Friday, January 4, 2019

Western Romance on The High Plains: Chapter 2

You might recall a few weeks ago I posted the first installment of my new story "Western Romance on the High Plains."  Well, now I have written chapter 2 for those of you that would like to continue the story.

Click this sentence to be taken to a link to the first chapter to refresh your memory on what has happened so far.

And now I give you . . . 

Western Romance on the High Plains:  Chapter 2

I guess I shouldn’t call it the Paducah train as Paducah isn’t even a place yet, really.  Someday it’ll be a place but for now it’s just a stop on this here railroad.

The railroad itself starts up in Frazer, Oklahoma.  Frazer is a big deal in these parts as it’s a trading post on the Texas Trail or what the rest of the country calls the Great Western Cattle Trail.  Seems like these trails are poppin’ up left and right to and fro, all headed to Kansas.  It wasn’t long ago there was just the Chisolm Trail but now these herds of cattle just cross rivers and march across the plains anytime they want.

Supposedly this train has something to do with that particular cattle trail.  But all I know is it starts in Frazer, comes down to Quanah, crosses the Fort Worth and Denver Railway and heads down to Paducah.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s all about these easterners just tryin to make a buck on all of us westerners.  We’ve had the Fort Worth to Denver railway in here for a few years and it’s just too damned expensive to ride, so the chance never came up.

Oh well.  I don’t particularly care about all that, but I do care about seeing my Edwina again.  She’s a bit of a mystery to me and I like that about a woman.  Most men just come to town and start sniffin up the neck of whatever saloon girl sits on his lap, but not me.

Edwina is refined, beautiful, not too tall and not too short.  Just right.  And her bosom is just the right size for all sorts of ungentlemanly like fun.  Don’t get me wrong I’m not one to carouse around all the time but I have weaknesses too and am no stranger to the female body.  But Edwina has somethin’ else, I can’t put my finger right on it.

Anyway, before my thoughts carry me away, I can see the steam engine pullin’ into the Quanah station now.  And, let me tell you seein that engine up close for the first time, it’s a beast!  It’s massive, I aint seen anything that large made of iron in my life.  What a time we live in!  To think man made such a thing.  I’ve seen pictures in the paper but to see it in person, it makes me wonder what the upcoming century holds for this country.  Seems there’s no limit to what we can do.  And, it’s so big and heavy the ground shakes as it pulls in.  My God.

But for now, I guess I need to figure out how to get on this thing.  After I watched men and women get off the train a man in a round hat with a flat top and flat bill told the few of us waiting it was time to board.  I just had a small case with me, not really knowing how long I’d be in Paducah.  There seemed to be a few nicely dressed women wearing their best to take the journey and an unusually large amount of men boarding the train.  And these men weren’t what you would call upstandin’.  They seemed to be more like those that hung around the local saloon.  Considerin’ I didn’t know what Paducah would hold I couldn’t make the connection with the men getting’ on.

The man in the round but flat-topped hat and black suit let me on and told me to take a seat anywhere.  I saw a few of the others put their cases above their seat but considerin’ the men on board shoved their belongings underneath their back and laid back to take a nap I didn’t quite feel comfortable with putting anything I owned up above me, too far out of reach, so I put it on the floor next to me.

The seats were comfortable and covered in some type of red cloth that seamed soft to the touch.

It wasn’t much longer, and the train started movin, slow at first but slowly kept picking up speed.  It shot steam out the sides of the train once we left town and just sped down the prairie.

The man with the black suite that told me to get on came by and asked me for my ticket.  I gave it to him and said “Mister, what are you exactly?”  The man said he was the conductor and ran the train and who rode and who got thrown off.  I took my ticket back and said, “thank-ya.”

I looked out the window and enjoyed the ride.  I’d never been on such a ride anywhere before.  Almost my whole life had been spent on that ranch or walkin around Quanah, once it built up in the last ten years or so I ain’t never been on anything like this.  It really was amazing.

Soon we came upon the Pease River, it’s not much of a river, depending on the time of the year.  In the summer it’s all dry and nothing flows in it and in the winter, it has some water.  Today it had water as we just came out of the winter season.  Winter don’t last long around here, seems we’re just into February and the temperatures are in the 80s, maybe near 90°.  Seems each year it gets hotter and hotter out here on the plains.

We crossed the bridge over the Pease River and we came to a slow stop.  Apparently, we came to some place I’d never heard of called Tennessee Crossing.  The recently introduced ‘conductor’ came through to tell us that we had to refill with water for the steam engine and then we would be on our way to Paducah.  We weren’t stopped for too long or maybe I just dozed off and it didn’t seem too long.

Before I knew it, the train was moving again, and it was letting out steam and picking up speed.  Out across the plains I could see Pronghorn and of course cattle, seems the cattle are everywhere these days.

Suddenly, the train began to slow down.  It got slower and slower.  I looked out of the windows but all I could see was prairie on either side except for a slight look at a couple of what appeared to be tall new buildings.  One looked brand new but seemed a bit a ways from where the train was.

Slowly the train pulled into the station and there was my Edwina, right out the window.  She was waving as she could see me through the window.

I leaped from my seat, grabbed my case and got to the back of the car to go down the stairs when I could hear her voice.  But she wasn’t talking to me.  It seemed the men that had just been on the train were saying hello to her.  And, as I walked down the staircase I could quietly here her greeting each of them as if she knew all of them, she even knew their names.  I got to the bottom of the stairs and looked over at her and she smiled her smile while still greeting the other men.  To say this development was unsettling was the kindest way of putting it.

I walked over to her, took my hat off and said “Hello, Miss Edwina.”  And she said “Hello, Thomas.”

End of Chapter 2

By Bryan W. Rupp