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 Find, TP
- Seanchai WestWorld on the web
- 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.
- "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 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
Click image to enlarge
- Avatars and western clothing
- Western things on Kitely Market
- "Find the leading character in your story," the lady sheriff ordered.
- So I did that.
- "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.
- 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.
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.
- 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 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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Visit me on the web
- Drop by my web offices Weekdays: 12:-12:30 Central time (US)
- Cybalounge and 3DWebWorldz (Orientation room)
- I will be in both places, so you may need to speak to get my attention.
- Web-worlds, 3D virtual worlds running in a browser. Summary
- And we can visit the Writer's Workshop on the Web
- Don't register -- enter as guest.