“Shhhhh,” announces the narrator, “I’m ruminating on history.”
“Happenstance and chance, my friend!”
That was the oft heard salutation of the Boston Brahmin who unceremoniously arrived Warhaven via rail and stagecoach the spring of 1885, plump, protuberant eyes, pronounced proboscis, a ready warm smile emanating from gray myopic eyes, age 5 and 40. Very soon it was not uncommon to see the unusual sight of Mr. Lionel Packwack, Esq. strolling his daily constitutional Downtown in his periwinkle blue pantaloons, white starched high collared shirt and burgundy waist coat, complemented by buffed brass buttons and a cream white boater atop his center combed mop of salt and pepper hair. Lionel wore calf skin boots more accustomed to the cobbled and bricked streets and genteel carriages of urban Massachusetts than to western stirrups, yet they suited our portly dandy just fine. Due to his sensitivity to bright sunlight and his nearsightedness, Lionel wore a pair of rose-tinted pince-nez spectacles.
Lionel Packwack had ventured forth dejectedly from the comfort of his Cambridge, Mass., well- appointed chambers as an outcast toward the countless natural beauties of the West, a man little bent on ambition — for he had inherited much plenty from his long line of Pilgrim ancestors who had been keen and able in the respect of money making. Some have said that this notable character from Warhaven lore was better suited to contemplate his navel or the zodiac stars at night than to tackle the disciplines of employment of any sort. Yet eventually he made a capable city councilor and a mayor gifted in the art of negotiation.
News of new faces in town remains legitimate fodder for the Printed Plowshare. Hence Lionel was mentioned in our weekly newspaper with the original spelling of his name as it was when he left the East, causing no end of confusion in its pronunciation.
It is not the intention of this writer to confuse or confound, nor was it intended at the newspaper by editor Edwin Woodlin; so it must be pointed out that this man’s name had been spelled Pacquewacque in Massachusetts, but in arriving in Warhaven with his name appearing in print, he became a laughing stock. In relatively short order he legally changed the spelling to its more recognizable, comprehendible form, and soon he was a welcome and established patron of the butcher and the baker. Lionel was wise enough to place his pride in his hip pocket and carry on, tolerating the ribbings of “Mr. Packy Wacky.” His departure from the Boston area was due to unrequited love. A maiden he adorned, Hortense Picklelitny, publicly chided him for his advances, a stark and sobering scolding that took place in the city’s Faneuil Hall before shocked contemporaries. His pride, dashed, wounded beyond repair, moved him to within the month to flee the East for the West, from the fish-bowl to wide open, uncritical spaces. He secured lodging Downtown on the second floor of a large frame building up Catbird Street, immediately off Via Valhalla and was quick to make it his own with furnishings to his taste.
He arrived with no stated vocation, no clear avocation he could put his finger upon, but he was a graduate of Harvard, where he had studied law. He joined the Oddfellows and the Congregational Church and it was at worship that Lionel was struck by the popularly of feathers in millinery. While women’s hats were all around him back East, they had never poked his sensibilities in the eye. It dawned on him that collecting fine, colorful feathers would be the perfect hobby for a man of leisure such as he.
Lionel rides a bay mare up the grade westerly into the Craggies toward Mt. Bosque Redondo, his eyes to the ground and the brush through which he passes. From the Downtown Livery Stable he rents this horse every Sunday (and would end up purchasing her within the year). She was named Fine Horse. On this given day she has taken him up the Rushing River to a ford to which point in space Lionel has gathered an array of feathers from jay, osprey, flicker wing coverts, common nighthawk, five striped turkey specimens, and grouse. On his sojourn that day he discovers a great horned owl’s abode, retrieving several fine white neck feathers. Too he finds raven tail feathers and some colorfully green tanager flight feathers.
The next week he arranged a dinner in his flat, catered by Brown’s Lunch Counter with some of the leaders of Warhaven. The beckoned included Ebenezer and Lenore Lyon, Louisa Chapman in her stark but stunning widow’s weeds and gray pearl necklace, Sid and Sarah Fieldman, Harrison and Lise DuMont, and Philander Jones. The meal of venison steak in huckleberry sauce, baby red potatoes, and kale chips with iced bottles of Müller-Thurgau from Warhaven Wines made for a fine evening.
“Happenstance and chance, my friends! I believe I have found the abode to set my roots, for if ever there was a perfect place and people it is Warhaven! While I may battle windmills and see foggy panaceas about me, I speak with realism in my veins tonight. This is a fine town of fine people, all and one. In my wandering this past Sabbath I came to the conclusion to commission a milliner’s shop and gentleman’s haberdashery to be commenced as soon as feasibly possible, to produce an array of fine hats for ladies and clothing of all sorts for men of taste, to sell them here and afar as well, to put Warhaven on the map for yet another reason: Purveyor of fine fashion!” Lionel’s speech was welcomed by warm applause and a ‘bravo’ or two and from Mr. Jones an adamant ‘huzzah!’
The City Council is a work of fiction, written by Jim Tindall.