Sometimes I think about how I’ve never really written a story. It’s something I’m almost afraid of doing. What does interest me, though, is the idea of writing a tiny little story about a character. This would be a character I know from a previous lifetime I think. This would be from another lifetime where I was a writer and this would be a continuation of the story I had started then. Figuring that as a writer in that lifetime I had already spent the time growing my character. I had watched that individual come to life and begin to speak. I had grown with that character and seen how they acted in the world, how they reacted to harsh situations, how they softened and loved. All the hard work, I would imagine, was done. Now, all I have to do in this lifetime is to tell a part of their story. Or, actually, allow them to tell their own story.
This is sort of weird.
Well, no I guess it isn’t. I’m a channel. Secretary to Spirit. No reason why a character can’t also speak through me.
Okay, I’m ready.
You’re a man.
I’m glad you noticed.
I’m upset about this.
I was expecting a woman. I can’t write about men things.
I don’t see why not. Actually, I’m telling the story. You’re just recording things.
Well, yes, according to the rules.
And, you made the rules, didn’t you?
Yes. I’m not sure about this.
I know you are afraid.
Thanks. Like I really need you to see me in all my fine cowardly ways.
Hey, nobody’s perfect.
Okay. We can do an experiment. You can talk for half a page. How’s that?
Well, it’s better than nothing.
Just like a man.
I should take offense at that, but look at what I’ve got to work with. You’re frowning again.
You’re one of those heroes aren’t you.
You’re not describing what I just did.
A squinty thing with your eyes.
I’d describe it a bit differently.
He cocked his eyebrow at her.
Oh. Yeah, that’s better.
I’m brown. No.no.no. I’m swarthy, tan like a cowboy. I’ve been out in the weather for a long time. Riding trains back and forth across the prairies. I’m a cattle buyer. I go to where the cattle are, make arrangements for the Chicago Meat Packing Plant to purchase the cows and then move on.
Is this real?
If you’d quit interrupting we can go somewhere with this.
I’m not sure that’s how cattle buying goes.
That’s your problem. You’re afraid to make a mistake. Just pretend. It doesn’t matter. Just allow the words to roll out.
Okay. So, you’re a cattle buyer. Must be in the Wild West.
Well, it was starting to settle down by then. It was after the Civil War was over. Only that war kept going on for a good generation. Bad feelings on both sides. It took a long time to wind down. Anyway, the story opens in 1880. That’s where I am now. I caught the tail end of the Civil War. Just like you caught the tail end of World War II.
Can I ask what your name is?
Oh, come on.
What’s the problem? Seth was a popular name in those times.
Yeah, and it’s also the name of my guide. This is you.
Well, yes, but I’m fully capable of helping you with this particular exercise. Do you mind?
I thought I was talking to a character I’d already written about.
Well, so I lied. Does this mean you want to stop?
No. Go on with your story.
Petulant are you?
No. Just getting tired. I don’t have the stamina for this anymore.
Well, it doesn’t matter. Just relax and let the story unfold.
In the beginning I was able to ride the rails with impunity. I had the job of buying cattle for my company. The people moving west were hungry and feeding them was what we did best. No more buffalo. Antelope were scarce so the raising of cattle was what drove the wave of immigration west on it’s belly.
I wasn’t married. What wife would have a man who traveled as I did? I wasn’t sure I wanted to marry anyway. Though I’d saved money and could afford my own place I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I wasn’t suited to farming. And buying cattle was nothing like raising them, so a cattle ranch was out of the question.
I had no trade like making shoes or black smithing. I was a city boy who’d gotten a job as a traveling salesman. I kept in touch with my family by writing infrequently. They would send letters to me care of general delivery at different cities along my way. They knew, for instance, that eventually I would be back in Chicago and so, when I did arrive in town I’d stop by the post office and pick up a bunch of letters sent in. Mostly it was my mother who wrote to me, though occasionally my pa would write. He was a preacher. I suppose I could have turned my hand at preachering but my heart wasn’t really in it. The war and all. It made people question their faith.
So, although my life seemed lonely it wasn’t really. In all the towns I went through there was always a restaurant or a saloon. I wasn’t a very big drinking man, but I did enjoy company occasionally. The only ones you wanted to watch out for were the cow pokes with their wages burning a hole in their pockets. They tended to drink too much and create an unholy ruckus what with wanting to get laid and accusing each other of cheating at cards when their luck didn’t hold out so good. But, I knew when to make myself scarce from those situations so that I didn’t run into trouble too often.
Once, though, I did have a spot of trouble with as ill tempered a man as you could imagine. His name was Bradley Burns. Son of a bitch was the owner of the local land office and he was a slimy sort of fellow. He used to salt mines and then sell the claims for really high prices.
Anyway, I'm not proud of it but it was good ole Bradley Burns who gave me the idea of a job I could do. That's when I turned to robbing banks. I rode the trains back and forth across the land.
And, that's enough for tonight.
Hey, thanks. That was sort of fun.