Spring is here. The feeling of the morning mildew on grass and the beauty of multi-colored flowers popping out of the ground is my absolute favorite. Mama always said that Spring marked a new beginning for those who seek change and that if you weren't satisfied with the way things were by the end of the year, to plan all winter just for Spring. Daddy always said Mama was full of cow shit.
We moved to Eudora, Kansas in 1860 when I had just turned 16. It was a big railroad town. People came and go of all sorts of kind. Mostly big business hoopla about how the railway was to 'connect the people' and that 'it was the new frontier.' It wasn't all that interesting to me. No one cared about you unless you were either born or married into money.
I always thought to myself that there was no way in hell I'd end up like my sisters. They all married off to men that could buy their love rather than wait around and land someone they could be happy with. After my second sister Lou-Ann married off to some big port owner back home in Charleston, my Daddy thought it seem fit to pick up and move me and Mama out here to Kansas to pursue a 'better life' in the railway business. Now that I'm 19, Daddy's been pushing me to marry a Stetson boy.
I found myself incased in a box of wood on big metal wheels, listening to my Daddy going on and on about how nice the boy is. "He is the eldest, Nellie. The very top of the list to get his fathers estate. Just give him a chance! Who knows? Maybe we'll have grandchildren around this time next year!", he exclaimed with what I assumed to be a crooked smile under his thick mustache. He looked towards my mother and whispered, "…and maybe she'll stop being angry all the time!"
I could feel my blood fill my pale cheeks with rage, "I don't care about money, I don't want children, and I'm not angry all the time! I don't want to get married right now, why is that so awful?" I questioned not only my loving parents but myself. Both Lou-Ann and Mary married off at the age of 18 and did it gladly. Why wasn't I satisfied with the life I was so destined to live?
"Nell, listen to your father, he only wants what is best for his little girl." My mother gave me an assuring nod. I couldn't help but see the hope in her pale blue eyes that I would soon marry off like my sisters. I groaned and sunk back into my plush red seat. I found myself facing the window where the world moved so fast that it seemed to be speeding out of control.
Eudora was flat and dusty with only patches of grass here and there. It was not like my home back in South Carolina. I missed the humid spring nights and the sound of frogs croaking. Here, all you got was dirt and men with bad teeth. Nothing and no one was worth the time of day for me. I got my pale blue eyes from my mother and thick brown hair from my father. My skin was pale because I didn't enjoy the day, but I loved the night. I often treated the freckles on my shoulders like the constellations in the night sky. The only good thing about Eudora was the sky here. If you laid flat on your back and looked up, you could almost see where the world curved. The night skies were always so clear and beautiful that you swore God himself laid with you to watch the stars turn with light so bright that it burned into your memory as a picture.
I was jerked out of my memory by the trains squealing breaks. We had arrived at the busiest part of town. I quickly stood up and followed closely behind my parents. We were herded off the cart like cattle, down a small step, and onto a wooden plat form. People were everywhere. Most of them were wealthy, others were travelers, and then there were the pan handlers that begged for dust in your pockets.
"Nell, come along. We do not give to those who beg." My fathers hand pushed my shoulders towards town. I looked down to find a small girl, no more than 8 reaching out for some hope in the shape of money. Her clothes were tattered and torn into nothing more but thin sheets of fabric. I furrowed my brow as my father forced me the other way. "We cannot be late! You have to meet Mr. Stetson's boy, Howard." I focused my attention forward. Forgetting the faces of those who begged for help.
Mr. Stetson was the owner of the largest railway system in the mid west. My father was one of his most loyal accountants. He had helped funnel Mr. Stetsons money into some big project to help make Eudora into one of the best places in the country to exchange goods by making railway connections in every direction leading to a major city. Now that my father was in Mr. Stetsons good graces, he wanted to seal the deal by making me a daughter in law to this money tycoon.
"Well, this must me Thelma!", I heard someone boast. "What a pretty girl! My Howard will be so pleased to meet you!" I turned to see a short, round man with not a bit of hair on his head except a thin, blonde mustache. "Well, Thatcher Travis, I didn't believe you when you said she was beautiful!" He reached his stubby hands out to me to grab onto but instead I smiled half heartedly.
"I go by Nellie." , I said bluntly. "Thelma is my first name." I watched as the smile faded from the stocky man and his dark eyes turned blank. He was obviously put off by my attitude towards his joyful nature.
"Mr. Stetson!" My father blurted nervously. "Such a pleasure to see you! Please let us get away from the hassle of street and into the Stetson estate!" The short man nodded and turned around and made his way into a massive building. I watch as my mother followed soon behind him. My father turned around and shot a glare at me to sit down and shut up before he disappeared also.
I grimaced and sat down on the wooden bench next to the door. I straightened out my blue dress and sat up straight, looking as proper as I could before I collapsed into myself and slunk my back against the wall. I stared into the ceiling and knocked my brown boots together against one another. The gentlemen next to me coughed and adjusted himself. I looked over at him. He was an older man with salt and pepper hair and deep brown eyes. His nose was buried into the weekly newspaper.
Across the front of the paper was a wanted ad. In big letters it read Wanted: The Ghost of The West and Gang. The Reward is set at 15,000 cash dead or alive for each member of the gang and 20,000 cash for Ghost. More information on page 4. I stared puzzled. The man flipped a page and looked up at. He smiled and addressed me with a question, "Interesting, huh?"
"Oh, yes, sorry for starring.", I apologized.
"No problem.", He assured and pointed to the front of the paper. "Ever heard of these outlaws?"
"No." I answered. "Can't say I have." I adjusted myself and looked away. The man smiled again and went back to reading. After a few seconds I drifted my gaze back to the man. "Who exactly are they?" I couldn't resist but to know.
Without lifting his eyes back to me, he read plainly from the paper in his hands, "Wanted: The Ghost of the West and Gang. Infamous for numerous train jacking jobs and robberies, this gang of four outlaws consist of two rouge Texas Rangers, a Navaho Tracking Indian, and their leader The Ghost of the West." He looked up at me and raised his eyebrows. "Sounds like a bunch of hell raisers to me."
"What is the 'Ghost of the West'?", I pried.
"No one knows."
"No one knows?"
"Exactly, no one knows." The man asserted before opening the paper and reading again. "The Ghost of the West: There is no record of what or who the Ghost of the West is, most lawmen speculate that this infamous outlaw doesn't even exist. People do not live to say who this outlaw is or looks like. Martial's and Texas Rangers are to seek this notorious outlaw only and to kill immediately. The Ghost of the West is be the deadliest gunslinger in the Midwest. All beware." I sat even more puzzled then I was before. The Ghost of the West? My new found friend spoke up, "They say that at dusk, if you see a dark cloud rising from the mountains below, you are to hide. They say that is the Ghost of the West and his crew coming to rob or worse- kill."
I swallowed hard. "Well, they ain't no where near here are they?"
"No, but they aren't too far out. I heard a few towns over that the lawmen down there spotted a dark could of smoke rising out of the mountains towards the town and headed north, towards us." He sighed. "This town is also a high commodity now since a major trade route runs through here. Wouldn't surprise me if they showed up here."
"And, no one has ever saw this Ghost? How is that possible?"
"Well, someone down in El Paso said they saw the Ghost." He leaned down close to me and whispered, "Apparently this Ghost rides in on a wild brown mustang with a white strip down its nose and hooves as black as the devils heart. The Ghost is covered in head to toe in all black and brown leather so you can see his face. The only thing that shows is the eyes that are apparently as green as greed itself and filled with rage." He then leaned back and raised his eyebrows.
I scoffed. "I don't believe all that."
"Suit yourself.", he mumbled and stood up, handing me the paper. "Have a good day and please be safe." I nodded and watched the tall man blended into the crowd. It was only then I noticed the star hanging onto his shirt that was marked Martial.
A/N: This may or not be a thing yet. Review to go on or not? Or a critique? Haven't written in a while.