Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Theme week 5 (2nd)

Joe and Henry landed in town in the 1930s, from somewhere in Massachusetts, so they said. People had no reason to disbelieve them. Everybody liked Joe. He was Portuguese, a big guy..maybe 300 pounds, but soft spoken, and honest. If you asked a direct question, he wouldn’t lie to you. He always wore his wool lumberjack shirt and pants in red plaid. He claimed it kept out the hot in summer as well as the cold in winter. Joe trapped some, tried his hand at logging, and built a camp with Henry on Ebeeme Pond. Their first winter there, Henry shot a moose and the wardens nailed ‘em. They spent that winter in the county jail. After they did their time, they were back at camp where Henry had been doing some bootlegging. Not the first in the area, but he was after all a stranger. One afternoon when Joe was cooking a mulligan stew, a boat load of the local gendarmes showed up. Joe invited them in for some dinner.
They had their fill of stew, and conversation, and as they were leaving, the leader gave a stretch and said, “Well boys, seeing as how we’re here anyways, we might as well take a look around. You don’t mind do ya, Joe?”
Joe said it was ok by him, so they went outside the camp and proceeded to have a look around. Pretty soon the leader brushed away some leaves which revealed a trap door. When he opened it up, it was filled with bottles of liquor. From the look on Joe’s face, they knew it was a surprise to him, but he picked up his jacket anyway, and said ,”O.K...Let’s go.”
They said they weren’t interested in him this time, so he could just go on back to work and they’d leave him alone. About this time, Joe was working on the extra gang with the railroad at Bodfish, near the foot of Borestone Mountain. He was a cracker jack mechanic, and fixed the motors on the motor cars. One day when the time keeper was at the shack by himself, a big white Cadillac pulled up into the yard. Two men in suits came in asking for Joe Silva. The timekeeper said he was not very well acquainted with the men there yet, and he wasn’t familiar with that name. As soon as they left, he high tailed it up the tracks to the rock cut where Joe was working. He told Joe what had happened and Joe thanked him. The next day they came back and Joe spent the better part of the afternoon in that white Cadillac, talking to the men.
Not long after that visit, Joe disappeared, without a trace. For weeks, everyone asked where Joe was. No one seemed to know for sure, but Doc and Fr. Daily, his two best friends, were not as convincing in their denials. Speculation was that he’d been in the witness protection program, and given a new identity. A guy who weighs 300 pounds, doesn’t just disappear, but no one in these parts ever laid eyes on him again.


Blogger johngoldfine said...

Well, there! That's a story, told with a voice and tone (though no identified narrator). Is it fact, fiction, something inbetween? It has the sound of an old Maine tale, handed down and handed on, but because there's no narrator, no frame, it's hard to know what we've got. I read a book called 'Warden's Worry' by Randall Probert full of similar mini-tales about old Maine.

And what happened to poor Henry? And who are these new characters dragged in at the very end?

And which half works better--the poaching/bootleg half or the railroad half?

2:17 PM  
Blogger marciamellow said...

The story is true. (according to the Dad) and he has an uncanny memory for details from years past. As for Henry.. the old "if you can't say something nice.." Henry was not well liked, unlike Joe.. The doc and the priest(real people as well) didn't really play into the railroad/stolen car ring witness?/ thing. Doc ended up with the camp after Joe vanished.

3:21 PM  
Blogger johngoldfine said...

Again, I've been reading a book called '9 Mile Bridge--Three Years in the Maine Woods' about a woman who lived there in the late thirties, and it's full of tales.

So, you have a story with loose threads, as any truth will have. Your job as writer is to deal with them by either acknowledging them somehow or by snipping them off. What the writer wants desperately to avoid is the reader wandering away, outside the writer's control, saying, "Well, what about this, I didn't get that."

By acknowledging, the first thing that comes to mind is a narrator who says something like 'this is my dad's story and he's known for leaving nothing out, no matter how strange.'

By snipping, I mean something like conflating Joe and Henry (dropping Henry) and beefing up or dropping the minor characters, at least by name.

Anyway, these are comments not commands to rewrite.

6:28 AM  

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