Winner - 2004

If someone gave me the title to an old time saloon in a small town, I would first pinch myself. Ouch! Next I would hold a yard sale. I'd drag out my Tupperware and all the other trappings of my hum-drum existence, pile them in my front yard with a big "Yard Sale" sign in front, and give my neighbors the best bargains on my street. Every cent would go into my ceramic pig for my movin-to-a-small-town-to-own-a-saloon fund, except for a portion which I would withhold to buy a dress for my small town debut . . . preferably something red with feathers. Before leaving town, I'd watch old Gunsmoke reruns, paying particular attention to Miss Kitty. Then I'd throw my red dress and piggy bank into my blue pickup truck and head toward the sunset.

When I arrive, I'd stand in front of the saloon awhile before opening the door, savoring the moment. Then I'd grab the first passerby, stick my disposable camera in his hand, and ask him to snap a picture of me in my red dress in front of my saloon (I'd emphasize the word "my"). He would snap my picture and ask me what I planned to do with my saloon. "Live in it," I'd answer with a smile. Then I'd take my camera, turn my back and head for the door, coins jingling in my ceramic pig.

I'd open the door and inhale the memories. There's where Miss Kitty stood, as she fluttered her double-row lashes at the Marshall. Over here's where Chester nearly tripped and messed up his other leg, the good one. And Doc . . . heck, I can see Doc all over the place, dispensing homey wisdom and warnings which the Marshall always ignored. My heels would click across the floor and the feathers on the hem of my dress would swish-swish, as I walked across the floor that was now mine. I'd plant my ceramic pig on the bar, turn around and lean backwards against it, elbows
out to either side, just like in the movies. And I'd grin, as I imagined the gossip back in my old hometown, the big city where I had been just one more statistic. "Can you believe it?" they'd be saying. "She actually moved out West. Said she planned to live in a saloon." They'd shake their heads, burp their Tupperware, and agree that they all knew I'd do something crazy one day.

So did I. I never quite got the hang of burping Tupperware.

-D. Smith-Bryan, Nashville, Tennessee