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Charlie MacNeil, SASS #48580

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Posts posted by Charlie MacNeil, SASS #48580

  1. Charlie MacNeil 8-8-07

     

    Earlier...

    Dawg had found a new friend in Sarah, and Dawg liked to visit his friends. He was pretty sure he could find her again, so after Charlie brought him his dinner the big dog decided to go exploring. He'd just go to the place where he'd met Sarah and follow her scent from there. It that didn't work, the perfumes of the ladies she was with would take him to her. Then there was always the older lady who smelled like fresh-baked biscuits. Dawg could track biscuits from a long ways away. They were one of his favorite foods.

    Dawg drifted through the early evening shadows toward the courthouse. He was careful because he'd been mistaken for a bear more than once and had a couple of bullet scars because of it. Only his quick reflexes had saved him each time.

    Of course not all of his scars were the result of his bear-like appearance. He and Charlie were in a dangerous line of work. So Dawg was always careful, especially in a new town.

    At the courthouse steps Dawg began a thorough investigation. A few people had come and gone during the course of the day, but his keen nose found traces of Sarah's scent overlaid by the ladies' perfume and he began to follow the trail.

    Few people were out and about at this hour so Dawg stepped out on the street, but always watchful and ready to fade back into the shadows. The trail he followed was faint and often faded out completely but Dawg kept at it, sure he could find his new little friend.

    A fitful breeze blew the scent of fresh biscuits between two dark and shuttered buildings and Dawg's head came up to sniff the air. He turned into the alley and followed the smell to another street and along it past the edge of town to a white house with a freshly painted picket fence. Up close, the smell of paint nearly covered the biscuit smell but Dawg knew this was the place.

    Through an open window Dawg heard the little girl's laughter and his tail flicked back and forth. He walked through the open gate and up to the house. Even though he'd eaten earlier the smell of food made his mouth water. He lightly scratched on the door and woofed politely.

    The door flew open and Sarah ran out onto the porch and flung her arms around Dawg's neck. "Hi Dawg," she said. She gave him a hug and said, "We just got done eating but I'm sure Auntie Esther has some food for you." She looked back into the house. "Doesn't she, Bonnie?"

    Bonnie had come to the door with Sarah and Dawg solemnly offered her his paw. He didn't know for sure what the relationship was between Bonnie and Sarah but he could tell that Sarah was very attached to Bonnie and that was good enough for him. Bonnie reached down and shook the offered paw. "I'm sure we can find something," she said with a laugh. "Won't you come in, Mister Dawg?"

  2. Lady Leigh 8-8-07

     

    Hair tied back loosly at the neck, clad in a cotton nightgown and wrapper, Bonnie sat at the dinning table with pen in hand. The envelope being already addressed to Mr. Abram Rosenthal in care of Rosenthal and McKenna Textiles, Chicago, Illinois.

    Bonnie found the house quiet - Blessedly quiet. It was giving Bonnie the chance to think ... and to write. The embers were dying in the fireplace, so she stoked it a bit more, and returned to the task at hand.

    My Dear Abram,
    My sincere apologizes for not contacting you sooner, as three years is, no doubt, a long time to wait for news from Colorado.

    Before I proceed, I sincerely hope this finds you and Miriam in good health and I trust the rest of the family, too, are well. Last I recall, David and Hannah were to have a child, so imagin your Sabbath table is filled to a greater amount of loved ones these days. I also remember Levi was engaged to be married. What news can you share with me pertaining to Caleb? What a dear friend he was while I was growing up. Please inform him I thinking of him, too.

    As I am not sure when you last heard from Mama, allow me to fill you in on some of the last three years. With deep regret and sadness, I need to inform you that Mama and Margaret are no longer here with me, as they passed away when a Typhoid epidemic passed through Firelands as many years ago stated above. Continued sadness fell upon me after that as well, and to make a long story short, I now have my feet planted more firmly beneath me.

    I am currently living with three other women. Miss Esther Wales, Aunt of Duzy Wales - it is to them I owe a debt of gratitude to - Miss Tilly Ashcroft, and my ward, six year old Sarah Graves. Yes, you read that correctly! My ward! She is a delightful blond ball of energy that makes me smile and cherish life daily. Sarah lost both of her parents, and she came to me as a miracle from Heaven. Miriam would love to get her hands Sarah, I am sure.

    I think of Papa all the time, Abram, as I am sure you do as well. So with that in mind, let me move onto another reason for writing this letter to you. Papa passed his love of textiles to me as you may recall, and I find myself opening a business with which I can surround myself with beautiful fabrics. I need your assistance, if you please, Abram. Please forward me the amount you would need in payment for failles, bengalines, tafetta's, silks, cottons, along with trims and notions to properly set up the business. Please keep in mind the word modest, as Firelands is not Denver. Sears and Robuck has it's benefits, but the women here deserve to purchase their ready made clothing, or fabrics, locally. Mail order tends to be costly, and the time for delivery can be long.

    I will close this letter for now, Abram. I anxiously look forward to hearing from you. Pass my love to all,

    Best regards,

    Your loving,

    Bonnie

    PS Have you heard anything from Jamie?

  3. Duzy Wales 8-8-07

     

    Before the ladies left town, they noticed the mail had come in, and Duzy had a package from her Papa. She could tell Sarah was as excited about the package as she was, as she kept looking at it. Duzy wished she had something for Sarah to open for herself, as she realized that she had no idea when Sarah’s birthday was! She would see if Bonnie had any idea.

    “Sarah, you have had a very exciting day, I noticed you playing with that big bear of a Dawg, wasn’t that his name?” “Yes, Auntie Duzy, did you notice how he gave me his paw? I love animals and did you see, he liked me too?” “Yes, I surely noticed he liked you, but I didn’t get over in time to meet his owner, did you get his name?” “No, Auntie Duzy, the man said he owned himself, isn’t that funny?” Duzy had just realized that Sarah had called her Auntie Duzy and it made her feel as if she even had a closer bond that ever to Sarah.

    It was at that time that Aunt Esther stopped the ladies to listen to the argument going on inside the building. Duzy was at a loss as to what the initials could mean and Bonnie seemed confused, as well. Duzy thought she had heard Aunt Esther chuckle when she had heard it. She would wait to ask her later, when Sarah wasn’t around.

    They were lost again in their thoughts when Bonnie asked if she could “think out loud,” telling them her concerns about the bank and the banker. Duzy thought it was well worth investigating before either of them deposited their money.

    After arriving home, Duzy let Sarah tear the package open, and she handed Duzy a card that was just inside.

    It read, “Sweetheart, I hope this will help in your new endeavor! Please write soon, as we miss you very much and wish to know how you are doing. Love, Papa

    Duzy had to fight the tears, as she had not written to tell him, or her Mama, that she had been fired before even starting her new position.

    This was the new gift from her Papa…….


    George Eastman's Kodak Camera
    In 1888, George Eastman invented dry, transparent, and flexible, photographic film (or rolled photography film) and the Kodak cameras that could use the new film.
    George Eastman was an avid photographer and became the founder of the Eastman Kodak company.

    "You press the button, we do the rest" promised George Eastman in 1888 with this advertising slogan for his Kodak camera.


    The article went on to read that it was the first handheld camera, with a roll of film that would take 100 shots, the cost of the camera was $25.00, and after mailing the film in to be developed, you received your photographs and new film for $10.00! Duzy was thinking that this could come in very helpful for taking pictures for articles to get into print, perhaps working undercover, and with an assumed male name, without having to use all the cumbersome equipment that you usually needed. She could actually hide this camera until she needed to take the picture! Perhaps she could use this to get her ideas across, whilst everyone thought she was out of the newspaper industry altogether! It was certainly something to think about!

    Before that, however, they had buildings that needed to be bought or put under construction, so she, Aunt Esther, Bonnie and Tilly would all have fulltime employment!

  4. Kid Sopris 8-8-07

     

    "The body without a soul is no more in sacrifice.
    Day of death put for birth:
    The divine spirit will make the soul happy,
    Seeing the word in his eternity."

     

    In Nostradamus quatrains, because of the obscurity, one can find a quote to fit almost any situation. So was the line as recited to the banker, while Sopris was out walking after the trial.

     

    Bankers usually have a stern worldly look, all encompassing. Money breeds corruption, the strange "bedfellows" that sleep in this nest of corruption will often have the same bed bugs. Some say the Reverend eyes change when he looks through your soul, others say its just the lighting. In either case those being addressed by the Reverend face to face sometimes feel uncomfortable, unsure. So was the feeling that the Banker had, for he never heard the Reverend come up from behind him, and it wasn't till the Reverend quoted the quatrain that the Banker had any knowledge that he wasn't alone. Then there was the look.

     

    The Reverend then smiled in a smirk of a way and departed leaving the shaking banker to his thoughts. One of his co-conspirators was going to Jail; for life.

     

    Higgins was in no better shape, his back written upon in scarlet letters, SCOLD? Whatever was that on Higgins back was to bring about the fear in all those who betrayed their family, friends or were found to be dishonest in their daily lives towards the community, or perhaps turned a deaf ear to those in need. Word traveled fast about the letters found scribbled, and they even reached back to Slade, who had other problems.

     

    Slade had no way of knowing if he had the same on his back. He did of course but it wouldn't be until he arrived in prison and was able to take a bath, that other inmates would tell him. Some of those already victims of SCOLD. They too trembled once again at the sight of the letters.

     

    Firelands had top notch law; they were considered the best in their field. Even the visiting badge wearer and his "dawg" were feared by those being pursued. The Reverend knew him and about his exploits. However Sopris had no curiosity about why he was here. He just accepted the presence as part of the Lords work.

     

    It wasn't until later, in the early evening while "Dawg" was out wandering the city that an note was attached to his collar with a gold coin bearing the letters S.C.O.L.D. on one side and a Cross engraved upon a 6 point star on the obverse side, was found by Charlie MacNeil.

  5. Charlie MacNeil 8-7-07

     

    The next morning, the caterwauling from the building Charlie had seen the shadowy figure carry the bodies into woke any late sleepers who might have still been abed in the vicinity. Over breakfast, Charlie learned that the local shyster and the owner of the general store had been found in what one patron of the Dutchman's cafe had called a "compromising position", locked up in a cell in the local jail, and neither one of them with a good explanation for how he got there. And as an addition to the morning's entertainment there was to be a trial. It seemed that the shyster was charging the deputy Charlie had seen last night, a man named Keller, with assault. This should be interesting.

    Charlie took Dawg some breakfast then he and Dawg walked up to the door of the courtroom side by side. The big dog's stub of a tail waved gently as he walked. At the door, a weasel-faced individual wearing a shirt with a tie and boiled collar and an air of his own self-importance put his hand out. Charlie stopped just before the hand pushed him back.

    "You can't bring that animal in this courtroom!" the man exclaimed.

    "Tell him that," Charlie said. Dawg just smiled. Charlie was sure that the quick display of white behind Dawg's black lips was purely unintentional, but the doorman gulped and his hand sagged just the tiniest bit.

    "I'm telling you. That creature has to stay outside," the man said somewhat weakly.

    Dawg sat on his haunches and ran his tongue across his lips then yawned widely. This time the full extent of his teeth was definitely visible. The man gulped again and his hand dropped to his side. Charlie stepped around him and held the door. Dawg gave the doorman a friendly lick on the hand that nearly stopped the poor gent's heart then walked through the door. Charlie ticked his hat brim with a finger and followed Dawg inside.

    Inside, Charlie looked for a place with some space and noticed a gap in the line of benches at the back of the room. "Over there," he told Dawg, and pointed. Dawg walked over and sat down where he could watch the proceedings. He and Charlie were no strangers to a courtroom, but one never knew what kind of show the various participants would put on.

    The show wasn't long in coming. The lawyer had the appearance of one who might be into more things on the shady side of the law than might be exactly wise, and the longer the deputy talked, the more it looked like appearances were not deceiving in this case. But what really got Charlie's attention was when the deputy told about the shyster attacking the young lady. Charlie felt his temper start to stir at that but did his best to damp it down by telling himself once again that it was none of his business and he was just passing through. Even though he was getting a late start.

    When the shyster admitted to being guilty of all the charges the deputy leveled against him, and the judge sentenced him to the territorial prison for life, the courtroom began to empty. Up at the front, a group of nicely dressed ladies were congratulating the one the deputy had called Bonnie for standing up to the shyster, whose name was Slade. A small girl took Bonnie's hand and the group began to move toward the door.

    "Woof," Dawg said quietly. He was looking at the little girl, and his stub of a tail was flicking back and forth so fast it was almost a blur. Dawg loved children, and especially young girls. They all loved him right back, too. Charlie leaned against the wall with his arms crossed against his chest. He knew what was coming.

    The little girl came up to where Dawg sat smiling at her. She stopped and looked up at Charlie. "Is that your doggie, mister?" she asked.

    Charlie removed his hat and said solemnly, "No ma'am, he's my partner. He belongs to himself."

    "How can a dog belong to himself?" the little girl asked.

    "He just does," Charlie said.

    "Can I pet him?" she asked.

    "He'd be disappointed if you didn't," Charlie told her. The little girl looked up at the lady called Bonnie.

    "Can I, Bonnie?"

    Bonnie looked questioningly at Charlie. Charlie said, "Dawg loves kids, Miss Bonnie. He won't hurt her, I'll guarantee it."

    Bonnie looked at the big dog, then at Charlie. Both man and dog tried to smile disarmingly. Bonnie finally said, "Go ahead, Sarah, but be careful."

    Sarah walked up to Dawg and Dawg solemnly raised a paw. Without any prompting from Charlie Sarah grabbed the big paw in both of her small hands and shook it and said, "Hi, I'm Sarah." Dawg smiled again and Sarah put her hands on the sides of Dawg's face, pulled his head down, and, before anyone knew what was happening, planted a kiss between Dawg's sparkling black eyes. "And I like dogs," she said while Dawg wriggled all over, which was quite a sight considering his size.

  6. Linn Keller 8-7-07

     

    There was no forgiving in me.
    I tossed the poke onto the table.
    "Sam, I am going to come back in about three minutes," I said quietly. "When I do, you are going to make a choice."
    "Yeah?" he sneered, trying to keep up a good front, but I'd just locked Slade in jail and Sam had just heard about the life sentence,and that I was not done cleaning house. Sam's hands were trembling and he gripped the bar's edge, hard, to try and hide the shakes.
    "I have here," I said, picking up the poke, "one thousand dollars in gold. You can take it and ride out and never come back."
    "WHAT??"
    "I'm buying you out," I said. "Cash money. One thousand dollars in gold. It's more than you deserve."
    "A lousy thousand? Why, that's, that's ..." he sputtered.
    I unwrapped a brand new knife, freshly sharpened, and slowly, delicately sliced the good rag paper I'd wrapped it in to show the quality of its edge.
    "Or," I said, letting the word hang in the air for a long moment. Then, reversing the point, I drove it into the table top. "Or you can take the knife and we can settle this here. Just you and me. Nobody else. No one to watch, none of your bully boys to impress." I drew my own knife and sliced off another ribbon of paper.
    Sam licked his lips, eyes darting back and forth as if seeking a way out.
    "You have three minutes to think it over."

  7. Lady Leigh 8-7-07

     

    Bonnie and Sarah, Duzy and Esther were walking back home after the trial. While Duzy and Esther were talking amongst themselves, Bonnie was deep in thought. Her suspicians were obviously correct in thinking Slade had something to do with the forclosure of the boarding house, but it was obviously logical to assume he could not have done it alone. Afterall, the morgage was held by the bank.

    "Excuse me for interupting, but do you two mind if I think out loud?"

    Duzy responed, "Go right ahead! What are you so deep in thought about?"

    Bonnie told them what she had been thinking, and added,"but that doesn't solve the issue of the laudanum, or the contract made, supposedly by Sam and myself. I am wondering who should I talk to about this? And while I am on the subject, I do not feel comfortable taking the $200 given to Sarah to the bank! What 'if' the bank had some kind of maniacal efforts with removing the boarding house from me? Who's to say they will not take Sarah's interest seriously?"

    At that moment, the three heard loud talking coming from the open doorway at the hotel as they were getting ready to pass the opening. Esther thrusts out her arm to stop the two younger women, and plants her feet firmly.

    "Donald! What on are earth is going on? I am embarrassed to death, and so completely ashamed! What are people going to say? I have a Quilting Bee to go to this afternoon, and I am to embarrased to go? "

    "Marie, it isn't what you think!", Donald was groveling at trying to explain his conduct of the previous night to his wife.

    "But Donald! You were drunk! AGAIN! You were in jail, for Pete's sake! You and ... and that ... Brothel owner, were tied 'together' in a jail cell! And to top it off, what on earth does S.C.O.L.D. mean?"

    "What are you talking about, Marie?"

    "Those are the letters that are written on your back! In some harlots red lipstick, no doubt! Oh Donald ....."

    At that time Esther decided to take her footsteps moving forward again. As Duzy and Bonnie just looked at each other with some confusemnet on their faces, Esther smiled and giggled.

  8. Duzy Wales 8-7-07

     

    Duzy awoke, before daylight, feeling anesthetized, emotionally exhausted, not knowing which way to turn, as she tried to understand her feelings. The conflicting views of her life were new to her, as she usually knew exactly what she wanted and how to go about getting there. Now, she felt trapped inside her own body, fighting the rage that had started to consume her. She felt that she had to get outside, take Edi out for a fast gallop, and try to clear her head to get some focus.

    The dinner had gone wonderfully. She was happy to have Bonnie, Sarah and Tilly there, and was thrilled to see her Aunt Esther walking with a new vigor in her step and a twinkle in her eyes. She had new friends. She had so many reasons to be happy and grateful, so why wasn’t she excited, why did she not feel the happiness that she should be feeling? What was wrong with her? What had the Reverend been trying to tell her? And the wink, what was that all about? Was it assurance that he understood? How could he know how she was feeling? Did he understand how it felt to have good and evil fighting for prominence in his own life, not just from the teachings of his faith?

    Duzy wanted to lash out, to get back at those who had hurt her, to show them that they had no right to treat her or anyone in such a way, and to take their power for thinking that they could! She fought hard with her conscious on how to handle the situation. Should she be looking for property in Firelands to build new buildings, of her own design, and forgive those who had wronged her, knowing if she did, she would still have to watch her back at all times? Or should she let go of the rage she felt by destroying the people who had made it their business to bring her down, reveling in the fact that they had not beaten her, nor could they take her spirit from her, leaving her feeling dead inside.

    Duzy heard the others start to stir and realized she had missed some of the night’s conversation, perhaps while she was outside with Mr. Wallace and the Reverend. It seemed the trial against Mr. Keller and the counter suit of Duke Slade was to be today, and Bonnie was going to testify. Aunt Esther was already making plans to go. This should be interesting, Duzy thought, as she and the other ladies left to go to watch the proceedings.

    Duzy watched in amazement as Duke Slade was escorted out of the room to go to prison for life. She felt some of the rage inside her dissipate as she watched him get the justice he deserved. Would the others get their due as well, without Duzy having to take revenge herself? Then, she remembered that wink again! Was he simply trying to let her know that “God does work in mysterious ways….”? She decided at that moment to do as he had said, to think hard on her decision and then do it with all of her heart. She would let go of the bitterness, and look toward the future with a renewed sense of pride in whatever she decided.

    It was time to start planning the new businesses that were to be built for the ladies and gentlemen of Firelands!

  9. Linn Keller 8-7-07

     

    The steady buzz of voices in the courtroom silenced abruptly with the gavel's sharp rap. Court was still a novelty; it was theater, entertainment, a source of gossip and conjecture, but it was still the Law.
    There were formal trappings, an agenda, and fine language; from the fine tenor throat declaring "All rise," to the Judge's measured pace as he stepped behind the desk, elevated one step on the low podium, to the ceremonial rap of the turned cherry gavel.
    "All persons with business before this honorable Court will draw near and give their attention! The Honorable David Hostetler presiding! God bless the United States and this honorable court!"
    His Honor David Hostetler, late Colonel Hostetler of the US Cavalry, examined the papers before him. "We seem to have a light docket today," he declared, "no doubt the result of clean living and decent people. We'll take the lesser of two evils first, a criminal complaint against one Linn Keller, defendant. Is the defendant present?"
    "Yes, Your Honor." The deputy stood, hat in hand.
    "Says here you did commit an assault upon the person of one Attorney Slade, that you did do grievous harm and that you did so with deliberation and malicious intent."
    "Yes, Your Honor, that's exactly what it says."
    "Please take the stand."
    Linn unbuckled his gunbelt, wrapped the belt around the slim holster and placed it on the table before him. He strode to the witness stand, executed a crisp military left-face as the clerk approached, Bible in hand.
    "Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?"
    "I do."
    "Please be seated."
    Slade was already uncomfortable. Even seasoned lawmen, upon being sworn in, often look uncomfortable when assuming the witness chair. This fellow, he thought, is perfectly at home here. Slade looked over at the defendant's table. The Sheriff and a young fellow he'd never seen before sat there. The young man wore a well-tailored suit and townie shoes, well polished; his hair was immaculate, his spectacles clean, and his hands were clean and almost delicate.
    "Mr. Keller, did you commit the crimes listed on the complaint?"
    "I did."
    Again Slade was taken aback. He was expecting obfusication, hesitancy, a stammered explanation. Again looking at the new face at the defense table, he lapsed mentally and simply asked, "Why?"
    "Mr. Slade, how tall are you?"
    Slade blinked. The witness does not question counsel, he thought, but there was authority in the man's voice and he automatically responded: "Why, ah, six feet one inch, but I don't see--"
    "And how much do you weigh, sir?" the deputy interrupted.
    "Ah, why, ah, two hundred sixty --" Slade stopped, got his mental feet under him. "Your Honor, I object!"
    "I'll allow it," Judge Hostetler said quietly. "Continue, Mr. Keller."
    "Mr. Slade, you have the look of someone who has done honest work in his lifetime. I'd say you know the feel of a hay fork, probably from your younger days."
    This piqued the interest of the courtroom audience, all of whom were or at least had been working men. A hand without calluses was a rare exception, and all were interested in the direction this conversation was headed.
    "Why, ah, yes, I did, I grew up on a farm."
    "And you're still a pretty strong fellow, if I'm any judge," the deputy continued.
    "I suppose so, yes."
    "Miz Bonnie, would you stand, please?" The deputy rose and so did Miz Bonnie.
    "Miz Bonnie, could you hold your arm out, to the side, like so, please? Thank you." Linn looked at Slade. "Mr. Slade, if you'll look at the lady, you'll see that I could probably encircle her wrist with my hand and touch my thumb and finger easily."
    Slade fell the floor drop out from under him.
    "Mr. Slade, you seized this poor woman by the arm, and you were addressing her in a manner which I have come to associate with imminent physical harm. In my capacity as a law enforcement officer I have come to recognize the need for prevention whenever possible, and in my professional opinion you were engaged in criminal assault. You were directed by the lady to release your hold on her arm and you failed to do so -- indeed, you began pulling her by her arm. Is that not true, sir?"
    "I -- I --" Slade was completely off balance now. A night of worry, drink, then a confused memory and waking, bound, in a jail cell, in something of a compromising position -- and now this --
    "Your Honor, I object!"
    "Object to what, Mr. Slade?" the judge replied. "You are the complainant as well as the counsel for prosecution. That alone is an unusual condition. I must make allowances, sir, and I must direct you to answer the question."
    "Mr. Slade, did you or did you not unlawfully seize this woman by her arm, did you or did you not sully her reputation with your comments, and did you or did you not fail to release her when directed to do so?"
    "I - I --" Slade took a step backward.
    "Mr. Slade, you are a coward and you are a bully. You are a grown man who has to pick on a defenseless woman, but not until after you engage in conspiracy to conduct an unlawful foreclosure on her property. You are not satisfied with that, sir, you felt the need to seize her person and --"
    "Coward?" Slade shouted. "You call me a coward? I will have satisfaction!"
    "I accept!" the deputy shouted. "As the challenged party I have the choice of time and of place and weapons. I choose now and I choose here and I choose knives!"
    "Your Honor!"
    "Mr. Slade, you have just issued a challenge before this Court and before these witnesses assembled. Seems to me you can either accept the challenge, or you can withdraw your charges."
    The courtroom held its breath.
    "I withdraw," Slade said in a small voice.
    "I'm sorry, sir, what was that?" the judge asked politely.
    Slade's face was flaming with humiliation. "I withdraw the charges!"
    "Thank you, sir. Case dismissed. The witness may step down." The gavel rapped the desk smartly.
    The deputy stood, took two steps.
    Slade turned, nickle plated Owl Head in hand. "I'll kill you!"

    "Linn!" Esther shouted.
    I knew what was happening.
    I spun and took a long step toward Slade.
    He had his Owl Head out and pointing at me.
    I seized it in both hands, the web of my right under its barrel forcing it up, my left hard over the cylinder, and I stripped it down, out of his grip, and stepped back with my right leg, bringing his own gun to bear on him.
    If one were paying very close attention they might have seen exactly how I did it, but most of the courtroom had only a general focus on the situation, and even the sheriff was surprised at the change of events.
    Judge Hostetler was not one to excite easily. He picked up the second complaint. "In the matter of the people vs. Duke Slade, we have two counts of attempted murder, two counts of conspiracy, two counts of conspiracy to commit murder or grievous bodily harm, and two counts of assault on a law enforcement officer." The Judge put down the complaint. "Mr. Slade, do you wish to enter a plea, or shall I take your actions just now as an admission of guilt?"
    Slade saw his world crumble and fall away like a handful of sand from between his fingers. The beefy red of his face turned kind of a pale mottled shade and he turned, like an old man, and I lowered his pistol to my side, not taking my attention off him.
    "Guilty," he said hoarsely.
    "Duke Slade, I find you guilty on all counts. For the crime of attempting the murder of a law enforcement officer, I sentence you to the remainder of your natural life in the Territorial Prison. I don't believe it necessary to address the other charges." BANG went the gavel. Slade jumped at its sound: for his life, it was the crack of doom.
    I laid the Owl Head on the table in front of the Sheriff, picked up my gun belt and wrapped it around me.
    "If there is any further business to be brought before this honorable Court, speak now."
    Silence.
    BANG went the gavel. "Court is adjourned!"
    The Sheriff shook my hand. "Nice going, son," he smiled. "By the way, this-here is your lawyer, Michael Moulton. He just got into town this morning."
    "Good morning, Counselor," I greeted him. His grip was firm, despite his lack of calluses.
    "Easiest fee I ever earned," Moulton said. "I do admire the way you handled yourself, Deputy."
    "You earned your fee even though you never spoke a word. I'm glad you're here, and welcome to Firelands!"
    "Did you really punch him?"
    "I did, and if you'll excuse me I need to take him over to the jail."
    "Of course."
    I turned. Slade was just standing there with the same expression as the men I'd hanged, just before I gave the order to kick the plank out from under them.
    I felt half sick.
    I walked over to Slade. "Come with me, Duke," I said quietly, and we walked out of the courtroom.

  10. Charlie MacNeil 8-7-07

     

    It was Charlie's turn to sit in the shadows. He'd finished his own dinner and rounded up some for Dawg then gone back to Sam's for one more beer before finding a soft spot in the hay of the livery stable. The night air was cool and a number of the men from inside the saloon had stepped outside for some fresh air. Charlie was tipped back in a chair against the wall of the saloon, sitting quietly, and the men didn't notice him there.

    One of the men began to talk about what he'd like to do to a certain Duzy, who had apparently come to town and caused quite a stir. Charlie quietly let his chair down on all fours and was lifting himself to his feet when a big man with a deputy's star on his chest stepped up onto the boardwalk and proceeded to take the man down in a most efficient manner.

    The deputy carried the man into the bar one-handed and Charlie followed, hanging back. It wasn't long before the man was scurrying from the saloon and there was the sound of hoofbeats in the night. This town was starting to get interesting, and Charlie could feel the old stirring. He tended to get upset when folks tried to take advantage of those less fortunate than themselves, and it was looking like something was going on in Firelands.

    Charlie stepped outside and strolled toward the livery stable. He looked in on Buck, who stood quietly munching hay. Near the back of the stall, Dawg lifted his head and woofed quietly. Charlie bent and scratched the big dog behind his ears. "Looks like we may be here longer than I figured, Dawg," he said. "We'll have to see."

    Charlie took his bedroll and climbed to the barn loft. A door at the rear of the loft for bringing in hay was open and Charlie walked to it and looked out in time to see a mule, loaded with what looked like two bodies, go silently past. The man who was leading the mule brought him to a halt near the back of a stoutly built brick building. The man untied the two bodies and carried them one at a time into the building then led the mule off into the dark.

    Charlie shook his head and unrolled his bed. "I reckon I can find out what that was about a lot easier in the morning than I can tonight," he said quietly to himself. He unbuckled his gunbelt and lay it at the head of his bed, sat down and pulled off his boots, then lay back with a sigh. He was soon asleep.

  11. Kid Sopris 8-7-07

     

     

    In the darkness of life, not everything is as it appears. The stately image of a reverend man sitting by a home fire late at night where others can see, provides the cornerstone of explanation as to nightly activities.

    Deputy Keller was hard at work, that's good thought the stealthy image, keeps everyone focused. When Higgins left Sam's that night, he did so under a full stomach of barley and grain. His balance less than perfect and his vision distorted.

    "Whose there?" Higgins called out. The rustling of the leaves in the night breeze plays tricks on a man at times, especially an inebriated man. The cloth containing the sleeping gaseous liquid was pressed tightly against Higgin's nose and silence fell quickly. A pack mule was all that was needed.

    Mr. Slade, was suffering from previous encounters with destiny was once again dealing with pain and the over abundance of medication. The stealthy figure with pack mule in tow and cloth shod hoofs made their quiet movements undetectable. Slade was no less of a threat and was as easily overcome by the sleeping gas as the first subject. Both men from the towns "Devil Brigade" needed to be brought before their Makers eyes and to the attention of the towns folk.

    When morning came about the town was bustling awaiting the start of circuit court. Mrs. Higgin's was scurrying about looking for her husband; this was not the first time he didn't come home after a night of drinking, carousing and cavorting with other undesirables. She was at her limit of understanding.

    The preacher awakening to the gentle sounds of the morning birds, a nice breeze and a fresh cup of coffee, saw Mrs. Higgins en-route to the jail.

    The jail had gained two inhabitants in the stealthy night time. Both still unconscious and sleeping and neatly tied and bundled together in the same bunk. It was reported later to the preacher, "The two villains looked kinda cute together in bed." Sopris only raised his left eyebrow in hearing of this.

    Sopris only comment was, "Seems odd that two birds of the same feather would sleep together". It did however provide and excellent subject for the next Sunday Service.

    "Sleeping with Man"

  12. Lady Leigh 8-7-07

     

    Putting Sarah to bed that night was a little taxing. She was wired up tight with excitement, but alas, the Fairy Godmothers sleeping dust won.

    The dishes were washed, dried and put away, and all was in good order. The four women sitting by the night times fire, relishing in the last of the warm and inviting embers before, they too, would be departing for bed.

    "Bonnie Dear?"

    "Yes, Esther"

    "You have not spoken a great deal about your Mother and sister, but I know their loss is still a difficult one for you ... for that I am deeply sorry."

    Before Bonnie could respond, Esther held her hand in the air to ward off comments, as she had more to say. "I also know that directly after their deaths, the boarding house was forclosed .... but, Bonnie, what I do not understand, is what transpired with ... that to lead you to .... well ..."

    Tilly interupted, "Ms. Esther, Bonnie came to Sams in a druged state. At first we were afraid she had the Typhoid like her kin did, but the Doc told us she did't aile from that."

    Bonnie so quietly at first, then louder as she finished the comment, "I was striken with sorrow after Mama and Margaret died, but I know for a fact I did not take laudanum! I know it as sure as I am sitting here."

    It was quiet for a long moment. Duzy, with a soft voice, "then, Bonnie, how did the drugging happen?"

    "I have no idea." And with that, Bonnie wept.

  13. Linn Keller 8-6-07

     

    A man learns hard lessons in this lifetime. War, and years as a badge packer, taught me that a man must divide his mind into compartments, and shine the light of attention into each compartment in its turn. Much as I would love to have stayed and enjoyed the company of the ladies, it was time to move on, in thought and in deed.
    We took our leave of the pleasant evening -- and a more pleasant evening I have not had in long years! -- I saddled Sam, and fed him a wad of chawing tobacker, and rubbed him behind his big velvety ears.
    "Sam, old friend," I murmured, "all that evil needs to grow is for good men to do nothing. And I don't aim that it should grow."
    Sam savored the molasses flavored leaf and grunted.
    I hauled myself into the saddle. It was less and less of a chore these days, as I healed from being belted with a mattock handle, and hadn't had a nauseating attack of dizziness for some time: this, I thought, is a good thing.
    Sam stepped out for town. The night was cool, the air pleasant; we rode a couple circles around the ladies' homestead, spiraling out, Sam surprisingly silent. For such a huge mount, he was equally stealthy, and could move like a passing cloud if the notion took him.
    Shorty was awake when we got back to the livery. He grained Sam; I saw there was fresh straw in the clean stall. Shorty might not say much but he took good care of his business. Like as not he was as attentive to detail in all else he did. I could be wrong, but calluses don't often lie.
    I stopped by the Sheriff's office and took a look at the paper work, and smiled. There were few matters to be brought before the circuit judge. Matter of fact, there were two, and my name was on both.
    Attorney Slade had filed charges of assault against me. This neither surprised nor distressed me, but the second action brought a smile to my face, and the smile was not a pleasant one.
    It was my action against Slade.
    Attempted murder, two counts; assault on a law enforcement officer, two counts, and manslaughter, two counts ... and bless the Sheriff, he'd wired back to Chauncey and gotten the confirmation of my bona fides as a lawman, and attached the telegram to the complaint.
    I checked the calendar. The judge would be in town tomorrow. Reckon I would make a pasear through town and get a good night's rest. I wanted my mind fresh for court.
    I debated whether to wear my new suit for court, decided against it. I would be appearing as a deputy sheriff. Let the attorney and the judge wear a suit. What I wore would be clean. Save the suit for less adversarial situations.
    I locked the door behind me and made a quiet circuit of town, shaking doors, making sure all was well; I ended my circuit with Sam's sad excuse for a saloon, figuring to go upstairs to bed afterward. I was liking Sam's place less and less well, the more I learned of the man, especially his treatment of Miz Bonnie and Miz Tillie. Bigfoot's information as well was particularly troubling. Time to find somewhere else to stay. I would make that a project after court.
    A few fellows were enjoying the cool night air before they, too, retired. One of them, probably with a belly full of liquid fire, was discussing just what he'd like to do to a particular uppity woman.
    For a big man I move quiet, and I moved quietly up behind him.
    He was talking about Miz Duzy, and what he'd like to do with her, and his words were less than gentlemanly.
    There is a time for words, and there is a time for action, and if a man is going to correct another, he must act when the error is fresh in the wrongdoer's mind.
    I snatched the revolver from his holster with my right hand; my left drove up, seized the back of his shirt collar. I yanked, hard, and kicked the back of his knees.
    He hit the boardwalk, hard.
    I leaned over and slammed the flat of my open hand down on his breastbone, hitting him hard enough to half drive the wind out of him. His ribs would ache in the morning.
    I closed my hand on a good fist full of his shirt front, and twisted.
    Then I picked him up off the ground, and curled him like a weight lifter curls a dumb bell, and held him at nose level, and looked into his eyes.
    I saw arrogance, at first, that drained out like water poured out of a canteen, and I pressed him straight up in the air, like a weight lifter will press a barbell.
    I held him at arm's length above me, my eyes locked with his, and never said a word.
    I didn't have to.
    His hands had gone to my wrist, not to try and loosen my grip, but a reflex of fear. His weight was on my knuckles and it was not comfortable for him.
    I held him til my arm started to tremble, just a little, then I lowered him to nose level again, and looked long into his eyes.
    I saw fear.
    I pressed him up to arm's length again, and held him, knowing the others with whom he'd held conversation were watching closely, knowing they'd all heard how I had treated Slade, on this very stretch of board walk, and knowing they'd heard about the general store and what happened there.
    I lowered the fellow to nose level again, and said quietly,so only he could hear, "You will speak of the ladies with respect. If harm ever comes to any of them, I know what you look like, and I will find you like I found every last one I ever went after, and I will kill you."
    His boot toes were just off the board walk, and I kept him there, my arm drawn in tight against my body, and I carried him into Sam's like that.
    The others scrambled to follow, wanting to see what I was going to do.
    I stopped and turned suddenly and they almost fell over themselves getting stopped. I considered the horse trough, then had a better idea.
    We went into Sam's -- me carrying this fellow by his shirt front, the other three following, pointing, whispering, marveling -- and Sam goggled at us.
    I set the fellow up on the bar. "Sam," I announced, "I am buying this fellow a beer. He's got a long ride ahead of him tonight and I wanted to thank him for helping me win a bet."
    "A bet?" the fellow gasped as I unscrewed my fist from his shirt front.
    "Why, yes," I replied. "I bet the Sheriff I could hoist a man up left handed, and hold him off the ground for five minutes. I am a right handed man, and the Sheriff just lost his bet." I smiled. "Enjoy your beer. You are leaving town tonight and it would not be healthy if you ever came back."
    I paid Sam for the beer. Shortly after there was the sound of hoofbeats, a rider leaving town at a gallop.
    I hung up my new suit and went to bed.

  14. William A.A. Wallace 8-6-07

     

    "That Preacher is a difficult sort to figure out", Wallace thought. "And that Miss Duzy..." Wallace was taken aback by her outward showing of affection towards him. Never having actually been hugged by any other woman than his dear old Mum, Wallace knew not what to make of this demonstrative woman. It was time to take his leave of the town and these new found aquaintances and go out into the country to hunt, trap, fish...and get his mind together and wrapped around the ideas that the Preacher had espoused. Moving swiftly and silently he quickly came upon the livery and his mule and prepared for a few days journey into the solitude of the great outdoors. He'd be back...that was for sure...if for nothing more than to see how this whole thing played out...and of course, some more of that wonderfully fine coffee that Miss Duzy and her Aunt had given him!

  15. Kid Sopris 8-6-07

     

    "Contempt of morality, has no place in the hot irons of justice; Nor shall the common man sit in judgment of another, but to plant the seeds to do harm to the helpless and innocent breeds retribution". Rev. Sopris whispered these words to Bigfoot Wallace, and just loud enough for Deputy Keller to overhear, but not within the earshot of the ladies or little Sarah.

    The night was growing late, Rev. Sopris suggested that it was time for he to depart this wonderful engagement of delicious food, lovely hostesses, and the warmth of a new home, but there is the Lords work to do. Deputy Keller, who would rather stay and visit with Esther was caught between intrigue of Sopris' words and the conversation that took place outside with Mr. Wallace.

    Mr. Wallace after finishing up the apple pie and fresh coffee, decided a walk back to town would be in order. The ladies were thanked for the meal, company and the warmth of the hearth and were bid a good evening, and just as the trio of men departed the front door, Rev. Sopris stopped, turned to Ms. Duzy and winked.

    As the men strolled back to town they talked freely of the "Devils Brigade" of wrong doers that seem to have a grasp of the town by the throat. Mr. Keller was surely thinking railroad, Bigfoot, whittled a branch with his knife, and Rev.. Sopris briefly expounded his thoughts about evil;

    "Gentlemen, there can be no worse wrong then to ignore the threats of others towards the innocent, or to stand idly by and watch others suffer, when one could intervene and prevent tragedy. Our little town is growing and with it so does it's ills. There must be a place with in the confines of our justice system to insure that those intent on violating the basic rights and freedoms of others are met with swiftly and without hesitation. Deputy Keller, I am sure that you and the Sheriff can adequately deal with the open perpetrators of crime, however I think it's time that those of us in the community with the resources and talents, form a bond of trust and support for the Law Enforcement of our town and territory, and aid in the identification, deliverance of those wrong doers onto the door steps of justice; by whatever legal means we can."

    "Gentlemen, I would love to continue this thought process, but the darkness breeds evil, and the Lords work never rests. Good Night, and may God Bless you both."

    With that the Rev. Sopris departed in the direction of the Church walking very quietly in steps, but reciting a Psalm.

  16. Duzy Wales 8-6-07

     

    Duzy was having a great time, watching the interaction with her guests, learning a little more about each of them, with each sentence, each look, and each body movement. As a journalist, she had learned to listen and watch carefully, taking in every detail in order to write a factual story, and yet one that was interesting, informative, sensitive to a point, and yet having the accountability that a person should have, knowing that they were responsible for what they entered into print.

    When the second knock occurred, she hoped that Mr. Wallace had indeed decided to come for dinner, as there was plenty of food left and she wished to get to know him better! She quickly went to the door to open it, realizing that Reverend Sopris and Mr. Keller were not far behind her. After all, Mr. Wallace, had come to her aid in a time of real distress, and she hadn’t had the chance to thank him. It came as a surprise when he asked her and the Reverend to step outside, hoping that his good deed had not gotten him or anyone into any trouble.

    Mr. Wallace was a man of few words and quickly warned Duzy and the Reverend of the talk that was being spread around Sam’s Place, with Mr. Wallace putting it as delicately as he could and yet get his point across. Duzy was beginning to think more of him each time they met, as she knew him to be a good man, a no nonsense type, who spoke the truth, and yet had a gentle side that came through by his actions. She could sense both his and Reverend Sopris’ anger, although it didn’t show outwardly.


    Duzy, on the other hand, could feel the rage that started in the core of her body, spreading out to each nerve ending, causing her to become visibly shaken. This reaction seemed to worry both Mr. Wallace and Reverend Sopris; with both of them assuring her not to worry and that she would be safe. Duzy accepted and appreciated their words of comfort; however, she hoped they could not tell how angry and hurt she really was, as they had only been kind to her, and had no idea what was running through her head at the moment! She could just imagine how Sam and Mr. Higgins had been talking! She had heard and seen how they treated Bonnie and Tilly, and it sickened her that they were openly talking about her in such a way, just as it had when they had treated Bonnie and Tilly with such disrespect, as if women were nothing….just to be used as property that they could buy, sell or treat anyway they wished. They were also two of the men who had destroyed her chance at running the newspaper office in Firelands, causing her to begin to make plans that she hoped would bring them to their knees!

    Duzy had lived a protected life, and had been very fortunate, so all this hatred and bigotry was new to her. Oh, she had been ridiculed for not getting married young, and having a family, at the old age of twenty two, here and especially in the South, but she had taken that in stride, knowing that she wanted more out of life. She had a burning streak inside her soul that gave her the ambition to try to make changes, that would help the world she lived in, and to someday pass it on to the generations to come, hoping that someday, she could sit and tell the stories to her own grandchildren!

    Duzy caught Mr. Wallace by surprise, and gave him a hug, from her heart, thanking him for coming, thanking him for how he had already helped Bonnie, Sarah, Tilly and herself by his selfless actions! She then asked him to come inside and join the party, as she hoped they would become friends for life, just as she did her other “family” and guests tonight.

    Mr. Wallace couldn’t turn down the invitation she gave him, as she looked up at him with her brown eyes challenging him with a pretty smile, with the odor of apple pie and coffee in the air. “Perhaps I can stay for just a few minutes, Miz. Duzy,” he said, as they started to turn and go inside. Reverend Sopris stopped, causing Duzy to turn, as he looked her straight in the eyes and said, “Whatever you are feeling, think it through carefully, and whatever you decide, do it with all of your heart!” Duzy couldn’t help but wonder if he had any idea what she was thinking, as most preacher’s she had known, would have judged her on the spot, thinking her thoughts were vindictive and unladylike, telling her that she should repent for such thoughts, as they were unnatural for a woman, and that it was a sin for her to even contemplate such actions, much less to carry them out with the fervor that she was feeling at the moment. She felt the fire, and she knew that soon there would be retribution! She may be naïve in a lot of things, but she knew how to get what she wanted, just as if she were going undercover to get the facts she needed for an article.

    Somehow, collectively, they all cleared their minds, as best they could, and entered the house to continue their dinner, with Aunt Esther already having a plate made for Mr. Wallace, knowing her niece well enough that she would get him inside, to enjoy the meal that he had helped to provide. Duzy thought of the pie and coffee and realized that ground vanilla seemed to go well in both of them, as everyone seemed to like it, she included. “Interesting idea,” she thought! And then, the conversations started again, each greeting Mr. Wallace, as Duzy introduced the gentleman to her family and guests.

  17. Charlie MacNeil 8-6-07

     

    Charlie slipped into Sam's and stepped sideways to put his back against the wall until his eyes adjusted to the dim light. Even though the light outside had faded into dusk, inside the saloon it was like stepping into a cellar. Only a few smoky, badly trimmed lamps gave any kind of illumination.

    When he could see again Charlie eased up to the end of the bar, turned his back against the wall there, and leaned his left elbow on the polished mahogany. With his right hand he tipped his hat back off his forehead. He looked around the room, taking inventory of the occupants, and noticed a big, man-shaped shadow in the far corner of the room. The shadow sat not far from where two men were deep in what appeared to be a less than congenial conversation.

    "What'll it be, stranger?" A man in a soiled, once white apron came up to Charlie. One eye was pulled half shut by what appeared to be an old knife scar and the man was missing the ends of two fingers on his left hand.

    "Beer, if it's cold," Charlie said. The man nodded and drew him a beer and slid it down the bar. Charlie picked it up in his left hand, which action did not go unnoticed by either the bartender or the big man in the shadows. He took a long drink and set the mug down on the bar then wiped the foam from his mustache. The beer was indeed cold, which was kind of a surprise.

    "Got anything to eat here?" Charlie asked next. It had been a damn long time since the stale biscuits and coffee he'd had at daybreak this morning.

    "Chili beans and cornbread'll cost you two bits," the bartender said. "But you can eat all you want."

    "I guess how much I want will depend on how good it is, won't it?" Charlie asked with a chuckle. "Bring it on. My belly decided long since that my throat's been cut. And draw me another beer while you're at it, if you don't mind."

    "Made the chili myself," the bartender said. He went through a door behind the bar and came back in a couple of minutes with a steaming bowl of beans and beef swimming in red pepper sauce and a plate of cornbread. While he was gone, Charlie had been unobtrusively watching the big man over yonder.

    The bartender set the bowl and plate on the bar in front of Charlie and brought a soup spoon out of a pocket of his apron and wiped it on the bar towel that hung at his waist.

    "I take it I ain't the only one to come in here and eat tonight," Charlie said. He paused then said with a grin, "Either that or this place don't make enough money to afford more than one spoon."

    The bartender grinned back and said, "The boss don't believe in keeping a lot of overhead, ya know?" He drew Charlie a second beer and took away the first empty mug. Charlie dug into his food with a will.

    Outside, it was dark, and the bartender lit a few more lamps, but the room didn't brighten appreciably. The two men at the other end of the bar ended their conversation and the bigger, mangier looking of the two went behind the bar and began to rearrange the glasses there. The better-dressed one pushed his way out the door. Charlie followed him out with his eyes.

    A slight breeze stirred the dust on the floor and Charlie looked toward the far end of the room in time to see a door that had been hidden until more lamps were lit slip silently shut. The big man in the corner had gone. Oh well, it was none of his business. He was just passing through on his way to Wyoming and his family. Or so he thought.

  18. Linn Keller 8-6-07

     

    Miz Duzy had gone to the door. Reverend Sopris, with all the clatter and fuss of a passing ghost, was behind and beside her, I was a little more to the side -- no sense in letting the caller see everyone -- five knocks, I thought: someone worried, some urgent matter; from their vigor, a man's knock, not the light rapid tap of Lightning's boy, and not the delicate rap of a lady's knuckles.
    Miz Duzy and the good Reverend recognized the caller; they went outside, closed the door. All was well. I returned to my seat, and easily resumed the conversation.
    I had unconciously leaned towards Esther -- with a little surprise I realized I was thinking of her as Esther, and not Miz Esther -- I shook myself mentally and tried to reestablish a formal distance in my thinking, but it didn't work -- anyway, she had leaned toward me and she was asking some incisive questions about the investment I'd made that ended up as controlling shareholder of the railroad, and what had I planned now that I'd sold the investment. To my surprise -- well, I wasn't so much surprised at her, but at myself -- Esther was proving herself to be an astute sort, as I had originally thought, and she told me she'd understood attorney Slade to have steadily lost clientele, with a sudden drop in business since the Sheriff arranged to import another lawyer, and how Slade had been obliged to part with his own controlling interest in the local railroad to raise funds for his own debts.
    I blinked. A memory fell into place.
    Lightning had commented on my earlier telegrams, when negotiations were in their early stages and I was frequenting his office, sometimes twice a day. He mentioned some other stockholders, by name, and suggested they might be interested in selling.
    I did a quick calculation.
    "Mr. Keller?"
    Esther's eyes were amused as she called me back to the here and now.
    "I'm sorry, I ... I had an idea. My apologies. What was your question again?"

  19. William A.A. Wallace 8-6-07

     

    Leaving the Saloon and taking the back alleys to Miss Wales new home, Wallace heard sounds of gaiety emerging from the household. Glancing in one of the windows, he noticed that several of the folks he'd met in the past few days were in attendance. Spyin the Preacher, Wallace knew this was the time and place to warn Miss Wales. Moving quietly for such a large man in his moccasined feet, Wallace approached the door with a little apprehension and gave three distinct knocks from without. A moment later, Miss Wales opened the door with the Preacher right behind her. Wallace glanced inside and took note of the other folks that were inside. Miss Wales said "Why Mr. Wallace, we were wondering if you'd make it. Come on in and enjoy the festivities." Wallace took a step back and said, "Miss Wales, I'd rather not intrude...could you and the Preacher please come out on the porch? I have something to tell you..."

  20. William A.A. Wallace 8-6-07

     

    Having had an excellent hunting trip, game being plentiful in the area, Bigfoot returned to town and met the pretty young woman that he had come to find out was going to try and get a newpaper going in the new town. After exchanging pleantries, Miss Wales offered to have him over to dinner that evening. Wallace nodded his head and said he'd try to make it. Not being the overtly "social" type, Wallace decided to forego the dinner invitation and go to the Saloon and see what bits of information he could find out about the town and the folks in it. Whisky seemed to bring out the "loose tongues" in folk, which is why Wallace rarely ever took a drink for other than "medicinal purposes".

    Sitting in a darkened corner of the Saloon, Wallace overheard Sam, the proprietor, discussing the events of the day with a rather unsavory fellow. Another reason not to like Saloons and the type that frequented them, although much useful information could be gleaned if you kept a sober head and listened intently. Wallace overheard the proprietor, Sam, state that Miss Wales ws causing him problems by getting a few of his "prized women of the evening" to leave his establishment for greener pastures. His tone and the evil look in his slightly glazed eyes made Wallace's hair on the back of his head start to tingle. Knowing this to be a sign of imminent danger, Wallace arose and left the Saloon to find Miss Wales and give her fair warning.

  21. Lady Leigh 8-6-07

     

    "Thank God it's just a little boy!" Bonnie whispered to Tilly.

    "What do ya mean?"

    "Well, so far this is the first time I have been around Mr. Keller, when someone wasn't getting teeth knocked out, or shot. Look at Sarah! She looks just a tiny bit disappointed!" and Bonnie chuckled.

    The timing couldn't have been more perfect. Seeing a literal bounce in Mr. Kellers step after reading the telegram the little guy brought over, a new subject could be conversed, and she could, once again, put the past in the past.

    Talking to herself, Bonnie commented, "see- there is always more that what meets the eye." A Rail road!? Who would have thought something like this?! And if Bonnie wasn't mistaken, she saw gold on that odd bag he carried into the Merchantile. What an interesting man!


    Bonnie also thought how kind he always was with Sarah, too. Never being one to baby talk to a child herself, Bonnie greatly appreciated how Mr. Keller visited with Sarah as if he valued her little ramblings of discussion.

    Bonnie wanted to laugh with the compliment on the vanilla in the coffee. Rev. Sopris may not have frequented Sams Place, but he was spoken about often. One silly conversation she over heard once was, "well--- maybe if'n ya put vanilla in a cupa' coffee, that Preacher just might see his way inta here. Then ole Sam there could start lacin' that coffe with the good stuff! Then we could see what Man o Cloth he really is!"

    Now Bonnie had no intentions of maliciously lacing anybody's coffee with, 'the good stuff', but it just seemed like the thing to do for tonights evening coffee. One small way to maybe show Rev Sopris he is appreciated, though he hadn't mentioned the coffee himself, he was drinking a fair amount of it just the same.

    All of a sudden she remembered the little story her Papa told her about him putting cayanne pepper into he brother, Colin's drink once, Papa laughed so loud and so hard, "Aye, but I canae say I was sorry! He would nae listen, and he had a wee brain. Aye, I dinnae like that laddie! An me bein here tis his proof he dinnae like me!"

    "Aw, Papa .."

  22. Linn Keller 8-6-07

     

    The Lord looks after fools and children, and in my lifetime I have been both.
    Fortunately, tonight, I was not terribly foolish, and Sarah was child enough for us all, bless her.
    It had been a very long time since I regarded the world through the eyes of a child. I took a few peeks, tonight, in between helpings of what was without any doubt a'tall some of the best food I have ever eaten!
    There are cooks who learn their craft; there are cooks who are God-gifted with an artisanship in that area, and there are a few, a truly few, who have both. Some make their way to the best restaurants in Europe. I had eaten at one such, but only one; over the years I have eaten from many tables. Without any doubt at all, this was the absolute best I'd ever had.
    The Chinese have a saying: "Hunger makes the best sauce." I came in with an appetite, but had I arrived full as a tick I would have still eaten a full meal -- it was that good!
    My attention wandered, as it will with a comfortably full belly and good company. Reverend Sopris was saying little and listening much -- the mark of a wise man indeed! -- poor Tillie came in looking terrified, but was relaxed now; she'd eaten but little, and her thin hands weren't trembling like they had been. She tried to hide it, but I saw the Reverend's eyes catch it, then he looked at me and saw I'd noticed too.
    The Reverend is a deep one. I wouldn't want to play poker against him.
    Esther was in her element. She had a natural presence that ran the meal like a ... well, like a pocket watch: smooth running, well regulated, highly organized. I'd be willing to bet she had a background in business, and would be willing to bet good money that the business, whatever it had been, was profitable -- thanks to her.
    My ear twitched when Bonnie began telling a little of herself. She was clearly uncomfortable, and when she started hesitating in her speech, when she spoke of her mother's death and the bank's foreclosure on their boarding house, I saw her hands close, tightly; Aunt Esther's hands, too, closed, and I could tell this was a source of considerable discomfort.
    "Esther?" I asked quietly. "Now that you're out here, have you plans for your future? You strike me as someone who maps her way before journeying, and I've no doubt you have something in mind."
    Esther looked quickly at me, a little surprised, but pleased. I felt my ears turning red. It is very much unlike me to speak so boldly to a woman, even when a guest at her table, but I had done it, and I was just bustin' to share some of my own plans, but I hadn't much of anyone left these last couple of years I could confide in and so generally held my own counsel.
    I was surprised at her answer, and delighted, and considered my options.
    There was a knock at the door.
    Reverend Sopris and I were on our feet, silent, ready.
    We looked at each other, nodded.
    I headed for the door, silent on the painfully-clean plank floor; the Reverend, too, moved with me, equally stealthy. His coat was unbuttoned, as was mine.
    The Reverend was behind the door.
    We exchanged glances, another nod.
    I opened the door.
    It was Lightning's boy with a slip in his hand. "Message for you, Mr. Keller," he grinned.
    A quick scan behind him and I was satisfied he was alone. "Come on in, son." He stepped in, sniffing appreciatively at the good smells. Aunt Esther was immediately on her feet with a smile and an extra plate she'd conjured from somewhere. She knew the way to a man's heart, and a boy's, and the lad was happily devouring a big slice of apple pie as I read the telegram.
    I showed the telegram to Reverend Sopris. He whistled quietly, raised one eyebrow.
    "Congratulations," he murmured. "What'll you do now?"
    "Send a reply," I grinned, and began printing a reply for the lad to take back to Lightning.
    The lad walked on two hollow legs and soon devoured the large slice of pie. I sent him on his way with a coin for his troubles, and one for Lightning.
    We returned to our seats.
    "Good news?" Esther asked. Miz Duzy picked delicately at her dessert; Tillie, poor thing, had her hands clenched in her lap.
    "Yes, ma'am," I smiled. I saw no harm in letting them know. "The B&O back home wants to buy my railroad."
    "You've got a railroad?" Sarah said with wide eyes and an innocent expression.
    "Yes, ma'am, the Zig Zag and Wobble, better known as the Z&W. Coal mines are doing so well back home, and we're doing so well hauling coal for the mines, we've been made quite a good offer. I just sent Lightning a long reply." I could not help grinning. "The reply was, 'Sell!'"
    "Why, that's wonderful," Esther exclaimed. "What ever will you do now?"
    "First I think I will have another slice of pie, if there's any left, and some more of that excellent coffee. I've never had it with vanilla before, but it's quite good!"
    Miz Bonnie's ears flamed red, her cheeks pinked beautifully, and her gaze dropped to her plate. I saw she was biting her lip. Bless her for being modest, I thought, she was giving us a special treat with this fancy coffee! Must have been a very long time since she'd received a compliment, by the look of her response... on the other hand I have trouble reading women.
    Sure hope I didn't hurt her feelings!

  23. Lady Leigh 8-5-07

     

    Sitting at a table more beautiful than words, Bonnie glanced around at the people sitting around the table. People from different walks of life. Physically, each were unique. Sarah was chattering like a Magpie to anyone who would listen, but there was not a worry with that. Sarah was a delight. Her voice was sweet and animated, both at the same time. One couldn't help but listen to her prattle on and on. Duzy was excitedly telling about her new plans. Esther was attentive to Mr. Keller. Tilly was meek and quiet, but bless her heart, she was holding her own. Rev. Sopris smiled easily, and hung onto everyones words as if they really were important to him.

    Bonnie looked up suddenly when someone across the table asked her a question. At first she thought it was her imagination ... guilt, loss, sorrow ... those emotions can trigger a mind to play tricks on a person ... can't they? Was someone asking her about where she came from? About her family?

    Bonnie told a little of her story to Esther ... but was it really important for anyone to know anything? Was any of her life really anyones business? Was it a necessity in this life to bare ones soul in order to survive? Lord! Bonnie didn't understand most of her life herself! How could she possibly make these people understand if she couldn't? Chicago? Papa? Her step brother?

    The months after Bonnie's Mama and Margaret died of Typhoid, and when the bank foreclosed on the boarding house, were a literal blur to Bonnie ... It took weeks ...maybe months before she came to any sense at all. Tilly was the one who helped Bonnie go through that horrible time removing laudanum from her system, and to this day, Bonnie didn't even remember beginning to take the opium poison.

    A small portion of a poem by W. H. Auden came to Bonnies mind ...
    "Behind the corpse in the reservoir, behind the ghost on the links,
    Behind the lady who dances and the man who madly drinks,
    Under the look of fatigue, the attack of migraine and the sigh
    There is always another story, there is always more than meets the eye."


    Well, Bonnie thought ... there is definitly more than meets the eye!

  24. Kid Sopris 8-5-07

     

    As the evening wore on, Sopris surmized all that laid before him. The new home for Ms. Duzy, Esther, Bonnie, Tilly and Sarah seemed to bring the happiness to many that was once lost.

    There is nothing like the brightness of a child's eyes, or the laughter contained therein to realize how special life really is. Sopris' mind would occasionally wander to times long ago; remembering.

    A sober thought struck Sopris, he remembered seeing Mr. Wallace entering Sam's as he was departing town, and recalling their brief discussion following Sunday services last. The Rev. knew Mr. Wallace was not entering Sam's for Social endeavors but more for intelligence gathering of sorts. Sopris thought how ironic that this would couple with the Reverend thoughts that it was about time that the "Spirits of Darkness" pay visits to some deserving souls. Nothing like a fresh look and remind of things to come to get a sinners attention he thought.

    Tonight was particularly dark as a crescent moon shown on partially through the Summer clouds blowing in from the Northwest. A gentle breeze would ruffle the leaves enough to silence the steps of a quiet walker. And if Sopris was correct on the activities of those needing visits they would have consumed enough alcohol by midnight to be ripe for the mind to suffer from delusions.

  25. Charlie MacNeil 8-5-07

     

    Charlie stopped at the corner of the barn and waited a few seconds for the other half of the partnership to show up. "Water trough's around front, Dawg," he called softly. He heard a "woof" and smiled. A great black head peeked around the corner of the barn and Dawg's black eyes glinted at him. His big pink tongue lolled out in Dawg's version of a smile. Dawg's smile had been known to frighten strong men and make women fawn over him. It all depended on who Dawg was with.

    "I'm going to the saloon, Dawg," Charlie said. "You can stay here with Buck or go with me, but I'm not sure they'll let you in." He smiled again. "You might want to stay here."

    Dawg woofed again and padded toward the front of the barn. He was thirsty.

    "What in the name of the Lord is that?" a voice suddenly exclaimed. Charlie whirled to see Shorty standing open-mouthed, staring at the great black mass in front of him.

    "That's my partner," Charlie told him. "Dawg, this is our host." Dawg solemnly stepped forward and offered a paw. Shorty hesitated a moment then reached and "shook hands" with the big dog. "Don't worry, Shorty," Charlie said. "He generally doesn't eat livery stable operators. I'll bring him some dinner when I come back. He'll more than likely stay with Buck."

    "Whatever you say, mister," Shorty mumbled then stumped back into the barn. Dawg went to the trough and took a long drink then turned and went into the barn. Charlie unpinned the badge from his vest, dropped it into his pocket, and headed on down to the saloon.

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