West (Chapter One, page 1 of 17)

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Take a survey while you wait!

Only three questions!

Free $50 gift card!

Fifty dollars was a lot when my bank account was close to zero.

I stepped out of the stream of tourists strolling along the covered wooden sidewalks of Tombstone, Arizona, and paused before the table with an iPad laying next to the propped up sign. It was over a hundred and twenty degrees in the shade and even hotter in the brilliant midafternoon sun. The stores were packed. The beverage sellers at each corner of the tourist district wore heavy period clothing that made me feel sorry for them, as evidenced by the collection of overpriced water bottles weighing down my purse.

The first page of the survey was pulled on the iPad's screen, just waiting for someone to stop and fill it out.

"Why isn't this place crowded?" No one even glanced this way. Either it was my lucky day or I was the only person wondering how I was going to pay off student loans after graduating college. "My lucky day!" I placed my purse down on the table, picked up the tablet and glanced at the window of the store behind the survey.

It wasn't a souvenir or jewelry shop or western-themed eatery like every other business lining the sidewalks of the popular tourist spot. The pictures in the window were sad - of Old West pioneers burying their dead and Native Americans being marched in chains while flanked by cavalry members on horseback. It was a stark reminder of how gritty life back then had been.

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