2017-03-25 / Community

Home Country: A way of life

By Slim Randles

If there's one thing you can honestly say about Delbert McLain, he's as persistent as a winter cough. As our chamber of commerce here -- he's it, you see -- his fertile brain never ceases its search to turn a sleepy little valley into a cross between Wall Street and Pittsburgh.

That's part of what was going on in his mind this late winter's day as he sat in the rented office the local businesses chip in for each month.

On a snowy days, of course, you can never tell when the representative of a foreign auto manufacturer might skid on into town and look around for a good pasture on which to install an assembly plant.

And what would happen if Delbert wasn't there, wearing his tie, in the chamber office, when that occurred?

The next valley over would experience phenomenal growth and we'd still be left without the "big box" stores.

We would be everlastingly condemned to buying our food at the Soup 'R Market, buying our reading material at the Read Me Now Bookstore, getting a new "do" at Curl Up 'N Dye beauty salon, and sipping our coffee at the Mule Barn truck stop where the waitresses know everything there is to know about us, whether that's okay with us or not.

But it's a snowy day, and no one has dropped by wanting to subdivide the old Johnson place or anything, so Delbert threw his tie over his shoulder to get it out of the way and took his fly-tying vise out of the desk drawer.

He was in a streamer mood and smiled as he tied the colorful tails on the longer hooks, dreaming of the retrieves his friends would make in Miller pond for the bass there. Delbert doesn't enjoy fishing, just tying the flies.

He likes the streamers better than the bass plugs, even if they don't catch as many fish. They just look classier.

So Delbert went on, tying flies for one way of life, and planning how to bring us another way of life, and smiling. Because he had no idea he was doing it.

A novel idea

Anita brought Dud some coffee at 9 p.m. and gave her husband a hug. He had two lines typed on a sheet of paper, with the rest of the manuscript sitting beside it.

"How's it going?" she asked.

"Slow right now, Hon."

"It'll come," she said. "You'll see." Then she left quietly.

Dud Campbell opened the desk drawer and pulled out the title page of the book again. He had typed it up specially, just the way he wanted it, and Anita had put it on the computer.

"Murder in the Soggy Bottoms," it read. "By Dudley M. Campbell."

He smiled.

Of course, the guys down at the Mule Barn truck stop referred to Dud's once-rejected mystery as "The Duchess and the Truck Driver," because the story involves, well, a duchess and a truck driver. After its initial rejection by the publisher, Dud decided to modify it so there would be only three murders in chapter one, rather than the original eight. It has taken some doing, but he plugs away at it when he gets time.

He sipped the coffee and looked out the window at the streetlight shining on the snow in the yard. Do you suppose every artist goes through this? How many mystery writers, Dud thought, face this very same dilemma? For two of the murders, not a problem. But he couldn't decide who murdered number three or why. This seems to be pretty important to the story, so he has to figure it out. Like a puzzle.

He could go with just two murders, he supposed, but that third victim deserved killing, that was the problem. Could he have two murderers? One could knock off the two, the other take care of the third?

Oh well, it's a cold, dark night and a good time for thinking, and the coffee's good. And Dud still has his day job, of course. Such things are probably the cornerstones of great creative work.

Brought to you by The Fly Fishermann’s Bucket List by Slim Randles. Coming this spring from LPDpress.com. 

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