As part of my participation in My 500 words, I am posting what I write each day. Today I’m beginning the backstory of a minor character in my novel, Sidewinder.
“Roy’s a good boy,” said Roy’s parents, and just about everyone agreed. Roy didn’t mind it too much either. The youngest of the family, his older siblings had gone their own way and done their own thing. One had joined the Space Marines and was an officer on a medical ship, another worked in an orbiting station. After graduating high school, Roy stayed home and took care of things.
In the year 2257, Morristown, New Jersey was considered part of the East Coast City. The furthest Roy got was New York City, and that was only for work. He was in his early 20’s by then, a minor purchaser for a medium sized company. The boss thought a face to face meeting was in order and booked Roy to travel the short trip. During the ride, Roy looked out his window and saw farmlands tucked around the city dwellings. He saw animals, including horses.
During his meeting, Roy thought about horses and open land. During small talk with his boss, he mentioned it, and his boss talked about the ranch her family owned in Texas. If Roy wanted to, he could come out for his vacation and experience it all. Roy said he’d love to.
But back at home, his parents needed care. Their home needed upkeep, and it was actually hard to get away from work. And in a few more years, Roy married Delilah.
They lived in the same house with his parents. Delilah was a designer, and Roy loved her artistic sense. When his parents passed away a year from each other, Roy asked his wife if they wanted to move to Texas or some other place where there might be open country and perhaps even horses. She said she would love to. But they never did.
Work happened. Delilah was never in the best of health. They stayed married and never had children, only dogs. Roy retired at 50, but went back into work once in a while to train. They had a good sized savings by then, and they both wanted to move.
They thought New Mexico would be nice. Working with agents, they found a homestead to live on where Delilah would be able experience Native American artwork firsthand. It was all set. Then Delilah’s health grew worse. When it was clear that she would not live much longer, they talked. She urged Roy to go to New Mexico still, start a new life, get some horses. He told her he would.
Delilah passed away when Roy was 52. Roy knew more than anything, he wanted to leave the East Coast of North America. But New Mexico seemed too close, so did Australia and even Mars. He wanted to get as far away as he could.
Roy did a little research. There was a war happening at the time with several planets involved. But there were quiet places too. Indus IV was a planet far away. To get there, spaceships had to make two jumps, which made this world less traveled. Its year lasted 20 Earth years, with a hostile seven-year winter. But Indus IV was a frontier planet. There were sprawling, wide open spaces and horses.
Roy sold everything he owned including almost every stitch of clothing. He bought more rugged clothes and a tan cowboy hat. Days before his 52nd birthday, Roy Calhoon left Earth forever. He arrived on Indus IV just as its winter was ending. Despite the war moving into this part of the galaxy, people on the planet were optimistic. No-one knew him. For all they knew, Roy was an old seasoned cowboy.
Roy bought a tract of land out in The Dunes, halfway between the spaceport and Wonder Valley, the planet’s biggest town. He built a homestead with a small farm, beehives and horses.
Roy lived there for an Indus year. He made new friends, and before the long winter hit, he took a second wife. The marriage lasted about as long as the winter, and when spring came, she was gone. But something else happened in the spring. Roy had a new neighbor.
Burl Appleton had managed to get a spaceship, a flying saucer in fact, embedded into the side of a dune. He had turned it into a genuine western saloon. Roy and Burl got along just fine. The saloon got its name from the class of ship, the ship that would have won the war, had not the traitor Jarlath Ivanpah given one to the enemy. The name of the ship had become synonymous with the word traitor. Still Burl gave that name to his Saloon. Sidewinder.