I woke up with a start. The train had pulled into the station and the conductor yelled for Chicago. Trying to avoid rubbing my eyes, I pulled on my suitcase, and stumbled onto the platform behind the rest of the vaudeville troupe.
At least, I thought it I came behind the rest of the troupe. When I really looked up, I discovered only one other person that I recognized, Alf a fellow singer, and he turned to look at me with eyes wide with shock. I tried to ask him the problem, but a wave of dust made me cough and then, I looked around.
First of all, we were in the desert. How we got there, I had literally no idea, but nothing but the desert has that much dirt everywhere. I even saw a cactus. We were supposed to be in Chicago, getting ready to perform at the Empire. This was not Chicago.
Second… The people. The women’s dresses were worn, faded, and reworked. I saw more patches on trousers than I have ever seen in a similar group of men in my life. As for the children, they ran around barefoot in clothes I considered fit for the rag bag.
We’d followed the stream of people without much though. This tiny town absolutely could not be Chicago. Alf’s eyes couldn’t have gotten wider as we walked down the dirt streets that held the scent of farm life.
Past what must have been main street, we found fields of cotton. Near one of these fields, we came across what can only be described as a shack. I didn’t know how it stayed up when wind came. Or how what passed as a roof could have kept the rain out. More barefoot children raced around the shack, not one of the three boys wearing trousers that actually reached their ankles and as for the two girls, their dresses resembled a patchwork quilt.
Alf pulled on my arm, leading us back toward main street. A man, his hat pushed back on his head, leaned against the general store.
“Did you see the election results?”
Another man walking past him, nodded with a laugh. “Sure did. We got Roosevelt again. We’ll see if the president can fix things this term.”
I looked at Alf and he hurried toward the two men. Election? Roosevelt? President? What…
“Excuse me, but did you just mention a presidential election?” Alf’s voice sounded hollow.
“Of course! Did you miss it?” Both men laughed, but we didn’t join them.
I shook my head at Alf, as he turned to look around the town. Dust blew in the wind again and I finally noticed the motorcars. Rounded lines had replaced the sharp angles I knew. I shook my head again.
Alf turned to the men. “Just another question – what year is it and where are we?”
Two barefooted boys ran past me, chasing a chicken and shouting, so the only word of the answer that I heard was, “Arizona,” but Alf grabbed my hand and started dragging me back toward the station.
“Whatever is the matter with you? Where are we going?”
“Back onto the train. Now.”
I pulled back, making him stop. “What did they say?”
He looked back at me, eyes still wide. “Something went wrong. We have to find a way to get back to our time.”
“Our… time? What are you talking about?”
Alf shook his head. “It’s not our time. It’s not 1926. We’re lost and I don’t even know how we got that way…”
Murder at the Empire is releasing this week, but Cathe’s vaudeville troupe is scattered across the decades. Can you guess this decade? I also heard that Liz has some news regarding the troupe, so you might want to read what she has to say… Don’t forget to enter the giveaway before you go!