It body was defined: from his long slender

It
was a few miles north of Soledad; a town in northern California. It was around midday
on a boiling hot day and there was little wind moving among the trees. The air
was dry and there was little shade.

Two
men were seen walking around the old sycamore tree crunching on crisp leaves
that had fallen from the tree. They had just passed the brush line and were
walking towards a lifeless town. Both wore dirty denim overalls, had a folded
up plaid shirt, and wore old and shapeless black hats.

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The
first man was small, but well built. He had sharp features and restless eyes.
Every part of his body was defined: from his long slender arms to his strong
arms and hands. Behind him, walked his exact opposite, following him like a
lost puppy. He looked like a giant with his huge body, sloping shoulders, bulky
arms and dragging feet.

The
second man suddenly dropped his bindle and flung himself forward.

“Lennie!”
the first man called. “Lennie don’t you go around pettin’ these stray mutts.”
Lennie ignored him and kept on aggressively petting the mutt. “Lennie!” the
small man pulled him of the mutt and dragged him along. “Lennie, we gotta get
to the farm, or do you wanna jungle-up in this place?”

“George?”
Lennie asked nervously.

“Yeah,
what ya want?”

“Where
we goin’, George?”

“Jesus
Christ Lennie, you crazy bastard awready forgot! What’s the use of tellin’ you
things if you just forgetting ’em.”

“George,
I forgot. I didn’t mean to George. I tried not to forget; honest to God George,
honest”

“Fine,
fine, I’ll tell ya, but ya crazy bastard won’t forget ’em yeah?”

Lennie
nodded.

“We
on our way to a town up north called Weed. There’s work waitin’ for us at a
farm. We gotta make some jack one way or another.”

“But
George,” Lennie whispered. “I got some bucks in my pocket here.”

“Jesus
Christ Lennie, you forget that too didn’t ya. We used our last bucks to get
here!”

“Why’d
we leave the old farm, George? I liked that farm. Why’d we not stay there?”

“Remember
that farm we worked at, the one in Canyonville, Oregon? Remember that one?”

Lennie
scrunched up his face trying to remember. “I…I…I forgot George.”

“Jesus
Christ. Well ya don’t even remember that. Ya crazy bastard almost got us
lynched because ya didn’t wanna let go of that jail-baits favourite horse.”
George paused to wipe the sweat from his forehead. “Lucky for you, that
jail-bait was the sheriff’s wife. Course that tramp went blabbin’ to her husband
bout some bum steer, nearly got us killed!”

Lennie
smiled admiringly after hearing George’s words. “I remember George, gosh, she
was purty.”

“Well
that bitch almost got us killed!” George said disgustedly.

The
two men continued walking silently until finally they saw the outlines of a
small town.

It
was slowly getting dark when the two men arrived in the town called Weed. They
quickly made their way to the farm.

“Lennie,
you ain’t gonna say anything, you hear me Lennie? No word” George whispered
before they entered the wooden house. The farm they were on was like any other
farm they had been to: old and dusty. The two men saw workers buckin’ grain
behind the farm before stepping into the boss’s house.

“Work
slips?” said a fat man sitting behind an overflowing desk.

George
reached into his bindle and pulled out two work slips. “Here you go sir.”

“What
your names?” he asked uninterested.

“George
Milton and that’s Lennie Small”

The
names were entered in the book.

“Where’d
ya come from?” the boss said without even looking up.

“A
farm in Canyonville, Oregon, sir.”

“Ya
good workers? Can do anything that you’re asked to do?”

“Yes,
sir.”

“Work
starts tomorrow morning at 6 o’clock sharp. Ya hear me? No later, if not ya can
work somewhere else.”

“Yes,
sir.”

  With that, the two men were thrown out of the
house and they headed to the bunk house.

Inside
the bunk house the two men saw about ten other men. Some were playing blackjack
and euchre, the others just lying on the bunks. In the back end of the room a
swamper was sweeping the floor. The men sitting round the table looked up and
murmured something that sounded like an uninterested hello.

George
and Lennie shuffled to the end of the bunk house and lay down on the last two
free beds.

“Guess
ain’t every farm have nice men.”

The
next day Lennie woke up to the sound of George trying to wake him up.

“Jesus
Christ Lennie, ya gonna get us fired on out first day of work. Get up ya giant
ogre.”

The
two men got dressed and ready and walked outside to eat breakfast with the
other men.

“Ya
the new guys?” asked a rather young man with sharp features.

“Just
arrived.”

“Well,
ya gonna be buckin’ barley with the rest of the gang.” The men ate in silence.

“By
the way, I’m Jim Lowell. That skinny guy over there,” he pointed at a middle-aged
man, “that’s Joe Miller and the big guy there,” he pointed at a big guy with a
bushy moustache, “that’s Fred Smith. If you boys ain’t want no trouble, don’t
cause any problems.

None
of the men payed attention to either George or Lennie. After breakfast, they
went out buckin’ barley in the heat for the rest of the day.

“Lennie,
the other guys invited us to go to town, get a drink and go to a cat-house. If ya
wanna come, you can pet those stray mutts runnin’ around, just don’t cause any
trouble, ya hear me?”

Lennie
muttered under his breath “I ain’t gonna cause any trouble… I ain’t gonna cause
any trouble.”

“Good,
the let’s go.”

The
small run-down town was like a ghost town. George and the other guys strolled
into a cat-house. Suddenly George stopped, turned around and shouted back. “You
better not cause any trouble Lennie. I swear, you do anything wrong, I won’t
let ya tend any of them rabbits.

“I
won’t cause any problems George, honest to God, I won’t” Lennie replied
innocently. George turned back and continued towards the cat-house. Lennie the
went to go stroke some mutts. He followed George’s orders and kept on petting a
stray mutt he had found. Then suddenly something caught his eye and he turned
towards it. A young woman was strolling around town. Her long dark golden hair
and her bright red dress she was wearing shone in the sunlight. Like a metal
attracted to a magnet, Lennie started following the girl. At first Lennie was
dragging his feet, then he took quick long strides. Without warning Lennie
grabbed hold of the girl’s dress. Panic stricken, the girl turned around and
started screaming. Lennie panicked too and tightened his grip on the girl’s
dress. Weed suddenly rose from the dead as people rushed towards the scene.

George,
who was sitting in a bar enjoying himself with the other guys, heard the
dreaded screams and knew almost instantaneously it involved Lennie. “That
son-of-a bitch. What’s he done this time?” He jumped up and dashed towards the
screams. He fought his way past the crowd and saw a fear-stricken Lennie
holding on to a girl’s dress. About eight guys were trying desperately to get
Lennie off the girl. George ran towards Lennie and grabbed him. Lennie came
back to his senses and let-go of the girl. Relieved, the girl ran as far away
from Lennie as possible. Lennie looked blankly towards George then exploded.
“Run, for God’s sake Lennie, run!”

Both
men started running, leaving behind a confused crowd of people. By this time
the sheriff had also arrived accompanied by police dogs.

“Get
them!” the sheriff yelled. The dogs were released from their leash. About twenty
men took up the hunt pursuing George and Lennie into the fields. George was in
the lead with Lennie closely behind. Both of them
sprinted as fast as they could running down the left edge of the field, the
dogs and the angry mob popping over the view of them

Without
warning, George came to a halt, Lennie did the same. “Get in there,” George shouted
pointing towards an irrigation ditch. He grabbed Lennie’s arm and tugged him
into the warm unpleasant water, there was a big splash and mucky water splashed onto their knees and dead
leaves stuck to their feet. There wasn’t a way that the men would come looking
for them in here, George thought. “‘Come to the edge
Lennie quick, and keep quiet! We don’t want to get into any more trouble”
George ordered. Both cooped themselves tight against
the bank hiding among reeds hoping not to be seen by a passing patrol. They
heard barking dogs and footsteps approaching them. Their hearts were pounding
like a drum. Both sat in fear and awaited their destiny. ”I’m sorry George, I didn’t mean to get in no trouble, I swear
I didn’t” Lennie said while covering his head with wild grass.”

“Be quiet, Lennie!” The day went on longingly, with them still hiding
from the men back in the ranch who still pursued their search. Suddenly barks got closer and louder until they were a few
metres away from the ditch. Then an eerie silence fell, which was only broken
by the sheriff. “They couldn’t have gone much farther. They must be around here
somewhere. Look everywhere!” he barked. The footsteps were heard again, this
time from different angles. After an hour of searching and no success, the men
gathered again. “I think they got away. It’s getting dark, we’ll resume our
search again tomorrow,” conceded the sheriff. The footsteps disappeared with
the evening breeze. Lennie and George relaxed a little for a moment, then
George exploded. “Ya crazy son-of-a-bitch! What were you thinking? Didn’t I
tell you not to cause any trouble? Ya crazy bastard you nearly had me killed
too!”

“I…
I just wanted to feel her dress. Honest, George I never meant no harm,” replied
Lennie innocently.

George
sighed. “Jesus Christ! Anyway, we gotta get out of here and quick. We’ll stay
here overnight and head off to Soledad in the morning. I know some guys there
who can sort us out with a few bucks and work cards.” he looked down and sighed.

“George…
George?”

“What?”

“Can
I still tend them rabbits, George?”

The sun was setting casting a reddened shadow across them.

“Get
some sleep” George interrupted, “when it gets dark
enough Lennie, were going to make our escape”, George said sternly. The sun still
leaving a glow over the vast landscape, George and Lennie made their way into
the woods. A few miles south of Soledad, the Salinas river drops in close to
the hillside bank and runs deep and green…