05/08/2005: "Of Mice and Men"

Of Mice and Men
By Brian Carmody
It was a cool winter day, the kind where the breeze blows past the snow, gliding through the valley and into our memories. The hazy surise, made fuzzy by that fog that only comes on certain winter days-blink and you’ll miss it- was taking its time gradually lighting up the field. Had one been given a bird’s eye view of that particular field at that particular time, he would have seen the shadowy outline of two travelers, making there way across the beaten path, without, it would have seemed, a care in the world. Nor a destination, for that matter.
“I’m hungry.” Said Lenny, his stomach growling. He was the larger of the two travelers, a gentle giant. A bit slow, but good-hearted nonetheless.
“Well, don’t worry, we’re going to eat soon enough.” Said George, his companion. George was a short, curly-haired man, with thoughts abrewing in that thick head of his just waiting to get out. He had an idea for everything. Pity though, that he didn’t annunciate them more often.
“Yeah?” Asked Lenny eagerly. His stomach had been particularly cruel to him that morning, perhaps for the lack of food it had gotten in the past several days, and he licked his lips in anticipation.
“Well sure,” replied George, “Why that good old fashioned country restaurant is just over that hill just yonder.”
“Oh boy,” said Lenny “I can’t wait to order the steak.”
There was no country restaurant, of course; there hadn’t been one for some time now. The Great Depression, which Steinbeck’s novel is about, had come through the land in a fury, taking it the life blood and wealth of America with it.
But there had been one, once. George had remembered it. His father used to take him there as a child, on Saturday mornings, after their fishing trips. They never caught “Not one gosh darn thing!” but the feeling of togetherness was there. George had been in this part of the country before, he remembered it, and missed his father.
Lenny knew that there was no restaurant, even he knew that. This was just George…not teasing, not exactly. George often said things that weren’t really true, to cheer Lenny up. How the restaurant was just over that ridge, how their good fortunes were waiting for them in just that next town and hey, wouldn’t it be great when we find them? Things like that. Lenny appreciated it; it kept him on his toes.
The came past the hill. To George’s surprise, the resaturant was still there. The building anyway, a dilapidated, run down hunk of junk that just cried out to the world, “I was great once. I was great once…”