PROLOGUE – THANK YOU ROD SERLING
Where to begin? Begin at the beginning you say? But, what if there is no beginning, only a middle? What if all trails always come back to the same place and the same people? And what if you don’t know where the place is, or who the people are? That is the situation I find myself in – trails that always circle back. Thus the question remains where to begin?
Where to begin? That I know there is a highway 110 /610 that intersects with 24/240?
What can you say about a town that doesn’t exist? That it has streets named after famous places such as Las Vegas Boulevard or Congressional Avenue. The town is divided into sections with each part named after other cities such as Chicago and New York. How do you explain the marsh out highway 110 that houses industrial warehouses run entirely by women? Or that there are two bridges? While one bridge offers a picturesque view of ‘Old Town,’ the other provides a mind-numbing, bone chilling climb toward the skies and is prone to freak tornado attacks and unfortunately, it is the latter bridge that leads to the highway and the loop?
The Hotel is located on the corner of Congressional and Constitutional Avenues. And the old Albertieon Theater houses an actor’s revue and you can take your pick of three movies. Fridays are still three-dollar night and you can see all three movies for the price of one.
China Hut, the only place for real Chinese food is located in the middle of ‘Little New York’ where you can shop at the multitude of emporiums from Chinese, Taiwanese, and Korean to Japanese, Indian, and African but not American. After shopping you can refresh yourself at the Victorian Tea Room, the China Hut, or the old ‘Soda Fountain.’
What can you say about a cluster of buildings in ‘New California’ that is known only as ‘the Complex?’ That it houses exhibits befitting the oddest collections in the Smithsonian Institute? These precious oddities are viewed from inside buildings designed to resemble the architecture of that particular time or place? Hence, Egyptian exhibits are in the Sphinx and the Pyramids while French items are in the Cathedral de Notre Dame. An amusement park resides within The Complex as well as a never-ending carnival known as ‘the Boardwalk.’ Or how about the fact that the operators of ‘the Complex’ are never seen outside it’s confines except for the female executive director?
What can you really say about a town that is laid out in concentric circles where only in the absolute middle of town does the sun appear apocalypse red? How about a black train that races along the outskirts where trains no longer run? With an engine no longer used? Or a train that begins and ends at the far end of ‘the Complex?’
And how do you describe the people inhabiting this town? What phrases do you use to talk about the ancient blind, black man who owns a gun store in the center of the downtown median strip and always knows what kind of gun you need even though you have never met him and had only just arrived in town? Or the ‘blue lady’ who operates the ‘Blues Café’ coffee shop that opens for breakfast and lunch only?
How safe can a man with a secret past and his son be living in the old mansion that resembles a cross between the houses of the Munster clan and the Addams Family with a mixture of Shirley Jackson’s, ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ thrown in for good measure? A house that burns to the ground while rescuers work feverishly to save a young pregnant woman whose love for her husband makes her keep trying to reach him as he heads back inside to save his son who is still in the house over and over again. This place is known to the townsfolk as ‘the haunted mansion.’
How about a police department that instructs the police chief to select a lieutenant who must hire a ‘hit man’ to knock off the city council and Mayor? Is it corrupt, or simply evil?
And finally, what can you say about a world-weary assassin who takes on the assignment as his very last before retirement? Who stays in a cottage on Wolfsbane Avenue at 666 Blackbird circle? From his window he can look across a vacant lot filled with blackbirds to a forest. Nestled along the edge of the forest is a camp. From the forest he can gain access to the cliffs overlooking the town. There he can watch, hidden, what is going on in the town and plot his strategy.
What can you say about it all? Nothing. Who in their right mind would believe you? So you keep going until it bubbles up and you can not stop it. Even then you say absolutely nothing except, “Welcome to Winona. Welcome to my night and thank you Rod Serling.
Coming soon Part 2: The Hunter’s Club
Copyright © FM Burgett 2020. All rights reserved.
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Winona is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, evens and incident either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.