When Kale McFarland drove his 2003 rusted pick-up truck to Don’s Pub, the power he felt from the green crystal that sat next to him on the front seat still soared through his veins. He felt a rush of exhilaration more intoxicating than racing Odysseys on a dirt track. The rush was better than playing chicken with a couple of tractors on an abandoned field. This was the kind of rush that made Kale feel like he could take over the world.
It took Kale several minutes to decide whether he should leave the green crystal in the truck or take it with him. Could he slip it into the front pocket of his jeans? Would someone steal it if he left it in the cab of his truck? In the end, Kale decided to lock it in his glove compartment. After all, that’s where he kept other important things like his gun and nobody ever stole that.
Kale stepped out of the truck with a feeling of invincibility that not even a machine gun would have penetrated. He strode into Don’s Pub with a cockiness that lifted his 6’2” frame higher than the 3” heel of his cowboy boots. Kale said “Hey” to some of the locals, stepped up to a bar stool and sat next to a tall, skinny blonde named Sally he had known most of his life. Sally’s boyfriend, Troy, sat next to her on the other side.
“Hey, Sal,” Kale said as he glanced her way with a smile and a wink. “Can I buy you a beer?”
“Hi, Kale,” Sally answered uncomfortably nodding her head toward Troy.
Kale looked at Troy and rolled his eyes disapprovingly. Everyone in and out of Dixon, Iowa knew Troy was a bully. When Troy graduated from high school, he switched from beating up lightweight nerds to beating up his underweight girlfriends. It appeared obvious that Sally was taking the brunt of his bullying tactics now.
“Troy,” Kale said under his breath with a steely-eyed gaze at Sally’s loser boyfriend.
“Oh, hey Kale,” Troy replied condescendingly. “As long as you’re askin’, you can buy me a beer, too.”
On a normal night Kale might have taken Troy on, but tonight he was in a victorious mood. The world was his oyster, so to speak. “Sure, Troy. I wouldn’t have it any other way.” Kale ordered three draft beers from the bartender and turned back to Sally and Troy. “So, how’s it goin’ with you two?” Kale asked the couple.
“Great! Ain’t that right, Sal?” Troy bumped Sally on her arm like a drill sergeant prodding a soldier to obey his commands.
“Uh…yeah,” Sally whispered to the bar counter.
“What?” Troy asked militantly.
“Yes,” Sally spoke up louder, but when she raised her eyes toward Kale, he saw two purple bruises near her right temple.
“Yes, we’re doin’ great,” Troy reiterated as he wrapped his arm around Sally’s shoulder awkwardly. “How’s your corn this year?” he asked Kale.
Troy was always comparing his family’s farm to Kale’s family’s farm. This always escalated into a “my tractor is bigger than your tractor” conversation.
“One of the best we’ve had,” Kale lied. He certainly wasn’t going to mention anything about the montage of rain clouds that had lingered perpetually over his family’s land all season.
“Good, good. ‘Cause I hear your crop was drownin’ in rain this year,” Troy retorted.
“No, we got lucky. It was one of the best.” The McFarland’s property was drowned in rain and they lost half the harvest, but there was no way Kale was going to admit that to Troy. “So, are there any wedding bells ringing on the horizon?” Kale wanted to change the topic. He was looking directly at Sally when he spoke.
Sally’s jaw dropped so low from the shock of the question, she looked like she was singing the Hallelujah Chorus for the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. “Oh, well, I…I mean we…we haven’t talked about that…”
“But you never know, right Sally?” Troy looked at Sally with a sad, puppy-dog face and spoke in such an ingratiating, whiny tone that Kale thought he might puke.
“I think I’m still a little too young,” Sally answered with surprising confidence.
“What? You don’t want to marry me?” Troy took to the defensive like a bull took to a red cape.
“Relax, Troy. Sally’s just saying she’s too young.” Kale could tell that Troy’s inebriation was beginning to peak.
“I’m warnin’ you, Kale. Don’t get involved in this.” Troy was wagging his index finger at Kale directly in front of Sally’s nose.
Suddenly, Sally grabbed Troy’s index finger and squeezed it menacingly. “Stop ordering people around Troy. We’re all getting real sick of it.” Sally spoke so sternly, her jaw clenched tightly around every syllable.
“Well, Troy, you heard the lady. Stop your ordering people around.” This time, Kale’s index finger wagged mockingly above Sally’s head.
“That’s it! That’s it!” Troy stood up from his seat so fast, the bar stool crashed down to the floor. “Come on, Kale! You tryin’ to steal my girl getting her all flustered with your fancy charms? Come on and let’s take this outside!”
Kale was quickly losing his patience with Troy. He’d tried to be nice, but the punk needed a lesson in manners. Kale stood up slowly, turned to Sally to excuse himself, and punched Troy’s jaw so hard, Troy performed a neat pirouette before he fell backward to the floor.
Sally screamed and glared at Kale before she ran to nurse her coward boyfriend in his agony.
“I think I lost a tooth! I think he lost a tooth!” Troy cried out as Sally knelt to kiss his wound.
Kale paid for the beers with an extra ten dollar bill for the bartender and opened the pub door to exit. The night air was cool and crisp, and the full moon shined down like a floodlight on an outdoor stage. Kale’s truck was illuminated by the moon, and he felt like an actor in a one-man play. He instantly remembered what he had hidden in the glove compartment of his truck, and he moved quickly to retrieve it. A tantalizing tingle ran up his leg at the thought of the green crystal rod. It was his, and he wanted it more than he had ever wanted anything.
Kale opened the passenger door first. Then, he fitted the car key into the glove compartment lock and opened it slowly to make sure the crystal wouldn’t fall out and break. With the compartment fully opened, the green rod gleamed like a priceless emerald in a museum showcase. Kale reached for the crystal with a knowing trepidation, but he was fully prepared for the initial shock and when it hit him, he groaned and fell to his knees in surrender. The green crystal rod was his priestess and he would do whatever she commanded.
When Kale looked up, he knew she would be there. The green of her eyes seemed familiar. The black of her hair like the night sky. Her long sheer black dress blew behind her in the wind. She reached out her hand to help Kale up and he closed his truck door behind him without thinking. Kale left his truck parked at Don’s Pub as he journeyed through the corn fields with Lilith and the green crystal rod.