A Taxi in Big Timber
6 July 2007
She arrived in the backseat of a taxi,
yellow with a sign on top,
a city taxi, markedly out of place
in a place like Big Timber.
She didn't pay him any money.
The taxi would wait, running in place
while we watched from various vantage points.
She was dressed like an escapee from the TV set,
vixen in a soap opera or prime time seductress,
but definitely not dressed for Big Timber,
despite the wretched relentless heat.
Her eyes had no shame, looking wherever they wanted,
wanting to look at Pete Wilson's teenage son,
who was known to be shy to the point of suicide,
who was too shy to acknowledge, turned his head
and pretended to be on his way to someplace else.
She walked up the steps of Greestock's Store,
three short steps to a wooden plank porch,
one step at a time, click, click, and opened the door,
the sound of Fox News stumbled out and she paused,
momentarily uncertain, or so it seemed,
glanced back at the taxi, then went inside.
A shock of whispering went through the crowd,
if you want to call it a crowd,
a handful of teenagers, sans Pete Wilson's son,
grandpa Medley, his twelve year old niece,
the Big Timber Quilting Society, including me,
and the postman, who was late making his rounds
because of the heat and Wilma Hopkins' pie.
If she was from Big Timber, we'd know who she was,
or so somehow hypothesized.
There are secrets in Big Timber, for sure,
but they are micro secrets, not secrets
big enough to get out of a city taxi and walk up steps,
or barely wear something barely covering her back,
nothing like a loud whisper to remind you of that,
smashing through all the theories of who and why,
until arriving like Sherlock Holmes to an inevitable
answer: she must be . . . she has to be . . .
and yes it was inevitability: Dilah Greestock,
someone had racked their brain and found the name:
the daughter of old man Greestock who left long ago,
her mother pulling her along like so much cargo,
disappearing on the Greyhound bus to Rapid City,
and the only reminder of that moment, to this moment,
according to someone in the pack, had been the papers,
legal documents, divorce and property settlement.
The woman from the taxi would be the right age,
or so it was surmised. All growed up
and coming to see her daddy.
We felt comforted by the hypothesis,
a daughter coming home to see her daddy,
Nature trying to set itself right.
Tension slipped away in the mid-day heat,
until the woman re-emerged,
unsmiling, with a paper bag under her arm,
no old man Greestock in tow,
or standing at the door and watching,
like the dutiful father that could have been.
She looked at us as one might look at birds
lined up willy nilly on a tree branch,
got back in the waiting taxi and in a hail of gravel
exited Big Timber and our collective consciousness.
We looked at each other. We looked at the taxi.
Turns out, she was no one's daughter in Big Timber,
just stopped by to buy some unmentionables,
Nature in need of being set right.
There was a shrug or two, an "oh well,"
but no one dwells long on such things,
the collective consciousness being what it is.
© 2007, Satya J. Gabriel