Monday, September 16, 2019

Tauy Creek Digest #55: Awake

It was seven in the morning and Harry had stayed up all night messing around on Zeke's computer while Zeke slept. The final days of summer were winding down and school was going to start in about a week. There was a knock on the door and Zeke's father came in. "Zachary? Oh, hi, Harry."

"Hey, Mr. Hollister," Harry turned in Zeke's desk chair, the keyboard on his lap. "Zeke's asleep."

"I see that. Zachary!" he shouted louder.

Zeke popped up to a ninety degree angle and looked at his father. "What's up?"

"I have a couple errands I want you to do today," Mr. Hollister said.

"Sure," Zeke shrugged. "Harry and I will probably get out around lunchtime."

"There's an envelope on the mantle. It needs a stamp and needs to get mailed. Could you also pick up the chainsaw from McCleccland's? And, fill up the van with gas. There's $30 on the mantle with the envelope. Your mom and I need to go to Kansas City tomorrow and we need the van full of gas."

"Sure. Yeah. We can do that," Zeke said.

Zeke's dad chuckled. "Are you sure?"

"No, but we'll do it. What are you and Mom going to Kansas City for?" Zeke asked.

"Seeing a doctor about her feet. You know she's been complaining for quite awhile so she finally got a referral from her primary doctor to see a podiatrist."

"Complaining for awhile? She's been complaining just about as long as I've been alive," Zeke chuckled.

His dad chuckled as well. "She has. What do you two have planned for today?" he asked.

"I think we're gonna go to the library in Lawrence and do some research on something. Harry's kind of being a nerd about something," Zeke said.

"You're the one that got me started on this," Harry said. "I have work at 3:30 so we won't be researching long. Zeke won't actually be up and awake until noon at the latest."

"What time did he go to sleep?" Zeke's dad asked.

"Three, four in the morning?"

"It's summer. I can have weird hours," Zeke argued.

"School starts next week," Harry said.

"Ugh. Don't remind me," Zeke rolled his eyes.

"I need to head out," Zeke's dad said. "I'll see you this evening. You guys have a good day."

"Thanks. You, too, Mr. Hollister," Harry said.

"Bye, Dad," Zeke said before flopping back down onto the bed and falling back asleep.

Harry continued to play on the computer for a bit before dozing off in the chair for a couple hours. Zeke woke up about 11:45 and they began getting ready for the day. Zeke changed his clothes, grabbed the keys to the van and began heading out the door.

"Aren't you forgetting something?" Harry asked, standing by the mantle.


"The envelope and the $30," Harry replied.


"Your dad wanted you to mail this and fill the van with gas," Harry said.

"Oh. Okay," Zeke took the money and shoved it in a pocket. "Ready now?"


They grabbed lunch and then giant bottles of soda at a convenience store before heading into Lawrence to go to the library. They spent a couple hours researching ghost towns of the area but didn't find anything new than what they already knew. When they left the library, Zeke pulled up to a mailbox and dropped the envelope in.

"Don't forget to stop by McCleccland's," Harry said.

"Why?" Zeke asked.

"Your dad wanted you to pick up your chainsaw. Do you not remember anything from your conversation from your dad this morning?"

"What conversation?"

"We all talked for, like, fifteen minutes. You were speaking in coherent, complete sentences. You were making jokes with him. You don't remember anything?"


"You were sitting up. Straight up," Harry held his arm straight in the air. "Were you asleep while you were talking to us?"

"I guess so. I don't remember talking to anyone this morning."

"Well, I guess it's a good thing that it was just a normal conversation and not some huge revelation your dad revealed to us and now you don't remember and just have to hear it second hand from your best friend," Harry said.

"Was there anything else? Another errand we need to do?"

"No. Just these three things. Your parents are going to Kansas City tomorrow to get your mom's feet checked out," Harry said.

"She has been complaining about them a lot."

"She's been complaining about them just about since you've been alive."

"Heh. Yeah, kind of."

"No, that's what you said to your dad when he told you that he and your mom are going to Kansas City to have her feet looked at."

"What the hell...?" Zeke exclaimed. They went inside McCleccland's and went to the counter. "I'm here to pick up a chainsaw for my dad. Hollister."

"Ah, yes. Hollister. You must be Zachary. I haven't seen you in years. You were shorter than this counter," the man knocked on it. The man went to the back of the store and brought out a chainsaw. "Here you go. It's already paid for. Say hi to your dad for me."

"I will. Thanks," Zeke said and he and Harry went back to the van.

As they drove home, at first it was in silence but then Zeke began talking. "A full conversation?"

"Cracking jokes and everything," Harry replied.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Tank N Tummy #19

Dominic and Lauren were behind the counter reading a magazine together. It had been slow this morning so they were really enjoying their time together talking bad about celebrities but also being jealous of them. The bell over the door rang and the two of them looked up. Ryan stood in the doorway. “Ryan, put a mask on,” Lauren said.

“Where were you this morning? Alice said you came in, said you had an emergency, then left,” Dominic said.

“I have a message,” Ryan started, sadly, looking like he was building up the courage to talk. “I found Mama Kitty, behind the dumpster when I got to work this morning. She wasn’t moving, was barely breathing. I rushed her to an emergency vet. The doctor did everything he could…Mama Kitty didn’t survive.”

Ryan then rushed off to the restroom. Dominic wiped a tear from his eye but another one, from the other eye, fell. Lauren looked back and forth between the restroom and Dominic. “What?” she asked.

“We are gathered here,” Dominic began as he, Ryan, Aaron, MaryJane, Lauren, and Ned stood around a storm sewer just off of the Tank N Tummy’s property on the busy street to the west “to remember a little cat who brought a lot of goodness into our lives.”

“Do I have to be here?” Lauren asked. “Not to be disrespectful but I didn’t know Mama Cat.”

“Mama Kitty,” Ryan corrected.

“Yeah, I didn’t know her either. Also, we’re closing the store for this. Lauren and I could just…”

“Mama Kitty deserves this,” MaryJane shouted. “She was an angel among devils. So innocent. So pure. Show some damn respect.”

“I remember when I first met Mama Kitty. She was just a tiny little thing. We didn’t know at the time that she was pregnant with little kittens. It would be the first of many little sewer cats…” Ryan began.

Lauren interrupted. “Sewer cats?”

“Mama Kitty and her kittens all lived in this storm sewer. She had, what? Three litters of kittens?” Ryan asked.

“I think so. A few stuck around but most moved on,” Dominic answered.

“Moved on to sewers of their own,” Aaron sobbed.

“I’m gonna go back inside,” Lauren hooked her thumb behind her.

“I’ll join you,” Ned said.

“No respect,” Dominic, Ryan, MaryJane and Aaron all said, shaking their head in disappointment.

Lauren and Ned paused, looked at each other, and turned around to rejoin the group.

“Let’s all go around and share our favorite memory of Mama Kitty,” Ryan said. “I already talked about when I first met her but her most powerful moment was when she held her own against the trash possum.”

“We have trash possums?” Ned asked.

“It’s fine,” Dominic waved him off.

“I was taking out the trash. It was after two in the morning and when I went outside I heard hissing. I turned and looked and saw Mama Kitty on one end of the dumpster and the trash possum on the other just hissing at each other. It was quite the sight to see. After about five minutes of hissing, the possum skittered off and Mama Kitty gladly had the dumpster to herself.”

“So brave.”

“So strong.”

“I see myself in Mama Kitty,” MaryJane said. “Along with every other female on this planet.”

“There are cars at the pump,” Lauren said.

“They can still pay at the pump,” Ryan remarked.

“Remember when Melissa broke up with me?” Dominic asked.

“How can we forget? You talk about it at least once a week,” Aaron replied.

“Well, shortly after it happened, I was in a really bad place so I went out to the dumpster to think like I usually do,” Dominic began.

“You go out to the dumpster to think?” Ned asked.

“I was sitting there, sulking, when Mama Kitty came up to me and she was just a-purring. I began talking to her about Melissa and what had happened. Every so often she would meow at me—you know, she had a little chirpy beep as a meow—like she was giving advice. She made me realize that I’d fall in love again, find someone to be with, and, most importantly, have sex with again. The three hours I spent talking to Mama Kitty at the dumpster really helped me get over Melissa.”

“You spent three hours sitting with an alley cat at the dumpster?” Ned asked. “Three work hours?”

“But you’re not over Melissa,” MaryJane said.

“But that’s not Mama Kitty’s fault. She probably did her best,” Ryan explained.

“Mama Kitty was a little slut,” MaryJane chuckled. “And I mean that in a good way. I always look up to women who don’t mind using their body and pleasuring themselves.
Every time I’d see her in the back and her little heinie up in the air and a male cat coming toward her, I’d smile and give a little nod. You go, girl.”

Everyone was silent for a couple of seconds before Ned spoke. “Lauren and I are going to go in. There is a person about to try to break one of our windows with a brick. Come on, Lauren.”

“Mama Kitty saved my life!” Aaron suddenly exclaimed.

Ned sighed. “I guess that window will hold for a couple more minutes,” he said, looking the crowd in front of the store.

“Shortly after I was hired here, my last grandparent and father died very close together,” Aaron began. “You might remember that I worked a lot, like, twelve to sixteen hour days. Mama Kitty was always there for me. I would buy her cat food from the pet store and sit out by the dumpster with her as she ate and talked about my father and grandparents. I don’t know if she was actually listening but she’d be there as I talked. She really helped me cope with losing those close to me.”

“Aw, that’s sweet,” MaryJane cooed.

“Mama Kitty was very special,” Ryan cried.

“Does everybody spend an inordinate amount of time by the dumpster?” Ned asked.

“Don’t knock it til you try it,” Dominic said.

“I got Mama Kitty back from the pet crematory,” Ryan said, about a week later, walking into the store. “I figure we could put her on top of the cigarette cabinet behind the counter.”

“That is truly a place of honor,” Dominic said.

“You can’t put an urn of cat ashes behind the counter,” Ned said.

“Why? Because of some sort of stupid health code?” Ryan mocked.


“Well, we have to keep it here at the store. Mama Kitty was an important part of our lives at the store,” Ryan lovingly pet the urn.

“Since all of you and her spent most of your time together out back by the dumpster then maybe you could set the urn out there,” Ned chuckled.

No one else reacted.

Ned sighed and rolled his eyes. “I guess you can put her on a shelf in my office,” he offered.

Ryan and Dominic quickly ran in there, knocked a couple picture frames and a trophy off of a shelf and sat Mama Kitty’s urn carefully on the shelf. “It really ties the place together,” Ryan said. He and Dominic continued looking at the urn. A single tear rolled down Ryan’s face.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Comic Comics #2: Ride Fast for Wyoming

Cowgirls are much more than the sexy lingerie that popped up in the sidebar of Google when I went to search "cowgirls". The women of the American West were an important part of the history of the establishment of the "wild west". There is very little information on cowgirls that would drive cattle up the trails like their fellow cowboys. The women, for the most part, worked side-by-side with the men on ranches and farms and worked to get pro-woman laws passed such as the ability to vote. Women, as cowgirls, came into their during wild west shows where they were able to show that they could handle a horse, bull, and gun just as good or, in many cases, better than a man.
photo by Evelyn Cameron

Fiction House was a publisher of pulp magazines and of comic books. They got into the comic book game, along with everybody else, in the late 1930s, their first title being Jumbo Comics which featured Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. Soon, Fiction House was publishing about a dozen titles that were all selling very well. They helped start the careers of several future comic stars such as Nick Cardy and Bob Powell but also had a staff of women that included Ruth Atkinson, Fran Hopper, Lily Renee, and Marcia Snyder.

Fiction House titles would prominently feature strong, powerful female characters and kept away from the damsel-in-distress trope that was so popular at the time. Sadly, due to this, Frederick Wertham targeted Fiction House in his Seduction of the Innocent. Wertham blamed not only the horror-themed comics for juvenile delinquency but also the sexy and powerful women featured in the titles. Unable to compete in a shrinking market without their biggest titles, Fiction House stopped publishing comics in 1954 and went out of business the following year.

One of their titles was Cowgirl Romances, a combination western and romance title. It lasted twelve issues from 1950 through 1953. We're going to take a look at Cowgirl Romances #1 and the first story in the issue "Ride Fast for Wyoming".

First, I want to point out the cover dress with a woman roping a cow across the logo. That's just amazing and that definitely made me at least pick up the comic if I saw it on a newsstand. The cover is a bit odd--what does this man hear and why are those horses so interested in watching those people do it?

"You keep your mind on weddin' clothes and when our happy day is going to be!"

"No, Rusty--please! The thought of that makes me want to jump in front of stampeding cattle."

According to the information on this comic, the art was done by Al Feldstein who created Sheena for Fiction House but also would go on to work as cover artist and editor for EC Comics' horror, crime, and suspense titles. When EC had to cancel all their titles, Feldstein soon moved into being the editor of Mad, a post he held until 1984. I assume that Feldstein drew this story and Bart Hastings wrote it unless Hastings is a pseudonym for either Feldstein or someone else.

"Is he hurt bad?"

I don't know. He actually looks pretty dead and that horse is like "...the hell...?"

His shirt is getting more tattered with every panel.

I think the J-Box were chasing because he's a stranger...with green pants!?

Ok. Knock it off.

What's this?! A damsel in distress? And here we were just talking about how Fiction House didn't do damsel in distress.

Oh, she's not in distress. Right now, she'd hang him if she could.

Holy jumpin' Jerusalem! She's gonna burn down the Old West Patriarchy. She's gonna do what you lilly-livered men are too chicken shit to do!

"Because even though I rallied the troops, got their blood boiling, and came up with a plan, the men still aren't going to listen to a tiny dumb woman like me."

I want everyone to look at that next to last panel. Take a good hard look at it. Do you notice anything a bit off?

Bess has apparently hitched her wagon to a horse with no legs. Bess is my new favorite character.

So Bess couldn't even be in the meeting with the men? Were they afraid that all the testosterone in the schoolhouse would be too overpowering and she wouldn't be able to keep her clothes on?

THAT'S who Rusty reminds me of. FUNNYMAN!
Just without the clown get-up and long red nose.

Yeah, and that Buffalo Boss is full of tricks. He tricked you good by getting your attention, riding past the door, and shooting you.

Have we gotten to Wyoming yet? Has it been explained why these people are so angry? Ok, you want the grass but you aren't explaining what you want to do with it. I don't get it.

still don't know what's going on...

What? "Trussed up like a turkey"? "What happened, gal? Were they mean to you? Did they tie up widdle-ole you?"

I feel really bad about the death of this character I, and also Bess, wasn't really into. It's a damn shame. Hopefully she can take consolation in the fact that his last words were the exact same thing she said two panels before.

Aren't men named Rusty in the Old West a dime-a-dozen? Just find yourself a new Rusty, I'm sure there are plenty and all basically interchangeable.

It's bad luck to not bury a cowboy with his guns. You just sentenced Rusty to an eternity in Cowboy Hell, missy.

Why are so many faces in the shadows? To hide the fact that they look slightly different than they did in the panel before?

I also don't like the random ranch names they're using. J-Box, Dot-In-A-Box. Sure, they sound real enough but are they really?

Heh. They're gonna meet at Indian Butts tomorrow.

"Du-uh! I'm Tex!"

Now you're listening to Rusty? Earlier you wanted him to shut up and called him a "gun-shy old maid" because he didn't want to just go around shooting everything.

The writer seems to be putting a lot of stock into what Rusty's spirit is saying. If we didn't listen to Rusty when he was alive then why would we listen to him in death?

Also, that horse seems to be having a war flashback or something.

Oh, good. Mr. Green-Pants is back.

I wish Bess' hat would decide what it wants to do. Either be on her head and stay there or just hang off the back of her neck. Make a decision.

At least he gets to raise the roof one last time.

First I'm gonna shoot him then I'm gonna beat his skull in with the handle.

Horse: "Looks like another fine mess you've gotten yourself into."

Hey, proof that we are in Wyoming. So we don't really need to ride fast to Wyoming because we are already there.

"It's Rusty's writing, all right...backwards e's and all."

Well, that was quite an act. There was a thought bubble and everything that led us to believe you were the real villain in the story.

"By the way, was it also an act when you sexually assaulted me? Was that part of the plan? Did Rusty know about that part?"

Huh. Well, that was easy. It's kind of weird that 1)the fire was still burning...wouldn't it be put out before they fall asleep and 2)no heads were sticking out of the sleeping bags, which, to me, would raise suspicions.

I guess if some are "down at the crick" then they would've left the fire burning. But still, their heads.

Holy crap! A background character that has been in every scene of the story is the bad guy and NOT the guy in the green pants? Whodathunk?

"And I would've gotten away with it if it weren't for you meddling kids!"

Wait. If Rusty and Chip are brothers then why doesn't Chip have red hair? Don't get me wrong, I understand how genes work. Different fathers? Maybe their mother was a whore in Denver or Abilene. I don't think that's a story they did in the Golden Age.

Yes, "some crazy things". He punched Rusty, sexually assaulted his brother's girlfriend, and then tied her up. People could've died or been otherwise physically hurt by your actions but he had a reason.

Was calling you "sister" kind of a hint? And you are way too okay with that kiss when you learned it was all part of the plan.

"Quick, kiss me!"


"Kiss me. I'll explain later!"


"I'll explain later!"

"The explanation isn't the problem!"

Women love being compared to cows.

It's like Rusty and Chip made a pact. "Hey, bro, if I ever die, I want you to ask out, date, and sleep with my girlfriend. Promise me that." "I promise, bro." "Swear on my life?" "I swear on your life, bro. I'll date your girl so hard."

Bess' hat still can't make a decision.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Gyrbynerjk #3

“What are you watching?” Barry asked, coming into Brian’s small sleeping quarters. There was a small bed, a sink and toilet, and a TV. Brian was watching TV; it was a bulky 1980s style Emerson television with dials and a faux wood cabinet. Dr. Anderson had modified it to get every streaming service so Brian had access to nearly every TV show ever made.

“The Jetsons.”

“Really? The Jetsons? You strike me as more of a Flintstones man,” Barry sat with Brian on the bed and watch a couple minutes of the show. “So why The Jetsons?”

“Flintstones is clearly the superior show but I like George Jetson as a character better. Fred and Barney could handle themselves what with work, family, their wives, the Water Buffalo Lodge but George had no control over anything. He is constantly at odds with everything. He’s trapped in a world he can’t control or understand.”

“Who’s that?” Barry exclaimed, leaning closer to the TV.

“Rosie the Robot—she’s the Jetsons maid.”

“Hello,” Barry said to the TV. “Look at the rear on her.”

“Yeah, I don’t know why they made her so thicc but whatever.”

“Oh, by the way, Mr. Spacely is calling.”

“Hey, Dr. Anderson, how’s it going?” Brian asked.

“I am better than you ever will be, Brian. Being evil just gets more popular every day,” Dr. Anderson bragged. “Your review today is the pilot episode of the 1984 to 1989 syndicated television series Small Wonder. You’re going to hate it.”

The theme song started up, a man walks out of his office building and sits down on a curb in the parking lot to eat his lunch. “Why is he eating lunch outside?” Barry asked.

“They don’t allow food inside the building,” Brian remarked.

The theme song continued, a syrupy concoction of everything wrong with theme songs. The cast names flashed by and the screen went dark. “Oh, good. Is it over?” Barry asked.

“No, that was just the theme song,” Brian answered.

“Really? Are you sure?”



The series starts with a mother—Joan—working in the kitchen when her son comes home, slamming the back door as kids are known to do in the television situation comedies. His name was Jamie and he is lamenting not having anybody to play with—specifically not having a brother. He’d even settle for a sister. He then makes a crack about his parents not trying hard enough to conceive another child. There’s a knock on the door and Jamie gets up to answer it and immediately slams it in the girl’s face.

“He just performed a soliloquy about not having anybody to play with and when someone comes over to play, he slams the door in their face?” Barry asked.

“Harriet deserves it,” Jamie begins explaining. “She's a pill and she's nosy. What a waste of womanhood."

“Alright, we can check all the boxes on the sitcom young male character personality sheet,” Brian said. “He hates school, talks about sex, complains about women, whiny about everything."

“At least he’s eating his vegetables,” Barry said, pointing out that Jamie was eating a carrot in this scene. Brian shrugged in agreement.

Almost immediately, the father—Ted—comes home. “Hey, where did Harriet go?” Brian asked.

“Maybe she was never there,” Barry answered.

The family goes into the living room and Ted discusses what’s been going on at work and shows his family that he is working on a V.I.C.I—a voice input child identicant—and that it could revolutionize robotics. “Gee, Dad, a grown man playing with a doll at work?” Jamie asked with an eyebrow raised and confusion in his voice.

“Ooh, we can add ‘angered by things outside of gender normality’ to the list,” Barry said.

Joan gives Ted permission to continue his work on the V.I.C.I. and he is next seen programming the little girl bot in the master bedroom to do things such as “blink eyes”, “wiggle nose” and “respond to voice command.”

“There’s just something a little unsettling about a grown man giving orders to a child while she’s lying on a bed,” Brian said.

“It’s made worse by the laugh track,” Barry replied. “They’re all complicit.”

Vicki, as the little robot girl is now known to be, is introduced to the family. Joan drops tonight’s dinner. “You’re putting us on. That’s a real kid, right?” she asked.

“No, no it’s a robot,” Ted answered.

“’So, it’s not technically illegal’ says some pervert in the YouTube comments,” Brian said.

The next morning, Jamie and Vicki are making breakfast for Ted and Joan, who are celebrating their anniversary. Jamie is trying to show Vicki how to do things. She ends up crushing an egg in her hand and the audience groans in the disgust.

“The laugh track is way too into this,” Barry chuckled.

Jamie gets everything set out on a tray and gives the task of delivering the breakfast to Vicki. “It’s the first door in the hall on the left,” Jaime directs.

“’Yes. I. Know. I. Was. Built. There,’” Brian mocked in Vicki’s voice.

Vicki brings the breakfast to Ted and Joan but throws it at them instead. Brian and Barry actually laugh at this. The scene cuts to Jamie and Vicki in Jamie’s room, in trouble. “Wait. Jamie got in trouble because Vicki thought ‘give it to them’ meant throw it at them? That’s on you, Ted. That’s on you,” Barry said.

Jamie then decides to sneak out and get his parents an anniversary present to smooth things over. “My Dad sleeps late on Saturday. I’ll be back before they wake up.”

“They were just awake. Vicki threw breakfast on them,” Brian exclaimed.

For some reason, Vicki follows Jamie to the store, is believed to be one of the store’s displays and locked in a closet. She escapes by ripping the door off its hinges. When Jamie and Vicki return home, they are caught by Ted and Joan. They get in trouble once again and Jamie chastises her. Feeling bad, Jamie apologizes and Vicki rips the door off his toy cabinet. “I can see I’m going to have nothing but trouble with you.”

“Trouble,” Vicki repeated and smiled.

“Yep, she’s going to kill us all,” Barry said.

“Well, that was certainly an episode of a show. A show that lasted a fairly long time. It ran in syndication, not on a network, which may have helped its renewal chances each year especially if it aired weekdays after school when kids got home,” Brian explained. “I never watched it but I knew it existed. I was more of a cartoon kid.”

“This show would probably work better as a cartoon,” Barry said.

“Possibly. Brian out.”

Brian was sitting in bed reading when Barry robotically came into the room, carrying a tray of food. He was wearing a red dress with a white apron. “Good. Morning,” Barry said, mimicking Vicki’s voice.

“What’s going on? What are you doing? Where did you get that dress and apron?” Brian asked.

“Happy. Anniversary. From. Doctor. Anderson. And. Me. And. To. Give. This. To. You,” Barry said and threw the tray of food onto Brian.

Brian could hear Dr. Anderson’s laughter echoing through the ship. “What the hell, Barry?”

“Sorry, Brian. Dr. Anderson wanted me to do that and even though I think you’re a great guy, Dr. Anderson still built me and I thought it would be pretty funny as well. I was right,” Barry explained.

Suddenly, music started playing on the ship PA system. “She’s a small wonder, lovely and bright with soft curls. She’s a small wonder, a child unlike other girls. She’s a miracle, and I grant you, she’ll enchant you at first sight…”

Monday, September 2, 2019

Liberty #3: Superkitten Vs. the Ripper

Alix helped lock up the Saver’s Market and left the store a little after eleven. She walked slowly, tired from the day but she was ready to get home to see her mom and Traci. She walked a familiar route and was glad to be back home after several months away with the All-American Corps. “Is that Alix Kincaid I see?” a voice came from one of the building stoops.

“It is. It’s good to see you, Van. I’m surprised you’re still here. How’s business?” Alix smiled at the man.

“It’s good. People like their drugs,” Van said. “You want to come in?” he asked.

Alix approached Van on the stoop. “It’s been awhile since I’ve done anything like that,” she said.

“It has been awhile since I’ve seen you. What happened? Old lady finally send you away?”

“Not quite. It’s a long story. Sure, I’ll come in. We can get caught up. I don’t have any money though.”

“You know that’s no problem. The old payment plan is still valid,” Van opened the door to the tenement and held the door open for Alix. She walked by Van, still smiling as she passed.

“Traci?” Annabelle Kincaid called from the kitchen, as she tossed a dish towel onto the counter. Traci slowly emerged from the room that she shared with Alix.

“I’m going to head to bed. Alix should be home soon. Do you need anything before I go?”

“No, I’m good. Thanks,” Traci smiled. Traci turned to go back to the bedroom but then stopped abruptly and her knees buckled. “Oh, god!”

“Traci? What’s wrong?” Annabelle ran over Traci.

“I think my water broke. It really hurts,” Traci groaned.

“You’re only six months pregnant, your water shouldn’t be breaking. Come on, we’re get you to the hospital,” Annabelle helped Traci up and get ready to leave. As they went down the stairs, Annabelle took out her phone and called Alix. The phone rang and then went to voicemail. “Alix isn’t answering. I’ll leave a voicemail and send her a text. Hopefully she’ll get them. She should be on her way home.”

Alix slid her bra back on and finished getting dressed. She picked up the second pill and took it. The first pill started working about halfway through the intercourse with Van. She was weak and wobbly but felt lightheaded and amazing. She glanced at her phone and saw the text and voicemail from her mother. She read the message. “Oh my God. Traci’s having her baby. I gotta get to the hospital,” Alix stood up. “Thanks for everything,” she hugged Van. “I’ll see you later.”

“Hope so. Have a good night,” Van hugged back.

“You, too.”

Alix ran downstairs and out onto the streets. She began walking in the direction of the hospital. She got a couple of blocks when she heard someone behind her. She turned around to see some sort of reptilian monster chasing her. She turned around but the creature was quickly on top of her, knocking her to the ground.

She was still high so everything was happening faster than she could react. The creature kept slamming her into the ground. Alix finally gave up and let the creature drag her into the sewer. “You must be the Ripper,” she mumbled. The Ripper tore her shirt off and attempted to rip open her stomach. “Not going to get through that, boyo,” she said and struck at him. He fell to the side but seemed barely hurt.

He quickly stood back up and lunged at Alix. Ripper began striking at Alix who still couldn’t get her bearings. Most of what she was doing was blocking his punches. She finally got a leg up and shoved him away with her leg. He flew across the sewer. Alix tore off her ripped shirt and ran to the sewer hole that he dragged her down but Ripper got there first and slapped her away. She crashed hard into the wall of the sewer; a small trickle of blood came out of her mouth. She looked up at the Ripper and saw double. She was still high, nearly incapacitated, and unsure if she could take him.

“I’m scared,” Traci said to Anna as they were in the hospital, waiting for the doctor who said she had to deliver the baby.

“I know. I’m scared too. It’ll be fine. Alix came slightly early and she’s perfectly healthy. Everything will be fine.”

The doctor came into the room. “We are going to need to deliver this baby,” he said.

“What’s wrong?” Traci asked.

“Aside from being a very premature baby? You are hemorrhaging very badly. This baby is coming tonight,” the doctor said.

“I want Alix here,” Traci said.

“I’ll try calling her again,” Anna said. “You get ready to be a mother. Okay? I’ll be back in two minutes.”

He’s mad that his dinner is actually fighting back, Alix thought. Even if he kills me, he won’t be able to eat me. The Ripper grabbed Alix’s neck and slammed her head into the stone wall and floor before slamming it into a pipe. Blood was now coming out of her nose which she was pretty sure was broken. Gotta get out of this funk. Push through the drugs. She attempted to get up and strike at Ripper but he hit her and she flew into the wall that then collapsed on top of her.

“Okay,” she stood up, pushing the stones and wooden beams off of her. He skin was cut and bruised. Blood poured from her mouth and nose. A black eye was forming. Her pants were now ripped as was the bra she was wearing. “This has to end. No more fucking around.” She calmly walked up to Ripper. He was making some kind of noise—kind of a growl mixed with heavy breathing. “Ripper,” she defiantly said as Ripper thrust a fist at her. The fist hit her hard in the stomach. The connection echoed through the sewer.

Alix took the split second that Ripper was confused to attack. She hit him twice, once to get him away and again into a wall. She wanted to keep him down so leapt onto him and continued hitting him, driving him further into the next tunnel as walls crumbled around them.

She continued hitting Ripper but he was starting to fight back. Their punches were landing but neither were budging. After several minutes of just beating each other senseless, Ripper reached for a pipe, broke it off and hit Alix with it. Gas began wafting out of the broken pipe. Ripper continued bludgeoning Alix with the pipe. Alix was finally able to retaliate and shoved Ripper hard into a wall.

Stones must have rubbed together causing a spark or something because the gas that filled the sewer exploded, ripping through the sewer, spilling out into the city above. Alix and the Ripper got lost in the explosion and debris. The street collapsed taking three dilapidated buildings with it, sending thousands of pounds of destruction into the sewer and on top of Alix and the Ripper.

Alix pushed her way out of the debris. Her body was cut up and bruised. Blood came from her mouth, nose, ear, forehead, and left arm. Her nose was definitely broken as was a toe and a couple of fingers. Alix could barely take a breath before Ripper was back on top of her but this time, she was ready.

She flipped him over as they careened through the air. She could hear sirens arriving. She’ll be able to stop soon. She got him down on the ground and began hitting him as hard as she could. After several punches, she squeezed her hands around his neck and began shaking him and slamming his head into the ground. She kept slamming and slamming. Blood ricocheted with each hit and got on her, the floor and the walls of the sewer. Ripper’s arms went limp and the stone underneath him had turned dark red with blood. She slowed down and then stopped, breathing heavily. She got up and looked at Ripper, unmoving.

The sirens had stopped and she heard people up on the street. She leaped out of the giant sewer hole and the police surrounded her. She began walking and knew what she muse look like—her clothes had taken a beating during the fight. Her pants barely remained, she had to hold up one of her bra cups herself and she was just covered in blood, cuts, and bruises.

“Freeze,” one of the officers said.

“The Ripper’s down there,” Alix said, still walking.

“I said ‘freeze’,” the officer said again.

“I have someplace to be. I’m sorry about all the damage but it’s his fault. Now, I have to get to the hospital.” She began running, wincing in pain and thinking her foot was broken along with a toe.

“Should we go after her?” an officer asked.

“Who cares? Let’s get down there and about this Ripper creature.”

Alix got to the hospital and happened to run into her mother coming out of the cafeteria. “Oh! Alix! Oh my God! What happened?”

“I had a little trouble. It’s nothing,” Alix said. “I’ll get looked at later. Where’s Traci?”

“Room 323,” Anna answered. “She’s sleeping. She…” Anna began to cry and went to hug Alix who winced with the pressure but accepted it anyway.

“I’m gonna go see her.”

Alix went upstairs to Traci’s room. She opened the door slowly. A soft light was on. Traci’s back was turned to the door. Alix slowly walked her. “I’m so sorry, Traci,” she said quietly. Alix crawled into bed, catching her breath and realizing now that a rib was broken. She cuddled with Traci, placing an arm around her and falling asleep.

Monday, August 26, 2019

The Miller Family

Prairie City, Kansas was founded in Douglas County by William Graham, L.F. Green, Salmon Prouty, and James Lane in 1855. There were big plans for Prairie City with the Catholic Mission, the Heber Institute, and the Leavenworth, Lawrence & Galveston Railroad but those big plans never materialized due to the opening of Baker University and founding Baldwin City a quarter mile to the east. Most of Prairie City was vacated by the county in 1883.

A prominent family in the area, the Millers, settled just southwest of the Catholic Church in 1860. Not only were the Millers farmers--mostly animals and fruit--but George, the patriarch, was a stonemason who constructed many stone buildings and structures around the Baldwin City area.

Ever since I discovered this family in 2000, I have been working to get their story and history down. I'm close to having everything I need but still have quite a bit to do. Here's what I have so far.

George Miller, originally Meunier, was born December 28, 1832 in Mariesville, Quebec to Ignace and Marie Desange Meunier. George was the youngest of eight children which probably influenced his decision to leave Canada and come to Kansas. A stonemason, which was probably a family occupation based on the Meunier's dit name, Lapierre, George arrived in Lecompton, Kansas Territory in 1857. He married Margaret Lowery on February 22, 1859 and the two of them moved to Prairie City. It's possible that since Lecompton had its own celebrated stonemason in Mark Migliario, George had to move away to make his own mark in the state.

George's land on Section 5 in Palmyra Township was on the southern slope of Liberty Hill just southwest of where the Catholic Mission had been built. He built his house and started his family and career. George was a well-respected builder and farmer and contributed to numerous public and private projects in and around Baldwin City including several house foundations, at least two bridges--including the Women's Bridge over East Tauy Creek, Pulliam Hall, Parmenter Hall, Centenary Hall, and Rippy Gym on Baker University campus, the old United Methodist Church, old Baldwin High School, and the IOOF Lodge. The stone was quarried from George's property and the local newspapers routinely praised his work. George was ill the last couple years of his life and died July 5, 1909. He is buried in Prairie City Cemetery.

Margaret Miller was born in Frostburg, Maryland to Robert and Juliana Glanville Lowery in 1842. Juliana passed away in 1843. I assume Robert and Margaret came to Lecompton together where Margaret met George. Margaret opened up her house for her neighbors and took care of the property even organizing social events for the Prairie City community. After George passed away, she remained on the farm but was in ill health for most of the end of her life. She lived in Siloam Springs, Arkansas for a short time for her health but moved back to Kansas within a year. Margaret passed away on April 6, 1925 and is buried in Prairie City Cemetery.

George and Margaret's firstborn was Adele, born on January 23, 1860. I have little on Adele's early life but know that she married Francis Xavier Jardon on December 5, 1883. They lived in a stone house in Baldwin and had a farm in Willow Springs Township. Sadly, Adele would pass away on April 8, 1889. She is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Baldwin. F.X. Jardon would remarry on April 15, 1893 to Virginia Elliott. He died in 1930.

Second-born Lucy (August 13, 1861) is also a mystery. Lucy helped out with many social functions around the community and taught at the Oak Grove School in the 1880s. She is recorded as living on the farm in the 1895 Kansas Census and is mentioned as "being of the home" in her mother's 1925 obituary but I have no information on her after that.

George Xavier was born February 2, 1864. Named for his father, George X. died young on July 1, 1865 and was buried near the southwest corner of the house. Ignace, born April 2, 1871, was named for his paternal grandfather, also died young on his first birthday in 1872 and buried next to his brother. They are the only Millers buried with the name MEUNIER. An excavation in 2018 yielding no remains so the exact location of the burial is unknown. The stone has been removed, kept on private property with the hopes of having it installed in Prairie City Cemetery.

Julia was born June 16, 1866. Like Lucy, she was a schoolteacher working for various districts around southern Douglas County including Prairie City, Worden, Independence, and Vinland. Julia then taught at Baldwin High School where she eventually became assistant principal and then principal. Late in her career she served as principal of the Berryton Rural School in Shawnee County. She continued living with her brother Robert until he sold the farm in 1942 and he died. She then lived with her younger brothers Fred and Elmer for a couple of years before moving back to Baldwin City. The last couple years of her life she lived at the Topeka Methodist Home. She passed away on August 22, 1955 at the Security Benefit Hospital a couple weeks after a fire at the Methodist Home displaced its residents. She is buried in Prairie City Cemetery.

Robert, born September 17, 1874, followed in his father's footsteps running his own farm and eventually taking over the family farm until selling the land in 1942. In 1903, Robert gave the land to the Prairie City School District to open a new school which still stands today. Robert died December 18, 1949 and is buried in Prairie City Cemetery.

Elmer was born July 7, 1878 and moved to Lincoln County, Oregon where he became a dairy farmer and breeder. He married Gertrude on December 1, 1917 and they had one son, Robert. His farm still stands along the Siletz River on Elmer Miller Road. Elmer passed away on March 5, 1964. Gertrude passed away in 1995. Both are buried in Eureka Cemetery in Newport, Oregon.

George Frederick, or Fred, was born May 28, 1888. Fred moved, originally, to Boise, Idaho where he married Margaret Johnson. Fred ran a farm near Pocatello, Idaho. Fred passed away on October 27, 1976 with Margaret following in 1997. Both were cremated and interred in Prairie City Cemetery.

The house that George built came under new ownership in 1942 and has sat abandoned since about the 1970s and is currently private property. Nearby is the Midland Railway and the ruins of the Prairie City Catholic Mission. The house was built facing east in National Folk style, or I-house. Three additions were built onto the house over the years: the front porch, columns, and upstairs porch, an open porch that became enclosed around 1972, and a remodeled kitchen area. For years, the house and graves attracted trespassers and vandals ultimately leading to the house being demolished in early 2019.

The doorway to the back stairs.

April 2019.

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