Danko In Dankoville

Leave a comment

The bus stopped right at the front gate.

I stepped off, put down my bag and took it all in. The green and white farmhouse, the red barn, tractor and other equipment, fields as far as I could see.

Whitfield Farms.

Looked pretty much like it did when I was here two weeks ago.

Only that was 53 years from now.

It might look the same but this was not the same place. Much would be different. Fifty-three years is a long time.

Someone was standing in the doorway, looking. I picked up my suitcase and walked toward the front steps. A young man stepped out.

“Do I know you?” he asked right off.

“Yes.”

He looked at me as if he sensed something.

“You’ve come through time,” he said.

“Yes,” I nodded.

“You’re a Whitfield,” he said.

“Yes, sir.”

“Which one? No, wait!” he held his hand up as if to stop me. He thought a moment, looking me over.

“Are you my brother Hudson’s boy?”

“Yes, Uncle,” I replied.

He laughed and slapped his knee.

“Well, Danko, what the heck are you doing here? I just saw you not three weeks ago. You’re a cute little tyke,” he held his hand, palm down, about three feet off the ground.

We both laughed.

“I’ve come to see you, Uncle. I need your help with something.”

“Sure, sure. Whatever I can do. Come on in and make yourself at home,” he led me by the arm and we walked into the house.

“You must be hungry,” he said. “No, sir, I just had a meal in town,” I answered. “Well, then let me fix you some lemonade or maybe a stiff drink after riding a bus all day,” said Manuel. “Two days,” I corrected.

“Where the heck were you coming from?’ he asked. “Kansas City,” I said. “Kansas City?!! What the heck were you doing there? You couldn’t get any closer?” asked Manuel. I shook my head no. “Damn!” he said.

My Uncle Manuel was now about half my age. When I last saw him two weeks ago, he was closer to twice my age.

He showed me to the guest room. I unpacked and washed up and then joined him on the back porch.

“Here we are, Danko.” Manuel placed a tray with a pitcher of lemonade, a bottle of vodka, a bowl of ice and two tall glasses on the old wooden table. I nodded my approval of the combination and he opened the vodka and poured a healthy shot into each glass. He added two ice cubes to each one and poured the lemonade.

“Sip it. It goes down easily,” Manuel said, “Cheers.”

We sipped.

I told him I had come to this time to learn a bit about farm work. “I can only stay a week, so I’ll just get a taste of it, to give me an idea of the average worker’s day.” I didn’t tell him that I’d be doing this same thing in a future time too nor anything else about my research including and especially ‘why‘ I needed to know this. Of course, he must have been curious but he knew not to ask. I couldn’t come back here and tell him what his life would be like in fifty years, that he would be retiring and turning the farm over to me and his son, not yet born. It wouldn’t be right.

“I’m glad I can be of help,” the young Manuel said after I’d finished my explanation. “It can be my first project to file with the Guild. I was just accepted as a member.” “Yes,” I said, “I just read that in the paper. Congratulations.” In the Time Travellers Guild, not only is your official resume built on the timejumps you make but also on the help you give to other time travellers.

The sun had set and Manuel had lit a candle. We finished our second round of vodka & lemonade and went into the house.

Family members would be coming in soon.

“My father might not approve of your project,” the young Manuel told me as he set the table for supper.

“Oh?”

“He’s pretty conservative about the use of time travel. Not like his father. Or your father,” Manuel said. He went on to explain that my grandfather felt that time travel should be used sparingly and only in cases of the utmost importance. This school of thought has always been part of the time travellers’ community though a small part.

“He won’t hold it against you. Much,” said Manuel. We both laughed. “He respects people with differing opinions but he will not be shy about expressing his own,” Manuel said with a smile.

“Thanks for the heads up, Uncle,” I said as I followed Manuel into the kitchen so he could check on the venison in the oven.

As the family arrived home from the fields or from town, each was surprised to see me, of course, but greeted me warmly.

Grandmother came home first from a trip into town and was absolutely thrilled when Manuel told her who I was. “I’m so pleased to be able to see what a fine man you become,” she said.

Then Chester came in from the fields. Young, handsome, big smile. This was my uncle but he was only 19 now. “Howdy, Nephew,” Chester said in his booming voice, then turned to my grandmother, “They sure grow up fast, don’t they Ma?” There were giggles all around.

A car pulled in and my uncles’ wives got out with bags of groceries. I was introduced to Jean, Manuel’s wife and Helen, Chester’s wife and then they headed into the kitchen to prepare supper.

Finally, Grandfather came in through the back door. He had made his usual rounds of the fields at the end of the day and secured the barn. I could hear him joking with my aunts in the kitchen as he passed through.

My grandfather was now just a few years older than me. Manuel introduced us. Grandfather shook my hand with both of his. “Welcome home, Danko,” he paused and I could see his emotions were on the verge of taking over. “Your parents just brought you here a few weeks ago, you were just a boy. They were so happy,” he held back the tears. I knew then that he knew, from his own time travels, of my parents’ fate. It appeared the others did not know. I gave Grandfather a hug.

We sat down to a wonderful meal of venison from the nearby woods and vegetables from the farm. Afterward, the men went out to the back porch for a tobacco break and the ladies shared tea in the living room.

I had told my reason for coming here through time over supper. Now Grandfather was lighting his pipe and telling me that Manuel will be a good teacher.

But that didn’t necessarily mean he approved of my reason for being here. Just as his son had told me he would, Grandfather launched into his argument about the appropriate use of time travel.

Manuel and I listened dutifully and respectfully.

At one point, Grandfather talked about the younger generations using time travel “willy nilly” and looked at me and Manuel and shook his head and said, “You young people…I don’t know.”

I had listened quietly as I had decided not to argue with my grandfather but now, to lighten up the conversation, I started to take exception to being referred to as young by smiling and saying, “I’m 44, sir, not so young anymore!” But Grandfather turned to me and said in response, “If you’d come here the natural way, you’d be five years old right now!”

Well, I couldn’t argue with that. So I just smiled politely as Manuel tried to hide a snicker. The conversation moved on to my training and the things Grandfather and Manuel would be showing me.

Then we discussed whether to let it be known that the source of the town’s name was in town. Chester suggested I continue to be Mitchell Whitfield and we just keep the whole thing quiet. But I want to stop by the Time Travellers Guild and once I do, the word will get out.

“If there’s no getting around it, then we must hit it head on,” said Grandfather. “We will have an announcement, a ceremony, and a reception. Let the town celebrate its history. People could use a special occasion right now.“

I nodded in agreement. Grandfather would make the arrangements in the morning. We joined the ladies inside and Grandfather filled them in about the festivities. Then he telephoned a friend at the Dankoville Morning News.

The next day, on the front page, the banner headline said simply:

Danko In Dankoville!

I couldn’t buy a drink in that town for the rest of the week.

Advertisements

Of Dankoville And Time

1 Comment

Travelling back and forth to the Ages of Devokan got my mind going in all sorts of directions.

When I arrived back at my Winterfell office, there was a letter from my cousin Robbie. He was away on farming business in the 26th century and was sending his congratulations on my appointment to head Whitfield Farms.

His letter also mentioned some progress on a personal matter he was looking into for me in that time, involving my late father.

Robbie suggested learning a bit about farming would be a good idea on my part both for the job of leading the farm corporation but also in the matter regarding my father.

He didn’t mean I should learn about the business of farming – which I also have to do though at least I’ve had some exposure to it conferring with Uncle Manuel over the years – but rather, Robbie was referring to agriculture itself.

That got the mind going.

In a bit of a daydream, it hit me that the best way for me to have learned about farming would have been to have worked alongside Uncle Manuel when he was a young man, learning it from his father, my grandfather.

Hmmm.

I could do that now if I wanted to. I am a time traveller, after all.

I went through the rest of the mail and checked the newspapers and radio and caught up on the Winterfell news and made my way over to the Storytellers Pub for lunch.

I mulled over the idea from the daydream.

That afternoon, I tended to some ambassador’s business and then some personal matters, clearing my desk so I could be away for a few days.

That evening, after supper, I began packing for 1960, mid-America.

As you know, dear reader, I have never revealed my method of travelling through time. I have confirmed that I have used some methods that others rely upon but this was more in the line of research on my part. Normally, I use a method that has been in my family for five generations. I have no desire to reveal that method.

But I will say, it’s not the magic act some people think it is. It is science.

Now, myself, I am not a scientist, merely a time traveller. I know the technique to carry out the operation. Don’t ask me to explain how it works. My father was the scientist.

However, time travel is not an exact science. Not even for a veteran traveller like me.

In the morning, I was in the Greyhound bus terminal in Kansas City, standing in line, staring at a placard advertisement on the side of the bus proclaiming “Nixon Now!” my suitcase in one hand, a ticket to Dankoville in the other.

I hate buses. I would have much preferred the train. Well, what I would REALLY prefer is direct delivery to the chosen point but, as I say, time travel is not an exact science. My back and legs are still stiff from that damn bus so pardon me for venting, I’m a bit grumpy.

The trip took a couple of days. One afternoon the bus pulled in to Dankoville. I walked into the park in the center of town and stood there for a few minutes, stretching the muscles a bit.

You might be wondering about the name of the town. That’s a very long story. I don’t even know all of it yet. The thing that Robbie is looking into for me in the 26th century? That may fill in some of the blanks. When I have it all, I will share it with you, I promise.

For now, let me just tell you that the first time I was in this town was in 1863. I was four years old and was accompanying my father on a trip through time.

In those days, the town was called, Turner. The Turner family had owned the town and everybody in it. They were a mining company that was working the mountains to the north.

The area had been “Indian territory” until only a few years before when the Native tribes were pushed further west by the growing white population. The ongoing Civil War had slowed this attack on the Native people for the moment.

The Turner Mining Company drew people from the big western cities: Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Chicago, Toronto and Detroit who were looking for work and others from either side of the Mason-Dixon who wanted to escape the war.

But the Turners owned everything and they treated their workers poorly for the most part, the only exceptions being friends of the family or the few others who became their pawns to keep the town under control.

Anyone who fell from the grace of the Turners had no choice but to leave town. There was no work for them. The thing about that, it wasn’t easy to get here in those times but it was easier than getting back. So some people were stuck here with few ways to make a buck.

A few people who lost their jobs with the Turner company took to farming the areas outside of town that had been recently abandoned by the Natives. These were squatters, just trying to get by on land that no one claimed ownership of and in a place where there was no one to file that claim with anyway. The land was dry, no one cared about it, no one of consequence that is.

My father, Hudson Whitfield III, arrived here in the late 1850s and began working with the farmers. He was an organizer, a child of the 1930s. What he saw around him in that decade framed his view of life. As an adult, he went back to the 1930s and became enamored with and involved with the union movement of the time.

It was with that background that my father came here on a time travel job to Turner. I don’t know the details of the job but it was likely a simple delivery. He stayed in town for a few days, possibly waiting for a meeting with his client or whomever his client sent him to see.

While he was here, he somehow came in contact with one of the former Turner employees who was now farming a plot a few miles from town.

Those farms out there were not doing well. The people who owned them were poor, their crops were small and their tools were simple. Their knowledge of the land and growing a crop and raising animals was limited. They were city people, working by trial and error. Under these conditions, errors were costly…in human terms. The people out there were hungry, illness was everywhere. These folks needed some help to make their farms thrive and grow.

I don’t know what happened after that. All I know is that about five years after he first came here, my father was now returning – with me in tow –– and he was being welcomed back as a hero!

As the stagecoach pulled in to the little town, people were running alongside, shouting greetings at my father.

“Welcome back Professor Whitfield!” It came from men and boys running with us and ladies and girls standing outside the shops.

When we pulled up, a man dressed in his Sunday best opened the door of the carriage and welcomed my father as he stepped out. They shook hands, then my father turned around and grabbed me up and put me down on the street in front of him. The well-dressed man bent over, shook my little hand and said, “Welcome to our town, Master Whitfield. I am Mr. Davis.”

“Good afternoon, Mr. Davis,” I said and then tipped my cap and bowed, just as my father had taught me. “Oh, what a fine young gentleman we have here,” Mr. Davis said to my father, who smiled at Mr. Davis and then at me.

We went inside to Mr. Davis’ office and there I was given a comfy seat and a picture book to look through and Mr. Davis’ assistant, Sally, brought me some lemonade and sat with me. My father and Mr. Davis went off to the local saloon where the rest of the town was waiting to toast my father.

Looking back, I’d guess that Mr. Davis was the mayor or the president of the Chamber of Commerce or the leader of a citizens group or the like.

That’s all I can actually remember, I was just four years old. Well…I do remember that Sally was a real fox but that is neither here nor there. As I say, I was only four.

All I know, is that by the time we left town a couple of days later, the sign that said “Turner” had been knocked down and burned ceremoniously and a brand new sign put up that said “Dankoville” and my father and me and Mr. Davis had our photograph made standing under that sign by a man with a contraption that he said was a camera.

I’d give anything to know what transpired in those few days…as well as in the few years leading up to that trip.

But here I am, stretching in a park in that same town, 97 years later. And 40 years older. Hmmm. Yes, I know that’s confusing. But I just told you one story I can’t fully explain so don’t get me going on that one now.

I walked across the street into the Town Tavern, the place I had just bought 53 years from now and renamed The Evergreen Pub.

Wow, looks different, that’s for sure.

“Sit anywhere, hon,” said the waitress as I wiped my feet on the doormat. It was early spring and a bit muddy.

I took a seat by the window and put down my bag.

The waitress approached with a menu, a napkin, silverware and a glass of water. “You here for plantin’ season?” she asked in a friendly manner.

“Uhhh…yes, I am, matter of fact, Miss,” I said in what my research showed was the style of the time.

She smiled. “Specials are on the back. Breakfast all day. My name is Sally, holler when you’re ready.”

Sally?!! She was very cute too. Is this a coincidence or am I in one of those time warp thingies?

The place was quiet. It was a weekday, late afternoon. A couple of men sat at the bar, locals for sure. A man sat alone, a couple tables away from me, I took him to be from out of town. Like me, I suppose, but this town had my name on it.

I had a BLT with potato chips and a Coke. Typical American lunch of this time. The man at the other table was going for supper, meatloaf.

Sally walked toward my table as I finished my sandwich and asked, “Can I get ya something a little stronger than Coke?” Hmmm. “Yes, how about a beer?” “Draft?” she asked. “Yes, that would be just fine.” “And you, sir?” she looked to the man at the other table. “Yes. Draft,” he said.

I stared out the window at the main drag. It was quiet. A car would pass from time to time, a pedestrian or two. There were people in the ice cream shop across the way.

“When’s the next bus to Whitfield Crossing?” I asked Sally as she brought the beer to my table. “You want the number 7 bus, hon. Runs every half hour. Marty, do we have a bus schedule?” she hollered at the man tending bar.

Sally brought the beer to the other table and went up to the bar to get the bus schedule and delivered it to my table. “Here ya go, hon.”

“You going down to the farm?” Sally asked as I took the pamphlet with the bus timetable.

“Yes, I am.” “Are you one of the Whitfields?” she asked quietly. “Yes, I am,” I said again and smiled.

She looked at me, inquisitively. I knew the question that was coming so I answered first. “Mitchell,” I said.

“Mitchell Whitfield?” she asked. “Yes,” I confirmed.

“Oh I’ve heard of you,” Sally smiled. “Don’t believe everything you hear,” I said with a laugh. “Oh, only good things, Mr. Whitfield, only good things,” She laughed. I did too.

Sally went to the other table. The man ordered another meatloaf to go and Sally headed back to the kitchen.

I walked over to a table near the door where the newspapers were laid out and picked up the Strange County Times. Back at my seat, I worked on my beer slowly, paged through the newspaper and watched the sun sinking slowly toward the end of its workday.

Mitchell Whitfield was the name my Uncle Chester came up with, to use whenever he had to admit to being a Whitfield in these parts but when he didn’t want to reveal his true identity or was simply trying to avoid a lengthy conversation. It worked too. No surprise that Crazy Chester would come up with something like that. The fact that Sally said she’d heard the name here in 1960, made me realize Uncle Chester had been using that trick for a long time.

I wasn’t trying to avoid a lengthy conversation but I did want to hide my true identity…though just for the moment. If I gave my real first name and word got around that the fellow this town was named after was in town for the first time in nearly 100 years, the news would be all over town before I could even get myself to the family farm. I wanted to avoid that, mainly because no one in the family was expecting me to show up like this and I didn’t want to be made of in the bar and treated like a celebrity. I just wanted to finish my beer in peace and catch the next bus out of town.

The Strange County Times was the type of paper that carried just the local news. The county legislature and town council business, the police blotter, the volunteer fire department log, Chamber of Commerce press releases, the lost and found and social announcements. I came across a short item from the local chapter of the Time Travellers Guild. Manuel Whitfield, the man I was here to see, my uncle who at this time was in his twenties, had been accepted as the chapter’s newest member.

I folded the newspaper and walked over and returned it to the table by the door just as Sally was bringing the other man his meatloaf to go and one of the two local men at the bar burst into laughter as they continued to drink and talk. I walked up to the bar and handed my bill to the bartender, paid and went back to the table to leave a tip and get my suitcase. I said, “Thank you!” as I stepped toward the front door. The bartender nodded and Sally shouted, “Come back again, soon, hon,” as she again disappeared into the kitchen.

Outside, I walked down the street a bit. Still had about 10 minutes to kill before the next bus. I turned and walked back toward the bar. I saw the other customer from the nearby table come out the side door and walk over to a pickup truck that had a camper attached to it.

I stopped. “Nice day,” I ventured. “Yes it is,” said the man, who looked to be about sixty or so. “Pretty good meatloaf in there, huh?” I offered as I thought about asking this man which way he was headed and maybe hitch a ride.

“Yeah…Oh it’s not for me,” said the man as he motioned to the meatloaf, wrapped in aluminum foil in his other hand.

He opened the door of the camper, looked inside and said, “Okay, boy,” and a French poodle jumped out. The dog looked around for a moment and trotted toward a clump of bushes and some trees behind the tavern. The man half-leaned, half-sat in the back doorway of the truck, waiting for the dog. He reached into the pocket of his well-worn jacket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes.

“Headed south by any chance?” I asked. “No. Sorry. Headed west,” he said. “Ahhh,” I nodded and looked down the road in the direction the bus would be coming from.

“Homecoming?” the man asked. “Sort of,” I replied, then added, “It’s been a long trip.” The man nodded and lit a cigarette.

“How far west, you headed?” I asked, just making small talk. “All the way,” he answered. “Homecoming?” I asked. “Oh…maybe. In a way,” the man replied with a slight smile.

“What do you do?” the man asked me as he looked toward the bushes the dog had disappeared behind.

“I’m a writer,” I said.

“Really,” the man looked me over and let out some smoke. “What do you write about?” he asked.

“My travels, mostly.”

He puffed on his cigarette, “Me too,” he said softly. He was staring at the ground and after a moment he blew out the smoke.

I looked at him. Was he also saying he is a writer and that he writes about his travels? I wasn’t sure whether to inquire further so I kept quiet to see if he would offer anything else.

But he just kept working that cigarette…puffing, inhaling, exhaling, looking at the cigarette and turning it between his fingers and puffing again.

Finally, the dog returned, stepping from out of the bushes and sitting, waiting for his master to speak.

“Good boy,” said the man as he balanced the meatloaf and cigarette in one hand while using the other to pull back the aluminum foil. He placed it on the ground.

“Here you go, Charley boy,” he said.

I blinked.

Could this be…?

The dog went straight for the feast of meatloaf. I shuffled my feet a bit…not sure what to say or whether to say anything.

Just then, I heard the bus approaching.

“Good luck with your book, sir,” I said as I leaned over to pick up my bag. When I straightened up, I saw the man was staring at me. “I mean, your trip, sir. Good luck with your trip.” I turned and walked toward the bus stop.

I didn’t look back but I heard the man say, “Attaboy, Charley. Let’s go boy, let’s go now.”

The bus pulled up, stopping just past the tavern.  Two other people were waiting for it as well and I stood by as they boarded. I looked back and saw the camper pull out of the parking lot. I waved at it. The man didn’t see me.

As his truck passed around the bus, and headed west down the road, I noticed it had New York plates.

“What are the chances?” I asked myself as I got on the bus.

The next day, as I was beginning to settle in at the family farm, I thumbed through my grandfather’s bookshelves. I pulled down a copy of one of my favorites and turned to the back to see the author’s biography and his photo.

Well, I’ll be damned!

Oktoberfest

2 Comments

It was Saturday night and we were headed into town.

A while back Uncle Manuel sent word that the old Town Tavern was about to be put up for sale. I had just opened a pub in Winterfell but had just closed one on the SL Mainland. The idea of owning a pub near the family homestead sounded nice. My cousin Robbie handled the arrangements and hired the contractors to fix up the building. My sister Annie hired the managers and staff. I’d coordinated with them from afar and I was most anxious to see the place.

We were on the way to The Evergreen Pub in Dankoville. My pub, my town. Now, mind you, the town thing is a long and complicated story. We’ll get to that but not right now.

Tonight, we’re keeping it simple. We’re celebrating beer! The Evergreen Pub is hosting a little home-coming celebration for me along with a business coup: The Evergreen has negotiated a deal with The Pheasant’s Roost Tavern in Ravenbaile, Ireland to become the exclusive distributor of Pheasant’s Ale throughout the Greater Dankoville area. The managers at The Evergreen have done a great job though I will say that I did pull a few strings on this one, myself. Ever since I visited the Augurey Peak region and was introduced to Pheasant’s Ale…well, let’s just say I go out of my way to get back there whenever I can. And tonight, we will have one of the bartenders from The Pheasant’s Roost as our guest of honor. And just to have one more thing to celebrate, one of the managers had dubbed the event, “Oktoberfest Beer Tasting.” Although celebrating Oktoberfest with Irish beer and Italian/American pizza did seem a bit suspect. But a party is a party, I guess.

Annie was driving Uncle Manuel’s Desoto Firesweep. Uncle was in the back with Grace and I was riding shotgun. It’s not quite as impressive as it sounds. The car was built in 1957 but it is not 56 years old. It’s two years old. Uncle Manuel had it imported from the mid-20th century.

North on Route 131, passing through the town of Strange – which is the smart thing to do in the town of Strange, pass through. Or so they say. Myself, I’ve never had any trouble there. But I’ve heard some stories about that town. Some mysterious stuff.

Annie had been pointing out changes along the way as Manuel and Grace discussed local politics. Dankoville looked pretty much as I remembered it. A couple of new buildings mixed in with the old. “And here comes your office,” Annie said. “My office?!!” “Yes, on the left. Let’s see if they put the sign up yet…oh yes! Oh, that looks nice. You’ll be all set!”

I got a quick look as we passed the building. “A two-story building? For me?” I spoke quietly and hoped Uncle Manuel was too involved in talking with Grace to hear me. “When I said ‘office,’ I meant one of the guest rooms at the house. Not even the whole room. I thought I’d share with Robbie. All I wanted was a desk,” I said, trying to moderate the sound of protest in my voice. But Annie kept right on selling, “Oh Danko, we’re full up at the house now. And you need to be in town to conduct business and network and be seen and get a feel for what’s going on in the community.”

I wasn’t going to argue with her in front of Uncle Manuel and Grace – and maybe she was right, I hadn’t thought about it. Why would I? This trip was supposed to be about Manuel passing the operation of Whitfield Farms down to his son, Robertson. I just came to find out what the details were and to see how I could help and, of course, to sign the documents. I didn’t know I’d be appointed president of the company. So how could I know I would need a proper office. As a matter of fact, how could Annie know?!!

As it dawned on me, I shot her a look. It was involuntary. I think my mouth dropped open. Annie glanced at me quickly and looked back at the road and bit her lip. We said nothing. All of a sudden the conversation in the back seat stopped as well. There was an awkward silence until Grace said, “Danko, look at the business you’re doing tonight! The parking lot is full! Annie dear, take a right on Whitfield Street and park behind the gallery.” As we got out of the car and gathered ourselves up and began to walk back to the pub, Annie was avoiding my eyes.

Well, okay. So she knew before I did. And she acted on it. What else would I expect her to do? Why am I angry? Wait, I’m not angry, just surprised, just thrown off by the whole turn of events. There’s nothing actually wrong here…it’s just the shock of it all.

As we walked down the street with the others behind us, I reached over and put my arm around my sister and gave her a walking hug. “I could see furniture, a waiting area there, I guess…in my office…looked very nice,” I said, trying to ease the tension. “Oh, I do hope you like it,” Annie said, sounding relieved. “If you don’t like the color scheme we can exchange it all.” “Oh no, I’m sure it’ll be fine, Annie.” “There’s a display area on the ground floor too,” she went on, “for you to promote your writing as well as the farm. The top floor will be your office. It’s a marvelous space. Great view. You can see the mountains.” She was still selling me, still a bit worried.

“It sounds perfect,” I was trying to reassure her and myself at the same time. “I’ll go in Monday and have a look at the place. Maybe even get started a little.” “Your assistant will be there at 9 a.m.” Annie responded. I blinked. Annie continued, “She’s a temp. I have two interviews set up for you on Monday afternoon with candidates for the permanent job and one more on Tuesday.” I smiled. “Great. Thanks.” Nuff said. Anyway, we’d arrived at the party.

“Here’s the man! Danko!!” shouted one of the patrons at the bar as we entered The Evergreen Pub. There were a few cheers, a smattering of applause and shouts of “Hello Danko!” and “Greetings, Ambassador” and “Welcome home!” I shook some hands and received a few pats on the back and accepted the well-wishes as I worked my way over to a table that had been reserved for us.

But Uncle Manuel was the center of attention, of course. He’s one of the most popular and respected citizens of Strange County. I had passed through the gauntlet of greetings quickly but the crowd would not allow Uncle to do the same. Everyone came closer to say hello or shake his hand or slap his back and engage in a little good-natured ribbing. It seemed the whole town had seen or heard about the old guy climbing up on the farm vehicles over the protests of Annie, Grace and the forewoman. “Manuel,” an older man hollered as he looked out the window, squinting at the parking lot and the street, “where did you park your tractor?” Guffaws all around the pub. “You can’t be pulling your nephew into town on a haywagon, Manuel. The man’s an Ambassador for cryin’ out loud,” said another man, to more raucous laughter. Uncle Manuel laughed along and bantered back and shook the men’s hands and hugged all the ladies. I watched in admiration as he worked the room and brought a smile to each face.

By the time he reached our table, the first round of beers was already in front of us. After we each gave a review of the particular brew before us, Annie and Grace went over to the buffet to get us all some pizza and Uncle Manuel motioned at me to take Grace’s seat.

“Don’t be too hard on your sister,” he said softly. “She’s been a big help to me. I talked to her about the future of the farm over the past few months. Annalee listened. She’s a very good listener. And she gave me her opinion too. She’s not shy, you know?” We both chuckled at that. Manuel went on, “Good head on her shoulders. She’s a smart girl.” “She’s a smart woman, Uncle,” I corrected him.” “Yes,” he agreed, “a smart woman.”

He seemed to have more to say so I sat quietly, waiting, as the noise of the party filled the moment.

He sipped his beer and then almost blurted out, “I don’t want to retire but I realize it’s time. It’s been a lot to handle. And then to figure out the best way for the farm to go on without me.” “Oh Uncle, you’ll still be part of it,” I said, “Just as you asked our advice, we will surely be asking yours.” “Yes,” he said, “I know. But it will just be advice now. I won’t decide anymore. You boys will decide. I’m ready for that. Didn’t think I would be but I am.”

I was glad to hear him say it that way. But before I could comment, Uncle Manuel surprised me again.

“As I say, I will just be offering advice from now on. You and Robbie will have to figure it all out. With help from Levon when you need it but as he won’t be here, it’s up to you and Robbie. And Robbie will be travelling a lot. So it’ll mostly be you. And you won’t always be here. And then what?” Uncle Manuel looked at me as if he was expecting an answer.

He wasn’t. “Well, you will be here, Uncle — ,” I started. He cut me off, “I will only be offering advice.” I didn’t know what to say or what he expected me to say.

The ladies returned with the pizza and Grace took my seat as I had hers. “I’m getting another beer. Danko?” Annie asked. “Yes, thanks!” “I’m good,” Uncle Manuel said. “Me too,” added Grace.

As we watched Annie head for the bar, Uncle Manuel said, “And THAT is the last piece of the puzzle.” Puzzle? I was certainly puzzled. Grace looked puzzled too. “This is just between us three for now,” Manuel said, “and Robbie. He knows. One month after you take over as president, you will announce that Annie is our new vice president.”

The puzzled looks on our faces turned into smiles. It was a big moment in the family. Equal opportunity for women in running the farm was a concept that brought talk but no action from the Whitfield men over the generations. I was looking forward to the day my generation would have the authority to change that. And now, just as we were about to assume that authority, it was the old guard that came through on this issue. It was a moment to remember.

Uncle Manuel made clear this was not a token appointment. He said Annie had the smarts and the drive and those talents should be put to good use. “Robbie is Vice President of Operations. Levon is Vice President of Administration. You’ve got one month, Mr. President, to figure out what Annie can be Vice President of.” “Special Projects,” I said, without missing a beat. “Special Projects!” Uncle Manuel repeated, smiling. Turning to Grace he said, “See, it is worth it to have a writer in the family after all.” We chuckled. Then Grace added, “She’ll be good at that.” “I know, that’s why I said it,” I smiled. “She’s a trouble-shooter, a problem-solver.” Manuel spoke again, “And Danko, I want you to groom her as your successor.” “Firing me already?” I joked. “No, no,” he said, “It’s just I know you weren’t expecting this appointment. And I know how busy you are. If you could just give it say, five years – more if you want – but five years would be good…by that time, Annie will be ready.” “Sounds like a plan,” I said as I lifted my glass to toast the idea. We all sipped our beers, then Uncle Manuel, looking at Annie talking to some customers at the bar, said, “Yup, someday that girl will be the president of Whitfield Farms Corporation.” Grace and I stared at him. “That woman, I mean.” Smiles.

The party continued, the place was packed. Jamie Wright, of  The Pheasant’s Roost Tavern, was “guest bar-tending” for an hour, along with Dave, the regular Saturday night guy, who I’d just met tonight. I didn’t get the whole story but apparently the owner of The Pheasant couldn’t get away so he raffled off the trip among his employees and Jamie had the winning ticket. I had met her a couple of times as she was working the bar at The Pheasant when I visited.

Uncle Manuel stood and clapped his hands and asked everyone for their undivided attention, “All righty, folks. There is a little business to conduct here. Listen up, please.” It took a minute or so for the place to quiet down as the party had been going full-steam.

“My nephew, Danko Whitfield, the Winterfell Ambassador, famous writer, time traveller, and the owner of this drinking establishment –”  (there were cheers for that last credit) “– has an announcement to make but first, I have one of my own…” he continued, “That very same nephew will, in the next few days, add to that list of titles and become the new President of Whitfield Farms Corporation, replacing yours truly.” Someone shouted, “Hear, Hear!!” as the party atmosphere of the gathering turned serious suddenly with everyone applauding the announcement and offering congratulations. Uncle Manuel briefly thanked everyone for their business and friendship over the years and got a big laugh and some cheers when he added, “The rest of it, I’ll save for my retirement party. Danko, you have the floor, I’m going to sit down, shut up and drink.”

I introduced Jamie and made the formal announcement regarding Pheasant’s Ale. As the crowd applauded, Jamie and I toasted each other’s pub. Then I bought a round for the house and the partying resumed.

At one point, I was standing at a table when a fresh tray of beer arrived. I took a stout and began to sip as my sister appeared next to me and selected a red ale. “Welcome home, Danko. Cheers.” We toasted and drank and I leaned over and said quietly, “I thought you were worried about Uncle Manuel, that maybe he wouldn’t give up the farm. Or that I’d feel left out, without much say in the business. But that wasn’t it at all. You were worried about my reaction to being named president.”

Annie nodded. “I know how busy you are,” she said quietly, “and I knew you hadn’t considered anything like this.” “That’s for sure,” I said. “But it’s a good plan,” she continued. “It wasn’t easy for him but he thought it all through. His health, the state of the business, the different talents each of you have. I didn’t expect him to do it this way, splitting up the responsibilities, but it makes a lot of sense. It’s too much for one person nowadays. He’s a very smart man.” I nodded, smiled, sipped my beer. “I’ll need your help too, Annie,” I said. She smiled. “Of course. Anything I can do, just ask.” “I’ll think of something,” I said smiling. Her smile continued but I detected a slightly puzzled look on her face now. It was funny but this was my first piece of business as the head of Whitfield Farms…to try and hire my sister.

“So what are your plans now?” I asked, purposely sounding brotherly rather than business-like though I was asking for both reasons. “No more touring, I hear?” Annie, like everyone in the family, is an accomplished musician and the only one of us who pursued it as a career. She told me she was thinking about settling down and was looking at a couple of teaching positions in the Strange County school system. She was also considering teaching music privately, giving lessons on piano, guitar and flute.

“You men still like all the travel but I’m ready to give that up. I’ve always enjoyed helping people grow their music. And coming back here to live won’t be so bad with you here often and Levon from time to time. As long as I can get news of the outside world, I’ll be all right,” she laughed.

“Well, I must say, this trip has been one surprise after another. My little sister has had enough travel? I never thought I’d hear that one. Maybe when you got older,” I said. “But I am getting older, Danko. I’m not as young as I used to be,” Annie offered. “You’re not old. You’re only 43,” I said with a smile. “40!” she corrected me immediately. It was another round of the family tradition of adding three years to everyone’s age, usually observed on birthdays. “Seriously,” I asked, “is everything all right?” “Oh yes,” she said with great assurance in her voice, “I’m really doing very well, brother. Don’t worry about me.” “Okay,” I said, “I won’t. But Annie, I am quite surprised. Is there something you’re not telling me?”

“Well,” she said, smiling in a way that made her look ten years younger, “there is a guy.” “Ohhhhh,” I said in a louder voice than I’d been using, causing a couple of nearby heads to turn, I continued quietly, “Now we’ve come to the real news! Do tell…”  “Not here, not now,” she said quietly. “You’ll meet him soon.” “Oh, you’re introducing him?” I asked with a tone that implied this must be somebody special. “Yes. To you,” Annie said as she placed her forefinger in front of her lips. “Ahhh,” I said, getting the message. “No problem.”

“How’s that red ale?”

 

Visit The Evergreen Pub in Dankoville. The HG address is 67.253.121.199:9000:Dankoville

The Pheasant’s Roost Tavern in Ravenbaile, Ireland is located in the Augurey Peak region on Metropolis grid. The HG address is hypergrid.org:8002:augurey peak

Farm and Home

Leave a comment

Annie was waiting on the tiny platform as the train pulled into the depot.

“Whitfield Crossing! WHIT-FIELD CROS-SING!” called the conductor. Just me and two others getting out here, the rest had one more stop to go.

I put down my bags and hugged my sister. “Good trip?” she asked, trying to gauge what kind of mood I was in, the way she does. “Was fine. Annie, I’m here to help.”

“I know.” She was nervous.

It had been three and a half years since I’d been back to the farm. It was just before I came to Winterfell. I stopped in then to help Uncle Manuel with some farm business. Uncle had always consulted his brothers on important matters involving the family farm though he really wasn’t required to do so. He had run the day to day operation since his father died. Since my parents died he had included me, as the oldest, in the discussions about major decisions on the farm.

On that last trip we hired a new foreman – forewoman, actually – to run the farm as Uncle Manuel’s doctor had told him it was time to slow down. But Uncle still ran the business side of it. Now that time was coming to an end as well.

“It tires him out. It’s not good. Too much stress. His doctor says he still has several more good years ahead if he just takes it easy.” I nodded as Annie spoke. “He still gets up on the new tractor about every third week. He keeps up with the technology. He loves that tractor. It’s hard to get mad at him when he’s riding it, he’s having so much fun.” Annie shook her head and laughed.

My cousin Robbie, Manuel’s son, had told me the same things Annie was saying now, so I came here knowing what to expect. What was about to happen was monumental in a family’s history. A farm was about to be transferred from one generation to the next.

Annie drove the red pick-up with the white lettering on the door that said WHITFIELD FARMS. It was a short ride on Route 22 East from the train depot, past the cornfields to Route 7 South to the old green and white farmhouse.

As we walked up to the door, Grace appeared. “Welcome home, Ambassador.” “Thank you, Grace. Nice to finally meet you.” We hugged. My Uncle had been widowed for some years and since my last visit, Grace had come into his life. She was younger by about fifteen years. She owns a farm supply store with her sister and lives nearby. Annie’s letters speak highly of her.

Quietly I asked Grace, “How’s he doing?” nodding toward the living room where I expected Uncle Manuel to be waiting.

“Oh, you know Manny,” she said smiling. I smiled too as no one calls him that. No one. I looked at Annie and she was smiling at my reaction. Grace continued, “He is all-business when it’s about the farm but he is his usual pleasant and helpful self otherwise. You’d never know about the pain. But at the end of the day when he takes his shoes off and loosens his tie, he is completely exhausted. He is too tired for any fun. He really needs to have some good fun.”

There was an awkward pause and then Annie started giggling. I smiled. Grace turned slightly red. “Oh! You know what I mean! He needs to get out of the house. Go places. Do something that’s not about business. Fun things.” She looked at us and smiled. “Oh, you two.” We all chuckled.

“Welcome home, nephew!” The baritone voice was thinner than when last I heard it but as warm as ever. A handshake then a hug and in a few moments we are sitting in the big old red chairs around the fireplace as cigars are lit and coffee is poured and Uncle Manuel is leading a lively conversation. We hopscotch from one topic to another: my trip, the train depot, corn prices, the weather, Grace’s apricot pie, the new tractor, and a local political scandal.

Now it was time to talk about business. Farm business. The ladies excused themselves. I poured more coffee for the two of us as Uncle Manuel shared his thinking on the future operation of Whitfield Farms. His son, Robertson, would handle the agricultural decision-making and planning while my brother Levon would be responsible for the business end of things. I would take care of marketing and act as spokesman. “Robbie knows farming and the farm business, Levon knows how to run a business, and you are a leader,” Uncle Manuel said, “so you will replace me as president of the corporation.”

Okay, remember earlier when I said I knew what to expect? Scratch that.

I figured Robbie would become president and run whole the operation. I knew Levon and I would be asked to handle some duties within our areas of interest but I never thought…

This is one of those matters that doesn’t involve much discussion or negotiation. This is the family business and if you are asked to take on a role, you accept it. So I did, of course. But first I asked how Robbie felt about all this as I was concerned I was stepping on my cousins’ toes. Uncle Manuel explained that the international and inter-century nature of Whitfield Farms’ business requires Robertson to travel to other time periods often. He can’t be here enough to do the things the head of a company needs to do. When he is here, he’ll be busy working on our ag issues and strategy, not public relations. Made sense.

So I will be needed here. Often. Uncle Manuel knows Winterfell is my home and that I have responsibilities there and elsewhere but he’s asking me to make a second home here.

There will be an awful lot to juggle. Winterfell and Devokan and my writing and gridhopping and now the farm….but I will have to make the time.

It’s going to take some getting used to, being here on the farm again, going into town, learning what’s changed around the area. I’ll bet there have been an awful lot of changes.

I haven’t lived here for nearly a hundred-fifty years.

Road To Goatswood

Leave a comment

Editor’s Note: This article is written in a different voice than what you are used to on these pages. It is the voice of a Narrator. This article appears as Mr. Whitfield’s profile or character story on the website of the Goatswood RP sim in Second Life.

 

From his appearance, you gather that Danko Whitfield is an American, in his mid-forties. He seems confident in his manner and friendly in conversation yet somewhat reserved. He may come across sometimes as not being interested in conversation but that is not the case. He is simply being careful. He does not wish to draw particular attention to himself but realizes this is difficult as he is an Outsider, a stranger in town. He also wishes to avoid drawing attention to himself by appearing to go out of his way to avoid drawing attention. It is a fine line he walks.

Usually he will avoid giving detail as to what brings him to Goatswood and yet there are times when he must tell a bit of his story…or he will go home empty-handed. It would not be the end of the world if he doesn’t complete his mission here…as it is a personal mission or quest. He does not answer to a superior on this matter, he has no deadline. He would be delighted to clear up this matter quickly but realizes that is not likely. It’s something he has wondered about for some time, more so just recently. He never actually thought he would come all this way from America to find the answer to his questions – when would he ever find the time? And it might all be a waste of time. And he didn’t actually come from America to travel to Goatswood. No, it was happenstance.

As luck would have it, he has some time to spare over the coming months and a holiday seemed in order. But where does a man who has travelled extensively go on holiday? He has always been drawn to London. And the thought of an extended stay? Too good to pass up. In his first week in London, while in a pub for a meal, he was sitting near three men having a jolly conversation about a recent book by a psychic. They were clearly making sport of the book and having a good laugh. He paid the exchange little attention as he had no particular interest in psychics or their books. That is, until he heard one of the men mention “Goatswood.” He tried to figure what the men were saying about Goatswood but their laughter had increased and he could make no sense of it. But that did not matter. For this was not the first time he had heard of Goatswood. And his interest in Goatswood was unlikely to be related to the conversation of the men in the pub or to the book they ridiculed. He had his own reason. Though, if not for the men in the pub Goatswood might never have come to mind. But now that it has… “I do have the time now,” Mr. Whitfield thought. “If I am ever going to do this…who knows if I’ll ever be in a position to even consider it again? Yes!”

After making some inquiries, Mr. Whitfield arranged transportation to Mortchester, in the Midlands, and took a hotel room. He spent two days in the library there and then took the train to Goatswood.

He was not the first Whitfield to visit the village. His great, great-grandfather, an American diplomat, had been to Goatswood about 70 years earlier. Edmund Whitfield’s visit came while he was on holiday from a diplomatic mission for President Adams. Edmund kept very detailed journals of his life, skipping over diplomatic matters but little else. Except when it came to his trips to Goatswood. He wrote much about his stay that summer in Mortchester where he was the guest of a friend. But there was only a passing reference to Goatswood, two actually. That was all Edmund had written about Goatswood until twenty years later. In the last months of his life he mentioned the village in his journal again, twice. But again, without detail or context.

Now, his great, great-grandson, a writer, explorer and former diplomat himself – and the self-appointed historian of the Whitfield family – was going to travel to Goatswood to see if he could answer a question that no one else had ever bothered to ask, “Why?” Why no details? A man who was all about detail gives no detail whatsoever about a trip (trips?) to a place that was off the beaten path?

Danko Whitfield has no good reason to follow his great, great-grandfather’s footsteps to Goatswood. No reason to think it will be possible to find any information about his ancestor’s doings here. No reason to believe that there is anything of interest to find. No reason to think that he has left his London holiday for anything other than a wild goose chase. And that is why he is here. No reason. No good reason for a detailed man like Edmund Whitfield to give no reason for his own journey to Goatswood, 70 years ago.

Naming Alts

Leave a comment

OOC:

I have an alt whose bio claims he is The Official Griefer of Winterfell Evergreen and His Grace, The Duke of Evergreen. His name is Wanko Dickfield. I wrote about him in a previous article.

When I went to create him I found that Linden Lab does not fancy the word, ‘wank.’

I couldn’t use wankodickfield as my login. Wanko is the Court Jester of Evergreen so I gave him the login name, jesterevergreen. This led to the following conversation with a friend. She will not be named here in order that she remain a friend.

[22:14] jesterevergreen: LL doesn’t let you have the name Wanko

[22:14] jesterevergreen: or anything with ‘wank’ in it

[22:14] jesterevergreen: lol

[22:15] MyFriend: your name has wanko in it

[22:15] jesterevergreen: i mean, the log-in name, sorry

[22:15] jesterevergreen: which is crazy

[22:16] jesterevergreen: wanking is half of Second Life

[22:16] jesterevergreen: at least

[22:16] jesterevergreen: or so i’ve read

[22:18] MyFriend: lol

[22:18] MyFriend: i have heard that too

——————————————-

I write about the Whitfield family here. You have met some of my relatives previously on these pages. If you have paid very close attention – and why would you, really? – you might notice a connection. The Whitfields are named: Danko, Hudson, Manuel, Robertson aka Robbie and Levon. Ring any bells? There is another I have not written about yet – Dylan. And then there is the one female Whitfield who has appeared here. It is a different type of connection. Here name is: Annie, short for Annalee. There is one other connection of that type, Chester. The family calls him Crazy Chester. A further clue to what is going on here is found in the profiles of each of those named. Several of them are time-travellers but that is not it. They all have something else in common.

I know there is at least one regular reader here who ‘gets’ this. I have explained it to a few other people inworld over the past year, though no one was overly impressed. However if you send me a Comment here or a Notecard inworld indentifying what I’m talking about in the previous paragraph, I will be quite impressed with you.

Time Messengers

Leave a comment

Communication from one time period to another has not made the great advances in recent years that some had forecast. We have not come far from the days when a time traveller who wanted to send a message back home or to a friend or business associate in another age, would have to travel to the age in question and use the communication network available in that time.

While the process has changed little there is an alternative to one making the trek one’s self. This is all leading up to a favor I promised…

My cousin, Robbie, asked that I put in a plug for his new business venture, Time Messengers. I copied the text from his recent newspaper advertisement and reprint it here. You are under no obligation.

———————————————————————————–

advert.

Time Messengers

With hundreds of offices conveniently located throughout the ages., Time Messengers is your one-stop, full service courier. We deliver for you – even if your message must arrive BEFORE it was written. When it absolutely, positively must get to the future or the past, choose Time Messengers!

Robertson Whitfield, prop.

———————————————————————————–

I must admit, this is a very handy service. I wish I had thought of it.

——————

Editor’s note:  You can join the group, Time Messengers, inworld in Second Life. It is total RP, no actual services are provided.

Older Entries