Sunday Storytelling is a new series where I post a piece of fiction each Sunday. It might be a complete short story, a snippet of a work in progress, a character sketch, a response to one of the thousands of creative writing prompts I’ve collected through the years. Most of them won’t be polished or “final,” so feedback and criticism is welcome, but please be constructive in your comments.
Lintonville was a rough town, originally. Even after they dammed up the river to the south and it became Lake Linton and the rich folks started to build their lake houses, their summer homes, their resorts and getaways and country escape, you could see the rough surface that not even the finest, shiniest veneer could fully camouflage.
Linton only existed after they started mining in the hills nearby. It was just 15 miles as the crow flies to the river and that’s where they started sending the barges with supplies and men. It was a transport town, a junction town, a shanty town. It was a good town for people who didn’t want to answer questions.
When they built the railroads they placed a stop only a mile from the mines and bypassed Linton altogether, but some people stuck around. It had another small boom during Prohibition, a Passover point for bootleggers and traders and a few mob men, here and there. The few townsfolk that stubbornly continued to make their lives there didn’t ask questions and quietly accepted the jugs and growlers and barrels as payment for their hospitality. By the end of the 30s Linton had made its way onto the map and the folks in the city down south decided to build a road there. They cleared the route but only laid down asphalt about halfway, so Linton remained largely unreachable, except by river, and when that froze in the winter there just wasn’t any passage.
There was usually one schoolteacher around, not formally trained or anything, just a younger woman who could read, sometimes, with a knack for keeping the boys in one place for six hours a day. Some young people would leave when they felt they were old enough, when the bigger cities called to them with promises of adventure and prosperity. Most came back, though, either because their pockets were empty or because ailing relatives called for their aid. They would end up having their children in Linton, even though many swore they never would. Or they would simply never leave because there was no place in the cities for a woman with a past, with a child and no man to explain its existence.
After the war there was a big public works project to dam up the river many miles south and east. No one in Linton quite knew where exactly or why they needed the dam. Just that a year later, the river flooded its banks and eventually settled, still, over an area many acres across. With clear, calm waters, green plants started sprouting up where nothing had grown well before. More animals were attracted to the water, which brought hunters and trappers. Within a decade, it had officially been shored up and named Lake Linton, and Linton earned the –ville suffix to sound more pastoral and appealing to the wealthy in the cities, who all of a sudden were just aching for an idyllic countryside that was within a day’s drive.
The road was finally finished and developers, builders, contractors started coming. The town swelled to accommodate them; as usual, the folk there didn’t ask questions. In many ways, the foremen and their workers were no different than the miners who had originally made the town what it was. They wanted the same bars and saloons and whores, not much else. It wasn’t until the developers finished, when the rich folk came, who wanted restaurants, shops, theaters, that the more civilized signs of modern society started cropping up.
By the end of the century, Lintonville was like any other lakeside resort town, with just enough full-time residents to keep things going through the worst parts of winter, bustling with families and activity in the spring and summer.
But it still had its secrets.
Comments, feedback, and constructive criticism welcome…