Friday, July 12, 2013

A Western in 30 Days -- Day Two

Charlie shoots a Colt Dragoon sixgun

When you write, things happen. I had it all planned out. How the Dents were going to arrive at Miller's Well, do in everyone but Molly, make off with the strongbox while dragging Molly by her hair (or some such cruel way).

Didn't work out that way, so far. Because one of Dent's boys wouldn't play along.

Here's a bit to show you why.


“Oh!” Molly fairly jumped at Wee Willy Dent’s voice. “You startled me, young man. It’s not good to sneak up on people, you know.”

“Beans, please, missus, and some bread, if ya’ve got it. And I never snuk. My pa says we gotta walk quiet-like, so he makes me wear moccasins. I clomp in boots. Cain’t help but clomp.” He held out the empty bowl Molly had left at his place at the table. “Beans? ‘N bread?”

Molly took the bowl and emptied the bean pot into it, but the beans came nowhere near filling the bowl. “Sorry,” she said, and handed him the bowl.

Wee Willy had to stoop to stand in the doorway. He looked at the half-full bowl and then turned tear-filled eyes to Molly. “I gets hungry most ever’day,” he said. “But pa makes me eat last, after him and Finn and Rob. Ain’t never enough.”

Now we get the idea that maybe one of the Dent boys is not all bad.

Here's some more.

The big man turned into a little boy right before Molly Miller. He filled the doorway, but still seemed hardly old enough to wear shoes. “Come in here to eat,” she said. “Stand over there and use the cupboard.”

Wee Willy came in, nearly filling the room. Molly handed him a spoon. “Go ahead and eat the beans, Willy,” she said gently.

A half loaf of sourdough bread remained in the breadbox, so she swiftly cut a two-inch slice and slathered it with a thick layer of apple butter. “Eat this, too,” she said, and set the bread beside the beans.

“Wee Willy!”

“Yeah, pa.”

“You leave missus alone now, ya hear?”

Molly went to the doorway. The other three Dents sat with their elbows on the table, empty bowls before them, along with the empty bread plate. “Lester Dent,” she said. “You should be ashamed of yourselves. You hog down beans like you’ll never get another meal, and your youngest hardly gets a full bowl. And you call yourselves a family? Families share and share alike.” She turned her back on them and went back to the stove.

“Wee Willy, you hear me?”

Wee Willy swallowed the last of the sourdough. “I’m hearing ya, pa.”

“Get’chor ass back in here with the rest of us. Now.”

Wee Willy flashed a frightened look at Molly. “Coming, pa,” he said.

Remember that Dodge Miller is in the Catalinas, hunting.
Further on, Molly finds out how ruthless Lester Dent can be.

She didn’t realize Wee Willy had returned until she heard the splat of wood on flesh. Willy didn’t cry out, but Molly could tell by the little grunts that came with the smacking sound of whatever stick he’d found was used to beat him for whatever imagined shame he’d brought to the Dent family. The two Dent boys giggled at Wee Willy’s beating, then laughed out loud.

“Finn. Rob. Shut up. Just shut up,” Lester Dent hissed. Molly decided that if a rattlesnake could talk, it would sound like Lester Dent. She wondered how Wee Willy could accept the kind of beating she heard.

Thwacks of wood against flesh and little grunts of pain continued. Molly realized she was holding her breath and the lack of air made her dizzy. She sucked great gulps of dry air into her lungs, and still the beating went on.

Dear God, she prayed, please help that poor simple boy.

The stick broke. Molly heard it break. She held her breath again.

“Now Wee Willy. Can you hear me when I speak? Huh?”

Wee Willy’s answer was hardly more than a whisper. “I hear ya, pa,” he said.

“We do not bring shame upon our family. Never. Never. Never. Do you hear what I’m saying?”

“I hear ya, pa.” The answer was still hardly above a whisper.

“Good. Now take that poor excuse for a stick—it broke in two—so take it and burn it in the stove.”

“I hear ya, pa,” Wee Willy said, his voice a little stronger.

Molly breathed again. She had her back to the door when Wee Willy came in. He said nothing. She didn’t look. He found the handle to the burner lid and Molly heard him grunt as he lifted one of the lids out and stuffed the “stick” into the stove. “There,” he said softly. He put the handle back in its place and retraced his steps to the door.

Molly turned her head to catch a glimpse of Wee Willy as he entered the common room. She took a huge breath to keep from gasping. How could any father beat his own offspring like that?

Lester Dent appeared in the doorway. “Now ya see, missus. Now ya see what happens to them as don’t listen to what I say, don’cha?”

“I must tend to the beans and wash the dirty dishes,” she said, and whirled away.

Lester Dent’s horn-hard left hand caught hold of her right arm. He jerked, spinning her around. As she turned, his doubled fist broke her nose and splattered blood down her dress. “Ye’d best listen to me,” he said, and smashed his fist into her face again.