The Journals of one Rascal Mountebank
January 7, 2012
What follow is the words of an old philosopher in a dystopia that would be familiar to ol’ Bill Hickok. This is another piece I rather enjoy and I’m hoping to expand both on this character’s voice and the world as a whole. Please don’t hesitate to let me know what you think.
It is in the journals of a man you may find his value and his character, as well as that philosophy in which he lived his life. It is with this understanding that I write these papers to mark my life and my dealings in as precise and correct a manner as is possible. My name is Mary Lauren McCallister, but in my travels I have come to be known by my moniker Rascal Mountebank. It is under this name that I write so that those who have met me on the trail may come to know Mary as well as Rascal, to understand why I would speak as a man and live as a man in this time of men, and as apology to those women who I have had conversations with in regards to the purpose of men and women in the world. For the simplicity of my readers, as well, you will see that I refer to men and mankind as a singular entity, devoid of the separation between man and woman. I do this with intent as I believe that women-kind does not differ much from men-kind in the full order of the universe and, truth be told, I do not much like writing nor saying those superfluous words that demark mankind and womankind as an entity of solid form. I do believe that, in these things, all creatures under the watchful eye of our Creator are created in equal measure and form if not proportion and we have the strengths and failings of humanity as our central, prevalent, and most important feature. For those that disagree with me on these tenants of equality of construction and importance, and refuse to hear my arguments per the fact that I am a woman, I have but six arguments and all are carried by my hip in a well-oiled bit of leather.
I shall at first begin at the dawn of my own life as I recall it, in the towns outside of New Orleans. The war had ravaged this area quite heavily and there was little of civilization left. Waterways on which boats were piloted up the great river of Mississippi, roads broken and shattered good only for a strong horse lead by a measured hand, and buildings cracked and tumbled like so many wooden blocks. My family found itself living in the ruins of one of these slumbering giants, resting our heads each night on cotton bundled in a frame, kept warm with a small fireplace and oven. My pa, Darren Martin McCallister, and my ma, Rose Karen Warten, were as close to angels as I could have come to know in this world. They taught me those things that they thought were good to know in our day and age – letters, numbers, algebra, the means and ways of securing a night’s rest and food while on the trail. Pa taught me how to fashion those useful things such as wagons or boots as well as care for animals, while Ma taught me the letters of the Lord and how best to aim and fire hard iron.
Our family lived this way through my childhood. Lost both of my brothers in an attack by raiders, outlaws from the midwest. They caught us early, picked off both boys while they were in the fields with shots from a long-rifle. Perhaps even a weapon from before the destruction of that civilization that preceded our simple existence. I remember crying dearly for days afterward, but in the moment the three of us held up in our home and held off the raiders. To this day I can feel in my wrist those first awful shots, the thunder and horror of seeing my family breaking and having to hold off death in the form of flesh and blooded men. I was forced by circumstance to take life that day, and the blood will always stain my hands…I do not regret my actions, but I do still cry for those dead men. From the dirt to the dirt as the preacher-men say.
The deaths of Rory and Wes injured the hearts of my parents dearly, though it was harder on Pa than anyone else. Their deaths broke his heart and, eventually, this pain consumed his spirit to live. That winter me and Ma buried him alongside the boys and left to find our fortunes again in the city of New Orleans. Ma set up a general store in town (or, rather, took over the store from old Mister Marcus Ballaster – he had no head for numbers like Ma, kept the store well and made a tidy profit at that).I found my way in town holding a gun for those from the East who needed a stage hand, holding reins for those who needed a guide. It is in these pedestrian pursuits that I first met Roger, that man who would be my husband for a time. He sang to me of love and affection, told me of his well paying job for a bank back east, told me of the magic of the world that he would show me. He spoke of romance and affection, bought me flowers and sweets. He did not have a bad opinion of my dirtier habits, my drinking and smoking, nor did he care deeply that I was a philosopher and knew my numbers and letters. It seemed to entertain him that I was at least as aware as he was and, over time, became as educated. I let him woo me, and for a time we were happy. I gave him two handsome children, a boy and a girl, and I kept his house in order while he expanded his bank. However he could not keep my mind engaged for very long and did not understand the troublesome requirements of a woman in public, let alone in the home, and could not understand my frustrations with the requirements of the world we found ourselves in. When I reached forty years of age, I told my dear husband and children goodbye and took to the road.
This is how you find me now, traveling and examining the world I find myself inhabiting. It is an interesting world, a world both broken and repaired by the hardy hands and wills of the men who inhabit it, but it is broken within its foundation. Those things that have been laid in the corners of our understanding, those things like God and country, have proven to be a weakening force to our understanding of those people we find ourselves close to, both by emotional direction and physical location, and it is apparent to me that we must examine our purpose toward each other in how a man should treat another man, the proper means of socializing in public and private spaces, and to come to understand why we drive unnecessary separations between the white man, the black man, and the red man for, when cut open, they all bleed the same, heal the same, love the same, hate the same.
We are all men. My thanks to you for taking some of your time to read this brief introduction to my journals. I hope they are of use to you in your own journey through this small world of ours.
Signed Rascal Mountebank
The Fourteenth of July, Two-Hundred Seventy Four years Past War
Or in the Ways of the Old Peoples, Three-Thousand and Forty Five years within the Common Era.