Chabot and Fulsom
Out the window by his desk, propped up with an old Stephen King book, were Chabot’s other buildings: Mayor Mo’s real estate, the post office, a bank that was more of a credit union for the mill, a diner/convenience store called The Hub, an IGA grocery store and a drugstore, both going out of business because of the Wal-Mart in Fulsom. (…)
Chabot didn’t have an ATM; the nearest was eleven miles north, in Fulsom. Cell phones worked in Chabot sometimes and sometimes they didn’t. Because Gerald County, wet, was bordered on two sides by dry counties, the DUI tally was high. Fulsom was the county seat and, with its Wal-Mart, high cotton compared to Chabot’s little spate of stores. Chabot’s one barber had died, and his son had come and dismantled the building a piece at a time and carried it off in his pickup truck. Now its lot was vacant, an explosion of wildflowers and weeds, and if you wanted your hair cut, you went to Fulsom or did it yourself.
Because of the gully, Chabot’s buildings all faced east, like a small audience or a last stand: out Town Hall’s front windows, across the road and beyond strings of railcars and tankers, the tall, rumbling city of the Rutherford Lumber Mill. It blocked the trees behind it and burned the sky with smoke, one giant metal shed after another, smokestacks with red bleeping lights, conveyor belts and freight elevators below, log trucks, loaders and skidders beeping backward or grinding over sawdust to untusk limber green logs soon to be cut to planks and treated or creosoted for poles. The mill boomed-gnashed-screeched and threw its boards and sparks and dust and exhaled its fumes sixteen hours a day, six days a week. Two eight-hour shifts and a six-hour maintenance shift. Its offices were a two-story wooden structure a hundred yards past the mill, two dozen people there, accountants, salesmen, secretaries, administration. Some even got company trucks, big green Ford F-250s with four-wheel drive.