“But just a monster that protects the perimeter of our farm, and he should be restrained at all times.”
The older man just nodded thoughtfully and rocked in his chair.
“So it is agreed we get our own monster, but with strong chains, and we don’t feed him much so he won’t get very big and we keep him along the edge of the property.”
Several weeks later they had their monster. The younger man claimed this was a brand new type of monster, not like one all their neighbors had, this one was more obedient, would only go after the pests and nuisances that the monster was instructed too.
One evening while sitting on the porch the old man watched the monster chase a pest all the way up to the barn, he pointed out that the monster was off his chain.
“Yeah I know the chain slowed him down too much, but look he went right back to where he needed to be, I don’t think we need the chain on him all the time, maybe just when we go to bed at night. “
Several weeks later the older man mentioned that the monster was getting a little bigger.
“Well he was a little slow just on what he could forage and those pests on the western side of the garden were keeping the crops from growing, so I upped his food, now instead of him foraging all the time he can deal with those annoyances.”
The older man squinted his eyes and looked at the western edge of the property straining to see the problem. Sure there were problems out there but with the proper fencing and such it would sort itself out he thought. But the younger fellow seemed so eager to have get a handle it he let him use the monster the way he saw fit.
The harvest season came and the homestead was blessed with an abundance. The old man came out in the morning and saw that the younger man had the monster harnessed to the wagon as if to pull it to town.
“I figured that the monster could take the wagon into town, everyone would see how big and scary he is and he would not just be out here lurking around doing one thing.”
The older man reminded him that the horses had always done just fine pulling the the wagon before.
“Oh they could use the day off besides the monster can pull just as much as them. “
The old man watched his young partner go off into town and slowly shook his head.
Winter came and one bitterly cold morning the old man walked into the barn and found the young man feeding the monster in the barn well the old man frowned and pointed for the monster to leave which the monster did but he did not go too far away, not all the way to the edge of the property as he had been trained to do.
The younger men pled his case. “It is silly for our monster to be out in the cold, all our livestock are in the barn for the winter if the monster is outside and they are in here he might as well be in here too protecting them.
The old man was adamant that the proper place for the monster was along the perimeter watching over things and if he was in the barn he would start eating the food of their livestock instead of foraging for himself as he was supposed to, the old man was adamant and enforced the rule as much as he could but he often found tracks were the monster had come into the barn.
Then the older man broke his leg just as they were beginning the spring planting and was confined to his bed for several weeks. The older man now got around much slower on crutches and that is when he discovered the monster had grown considerably. He also realized the young man had gotten rid of the horses and was using the monster for all the chores around the farm.
The summer passed and the old man noted that the farm was running efficiently but the monster seemed to be growing more and more. He also took stock of the fields and it looked like their harvest was not going to be as good as last year because something was eating the plants in their early stages, he pointed this out to the younger man.
“Well you see when I started having the monster doing all those extra chores he would get hungrier and now I have feed him but he just seems to be hungry all the time now.” The young man said nervously.
The old man glared at the young man but inwardly he was angry with himself too.
Early the next day the old man spoke. “We needed a monster. We still need a monster.” “But we” he motioned to the young man and himself. “We grew lax. We came to depend on it for too much. The steps toward this problem were both slow and gradual but with each concession to the rules the monster grew. Now in order to reign it in it is going to be both difficult and dangerous. Difficult because we have gotten lazy letting the monster do things that we should have been doing. Dangerous because it has grown so big and now it is used to doing whatever it want when it wants.”
The younger man nodded thoughtfully rolled up his sleeves and they went out together to deal with the monster.
America wasn’t founded so that we could all be better. America was founded so we could all be anything we damned well pleased. P. J. O’Rourke
P. J. O’Rourke was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio, and attended Miami University and Johns Hopkins. He began writing funny things in 1960s “underground” newspapers, became editor-in-chief of National Lampoon, then spent 20 years reporting for Rolling Stone and The Atlantic Monthly as the world’s only trouble-spot humorist, going to wars, riots, rebellions, and other “Holidays in Hell” in more than 40 countries. He’s written 16 books on subjects as diverse as politics and cars and etiquette and economics. His book about Washington, Parliament of Whores, and his book about international conflict and crisis, Give War a Chance, both reached #1 on the New York Times best-seller list. He is a contributing editor at The Weekly Standard, H. L. Mencken fellow at the Cato Institute, a member of the editorial board ofWorld Affairs and a regular panelist on NPR’s Wait_ Wait_ Don’t Tell Me. He lives with his family in rural New England, as far away from the things he writes about as he can get.
Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella hears a voice in his corn field tell him, “If you build it, he will come.” He interprets this message as an instruction to build a baseball field on his farm, upon which appear the ghosts of Shoeless Joe Jackson and the other seven Chicago White Sox players banned from the game for throwing the 1919 World Series. When the voices continue, Ray seeks out a reclusive author to help him understand the meaning of the messages and the purpose for his field.
Terence Mann: Ray, people will come Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won’t mind if you look around, you’ll say. It’s only $20 per person. They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they’ll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh… people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.
Trivia from IMDB: Thousands of pallets of green grass were brought in to make the baseball field, but due to the haste in planting because of the shooting schedule, the grass was not able to grow appropriately and died. In order to keep the grass green, the production crew painted the grass.