General Fiction posted April 9, 2024 Chapters:  ...8 9 -10- 11... 

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A prospector's prospects

A chapter in the book Right in the Eye

Right in the Eye, ch 10

by Wayne Fowler

In the last part Detective Albion proved Slim to be ancient with an x-ray. Slim slipped into hiding to avoid the FBI or any Denver authorities.


We were livin’ together, gettin’ to know each other by the middle of the next month. That past ordeal behind us. People would think what they wanted, but we were respectful of boundaries. I could live with it, or not live at all. That was the way I felt about it. I told her that I loved her one day. Truth was that I was likin’ her more every single day. I even considered it close enough to love to count. She changed a little bit after the Jackson affair, but not a lot. The furrow in her brow disappeared altogether. I think she felt more free to be herself. But she felt the same about me as I her. I knew it.

I didn’t much even think about Mary bein’ my LouAnne’s great granddaughter anymore.

“What’s going to happen?” Mary asked after I bit into the first pizza I ever had in my life. The pizza I thought was a tad short on peppers to be Mex, and a bit heavy on tamater to be Arkansas food. Might take a bit a' gettin' used to.

I think I knew what she meant - what was gonna happen. I was 120, but looked 55, and not showin’ any sign of aging. She was 61, looked and acted 50, but knew that she would change a lot in the next ten years, or so. Not havin'n answer, I didn't. I think she knew I didn't, so she didn't ask again.

“I love how you wake up.” I gently laid my arm over Mary’s side the next morning as we lay facing one another. “You stir just a might, here and there. Take a short breath, and just so casually open your eyes. Then, boom, you’re awake and alert, ready to go.”

Mary smiled. “You’ve been studying me?”

“Every mornin’. The same way. I could get up and make the coffee, but then I’d miss your sunrise. You know, I thought I loved your great grandmother.”

“Oh, go on,” Mary chided, reaching and poking me in his ribs. “You say the most romantic things.”

I chuckled at the absurdity. “But I didn’t even know her, not really. Oh, she was beautiful, sure enough. She’d put a smile on my face in a quick. But you, Mary Darlin’, you put a smile in my heart. You make my eye happy, my ears happy, happy all over. My fingers and toes go all tingly. I could dance a jig layin’ here beside you.”

“Slim, only one thing I know to do about all that,” Mary replied.

My eye popped.

Grinning, Mary continued. “And that’s that we get married. Sooner the better. Today.”

After a few exchanges I told her that I fell in love with her, not a spring chick that I could only have fun with. Her. I like the packaging, but wanted the prize inside. Her. I would not leave an old hen for any other spring chick. As bad as the words were, I think she read my heart. “Mary, my heart is a hunnerd an’ twenty years old, no matter what my skin does. My old heart could quit before I finish this sentence. It’s no more fair for me to ask you to risk that, than for you to risk marryin’ what could, I guess, turn out to look like your son. I don’t know, could you follow any of that? What I’m sayin’ is, I’m willin’ if you are.

“Darlin’,” I started out again, prob’ly the way I should have before. “You are the most beautiful woman in the world. I’d be so proud I couldn’t stand it if you’d be my beautiful bride. I like everything about you – your smile, your lips, your hair, your shape (She blushed at that. I moved along without lingering), your mashed taters, your business sense. We have so much other stuff in common it ain’t funny. I like your moral convictions. We maybe don’t agree on everything, but I like that you have beliefs and convictions. Darlin’, I’m sayin’ that all adds up to I love you. I can’t stand that we waste any more time before gettin’ married and declarin’ our commitment to each other.”

It was June, 1971. Her birthday was July 4, believe it or not. “How about 7-1-71?” she asked. “We could celebrate my birthday, Independence Day, and our anniversary all at once.”

We kissed, she offering her whole self to me. I felt giddy like a 120-year-old teenager. On July first, we cleaned up real good, wearin’ our best, and drove over to the parsonage of the church in Cerrillos that preached the way we believed. We told the pastor that we’d take care of the recordin’ and all if he’d marry us. He did. We did, too. Framed it over the bed.

Oh, and while I was up on Mount Herard? Well, with the Bronco I wasn’t all that far from the mine where I got shot right in the eye. Yup. I’d been prepared for claim jumpers. Stashed my bootie some fifty yards up a real hard embankment. It was right there, too. Close to six pounds of nearly pure nuggets, only a little quartz clingin’ here an’ there. Mary and I should be fine!

An’ no sign that the claim jumpers made another scratch. Guess that made ‘em simple robbers.

I took good note of the terrain and landmarks just in case Mary and I wanted to do a little serious minin’. Prob’ly not, though. I figure I already had the mother-load kissin’ me good night and good mornin’ every day.

Slim Goldman (Herschell Diddleknopper): miner who Ben Persons rescued in 1886
Ben Persons: young man with a calling from God
LouAnne: Saloon girl that Slim loved/idolized.
Marian (Mary): Cerrillos motel owner, LouAnne's great granddaughter
Detective Albion: Colorado police investigator

Ben Paul soon, I promise.
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