Every bit the corn fed farm boy who preferred monosyllables to sentences, Lester Combs was generally accepted as simple. Those who knew his father, Gunther, during the years he struggled to raise the boy alone, kindly never mentioned Lester’s appearing none too bright, but rather focused on his merits. He was ‘strong as a bull’ and ‘loyal to a fault’, admirable qualities they never failed to point out when casting light on the boy.
And because in a hungry farming community, not yet far away enough from being considered a part of the Dust Bowl, those qualities won out over a capacity for book learning, Gunther took great pride in knowing his son possessed them- in spades. However, even this did not prevent disquieting thoughts about Lester’s future when Gunther found himself alone with his thoughts.
Lester, not unintentionally, fed willingly into the communities consensus by keeping to himself and choosing to speak very little when he did find himself in the company of others. At a young age he discovered “Huh?” to be a most useful tool in avoiding conversation, so he employed it often, never letting on he actually had a vast vocabulary at his disposal.
With his mother having been gone for longer than he could remember, and his father being a man, who although often referred to as a ‘looker’ by the local lady folk, was better known for raising hairs with his outspokenness and often argumentative opinions, his invocation of “Huh?” spared him more than his share of involvement in what he considered useless blather.
In the summer of ‘42 when the crop yield proved to be far greater than the monies Gunther had put back to hire in gleaners and harvesters, and the most likely remedy to the lack of strong backs was clearly to keep fourteen year old Lester out of school through the harvest, Gunther did so without hesitation.
That season, Lester did the work of five men. Undaunted by the long hours and back breaking work, he reveled in the accolades showered upon him by both his father and the hired hands. Having never experienced such a sense of pride and accomplishment, when winter set in and no talk of him being sent back to school was forthcoming, Lester accepted this as a sign that he was not alone in knowing, he had come into his manhood.
Days, he tended the livestock, repaired machinery and mended fences. He even tried his hand at cooking that first winter, a task which had always fallen to his father in the past.
Nights however, alone in his room, Lester explored the vast richness of fantasy, a door opened to him with the ripening of his man flesh. It was quite the uncharted territory, given his solitary life alone on the farm with his father. Although a necessary fact of life, sex was a subject never broached by Gunther Combs.
Lester came to imagine this new found secret part of himself made him quite like an adventurous boy from a far off country his mother had read to him about when he was small. A boy named Aladdin.
This Aladdin had possessed a magic lamp, and when he rubbed it, a genie would appear, and carry him off to exotic, often unimaginable places. Places hard wrought with adversaries, which Aladdin must succeed in triumphing over in order to win the love of the beautiful princess.
So nightly, his own magic lamp clenched firmly in his calloused right hand, Lester would travel into the vastly unimaginable world of the exotic opposite sex- where he would slay such dragons as awkwardness, oafishness, shyness- and in so doing, be rewarded with the love of the one girl that had ever really been kind to him.
The one girl that had never made fun of him, never called him names, was even there for him the only time the hurtful words of the other children became too heavy, even for Lester to bare.
The girl’s name, was Mabel Marie Givens.
I wrote a story about a year ago I called Ginny Combs in response to a wonderful prompt provided by Sue Vincent on her Thursday #writephoto prompt. During the writing process I fell so in love with the characters I knew one day I would revisit them. I was wrong. One by one they are visiting me.
Last week we learned the back story of Ginny’s mother, Mabel Marie. And today, I share with you the story of her father, Lester Combs.
If you enjoyed this and would like to follow the story, and learn more about these characters, you may do so by following the Ginny Combs category header located in the drop down menu on the blogs home page.