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November 11: Flash Fiction Challenge

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November 11Today I got an email from the NaNo organizers that encouraged:

Time + Work = Novel.

That formula could apply to many endeavors including the time and work our veterans put in to serve their countries; or the time and work displaced citizens put in to find new homelands.

I’m thinking of both service and those served in light of Veteran’s Day or Remembrance Day. Like the yin and yang of writers and readers, a novel exists in the hands of both. And so do wars exist in lives of soldiers and those seeking peace.

Not that writing a novel is a war, but it can be a battle at times. Often I fight doubt and have to press through hardship to reach my goal. The biggest hardship is managing time, which often leaves me feeling exhausted. Not as worn as a soldier on the battlefield, or displaced persons on the run. But in the battle to get words and time committed to pages and revision, I find late nights and coffee-fueled morning are becoming a pattern.

So I’m proposing rest. Soldiers often took R&R even in war-times, their leaders recognizing the importance of overcoming battle fatigue. And what better place to rest than in my bed, or so says Grenny who stretches out across our comforter, relieved that the humans have finally vacated his favorite spot. Restful spots can vary as much as mattresses and pillow preferences (talk about wars, couples often fight about firmness and softness, fluffy or flat, hot or cold).

Even sheriffs need time off to unwind. Was it possible that Cobb McCanles tired of his profession and wanted a comfortable retirement to recoup from his occupation? Around the same time that Cobb was planning his leave, a fellow sheriff in another North Carolina county found refuge in an insane asylum:

INSANE — Mr. Plunkett, Sheriff of Carabus County, was brought to this city Friday last and placed in the Insane Asylum. The duties of his office, it is said, were probably the chief cause of his derangement.

~ 24 Nov 1858 Weekly Raleigh Register

Pressure is a motive to consider. Yet, Cobb was young and self-possessed; he hardly seemed ready to settle into a comfortable down mattress or padded cell. The fact that Cobb served any longevity as Sheriff of Watauga County, North Carolina is a matter of restless dispute.

James Butler Hickok has numerous biographers and all make various claims to Cobb’s service as Sheriff. Because most biographers glorify Hickok, they all want to discredit Cobb to make it look like he was the bully who got what he deserved — shot. Yet, if anyone points out that Hickok, or Wyatt Earp were bullies, the fact that they occasionally wore a territorial lawman badge is used to defend their tough actions. If it were true that Cobb served as an elected Sheriff for more than seven years, and that he formally organized a process of adjudication of the law in the Nebraska Territory, then his actions at Rock Creek might be better understood as ones attributed to a lawman.

Respected contemporary Hickok historian, Joseph Rosa, like all other past historians of this event, does not seek any documents or records relating to Cobb McCanles. All he does is repeat second-hand stories historian John Preston Arthur recorded in 1911 and that William Connelley repeated in 1933.  Rosa writes:

He got himself elected deputy sheriff of the county in 1852, but he and the County Sheriff, one Jack Horton, disliked but tolerated each other. Horton was a big man and may have resented the younger man’s strength, which probably equaled his own. They agreed that McCanles would not run for sheriff in any forthcoming elections, but McCanles obviously had no intention of keeping such a promise, and in 1856 announced himself as a candidate.

First of all, how do we have any way of knowing whether or not Horton resented McCanles? Come on, that’s my job as a fiction writer to come up with thoughts, feelings and motives. Historians make good fiction writers at times. Do you see how cleverly Rosa defames Cobb as an oath-breaker?

Connelly is among the worst Cobb bashers as far as historians go. George Hansen wrote a 1927 article for the Nebraska Historical Society about the Rock Creek incident and included Monroe’s eye-wittness account and family history from the McCanleses. Connelly was with neighboring Kansas Historical Society and resented Hansesn’s account that showed Cobb in a more favorable light. So great was the verbal battle between these historians that Rosa refers to them as factions. And factions only muddy unclear water. Here’s a snippet from Connely’s book where he discredits Hansen’s work:

Perhaps neither Mr. Hansen nor his magazine knew the facts — a most unfortunate circumstance if true — for it would seem that the editor should have known, having been entrusted with the accurate preservation of the history of a great state. If these men were in possession of the truth and suppressed it, what a situation they made for themselves…

…The real purpose of Mr. Hansen’s statement was to establish a good name for the ruffian.

“At the age of twenty-three David was elected to the office of sheriff of Watauga county on the Whig ticket, to which office he was elected four successive terms.” [Connelly is quoting Hansen.]

Not true. Jack Horton was sheriff from 1852 to 1856 and McCanles was his deputy during that time. In 1856 McCanles ran for the office against Horton and was elected. This was his only election. He held the office until he absconded, January 6, 1859. His term would not have expired until 1860.

Mark Dugan is the only historian I’m aware of who actually searched records to settle this dispute. Stoneman’s Cavalry burned the Watauga County Courthouse in 1863 during the Civil War. A side note is that my 3rd-great grandfather rode in that raid on the Union side and he was married to Cobb’s niece, my 3rd-great grandmother. Mary, Cobb’s wife, lost her brother in that raid. He was a Confederate soldier. Digging into the past, even today, can be like digging into a wound. Duggan did though, and he claimed to have found a tax receipt from 1852 that was signed by a deputy on behalf of “Sheriff D. C. McCanles.”

While that seems to settle the dispute, Dugan fails to copy or record the whereabouts of this receipt. I’d like to believe it, but I don’t want my research to be as biased as that of others. I had searched North Carolina newspaper archives for news of Cobb’s land deed troubles in 1859 and beyond. In trying to understand the role of sheriff and bonds at that time, I found a book of historic statutes from North Carolina. It was there I discovered that sheriffs in the 1850s were elected to two-year terms. That means, if Cobb really was elected at the age of 23 in 1852, then Hansen was correct in recording four elected terms for him.

Once I found out when elections took place, I began searching August newspapers for election results. And this is what I discovered:

PROOF_of_Sheriff_The_Weekly_Standard_Wed__Aug_18__1852_

McCanles(s) elected Sheriff of Watauga! However, I was surprised to see his political party as “d” for Democrat, not Whig. Each election year, I found results that Cobb was elected and under different parties. In 1854 he did run on the Whig ticket; in 1856 he ran on the controversial K.N. (Know Nothings); and in 1858 he ran on the “dis.” ticket which I have yet to decipher. Discontented, perhaps? He left North Carolina and his position of authority six months after his fourth election.

Thoughts of why fill my head as I try to connect my draft to deeper research results. My current research is because I wrote earlier chapters and noted wobbly entries as “look up later.” Well, it’s now later. And it’s late. Time and work is spent and now I seek a comfortable spot that is Grenny-approved.

November 11, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write about a place of comfort that is a refuge. Have fun with it, like a pillow fight between best friends at a slumber party or newlyweds in search of the perfect mattress. Or you can go dark and write about unusual comforts, like a bad habit or a padded cell. Play with the idea of comfort and refuge.

Respond by November 17, 2015 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

***

Refuge on the Porch by Charli Mills

“Perhaps you have milk that is not more than one quarter flies?”

Sarah set aside her ledgers when the traveler walked into the post holding a teacup like a live rattler. He had slept in the bunkhouse with the Express riders, declaring he couldn’t sleep another night on the ground.

“Sleep comfortable, Lord Burton?”

“Comfort has fled these rough parts.”

“I’ll fetch you fresh milk and hot tea. You can wait on the porch.”

When Sarah returned, Lord Burton was smiling. Like many who felt displaced in the vast prairies, the old hickory rocker was a throne of comfort.

###

 


93 Comments

  1. Norah says:

    It’s not fair Charli, I just finished reading last week’s compilation! And your NaNoReViSo – and forgot to comment, so now I’m going to be confused about which post is which. No comfort in that!
    This is really interesting information you have shared here and proves the point of history being just someone’s opinion. I am very impressed by the thoroughness of your research. It’s incredible to think that an author of fiction would seek out the truth in way not even contemplated by supposed “factual” historians. I think it is true that much of what we read as history is just somebody’s half-informed opinion. I like that you are exploring it from all angles to get as close to the truth as you can. What a great deal of patience and perseverance is required.
    Your flash, as always, is great. A rocking chair is a wonderfully relaxing and comfortable place. I shall endeavor to think of something with which to respond to your prompt.

    Liked by 7 people

  2. Annecdotist says:

    Well done, Charli, in untangling these mysteries and I think you’ve earned yourself a good rest. With a heavy cold this week, I find I’m having to rest a little more than I’m inclined to, though that does enable me to read even more often usual! Interesting you mention the mental asylum as a refuge – clearly its original intention, but didn’t work out that way for many. A reminder of how much I’m lagging behind you in my much-needed NanoReviso regarding the novel I started last year.
    Not sure where it will take me, but the idea of the “refuge that isn’t” is something that intrigues me, as well as fitting with some of my recent reading, so hope I’ll be able to come up with the goods this week.

    Liked by 6 people

    • Insane asylum as refuge… Not in the 1800s was it? !!! Wasn’t it more a way to “dispose of” people? Am I way off on this? I think that’s part of what makes it so horrifying — you never knew when someone might decide you belong there. And they were the stuff of horror movies. Literally. Sorry, taking Charli’s topic off track here.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Charli Mills says:

        Sarah, that 1850s rabbit hole was to scour newspapers for election results. Even in that focused search, insane asylums were big in the news, mostly taxation, but there were also lists of types of insanity incarcerated. Disappointment was big! Can you imagine? Feel disappointed and its off to the asylum with you! A sad one was not having a good childbirth experience. I’m thinking, baby blues? Wow. There’s some material in that sector of history.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Annecdotist says:

        Actually, Sarah, it was for some in the early 1800s, which was when “moral treatment” was introduced – basically a system of treating people like people and making sure they had something useful to do:
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_treatment
        Things went into decline again when the mad doctors took over this lucrative area and the asylum got too big.
        Although I’m not as dedicated an historian as Charli, I’m really keen that people know about this aspect of medical history. There’s an assumption that it was only the development of neuroleptics in the 1950s that enabled psychiatric patients to be “contained”, but the Quakers and others were managing it 150 years earlier with compassionate treatment regimes.
        I’m not saying that inappropriate admissions didn’t happen alongside this, but then when I was working in a psychiatric hospital in the 1990s there were old ladies who had been admitted as young women for the illness of getting pregnant outside marriage.

        Liked by 5 people

      • I cannot imagine. I actually like to learn about this but it’s difficult to read. Yes, I know how often people were thrown in asylums for…nothing.

        Anne! Really? I’m looking forward to reading that. Thanks for the link. Yes, your last paragraph there…that’s what I’m talking about. These are actual horror stories.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Charli Mills says:

      I hope your cold is subsiding, though I enjoyed your recent trio of reviews. And congratulations and making your incredible reading goal — 100 novels! Revision doesn’t seem to push the way drafting does. Lots of research to resolve little “get to it later” issue that can make big difference. I like that idea of not finding refuge where it ought to be. Maybe refuge is a false construction, simply clinging to something familiar but not truly comforting or comfortable.

      Liked by 4 people

  3. Charli – Great post, as usual! Cobb’s political affiliation of “dis.” in the 1858 election may refer to his position on secession — with “dis.” referring to “disunion.” Might be worth checking out.

    Larry

    Liked by 4 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Oh, wow, Larry. That’s something! Definitely following that lead…it might be one of the missing puzzle pieces! Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Charli Mills says:

      Have not yet discovered for certain the abbreviation, however, I did discover that the men who held the Sheriff’s bond took active roles in the secession. Cobb’s family was outspokenly against secession and moved “over the mountain” to Tennessee where the Unionists had gathered and attempted to form “East Tennessee.” Cobb left six months after his election as a “dis.” Within days of his departure, the county Militia (which, as Sheriff he mustered through all his previous terms) was made a full regiment; military schools began arming; new taxes to fund the state going to war were issued; and an act was past that any sheriff not upholding these new laws would be found guilty of a misdemeanor and removed from office. I can understand why he left if he did not uphold disunion views.

      Like

      • Charli – This shoots down my theory that Cobb was aligning himself with disunionists in the 1858 local election. (It isn’t the first time one of my theories has been shot down.)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Charli Mills says:

        Actually, Larry, I think you are on to something! I think he did align himself with those who could get him elected, but it was more than he bargained for once the Legislation began banging the war drum. Maybe he was just (dis.)illusioned!

        Like

  4. I love the ” yin and yang of writers and readers”. I often feel that way especially with my fiction on the Reef. Interesting… (And interesting thought from Larry.) You really are down a rabbit hole of research, aren’t you? 😉 Excellent digging.

    Love the flash! The “old hickory rocker” is a great description. Makes me want a cup of lemonade on the porch. (No milk, thank you.)

    Liked by 5 people

  5. […] Flash Fiction Challenge over at Carrot Ranch […]

    Liked by 2 people

  6. […] Flash Fiction Challenge over at Carrot Ranch […]

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Pete says:

    Trenchmas

    It snowed on Christmas Eve, covering the bodies and stench. A few errant shots, but at dusk all was still.

    I heard a song and peeked across the barbed wire. A single spiked helmet approached, illuminated by the lights.

    Christmas Trees, in such a place!

    Our Captain nodded. We lay down our weapons, trembling, emerging from the muck to face the Germans.

    We exchanged cigarettes. Brandy. Carols. We laughed, compared wounds, talked sports. We buried the dead.

    Later, when the drink was finished and the candles flickered, we returned to our holes only to pick up our cold guns.

    Liked by 10 people

  8. A. E. Robson says:

    It is a comforting locale that becomes a gift. Imagination and seriousness blend and flow like water in a mountain creek. The words become the story often inspired by where we find sanctuary.

    Morning Sanctuary
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    There is a tiny wedge of colour showing along the eastern horizon as she slips from the warmth of the bed. Notebook and camera in hand, she leaves the house.

    The short trip down the gravel road will take her past the awakening duck pond to the hill beyond. She drives with the windows down listening to the sounds of the morning coming to life. Stopping often to capture the explosion of sky colours.

    Finally, she arrives at that place where Mother Nature’s amphitheater engulfs her soul. Her vision and thoughts are uninterrupted in this sanctuary. Here, she writes.

    http://www.annedallrobson.com/99-words/morning-sanctuary

    Liked by 10 people

  9. Sherri says:

    I had to smile wryly at this: ‘The duties of his office, it is said, were probably the chief cause of his derangement.’ It seems the stress of the job was recognised as far back as 1858 :/ Nowadays of course, treatment is very different. I am absolutely fascinated (I know I keep saying it like a broken record…) of all you are unearthing in your research about Cobb. I knew none of this. I seriously can’t wait to read your book, you have such a unique take on events, something to make those who have gone before in their suppositions sit up and take notice methinks. Love the photo of Grenny. I took one look and thought ‘Oh, I wish I could do that!’. I hope you enjoy plenty of R&R this weekend Charli, and return refreshed. I honestly don’t know how you do all that you do. I am barely clinging on while trying to keep my revisions going, but you are steaming ahead and I am in awe. I had a rocking chair for 20 years, nursed all three kids in it and spent many an hour nodding off. I miss it. Your wonderful flash had me taking a deep breath at the end as that moment of pure rest came to Lord Burton at last. I would be delighted to join him with a cup of tea, with milk of course 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Right! Job stress is not a new phenomenon. Unearthing and then building, ah I hope I can do justice to the story. When I first started writing, I was uncertain about certain things, but to revise I found I needed certainty or I had to go with my gut and just write. I (hope) I’m doing both. I want to go snuggle with Grenny who is at the moment in my bed! I have a knot in my shoulder from writing, but I still feel so behind. Yet, really, why do we writers feel “behind”? I understand deadlines, but it seems more than that, like we expect ourselves to be able to get this story out that seems so cohesive inside, and yet so broken on the page. Time. Like anything, it takes time. I have such a rocker, a glider! It squeaks now and shows its age in the wood, but contains so many memories of babies. And Lord Burton was a real traveler who past through Rock Creek. He left a scathing entry in his diary — that opening line is his! Flies and mosquitoes were a huge problem at the road station. I hope he did find comfort.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Sherri says:

        I think you hit the nail on the head Charli, that wanting to get ‘this story out that seems so cohesive inside, and yet so broken on the page.’ That is so, so true. Therein lies our frustration never-ending feeling of being ‘behind’. I suppose as each day we hit it and write and rewrite and rewrite again, we at last see the story take form. Then we are certain but we also know we have written from the gut. That’s what you’re doing right now! I hope that knot goes. I’ve had headaches from tense shoulders and neck. Geeze, what are we doing to ourselves? Haha…we are compelled! And oh, a glider! I love gliders. Such precious memories…and that is really fascinating about Lord Burton. We can imagine he found rest…as I hope you also do even as you keep digging. And then I hope you get to snuggle with Grenny 🙂 ❤

        Liked by 2 people

      • A work of art – an authentic historical novel cannot be rushed! Charli, the amount of detail you review, ponder and embrace before you write is phenomenal. The details you reveal in your posts are amazing and so compelling! Only you will know when it is enough.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Charli Mills says:

        When I drafted the story and got to a questionable spot, I just wrote, “need more info” or a wrote out a question. So far, I’ve spent almost three weeks on three notes…I don’t want to do the math on that average! You are so right — a historical novel can’t be rushed.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thank you for expanding the idea of refuge! Also, your post speaks to some of what I struggle with in writing history as fiction — does it matter if an author includes elements that didn’t exist in the time era? One can argue for history informing an idea which is the focus of the novel, or an idea that is revealed in the history. I suppose author motivation matters more than reader preference.

      Like

  10. […] Charli’s Carrot Ranch comes this […]

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  11. TanGental says:

    http://geofflepard.com/2015/11/16/sanctuary/ not the greatest use of the prompt, but for once I needed to keep the story going. Hope you’ll forgive me!

    Liked by 5 people

  12. […] This week at the Carrot Ranch Charli Mills has challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write about a place of comfort that is a refuge. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Norah says:

    Hi Charli, I hope my flash sits comfortably within the parameters of the prompt. Talking classrooms again. 🙂 http://wp.me/p3O5Jj-BA

    Liked by 6 people

  14. Deborah Lee says:

    Hi Charli! Great prompt and flash. Now I want to give my poor homeless woman a rickety old rocking chair in her squatter’s digs.

    http://ninetyninemonkeys.blogspot.com/2015/11/huddled-refuge-flash-fiction.html

    Liked by 5 people

  15. […] https://carrotranch.com/2015/11/12/november-11-flash-fiction-challenge/ In 99 words (no more, no less) write about a place of comfort that is a refuge. Have fun with it, like a pillow fight between best friends at a slumber party or ; newlyweds in search of the perfect mattress. Or you can go dark and write about unusual comforts, like a bad habit or a padded cell. Play with the idea of comfort and refuge. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  16. julespaige says:

    Athenaeum Cathedra

    Sophia found relief in the big comfortable chairs at the
    University Library. That’s where she dreamt of freedom.

    Sophia left for her classes early in the morning and didn’t
    leave for home until after dinner. She didn’t want to have
    to clean up after Them, again. Often between classes was
    the only time she could really get useful sleep. Because when
    she was home They chose to argue rather loudly until all odd
    hours attempting to resolve their issues; right under her room.
    It was a simple suburban home there was no sound proofing
    between the floors.

    ©JP/dh

    The post can be found here:
    Athenaeum Cathedra

    Liked by 6 people

  17. […] wrote this story in response to November 11, 2015 Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge: In 99 words (no more, no less) write about a place of comfort that is a […]

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I discovered that Michael Jordan viewed basketball as place of refuge, a place he’s always gone where he needed comfort and peace. I don’t play basketball, but I do dance so I chose it as the backdrop to my story.

    http://katespencer17.com/2015/11/16/dance-lesson/

    Liked by 4 people

  19. […] the Carrot Ranch weekly 99-word flash fiction challenge: this week’s topic is […]

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Love the topic this week and hope it comes back again for future challenges!

    Here’s my story:
    https://abringerofnewthings.wordpress.com/2015/11/16/stolen-moment-a-99-word-story/

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Pat Cummings says:

    Your prompt gave me a nice addition to my NaNovel this week. Cast Out of Eden is also a great snapshot of my protagonist! ( http://goo.gl/fz6ir7 )

    Liked by 4 people

  22. Yes everything has a yin and yang . War and peace. Writers and readers. I’m tired just hearing of your hours so a rest I think is a great idea. The dis stands I think for the dis-organiser party (along similar lines to the whigs but with differences). Found in John F. Hoadly’s Origin of American Political parties 1789 -1803. https://irenewaters19.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/fron-hoadlys.png. It might give you something to follow up if it is important to the story. Interesting though that he stood for different political groups at each election. Yes you’ve definitely earned a rest. Loved your flash. It had an absolute feel of refuge and warm comfort in that chair in otherwise fairly stark circumstances.
    Mine this week

    http://irenewaters19.com/2015/11/17/snake-on-the-cloud-99-word-flash-fiction/

    Liked by 2 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Oh, dis-organizer party. I’ll look into that. Thank you! I think they were all Whigs in 1852 but the party fell apart and by 1858 we see that those who had once been united were no longer so. Cobb followed whoever would endorse him, but he couldn’t or wouldn’t stay. It’s kind of intense right now, but I’ll get everything spread out and manageable. I love all that I’m doing so I guess that’s a comfort!

      Liked by 2 people

  23. roweeee says:

    Hi Charli,
    I think this is my first attempt at flash fiction. I wrote about holding hands:
    https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/11/17/flash-fiction-11th-nov-2015/
    xx Rowena

    Liked by 5 people

  24. […] week, Charli suggests a place of comfort and refuge for her flash fiction […]

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Sherri says:

    Sliding in by the skin of my horse’s hoof, ha! I had to start over, my original idea disappeared, just as Fred is want to do. Here it is…be back soon! Thanks again Charli…I’m dreaming of pancakes and sausage links 🙂 http://sherrimatthewsblog.com/2015/11/17/a-holiday-for-fred-99-word-flash-fiction/

    Liked by 3 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Skin of your horse’s hooves! Ha, ha! Somehow, I can see your horse grinning, too — he’s a character. Sorry I only have midnight snacks tonight. Thinking tomorrow might be another pancake morning…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sherri says:

        Haha…I can see my horse, tackle and everything! Always wanted one of my own, now I’ve got one, and that makes me very happy indeed 😀 Need to give him a name 😉 Midnight snacks work well…and then you can catch up on your sleep dreaming of that yummy short stack for the morning…I’ll bring the maple syrup! Sleep well Charli Mills ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      • Charli Mills says:

        Giddy up Midnight Snacks! All right, bring the maple syrup!

        Like

  26. *Please Read Me*

    Hi, Rough Writers!

    Just a quick comment to let you know that Charli’s area was hit with a storm and electricity is down. She wasn’t able to complete the compilation for this week.

    Also, Mother Nature will do as she pleases so no ideas on how long the power outage will last. Charli wanted to let everyone know she’ll be back online, posting compilations and prompts, when she is able.

    Thanks, all! ❤

    Liked by 5 people

  27. C. Jai Ferry says:

    I wasn’t gonna participate this week because I knew I wouldn’t make it in time…and then I saw the Mother Nature note. Oooh, she is a fickle one (whom I completely respect!).

    http://www.cjaiferry.com/blog/nature-time-struggles/

    Liked by 2 people

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