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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Jap Juice Chapter 2

Chapter 2
The Barn

The barn had always sat towards the rear of the property.  As if barns could get up and move anyhow.  It was a three story job built in 1947 after Granddad came home from World War Two.  Red stained wood above ground, cinder block walls on the bottom.  The bottom was a walk out style.  One way in and one way out.  The floor was dirt back then.  It would later be filled with concrete to make way for storing more important things.  Important things that could not sit on a dirt floor but had requested concrete.  What things?  I never was sure,  adult things I suppose.  Didn't really care I just understood that when concrete was poured it was for important things.  Concrete was expensive and my Dad and Grandad wouldn't waste money on it if it wasn't necessary.  Until that day though  the floor was dirt and to me dirt was right.  Especially at age 13.  "It was old dirt", I told myself.  Dirt under a barn was sure to be older than outside dirt.  Had to be.  That's the way things worked when your thirteen. 
    One time a woodchuck decided to make it his home and dug a hole next to one of the walls.  My father laid in wait with a 22 caliber rifle and made sure Mr. Woodchuck didn't "ruin the foundation".  How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?  "None that little bastards deader than dead", my father chortled.  He laughed and I just wondered what Mrs. Woodchuck would think when she came home and found Mr. Woodchuck not chucking anymore.  That is if he ever chucked in the first place.  My father took the remains of the animal and threw him in his own hole and buried him.  Now the barn was a bit of a Mausoleum I suspected.  Although no epitaphs were scribed on the walls there was a significant hump in the dirt floor which stood for something. 
    I spent many hours in that barn.  Imagining the olden days and what they were like.  My grandad had these old records that were as thick as a baby's finger.  They had old sounding names on them and some of them were in French or Spanish.  I wasn't sure but they had La in them so that made them foreign to me.  Old golf clubs mad of bamboo that I would sometimes sneak outside and hit rocks with.  Crates, slatted crates that were used for carrying stuff.  Some of them said navel and the word Florida so I figured them to be old orange packing crates.  My grandad would go to Florida in the winter so it made sense to me.  He was always bringing back fruit.  Soda too.  There was no deposit in Florida so each can was ten cents cheaper.  He would bring home cases and cases of soda in his great big motor home that he drove south with every year when the  temperatures started to "work " his rheumatoid arthritis.  Once the can was empty he would work it in with some of the Michigan cans.  The teenager at the store counting cans at the returnable counter was none the wiser and my grandad was a little richer.
    The windows in the ground level were covered in that grimy dust that seems to hang out in old barns.  So there was always light but a spooky light at that.  There was a set of stairs that led up to the attic area.  You could stand straight up in there but only in the center as the roof tapered down to the eaves.  There wasn't much up here.  Some old trim boards a couple of old hoses that probably had a hole somewhere in them but no one wanted to take the time to patch them so they bought new.  An old baby's cradle decorated the corner.  Spiderwebs clinging to the spindles that made up the sides.  And books.  Old books covered in a thick film of dust.  Their pages, yellowed on the edge, emitting that unforgettable musty smell.  "The barn was a musty sandwich", I mused to myself one day.  Musty on the bottom, musty on the top.  Musty at suppertime as the old saying went.  
Mouse droppings littered the floor as well.  Apparently the mice were only allowed to use the attic as their rest stop because you didn't find the droppings on the floor of the main barn.  A dead bird lay in the middle of the floor and at the right time of day the light would stream in from the solitary window and shine on it.  Illuminating it and I thought that it could have been some sort of avian God.  The mice would bring it offerings and then being frightened by the avian God run away with droppings marking the way.  Their little footprints embedded in the dust for time to wash away.  I didn't care for the upstairs much so I pretty much stayed out of there.  I wasn't afraid but I was uncomfortable.  Later I would find out that it was the bottom of the barn I should have been afraid of.  It was in the bottom of the barn where the three barrels stood.  The three barrels I would later find out contained what we called Jap Juice.


  1. So I poked around in your favorite posts and decided to read this one. I'll admit that I laughed out loud a couple of times and raised my eyebrows more than once. Some of it sounds like a Mark Twain yarn - pretty entertaining stuff. :) What the hell is Jap Juice?

  2. Vickie-If look back into my old posts Nov 2009 I think it is you will find the entire short story of jap juice. It was something I wrote quickly and without any editing. There you can find out what jap juice really is.


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