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Charlie MacNeil, SASS #48580

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Everything posted by Charlie MacNeil, SASS #48580

  1. They are currently not accepting orders from the US. Any other ideas, folks?
  2. I recently decided to try my hand at the Plainsman side match. Consequently I have borrowed a set of 58 Remingtons, because I like Remingtons and I didn't have a set of cap guns. At the time that I picked up the Remingtons from the parents of the relative who had them I also went to SW and bought a Traditions revolver starter kit. Today I had time to actually load and shoot one of the pistols and it turns out that the capper that came in the kit is essentially worthless. Would someone please recommend a good quality capper that will work with 58 Remingtons and hopefully hold enough caps to last through a Plainsman match? Thanks!
  3. Charlie MacNeil 2-1-13 Charlie looked up from the headstall he was mending, supple leather hanging loosely in his calloused hands, looked up from his seat in the warm sunshine slanting into the doorway of the old log barn, looked up toward the hills beyond the ranch house hollow. Inadvertently his right hand clamped down, hard, as if to pinch something, some portion of the human anatomy, from its moorings on that selfsame anatomy. For a moment, he saw a purpling countenance, the face of a man struggling for even the tiniest sip of life-giving oxygen. Unbidden the words came to his lips and he muttered, "Think ya used enough dynamite there, Butch?" On the instant, his hard fist relaxed as the moment passed. He chuckled softly. "I hate it when that happens, don't you, Sheriff?" After a moment he returned his attention to the headstall.
  4. Linn Keller 2-1-13 The skin was tight on my face and I was cold, cold to my soul, and there was no trace of kindness or forgiveness in me. I had the stranger by the throat and I had him pinned against the tree trunk and I reached down and pulled his revolver out of its holster. "My name," I said, and my voice was as tight and as dry as the throat it rasped its way out of, "is Pale Eyes." Then I belted him over the head with his own pistola, holding him by the throat as he sagged. We'd rode halfway to God I don't know how far it was and I didn't care, my red mare was ready for a long hard run in the high and thin air and she was grained and she was used to the altitude and his horse was not. I was a-settin' behind my desk sortin' through that new stack of wanted dodgers when the door shivered like someone got thrown hard against it. I was out of the desk and two paces left with both hands wrapped around a twelve gauge when whoever it was figured out they had to open the latch first. Some kid fell in and hit the floor all a-scramble and come up on all fours and screamed, "SHERIFF MY GOD HE JUST SHOT JACKSON COOPER!" I grabbed my hat and slapped it on my head and long legged it out the door. Some fellow was riding off and riding hard and Jackson Cooper was leaning back against the hitch rail with one hand to his side. He removed the hand and looked up at me and I saw his lips frame the words: "Go get him." I didn't have to be told twice. I was back into the office and out again, and around back where I kept Cannonball: what I'd packed to eat went in a saddlebag, my rifle went in its scabbard and I come down that alley at a dead gallop and Cannonball swung hard right and we took out after that fellow just as hard as that red mare could run. I didn't have any idea what happened but I knew enough and I figured to fetch that fellow back peacefully or otherwise, and otherwise was pretty high on my list. I allowed my mind to stray, one time, to stray to the memory of that spreading red patch all wet and shiny high on his ribs when Jackson Cooper brought his hand away, and I felt that cold fire light up inside me again and I knew death rode the wind beside me. Daciana and Sarah sat at Daciana's kitchen table. Sarah was a tidy soul herself, and her household was a tidy household; their maid was one to keep things neat and put-away, and in an era where waste was regarded as a sin, Sarah did her level best not to be sinful. Still ... she marveled at how painfully, precisely, absolutely orderly Daciana's kitchen was, and she considered that living in a circus van might have had something to do with such a sense of order. Tea steamed, warm and fragrant, and the two sipped and talked quietly: Sarah wished two bridesmaids, and Daciana was the second of the two she'd chosen: she said "I know I am planning well ahead, for we do not have a date set and I do not believe we will marry for a year or so." "He couldt surprissse you," Daciana said softly, her eyes bright and knowing. "He might," Sarah admitted. "I understand he has a ring for me already." Daciana nodded. "Undt vhere vill you liff?" "That," Sarah said slowly, "is why I don't believe it will be for a year. Mr. Llewellyn has yet to buy land and build on it." Daciana sipped her tea, waiting, letting Sarah sort her thoughts. Sunlight was warm and welcoming through the windows; hand-sewn curtains glowed, adding their colors to the kitchen's warmth: the clock was loud in the near-silence, so much so that when the cat meowed like a rusty gate, Sarah flinched. Daciana laughed and turned a little and the long haired calico leaped easily into her lap, purring loudly, turning its head to accept the caresses which were its due. It was a flat out race for a time. I wanted him to know he was being followed. I wanted to push him and keep him a-panic. A panicked man running tends to stay running in a panic and everyone in the territory knew that pale eyed Firelands sheriff rode a red mare, a fast red mare, a red mare that could run damn near any other horse into the ground. I read his tracks as best I could at a gallop and I knew he was headed generally west, that he did not know the territory, that he was headed otu a long finger of ground with a sheer drop off in a couple miles, with steep broken rock face on his right and not much on his left but a thousand feet of air and rocks below that. He was riding into a dead end. I also knew a cornered man was a dangerous man and he might try to set up a bush whack. I smiled grimly and eased back and let Cannonball coast to a stop. Damned if I was going to wind break my horse because he was a-killin' his. He'd just rode into a bottle and I was standing in the neck behind him. When girls talk about boys, the generally giggle and turn red in the face. When women talk about men, and their talk becomes ... intimate ... they become girls, and they turn red in the face and giggle some. Daciana was speaking with Sarah in very frank terms, discussing how best to please a man, how to service the stud she intended to keep: Sarah listened silently, blinking slowly, listening carefully, and Daciana -- though her own face and ears warmed -- grew increasingly uncomfortable. Sarah showed absolutely no sign of a reddening of her face, and she gave no reply save only the occasional nod to show she was following Daciana's words. Finally Daciana stopped, uncertain, fearful she'd crossed some invisible boundary, that she'd offended her good friend in some way. Sarah stood, scooted her chair a little closer, sat again and took both Daciana's hands in her own. Sarah's jaw thrust out as she considered, and her hands tightened a little, just a little, and Daciana's hands tightened as well, and finally Sarah looked up and swallowed. "I have," she said slowly, "been ... known." Daciana's eyes widened a little. Sarah was the closest thing to a best friend, a best and closest confidante, that Daciana had ... and what Sarah was saying, what she was implying, was new information -- alarming information -- and Daciana's brows tightened slightly in response. "I was ... known ... I was very young," Sarah said, and Daciana's left eyebrow twitched involuntarily, for she had never heard Sarah with uncertainty in her voice. Not once. Ever. "I... have never ... known ..." Sarah swallowed, breathed slowly through her open mouth, then looked up at Daciana, and Daciana did not see her strong, confident, capable friend ... she saw a frightened girl, she saw a set of wounded eyes, she saw something raw and still painful, and Sarah saw the sadness as her dear friend and confidante realized what she was seeing, what she was hearing. "I have never known pleasure," Sarah whispered. "I don't know if I can." I let Cannonball take a breather. Matter of fact I did too. We both watered at a little stream, just uphill from where the fleeing horse's tracks were still swirling and muddy. I waited about a half hour. I unsaddled Cannonball and rubbed her down, I laid her saddle blanket out to sun a bit, I kept good watch -- a rifle ball can travel a good distance but I was satisfied this fellow was far enough ahead that was not much of a threat -- and when I figured he'd had time enough to find a place to set down and shake for a bit, why, I saddled up again and headed after him, this time at an easy trot. I had my rifle across the saddle in front of me. I knew this patch of ground. Matter of fact I bought it several years ago and intentionally did nothing with it. I had plans for it, plans suited to its remote location and its sole approach, unclimbable cliffs on two sides and a granite wall on the third. It was good graze here, there was water, a man got the afternoon sun; the cliff on the right was to my north, so it got sunlight too and reflected nicely in cold weather. I rode up until I found his horse, laying saddled on the ground, heaving: its nostrils were bloody, it was making that horrible death rattle of a good horse rode near to death. I looked ahead and saw him. He saw me too and took out a-running, running for that granite face, and he commenced to climb. I studied him and saw he had no rifle with him, he was climbing in panic. I turned Cannonball to the right. Let him climb. I knew a path I could ride up. What Daciana described, was with the voice of experience: she discussed anatomy and physiology, she addressed stimulation and response, she described what could be expected with certain actions, and what Sarah could expect to feel during particularly described, graphically described moments. Sarah's face did not change expression, nor did her cheeks pink in the least measure. She took Daciana's words and dissected them, discarding anything but the cold, the clinical, the factual. Part of herself would not let herself believe there could be pleasure in marital intimacy, at least not the fireworks, earthquake-and-church-bells responses she'd heard other women swoon over. Daciana realized that she would have to do something difficult, but something only a best friend could do. She would have to have a conversation with Sarah's intended. I ho'ed Cannonball, nice and quiet: as was my habit I rode her without her being bridled: this kept my hands free, she responded unfailingly to knee-reining, and she would fight like two hells if anyone other than me or family tried to lay a hand (or a rope) on her. I waited while my quarry gasped and struggled up the cliff face. He froze at the sound of my right hand Colt coming to full stand. "Come on up the rest of the way," I said conversationally. "You tried to kill my friend." I turned my lapel over to show my six point star. What he said in reply does not bear repeating in polite company; a single word, given like air escaping a blown up paper sack. I lowered the Colt's hammer and holstered, figuring he was either give up, or we was about to take each other's measure. He come at me. I grabbed his wrist and spun, throwing him into a rock the size of a freight wagon: he hit hard and I grabbed him by the back of the belt and the back of his coat and I picked him up and slammed him face first onto the rocky ground. He grunted when he hit and rolled over and I stomped his gun hand, then I grabbed him by the front of his vest and slammed him hard against the nearest tree and I took my other hand and I got him around the throat and I squeezed, I squeezed my hand around his neck fit to pinch his head right off his shoulders. "When you get to hell," I grated, "tell them Pale Eyes sent you." I felt his life pulsing against my grip and then I heard Charlie Macneil's quiet, "Use enough dynamite there, Butch?" and it was like he laid his hand on my shoulder and I realized I was committing an outright murder. I am the Law. The Law does not commit murder. I reached down and pulled out his revolver and belted him over the head a good one and he sagged. I let go of his throat and I let him collapse and I staggered back, turned around ... Nobody was there. That is not the first time one of us saw through the other's eyes, or one of us was with the other when we weren't, and it sure as hell wasn't the first time Charlie's quiet drawl come to my ears when the time was needful. I made a mental note to buy him a beer next I saw him. Sarah was quiet, subdued as she rode home, considering her conversation with Daciana. She'd gone over after teaching school that day: Lightning politely excused himself from their conversation, busying himself with correspondence and newspaper in his study while the ladies talked about things that ladies talk about. Sarah disciplined her mind as she disciplined her body. She considered Daciana's descriptions and the more she re-lived the conversations, the redder her face got, and then she started to giggle, and she turned her black gelding and looked back toward Firelands and the brick firehouse, and she thought of the Welsh Irishman, and she cupped her gloved hand over her mouth and turned an incredible shade of scarlet and hiccupped and then giggled again, for all the world like a naughty schoolgirl sharing some sordid secret.
  5. Linn Keller 1-30-13 Annette, in spite of her belly and the new life she carried, slipped through the bars of the wood rail fence and into the pasture with the bull. The bull -- massive, muscled, broad of shoulder and horn alike -- raised its head and snorted at this new intruder into its desmense: pawing one great black cloven hoof into the sod, head erect, it described a long arc toward Annette. Annette reached out a hand and the bull continued to advance, then stopped as little Joseph ran past her, charging the great beast, laughing. He ran fearlessly at the bull's head and seized the twin powder horns at their bases and the bull reared back and raised its head and Joseph squealed with delight: the bull backed, spun slowly and lowered its head and Joseph let go, fell over in the snow, got up and patted the thick, muscled neck. Annette laughed too, remembering her utter panic the first time she saw Little Joseph playing with their herd bull: she reached in an apron pocket and pulled out a sweet roll, still warm, and the bull grunted, flared its nostrils and snuffed loudly, advancing to carefully lip the treat from her flat palm. Annette still brushed it and called it a good boy and fooled with it like women will, and like big strong males everywhere, the bull was a big furry pile of putty in her slender fingered hands. I had no idea what kind of a lie that damned Easterner was going to tell back in Cincinnati, to explain how he got the living stinkers knocked out of him while he was out here: that mashed nose and well colored cheek was warning enough that he'd tangled with something meaner than he was. I hadn't heard a thing from my Porkopolis contact but I figured I would... if nothing else, a politely worded "What happened?" -- with appropriate profane ruffles and flourishes, of course. I looked up at the deferential rap on my closed office door: Digger opened it slowly, peeked in, fine silk hat in his hand. "You wanted to see me, Sheriff?" he asked politely. I stood, reached up and hooked my Stetson off its peg: spinning it around my finger twice, I said "I need to place an order." Digger smiled. Fewer things could bring that sorrowful soul to happiness any quicker than the prospect of being handed money.
  6. Linn Keller 1-29-13 Sarah rode back at an easy trot, stopping periodically to rest her gelding: she was still all a-churn inside, not boiling, for there was not the heat of anger, but she was stirred and restless and she knew that if she gave that unrest its unbridled head, she would kick her black into a gallop and not let him slow done none, just keep drumming her heels into his ribs until he was wind broke or dead. Sarah was fighting impatience. Sarah knew there was power in passion, there was immense energy in upset and she'd tapped into that dark energy more times than one, and reveled in it, for it promised limitless power, limitless strength ... the darkness of anger was a darkness she knew and she'd used and she'd bathed in, anointing herself with its midnight power. Uncle Charlie knew she was burning herself out. His words of counsel -- gruff or growling though they were -- served as cold water on a hot fire: there was a shock, a hiss, a cloud, rising and forgotten ... and Sarah knew with the clarity of hind sight that she too would turn into a rising cloud, to dissipate and be forgotten, if she had not learned to say no to the darkness. The young have a difficult time separating themselves from anger, for anger promises power and anger promises strength and promises are seductive. What was it Uncle Charlie told her once? "You must master your passions, girl, or they will master you." Sarah had a momentary vision of herself on all fours, saddled, and something vaguely humanoid, black, ill-defined, like cloud taking shape but not yet complete, riding her and spurring her ribs and lashing her with a crop, and she bucking and running under its quirt. I will not be ridden, she remembered herself thinking. Not by man, and not by my own hot temper! The gelding leaned down to drink at a small stream and Sarah looked slowly around, listening, smelling: the air was cool, damp, there was enough thaw to bare the ground where there was traffic, but snow was still prominent most places. Sarah reached into a saddlebag, closed her hand tightly about the collar of her cloak, pulled it forth: she fast it at the neck, settled it comfortably around her, throwing the tag end over one shoulder and was instantly more snug and more comfortable than any winter coat. I did better, she thought. When my feelings got too high I threw that stump. Better throw a stump than say something I will regret. Words can't be un-said. Sarah kneed the gelding back onto the trail, and back toward home. Jacob ran his hand along the curve of his wife's belly, kissed it; he resumed his examination of her skin, searching for any sign of measles: seeing none, he nodded, then slapped Annette on the backside and threw back the covers. "Come on in," he said quietly, "it's cold out there." Annette pretended to glare at him, but she came willingly to bed -- after she shucked into her flannel nightgown. Annette cuddled up against her husband, shivering into his arms, and Jacob sensed there was more to her tremors than the chill bedroom air. He held her and as they warmed up, she shivered a little less, but when he slacked his arms she whispered "Don't let go." Jacob regarded his wife's eyes, puzzled. "I'm scared, Jacob," she whispered. "I'm scared I'll get measles and our baby will be deaf or blind or worse." Jacob held his wife tighter, sighed. "This high up the mountain," he whispered back, "healthy as you are, clean as the air is ... I don't think you have much to worry about." "You didn't see anything, did you?" "Dear heart, I know your every freckle, mole and birthmark, and they ain't changed. Nothing out of place and nothing new to be seen. I'd say you and Little Jacob" -- his hand caressed her belly -- "have little 'a' nothin' to worry about." Annette rested her head on Jacob's shoulder and Jacob wiggled a little to find a more comfortable position. Something told him he was going to be holding his wife all night long. Daciana rode Buttercup around the ring. That simple sentence makes it sound as if Daciana forked the saddle like every other soul that side of the Mr. and Mississippi. It is doubtful whether other riders were standing in the saddle they occupied. It is even more doubtful whether those other riders had a handful of throwing knives, and as they came to bear on brightly-painted targets, dollars to doughnuts none were throwing knives at a rocking-horse gallop at their bright red, hand-sized centers. Daciana liked to vary her routines; one thing in which she did not vary, nor did she compromise, was riding Buttercup, daily, in all the ways she did in the circus: standing, sitting, draped across the saddle face-up, bonelessly graceful and sinuous. Sarah was within sight of Firelands now, and maybe an hour from home. She stopped and rested her mount again, letting him graze a bit; she stood in the stirrups, then dismounted, shucked her .40-60 from its scabbard and walked slowly to the nearest promontory. The earth fell away from her, abruptly, spectacularly: there were tales of glaciers and volcanoes, of ice and of fire, trees and grasslands and ancient stories, now hidden by the snows. Sarah's eyes were busy, as was her nose; she walked slowly back to the bare grass, where the sun beat all day and melted snow away from the sparse graze, and when she judged her gelding had eaten enough, she mounted again and rode leisurely for home.
  7. Linn Keller 1-28-13 "Girl come," Cats Running said, not looking up from the reata he was plaiting. "I know," Charlie grunted. "Girl not happy." "Tell me something I don't know." Sarah was still a half mile distant: she was on her black gelding and she was wearing a riding dress. Not the Frisian, not in black, not in white silk with a boar spear lance, Charlie thought. Not running like Hell itself was trying to escape her either. "Something's wrong," Charlie muttered, his eyes narrowing. "Tell me somethin' I don't know," Cats Running muttered, thick fingers taking the twist out of the long, flat leather strip he was trying to persuade to submit to his braid. Fannie came out of the cabin door, wiping her hands on a dish towel: she looked at Sarah, then at Charlie, and started over toward her husband. Sarah didn't so much dismount as she threw herself out of the saddle, landing easily on the ground, knees bent: she straightened, glared at Charlie: she stomped up to Fannie, took her hands and opened her mouth as if to say something, then closed it: she turned and stomped up to Charlie, one stiff finger shaking at him as if she were a schoolteacher about to scold a misbehaving student, then she whirled, snapped her arms stiff down by her side and stomped away from him: she spun again, her pale eyed glare undiminished, her hands in front of her, palm up, her mouth open as she gestured, then she snapped her jaw closed and turned again. Fannie shot a concerned look to her husband, and an unspoken thought sizzled through the air between them: Charlie's forehead wrinkled and his brows drew together, and Fannie looked worried, almost maternal, as Sarah looked from one to the other and stopped her pacing. "No, I'm not pregnant," she snapped, "and stop interrupting me!" Charlie blinked, surprised, as Sarah looked around, grabbed a small round chunk, probably the smallest example of a stump Charlie had in the wood lot, fetched it over and slammed it to the ground at Charlie's feet, barely missing his polished boot toes: Sarah stood up on it, then reared up on her tip-toes, took Charlie's head flat-handed between her palms and pulled his head down and kissed his forehead. Charlie, somewhere between puzzled and confused, looked again at Fannie, and Fannie didn't help matters any, for she had one arm across her belly and the towel balled up and pressed to her lips, trying to hide her smile. Sarah picked up the little stump she used for a step stool and threw it to the side, over against the splittin' block Charlie was using that day. "You know me better than I know me," Sarah said, her syllables clipped, brisk: "I saw my line, my father's blood, continue into the future. It will happen. I have seen it. I do not need to be in a hurry. It will happen when the time is right." Sarah whirled, stomped away from Charlie again, elbows stiff, swinging from the shoulders, hands fisted: she got ten paces from Charlie, turned, stomped back, frowning at the ground, then looked up at him, laid a hand on his chest. "Uncle Charlie, tell me I don't need to be in a hurry," she said: "no, don't tell me that, I know it already -- hurry up is brother to mess it up, Papa said that and he is a wise man" -- Sarah spun and put her knuckles on her hips, then she ran over and grabbed that stump again and fetched it back, banging it down on the ground in front of Charlie's boot toes and climbed back up on it, her eyes big and earnest and still pale. "I don't have to hurry but I will do it, Uncle Charlie, and you'd better be there. It wouldn't be right if you weren't." Sarah stepped backward, off the stump, seized it and threw it again with a grunt. She turned and stomped over to Fannie, seized the amused woman around the middle and laid her head against Fannie's ample bosom: "Thank you, Aunt Fannie," she whispered, "I knew you would understand." Sarah released Fannie and skipped back over to Charlie, reached up and pulled him down by the shoulders and kissed him on the cheek: her eyes were bright, her defenses down as she blurted, "Thank you, Uncle Charlie, you always know just what to say!" -- then she whirled, ran for the black horse, bounced once and jumped into the saddle. Charlie watched her ride off, then he looked over at Cats Running, and then at his wife. "What," he said slowly, "in Sam's hill was that?" "You got invited to weddin'," Cats Running growled. "Plain as day."
  8. Linn Keller 1-28-13 "Did you fire him, dear?" Esther kissed little Ruth's forehead and handed her to Alfdis, then turned back to her supper. "Why, no, dear," she said pleasantly. "Whatever gave you that idea?" The Sheriff sliced off another ribbon of meat, folded it with his fork, dragged it through spiced gravy and frowned. "You go to the roundhouse and expect to find you are paying men to work, and you find one sitting alone playing cards on a nail kag ... and you don't fire him?" Esther gave her husband a warm look. "He found a better way to gauge tracks," Esther smiled, delicately slicing a piece of meat -- the Sheriff marveled at such a simple act, but done with ... with utter femininity ... God, I love this woman! he thought, and he felt the color rise in his face. "He found it when he sat down and dealt himself a few hands of cards. "He was working on a better way to sling the boiler for inspection or replacement." Esther took a delicate bite, savoring the lean meat, chewing slowly. "What did you tell him?" the Sheriff asked. "I didn't." Esther buttered half a roll, took a ladylike nibble. The Sheriff's eyebrows quirked, one rising more than the other, and Esther laughed. Angela, for her part, was too busy with pie to pay any attention to adult conversation: she looked around with big, expressive eyes, but said nothing. "The foreman and I held a conversation," Esther continued, "and when I found this man orders his thoughts by creating a small, orderly universe on top of a nail keg, I knew the right thing was to let him to his order." She looked back up at the Sheriff. "A useful technique." The Sheriff nodded. "My dear," he said, "you are a wise woman." Esther smiled and finished the last of her biscuit.
  9. Linn Keller 1-27-13 Esther fed the twins, nursing them until she was dry: she dressed in a fine gown and wore a fine hat and a fine cloak, and had herself driven to the roundhouse, for she was still owner of the Z&W Railroad, and though she chose capable hands -- after firing an entire board of directors, then taking them to court for some unsavory activities, and winning -- she still liked to attend her responsibility personally. She left the twins in Alfdis's capable care: the big Scandinavian nurse had a love of children, and had proven competent, skilled and capable with the twins: Esther almost felt guilty at the sense of freedom as her carriage rolled smoothly over packed earth and snow toward the Z&W Roundhouse. She couldn't help but notice (and secretly smile) at the insignia carefully painted on every locomotive) of a rose, upright, with bright droplets of dew on the petals,and beneath, two roses, their stems crossed over the first: smaller, still partially furled, one pink, one blue, though in honesty Esther could say she'd never seen a blue rose. The insignia appeared when she had the twins, a boy and a girl, and she approved of the change: where the insignia had been the single rose, upright, tied with a red ribbon, now it was three. Esther smiled and nodded at the men who lifted their caps to her; she glided inside the roundhouse, flowing through the sound of hammers and iron, the sparks cascading from a blacksmith's anvil as a red-hot part was hammered into submission; she floated over to a man sitting in front of a keg, his back to her. Esther peeked over the man's shoulder. He was busy with cards, entertaining himself with pasteboards. She looked up to see a foreman looking at her. Esther shook her head and put her finger to her lips: she drew back, moved well to the right, stopped to watch the black gang running a long scraper down the boiler tubes of one of the engines. When she was finished speaking with one of the men, she turned back toward the foreman. The man and his cards were gone and the foreman approached her with a troubled expression.
  10. Linn Keller 1-26-13 Dolly leaned back in her frilly, padded, well upholstered chair and closed her eyes. Dolly was a young woman, a strong woman, a dancer: she reveled in her dancer's body, she loved to exert herself on stage, stretching and posing and turning the music she heard into movement, and yes, she loved teasing the men who leered and ogled and stared, the men who whistled, who tossed the occasional coin or bill onto the stage, the men who sighed and gave her dreamy looks as they sat and drank without tasting, ate without tasting, and thus drank and ate all the more. Dolly earned her pay. She was attractive without being forward, she was welcoming without being whorish, and she never, ever turned a trick with any of the customers. It was a massive contradiction in the era, but Dolly, saloon girl and dancer, professional stage performer, a woman who wore revealing outfits as a matter of daily course, was actually quite chaste, and off stage, rather modest. Dolly sat in her chair, relaxing, feeling the welcome warmth in her legs that came with a good dance performance. There was a knock on her door. She picked up a backless shoe and hurled it at the closed portal: "Go away!" she shouted. Tom Landers opened the door, his face serious. Dolly was on her feet in an instant. Tom came in and closed the door: Dolly was across the room and seized his hands anxiously: for all that she was modest and chaste, she was still a woman, but more than that, human, and she recognized from his expression that something was in the wind and that something probably was not good. "It's Sarah," Tom said in low voice, and Dolly's hands tightened on his. Dolly's eyes were big and scared but she did not shrink from the ex-lawman's look, and she studied the ex-Sheriff's expression carefully as thoughts chased themselves across his mug: she waited until he arranged what he wanted to say. "Sarah," he said, and swallowed, and Dolly nodded, once, encouraging him to say on: "Sarah is getting married." Dolly's smile was instant and genuine, and then it faded and she felt a little weak. Tom Landers came to her as if ... as if this were bad news, and he spoke in the voice of a man who was sharing what could be disgraceful, and Dolly's first thought was for Sarah's belly and for young life, for a young woman in trouble, and Dolly's right hand flew to her mouth and she gasped, "Oh, no, Tom, how far along is she?" Tom Landers blinked and opened his mouth and he stared at Dolly, and his callused right hand rested gently on the hand that still gripped his: his brows rose and fell and Dolly wasn't sure quite what the man's expression meant, at least until his brows decided what to do and they both rose as he started to laugh. Tom Landers was normally very discreet and very undemonstrative toward the ladies, for Tom Landers was a man who'd had a good woman, a woman buried in one of the oldest graves in their town cemetery, and Tom Landers was a man who tended to regard women as near-goddesses, unless they were hussies, in which case they were just hussies: Tom Landers, gentleman to the core, released Dolly's grip from his own and gathered her into his arms, holding her as tightly but as carefully as if he were holding a favorite granddaughter. "No, my dear," he whispered, "she's not in trouble." Dolly hugged Tom fiercely, tightly, and the man felt her shiver: Dolly's ear was pressed hard to the man's vest, and she held him tightly for several long moments, drawing a comfort she didn't realize she wanted, feeling like a little girl again, safe in a Daddy's -- or a Granddaddy's -- big and strong and safe-where-I-am arms. Tom Landers was a little uncomfortable with the fierceness of her embrace, and the length of time she was holding him: he was a man who trod cautiously when it came to women, and affairs of the heart, and so he stood, and held her, until she was ready to loose her grip, and when she drew back he looked down at her and brushed a lock of hair from her forehead, and Dolly smiled a little ... not the smile of a dancing-girl in a manly man's arms, but the smile of a girl looking at someone with whom she was completely at ease, and with whom she felt protected, and safe. Firelands was not a large community and it did not take long for Bonnie and Sarah to look up, for the summons at their door was rapid, the anxious tattoo of feminine knuckles, and Dolly swarmed into the parlor, her coat in the hands of the astonished maid: still in her scandalous dancing costume and high heels, she skipped across the floor and stopped,then knelt before mother and daughter, panting, seizing each of their hands. "Dolly, what's wrong?" the two ladies chorused, and Dolly, fighting for breath, shook her head: once she got her wind back, she looked from Bonnie to Sarah and back and gasped, "Married?" Bonnie and Sarah both blinked, mouths open, and they looked at one another and laughed a little, and Bonnie saw the twins peeking in the open door: she shook her head, a quick, brief turn-and-back, and the twins disappeared, followed by the maid, who directed them down the hall and to some other distraction. "No, not yet," Sarah said, her face reddening. "You're not --" Dolly looked at Sarah's flat belly. Bonnie's eyes widened and anger darkened her eyes: Sarah, for her part, threw her head back and laughed, the easy natural laugh of someone genuinely amused by what a genuine friend just said. Sarah stood and hauled Dolly to her feet. The two were within six months of the same age, and within a finger or two of the same height, and though Dolly looked the more womanly, they were more alike than they were different. Sarah hugged Dolly, still laughing. "No," she said, eyes shining as she looked into her friend's eyes, "not even remotely!" "You'd better not be," Bonnie said, a warning note in her voice. "Oh, but I will be, Mother," Sarah said, her eyes lightening: "You will be a grandmother, and more than once." "I'm not ready to be a grandfather!" Levi declared in a strong voice: he strode into the room, slid his hand between Dolly's palm and Sarah, and raised Dolly's knuckles to his lips: "My dear, so good to see you again." Then he looked directly at Sarah. "I had that same fear," he admitted, "when these things happen suddenly there is often a reason." "Nothing has happened," Sarah said, mischief in her eyes and a smile on her lips, "suddenly or not. No date is set, no plans are made beyond --" here her expression was that of a girl causing trouble, and enjoying herself in doing it -- "beyond his staking his claim to some fertile ground." "Sarah!" Bonnie and Dolly chorused, both their faces turning red. Polly and Opal skipped into the room, having escaped the maid's vain attempts at distraction: "Sawwah you gonna be a mommy? Will I be an aunt or an uncle?" Sarah laughed and caressed the twins' hair. Frowning, she pretended to consider, then said, "An aunt or an uncle? Why, that would depend on whether I had a boy or a girl!" Bonnie laughed a little uncertainly. "You're going to confuse them," she warned. Sarah turned to Dolly. "Let me put my reservation in early," she said. "Will you be my maid of honor?" Bonnie's eyes widened with alarm as she imagined the scandal of this ... this stage hussy, this saloon tart, as ... as her daughter's maid of honor! Sarah turned and looked directly at Bonnie, and Sarah's eyes were pale. Very pale. Bonnie closed her mouth and nodded. "How soon?" Dolly whispered, her knees weak, for she too knew the social effects of what many considered a loose woman, standing with one of society's favorite daughters. "We have not even discussed that. I don't anticipate earlier than a year. He is an honorable man and he will have to acquire land and build a house." Sarah's expression was knowing as she continued, "He told Levi once that if he ever took a bride he would look to the birds of the air for his inspiration: first the nest, then the bird." Levi nodded, for he recalled the conversation. "And you," Sarah said, and her eyes were a good rich winter-sky blue once more: she laid her hand on his and looked up at him with the wise expression of a woman who knows the man very well: "you may not wish to be a grandfather now, but the moment you hold your grandson you'll get this big silly grin on your face and it will be all right!" Levi gave Sarah a serious look, a long and serious look. "Sarah," he said, "a man does not look at his front door very much. He takes it for granted the door is there and functional and unchanged. You are my daughter, and ... I have taken for granted that you too will be unchanged." He blinked. "I ... you ..." Levi's face reddened to a remarkable degree, and he dropped his head, searching vainly for the words he wanted. Finally he muttered "Oh, hell," and bent, and hugged Sarah, hard, and picked her up, and held her: he held her tight, his cheek pressed against hers. "A father never expects his little girl to grow up," he whispered fiercely, closing his eyes hard: "when he realizes she's grown, even a little, that she's changed and different, it's ... hard ..." Sarah hugged him back with an equal fierceness and Bonnie saw the sparkle as Sarah's eyes closed and ran tears down her cheeks. "That," Sarah whispered back, "is the nicest thing you've ever said to me!"
  11. Linn Keller 1-25-13 The grey-bearded old patriarch regarded Matthew's flint rifle with interest. The ramrod was broken, the fore end was broken most of a foot back from the poured pewter nose cap, and the octagon barrel had a visible upward bend. And a couple gouges on the corners of the octagon. He looked at the sky, well up above the mountain, remembering the sight of young Matthew, bloody and struggling, pinned under the dead grizzly. The rifle's muzzle was still in the dead bear's mouth. Matthew tore off his shirt and wiped as much blood from his face and chest as he could, then he half-hopped, half-wallowed his way down the mountain to a stream and washed himself, making sounds of disgust -- or perhaps distress, for the water was probably freezing cold, in spite of its rapid travel over rocks and down hill. Matthew was thawing out in front of the stove now, shivering under a draped-over blanket, a mug of tea gripped tightly in his shaking hands. The old man considered that this rifle must have a good amount of luck in it, and so he took his own rifle down from over the fire place and put Matthew's in its place, and there it hung for about three generations, until the cabin caught fire and the rifle was lost, but that was many years yet in the future. Sean was back among his Brigade, or at least in the firehouse: the Brigade saw the Cincinnati upstarts off and good riddance to his way of thinking: the damned Easterners with their puffed-up pride and their contempt for the West were a plague upon a man's patience, and when that damned Porter and his beloved Welshman got into it in the middle of the apparatus floor, instead of taking each by the back of his shirt and knocking their hard skulls together, Sean not only let them fight, he shouted encouragement to Llewellyn and even bet heavily on the man. He won, too, collecting happily from those damned Easterners, but he didn't take all they'd bet: they would need money enough to get home, and by that time Sean would have been willing to foot the bill himself just to get rid of them. He looked at the empty space in the middle of the bay and remembered the sight of the Welsh Irishman launching himself with a roar at the sneering Porter, and how the two hammered at one another, grappling, rolling on the floor, knees and elbows and fists all in play, and even as he re-lived the fight, he remembered the look on the Welshman's face as he spoke to Sean of the pretty young schoolteacher. "Dinna' be in such a hurry, lad," he murmured aloud, and the mares turned their heads at the sound of his voice: "she'll wait on ye, mark my word." The mares' ears swung about, then their heads, and Sean looked to the doorway, for he knew he was about to get company.
  12. Speaking of not being able to get several hours of your life back, and it's not even a spaghetti western: try Hateful 8. That movie was so bad I kept watching thinking it had to get better...
  13. My life really hasn't changed. We live out in the boonies on a cattle ranch. I spent the last two days fixing fence around our bull pasture, should be finished today after I install a rock jack that I built yesterday. Once that's done it's back to cutting firewood for the coming winter. Shooting I do outside my reloading room door...
  14. Nate did mine, but that was before I knew Boothill Bandit. Bandit would get my first vote, Nate second...
  15. I read a piece on Facebook (take that how you want) that was accredited to a dairy farmer who said that the milk processing facilities are geared mostly toward the school lunch sized milk cartons and with no schools in session it's taking a while to retool the processing lines to produce larger containers of milk. Consequently, the processors have a backlog of milk in storage so new milk gets tossed. Don't know if it's true or not...
  16. All of the above having been said, isn't it sacrilege to even mention 9mm and 1911 in the same sentence?
  17. Linn Keller 1-25-13 The Welsh Irishman found himself at once put at ease, and yet most uneasy: he listened to quiet voiced assessments of his character, his finances, his habits: he heard Sarah, seated beside him, holding his hand, observe that Dolly most frequently stopped beside him and not the others of the Brigade when they were in the Silver Jewel, because of all the good full-blooded firemen, he and he alone could be counted on not to run his hand up her leg, or pat her backside, or take other unseemly liberties with a mere dancing girl, and his words to her were consistently gentlemanly and courteous, without the lewd, lascivious and suggestive jests that were part and parcel of most addresses to women of her kind. The Sheriff spoke approvingly of the man's thrift and clean habits. Levi spoke to the man's investments and work habits. The Irishman soon felt as if he were a specimen under a microscope, being discussed in a lecture-hall full of analytical scientists. Levi and the Sheriff looked at one another; each had the look of a thoughtful man, and each looked suddenly shamefaced, and each laughed. They both looked at the Welsh Irishman, their faces reddening a little. "Llewellyn," the Sheriff said, " a father is forever planning and considering for his family. I fear I was about to speak to how and where you two shall live." Levi nodded, smiling a little, his own face feeling rather warm as he too admitted, "I had the same thoughts." "That is for the pair of you to work out." The Sheriff shifted in his chair, apparently uncomfortable. "A Daddy doesn't like to think he won't be providing and protecting anymore." His eyes were a little sad, his eyes went to Levi, who nodded: "I was never a father to Sarah, and ever since I found out that year ago and more that she was of my get, that has been my greatest regret." Sarah bit her bottom lip, hard, a tear running down her cheek, for this was the first time the Sheriff spoke to his feelings for her, at least in such a setting. "How soon do you two intend to jump the broom?" Bonnie pressed her lace-trimmed kerchief to her nose: her head was bowed and she was shaking her head slowly. Levi turned his head; alarmed, he laid a hand on Bonnie's back, between her shoulder blades, and she leaned her head into his shoulder, sobbing. Levi turned his chair and ran his arms around his wife: the Welsh Irishman, alarmed, looked at the Sheriff, then at Sarah. Sarah put a finger to her lips; the Sheriff raised his hand just enough to make a stand-fast, palm-down gesture; it took a few minutes, but Bonnie was finally able to get enough wind into her lungs to say something. "S - S - Sarah," she sobbed, "is m - m - my little girl." She looked up and if it were possible, the Welsh Irishman's face would have twisted itself into a question mark, for Bonnie was smiling, or trying to smile. "I'm so ..." Bonnie's face screwed up again -- "happy!" -- and she dropped her face into Levi's breast and sobbed again, and he held his wife and patted the back of her head like he was soothing a troubled child. Normal, the Sheriff lipped silently, pointing one finger at Bonnie and winking: the Welsh Irishman nodded, slowly, one time, wondering yet again if he would ever understand the female of the species. Sarah's hands tightened on the Welshman's arm and he looked at her and she looked at him and they both looked at Bonnie, for the woman raised up suddenly, took a long breath, pressed the kerchief to her eyes, blew her nose with a most unladylike honk, then stood. "Sarah," she said briskly, her voice nearly normal, "we need to talk. There are some things you need to know." Sarah rose and the two women swept out the door, chins in the air, for all the world two matrons on a mission. The door shut with a solid, woody sound and the three men looked at one another, for the atmosphere was the stillness that follows a tornado after its departure. The Sheriff stood, walked slowly around the end of his desk and leaned down: he opened the bottom drawer, took out three glasses and a bottle of something light-amber and not over 30 days old. "The Daine boys," he said, "gave me something ... they made this with honey in the batch instead of just grain. He said something about not having enough sprouts and damned if he's going to make that cheap corn likker." Bottle neck clinked against heavy glass as the man poured: he set the bottle on the desk, handed the Welshman and Levi each, then took his own. "Mr. Llewellyn," the Sheriff said, "I congratulate you, sir, for you will find Sarah to be a dedicated and loving wife, but I warn you, sir, provoke her not to anger, for she can fillet and gut you with a spoon, drive you into the ground like a fence post and kick your backside over the Texas moon, and faster than the human eye can follow, should you ever make her mad!" The three hoist their glasses; there was a triple-clink to ward off evil spirits, and the three downed their fiery salute. When they came up for air they decided the honey batch wasn't bad at all, so they tried another sampling, and that was good enough they put the bottle away: the Sheriff sat on the corner of the desk again and looked at his old friend. "Levi," he said, "which of us will walk her down the aisle?" Levi considered for a moment. "Sheriff," he said, "if I am any judge, I will have to hold Bonnie, for she will either fall apart, or she'll try to run screaming to yank her little girl to safety, or maybe she'll pass out." The Sheriff laughed. "I doubt that, Levi. She is a strong woman." "Don't I know it," Levi muttered, draining the last of his second glass. "We could toss coin." "No." Levi handed the Sheriff his empty glass. "Linn, I would be most honored if you would walk your daughter down the aisle." The Sheriff nodded slowly, set his own glass down on the desk, then rose and thrust out his hand, and Levi shook it. "Now, Mr. Llewellyn," the Sheriff said, "have we set a date?"
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