house.
“Dean! What tha hell ya doin’? Wastin’ water and burnin’ daylight! Get yer ass in the kitchen!”
“Yes, sir, Uncle Bob! Be right there!”
Uncle Bob was a man’s man. A farmer like his daddy and his daddy’s daddy. He was tall, barrel chested, and no nonsense. After Dean’s daddy died, Uncle Bob took over the operation. Not very pleasant for all involved.
The family farm had been around for 80 years. During that time, it was worked every day but Sunday. Well, except that stint of occupation during the Civil War. Those Yanks pretty much took what they wanted, including the young ladies.
Dean dried off and rushed back to his room. He threw on coveralls and scurried to the kitchen.
The clock over the stove showed a quarter after 5 - a late start for this family. They were usually fed and out the door by 5 am. Dean sat at the far end of the table. This was his regular spot next to his cousin, Roger. Uncle Bob sat at the other end next to Josue, the resident farm hand. Dean closed his eyes and took in the morning aroma. The smell of biscuits, bacon, and gravy almost made the day worthwhile.
Aunt Bella hovered over the stove, glancing at the clock every few seconds. She was nearly through cooking when she sensed an unsettling glare from Uncle Bob.
“Damn it, Bella. Been sittin’ here waitin’. Ya got one job to do, and that’s feed us. On time!”
Uncle Bob took a long, drawn out breathe and forcibly exhaled. “Worthless shit.”
Aunt Bella quickly looked up and gave a “go to hell” look. For many years, she cooked breakfast, lunch, and dinner for all who worked the farm. And she constantly received this sort of senseless abuse from her husband. She knew to keep her mouth shut, however. You see, Uncle Bob had a mean streak.
Some might say evil.
Uncle Bob noticed his wife’s rebellious gaze. He stood, paused then looked up toward the ceiling. Everyone heard knuckles crack as Uncle Bob squeezed his fists together.
The old, wood floors creaked as he walked across the kitchen. Uncle Bob gathered the biscuits, bacon, and gravy. All eyes watched, as he opened the door and stepped onto the porch. With crazed resolve, Uncle Bob slung the food across the lawn.