Written for OLWG#123
Gilda pulled the fox fur collar higher up on the back of her neck and eased through the back door of the caboose, then closed it behind her. She stood on the deck and leaned on the horse head cane that her daddy had given her. She breathed deeply of the cool mountain air, as hills and trees raced past in the opposite direction. Mostly a mix of Pine and Aspen. The Pines stood tall on the ridges. The Aspen huddled in the gorges and sheltered areas, where they were most comfortable.
She watched the landscape dance by in time with the rhythmic clack of the wheels. Soon enough, the snow began. The train continued to climb until they were high enough for the snow to dust the rails behind them, she tossed the cane and used only the curved safety railing for support. When the snow began covering the wooden sleepers that supported the rails she stepped quietly off the back of the train. No one noticed.
Gilda never arrived in Denver, she never met the rancher who waited there to meet her.
It was early morning in Denver when the last train pulled away from the platform and Ben Vega, who worked at the station, began extinguishing the gaslights illuminating the platform. He noticed a well-dressed man seated at the far end of the platform holding a small bouquet of wildflowers. Drawing closer he recognized the man as the owner of a mid-sized spread situated higher up in the surrounding mountains, The Alemán Ranch.
Colton Alemán was a cattleman whose family had been ranching in these parts for years. Drawing closer to the rancher, Ben noticed the man was crying. He sat down on the rough-hewn bench and put his hand on the rancher’s shoulder.
Alemán had ordered a bride from back east. Maybe she hadn’t made it this far west. Maybe something had happened.
They sat that way for a few moments before Vega took a deep breath and spoke, “Station’s closing Colton. You can’t stay here.”
Alemán said nothing but nodded his head, he stood and started walking down the platform to leave.”
“Maybe she’ll get here tomorrow, Colton. Come back tomorrow. I’m sure she’ll be here tomorrow.”
Ben had been in Denver for less than a year when he began working for the railroad. He took the job of sweeping the platform and taking out the trash. He would also do odd jobs for the stationmaster. When he wasn’t working he would ride out to the Hilton’s place. They ran a large Stage Stop on the plains East of Denver offering food, drink and lodging to the stagecoach passengers and staff. Ben would go there because it was far enough away that he wouldn’t be recognized.
Ben would get all liquored up on that roadhouse whisky and moan about his true love, back East. She was the reason he’d come to Denver in the first place. Her daddy had refused to permit them to be wed. Ben was too coarse a man, too vulgar for his daughter, Gilda.
Gilda deserved better than the likes of a Vega boy. He wouldn’t hear of it.
The prompts were:
- Roadhouse whisky
- a horse head cane
- he was crying