Sarah's Ghost Town Interview:Carbons Creek short story
I really had no intention of visiting the ghost town again, but there I was driving my buggy down the old street that was covered with weeds, trash and dried mud. I dodged potholes as best I could but got a jolt as a rear wheel hit a rock. I got out of the buggy and checked the wheel, which seemed to be alright. The weather had been dry and my eyes were getting itchy. As I was rubbing my eyelid a gust of wind sent a small whirlwind of dust and maybe some pollen from the weeds made me sneeze, over and over. Then my eyes started to water and I could hardly see. I wet a hankie from a canteen I kept in the buggy and rinsed my eyes. I blinked several times and vision started to clear. As my eyes started to clear I thought I saw someone go into the old saloon.
Whoever it was wore rather unusual clothes. I blinked again. Was it a man or a woman? My impression was that it was a woman, but the first impression the clothes looked like those of a man. She, I’ll use the feminine, wore a hat somewhat like those worn by drovers. Then there were canvas pants like Mr. Levi makes for miners and starting to be adopted by drovers. But these pants were tight fitting unlike others I’ve seen. The form was not that of a man., but what woman would wear such tight clothing that practically clung to her skin? Her breasts pushing out from a silk like blouse removed any doubt that the visitor was a woman. She wore an open vest over the blouse.
There was something about the woman that seemed familiar and she was really quite attractive although someone more prudish than myself would find her rather brazen. To be fair, I’ve been accused myself at times of wearing somewhat daring fashions. Life would be dull without a bit of flirting.
At the very least, my curiosity led me to pick up my picnic basket and motioned my little dog Buddy to follow me into the abandoned saloon. When I got inside I was surprisingly shocked to see what a shamble it was inside. Why it should surprise me, I don’t know. I did know this old mining town from previous visits and what could I expect but busted furniture, dust and cobwebs. Truly, the most surprising thing was that there was a table or two and some chairs. It seems pretty odd in the telling, but at the time it almost seemed normal in this old drinking establishment. I put my picnic basket on the table where the young woman, almost a girl, was sitting. She had what looked like a small duffle bag on the table next to her. Buddy jumped up on an empty chair and looked at the woman with expectation. She gave him a bit of a sandwich she was eating.
“Hi, Sarah,” she said. “You don’t mind me calling you Sarah, do you?”
“Hello,” I said. “It seems I should know you. Are you here to see me? Who are you and why are you dressed so strangely?”
“My name is Gale, Gale Neilson. I was driving through the area and my truck broke down. I couldn’t get a signal on my cell phone so I hiked here to get out of the sun.”
“Whoa’” I said. “What’s a truck? And what’s a cell phone? I’ve run into some strange things in this dilapidated old town, but you might be the weirdest. Just who are you?”
“A truck is a motorized vehicle which is common where I come from. It is sort of like your buggy without needing a horse.” She took a small brightly colored thing out of her duffle. “This is a cell phone. Maybe if you think about it sort of like the telegraph, except you can send your voice instead of just signals.”
“Where are you from?” I asked. “It isn’t so much where I am from as when. You see, I come from what is to you the future. In fact I am related to you.”
“I was wondering about the name.”
“We can talk about details later, maybe. But I am descended from you and your husband John.”
“Well, you seem to know a lot about me.”
“Yes, I know you publish the Carbons Creek Sentinal. In fact, I was thinking that it would really be cool if I could interview you. And that’s when my truck broke down. You see, I am a reporter for the Windy City Patriot.’
“That’s a nickname for Chicago. They probably don’t use it yet.”
“I see. Yes, I remember it could get quite blustery with the wind coming off of Lake Michigan at times.’
“That’s true but it isn’t where the name is about. I think it is because of all the windbag politicians in Chicago.”
I couldn't argue with that. I get the overflow of windy politicians in our county.”
“Anyhow Sarah, thanks for talking with me. You have always been a hero to me. I’ve even run across you in a history of community journalism it tells about you taking over the paper when your uncle was murdered and how you solved the murder. By the way, does it bother you to be interviewed by someone from the future?”
“Of course it does. Don’t you find it strange to be a couple hundred years before you were born?”
Of styles and politics
“Gee, Sarah. I think I have an advantage that I have heard about the strange qualities of this ghost town. Before I start, do you have any questions about me?”
“Well, I was wondering about your clothes…”
“These duds are the current style, Sarah. I’m afraid nobody wears the kind of clothes you find in your day. Driving cars and trucks makes bulky dresses and skirts pretty awkward. And women don’t feel it is necessary to hide their femininity. Do you think my outfit is too sexy?”
“I did. I don’t think I could wear it even in today’s Chicago. I am glad to know that there is a future and times do change. I hope politics have changed.”
“Not in Chicago. They lie, manipulate and it takes all we can do to keep them from destroying the country. How are politics here?”
I puzzled that over. “You mean here in the 19th Century or here in Carbons Creek?”
“Both, I guess.”
Gale flicked on her recorder gadget and explained that it was sort of like the Victrolla.”
“Don’t you ever use a pencil and paper to take notes?”
“The recorder is the way we do it now.
“But once you leave this ghost town, do you know that your recording will still be there?”
“Ok. I’ll take some notes too.”
I told her about all my run in with the politicians and others that I felt were a threat to the well being of the community. Then I figured it was my turn to learn about the world she lived in.
“What’s one of the hot things going in politics do you think, Gale?”
“I don’t know if it is the hottest but ‘gun control’ legislation keeps coming up, especially from the democrats.”
“Well, I sometimes have a hard time controlling my guns but I don’t know what a politician can do to help.”
“No, Sarah. I’m talking about legislation to limit what kind of guns and ammunition citizens can buy and own. Every time there is a crime where someone uses a gun, some politicians get on the bandwagon to pass more laws to control what guns people can own under what circumstance.”
“I know some cattle towns have limited the use of guns in town, but that is a local matter. How could they possibly do it nationally?”
“Well, they convince people that if there were fewer guns, than there would be less crime.”
“How do they figure to get the crooks to turn over their guns?” I made a gesture to my shotgun setting next to the table. “Not knowing who you were, I wasn’t about to walk in her without a gun. What about a woman who might be attacked by …?”
“A rapist?” Gale filled in. “Rape is a big problem for young women on college campuses, but some gun control fanatics don’t think women are levelheaded enough to handle a gun to protect themselves.”
“What are we supposed to do, just lie down and take it?”
“One politician suggested that women won’t get pregnant if they are raped, but nobody believed that. Another said that women can protect themselves by vomiting on her attacker. O pee on him.”
“I smiled. That was a joke, wasn’t it?”
“No joke. They think women can’t handle a gun but can hold off an attacker by long enough to call for help by using non-lethal things.”
“Well, if anybody tries it on me I always have my little lady like gun in my pocket,” I said.
“Well. Sarah. They don’t think you can handle it. They have no gun zones where nobody can have a gun.”
“And do the rapists honor that?’
“I don’t think so.”
“What other stuff are they doing in your day and age?”
“Well, there is the big flap about having women fight in combat roles in the military.”
“Wait a minute,” I said. “They think women are too dumb and weak to handle a gun to protect themselves but they think we can fight in a war with bullets flying all over the place.”
“I never said it made sense,” Gale said.
“Well Gale. I am glad to know reporters like you are there to expose the non-sense. As long as we have the free press we can keep tyranny at bay.”
“The only problem Sarah is that much of the press has become cozy with the politicians and supports them.”
“Just keep up the fight. We survived the Civil War and I suspect there have been others by your time but a free people must prevail.
My eyes seemed to be getting blurry again. I couldn't see Gale. I washed my eyes again and found my husband standing next to the table. "John, what are you doing here?"
"I was coming home from Galestown when some impulse led me to take a side trip. I thought I was having illusions when I thought I saw Buddy sitting by the road. But there he was and he led me here. What are you doing here?"
"It's a long story John. I started to introduce him to Gale, but she was gone."
Her recorder was still on the table and John asked what the strange object was."Just something I found laying around, John." I slipped it into my pocket and we left.
Copyright 2013 Don Hoglund
Carbons Creek Stories
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