At the beginning of this month, I decided to state publicly that I was going to post something every day for the month. I created an obligation for myself. Unfortunately, today was a complete nothing of a day. I’ve been racking my brains all day trying to think of something to write about and I’ve come up blank. For the last forty-five minutes, I’ve been sitting at the computer looking at a blank screen. Now I only have half an hour left to come up with something.
It’s times like these when I wish writing were more interactive. If someone could give me a prompt, I’m sure I could do something with it. With that in mind, I thought I’d share a story I wrote for a contest. The gimmick of the contest is that they give you a genre, a setting and an object. In this case, I got historical fiction, a seized piece of land and a rope. None of those are things that I would ever choose to write about. I’m not interested enough or good enough at research to do the genre any justice. A seized piece of land is just a bizarre setting. A rope is fine, I guess. But I had the prompt so I wrote something. I wasn’t at all thrilled with it, but it placed me in the top three of my group and I got to move on to the next round. It must have been a weak group. Don’t judge me too harshly. I’ll really try to come up with something for tomorrow. So here goes:
“What do ya think yer doin’?” asked the man on horseback.
The man tied to the railroad track answered, “I’m minding my business and I’d appreciate it if you minded yours.”
“I’m afraid this is my business. I’m inspectin’ the rails. Gotta make sure everythin’s ready fer the ceremony in two weeks.”
“Ceremony? I guess we’re at cross purposes. I’m stopping the ceremony.”
“How you reckon you’re gonna do that?
“That’s why I tied myself to these tracks. They’re not going to kill a man just for a train.”
“They might. Besides why can’t we just untie you?”
“Even if you do, I’m not moving.”
“Well, untie and carry you away, then. And you’re gonna be dead before the ceremony if I don’t clear you out.”
“You’re going to kill me?”
“Course not. You got two weeks. You’ll die of thirst and hunger before anyone comes past here. That last spike’s goin’ in whether you like it or not.”
The man got down from his horse. He knelt next to the other man. “You did a pretty nice job on the ropes. Did someone help?”
“I did it myself.”
“Least ya can be proud of that.” He reached toward the knot, but the other man swatted at his hands. “Now mister, I’m tryin’ to help ya. Trust me, ya don’t wanna die out here for nothin’. You got a name?”
“I’m Larry. Now look, William, why you wanna stop the Pacific Railroad anyways?”
“Because this is my land. They took it from me. It’s not fair.”
“Well, that ain’t right. This is the government’s land. They got it with a treaty with the Indians. Why you think it’s yours?”
“Because it is mine. I have been living here for thirty odd years.”
“So, yer mad at the government fer takin’ somethin’ from you that you stole from the Indians?”
“I didn’t steal from anyone. When I got here, there was no one around. I built my cabin myself. I lived here peacefully for thirty years.”
“That don’t mean it wasn’t theirs. Now they given it to the US government and the government built a railroad on it. You best come with me now. You got no claim.”
“But it is my land!”
“It’s not, but if ya think it is, hire a lawyer. Don’ kill yourself.”
“I would rather die than see this railroad completed.”
“Look, it’s my job to make sure this track is clear and I’m gonna do it. If you won’t come willingly, I’m gonna take you.”
Larry stood and went to his horse. He took more rope from the saddle pack. William tried to resist, but he was already tied down, so Larry bound his hands in short order. Then Larry untied William’s rope and hauled William to his feet.
“Now, you gonna walk or do I have to tie you to my horse?”
“I’ll walk, but I shall come right back here once you have gone.”
“Then I guess I better tie you to the horse,” he used William’s rope to do so. “You gonna sit in a cell fer the next two weeks. The ceremony’s happenin’, but at least you won’t be dead. Then you can go wherever you want.”
William sputtered in protest, but Larry ignored him. He got in the saddle and slowly led William back to town.