He looked me square in the eye, across a sweaty beer—turning piss warm on this hot July morning—Inhaling the filterless Camel I watched it burn down damn-near an inch on one drag. The conversation is lost for a moment as I watched, preoccupied, with the ash about to fall and land on his dirty dungarees.
“It’s harder now to answer as a man, but it was hard to answer as a boy, too, I reckon.“ He took the unfiltered butt from his mouth and licked his lips, dry and burned from the unrelenting sun. “As a boy all I feared was snakes and hay and my old man’s belt. Ain’t so simple now is it?”
I stare across the shaky, old table and say, “Hayin’, ain’t nothing harder than hayin’“
“War is harder than hayin’ boy. Ain’t nothin’ harder on a man’s soul than killin’ another man. Other than that I’d agree with you, hayin’ is hard as fuck.“
He pours back the piss warm beer and says, “Trouble is today too few men know the reality of war or hayin’. Everybody is either sellin’ or buyin’, Ain’t nobody breaking a sweat, or smellin’ the blood of another man, or that burning pain from a copperhead bite when them son’s-of-bitches hide in the wet hay.”