Moon – A Story by Caleb Pirtle III

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Caleb Pirtle III, bestselling author of Secrets of the Dead and Golgotha Connection

Caleb Pirtle III

There was no doubt about it. You could ask anyone who walked the streets of Pitner’s Junction, if perchance the community had any streets. The world was flat. If you stood beneath the third oak tree to the left, just behind cemetery and on the far side of the all-day dinner on the ground and graveyard working, you could see the edge. Every afternoon at varying times of the year, the sun simply reached the edge of it all and dropped off. I know. I was raised on the cusp of Pitner’s Junction, Texas. In fact, the only two things that ever came out of Pitner’s Junction were me and Highway 259. The “world is flat” folks stayed behind. Might as well. Couldn’t go much farther than the sunset anyway.

I kept looking for the edge.

Didn’t find it.

And pretty much forgot about the gospel of my raising until I happened to run across a bunch of stargazers, vortex sitters, and all-around wunderkinds who called themselves, wrapped in a veil of reverence, the Flat Earth Society.

I knew them well.

Didn’t recognize any of them.

But I must have grown up with their kinfolks.

The Flat Earth Society, I’m told, was one of the first organizations that had the audacity and gall to accuse NASA of faking the moon landings.

Didn’t go there, the flat earthers said.

Couldn’t go there.

Too far.

Too high.

Gas was cheap, but there wasn’t enough of it.

And, besides, the solar flares, solar winds, cosmic rays, coronal mass ejections, and Van Allen radiation made such a trip absolutely impossible.

If Flash Gordon hadn’t really gotten to the planets, then Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin didn’t either. Just like Flash and the evil Ming the Merciless, the flat earthers swore, Neil, Buzz, and the boys staged it all on a Hollywood movie lot.

All of America was afraid that Russia would beat us to the moon.

The race for space was spinning out of control.

Cold war prestige was at stake.

So the government did what the government does best.

NASA faked the whole thing.

I heard it differently. Same message. Different voice.

I happened to be in a beer joint on the outskirts of Chatsworth, Georgia, the day Neil Armstrong made that small step for man and giant leap for mankind.  The beer joint looked pretty much the way it was supposed to in the middle of a hot, muggy, thirsty afternoon. Dark. Cool. A naked light bulb hung from the ceiling. Another one above the bar. Sawdust on the floor. It had not been swept out in a while. Maybe never. Keep it dark. Can’t see the dirt. Dust in your throat? Wash it down with a beer.

The room was crowded and far too quiet.

Men sat hunkered over their tables, leaning on their elbows, their gimme caps pushed back, staring, never blinking, at an old black and white television set stuck on the back wall above the bar.

The picture was blurry.

No one cared.

They were watching the once and glorious achievement of their lifetime. A lunar module had landed on the surface of the moon, some place called, if the man on the tee-vee could be believed, Tranquility Base, and they had seen it with their own eyes, which called for another beer.

They had feared a crash. They were afraid they would be watching good men die a long way from home. A devout feeling of hope and pride had been dimmed by the shadow of impending doom. Their pulse quickened. Their nerves quivered. Their shoulders were rock solid tense.

But there it was.

The Eagle had landed, which called for another beer.

The beer bottles were sweating. So were the gentlemen of Chatsworth.

A farmer sat alone at the far end of the bar. He had been withered by time, cold rains, famine, hard work, and an occasional bout with the lovesick blues.  He wore bib-overalls and a straw hat. He had not bothered to remove it. He had been sipping on the same beer for much of the afternoon. He knew all about the advances of technology in a world grown too modern for him. He had broke new ground behind a mule, then astride a tractor. He had watched the world around him slowly change, usually against his will.

He had never embraced change, but he had accepted it.Golgotha Connection, by bestselling author Caleb Pirtle III, cover image

But this was too much.

He nodded toward the television. “That’s not happening,” he said.

The gentlemen of Chatsworth were stunned. Not a sound could be heard, with the possible exception of another beer being opened.

“Somebody’s lying to you,” he said.

Every eye turned toward him.

“Ain’t nothing but a hoax,” he said.

The gentlemen of Chatsworth frowned.

“How do you figure that?” I asked.

The old man took a long, slow draw on his beer bottle, wiped the froth from his mouth, and studied the blurry black and white screen one more time. He spoke with the deep, growling voice of a mountain oracle.

“We can’t get pictures from the moon,” he said. “Hell, we can’t even get pictures from Atlanta.”

The heads nodded. Somebody ordered another beer.

The man wearing the stained white apron behind the bar turned off the television. Might as well, he thought. Couldn’t argue with common sense.

Tune in tomorrow for Charity Parkerson, bestselling author of The Danger With Sinners (Sinners Series) or Paul (Undefeated Series), whose essay, “From 25 to 25,000 – How I Became a Bestselling Author” is sure to inspire all you closet writers!

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About fbrooke

Frederick Lee Brooke is the author of the widely-acclaimed Annie Ogden mystery series, which includes Doing Max Vinyl, Zombie Candy, and Collateral Damage. The first book in Fred's entirely new dystopian series for YA and adult readers alike is Saving Raine (The Drone Wars: Book 1)A consummate jetsetter, he was born and raised in Chicago (where both Doing Max Vinyl and Zombie Candy are set) and has lived in Illinois, Massachusetts, Montana, France, and Germany; he has called Switzerland his home for the past two decades, and travels widely throughout Europe (at latest count, he has visited Italy over 50 times!). Brooke’s love of the written and spoken word is vast—not only has he taught English in various European schools, he also knows French, German, and Italian, and dabbles in Turkish in his spare time. This love of language led him to quit his day job two years ago and focus on his original dream: writing fiction. When not writing books, his three kids (and their homework) keep him busy. He is currently working on a new series of thrillers and, once that’s done, he might take some time to visit one of those Swiss chocolate factories (but only for the free samples). He can often be found chopping vegetables in the kitchen, and makes a mean lasagna.

You can find him online at www.FrederickLeeBrooke.com. Sign up for his newsletter and read all about his travels, recipes, and upcoming works!

Comments

  1. One small swig for man . . .

  2. LOVE this, Caleb! Your writing is spare but hits hard. Very visual. Love it.

  3. I love how you captured one moment centered around this significant event in our history. This reflects the disparity in how people viewed it. Great work!

  4. Caleb, you always bring a new perspective. I’ve heard this BS before but never from that point of view. It’s a tad easier to swallow (no pun intended) when you see it from the old plowman’s angle. And hell, back then there were sooo many places you couldn’t get a picture from.

  5. I’ve heard the conspiracy theory before but never seen it so vividly brought to life. “Cheers!” *belch*

  6. Very well writen Caleb. Excellent!

  7. Charity Parkerson says

    Great job!

  8. I heard Buzz Aldrin speak live at an event a few years ago and that was the first time I doubted the moon landing as well. I heard of those saying Hollywood faked it but when we started looking into the science of it; that our iPhones are more sophisticated than the computers they had back then, for example, I started to wonder…. great voice in your piece!