Glynn wanted to write a short something based on this old photo, just because it's so cute. It was hard to tell him no, but I had a different project in mind.
This time, I was looking for a specific real life story. Quite a while ago, we went to an almost-ghost town (if the last dozen people had abandoned the place, the site would have qualified), where I’d stumbled over an 1870-something news clipping about a murdered prostitute. Plasticized, mounted on a board, far from complete, the news article intrigued me. I thought I’d enjoy doing a fictional take on the incident while trying to keep it as historically-accurate as possible. All I needed first was a little more information. The rest of the article would have been a good start.
There was only one problem. My memory is and always has been fleeting. When dealing with historical events, I often forget details and this poor victim had a name that would NOT stick in my memory. Some names are like that for me. (I’ve told Glynn he’s lucky he has an unusual name or I’d just call him Hey-You.) In this instance, with the article in front of me, I fretted. I didn’t have my notepad with me, Glynn had left his at home, and neither of us had a working pen or pencil.
As soon as we returned home, I vowed, I would write the name down so that I wouldn’t forget it. A few hours later, after having wandered through two dozen other sites, many of which featured ancient news clippings or antique photos or both, we went home. Even as I scribbled the name on my notebook, I wondered if I’d gotten it exactly right. I turned on the computer. Found nothing under the name. Tried a variation of the name. Then another.
Cursing my uncertain memory, I tried to recall which location had posted the original newspaper piece. It was one of three or four or six places, I was certain. Over the next few days, I continued my computer hunt using various search terms and different versions of the name I thought I knew. I found a few articles about poor murdered prostitutes from the 19th century, but not the one I’d seen before. It was very frustrating.
Forced to give up this particular quest, I promised myself that I’d return to the ghost town one day with my note pad in hand. And then I directed my energies toward our other stories and projects.
But for a woman who always forgets, I somehow remembered my interest in this story even as time went on. Every now and then, I’d try a little Google-Fu, fail to get any further, and set the challenge aside for another day. Then, many weeks later, I received an email from Travelzoo. The Travelzoologists offered me discount tickets on a history tour through the very same almost-ghost town. The sales pitch promised that the tour guides would talk about the rich and ruthless men that founded the town and the bordellos and the women who worked in them. We’d learn about the dark side of this little town, including some rich and fascinating tales of murder.
Bordellos?, I thought. Murder? This struck me as practically an email guarantee that we’d hear the juicy account of exactly what had happened to What’s-Her-Name from the 1870’s. I told Glynn we had to go and we had to bring our notebooks. I was about to find us our next novel.
With three novels already in the backlog, he wasn’t nearly as excited as I was. He grew a little more intrigued when I mentioned that Travelzoo was offering 40% off the tour’s regular price and all the ice water we could drink. The man can’t resist a bargain.
I made our reservations but, on the scheduled date, a storm front blew into the ghost town and we had to set a different date. A couple of months later, two days before our planned tour, we had a family emergency and couldn’t go. Again, I rescheduled. This week, unfortunately, a heat wave has taken residence, baking this corner of the world. Temperatures are 100+ and it’s so hot that even hairless little Poison refuses to venture outside after 7:00 AM. She’d prefer to enjoy a cool room and a soft sofa.
When Glynn suggested canceling the trip again, I told him we couldn’t, not with visitors about to descend in quantity (and quality) for weeks to come. I said this is going to be the weekend we find my poor little ghost and learn the truth about her passing. No matter what.
When he checked the predicted temperatures, his eyes grew large but he didn’t say another word about it. At least, not loudly enough that I could hear. He may have muttered something under his breath but I chose not to acknowledge it.
That’s the secret behind a long-term relationship, if you ask me. Pretend not to hear the mutters.
I think we’re going to have fun. Stop by next week and I’ll tell you what happened, and if this mystery was solved.