“Never Trust The Weatherman” by Shane Hinton

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This short story begins a new genre in Southern Literature: Reality Fiction. Yup, it’s too real to be just a story.

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I pulled the disc through the middle of summer while everyone else was across town buying parts and poisons. I needed to finish before it rained, but secretly hoped for a thunderstorm. There were no clouds in the sky.

Climbing down from the tractor, I kicked a rock free from the disc. A construction company dumped a few hundred loads of concrete, tires, and tree trunks into the field. I was scared to break the equipment, but the weeds had almost gone to seed. If I waited any longer I’d be plowing them up for years.

Hog burrows marked the field. The tractor bounced over a hole and I fell off the side. It ran over me before stalling with the tire just above my pelvis.

My organs felt compressed. I breathed from different parts of my chest as my ears adjusted to the silence. After a few minutes I couldn’t remember what the engine sounded like. The sun was directly above me.

I pulled my cell phone from my shirt pocket and wiped the dust off the screen. The sweat on my fingers left mud smears as I dialed 911.

“What’s your emergency?” a woman answered.

“I ran myself over with the tractor.”

“Where are you located?”

“The old Simmons place.”

“Can you feel your legs?”

“No.”

“We’ll send somebody out. Is there anything else I can do for you?”

“I think that’s it,” I said.

It felt like rain. I dialed my dad.

“Ran over myself with the tractor,” I said.

“Can you feel your legs?”

“No.”

“That’s not good.”

“Did you get the parts for the disc?”

“Should be in next week,” he said.

The dust started to settle and I heard birds from the tree line. I tilted my head back and saw the neighbor walking toward me. He set a bottle of water on my chest.

“Hot as hell out here,” he said.

“Yes, sir,” I said, trying to drink. I couldn’t sit up enough and poured the water into my nostrils.

“You okay?” he asked.

“Waiting to find out,” I said.

“Can you feel your legs?”

“No.”

“Might rain later,” he said, turning around.

My dad’s white truck, followed by the ambulance, made its way through a cloud of loose dirt. The ambulance sank into the ground and Dad had to pull it out.

“We got lost,” the paramedic said.

“No trouble,” I said.

The paramedic slid his hand down my side to the point where it went under the wheel. “Does this hurt?” he asked.

“A little,” I said.

“Can you feel your legs?”

“No.”

“It’s keeping you from bleeding out.”

“That’s lucky,” I said.

“It looks pretty bad,” he said.

I heard an engine and Mom pulled up on the four-wheeler with a cooler strapped to the back. “Dad called,” she said. “How are you?”

“Can’t feel my legs,” I said.

“I brought food.”

Mom spread out an old sheet on the dirt next to me and unpacked a picnic, serving fried chicken and potato salad onto paper plates. Dad and the paramedic stirred up dust with their feet as they talked about the tractor wheel.

I took a bite of chicken and looked up at the sun. The grease slid into my throat but I couldn’t swallow. Choking, I spit it onto the ground.

“Might rain,” Mom said, chewing.

“It might,” I said, even though there were still no clouds in the sky.