Author Topic: It Seems So Strange  (Read 3323 times)

Offline BlackCatBriggs

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It Seems So Strange
« on: November 04, 2011, 09:54:16 AM »
An automobile came into town the other day. I'm an educated man, so of course I've heard of them. Nonetheless, I'm not fond of it. There's another thing that came into town with that motor-car. It's nothing you can see or touch, just something you feel in your gut, at the very bottom where all the butterflies from your first kiss sleep while they wait for you to get nervous about something else. It stirs down there to let you know: Things are changing around here.

We gathered around it when it first pulled up to the hotel. While its owner was inside, there was a chattering between us about the thing. Some were pointing fun at it, while others murmured low insults of it. Others still kept their mouths shut and listened to the yammering.

"I just 'liked to see the look on 'is face he ever takes that thing over some rocks." Said Randy Simmons, a cigarillo perched over his leathered face. "Tain't even big 'nuff to get over a dead rabbit."

"Shore got a nice coat of paint on it, though. Looks real purdy, like a brand new train." His younger brother Stan was leaning forward from the porch to get a closer look. I reached for Stan's collar and yanked the boy back to me.

"It isn't polite to do that, Stanley. Don't touch it either." I warned.

"Aw c'mon, Mister Calvin! It ain't got bells tied to it!" He protested, but didn't struggle under my grip. I let him go and dusted gently at the creases in his shirt. I didn't mention that the owner of the car had a fancy looking gun at his hip when he'd gotten out, and was no doubt eager to start trouble with some of us uncivilized 'barbarians'. I glanced over my shoulder into the hotel. The car's owner was leaning on the desk, giving a catty smirk to Rebecca, the woman who held the desk during the day. She smiled weakly at me from behind him. I didn't blame her discomfort. The man was a fast-talking Yankee in a big white suit. He seemed very proud of his possessions. 

"So, Calvin, you're the teacher." Randy jarred me from my train of thought. "How's it work?"

"A fire burns petroleum inside the motor." I explained. It wasn't very accurate, but I had to be more layman for Randy's sake, "All that trapped up heat pushes a rotor back and forth. That rotor is hooked up to the wheels, and makes them spin. It's a lot like a locomotive, except with petroleum instead of coal."

"What the hell's patch-rolay-um, Calvin?"

"It's oil."

"Why couldn't you just say 'oil' then?" Randy pressed for more, "An' hell, you expect me to believe they ride down the road onnat thing with a fire burnin' in it? You been readin' too many of your books, Calvin."

I left them to their gawking and entered the hotel to meet this mysterious stranger who rolled into town with a automobile. Inside the browned-out light gave way to sunspots in my eyes. Rebecca took note of my presence with a jolly change of tone from her previous conversation. She introduced me to the man with the automobile.

"...and this here's Freddie Calvin, Mister. He's our schoolteacher. A real smart feller." She pointed me out amongst the furniture in the room. The man turned slowly to me. He was an older gentleman, dressed in a white three-peice suit, complete with a silver-chained pocket watch and a simple grey tie which had wondered slightly to the left. He smiled at me from behind his massive walrus-esque mustache with tobacco-yellowed teeth clenched tight around a thick cigar.

"A pleasure to meet you, Mister Calvin! My name is Dalton; yes, George Dalton. Charmed, I'm sure!" He bellowed out in a deep tone. He spoke with the Queen's English, something you rarely heard out in these areas. "I've been quite interested in meeting an educated man out in these wastes, wot. It's good to finally see someone with a well-developed head."

"Well, It's not so developed," I jested, "I just can't get it to ferment."

There were a few seconds of silence. Rebecca giggled a little, but the joke seemed to slip past the motorist. After a moment, Rebecca decided to save me and break the silence.

"Mister Dalton was just tellin' me about that fancy sidearm of his. I think maybe that's more up your alley, Calvin. He says he can load it in a second, and it keeps right on shootin' without any fancy thumbwork 'er nothin'."

On que, George unholstered the monstrosity on his hip and hefted it into the light. It was truly a strange looking tool. The barrel was long and thin, almost pointed, and there were no cylinders in sight. The handle was boxy, yet ornately engraved. There was some writing on it I couldn't make out, but I was certain it was not an American weapon. I would later learn that it was a Bordhart or something in make, and it was as old as 1893. It seemed so new for a weapon made when I was still a child.

"Looks very interesting, Mister Dalton." I murmured. It didn't really look all that interesting. Really, it looked fragile. Outside, I heard some laughter from some of the men on the porch. I went on, "You'll have to excuse the men, Mister Dalton. They've never seen an automobile before. I must admit, I haven't seen one myself, only read about them."

"Not at all, I'm sure!" George bellowed, "Why, living out here, one doesn't get many chances to see new things! It's the very reason I came out this far... I long for freedom, and peaceful surroundings away from the smoky factories out east, my friend."

Ah yes, the factories. I remembered a trip to Boston as a child, when they were building the first factories. They were going to change the way America worked. Just like the railroads changed the way America traveled. Call me old-fashioned, but I've never been much of a fan of the newer workings in our world. Not that there's anything wrong with the developments themselves; no they're all wonderful. Flying machines, assembly lines, automobiles. All wonderful. The thing I worry about is the people using them.

We just got sorted out here. We had our war, we had our drought. We were putting things back together. People were just then becoming less stupid. Now, they weren't too stupid to keep their guns holstered in a bar fight. No one formed a posse over a man kissing a black woman anymore. Things were just settling down and getting peaceful, and someone has to come along and change the way we work, change the way we travel, make guns easier to use. Make it easier to kill a man. We weren't ready for that out here just yet.

Still, I had a feeling that George Dalton was the first of many. He and his motor-car were here to stay for the time-being, and in no time, I was certain there'd be other George Daltons buying land in the town and building houses out of mortar and lime.

It seems so very strange to think that one man could symbolize so much to me. I hardly had time to think about it before I heard the shots. Once I realized what was happening, the look on George Dalton's face was the most satisfaction I'd had in several months. Outside, the car had backfired, and the frightened men on the porch were firing back and filling the car with enough lead to make a set of weights.

Maybe it wasn't the end of the world, yet.


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