So come along with me as I tell you a true story about a fictional story. It happened to me, and as you’ll see, those four words have several layers of meaning.
My wife and I found ourselves with a free Sunday (we lead such active social lives, don’t you know). The weather forecast called for relatively warm temperatures for mid-February in Missouri. Our winter-starved souls called for a little self indulgence. And our pocketbooks were so emaciated that they would hardly notice if we took even more from them.
So we jumped into my wife’s car, which she’s named Blanche, by the way (do you name your cars?), and drove to a tiny town in mid-Missouri called Rocheport. Rocheport was once a major Missouri River port, but the river shifted and then the interstate hurried people past, and Rocheport settled in as a quaint, sleepy little burg of about 200 people with some old homes and other historic features. In recent years a winery has grown nearby, and the KATY Trail, a state-spanning hike/bike trail, now passes through the town. Rocheport is once again seeing commerce, though of a more refined if slower-paced sort than the pioneers, hucksters, and exploiters of a prior age.
Our plan was to enjoy a very nice meal at the very nice winery restaurant on the cliff top with a very nice view of the Missouri River valley. And we did, managing to sample a good bit of the local vino as well. (Several bottles came home with us.) Then we went into Rocheport itself and began strolling the tree-lined streets and visiting the antique shops. (Also, the ice cream shop.) I bought a few gifts for someone whose birthday is this month, and we had a delightful time. (Next time you’re in town, let’s go to Rocheport together, okay?)
Rocheport probably has more bed and breakfast inns per capita than any other place on the planet. We stayed in one there a year ago and had a fine time. My wife has been wanting to visit with her sister, who lives in St. Louis, for a long time. I suggested that the two of them book a weekend at one of the little town’s B&Bs since Rocheport is just about literally halfway between St. Louis and Kansas City. I even pointed out the brochure for one of the B&Bs that features girls-only weekends.
But my wife noted that the B&B had a select clientele. It was a purple-roof establishment, which is to say it catered only to lesbians. Where had she heard that, I asked. Well, she remembered reading about it somewhere.
I knew exactly where she had read about it. It was in a work of fiction, set in a small town not-too-loosely based on Rocheport. It was an unpublished novel. One written by me.
Part of my hope from visiting Rocheport that day was to spark my attention to my languishing novel. It’s one of my Finnegans murderless mysteries, and I’ve been letting it lie fallow for a while. I think I can come to it coldly enuf now to give it a fair read through. And a chuckle.