The Lives of the Dead

Some of the most interesting people I meet are dead…

Freddy the Farmhand


Freddy (I get his name, and I see him in overalls, farm work clothes.  I’m standing with him in the hayloft of a barn)

I was rather dim-witted then; functionally retarded you could say. This absolved me of having to think. I went through this life only feeling, without the wits to understand or analyze. My brain was a dull instrument, not sharp enough to dissect the motivations of others. I was never able to understand why others wanted to hurt me or treat me badly. Often, I mistook their mocking laughter for friendship and acceptance.

One afternoon, the younger boys were teasing me. One of them pushed me out of the hayloft into those large bales of hay down there. He didn’t mean to hurt me. He was just teasing me. It should have been a soft landing, but I fell on a sharp piece of baling wire and it pierced my thigh.  I cleaned the wound with soap and water, and wrapped it in bandages I tore from an old work shirt. Of course, it needed more medical attention than that.   It became infected and it hurt badly, but I hid it from everyone because I didn’t want to get the boys in trouble. I wanted them to like me. The boss or the doctor would have asked how it happened, and I would be compelled to tell them because I didn’t know how to lie.

I didn’t understand how serious the infection had become. Even when the pain became almost unbearable and I was raging with fever, I said nothing. And nobody paid enough attention to me to notice my condition.

Eventually the wound became septic and my illness could no longer be concealed. By the time I received proper medical attention, it was too late. I died a few weeks later. I was 26.

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