Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Trapper's Journal (Fiction - Historical)

May 15, 1834.   My name is Richard Gaulin,   I come from Burlington, Vermont.   I am  28 years old and on my way to the Great Rocky Mountains where I hope to make a respectable living selling pelts to furriers.   I make this first entry on a train bound for Chicago.  I boarded the train in Syracuse, New York where I bought this journal on a lark.  I grew up on a farm, but my father insisted I attend school and I finished the sixth grade so I figure I can write fair enough to keep a journal.  From Chicago I shall travel by river to the Mississippi and then up the Missouri past Omaha, Nebraska.  Eventually I will be forced to give up the boat for a coach on the last leg of the trip to Butte, Montana.  I hear there are entire mountains teaming with beaver, mink and ermine waiting for someone like me    My baggage includes a Springfield rifle, traps, snares, knives, an axe and other assorted tools. I have enough money saved to buy a horse when I get to Butte.

Oct 18, 1834 - My cabin is near enough finished to protect me from the elements.  It may only have one room and a dirt floor, but I have built a fireplace out of rock from a near-by creek to provide warmth this coming winter. 

June 14, 1835 - Since my arrival on this mountain I have done well in my estimation, bringing many pelts into Butte.  I was able to purchase a Hall Breech loading carbine and a mule.   The winter was more severe than I had contemplated.  I might have starved to death if I had not shot a bear, early out of hibernation, the first week of March.

Sept. 9, 1836 - A band of Blackfoot Indians camped nearby.  We got to trading and I have come away with a wife.  I traded her father my Remington, two knives and several pelts.  Her name to my ears sounds like Con'ney-aghtal; I call her Connie.  She does not understand English and I do not know her language.   She is good with a knife and can skin any animal, but she hasn't really taken to becoming my wife.  I hope she doesn't kill me in my sleep.

April 7, 1837 - Connie is Pregnant.

Sept. 4, 1837 - Connie gave birth in the cabin to a son.  I named him Noble.

Feb. 20, 1839 -
Connie is pregnant again.

Aug. 4, 1839 - Connie died in childbirth.  The unborn child died with her.  They are buried behind the cabin.    I have sent Noble to stay with my sister in Vermont.

June 8, 1840 - I am told that the market for beaver pelts has collapsed.  People prefer hats made of silk.  It will be hard to buy enough provisions with the money I earned for the pelts.

Feb. 1841 - Leg broke.  Firewood gone.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Ado's Grief (Flash Fiction - Biblical Series)

Ado‘s husband was a good and righteous man.  She was obedient, not only out of duty, but respect, as well.  She kept his house and bore him children.  They were daughters, not sons, but had brought worthy husbands into the family.  They enjoyed a rewarding life and a comfortable status in the community.

Now, as she walked through the desert by the Dead Sea with all the valuables she could carry, she feared the loss of that happiness.  Yesterday, Lot, sometimes given to religious excess had invited two strangers into their home.  Ado had made them comfortable and provided both food and drink. Curiously, Lot had been deferential to the pair and went so far as to prostrate himself before their feet.

Trouble started in the night when a pack of drunken young men staggered up to the front of the house and begin to taunt the strangers.  Their bawdy shouts demanded that the strangers come out and provide the kind of pleasure that men give to each other.

The strangers were very offended and agitated by the ruckus and went to the front of the house.  A flash of light filled the street.  The brightness was so intense that the crowd stumbled around unable to see.

Ado sensed something frightening about the strangers.  They had eyes as deep as the infinite sky.  The strangers bade Lot join them in a sitting room.  Ado could not make out the words but occasionally heard Lot’s raised and pleading voice. 

Lot finally emerged with the strangers and told Ado to gather up their coin, best fabric and other valuables as they were fleeing Sodom for the nearby town of Bela.  “Fleeing?”  “Why would we leave, husband?” Ado cried.  She wailed and she screamed, but Lot was steadfast in his demand saying only that there was a prophecy of doom.  She went upstairs to pack, while Lot went to find their daughters.

When Lot returned, he was followed his tearful daughters, but not their husbands.  Ado protested that it was wrong for Lot to tear apart the households of their daughters.  Lot listened only to the strangers.  Ado was confused and frustrated, but bent to gather up the family wealth.

The burden was heavy and the ground was already hot when she looked up ahead to see Lot entering the gates to Bela.  The strangers remained outside the town and both turned back toward Sodom raising their arms heavenward and started to pray.  They were speaking in a tongue unfamiliar to Ado and looked to her as foreign as any person could possibly be.  One of them barked at her, “Don’t look back!”

Then she saw the reflected lights of explosions illuminate the city-walls of Bela.  The lights were followed immediately by rolling concussions that caused dust to fly from the earth.  She was afraid.  She was worried about her family and friends left behind.  She turned to face Sodom.  She was bombarded with a vision of fire raining from the sky, explosions in the city, death and destruction.  The valuables fell from her arms which  she raised in a protective stance.  She was horrified, but could not turn away.  Her heart was filled with the pain and misery of the Sodomites she loved.  She thought of the shopkeepers, the children and the women with whom she would gossip beside the well and she started to cry.  Tears streamed down her face and she could taste their salty outrage.  The salty grief sank deeper and deeper into her soul until, in the end, it totally consumed her.


Mike Mallory