The Lonesome Pigeon
Don Burhts is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or wilsoncountynews.com.
The wood floor creaked with every step Fred Wilson took sweeping from one end of the bank to the other. And as usual Fred was thinking of Amy. Two years is a respectable, proper length of time in a marriage for Amy to be pregnant. Fred just knew it had to be that day they made love down by the river under the willow tree.
Amy will turn sixteen in less than a month, and she is going to make a good mother for what Fred hoped would be a son.
Mr. Baker jerked the door open causing Fred to stammer before saying,
“Good morning Mr. Baker, sir.”
Mr. Baker said,
“Fred did you remember to go to the newspaper office and get my newspaper? You know its Wednesday? Newspaper comes out Wednesday.”
“Mr. Barley said he wouldn’t have the newspaper ready till about nine o’clock Mr. Baker, sir,” replied Fred.
Fred knew what was coming next, and he was right. Mr. Baker paced back and forth from the wood-burning stove to his desk three times with his hands clasped behind his back all the while raving about how back east the newspaper was always out on time and the paper came out every day. Fred couldn’t imagine how there would be enough new things happening to fill up a newspaper every day.
The sound of dainty leather high button shoes scampering across the porch to the bank door caught their attention. The doorknob turned several times. The door shook and finally Amy got the bank door open and burst through the doorway.
“Daddy, I need to borrow Fred for a few minutes. A new shipment of material came in at the dry goods store and I want first choice of it before all them church ladies get there and start picking through it. By the time they finish, there won’t be anything left but scraps.”
Amy was just tussled up and inching to get her hands on the new cloth but Mr. Baker said,
“Amy, I need Fred here at the bank. He’s my teller. What do you expect me to do if a customer comes in?”
Amy answered that letting out the whiniest,
“Daddyyyy! Puckering up in preparation for one of her Daddy’s-little-girl cries, Amy ran to Mr. Baker, threw her arms around him, and pressed her sobbing cheek against his chest.
Mr. Baker responded as she knew he would by saying,
“There, there baby girl, don’t cry. Of course Fred can go with you to the dry goods store.”
Amy looking as if she had ever shed a sincere tear in her whole life, turned to Fred and said,
“Let’s go Freddy.”
As the happy couple walked out the door, Mr. Baker shouted,
“Don’t forget my paper Fred.”
Mrs. Owens greeted Amy from behind the counter saying,
“I’ll be right with you Amy as soon as I finish here with Mrs. Horn.”
Mrs. Horn was the town’s busy body. She socialized with the town’s upper crust but pretended to be friends with what she referred to as the Little People in order to be privy to gossip she might otherwise miss. It didn’t matter to Mrs. Horn if the gossip was true. In fact, she was the main source of the town’s false rumors. Mrs. Horn believed herself to be superior in all ways to both the little people and the so-called upper crust. What she didn’t know was that the little people had seen through her veil of evil from the start and began playing a game of their own. The little people mischievously would feed Mrs. Horn with stories meant to steam the pot at the afternoon tea parties of the upper crust. But the upper crust was also smarter than Mrs. Horn gave them credit. They too could see through her, but they indulged her, allowing her to mingle freely among the group to merely serve as a source of entertainment.
Mrs. Horn, the cow that she was, bellowed,
“Amy dear, that material you been waiting for came. You were right Amy it’s a lovely shade of blue. I decided to buy some for myself, enough to make curtains for every room in my house. But don’t worry; I saved scraps of the material for you.”
Amy was furious but would rather die than show it. Mrs. Horn wasn’t finished. Mrs. Horn asked,
“Are you going to Miss Clark’s tea party and piano recital this afternoon?”
Amy didn’t hide the surprise on her face as she replied,
“Why, no Mrs. Horn. I was not invited.”
Mrs. Horn knew quite well that Amy wasn’t invited. It was Mrs. Horn herself who wrote the invitations for Miss Clark, even hand delivering them for Miss Clark.
Mrs. Horn said,
“Well, it’s a shame you are going to miss the piano recital. Miss Clark plays so well.”
Amy threw a verbal dart at Mrs. Horn, knowing it would stick.
Amy had a look of innocent delight when she said,
“Oh, it’s so wonderful how Miss Clark has changed. Don’t you think so Mrs. Horn?”
“Why, whatever are you talking about Amy?”
“You didn’t know Mrs. Horn?”
“Well I’m not one to spread rumors, but I heard that Miss Clark lived in the brothel above the Silverdust Saloon in Coopersville, and also played the piano in the saloon on Friday and Saturday nights before she moved to our town.”
“You don’t say,” said Mrs. Horn.
“Don’t tell anyone Mrs. Horn, no one is supposed to know,” smiled Amy.
Mrs. Horn said,
“You know I’m not the one to gossip Amy.” Amy said,
“I sure know that Mrs. Horn, or for sure I’d never have told you about Mrs. Clark.”
Mrs. Horn was so anxious to spread the story that as she hurried out the door, she caught the sleeve of her blouse on the hook, and without taking the time to properly unhook it, Mrs. Horn just jerked the sleeve, ripping a large hole in her blouse. But that didn’t slow Mrs. Horn down, she hurried out the door, she had work to do.
Amy turned to Fred saying,
“Let’s get out of here Fred. I don’t want to be anywhere around when that old busy body starts telling that lie.”
Fred was concerned about being away from the bank. As they passed the newspaper office Fred remembered Mr. Baker’s newspaper. As they made their way across the street, Amy more than once had to sidestep in order to avoid piles of manure left behind by passing horses. Amy stated her belief to Fred that one day their may be a law against allowing horses to leave their droppings on main street.
Fred didn’t know how a law like that could ever be enforced but laughed to himself when he thought of the possibility of a man getting put in jail for what his horse did.
Fred glanced up at the saloon girls on the balcony of the hotel. The little blonde haired woman smiled at Fred and threw Fred a kiss. Fred immediately looked away. Thank goodness Amy didn’t see that, thought Fred.
Fred held the door to the bank open for Amy and followed her in, but halfway in Amy let out a scream. It was Mr. Baker. He lay on the floor dead, shot through the heart. The safe door was open, and the safe was empty.........Continued.
The characters in my Lonesome Pigeon stories bare no resemblance to any person living or dead. Any similarities are consequential.
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