Needing a Real Map in a GPS World

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The Carding Chronicles are short stories and sketches about the little town no one’s ever been able to find on a map. If you hit the subscribe button to the right, the Carding Chronicles will be delivered right to your inbox.

Overheard in Cooper’s General Store, located in the heart of Carding, Vermont.

“Excuse me,” the harried man said as he approached Brenda, the Coop’s head cashier. “Can you tell me where the Tennyson Farm is? Our GPS has sent us all over the map.”

“Aah,” said Brenda, pointing at the digital device. “That’s your trouble, you see. Those things just don’t work in Carding.”

The man looked very confused. “Don’t work? This is the latest GPS on the market. It works everywhere.”

Andy Cooper, the owner of the store, shook his head as he looked over the man’s shoulder. “Well, I think Brenda may be right. It couldn’t get you to Tennyson’s Farm, could it? What you need is a real map.”

“This is a real map,” the man said.

A young woman appeared behind him. “Honey, don’t they know where it is?”

“Oh, we know where the Tennyson farm is,” Andy said. “They are an old family here in Carding. We buy our Christmas trees from them every year. The problem is, you need a real map to get there.”

“You lookin’ for Tennysons?” Lydie Talbot asked as she joined the queue. Then she spotted the GPS in the man’s hands. “Aww, no one ever finds Tennysons with those things. You need a real map.”

The woman’s eyes traveled from Brenda to Andy to Lydie and back. “Come on, Hef, let’s go. I’m sure we can find it.”

“Not without a map,” Gideon Brown said as he joined the circle, a six-pack of Carding Cream Ale under his arm.

The harried man shook his head. “This is a real map. Could you just tell me what street Tennysons’ place is on? That’s all I need to know.”

The Carding crowd looked at one another. “Well, it’s up off of Belmont Hill,” Andy said. “Does the road up to the farm have another name?”

Heads shook from side to side.

“You mean you don’t know where it is,” the woman said, her arms making the sign of the impatient cross over her chest.

“Oh, we all know where it is,” Brenda said.

“Here, let me draw you a map,” Gideon offered. Brenda tore off a length of receipt tape from her register and laid it down on the counter with a pencil.

The man sighed, disgust thick in the sound of it. “Belmont Hill, you say.” He shoved his GPS in his pocket. “What is with you people? What century do you live in?”

Andy laughed. “You do realize you’re standing in a town that’s not been on a map of Vermont since 1731. In a way, you’re trying to find something that doesn’t exist.”

“That’s impossible,” the woman said. “Every town has been mapped.”

“Not Carding,” Gideon said, and the crowd could hear the pride in his voice. “The 1731 map was drawn by Robin Dutille and printed in Boston.”

“He was an ornery man,” Andy said.

“Always thought people were going to steal his stuff,” Lydie said.

“So he put fake towns on every map he drew so that if someone plagiarized his work, he’d catch them,” Brenda said.

“Then when the Vermont map was revised in 1774 by Augustus Chapman, he took off the towns he thought were fake so that Dutille wouldn’t catch him,” Andy said.

“Only he thought Carding was one of the fake towns, so he took us off,” Gideon said.

“And we’ve never made it back on,” Brenda said.

The man sighed again. They could feel the force of it in the back of the store. “Okay, let’s start again. Could you tell me how to find the Tennyson Farm.”

Gideon picked up the pencil. “Let me draw you a real map,” he said, wetting the tip of it with his tongue.

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