Jeff Nelson had his work cut out for him on Christmas Eve as the Odd Fellows, once again, gave back to the community by hosting their annual Toy Give away. He and his lovely daughter were dressed as elves while Santa Claus occupied his opulent and gilded throne. Sitting on a little ottoman next to Santa was his special little helper, Chubby, the little black terrier. Chubby had his well chewed plastic banana nestled in his paws as he sat there … just sitting there in his little red veloure coat lined with white trim and a little matching hat which jingled every time he looked up at his master.
A blond boy about 10 years old sat on Santa’s lap, his mother and father looking on. His mom was smiling. His father had a forced smile trying to mask his somber mood. After all, he lost a good job two weeks ago when the Dana Textile Mill, where he was a foreman, suspiciously burned to the ground. The company was flourishing and would rebuild. But, for now, he was taking home about 60% of his salary. In the interim, that left him to make decisions we all make when our bills exceed what we earn, such as buying Christmas gifts for your children or buying food.
He broke into a broad smile as Santa asked his little boy if he would do him a favor.Santa reached into his bag and pulled up a yellowish brown speckled banana and handed it to the child.
Go, ahead, give it to him. He doesn’t bite.”
The boy looked at his beaming father, who nodded his approval. Chubby smelled the treat and perked up. He was excitedly running in little circles on the ottoman with his closely cropped tail cutting through the air at supersonic speed. He even barked a few times. The child handed the banana to Chubby.
Coley Blackstone, in a remarkable Santa Claus voice, let out a hearty “HO, HO, HO!”
The little boy giggled as Chubby began to peel the banana and feast on the perfectly ripened fruit.
There are such idyllic and romantic times to be had at the Odd Fellows Hall in Muskrat Flats proper during the winter Holiday season. The Farm Museum is aglow for its nightly sleigh rides with white lights, lit torches, luminaria and of course the bon fire. Kurt Bartleby adds to the warmth as glowing orange sparks can be seen flying as he hammers away at the forge.
Downtown, as the afternoon sun disappears behind the trees along Petersen Street, all of the little shops are lit up. There is Sid and Iva’s Mercantile. Muskrat Flats Glassworks, where the flame workers can be seen through a large plate glass window spinning their glowing glass orbs on thin rods putting their hands dangerously close to the flame as they concentrate on keeping the centrifugal force and the rotation going - keeping their molten globs of super cooled liquid on axis.
Next door is Cassidy’s Art Supplies, and Mother Maybell’s Acoustic Instrument Emporium. The Artists’ at Link’s Tattoo shop are lounging and looking at flash, some are sketching as customers are mainly coming in to get gift certificates or to talk to Link, who always seemed to be missing. It is like a Norman Rockwell painting, of course if Rockwell did happen to use a tattoo studio as his subject for a Saturday Evening Post cover.
Perhaps it is this way in your hometown?
This holiday season, Muskrat Flats looks a little more like the fairy tale in which we would all like to live at least it does on the surface. Behind the scenes, for the few people in the know, there is a new chapter to be written in the history of Muskrat Flats. And once again, the person behind this most likely charade is the notorious founder of Muskrat Flats, the prankster, the Oddest of Fellows - Sheriff Coleman Hawthorne the III.
Jenny Smith was leaving her office, in the Railroad Station, at the Farm museum and heading out across the snow covered green toward the old Hotel. The hotel now functioned as a educational center where visiting schools groups would meet before exploring the museum. Tucked inside her bag was Sheriff Hawthorne’s leather bound writing tablet. She heard a chime from her bag. She reached in a looked at her phone. There was a message from her husband Jerry, who was attending an Organic Farming conference about 100 miles away in Chesterfield. The message read …
“What do you think of her?”
Jenny rolled her eyes, a bit, and opened the file.
She gazed down at a picture of a smiling brunette, smartly dressed in business attire, with short hair, and small breasts holding up a Cosmopolitan in an oversized Martini glass.
“Cute … are they using organic grapefruit juice in those Cosmos?” She responded.
She kept walking. Her phone chimed again.
“LOL … I think her name is Isabella”
Sveltie chuckled. And replied,
“I thought we had a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy when it came to situations like these?”
As she approached the hotel she made out the form of a shadowy figure lurking on the porch.
Her phone chimed once more.
“Sorry, I’m drunk 8-)” She stopped walking and replied.
While she was typing he chimed in again.
“She seems like your type. 8-)”
“No kidding, watch those cosmos, and b careful. I don’t need u waking up in a bathtub full of ice, missing a kidney, or ravaged by a vampire. She’s cute, just be careful. I’m going to meet Gomer ttyl.”
He replied immediately.
“Well, not really.”
“Enjoy your company … Bye love, call me in the morning. And don’t forget to tell her you’re married”
Sveltie began walking again. Someone is going to have some fun tonight, she thought, maybe Jerry will, too…
Gomer was standing on the porch of the Hotel. He was dressed in all black, His pony tail was braided and his facial hair had changed. His goatee was longer and thinner than Sveltie had remembered it. His hazel colored eyes were peering at her over his half moon readers. She said hi and hugged him closely. He felt her warmth momentarily chase away the nippy winter’s evening breeze. She unlocked the door to the hotel and they escaped the cold.
Gomer watched as Sveltie took off her coat. Even bundled up it was obvious her body was probably just as he had remembered it, when they used to play, so many years ago.
There was no real reason why they broke up, they just began to drift apart. They both left Muskrat Flats to attend college. She, in California at UC Davis, And him, in Massachusetts at Amherst College where he gained instant notoriety from both his musicianship, with his band Summa Cum Loudly. It didn’t hurt Gomer’s reputation as news quickly spread throughout the campus that he was Moe Eckstein’s son.
Sveltie turned on the lights. In her hand, she held a key.
“This is interesting, a secret room you say?” Gomer asked.
I figure it has to be either behind room number 8 or 10. It sounded like they had no windows in their room. Gomer shook off his cloak. Sveltie eyeballed him, she never realized that whole Goth look Gomer had kind of gave him Vampire-like characteristics, this caused a little excitement for her.
They went upstairs, it was dimly lit. Gomer and Sveltie strolled down the hall to where rooms 8 and 10 were located. Sveltie opened the rooms and they began to poke around. She began to make small talk.
“How are things going with you, the band?”
“The band has a break for about a month. Morbid Morty suggested we not take any gigs while the case with the Rabbi is still pending. Speaking of Rabbis, I’m going to Vegas next week, I wrote a pilot they are considering shooting for Showtime.”
“Are you Serious? That’s Great!” Sveltie said. Gomer smiled and nodded.
“Yeah, I’m pretty psyched. I mean it’s just a pilot, I hope it gets the nod to go ahead. I’m being considered for the lead character as well.” Sveltie was beaming.
“You’re serious aren’t you? I thought this was one of your jokes.” Gomer looked at her over his glasses and said,
“When you hear the premise you will think it’s one of my jokes but this is for real. … It’s about a Las Vegas Rabbi who is a funeral director. The show is going to be called … “Shiva Las Vegas.” Sveltie’s smiling face dissolved into one that displayed utmost skepticism.
“Gomer …..” she admonished.
“For real, no joke.” Realizing that he was telling the truth She finally allowed herself to laugh even though Sheriff Hawthorne’s Diary was burning a hole in her sack and she was consumed with the desire to continue reading it.
Ok, over here, the grate above the mantel piece … that must mean …” Gomer rushed out into the hall way. He went to the end of where the room would be. Running his hand along the wood behind a large oak trimmed full length mirror attached to the wall. He pulled and it swung outward revealing a door. Sveltie gasped and smiled. She placed the key in the lock and turned.
The door swung inward. Sveltie looked into the darkness with trepidation. Gomer decided it would be a good time to poke her in the ribs. She screamed and pulled away, then socked him in the arm as hard as she could.
“Ow! I guess I deserved that.”
Gomer produced a mini mag light and illuminated the room. It was dusty, and cobwebbed. Looking around he noted it was built for comfort. Along one wall was a painting of a Paris street scene, Montmatre with the unmistakable outline of the Basilica of the Sacre Couer. Next to the painting was a coat rack on which hung a holstered, loaded, six-shooter. Across from this was a small banquette table with two wooden chairs and a high backed leather upholstered easy chair.
On the table was a brass oil lamp, a couple of dusty tumblers on which sat a flat, ornately decorated perforated spoon, and a bottle which contained a greenish liquid. The label on the bottle depicted a leering Red Devil, pouring greenish liquid into a glass which he was stirring with his sharply pointed tail. Next to these items was a wooden box, which Sveltie opened. It looked like it contained crudely made lumps of brownish sugar. It was odd that all of these items had survived so many years. They were very obviously exactly where Sheriff Hawthorne has left them.
Gomer picked up the bottle. There was no writing, just the picture.
“If I had to guess, I would say this is Absinthe.” Sveltie looked around the room.
“How is it that we have never found this room before? The Sheriff was good at keeping his secrets when he was alive, wasn’t he.”
Gomer looked around the room, again. It was so eerie. He felt vibes in the room he could not explain. Sveltie felt the wick of the oil lamp and decided to light it. A warm glow permeated the room casting odd shadows into the corners. The flame leapt as the wick resumed the task it had not performed in decades causing more shadows to dance along the ceiling.
“I feel like he is here, Sveltie. I can’t really describe how I feel right now.” His heart was pumping. He looked at Jenny who had removed another layer of her clothing. She was dressed in a fuzzy purple wool sweater, probably made from alapaca. She had on a long black cotton skirt with black boots which cover her calves just below the knee. She pulled the diary out of her bag and handed it to Gomer.
“If he is here I want him to see what happens.” She said with a look in her eye that Gomer had not seen in years.
“Read.” She simply said. She dusted off a space on his chair and she dusted off the leather chair. She sat there watching him as he read for about 10 minutes, occasionally looking up at her. As she sat there eyeballing him she was rhythmically swaying her leg to and fro, watching Gomer squirm as his erection began to shift uncomfortably in his trousers as he read about Hawthorne spying on the two Vampires as they engaged in their erotic, blood soaked ritual. He was trying to discreetly reposition himself with no luck as Sveltie dropped to her knees and moved forward. Gomer watched her intently as a rush hit him. He began to shiver with anticipation. He managed to ask,
“What about Jerry?” Sveltie handed him her phone which was already cued up to her message inbox. He read through the messages as he felt his belt and pants being undone. He felt the warmth of her breath as she inhaled his aroma and flicked at him with her tongue.
Gomer chuckled, not only at his good fortune, but at what he just read on her phone.
“Missing a kidney in a bathtub full of ice, huh?”
“One of his kidneys is probably already on a plane to Hong Kong,” She said, as she slowly lowered her head causing Gomer to let out a sigh of ecstasy … sure that somewhere in that room, the eager eyes of Sheriff Hawthorne were riveted on the actions of his current guests.
As Idyllic a place as it is often purported to be, sometimes things get a little freaky down on the Farm. At least they do if you happen to be playing on the tracks in Sheriff Hawthorne’s private viewing room outside of room number 10 at the old Muskrat Flats Hotel. A trip to Las Vegas might be just what the doctor ordered for Gomer. It might be the very reason he needs to be …
Running Hard Out Of Muskrat Flats.
To be continued.