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Author's Chapter Notes:
I didn't try my hand at songwriting until I was in college. Sadly, I have all the musical talent of a stump (Okay, I lied, the stump has more musical talent than me :( ), but when a friend of mine tried to start a band, I experimented with writing lyrics. Sadly, nothing ever came of it, as he was never able to get a solid crew together, but I still believe the experience helped me become a better writer. (For what it's worth, years later, he did get something off the ground. If you're ever in Washington state, keep an ear out for the Walking Talls. :) ) This is something I wrote back then:
There's a town in the middle
of the Great American Nowhere
Boom gone bust so it's still little
Nothing will ever happen there
And it's still the place to go
for those who don't like to change
Where it's all same-old, same-old
and that's how everything's remained
in this chain of towns & quaint hicks
A place that time forgot, ignored
where things will never get fixed
One-by-one they've closed the doors
so the dust sits & collects
Those who remain sit & grow old
hide cobwebs, spiders & insects
from summer's heat & winter's cold
The people here have no story to tell
They all died long ago & this is Hell


Just a bathroom & gas station
on the way to someplace else
Just another wide space in
the road out of the Rust Belt

It's the place they warned you about
If you have any sense, you'll get the hell out
Don't stay in this place for too long
You may check in, but you don't check out


They made a deal with the devil
for 10 years of prosperity
Then the time came to settle
and it fell apart so quickly
A boarded-up fortress of rats
Business Bureau's a den of thieves
Buried dark secrets of the past
a "boomtown" front no one believes
Now everyone just drives right by
'cause there's nothing there to see
What goes up comes down some time
now it's a desert town so eerie
travelers want right back out
almost as soon as they arrive
Those who stayed will creep you out
Don't stop for anything — just drive
This place is dying & it knows it
and it intends to take them all with it


Going... Going... Gone
Sold to the highest bidder
A small town gone all wrong
no time taken to consider

It's the place they warned you about
If you have any sense, you'll get the hell out
Don't stay in this place for too long
You may check in, but you don't check out


To some, it's only a mirage
just off to the side of the road
They've never needed the garage
nor seen the welcome that it showed
They don't know what it's like
year after year in this place
This isolated trailer court paradise
moving at a turtle's pace
Creepy like a place from some
old black-n-white movie show
to which no one would even come
It was more real than they could know
It's here on the Endless Highway
one of those destination points
away from which you'll wanna stay
if their fate you wish to avoid
Take matters no further than just arriving
'cause if you're smart you'll keep on driving


There are just too many ghosts
for such a tiny town
Too many dirty secrets
buried on too little ground

It's the place they warned you about
If you have any sense, you'll get the hell out
Don't stay in this place for too long
You may check in, but you don't check out
Chapter End Notes:
-circa 1999, revised 2004

"Ghost Towns" is my impression of over nine years in Havre, MT, a real life ghost town. When I moved there, it was still a town, but in a matter of years it had already started to crumble into a hollow shell, a shadow of its former self. Like seeing through an illusion from some dark tale, now it's showing its true face as it moved on. I've known lots of people who are going nowhere, and I didn't intend to join them. The only thing that kept this place from joining the rest of the "Hi-Line" region (the chain of ghost towns along Highway 2, of which it is the capital) is what little remains of its economic base. Montana is a state full of ghost towns, the products of 150 years worth of booms and busts. (Remember that when they get to the "history" of corporations, they suck places dry and then move on.) That place honestly gave me the creeps, and I would never want to live there again.
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