Friday, May 24, 2019

2019 #VWEDU: WRITE: Seanchai WestWorld: a place for storytellers. Can I find a story here?

Seanchai WestWorld: 
a place for storytellers
Can I find a story here? 

An illustration of how to turn a place into a story.  Here the place is a small town in the west.  The story ideas come from things found on the town's main street.
A small town in the west 

  • Go there: Hypergrid address:
  • Put the HG address in the Find bar of the world map, click FindTP
  • Seanchai WestWorld on the web


 Story circle
  • Can we find a story here?
A small town in the west 
The other side of the street
  • We can start down the street and see what we find.
The gallows
  • "If that gallows could talk," I said to no one in particular--because no one in particular was around.
  • "Well, it can, you know,"  a female voice responded from the gallows.  
  • A female figure emerged from the shadows.  Female because of obvious breasts.
  • But otherwise built like a truck-driver.  Hair cut short. 
  • A star on the left breast.A six-gun on her hip.  Nothing feminine in her steely gaze.
  • "You're the.. the sheriff here?" I stammered.
  • "You got it.  That's pretty sharp.   You're not from around here, I guess."
  • I started to explain and realized I couldn't.  
  • "I am a kind of traveler," I explained, lamely.  "And I am glad to meet a lady sheriff."
  • "Don't get confused," she warned.  "I'm the sheriff.  The lady part is optional.  My option"
  • That left me speechless, an embarrassing state for a writer.
  • "You wanted the gallows to talk," she prompted me pleasantly, walking towards the undertaker place next door. 
 The undertaker
  • The lady sheriff stopped on the porch of the undertaker place. 
  • "This place could tell stories too.  Some of them come over from the gallows.  Good placement, that--almost one-shop stopping."
  • "Can this place tell stories, too," I asked cautiously.
  • "Sure," the lady explained patiently, " Every place has its stories.  But you won't hear them till you learn how."    
  • "Do you have time to tell me one of the stories," I asked plaintively.
  • "Sure I have time.  Right now, you're the only action in town.  But I don't tell stories. You're a writer.  You need to be able to find your own stories."
  • "How did you know that I'm a writer?" I asked in surprise.
  • "Two kinds of people, readers and writers.  Writers look for stories.  Until they know how to find them. What is the most unusual thing that happened on that gallows?"  
  • "How would I know?  I just got here."  She gave me that steely gaze again.  "Oh, I see.  The time the gallows broke at a hanging.  And the time they were going to hang a woman."
  • She smiled!  Yes, a smile at me!  "You did that well, my young writer.  Now shut up and think of three questions about those events.   No, don't ask.  Think."
  • She turned and strode firmly over to the Mercantile Store.
The Mercantile Store
  • In front of the Mercantile store, she pointed to the door.  "Here the stories are inside."  
In the Mercantile
Click image to enlarge
 Saloon Girl
  • "The Saloon Girl," I announced firmly.  "Young Maude.  Her mother, Big Maude runs the saloon."  I suddenly felt that I had taken control of the story.
  • "Not Old Maude?" the sheriff asked.
  • "Definitely not Old Maude.  Al least not in front of her.  And she didn't look old.  Bit she did look big.  Not fat.  More that six feet tall."
  • "Very good,"  the sheriff observed. "Now what was the first of the three questions you had."
  • I had almost forgotten.  But not quite: "What crime did she commit that got her such drastic punishment?"
  • "Do you know the answer yet?"
  • "I think so," I responded with growing confidence.  "But let's go to the Saloon and see what story it tells."
  • "This way." The lady sheriff started rapidly toward the Saloon. 
The saloon
  • No one here now.   But my imagination conjured up a rowdy crowd.  All men except for Young Maude, serving at the bar.  Young.  How would a young girl handle a rowdy crowd of young men? 
  • Big Maud was as tough as a trail boss.  Nobody would try to get into her pants.  Lots had already been there.  But Young Maude--that was a different story.
  • A different story. Maybe a story I wanted to tell.
Inside the saloon
  • Young cowhands.  Sure they wanted beer.  You know what else they wanted.
  • Not a problem when Big Maude was around. 
  • Big Maude was bigger than most of those Cowhands.  And a better shot.
  • A better shot than any of those cowhands, even when they were sober.
  • There was one that found out the hard way.  Started to draw on her. 
  • She could have killed him--that was the law of the west.  
  • He was armed and drawing.  It would have been self-defense. 
  • But she just took off most of his hand and a chunk of his hip.  
  • He left town as soon as he was able. 
  • A lost gunfight to a lady was a hard rep to live with
  • Big Maude was most always there when the saloon was open.  
  • So were the ranchers and ranch bosses.  They wanted beer--and whiskey, too.
  • And they wanted--no, demanded--good behavior from their young cowhands.
  • Of course there were the ladies of the evening.  No need to explain what they wanted.
  • Who was not there?  The wives of the ranchers and bosses.  
  • Those wives don't figure in the story--yet.
The bar 
where Young Maude worked
  • Young Maude did not wear "revealing" clothing.  Here mother saw to that.
  • Young Maude did not flirt with the young cowhands.  
  • Young Maude made it clear that she was not available.
  • Even the three Wize brothers knew that, though they knew few other limits.  
  • The young cowhands knew she was not theirs for the taking.
  •  As long as Big Maude was in the Saloon.
  • But one afternoon, Big Maude was at the doctor's office.
  • And the ranchers and ranch bosses had not come in yet.
  • And only a few cowhands were there.
  • And the three Wize boys were loosening up with whiskey chased with a beer.
The rules of the bar
  • The Wize boys started with teasing Young Maude.  
  • Was she still a virgin?  Didn't she want to cure that?  Was she maybe a lesbian? 
  • They offered to cure her sex hangups.  She handled it pretty well till..
  • Till they stood up, all three, and came at her at the bar.  
  • Three shots.  That's all it took.  Well, there were only three of them, weren't there?
  • Three holes, neatly between three pairs of eyes.  Dropped them where they were.  
  • Young Maude was as good with a gun as her mother. Big Maude made sure of that.
  • You would think it was clearly self-defense.  But there was a problem. 
  • The Wize boys were unarmed.  Their guns were stowed away under the bar.  
  • But three big men coming after her.  That's got to count for something.
  • Sure it would count for something.  But not for killing them.  
  • Those neat holes witnessed against her.  She aimed to kill those three boys. 
  • The ranchers all had the answer.  The Fool-killer at work. 
  • But the law had to work out its answer.  It charged Young Maude with murder.
The jail
  • No, the jail does not figure into this story.  Big Maude was a Deputy Sheriff.
  • They released Young Maude to the custody of the Deputy Sheriff.  
  • The trial had to wait till the circuit judge came to town.
  • Everybody (In the saloon crowed) thought she would get off on self-defense.  
  • -
  • As the story ran though my head, I told it to the lady sheriff.  
  • She said nothing, but nodded approval.  Here she interrupted me.
  • "What was the second of those questions I asked you to think up?"
  • I was ready for her.  "Why would a woman get the maximum sentence?"
  • "And you know the answer," the Sheriff  commented.
  • "I do, indeed," I responded smugly. "But let's get to the trial."
  • -
  • The trial was held in the Grand Hotel, the most elegant place in town.
  • That's where the Circuit Judge was staying. And also the news reporters.
  • Yes.  News reporters here in this little town.  
  • Probably the first time they heard of the place.  But a woman tried for murder...
  • An attractive young woman.  Most men stopped there and declared her innocent.
  • She killed three men.  The ladies of the evening sympathized.  
  • She worked in a saloon. For the ladies of Sunday morning, that proved her guilt.
  • The trial was held in the Grande Hotel
The Grand Hotel
  • The trial judge stayed at the Grand Hotel.   So did the reporters.
  • The only place in town big enough for such a trial was the lobby of the Grand Hotel.
The lobby of the Grand Hotel
  • They first had to form a jury of her peers--from the list of registered voters.
  • They didn't have much experience trying women around here. 
  • But they were sure that a woman's peers would be female. 
  • But not the ladies of the evening.  They were not registered voters.
  • All the ladies of Sunday morning were registered voters.  
  • And they would never shirk their jury duty. 
  • Especially not when they would pass judgement on a saloon girl.
  • The jury was not all female.  They had one man.  The local preacher.  
  • No one on the jury had formed an opinion on the case.  
  • The circuit judge asked each juror about that.  Each swore they had not.
  • But they really knew Young Maude was guilty.   She worked in the saloon.
This counter served 
as the judge's bench
  • No need to go into the trial.  Young Maude was guilty as sin.  
  • The jury voted to hang her.  
  • Justice moved fast in those days, what with the circuit judge already in town.
  • The hanging was scheduled for the next day.  
 The gallows 
  • The hanging was on Thursday morning, but the ladies of Sunday morning were there.
  • And so were the ladies of the evening.  And everyone else in town.  
  • But the ladies of Sunday morning were right up front.
  • along with the news reporters, there to cover the trial and the hanging.
  • The preacher was there to comfort Young Maude in her last hours.
  • Yes, the preacher that voted yesterday to hang her.
  • The Sheriff and the Deputy were there to test the gallows.  
  • They put the sandbags on the trapdoor, pulled the lever, and watched the bags tumble through the trapdoor.
  • The reset the trapdoor and the gallows was ready for the hanging.  
  • By local custom the sheriff picked a man from the crowd to pull the lever.
  • For this hanging, the sheriff picked the local preacher.  
  • The local preacher agreed no trace of reluctance.  
  • With all the preparations in place, Young Maude was ceremoniously brought forth.
  • Hooded, of course, because no one would want to look her in the eyes.  
  • The Sheriff led her gently up the steps and onto the trap door.
  • The Sheriff dropped the noose loosely over her head and placed the hangman's knot just under the left ear.
  • The Sheriff whispered to Young Maude, who stood there erect, awaiting her fate.
  • The Sheriff signaled to the local preacher at the lever.  
  • The local preacher eagerly pulled the lever. 
  • The trapdoor support fell away just as it was supposed to.  
  • The trapdoor stayed where it was.
  • The crowd gasped.  Several of the Sunday morning ladies fingered the crosses on their breasts.  
  • The local preacher said, "I'll be God-damned."  
  • Some newsmen rushed off to the telegraph office 
  • The Sheriff turned to the Circuit Judge. "Does double jeopardy apply here?"
  • "It might," said the Circuit Judge carefully.   "Best you suspend the execution or somebody might face a murder charge." 
  • To the sound of a great gasp from the audience, the local preacher rushed away from the lever. 
  •  "Execution suspended!" the Sheriff shouted with authority in his voice.  "Everybody go home."  
  • The sheriff removed the execution hood from Young Maude and led her away.
  • In his rush to get of the gallows platform, the local preacher stepped on the trapdoor and joined the sandbags under the platform with the exclamation, "Son of a bitch."
  • His fall showed that the trapdoor did work and gave the ladies of Sunday morning much to talk about.  
  • The remaining newsmen rushed off to the telegraph office.  
  • "You had three questions." the lady sheriff said with a hint of approval.  "You've already told the first two.  I think you just told the third one."
  • "I mentioned the two unusual things.  The time the gallows broke and the time they hanged a woman.  My third question asked if those things happened together."  
  • "You heard a story from this place,' the lady sheriff remarked with approval.  "Can you hear the end?"
  • The story hit the papers the next day.  The ladies of Sunday morning were divided.  
  • Some thought it was an act of God.  Others thought it was an act of the devil.  
  • The other crowd, the ones who slept on Sunday morning, held that one try was enough.
  • The courts were not sure whether double jeopardy applied. 
  • The governor, seeing his chance to act decisively, granted Young Maude a full pardon.
  • The lady sheriff was beaming.  "I like that story. What do you think--was it an act of God?"
  • "No.  I think it was an act of Big Maude. But I am still working on how she did it. It worked on the test and it worked for the local preacher.  Why didn't it work when Young Maude was on it?"
  • The Lady sheriff smiled pleasantly.  "What do you think that preacher weighed?"
  •  "Three hundred pounds, at least, I answered.  He hadn't done a lick of work since he got religion.   Come to think of it, those sandbags weighed close to that.  And Young Maude weighed just a hundred and eighteen pounds."
  • The lady sheriff saluted me. "If you have any more questions, you can answer them yourself." 
  • And with that, she vanished.      

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