Thunder At Eight

     A father and his son farmed a small piece of land.  Several times a year they would load up the oxcart with vegetables and drive to the nearby city.

     The two had little in common.  The son was the go-getter type.  But the father believed in taking time to enjoy life.

     One morning they loaded the cart, hitched up the ox, and set out.  The son figured that if they kept going all day and night, they could be in the city the next morning.  He kept prodding the ox with a stick.

     But the father said, “Take it easy.  You’ll last longer.”

     “But if we get to the market ahead of the others, we have a better chance of getting good prices.”

     Four hours down the road they came to a little house.  “Here’s your uncle’s place,” said the father.  “Let’s stop in and say hello.”

     “We’ve lost an hour already,” complained the go-getter.

     “Then a few minutes more won’t matter.  My brother and I live so close and see each other so seldom.”

     So the young man fidgeted while the two old gentlemen gossiped away an hour.

     On their way again, they came to a fork in the road, and the old man directed the ox to the right.

     “The left is shorter,” said the boy.

     “I know it, but this way is prettier.”

     The young man was impatient, “Have you no respect for time?”

     “I respect it very much.  That’s why I like to use it for looking at pretty things.”

     The way led through a woodland with wildflowers.  But the young man was busy watching the sun slip away.  All he could think of was the time they had lost.  He didn’t even notice the flowers or the beautiful sunset.

     Twilight found them in what looked like one big garden.  And the old man said, “Let’s sleep here.”

     The boy was really angry now.  “This is the last trip I take with you!  You’re more interested in flowers than in making money.”

     The father only smiled.  “That’s the nicest thing you’ve said in a long time.”  Soon they were asleep.

     A little before sunrise, the young man shook his father awake.  They hitched up the ox and went on.  But a mile down the road they came upon a farmer trying to pull his cart out of the ditch.  “Let’s give him a hand,” said the father.

     And the son exploded, “And lose more time?”

     “Relax,” said the old man.  “You might be in a ditch yourself some time.”

     It was almost eight o’clock when they got the other cart back on the road.  Suddenly a great splash of lightning split the sky.  Then there was thunder.  The sky grew dark beyond the hills.  “Looks like a big rain in the city.”

     The son grumbled, “If we had been on time, we’d be sold out by now.”

     “Take it easy,” said the old gentleman.  “You’ll last longer.”

     It was late afternoon when they reached the top of the hill overlooking the city.  They stood for a long time looking down.  Neither said a word.  Finally the young man broke the silence.  “I see what you mean, Father.”

     They turned their cart around and drove away from what had been, until eight o’clock that morning, the city of Hiroshima!

M. L. Lloyd