The unreal feel of the day demanded I go over and see Candice. Inside the shop I found Wellington’s assistant behind a counter that wasn’t there yesterday. She looked up at me and asked, “may I help you sheriff?” She replied, “do you have an appointment?” I walked over to the counter and looked down. She said, “intimidation doesn’t work we me sheriff. I know how it works.” I wonder what she was talking about. She was here yesterday. Then I realized it was the other one. I said, “I’m her husband.” She looked up at me. I must have seemed ten feet tall to her. She asked, “are you the.” I stopped her by saying, “those books aren’t very accurate.” The two women were named Faith and Hope Mason. They were twins from some town in Ohio named Akron. They moved to New York City to find jobs in publishing only to find it was run my men who only saw them only as assistants. But assistants run the world.
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Candice was standing by a table looking at hand drawn blueprints. Allen, David and Pauleen were talking about their future. They decided they would open their own publishing house. The twins knew all the secrets from their boss and could help bypass the roadblocks other companies use to stifle competition. They knew all the assistants in the other companies. A connection that spans the entire publishing world. Allen was already an accomplished reporter and his reputation would help with this. They would base the company in San Francisco. The port would help with distribution. I think Allen liked the idea of going back to a larger town where he could find some peace and quiet. Candice then told me she would have to go to San Francisco to help with the setup.
The last three months have been difficult for Candice. The loss of our child and the events in town have shaken her resolve on our town and maybe even me. She doesn’t blame me for the miscarriage, but I think it showed her just how fragile life is and how I can’t protect her. she also realized she could defend herself. She stood up to the monsters and walked away a changed person. She turned all her grief and anger into her work. She works from sun up to deep into the dark of night. In the first month after the miscarriage she would cried herself to sleep. I try and comfort her but she keeps pulling away. Part of me started to think she may not come back. Is this the end? She said, “I want something more out of this company. I never want to be in a place where someone can tell me what to say or do.” She moved in and kissed me. I went to kiss back but she backed away and left the room. She left for her shop and I went to my office.
After a day of nothing I went home to find Candice packing for the trip. She was packing light but the plan was she would buy clothing while in the city. Something that would make a good impression with the backers they will need for this audacious plan. She had taken to wearing pants over the last three months. It makes it easier to wear her gun on her hip. She never wants to hide the gun again. About a week ago my new guns finally arrived. They are nickel plated 1873 colt peacemakers with rosewood grips. I paid for them so I gave one to Candice. I had a new holster made for it and the gun and holster fit her well. I kept the top break Schofield. The gun has proven its self under fire.
That night Candice came home late. She smelled of sweat and ink. I was in bed watching her. She came in and hung her gun and holster near the bed. She was rarely ever more than three feet away from the gun. She slowly undressed but she didn’t dress into her night shirt. Naked, she came to my side of the bed. She pulled the covers down and climbed into my lap. Candice leaned in and kissed me. As she did this she pushed her hips back and forth until she found the reaction she wanted. She smiled and leaned in and whispered, “I love you.” We made love throughout the night. I felt like a horse’s ass forever thinking she would ever leave me for good.
In the morning, she was gone. I slept in and her coach left early. I ran to try and at least say good bye but she was gone. It felt like part of me went with her. Maybe my heart. Standing there by the side of the road waiting for the coach east was Clifton Wellington. He was in a little better shape than the last time I saw him. I found out later he paid a tailor in town to help him dress. The man never dressed himself before. He saw me walking his way, he took his derby off. it threw be back a little. He said, “sheriff let me apologies for how I acted earlier. I have never had to really look at how I live or treat people before. I am a little useless outside of civilized society.” I said, “you can always learn how to do the simple things for yourself.” He replied, “no way. I am never leaving New York again. You people can keep this shit hole.” It would have been so easy to pistol-whip him right there but I didn’t.
I went back to my empty hollow house and went through the usual chores. At night fall I opened a bottle of bourbon sent to me from an old friend back in Virginia. What my father would have called “sipping whiskey.” Something strong the you sip to savor the flavor rather than pound back to get drunk. I thought about the nights that Candice, Apple, his wife Kaia and I would sit around an open fire sipping whiskey or something called tequila and talking about the past and future. Sitting there I saw a box on the kitchen table. It was a fancy rosewood box with a sheriff badge carved in the lid. There was a note.
The note said, “to a man who is more than a husband more than a lover more than a best friend. The Knuckle Smash Kid needs his Joleen.” Inside the case was an 1860 Colt Navy single action. It had rosewood grips and beautiful engravings of loops and swirls with a sheriff’s badge and the name Joleen on the barrel. It was modified to take cartridges rather than cap and ball. On the wall was a new holster made for the gun. She had this masterpiece made in the time it took for me to have a simple gun ordered from a catalog. With the gun by my side I could feel her there. Her thoughts and her love never leaving me.
These stories will be based in the old west and an attempt at a modern western (later on).
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