TOPIC OF THIS CONTEST WAS:
Even with the heater on high, and wearing her snow pants, parka, mittens and scarf, she was shaking from the cold. Her shoulders tensed as she she peered over the steering wheel, dodging black ice and snow banks. She knew she’d picked the wrong time of year to pull this off but it was too late to change her plans now. Her mind briefly wandered as she fantasized about her destination. And, that’s when she misjudged a curve…
As she quickly rounded a curve, she was instantly pulled out of her reverie. A tiny, shivering boy was sitting alone by the side of the road…
(Stories need only touch on this topic in some way to qualify.)
Abner couldn’t wait to get home. He had driven the wagon over to Old Man Bowden’s place to get some supplies and now he was chasing darkness through the dust and the heat to get back home. Lilly, the old horse, was doing her best. “Come on, Lilly, we’ll get a drink when we get home.”
Coming up on four years ago, Abner Glenn, his father, and his brother Billy had homesteaded sixty-four acres each in Oklahoma, just across the Arkansas River from Tulsa. They had to live on the property and improve it for five years and it would be theirs. All of them were sick of the place and were thinking of calling it a big mistake and going back to Indiana. The water was bad and nothing grew in the dry soil. Their wives hated it, and Billy had lost his first born son to the heat.
All of this was running through Abner’s mind when he saw somebody standing out in the field. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. There were no other families for miles. As he got closer he could see it was a boy. He drove up and told Lilly whoa.
“Hey, boy, what you doin’ out there?”
The boy looked at him like he had never seen a person before. “I don’t know. I was with my school class and suddenly I’m standing here.”
“Well, come on and get in the wagon. There’s nothin’ out here and we gotta get home before dark.” The boy climbed in looking like a walking dead man.
Billy clicked his tongue twice, and Lilly got going.
“What’s your name, boy?”
“Richard. They call me Richie.” Suddenly he burst out crying. “My mom calls me Richie. Where is my mom? Why am I here?”
“I don’t know, bud. We’ll try to figure it out.”
When they got home, Paw and Billy were there. They looked questions at him but didn’t say anything.
“Let’s get unloaded and I’ll tell you over supper, okay?” They both nodded.
Edna had a good supper made, but the boy didn’t eat much.
“Ok, Richie, tell us what happened,” Abner said. “To start with, how old are you?”
“I’m twelve. I was with my class learning about the oil wells. Then I think some old man said something to me and the next thing I know I’m standing out there in the dirt.”
“There ain’t no oil wells around here, boy. Where were you?”
“We were in Red Fork. We took a ferry across the river from Tulsa and went to see the oil wells. There were hundreds of them.”
Everyone just looked at him. Edna had been quiet up to now, listening to him and looking at his unusual clothes. She said, ” Richie, what year is it?”
“It’s 1937, everybody knows that.”
The silence in the room was so profound that it could have fallen in and crushed them all. The date was August 14, 1886. Nobody said anything for what seemed about a week.
Finally Paw said, “About those oil wells, Richie, where did you say they were?”
“They were right by Red Fork. They said the main oil field was discovered in 1905 in a place called Glenn Farm, They called it the Glenn Pool, and the man said it was the best oil ever discovered in the United States. He said the first well was drilled in 1901 and it was called the Sue Bland #1. I took notes but I don’t know where they are now.”
Paw said, “Good Lord, my momma’s maiden name was Sue Bland.”
The men said, almost in one voice and together, “This is Glenn Farm.”
Paw said, “Boys, this young fella has come to tell us that all that oil is right under our land. He has come to tell us not to give it up and move back to Indiana. The Red Fork he’s talking about doesn’t even exist yet. He has come back in time to tell us that we should wait for history to take its course because now we know where history is gonna take us. We’re all gonna be rich.”
Paw was right. We all turned out rich and happy. We never figured out how to get Richie back to the other time. He lived out his life with us. Once, we took the two day trip across the Arkansas River to Tulsa to look for his family, but the street he lived on didn’t exist yet. We couldn’t find out anything about his family, They probably hadn’t moved West yet. It turned out he was real smart. He managed the oil business for the family.
Years later, in May of 1937, a 12-year-old kid named Richard Abernathy was on a field trip with his 6th grade class, learning about the oil fields in Red Fork, when an old man named Abner Glenn walked up to him, put a finger on Richard’s forehead, and said “Come tell us.”
You know the rest of the story.