Jack Daulton’s New Woodstove

“Gert just told me about someone named Bettis who sells woodstoves, but she couldn’t tell me where his shop was. Do you know, Art?”

Art smiled, “Have to ask Bettis. It moves around.”

Jack looked puzzled, but many local answers puzzled him since his move to Mud City. There really was no town as he had imagined one. The nearest town was Morristown Corners and that was merely an intersection with a gas and beverage store. The nearest real town was Morrisville with Gillen’s Department Store, Patch’s Market, Graves’ Hardware, Copley Hospital, the Bijou Theater, a Carnegie library, Tippy Bailey’s Drive-in, and the Morrisville Drive-in Theater.

Jack stopped by the town clerk’s office to see if the building permit for his recently completed garage had been approved. He took advantage of the opportunity to ask Martha where Bettis’s Stove Shop was. She smiled and said, “If you find it, let Officer Boright know. He’s been looking for it for three years.”

Jack was flummoxed. As he left the town clerk’s office, Martha whispered loudly” Give Whitey a call at 4494 and ask him, he’ll know.” Jack jotted the number down on the notepad in his Volvo and headed home.

“Whitey, you wouldn’t know me. My name is Jack Daulton and I’m new in town, but I’m looking for Bettis’s Stove Shop. No one seems to know where it is. Can you tell me? Everyone I ask either says it’s moved or just looks funny at me.”

There were several moments of silence in the earpiece and then he heard a voice,

“Whose iss again?”

“Jack Daulton”

“Wha’ choo want a stove fer?”

“To heat my camp.”

“Oh, ya know Bettis personal do ya?”

“Never met him. Where does he live?”

“Roun’”

Silence.

“Wha’s yer nummer?”

“3299”

“I’ll tell ’im ta call ya.”

Click and then a dial tone…

v

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2 Responses to Jack Daulton’s New Woodstove

  1. Deborah Abbott says:

    Dear Mr. Schubart,

    My parents mailed me your terrific collection of stories as a Christmas present. It was my best Christmas present. However, I live in Istanbul and I need your help. On page 127 of my copy, the story of Jack Daulton’s New Woodstove seems to end a bit abruptly, even without the usual punctuation. It could be the ending, but the sentence seems to stop in mid flow and there is nothing at all printed on page 128. I wrote to my family about the problem, my future sister-in-law responded that her copy’s page 128 is also blank and that we needed to invent our own ending. I rather like your endings. Assuming the story does continue for a sentence or two, might you post it here?
    I am limiting myself to “only” two stories a night and have been enjoying myself thoroughly – thank you for writing this book. I hope it encourages others to get down on paper or screen these precious moments from daily life. Though I doubt that many will have your gift of description. Just to mention one, I was quite impressed by your description of the pig dyers’ kitchen and the family’s meal together last night. You really helped me to see the room and picture the various characters seated around the table. The precision of your vocabulary is impressive. I learn from you. I speak French fluently, but never knew that we use the verb to “debouch” in the same way the French might, for example. Or another, grew up in Essex Jct (ok, not “real” VT) parents had a woodburning stove for years,Dad’s as “real” a Vermonter as anyone who grew up in Burlington can be,and is something of a woodsman, but I’ve never heard the term “biscuit wood” (kindling I presume).
    I hope that Lamoille Stories is volume one and that I may hope to read another collection someday. If I may make a suggestion, my Turkish students here in Istanbul love to hear stories about Halloween, Cabbage Night, and April Fool’s Day, and I really don’t have stories of my own to tell, I tell them stories heard from my father and grandfather. I bet you could fill up a volume with those, and I’d love to read them.

    Sincerely Yours,

    Deborah Abbott

  2. schubart says:

    Deb,
    Thanks for your very thoughtful and appreciative comments. The truncated sentence on Page 127 is because of how printing treats orphan words. It should read “…pencil-bearing beard.”
    The only word missing is “beard.” It would have sat alone on a page by itself and should have been integrated by compression into the page where it belongs. I have asked that it be fixed in future runs.

    You are very close on “biscuit wood” if not right. Rather than kindling which I associate with sticks or bits and pieces of lumber waste. Biscuit wood was hard wood split into very small pieces. It burned much hotter in the firebox than larger pieces and brought the oven to a temperature where one could cook biscuits quickly, like setting your oven at 500 degrees.

    “Debouch” is not used that often in English but is a bona fide usage. The Mississippi debouches into the Gulf of Mexico.

    Thanks for your story suggestions. It brought several to mind. I am now working on a novel which will be little more than a series of linked short stories. I am afraid I am inveterate story teller.
    Thanks for your kind words abd best wishes for 2009.

    Bill Schubart

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