The Travelling Booth

“One minute a day
could be reserved for you
To tell your secrets to
Miss You-Don’t-Know-Who!”
From a yellow phone booth
projected the voice,
“Women and grandmothers.
Husbands and boys.”

“A tip in the hat
for a tick of your time.
Pay us in pennies.
Pay us in dimes.
We accept gum wrappers,
tokens, and tickets.
Give us your coins
in exchange for one minute!”

The line up consisted
of fidgety folk
From the corner of
Sheep Street and Rumour Road,
To the White Liebrary
it wrapped around.
The Travelling Booth
Was the talk of the town.

“Have you a moment
Between lunchtime and dinner?
Might you be a secret keeper,
Liar, or sinner?
Let us relieve you
of any hard burdens.
You don’t have to carry them
All by your lonesome.”

One by one, people
Turned over their pockets,
Giving up loose change,
Old lighters, and lockets,
To participate in this
Addictive game
Of unknown confessions
From anonymous names.

After a week, the town
Ran out of claims.
Their minute of whispers
began to shift blame
Into crueler tongues
About other townsfolk.
The people turned over.
They were bitter and broke.

When the people gathered
In the centre of town,
In the early morning,
Do you know what they found?
There were two phone booths
At opposite corners.
In curiosity, slowly
the crowd shuffled forward.

“One minute a day
Could be reserved for you
To tell your secrets to
Miss You-Don’t-Know-Who!
Or instead, if your curious
mind is of interest,
You could make your offer
In exchange for one secret.”

“That’s right! One secret
That we will tell you!
Instead of one minute,
We’ll give you one truth!
We won’t be here long,
What have you to lose
But a moment or two
In the Travelling Booth? ”

Echoed the speakers,
A rooster in the street,
Feeding a daily routine
To the sheep.
Back and forth, the
townsfolk cut lines,
Pick pocketing neighbours
To pay for more time.

Some started wearing
Shades as a disguise.
The truth booth in fact
Was creating more lies,
And every so often
Some poor guy would pay
To hear his own sad secret
Being relayed.

Three long weeks after
The phone booth arrived,
The booming speaker
Announced a surprise,
“In the midnight hours
Instead of midday,
Before we pack up and
Start leaving this place”

“I will tell you my secret
If you tell me yours.
A coin will buy you-
Not one minute, but four!
Miss You-Don’t-Know-Who,
At the end of line,
Will not be available
Tonight until Nine.”

The phone booth locked up,
And the speakers shut down.
The people were buzzing
Around in the town.
But for the first time in weeks,
The town had one day
Without any rumours
Or secrets to make.

One woman piped up,
“This man buried our town.
Together we need to
Rise up from the ground!”
This town excelled in one thing,
That was talking.
By the end of the night,
The whole town was marching.

The town hated each other,
But they were like family,
And they realised they had
A cruel common enemy.
They met at the centre
Of town after dusk.
After the phone booth
Had opened up.

They waited with pitchforks.
They waited with knives.
All night long, but the
booming voice never arrived.
Some people tell tales
Of the whispering town
Because the Travelling Booth
Has never left grounds.