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Might Have Been


"Hmm. That's funny," said the young man, looking through his binoculars.

"What is it?" asked his friend, a much older and oddly dressed man in any period.

"Blair's here. I wasn't expecting that."

"So?" The older man was peering through his own binoculars searching the crowd below them.

"He's not mentioned as being here today in any text I've read about him. It's curious."

"I see him," said the old man. "It's not like he couldn't have been here. He was contemporary to the times."

The young man sighed. "I know. It annoys me how little we actually know about this part of our history. We're mostly dependent on what the newspapers 'reported'."

"If I recall," said the old man, "That's why we're here."

His young friend stood up slowly. The rocks he had been crouched behind were snow covered and he dusted himself off. His clothes were accurate to the 1850's, except for a few gadgets hidden on his person. "I'm going down there to talk to Mr. Blair."

The old man took his arm. "I don't recommend it. I told you what could happen..."

"What? I'm just going to ask him a few questions. I want to know why he's here." He pulled himself free.

"You know why he's here," said the older. "We know he becomes a railroad baron later on. It makes sense he'd be at the opening of our county's first rail line."

His younger companion was making his way down the rocks. "I'll be right back."

At the bottom of the rocks, the young man easily melded into the throng of locals. Excited at being at the actual historical event made his heart pound in his chest. He didn't feel the cold despite the December chill. He and his companion had watched the train arrive from the rocks. The view was better there and allowed some very nice digipix to be taken. Now an impromptu speech was being given, the speaker standing on a railroad hand car of all things. From the snatches he listened to, it was much the same lecture that was reported in the papers for posterity.

Mr. Blair was standing in the gauge of the rail, in the center of the crowd. The young man sidled up to him, savoring the moment. He didn't look nearly as crusty and gruff as the old photos suggested.

I wonder if I could manage a pic, thought the young man. "Excuse me Mr. Blair," he said. "Could I have a word with you?"

Mr. Blair looked at him and frowned. "Who are you? Can't you see I'm busy?"

"Um, I'm sorry, sir. I'm a reporter and would like a word..."

"If you want a word, you can see me in my office next week. I'm on a tight schedule and must make a rail connection to New York."

The opportunity was not to be missed. The young man tried again. "Mr. Blair, please..."

As he turned to say something, Blair's foot caught on the rail and he lost his balance. He fell backwards onto the ground, his head striking the rail. A few men nearby rushed in to help, while the young man, stunned, slowly backed away. He made his way back up to his companion.

(end of excerpt)

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