Some day, an answer will find us
Quite a long shot, but anyway
I think the past, the past is behind us
Be real confusing if not, but anyway - Blues Traveler
So, I'm in this used bookstore, (the books being used, not the store, of
course, tho the store was by no means new), poking around in a side
alcove, and notice this book I read as a kid: Slow Freight by
F. M. Busby. It was some science fiction thing, and I remembered it being
terrible. I start leafing thru it, and much to my surprise, a Cinnamon
Altoids tin falls out of it. A curiously bizarre arrangement, I muse to
Well, at least someone found a use for a worthless book.
So, the tin contains a crudely made chain and a wad of handwritten paper.
I start reading the paper, and its some sort of purple prose amateur writing
tripe. The odd thing is that it looks like it was written by different
people or at different times, like one of those stories where everyone adds
a line or a paragraph to, tho it seems more sophisticated than that, like
it doesn't seem like fiction.
I started thinking about what I should add. I'm thinking -- what the world
now is a letterbox clue based on the story of Tam Lin. That's what
I should write. That, would be outstanding. Then I start arguing with
myself: is the Fairport or the Steeleye arrangement better? I mean, if
they can debate Ginger vs Maryann, shouldn't they be debating Fairport vs
Steeleye on Tam Lin? I'd rather debate Sandy vs Maddy. That's
a tough one, but no one on the planet could sing like Sandy Denny, no one.
Sorry Maddy. Not that you don't have the voice of an angel yourself. (And
sorry Ginger, I must admit that I'm a Maryann guy. Isn't that one
at least obvious?).
So, did she jump or was she pushed? They didn't find no killer, and they
didn't find no note. I say she fell. I mean, why isn't that one of the
choices? That hypothesis certainly fits the known facts. I think its
important not to be mislead by false dilemmas (dilemmae?). Anyway, it was
the greatest tragedy in pop music history, unless you count the hair metal
So, I decided to write nothing. I never wrote the letterboxing clue based on
Tam Lin. I felt like writing: "Everything's a lie and
that's a fact" (I guess even Meat Loaf knows his Godel from his Goethe), but
decided to do nothing but simply transcribe the writing from the paper into my
PDA, and reproduce it below.
He watched her swimming in the river below. This was their place,
the place they snuck off to on those rare occasions they could be
together. Sometimes it was to gather berries, catch fish, swim
together, or simply to watch the river meander down to père des
eaux, as they jokingly called it, through this place of rolling
hills and lazy rivers her people called the ground of
the gods, but it was always to be together.
He admired her trim, dark athletic body and long black hair as she stepped
out of the water. She was unlike any of the girls back home, halfway around
the world in the court of le Roi-Soleil. But it was them, not she,
that he'd be spending his birthday, and all that followed, with.
Her wet skin glistened in the spring sunlight as she walked over
"My father will breaking down the camp and heading west, and I'll be
heading home", he said bluntly.
"Yes, the news is in the village", she said. "Your father has been a
friend, and he will be missed."
"I had something special made for you, something for you to remember us
by", he said, as he pulled a simple gray metal chain bracelet from his
"There is no need", she smiled. "I already have something far more precious
to remember you by."
Her pain slowly faded as she lay on the village healer's floor. Her
thoughts wandered back to the traders who had left a few months ago.
She clenched her bracelet as the pain grinded thru her like the teeth
and claws of a rabid wolverine. She looked at the healer, sitting in
a trance. Her mind now wandered to his vision that the traders, much
liked as they were, portended dark times for their people. Dark times
never to be delivered from. Some had died of strange sores and other
ills, after all. That was only the beginning, he had said. What did
all this mean to her, now?
She could not enjoy this moment as she should with clouds of ill prophesy
hanging over them. She handed her bracelet to the healer, and gazed into
his eyes. "Tell us what you see?", she gently asked.
"For us, all is lost. Those who follow bring greed, war, treachery and
lies. The ground of the gods known nevermore. But in his seed,
brightness shines out of the black, ere the moon shines 28 and 92 times,
when the grand chief of the north anoints him in greatness. The two
suns shine, and all see him as the greatest evermore, even as the traders'
children in pitiful envy besmirch his name."
"C'mon, lets go", she pleaded for the third time to her
teary-eyed daughter, defiantly standing on the side of
"Why? Why must our people continue to cross rivers?".
"Its that", she said, pointing to her arm. "They come
for that once again."
"Great-great-great-great-great grandmother's bracelet? What
could they want with that?"
"You wouldn't really understand", she said. "They came
for it when my mother was your age, but we razed their
buildings, and they never came back, until now. On your
birthday, they said we could live here, now they say they
need our land."
"Why? Why must our people continue to cross rivers?"
"Its not important now. C'mon, lets go."
Before leaving, she hastily reached into the hollow at the
base of a tree where her toys were hidden, to gather them,
and as her arm got stuck momentarily, she didn't realise,
and didn't care, that she just lost a little more than her
"This looks like a good lot, Jack", said the Briton.
"Yep. Right here on the side of the hill, with a view of
the river, and close to where they're laying out the downtown."
"You'd better grab that lot fast then. Our little town has
more that quadrupled in size this year alone, and there's no
end in sight. I hear we're up to nearly 700 people now. We've
got a real boomtown going now."
"Hey, that tree will make excellent timber for your new house."
"Nope. I got me some money from the mines, and I'm gonna quarry
some limestone. Last longer that way. But that tree's gonna
have to go anyway."
"You're right as usual, Jack. Lets get to work on that tree."
"Hey, what's this? Looks like some sort of chain, maybe some
lucky charm. Clean it up and give it to my old lady."
"Which reminds me! I hear she's expecting. Congratulations!"
"The ways I hear it", Jack said, "is that some damn old fool
rogue just don't get it. He didn't hear the treaty, he wants
his land back, and he wants to buried here, or some other crap.
I'll tells y'all one thing: sure he's gonna be buried here, as
sure as I stand here."
"I hear 'em soldiers are hunting 'em down like rabbits in
the hills", said Little Jack. "Look! there they are parading
down Main Street!"
The crowd gathered along Main as the soldiers walked by. A tall,
handsome one walked by Little Jack.
"Hey mister", the boy said. "I got a gift for you, a magic charm!"
"Hey sonny. How old are you? Five? Six? It wouldn't be right for
me to take your toy, unless we had one for all the volunteers. But
I deeply appreciate your gesture."
Little Jack felt a certain awe that he had never felt before.
Little Jack walked the two-and-a-half blocks from his house down Main to
the building that was built when the railroad came thru. My, my, the
town had changed, he thought: barges, railroads, stage lines, grand hotels
and the gilded manor houses. Certainly the lucky charm his father found
way back when had something to do with it.
There was a gathering around the five story building. Everyone's
attention was drawn to the balcony and the speaker there. Something
was vaguely familiar about the voice. Little Jack stood across the
street from the balcony and gazed up. It was that soldier from
24 years ago! What was he doing back here? Something to do with
politics. Little Jack didn't know too much about politics, but still
sensed that awesome presence.
Instinctively, he pulled the charm he had all these years out of his
vest pocket. As he continued to watch the speaker, a scamp snuck
thru the crowd and grabbed the chain right out of his hand. Jack
chased him down Main another block and a half, but he was too late
as he ducked into one of the newer buildings across the street, a
house just two years old.
The speaker's friend lost the election. It wasn't long before the river
silted up, the trains made fewer and fewer stops, and many of the
townfolk packed up and moved on. The manor houses went derelict.
One day the railroad stopped running altogether. But Little Jack never
stopped looking for that lost charm.