Thursday, May 9, 2013

Prompt: Sally’s Story (or, Growing up in the Saloon)

I was ten when we come to Poke Hill. The town was just about four buildings then: the church, the general store, the school and the saloon. Daddy was a gambler, and we moved from town to town, staying as long as it took anyone to figure out he cheated at cards.

Momma died when I was six. She was real pretty, I recall her face and her long blond hair she always wore in a braid. I loved to brush it out and re-braid it. She had a real fine brush, and I took it with me when we left. But Daddy sold it along the way. I couldn’t hide nothin’ from him in my pack.

Coulda been worse. The night some old drunk tried to buy me, Daddy punched his lights out and dragged me outta there. We rode at least an hour before he stopped and built a campfire for the night. I was half asleep when he cut my hair off. Next town, he took me to the barber and got me lookin’ like a boy. He called me Sully from then on. Sometimes I still think I hear it.

So we travelled around for four years, till we come into Poke Hill one spring evenin’ when the air still held a touch of coolness as the sun went down. Daddy said he had a friend who’d settled out here, and he thought it was time we settled too. We never talked about the future, any more than we talked about the past, but lookin’ back, I think Daddy knew we wouldn’t be able to keep my secret for too much longer.

‘Sides, I longed for a home of my own and a school somethin’ fierce. Every town we went in, I’d hang about the school if I could. Sometimes the teachers were right nice and let me sit in on classes. Sometimes they’d tutor me after the other kids left, if I helped clean up, wipe down the writing boards, sweep up and whatnot.

The saloon was always our first stop in any new town. Well, for one thing, we’d got to eat and find a place to stay. And Daddy had to find out who the local players were. This time, he went in looking for a name. Turned out his friend had a ranch out of town, but always came in to play poker on Friday nights. Turned out the nice lookin’ man Daddy asked was the preacher. He invited us to join him for lunch, and he told Jason Bloom behind the bar to give us a room for the night until Daddy’s friend came in the next day. Jason looked none too happy about it, but he nodded. I took our dishes to the counter and told him I’d help out in the evenin’ while Daddy played cards. He looked a mite happier after that.

The preacher was as nice as he looked. He introduced us to everyone who came in the saloon for lunch. He told us who was the sheriff and the grocer and the dentist. The girls started comin’ down towards the end of lunch, and he greeted each of them by name, but real respectful like. I noticed the men still in the saloon didn’t use the kind of language I was used to hearing when the live-in girls were around. I thought that was probably the preacher’s influence.

Right after lunch, I started helping Jason, and I worked my tail off till he popped me with a bar towel and told me to quit yawnin’ so huge and get up to bed. I hadn’t slept in a real bed in a might long time, and I figured I’d get at least a few hours before Daddy come in and made me get down on the floor. He was already deep in a game and didn’t even nod when I said good night.

I slept so good in that bed, I missed all the ruckus. I woke up in the morning, still in the bed all by myself. I figured Daddy had hit it off with one of the girls is all. I got dressed and headed down to see if Jason would give me some breakfast. I thought I might even get to go check out the school.

I came down the stairs and Jason was sweeping up some broken glass. I said mornin’ and he whipped his head up so fast, I knew I’d startled him somethin’ fierce. He stared at me with wide eyes, and I got a bad feelin’ in the pit of my stomach. I knew somethin’ was dead wrong with my Daddy. 

Dogs in house:
Time writing:
30 minutes
May word count:

Sally plays a role in my "Rainmaker" short story, and she wanted her story heard, too.


  1. Prompt: Growing up in the Saloon

    Derrik ducked under the counter--he was just tall enough to have to duck since last summer--and ran to the door. The black-clad rider pushed open the door and paused.

    "Table, sir?" Derrik said. "Or do you need a room?"

    "You're awfully young to be proprietor here," the rider said in a surprisingly feminine voice.

    "Not propre...prop...the owner, sir," Derrik said, deciding to stick to 'sir' until corrected. "That's my Da."

    "Your Da, huh?" There was a strange lilt the tone that Derrik did not quite understand. "I think I'll start with a table."

    "This way, sir." Derrik headed to one of the empty tables and pulled out a chair for the rider. "Would you be wanting food, or just ale to start?"

    "Ale, plus whatever food this gets me," the rider said and slid two coins onto the table.

    Derrik lifted the coins. He had never seen ones like them--twice as thick as normal. "I'll be back with the ale right away." He trotted back to the bar and ducked under the counter, then rounded the corner to the kitchen. "One ale. And he...she...he wants whatever food this buys." He held out the coins.

    His father stood from where he was just finishing lunch. He took a coin and stared at it. "Where did you get these?"

    Time writing: a very interrupted 55 minutes

    I saw that yours was a specific character, so I took the latter part of the prompt and went with it--hope that's okay!

    1. Oh, I love this! Great intro!
      Yes, absolutely - I really wrote that for you (and anyone else), because Sally was bugging me to tell her story, as my characters so often do! *wry grin*

  2. I love Sally's voice! And I'm quite worried about her Dad...