Crocus: The Letter
In this here town there’s never any point to looking down when you walk. There’s just too much and filth to see. I’ve been here going on two years now and I’m still not used to it: the mix of mud and oil that seeps through the wooden slats when you walk, that seeps into everything. But, even though it’s dirty and rough, I love it here. I love the rawness of it.
I grew up just a few miles away in Franklin. Franklin ain’t a bad place. It’s a solid town. I wrote for the paper there before I came here. It was a good job. But there wasn’t much to write about. An occasional shooting, or drowning in the river, but most seasons there was a drought for was a drought. The town sat on the edge of the river like a good citizen and continued to document it’s good marks. That’s until I heard about Pithole. How it just sprang up out of the field after Frazier and Faulkner wandered up started bobcatting and then pulled a well that produced over 250 gallons in the first week. When I heard word of that, I was on the first coach up. Ain’t nothing but stories gonna come out of a place like that!
But yesterday, after I left Wiggin’s restaurant, I was looking down. I can’t remember why. I must have been day dreaming about a story I aim to write, and that’s when I saw it. A white, folded letter come floating down like a god-damned butterfly. I reached my arm out and caught it, all the time thinking, what in all hell is this this? Some fool tossing their garbage from the rooftops now? There was something about the paper though that made me want to grab it. I can’t tell you what it was. But the part of me that is always hungry for a story pushed itself to the front of my skull, the way it does when I’m on to a good lead. So, I grabbed it, stuffed it into my pocket and kept walking.
When I got to my place, I opened the door, and sat down before I pulled it out and realized it was an oddly fashioned letter. Looked like someone used an old bank registry to write it on. Why would anyone toss a letter into the street? That’s when I read it.
The sense of it slapped me in the face. A young girl tricked and then forced into whoring? I grabbed my coat, and headed out the door, walked straight to the post office, and put those words in the mail. Then, I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to figure what the hell is going on is this town. By evening, I had a few leads. People were talking about French Kate and how she and Ben were hard up for girls. Could they really have gone that far?
When I lay down on my bed my body was tense with curiosity. Where was this girl exactly? And how could I help her? Then sleep came washing slow and dark. I dream of the yawning hole this town is named after: dark opening in the earth, the smell of sulfur, the blur of heat and smoke. When I awoke I was still restless, but I knew exactly what I needed to do.