It was hard to remember how many times he'd sat in front of a campfire on a night like this. So difficult that he really didn't want to spend the energy on thinking about it. Dark, moonless, with the wind a fortuneteller of a weather change. On a night like this even a grown and mostly sane man like Elmer would start to wonder what's really behind those shadows that came with every flicker of the windblown flames. Elmer was a type of newspaper man known as a stringer. Stringers didn’t have a regular job with one paper but covered for whatever paper had a need at the time. The two papers he contributed to mostly were The Daily Tribune and The National Register. Elmer enjoyed the freedom that his position gave him, and having spent time in the Signal Corps in the first great war, photography and writing fit right in with his ability to meet deadlines and his eye for detail.
Elmer also loved words, especially tow syllable ones like shotgun, typewriter, or saddlebag, and in both his paid and personal life he tried to give preference to those over other ones. Night falls, we say but actually it rises up like some dark fist that extends its fingers before it clutches us from the warm daylight. For some it brings with it fear, and for others, relief. It is that time of the day when our bodies relax and our minds take uncertain twists and turns. Fear is what had brought him here. Not a fear of the usual variety, but more like the kind that could shut him down or it could wake him up, cut either way it doesn’t like to leave on it’s own. It’s a lot like finishing that cup of coffee and before you pour the next refill you notice coffee grounds in the bottom of the cup. The first thing you do is try and knock out the loose grounds and when that doesn’t do the job you give it a good rinse, and right now he was in the rinse cycle. Sometimes fear works hand in hand with imagination and comes at you like a sucker punch, other times it hits like a knuckle buster. As weary as his body was and as tired as his mind felt, night had come more like a one two punch.
The darkness and the feverish flames fueled his imagination that powered the transmission of fear in his gut. First gear is named anxiety, second foreboding, third distress, and fourth gear was terror. He didn’t even want to think about fifth gear which labeled despair. He had to find out how to shift the mixing machine into reverse before it turned into a conveyor belt complete with an assembly line of cold rocks , hot sweat, pounding heart, dry mouth, and gonging in the ears like that of a funeral bell that announced your real fear was that of failing.
A low branch of the sycamore scratched at the dirt as the wind kicked up again and his mare snickered from a few feet away. So much for rest and quiet in the nowhere. The mare had been with him a long time and with her slowing going lame he allowed her snickers not to bother him, after all he had his eye set on an almost new 1920 Locomobile that would be his future mode of transportation.
Elmer shifted back against the hard trunk of the tree to try and settle in a little better and contemplated about what had transpired today. He had stopped at a place called Moonshine Holler at The Keg and Ladder Tavern near to rest his horse and himself. On his way up the steps to the entrance of the Tavern to visit his long time friend Rebecca, he had spotted what appeared to be a half naked man sitting in the far corner of the porch. Walking closer he noticed that the man looked like a Chinese Sumo wrestler who had removed his shirt in an attempt to cool off from the heat. With some trepidation he stepped closer to offer assistance is so needed. The man’s belly ebbed and flowed like a tub of tallow wanting to work its way over the dam of his belt line, and his bellybutton was the size of an extra large over easy sunny side egg. The man reached out one arm on the end of which he held a piece of paper in his hand. Elmer took the paper and unfolded it and looked it over. Someone had written three words on it. Lin no hear. Lin he figured was the man’s name, "no hear" could mean that the man was deaf, or possibly could not speak. To be on the safe side Elmer didn’t ask any questions but pressed a nickel into the giant’s palm. The man grunted in what came across as a gesture of thanks. Elmer contemplate teaching the foreigner how to communicate by using hand signals, but then he would have to decide whether they should be in Chinese or English and he just didn’t want to fool with that problem right then.
Miles and hours after leaving Moonshine Hollow, Elmer shifted his weight against the trunk of a locust tree , looked over the notes of this incident along with his other daily writings, checked his checklist, cleaned the lenses of his two Kodak cameras ,and thought about reason number two why he was here. His job of course was the main one. He had received a telegram from his Editor at The National Register to proceed to a place called Rocky Hill that had just burnt to the ground.
The other reason was a woman. In realty, it was two other reasons, a woman and a flower.
Evelyn wasn’t just any woman, the thoughts of her stuck to him like a hair sticks to a biscuit. She was built like a brick outhouse, had an even tempered disposition and her name even fit into Elmer’s idea of a good two syllable word. Eve, of course was from way back and he had traded dispatches with a chap from the Australian army by the name of Lyn when they were spearheading the push against the army of the Kaiser in Belgium. Elmer knew that Evelyn loved him with all of her heart, but she also loved gardening. Even with her prize winning roses being the envy of Rock County, her ultimate gardening wish was to have a blue rose. The way Evelyn explained to him was that a blue rose was every gardeners dream but to find one would be like trying to catch the wind or harness a butterfly.
|Possibly a blue rose|
Eve and Copper
(Eve is Evelyn's granddaughter)