Saturday, January 20, 2007
The Coal City Connection Part 5: Reverberations Part 3: A Tale of Two Turnips Part 2: The Diamond in the Rough.....
Spooner hated being uncertain of what the future held, but more than anything he hated being toyed with. A man doesn't rise to the ranks of Mayor of a town like Belvidere, Nebraska by allowing others to call the shots. But now, as Spooner sped towards Coal City, he felt helpless. It was almost as if he was watching the events unfold before him with no ability to alter the outcome.
He had been to Coal City once before on business and had befriended a girl who would become his lover for a brief moment in time. He had allowed the memories of her to slip from his mind over the years he spent with Agnes but he had been unable to find the strength to discard the one tangible reminder of that Summer back in 1960. Over time it had become his good luck charm and the true origin of his ownership of the coal encrusted diamond came to dwell in a deep and long forgotten recess. When it mysteriously went missing a few years back he felt a sense of regret but not a feeling of great loss. However, the path to that long hidden memory had been revealed by its mysterious reappearance on the shore of Goose Lake, and along with the recognition came a powerful sadness.
As the lights of Coal City lit up the evening sky, Spooner drifted elsewhere. The painfully brief letter that had accompanied the rough diamond that day over forty years ago was sent to his old address instead of to the house which he then shared with his new wife Agnes. But it quickly found its intended audience. The one sentence it contained spoke immense volumes to his soul. "You have a son. Love, Anne.". He made out the faint scent of despair and sweat as he stuffed the letter into his back pocket and brushed the coal dust off of his hands.
Later that day in April of 1961, he found himself holding a match to the letter. He watched as it turned to ash and drifted into the blue Nebraska sky. It carried with it a part of him, an important part. His heart. He swore to never speak of it to Agnes or anyone else, and he wept knowing that he would never know his own son.
Back in the present once again, Spooner couldn't help but notice how Coal City seemed unfamiliar to him. It had changed much in the waning years of the coal boom that had led to its rise as a bustling center of commerce during his youth. The city, like Spooner, was in disrepair. Spooner made his way to the small bed and breakfast where he had once lay all day in bed with a beautiful girl. It was his only link to her but he knew the odds were slim that the establishment was still owned by her family, or even still open. The building still stood but the paint was peeling and the grounds were overgrown. He climbed the rotting wooden steps and turned the handle.