I am my mother’s daughter; writing of her last story.
It was only eight months since my father loaded us up in our wagon, joined a wagon train going west to California where the gold and riches were to be found. My father staked a claim over a running creek, in a booming area with a growing town my mother called ‘sin city’. We weren’t allowed to go to that tent town, but we were never hungry. After time, my mother became testy and sometimes irrational.
Then came the day that we heard her screaming at my father, “Bobbie Joe, I’ve had it with you. It was bad enough knowin’ you were cavortin’ around with them local hussies, but the school marm? And on her teachin’ desk. I had enough of you, and I ain’t about to let my kids be taught by a woman like that. I’m a leavin’ you.”
“Now Bessie, don’t get all in a huff. Gull durnit, you won’t let me get near you, and I got needs.”
“You done brought me out here to California, promised me gold, and all you done is find bits of flour gold. You is worthless. Ben, Brady, Bonnie and Bee, get on this here wagon. We’re a leavin’ this here sin city and going back to Arizona.”
My mother hooked up our two mules to our wagon, drove to the nearest thriving town, and went to the one and only lawyer. She had a hard head and at that point, the only thing in her head was a divorce.
“Lowly, you a lawyer? I’m telling you right now, I want a divorce from that gallivanting Bobbie Joe.”
“I know Bobbie Joe. Heck he paid me good gold to do legal work for him.”
“Pshaw, flour gold, and a waste of the little bit he got. Now, how much for the divorce?”
“Fifty dollars or two ounces of gold.”
“Hell, Lowly, I ain’t got that much.
“Well, not to worry. Bobbie Joe paid me a sizeable retainer.”
My mother signed the papers he drew up, not knowing what it said, but then she asked, “Who would get his claim if he happened to die from the craps his hussies gave him?”
“Well, you would get it as long as you’re still married.”
“Don’t really matter. All he gets is tiny flakes of flour gold.”
Well, she felt as though she had started a much needed process, and with us children in the wagon, took us to the general store, asked for supplies and explained that she had only a small of bag of gold to pay for it.
“I’m joining up with a wagon train going east, and takin’ my kids away from sin city and that wayward husband of mine, so what will this buy me for the supplies we’ll need?”
“Ain’t no worry about the cost. We’ll give you all you need, but are you really sure?. I mean, Bobbie Joe has always taken care of you, Bessie. He runs a tab here and always overpays me. So, the cost is no problem, he’ll pay for it. Heck, he pays with beautiful gold nuggets. You know, the ones you don’t see much. Usually see the flour gold.”
“He WHAT? He pays you with nuggets? Well that low down, dirty scum basket.”
With that, she took us back to the claim.
“Bobbie Joe, you dirty, rotten thief. I got a good mind to horse-whip you.”
“Bessie, I thought you’d gone left. What are you talking about?”
“I found out you been spending our hard earned gold on that there attorney in town and the general store. Lots of our gold—probably all of it. But they said you was paying with nuggets. I ain’t never seen no nuggets and you been hiding it from me. What else you found?”
“Not much, Bessie. I paid the lawyer to draw up a will and apply for a patent to this here claim. I paid the general store, just in case this claim dried up. That way we’d at least have food.”
“You dirty cad. I don’t believe one word of it. I’m gonna find me some nuggets and when I do, I’ll find the mother lode. You can bet your life, I’ll never tell you. And when I do find it, I’ll grab the kids and leave for good.”
Well, my mother went upstream and when no one was looking, she panned the creek. She did find nuggets and by following their trail, went straight up the mountain. She must have felt quite smug when she found the mother lode and started digging it out. My mother wasn’t the smartest of all women. She was caught, taken to town and hanged for claim jumping and theft.
Turned out that father took great care of us. He worked that creek hard, but managed to put us all through school. The school marm taught me everything I know. She taught me grammar, reading, math, writing and more importantly, one other thing that’s made me the wealthy lady that I am today.
It’s amazing the amount of gold men will spend on the services I offer.
Critique is always welcome. A writer can visualize the story, but can a reader? All reader’s critiques are not just welcome, but wanted. I don’t give a hoot if you think you’re a novice—you ain’t one if you are a reader.