Welcome to Nowhere, Stranger
Welcome to the middle of nowhere. Population; nobody important. It’s not like being poor makes you a nobody, but the richest person in this so-called town would only be able to afford a two-bedroom trailer if they saved up for a couple of months. The town was already talked about simply because there were no children to be found here. Made sense though, after all, there were no couples either. Would you want to raise children in a tiny mining town where the streets crack and the animals and bugs out number the people? Didn’t think so.
What? Oh… him? That’s Ryan Skine, but people call him, “Mole.” Yeah, because he is a miner. Also, because he lives at the opening of the very cave, he works in. He thinks he is going to find gold or something in that cave, I’m sure. The old man that sold it to him last month must have felt sorry for him, because he sold it to Ryan for a dollar and left town the very same night. Maybe it was that, or maybe it was because everyone in town called him, “Crazy Caveman.” Four months and that man never left that cave. Then suddenly, gone. Left town in the middle of the night. Anyway… that’s what I’ve heard anyway.
Another Day, Another Dig
The sun shined brightly into the opening of the cave, awakening Ryan with a blinding light in his eyes. Another day. He stood up off his cot and walked through the netting draped down over the entrance. Slowly he stretched and looked over the trees and patches of grass just outside, before turning back around and looking intently inside again. Today was the day… he could feel it. Walking back thru the netting, he bent down and scrambled in his bag. Finally, he pulled out his little black notebook and wiped the dust off the soft cover with his hand. After he moving the band over and freeing the pages, he began reading his notes from the day before.
Trying to remember all of the notes regarding where he had searched before and where he should now try digging, Ryan snatched up his equipment and started off deeper inside. It was a long walk to get back to where he had left off, but he had a good feeling about today. He simply had to find something valuable today. He had sold off the last of what the old man had left behind and now he was starting to run out of food. The stream running through the east side of the cave meant he had plenty of water, but food was a different matter.
Sometime later he finally reached the Northern point where had planned to dig today. He looked around, once again took out his little black notebook and a pen, and wrote down some new notes. After that, he picked up his ax and began swinging with all of his might, cutting through stone and earth as though they were a child’s building blocks. Over and over, he drew back and struck hard. Fragments flew in every direction, but he was like a machine.
8 Hours Later…
His stomach was grumbling and his feet were barley shuffling as he made his way back toward the opening of the cave. Back to his awaiting cot. As he approached, he set down the lit lantern and plopped down on the side of the cot, his head in his hands. Now his hands were shaking a little as he reached into his pack and grabbed his little black notebook and pen. Once again, he wiped the dust from the soft cover with his shaking hand. Slowly he opened it up to the new page and began writing his notes again. Soon… he would try to sleep as his hunger mocked him.
A Stranger Development
The sun once again shined through the netting at the cave’s opening, waking Ryan up with a blinding light. His stomach was cramped with hunger and his body was so tired and aching. Still, he managed to swing himself up and off of the cot. Thru the netting and out into the sunlight. He tried to tell himself once again that today was the day. He wanted to feel it. All he could feel was the hunger and body pain. Still, he looked for calm among the trees and patches of grass.
Instead of the calm he expected, Ryan could see a man standing there between two trees. He was looking through some sort of small telescope-like contraption.
“Hey! This is private property, what are you doing here?”
The stranger turned toward him and smiled. Still smiling, the man approached a suspicious Ryan. “Good morning, Sir. My name is Benjamin. I have good news for you.”
Ryan sized the man up for a moment and finally asked, “Really? What’s that?”
Benjamin, still smiling, pointed at the cave and then swept his finger across the land surrounding it. “Well, as I hear it, you haven’t had much luck out here in your search for gold.”
Ryan grimaced a little as his stomach growled with a cramp. “No, I haven’t. Not to be rude, but how is this your concern? What do you want?”
Unoffended, Benjamin just kept smiling. “Well, that cave may be empty but I think this land is perfect for my project. I’m a developer you see. I would like to purchase this land. Now, I looked up the records and this land is only worth about $4000.”
Ryan turned his head and looked back through the netting and into the cave. He could see what this conversation was about and what the man wanted. He didn’t want to give up on his dream, but another few days and hunger would surely kill him. He had to face it… four thousand dollars could buy him a meal and a decent place to sleep for a while. Slowly, he turned his head back toward the stranger and opened his mouth, ready to blurt out that he would take the money.
Before Ryan could speak, Benjamin beat him to it. “Wait, before you say anything. I know, I know, nobody wants to give up their land for so little. That’s why I’m willing to offer you $20,000 in cash right now, if you just say yes.”
A stunned Ryan stood a moment staring at the man blankly. As the huge grin began stretching across his face, and Benjamin did, in fact, drop a duffle bag at his feet, Ryan practically yelled out, “Deal!”
Three months had passed since Ryan sold that cave and land to Benjamin. He had always felt a little guilty that he had taken so much money from him in exchange for land that would never get visitors no matter what you built on it. Still, he had done pretty well since then. He sat in his new favorite café, eating a great meal. His new apartment and job in the city were great. Maybe he wasn’t rich, but he had enough money to be comfortable in his new life. That initial twenty-thousand dollars had gone a long way in saving his life.
A smile of contentment still there, Ryan picked up a magazine off of the rack and glared at the cover. He couldn’t believe it… that man on the cover was Benjamin. That was the same land Ryan had sold him behind a smiling Benjamin. Slowly, his smile began to fade as he read the title printed boldly beside the photo:
Benjamin of Benjamin Oil Company Makes Millions from New Acquisition!
He read with wide eyes all about how Benjamin acquired new land for $20,000 and began drilling right away, striking oil deep in the earth only a few feet away from an abandoned cave. Still staring at the article, the waitress walked over to the table and looked over Ryan’s shoulder. Then her words broke him from his disbelief stare.
“Wow, some people have all the luck. I wonder where he found all that oil”
As he started to laugh gently to himself, Ryan looked up at the sweet woman and just said, “nowhere.”