Title: Saving Dividend - Chapter 1
Plot: Mary Bate finds herself at the bottom of a mineshaft with a broken leg
Notes: From the draft of my book called Saving Dividend
Listen to "Saving Dividend - Chapter 1 - My Death" on Spreaker.
Hey, welcome back!
Over the past year I've quoted from several of my self help books and so I thought it was time I share some of my fiction with you. I haven't published this book yet. This is my draft for my book called Saving Dividend. I wrote this book for my mom who is from Dividend.
In my podcast titled, "Maybe I was wrong about the Coronavirus" I commented that one day the entire town (which was once among the richest cities in America) was loaded onto diesels and hauled away before that was normal. And as a result, all of the homes were scattered throughout Utah. My mom being a little girl at the time didn't understand why this was happening. But it happened because Word War II was over and the silver mine was shut down and being in the middle of a desert it wasn't possible for a town with no viable form of commerce to survive. Dividend was full of her incredible memories and she has spent the past 70 years faithfully visiting the spot at least once a year... and for decades she has been trying to keep its memory alive by telling the story to her friends and family. I felt the best way to preserve this piece of history was to turn it into a book, introduce some useful fiction as a framework for telling a story that deserves to be remembered.
And so I dedicate this book to my mom. Who has always been an incredible encouragement to me. And to the memory of Dividend. The town that was born into adversity, blossomed into a force to be reckoned with, and faded into the past. Now Dividend only lives in our memories, but I have found, that people and memories never really die because they live on in our imagination. Most westerns end when the cowboy rides off into the sunset, but in this case that's what the town did. Dividend deserves to be remembered because it got men and women through the great depression and America through World War II.
The story opens to a scene with a teenage girl who was pushed into a mineshaft by her boyfriend, and so you'll have to use your imagination as I do my best impression of a teenage girl, which is not a skill that I've honed and developed.
And so with no further ado. I present to you my book called, "Saving Dividend"
Chapter One is entitled
The date is May 8th 1990
To anyone who finds this phone, I hope you think to look at the voice recorder and play this recording! I named it My Death and I unlocked my phone to make it obvious. Today is May 8th, 1990. And it’s my birthday. My name is Mary Bate. My boyfriend told me he wanted to take me to a ghost town in Utah named Dividend. We’ve been fighting. I found out I was pregnant. And I thought we were in love. I never imagined… I never imagined he would take me out in the middle of the desert and push me into this old well!
I woke up a few minutes ago. I’m cold and I’m wet. I can’t decide if I’m happy the water isn’t very deep, or not. If there had been lots of water... if there'd been lots of water I probably would have drowned. But there’s only a foot or two of water. I think my arm is broken. I know my leg is. I came down so hard my right leg snapped. I can see the bone when I aim my light at it. When I look at it I can see it. But I don’t want to look at it. It’s weird seeing yourself this way. Broken… It’s unsettling. Bones are supposed to stay inside your skin! You’re not supposed to see them!… I touched it. It was… I don’t want to talk about that! It makes me want to throw up.
I guess I should tell you about what happened: Hunter and I were in love; well, at least I thought we were. We started having sex a few months ago; we knew that was wrong, but we love each other. At least I thought we did. Anyways, I started feeling strange a few days ago and so I went to the doctor. And they told me I was pregnant. I didn’t say anything to anyone for a while. I knew my birthday was coming and I wanted some time to think. I wasn’t sure how Hunter would react when I told him, but I figured it would help if I told him on my birthday. You should have seen his face when I told him! I knew he was thinking something that he wasn’t telling me about, but he kind of showed up that way. Meaning, it seemed like he had something to tell me when he got to my house. I didn’t know if… I wondered if he was planning on breaking up with me. I guess I know the answer to that question, now. I told him I was pregnant and he just kind of stood there frozen for a minute. Then he smiled and hugged me and he got all excited and said he couldn’t believe he was about to be a father. His whole personality did a three-sixty. It was all an act! He pretended to be happy about it and then he talked me into coming out to Dividend with him. I should have known something was up. He wanted to drive in separate cars, he told me it was romantic. He said his grandparents were married in Dividend. He told me it was a family tradition and now I was part of the family. I guess I just believed him. We got here and when I looked around it just looked like every other place. There is no city here, there isn’t even a ghost town here. Just some run down old garbage left behind by an old mining town in the middle of a desert. A bunch of wood and some concrete and sage brush. And holes in the ground like the one I’m in. Hunter knew exactly where to take me. He brought me over to a couple of rocks that were stacked near this well. Then he walked up to the edge and looked down and dropped a rock in. And he handed me one so I would do it, too. I’m such an idiot! I walked up, bent over got a good look, and then I felt his foot on my butt.
I screamed. I guess I thought he was joking, it all happened so fast I wasn’t sure. I don’t know how anyone could do such a thing! My head hit the far side of the hole and I went down the chute like a pinball bouncing off the walls of the machine. It was so fast! I remember falling and grabbing at stuff and bouncing off the walls and then when my legs hit the bottom, my head hit the wall and I was out cold. Everything went black and then I woke up in this pool of water. I hurt everywhere!
When my right leg snapped I landed on my… Oh why am I telling you all of this? You’ll see it when you dig up my dead body! I can’t believe I’m going to die at the bottom of a well in a ghost town! I never imagined… I guess I didn’t think about… Who thinks about… Focus, Mary! Maybe I’m in shock. I think I’m in shock. I’m cold. Did I say that? I probably did. I’m really cold… I’m sure I would have said something about that. Maybe I should go back and listen to the recording.
I think I fell asleep. I know you can tell how tired I am by my voice. I don’t know how long I was awake… I mean asleep. I… Oh, I can look at the time! It was fifteen minutes. I hope you didn’t stop listening! This message is really important! It’s the last thing I’m going to be able to say before I die! I’ll try to pause it when I get tired from now on, okay?. My boyfriend’s name is Hunter Brennan. If you find him, he needs to go to jail! He lives in Payson, UT. Don’t let his… He’s a liar! He’ll try to butter you up. Don’t believe it! He killed me! Don’t let him get away with it, either! He lives at 217 N. Main in Payson, UT. His name is Hunter K. Brennan. He’s five foot nine, he has dark brown hair, and he’s a murderer!
Hunter Brennan, I'm going to come back and haunt you for this! Whenever you try to catch a pass, I'm gonna yell "booh" really loud and scarey so you drop the ball. And then I'm gonna chase you around the football field so everyone thinks you're crazy and they put you in the looney bin!
I hope someone finds this recording before it gets ruined by the water in this well! He needs to pay for this! I don’t even want to think about my baby. I don’t know how it…
I think I fainted! I’m sorry about all the crying. And I fell asleep again. I’ll pause the recording next time. Oh! It’s 4:14 PM now. I need to start remembering to say the time in the recording from now on. It’s 4:14 PM. I’ve been down here for… for a couple of hours. My legs don’t hurt anymore. That’s an answer to prayer! I guess it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I’m going to try to climb out now. It’s a desert, but by the time I reach the top the sun shouldn’t… I don’t think it will be hot. I hope it won’t be too hot. It was really hot when we got here.
It’s 4:17 PM. My legs are bad. I can’t put pressure on my right leg. I definitely can’t climb. I would scream, but this Dividend place isn’t even really a Ghost town anymore. They don’t even have cell service! It’s out in the middle of nowhere! I can’t imagine anyone comes here, ever! Hunter made it sound so romantic. All you can see is a couple of water tanks and some old wood. I don’t even know what the wood was for. Maybe it was for lifting metal into the railroad cars or something. It looks like railroad ties with a pulley… What am I saying? I need to be thinking about the message I leave the world! For my… for my posterior. I’m going to save my battery as much as I can and only record important things, okay? I need to think. I’m going to wait until I have something important to say before I start the recording again, okay? Okay. I’ll talk to you later!
Ok, It’s 4:19 now. If someone should happen to find this recording soon. I have a cat named Mr. Snuggles. He needs a good home! He likes Tuna, but… and this is very important: only give him a quarter can of Tuna per day! If you give him more than that he… He’ll make a mess. I’d rather not be too descriptive about this, okay? So read between the lines? Just trust me on this, no more than quarter can of Tuna per day! Ok, I’m going to save my battery now. Okay, Bye!
It’s 4:21 PM. And I have something important to say, “Help!” “Help! God send someone to save me, please!”
It’s 4:23. I can’t imagine people used to drink water from these wells! It’s so dirty! There’s mud down here, the rocks are slimy and gross! Who was the genius who invented the well? I can’t imagine the thought process. It was obviously invented by a man. One guy probably asked the question: “Where can we get fresh clean drinking water?” And another guy probably said: “I know! Lets dig a giant whole through a bunch of mud and rocks; that’s sanitary!” My dad always used to say that as long as the shower was cleaner than he was it was clean enough. Men are so gross! They’re dirty and they push you into wells. Oh! Oh! I think I got a text message! I can text! Oh, yes! Yes! Yes! No! No! Stupid calendar reminders! Stupid phone! I really need to prioritize. I need to conserve battery. I’m only going to record important messages from now on.
It’s 4:29 PM, this voice recording is for me. If I should happen to get out of this well don’t forget to pick up your dry cleaning. Oh, and then go find Hunter Brennan and throw him in a well. And then poor in some gasoline, and throw in a match.
It’s 4:34 PM and I have really bad news. The camera on my phone is broken.
It’s 4:36 PM and I have really good news! I forgot about the front facing camera, that works! But I have more bad news: I look terrible! I can’t even look at myself right now!
It’s 4:51 I fell asleep again, just for ten minutes. I’m really starting to worry. I don’t want to die in this well! I woke up and I figured out a way to tie my hair around my phone so it will stay put. That way I can use both of my hands to dig or climb or whatever. And I can put my phone in airplane mode and I noticed the voice recordings aren’t using the battery up as fast as I thought they would. So I guess that’s good news. But this is so hopeless! It’s almost as bad as when I realized that the right half of my face was bigger than the left side of my face. You probably think I'm a stupid girl, but my leg will heal, my face is like… forever! Why couldn’t I have landed on the right side of my face? Maybe that would have fixed it. I thought it was my mirror and then I thought it was my camera, but mom says it’s my face and it’s genetic. I’m not like a freak or anything, you can barely even tell! You have to look really close!
My legs are really messed up and I can’t climb with just my arms. I think I might have to set the bone on my leg myself. I really don’t want to do that! But I’ve been thinking that if I don’t do it, I’m going to die here for sure. If I at least try to set the bone, I can tie it with my blouse and maybe climb back out of here. I was thinking maybe instead of climbing up one wall like an adult, maybe I can push against all of the walls like I did when I was a kid. My brother and I used to climb up the walls in the hallway that way. We'd push against the walls with our hands and feet. That was totally easier. But if I don’t set the bone first, I might break my leg worse. I might rip the skin apart. Yuck… I want to throw up again!
It’s 4:54. I’m sorry about all of the groaning and crying. I know I’m being a girl. My brother tells me I do that. But this really hurts! I’d like to see him set his own broken bone! I figured out that I need to pull the bones apart before I will be able to push them back into place. That might make my leg look really bad and then who will want to marry me? The bone doesn’t have nerve endings, so I don’t think this will hurt too much. I think maybe if I put the leg under water for a few minutes I’ll lose the feeling in it again. Yeah, that’s what I’m going to do! I’ll keep it under water until I lose feeling and then I’ll pull it out of the water and set the bone. Wish me luck! Okay, Pray for me! Okay?
It didn’t work. It helped, it didn’t hurt as bad as last time. I need to find a flat rock and use it to pry the two bones apart. I can’t set them if they aren’t lined up. The break isn’t clean, it’s jagged so I have to line them up just right. I hate that I have to do this myself! No one should ever have to set their own leg bone, ever!
I’ve looked through all of the loose rocks I can find. Now I’m using the flashlight on my phone to look at the rocks on the side of this well. Maybe there’s one in the wall I can use. You know as I look at these walls, I’m beginning to wonder if this is really a well or if it’s just a really deep hole in the ground. Oh! Oh! I found one! It’s going to be hard to get to it though.
Okay, I’ve tried this twice now. I’m not going to be able to numb the pain. Because after I numb my leg I can’t get into position until after it wakes back up. So this is going to hurt! God, please help me do this! I don’t want to do this! Can you just… I pray for a helicopter and a really cute special forces army ranger to repel down here and pull me out of this well! God, I have faith like the grain of mustard seed! Send help, please! I need a miracle! Send me an angel!
Oh my gosh, I heard a noise! Hello! Can you hear me? Can anyone hear me? I need help! Please! I need help! Are you there? Anyone?
It was probably just an animal. There’s nobody out there. Nobody alive anyway: It’s just me and the ghosts of Dividend. And the wild desert animals.
Okay, there’s no getting out of this. I’m going to… I’ve got it! Oh, I’ve got it! The rock is between my bones! I’m closing my eyes. I’m pulling! Ahhh! Ahhh! Ou! Oh no! Oh no! This is terrible! This is worse! Oh my gosh! I made it worse! What do I do? What do I do?
It’s 5:55 PM now. I stopped the recording for a while. I’ve been praying and singing songs to God. I didn’t know what else to do. I really need your help, God! Please send someone! I need a miracle! Please give me a miracle!
I guess you’re wondering what happened. Um… I’ve been trying to work up the courage to try again. I wedged the rock between the two bones in my right leg and my left leg slipped out from under me. I almost separated the two bones completely, meaning, well you’ll see when you pull my dead body out of this well: the two leg bones almost ended up right next to each other! I almost became a foot shorter on the right side. I’ve been holding my ankle in place for forty-five minutes — what’s left of it anyway. I don’t dare move it. There’s only a half inch of bone keeping the two bones from slipping totally apart! I’m not sure I’ll be strong enough to get my ankle bone back into place. I’m sorry. I know this is confusing. I’m not explaining this very well. It’s horrifying! It’s like one of those dreams you have where you walk into school and you let a really loud fart and everyone knows it’s you. And you say “It wasn’t me!” But everyone knows it’s you and the whole class laughs at you. It’s like that except only a hundred kajillion times worse!
And that's the end of chapter 1.
Hopefully you haven't lost respect for me. Don't hate me. In my defense I modeled Mary Bate after someone I know. You know who you are...
Will Mary Bate set her leg? Will a special forces army ranger arrive in a helicopter and repel down and save her? Be sure to tune in next week for another episode of Saving Dividend.