· Episode 2 ·
Previously, in Episode 1 (Topsoil, the Story: Deputy Tom Jennings Meets Rosannah Yoder), Deputy Tom Jennings responded to a 911 call to investigate theft of soil from a county ditch. Upon arrival, he met resident Rosannah Borntrager Yoder.
Driving his horse and buggy, Jacob Yoder arrived at the scene of the so-called crime. He and his wife, Anna, carried a buggy-full of grandchildren—five of them belonging to Rosannah and Adam. Anna held the youngest in her arms. All of the children remained curious but quiet as Jacob exited his trusted transportation.
Rosannah had been observing the buggy for several minutes as it neared the farmstead. She welcomed the clip-clop sound of the horse’s hooves on the asphalt. She half-smiled at the neigh and whinny of the horse. Faith and family kept her strong. She exhaled a deep breath when she saw the faces of her parents and her children. Their worried eyes were big and unblinking but their mouths relaxed the longer they stared at her standing safely beside the big, uniformed, English man.
Deputy Jennings had the information he needed for his case. He would be sure there wasn’t a single blank box on the report form. Jennings was ready to go “10-8,” to get back into service, to become available for the next assignment, but he knew that first he had more explaining to do.
Just then he heard a loud noise. It was his stomach growling. He was famished. Tom considered his next meal.
Jennings had watched the buggy pull into the driveway of the house, its rotating wooden wheels, slowing to a stop. He was amazed that one horse could pull so many people. The buggy’s engine was one horsepower yet it carried two adults and how many children? From his patrol car he tried to count the number of straw hats and bonnets worn by the youngsters, but he soon gave up.
The Amish man, Jacob, and his daughter, Rosannah, were talking, but they were a fair distance away from the deputy. Jennings couldn’t make out the words. He wondered if they were speaking Dutch or German.
Yackel started barking excitedly which was extremely unusual unless he perceived a threat or had discovered drugs. Jennings visually scanned the area, but he didn’t recognize any potential problems.
Nein!” Jennings shouted, telling Yackel, “no,” to stop barking. He considered letting Yackel out of the SUV for a bathroom break.
Jennings decided to wait until he was approached by the long-bearded Amish man wearing the common solid-colored shirt, dark blue pants held up with suspenders, and straw hat, before initiating a conversation. There wasn’t much more for him to say that he hadn’t already explained to Rosannah Yoder. He hoped they would understand. He was just doing his job.
But, as he waited beside his patrol car, he spotted them. The distant black boxes, like hard-shelled turtles, were approaching and growing larger. “Buggies!” he said out loud. “Lots of them!”
Rosannah and Jacob stopped talking and studied the road. Between the two of them, they gradually identified each advancing family by the subtle differences in their respective horses and Plain buggies.
Jennings thought back to the morning’s patrol briefing. He didn’t recall a request for a funeral’s traffic control, but the horse-drawn buggies were approaching from both the north and the south. “What was going on?” he asked himself. He sure hoped that his location wasn’t their intended destination.
Jennings’ brain searched for an explanation. Maybe the Amish buggies were headed to church for a wedding, a funeral, or a prayer meeting. Or, did they even have churches? Should he call in deputies for traffic control? If he was the reason they were on the road, would he need help? He imagined his radio call: “431, Dispatch, I’ve been surrounded by Amish buggies and need help! The Plain people are holding me down and shaving my mustache! Send all available Mennonites to render officer assistance.”
Well, he thought again, he should at least notify his sergeant. Was there going to be an Old Order Amish uprising? He’d always heard that the Amish weren’t violent, that they were consciousness objectors when the country had a military draft. But still, couldn’t they be armed with slingshots, pocket knives, heavy skillets, sharp kitchen knives, pitchforks, and hunting rifles? Or make explosives from natural fertilizer?
Jennings had a feeling that he was on the verge of learning a thing or two about cultural communication. He understood that the situation might become a personal test of his ability to help resolve conflict.
The first buggy, one of many, turned into the driveway. The Yoder house was their destination. Jennings tried to swallow. His only thought was a question: “What on earth have I got myself into?”
“431 to 422,” Deputy Jennings said into his police radio’s microphone.
“Go ahead,” replied Sergeant Hunter.
“Can you 10-23 with me at my assignment?”
“10-4, be there shortly. I’m encountering a lot of buggies and tractors headed in your direction.”
“10-4, thanks,” concluded Jennings, unrealistically hoping the Amish church districts were gathering for a vote about the use of electricity, or meeting to discuss whether or not to permit their youth to play electronic games on their phones, if they owned any.
To be continued.
Until next time, happy writing and reading!