Share Button

The Lonely Town

The hot sun beat down on the desert. A tumbleweed rolled across the sand and stopped at a rotting wooden post. The faded letters on the post said: HAPPYTOWN - 1 MILE. The tumbleweed rolled on, until it came to the main street of the town.

"Here comes another tumbleweed," murmured the old gray house at the edge of town. Its proud white paint had flaked away years ago.

"That's the only kind of visitor we get any more," creaked the Sheriff's Office, out of its broken window.

The buildings along Main Street creaked and murmured together, sadly remembering the good old days, when Happytown was filled with cowboys and prospectors, and pretty girls...If only there were some way to get the people to come back. They would fix up the houses and make them happy and proud again.

Without people they were slowly falling apart. Some day the sand would cover them all, and there would be nothing to show that a town had been there.

"There must be something we can do!" exclaimed the Saloon. Just then a shadow passed over the town. A helicopter was flying by.

"Prospectors," said the Saloon. "Things have sure changed since the old old days. Shame they never stop here anymore."

"Wait," said the Doctor's House. "I have an idea." The desert wind rose and began to whistle through the eaves of the houses as they listened to Doc's plan.

Now a few shingles clattered down from the roof of the Doctor's House, and fell to the street below. Boards from the porch of the Hotel slid down to lie beside them. Bricks ripped loose from the front of the Sheriff's Office, and part of a chimney toppled down from the roof of the Gray House at the edge of town. Dusty cans rolled out into the street from the General Store.

Up above, the helicopter was circling over the town. The two prospectors stared. There, in the middle of the main street, were giant letters, made of boards and shingles and other bits and pieces. They spelled out HELP!

The two men landed their helicopter in the middle of Main Street. The wind from its blades scattered the letters of the sign until they were just a few piles of rubble lying at the sides of the street.

The two prospectors searched through the town. But they did not find anybody. The houses creaked and murmured invitingly, but they did not notice.

As the helicopter lifted off again, the Hotel wailed, "Why didn't they stay?"

"What's to keep them here?" sneered the General Store.

But the next morning, a big red helicopter landed in Happytown. The police had come to investigate the mysterious "Help" sign that the prospectors had reported. One of them went into the Sagebrush Hotel.

"Ooh," sighed the Hotel. "If he would only stay!" It was so excited that its walls began to quiver. "Crash! Crash!" Two pictures fell off the wall. The policeman whirled around and pulled out his gun. But there was nothing there. He started up the stairs.

"Whoosh! Bang!" The Hotel was too excited to keep its doors still. They began to swing back and forth, flying open and then banging shut. The policeman saw a whole row of doors opening and shutting, with no one there. With a frightened yell, he rushed down the stairs and out the door.

The Doctor's House opened its front door wide. A policeman drew his gun and entered. Quickly the Doctor's House slammed its door behind him. The policeman could not get it open.

Nervously he began to explore the house. A window creaked open, and then slammed shut. An old medicine bottle rolled down the stairs and smashed. The Doctor's House shifted on its foundation, and its joints creaked and groaned. The policeman leaped out of an open window.

The other houses were not quite sure what was going on. But they figured that "Doc" must know what he was doing. So they joined in. Bottles and jars in the General Store rattled. The cell bars in the back of the Sheriff's Office clanked. Reins and harnesses in the Livery Stable creaked and swayed. The old Gray House began dropping shingles, and bottles went flying out the swinging doors of the Saloon.

The four policemen leaped into their helicopter and swooped up into the sky.

"What have we done?" moaned the Hotel. The other houses murmured unhappily. But the Doctor's House would not say anything.

The next morning, four helicopters landed in Happytown. Newspaper reporters, policemen, and government officials nervously moved through the town.

"Now!" whispered the Doctor's House. "Let's show them what we can do." The houses all began to shiver and shake. Doors and windows slammed. Bottles crashed. Shingles fell like rain.

Flashbulbs went off, and reporters scribbled busily. Tonight a dozen papers would be carrying stories about the mysterious ghost town.

In the days that followed, tourists crowded into Happytown. They squealed excitedly whenever a house moaned and shuddered or doors and windows slammed.

A new road was paved, and service stations and restaurants sprang up around the town. New houses were built, and people moved in to sell things to the tourists and take them on guided tours.

They took good care of the old houses -- made sure they had plenty of shingles to drop and that their doors were squeaking properly.

Bright new signs were put up: GHOST TOWN USA. But the murmuring houses smiled to themselves. For them it was really "Happytown."







©1972, 2013 The Silversteins