Over the Hedge
redneck farmer turned gladiator
changeling; ogre; bloodbrute
Otis. Otis grew up on a small family farm near Ely. He took over the day-to-day running of it at 22 after his Pa died. The accident was particularly gory, and Otis was witness to it. He always wondered why Pa decided that he needed to mow that little ravine where the old wishing well was. The sickle-mower got tangled up in some thorn bushes hidden by the tall grass and Pa hadn’t turned the tractor off, he just disengaged the PTO, hopped out and started tugging at the vines. Otis was up on the crest of the ravine looking down when he saw his Pa pull hard and the thorns give way. Pa fell back into the tractor controls, and the machine lurched forward like a living beast. As the whole macabre scene unfurled, all Otis could remember was how the ravine seemed darker than it should be for the middle of the day, and how even the ground seemed like it was unnaturally moving.
His Ma was never quite right again after that. Sure she could still walk and talk, cook and clean, take care of herself and those she loved. But when there wasn’t anything pressing to do, she was out in her rocker on the porch staring in the direction of the ravine. She always had a mile-long stare and she was always mumbling — sometimes curses, sometimes in fear. Just never quite right.
Otis moved on with his life. He found a baby-mama, had a whole mess of crumb-crunchers – four to be precise (boy, twin girls, and another boy, in that order) – and kept on farmin’. His Ma passed 5 years after his Pa. The Doc said she died of a broken heart, but Otis always wondered why she collapsed on top of that old boarded-up well when Pa got killed 30 feet away. He held it together though, a little redneck trooper.
The last straw came in aught-8 with the flood. Five years after Ma passed, Otis lost his wife. They were both down in that ravine trying to rescue some calves that had slipped throught the fence and now were on the verge of drowning. Billie Jean was right in front of him and they were almost out of the water. She stepped on the roof of that old wishing well for extra height, then slipped. The calves made it up the hill but Billie disappeared under the water. Otis hollared and screamed for her, he dove under the water again and again to no avail. He nearly drowned himself when his legs got caught up in some thorn branches underwater, but he managed to cut himself free with the knife from his boot. His oldest son Buck dragged him from water and helped him inside.
After the funeral, Otis sent the chits to stay with his Ma’s brother, the city-slicker, for a couple weeks in the big city. He told them all it was so he could fix the water damaged parts of the house, but really he needed some time alone. Drunk off his ass, a few days later he wandered down to the wishing well. He set his bottle of bourbon down on the boards covering the well and sighed. That’s when he noticed a word faintly scrawled on one of the boards. As he looked closer, he realized that it was something that his Ma mumbled. He never really thought it was a word, or even a name, just a jumble of sounds Ma used to spout. He brushed away some of the dirt and read it aloud.
The world went black.