Once upon a Time...
Young Lily Meifeng Lee woke up in the morning. At first she rolled over trying to get a few more minutes of sleep. She had been up most of the night caring for the small children of the Chinese community. As a few minutes she forced herself out of her cot and began to get dressed. Being a poor member of a poor community she didn’t have much in the way of cloths. In fact her clothes were mostly passed down cloth and were in fact boy’s cloths. She rolled up the over sized sleeves and cuffed the over sized pants and went out into the alley to head to Mr. Fu’s laundry.
Her mother was already working when she arrived. She almost expected her mother to yell at her for sleeping in, but her mother just gave her an understanding smile. Mr. Fu noticed Lily’s arrival and was happy to see her. Stifling a yawn, Lilytook the day’s deliveries from Mr. Fu and headed out back to set the donkey ready.
The donkey was more stubborn than usual that morning, but Lily’swas use to dealing with stubbornness. Soon she had the donkey hitched to the wagon and was traveling down Washington street toward Jim’s General Store. The town was a little busier this morning than she was use to. Lily’skept her head down and did her best to avoid notice. The last thing she needed was trouble this morning. Within minutes she had arrived at Jim’s store and as was expected of a Chinese immigrant in a white town, she entered the store from the back door.
Jimgreeted her kindly. Lily’sliked Jimand Steve Hanson. They were some of the only Whites in town that did not treat her people badly. As she dropped off the laundry, Lily’snoticed Ashley Walker shopping in the store. As Ashleywalked around the store she kept giving Lily’sdirty look, as if she was disgusted to be in the same building as the little Chinese girl. Lily’sattempted to look small and meek to avoid a confrontation. Luckily Jimwas quick to pay Lily for the laundry, although it was in a Five dollar bill. Lily’saccepted the money, thanked Jimand quickly retreated outside.
“There’s more where that came from.” She proclaimed with pride and left the store with Jimglaring daggers at her back.
Out back Lily’ssighed in relief that nothing bad had occurred. Lily’sclimbed back onto her wagon and rode back down Washington Street on her way to the Double Down Saloon. She decided to avoid Main Street with all of its people and turned down Second Street then turned again on Peacock Street so that she may enter the Saloon from the backdoor. As she rode down Second Street she saw Jacob Becker and Victoria Walker jumping toads in a small alley. Victoria kept looking around nervously, most likely looking out for her snotty sister. Lily’sliked Victoriabecause Victoriawas one of the few girls who would play with the non-White children of the town. Of course, Lily’swas too busy helping the business in her community to play, but still she liked the idea of playing with the other children of the town.
As Lily’sturned onto Peacock Street, she noticed the Lawyer Jed Bartlett and a large man she thought might be the Judge, walking down the street. Jedwaved at her as they passed. Lily’snodded politely, but pushed forward to get to the Double Down Saloon without any complications.
Sheriff Sylas Wales entered the Jail house / Sheriff’s office after eating breakfast with his friend and Ex-slave Isiah. Sylasfound the young Deputy Tom Klein watching over the Jail. In the jail, Gusterson Jenkins begins to wake up after his drunken jail stay.
“Don’t .. try not to shoot anybody. We are releasing him today.” The Sheriffsaid, shaking his head.
“Oh… Ya… of course, Sheriff. What time should I release him?”
“After breakfast I’d say.”
“Ok Sheriff. I’m just going to sit on the porch, because you always sit on the porch.”
Not wanting to talk further to his wet-behind the ears Deputy, Slyasheaded outside. As he exited the Jail house, Sylasstopped as he saw Judge Timmons and Jed Bartlett heading down the street, obviously coming to find him. Sylasknew that the Judgedid not like him much, so Sylashad a choice to make. The decision was an easy one for Sylasand he quickly ducked out the backdoor before they could see him. Safe from the absent-minded lawyer and gruff Judge, Sylasheaded to the Greaves house.
When Sylasarrived at the Greaves house he could see that the storm last night had ruined the area around their house. He walked up to the door and knocked.
“Mrs. Greaves?” He called out. To his surprise the answer came from around the house.
“Is that you Sheriff? I’m around back.” Mrs. Greaves yelled back.
The sheriffleft the porch and walked around the house. Once in the back he could see that poor Mrs. Greaves’ garden was in shambles and she was desperately trying to salvage what she could from it.
“Morning Madame. Uh.. About last night. I don’t mean to offend, but last night’s happenings won’t have anything to do with anything you’ve been working on lately?” The Sheriffasked reluctantly.
“Last night’s happenings?” Mrs. Greaves asked, standing and wiping the mud from her clothes.
“Yes, the Lightning storm and such.”
“Oh, good heavens no. It would take a lot more than I’ve been working on to create that lightning. You see when static builds up in the air…” Mrs. Greaves spent the next ten minutes explaining the origin of lightning to the Sheriffas he desperately tried to escape from the conversation.
“Well yes, thank you Mrs. Greaves.” The Sheriffbegan stepping back slowly in an attempt to retreat.
“If you come inside, I can show you an experiment to explain it better.” Mrs. Greaves beamed with excitement.
“No. No. that’s ok. I have to go. I’ll be back later tonight for the lesson.” The Sheriffquickly left the backyard, making his retreat back to the Jail house.
While the Sheriffwent to speak with Mrs. Greaves, Jed Bartlett and Judge Timmons arrived at the Jail house. Tomwas still inside and had just giving breakfast to the prisoner Gusterson Jenkins. As Jedand the Judgeentered, Tomjumped up to greet them.
“Oh… he has some business in town. He had a special appointment with Mrs. Greaves.” Tomanswered.
“Oh, I see. When.. mmm.. When do you think he will be done?”
“I’m not sure, but it usually takes him some time.”
The judgethought about it for a moment. “Let’s try that Chinese hotel.”
“Ok. I’ll do that. If he’s not too tired.” Tomsaid. “It was a long night last night for him.”
“Of course, with the storm and all the lightning and roaring.”
“I don’t know about no roaring.” Tomsaid, looking confused.
Lilyarrived at the Double Down Saloon. As usually she entered from the backdoor. Upon entering she is greeted by Francis, the Saloon bartender. Francis instructs her to put the laundry in the backroom and offers her some tea, which Lilyreluctantly accepts. She then gets down to work unloading the laundry.
After she had finished bring in all the laundry, Francis informed her that Mr. Greaves wanted to talk to her. Nervously, Lilyaccepted and slowly climbed the old creaking stairs up to Mr. Greaves’ office. As she passed the bedrooms, she saw the girls of the Saloon in various states of undress. The girls waved at her and said hello. They seemed to like her, and she liked them, even though she didn’t really understand their profession.
Reluctantly Lilyknocked on Greaves’ office door and was told to enter. Once inside Lilywas greeted by Mr. Greaves and offered a seat. Being the shy girl she is, Lilystayed quiet and allowed Mr. Greaves to do all the talking. If Mr. Greaves noticed her silenced, he did not seem to let on. Mr. Greaves exchanged simple pleasantries, and offered to help her if she needed anything. Lily, always concerned about her community, accepted the kind words. Mr. Greaves paid Lilyfor the laundry in the form of a five dollar bill. Lilyquickly fled the room once Mr. Greaves had dismissed her.
Down stairs Francis had tea for Lily. Not wanting to offend anyone, she sat in the back and drank it. It was some of the worst tea she had ever tasted, but she drank it anyways and smiled whenever Francis looked her way. When the cup was half empty, she thanked Francis and quickly left the saloon and headed back to the laundry.
After finding his key, Tomopened up the jail and began collecting all of Gus confiscated items.
“Go get my god damned boots boy!” Gus yelled. Tomflinched at the verbal abuse and quickly began looking around for Gus’ boots.
“Calm down Gus! Calm down!” said the Sheriff, using his authoritative voice, but Gus wasn’t listening to him.
“Man can’t even drink in his own town anymore!” Gus yelled.
“Not if you drink as much as you did!” The Sheriffanswered back.
“What kind of Law you got ‘round here law dog!”
“You should be going after Jon.. Old Jon!” Gus growled.
“He wasn’t drinking as much as you.” The Sheriffcalmly answered, but he was already getting annoyed at Gus’ outburst.
“I caught him sneaking around my stream again. Apparently a man can’t drink ‘round here, but a man can claim jump! What kind of law are you!”
“I’ll look into it Gus.”
“I’ll give him a talking to later.”
“Good ‘cause I got deed Sheriff!”
“Good for you Gus.”
Looking around and focusing his ire on Tom, “Where’s my damn boots, Boy!”
The Sheriff’s annoyance was quickly turning to anger. “You got your damn boots. Put them on and get the hell outta here.”
“I got deed Sheriff!”
“You need to go back to your deed you bastard.”
“Ya, they come by. I told them that you were seeing to Mrs. Greaves’ needs.”
The Sheriffsighed. “I just wanted to talk to her.”
“Ya… Ya… That’s what I said. They are down at the New Orient Hotel eating that Chinese type food.”
“Well, I’m going to be there for a while then. Go sit on the porch for a while.”
“Is Isaiah coming by today?” Tomasked excitedly.
“Not sure. Maybe for lunch.”
“We have a game going.” Tomsaid proudly, pointing to a small chess board setup on the back porch.
“Sure, whatever. Don’t know how you can play chess, when you can’t… never mind. Have fun on the porch.” With that the Sheriffquickly fled the jail house and went off to the New Orient Hotel.