She opened her eyes after a few minutes of stirring and found herself in an unfamiliar room. She froze for a split second, terrified. Outside the open window, she could see a wooden pole, most likely electrical, and a paper advertisement for a local carnival. Her gaze wandered around the room. The paint had peeled back from the walls due to oxidation caused by heat and humidity. She picked a paint chip from the wall closest to her and dropped it on the damp sheets.
Before attempting to move, she took a deep breath. There was a faint aroma of apple in the air, possibly from bread baking. Her stomach growled as she smelled something familiar and welcoming. She then decided to go find some food.
Stepping down, she felt a stabbing pain in his foot. She didn’t remember spraining his ankle, but it hurt tremendously. Biting back the pain, she got to her feet and hobbled over to the metal table and chair that sat in the corner. Other than the bed, it was the only thing in the room. She grabbed her hoodie and with a zip, she made her way slowly to the door.
A set of wooden stairs led down from outside the door. There were no other doors on that floor besides the one she came out of. The stairwell deposited her in the midst of a saloon. As she reached the final step, the piano in the corner stopped playing. Everyone’s attention was drawn to her. Her ears were pierced by silence.
As she scanned the room of older men dressed in white dress shirts, vests, and top hats, a deep shallow caught in her throat. There wasn’t a single one of them who didn’t have a handle bar mustache. With her khaki shorts, t-shirt, and hoodie, she looked like an awkward Martian from another planet, but they couldn’t tell she was a woman beneath her male confidence, swagger walk, and boyish charms.
She walked to the bar on the right side of the saloon without saying anything. The piano began to play again, and the men’s attention returned to her as if she didn’t exist. She reached for a menu between two stools, hoping to find something to eat. The only thing on the menu was a selection of drinks made with sassafras.
She inquired of the bartender whether he had a coke. Again, silence fell over the bar. In the distance, she heard a cricket. The barmaid cleaning the stool next to her responded that the saloon was a respectable piano bar and that if she needed drugs, she should go across the street to the brothel. She winked at her.
Looking around, she realized she needed to leave. A parade of juveniles marched down the dirt road that separated one building from the other when she stepped outside the saloon’s swinging half doors. Many of them were dressed in masks and wielded batons and fire sticks.
Their presence must have sparked debate in this small town, as residents booed and hissed at the swarm of carnies making their way down the main drag. She watched them walk around the last building’s corner, and the crowd of angry people dispersed.
A few scantily clad women loitered on the porch of the building across the street in front of another wooden building. One of them whistled her way. She crossed the dirt road and stepped onto the porch, her face strangely familiar. The three women swooped down on her, ripping at her clothes.
A large busty woman wiggled her finger at her from the double swinging saloon doors, inviting her into the business. She dashed through the swinging doors into the darkness after accepting the tempting invitation. After adjusting to the darkness with her eyes, she discovered herself in her living room. She spun around. There were no swing doors behind her; only her girlfriend in front of her asking where she had been.
She retorted, “Another world.”