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The Small Towns of Lankville

By Brock Belvedere

By Brock Belvedere


New River in the Southeastern corner of Lankville is comprised of a sleepy main street, some hills, a luncheon counter, an aging theater and two fast food establishments. There is a lovely, weedy park with a really big giant anchor memorializing the ten thousand New Riverians killed during the War of the Depths. The Lankville Southern Mountain chain is visible far off in the distance.

People in New River speak in clipped, short sentences. They are good people, people initially bound to the soil, freed only recently by the steamroller of modern commerce. “I farmed for 45 years,” noted an old-timer who refused to be identified. “Then, they came along in a car and one guy yelled out STOP IT! and that was that.”

The old-timer paused to spit into the dust. It grew darker.

The famous really big anchor of New River.

The famous really giant big anchor of New River.

For many years, New River was the famous home of the Great Bewildering Blimp of the Home Country, a tremendous dirigible airship that was once the apple of Lankville’s eye. “After awhile, people lost interest,” noted aviation historian Andre Thornton, who possesses many books and videotapes on the subject. “The thing was kind of ponderous as it went up into the sky at a speed of about five miles an hour and passed weirdly over the landscape like some sort of outlandish air teat. It was terrifying. And so they eventually threw it into the Old River. And then that caused a lot of problems with flooding and drainage and so forth, so then they blew up the old river and built a new river, hence the name of our town.”

Thornton smiled idiotically so we punched him in the neck. The interview ended prematurely.

Famous celebrity Randy Pendleton was born in New River. The town erected an enormous sign a few years back. “Randy is obviously one of the greatest human beings of all-time, so for him to be born here, in a modest house in an alley, is a great honor,” noted resident Von Hayes, who is known as the “unofficial” mayor of New River. “Randy’s ascent to stardom is even more amazing when you think of how he is the offspring of simple people of the dirt, cast down off the Plains of Lankville into our towns like vermin down a watery slide,” added Hayes.

The Loamy Theater was built in 1932 and is nestled on the main drag between a closed storefront and a closed storefront. We were invited to a showing of a recent documentary on famous New Riverian Pendleton. Although we missed 2/3 of the film (because of candy), it was a marvelous display of affection from Pendleton’s relatives, friends and local lovers. “We’ve been showing “Dandy Randy” for over a year,” noted theater operator Tobias Harrah. “It’s been great for the town.”

Spillner's Luncheon Counter

Spillner’s Luncheon Counter

The early movie throng make their way slowly over to Spillner’s– the venerable luncheon counter. Sporting a darkened main eating area decorated with empty (but lighted) aquariums, Spillner’s has been serving New Riverians for nearly 65 years. Randy Pendleton has eaten here and the superstar signed a glossy black and white which hangs over the fry station. “We’ve seen the Great Bewildering Blimp come and go and then we’ve seen Randy and we’ve got a nice little town legacy here,” said owner Dan Spillner. “There is a silence here that I appreciate, a silence in this luncheon counter and the way the orange carpet curls up around the edges suddenly, quickly as one watches and the way the brown paneling begins to sort of peel off the walls. It’s quite fascinating.”

Spillner presented us with the bill which was over $300 (two breakfasts, two soft drinks). An argument ensued.

But arguments are rare. There is peace in New River, a soft, wafting peace. It’s like the gentle breeze that kisses your behind when you have your pants down outside. It’s like the soft kiss of a new lover. It’s freedom. It’s Lankville.

Brock Belvedere’s “The Small Towns of Lankville” will continue in future issues.

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