by Arthor Bookes, Editor-in-Chief of the PCC Creative Writing Club
Previously, our intrepid heroes, twins Larry and Lucy Luckless, have resolved to search the mine owned by their late pa to find clues to his mysterious death. Once inside, calamity strikes! Larry falls through a sinkhole beneath his pa’s office, and Lucy’s confronted by pa’s former employee, Billy Rascal.
Lucy stood stock-still, eyes locked on the barrel of Billy’s gun. His eyes darted between her and the sinkhole. He motioned with the gun.
“Time t’git on outta here, girl.”
Lucy cast a silent glance back at the sinkhole. She heard Larry groaning below. I can’t leave him, she thought.
Billy waved the gun. “Go on, Luckless. I’ll drag you, if I hav’ta.”
I’ll be back for you, she whispers to herself. Larry could always tell what she was thinking before, and she hoped this was true now.
He pointed the gun back to the passage out. “Move.”
Lucy walked ahead of him as they exited, head bent low, auburn hair falling in damp tendrils over her face. Once they cleared the entrance, Billy slid his gun back into its holster.
He dropped his eyes, thick brow knotted. “Yer pa was a good man, an’ I’m sorry for ever’thing that’s happened.” Billy glanced to the mine and back to Lucy, stepping away. “Git home where it’s safe.”
From the mine, Larry roused to sound of the rocks above him shifting. He watched the length of rope slither down the sinkhole wall. Addled from the fall, he pulled himself to standing and grabbed hold of the rope. After a minute of rest, he clambered up and out of the hole.
“Was ‘fraid you weren’t comin’ ba-” His words were cut short as the world went dark.
The sun crept over the horizon as Lucy tossed in her bed. Larry never made his way home and she was worried sick. Throwing the itchy comforter back, she jumped out of bed and started pacing.
Outside, she could see a figure silhouetted against the sunrise. Her heart jumped at the thought of Larry returning; it dropped again when the shape became clearer as a figure on horseback. She could hear the clink of sterling spurs and see the emerging sunlight glinting off the turquoise of the figure’s bolo tie.
Fighting back rising bile, Dewey Donaldson Jr., son of the new mine owner, Mr. Dewey Donaldson Sr., dismounted his horse. She considered hiding, pretending not to be home, but quickly dismissed the idea. She had tried that before, sneaking out the back while Dewey waited. She was dismayed to find that when she returned, hours later, Dewey was still standing on the porch, chewing on a splinter of wood.
Begrudgingly, she opened the door.
“Mornin’, Miss Lucy!” Dewey called out as he approached. He readjusted his pristine, white jacket over his bulky frame. “Fancy seein’ you here.”
“I live here, Dewey.” Lucy sneered.
“Weeel shoot. I guess that’s true.”
“I don’t have no time for yer foolishness t’day.” She turned her head and spit over the edge of the railing.
Dewey frowned. “Don’t be like that, Miss Lucy-”
“Don’t you ‘Miss Lucy’ me, Dewey.” Lucy’s hands were balled into fists. “I’ve made it perfectly clear how I feel ‘bout you. If you don’t skedaddle right quick, I’ll come down there and show you how much of a ‘lil’ lady’ I am.”
Dewey grimaced, running thick fingers through wavy blonde locks. “Well, I got somethin gonna change yer tune. You been lookin’ for that brother of yours?”
Lucy’s eyes grew wide and her fists tightened.
Dewey’s smug smile turned sinister. “That’s right. My pop’s said yer brother’s tied up, waiting on a train. An’ I hear talk there’s a priest comin’ in t’day – he’ll be doin’ a weddin” – Dewey paused savoring his triumph – “or he’ll be doin’ a funeral. That’s up to you, Miss Lucy.” He extends his hand. “Whaddya say? Gonna lemme make ye the happiest girl in town?”
Lucy swallowed and looked out in the direction of the tracks. Hesitating, she finally spoke. “I’d rather marry a rattlesnake.”
Dewy’s glee soured. “Ye’ll regret that, Miss Lucy.” He turned to leave. “If you change your mind, I’ll be at the train station at eight sharp. Hope t’see you there.”
Lucy was sprinting toward the neighboring plot the moment Dewey was out of sight. She ran up to the paddock that held Winona, her neighbor Wilken’s prize mare. Grabbing a coiled rope from the fence, she swung the gate open. Winona stomped her hooves in greeting.
“C’mon, girl.” Then, to herself: “Them lessons pa got me will pay off after all.”
Mounting Winona, she dug her heels into the horse’s sides. Her fingers wound through Winona’s mane. As she rode away, a man came running out of the house behind the pen shaking his fist. “Sorry, Mr. Wilkins!” she called out behind her.
The scenery flew past as Lucy steered them toward the station. Getting closer, she could see the outline of something tied to the train tracks. Nearer still, she could hear that the gagged screams were Larry’s.
With one hand, she yanked the rope from her waist and coiled it in her hand. Further down the track, the train barreled ever closer.
Lucy steered Winona parallel to the tracks and pressed in her heels. Holding tighter, she galloped toward the oncoming train.
The rumble grew louder, shaking the ground. The whistle shrieked.
Just beyond Larry, the older goon from the night before guarded a track switch, waiting for the order to throw it if Lucy showed up at the station. Speeding toward him, Lucy began to swing the lasso. The goon’s hand shot into his coat, grasping for his gun as he saw Lucy galloping closer. As he struggled with the holster’s clasp, he saw the lasso fly past him. The tracks shrieked as the switch pulled back.
The man wheeled around, his gun finally out of the holster. Lucy yanked on the lasso, pulling it back to her. She circled it above her head and threw it back out; yanking, the loop fell and tightened around the goon’s shoulders, pulling him to the ground. Dropping the rope, she steers Winona to circle back to Larry.
Dismounting, she ran to him. The train rumbled down the alternate track, wheels flashing sparking inches away from Larry and Lucy. Breathlessly sinking to her knees, Lucy pulls a knife from her back pocket and cuts Larry free. Once his arms were free, he threw them around Lucy.
“Ye’ came,” he cried. Tears streaked his ruddy face when he pulled away.
“Course I came,”Lucy said, holding him tightly. “Let’s get home.”
Helping him limp to Winona she gave him a boost and mounted behind him. Together, they rode back to the homestead and laughed at the idea of Dewey, waiting alone at the station. Larry reached a hand in his pocket, gasping at what he saw.
“Lucy… I found this in that sinkhole.” He moved his hand so she could see.
“That’s… a deputy’s badge! How’d you reckon that got there?”
They stared at one another in alarm.
by Arthor Bookes, Editor-in-Chief of the PCC Creative Writing Club