Roy Meets Maureen: a Galvanized Yankee Western On-line story
As Maureen watched Roy stack her wood, she felt a connection: a writing prompt suggested by using a one line sentence by Jodah A.K.A. John Hansen. Also, a continuation of Galvanized Yankee series
Roy was just a kid. I’d say about 18 years old, or just a tad more. War tends to age even the young boys who enlist. We both saw more death and destruction than anybody should at our age, or any age for that matter. He still wore his Yankee blue hat and trousers. I had some of that blue too. I also had some of the Confederate grey, least I used to. I’m Jacob, Jacob Brown and I’m a galvanized Yankee. That means that I was a prisoner of war at the Rock Island prison and Mr. Lincoln changed me into a Yankee. The Union was running out of you guys to fight in the war. Somebody came up with the idea that some of us prisoners of war could be offered a chance to fight on the frontier. Therefore I was let out of prison and put into a Yankee Uniform and marched west to Kansas. Frontier duty, fighting Indians, escorting travelers, stagecoaches, bullwhackers and anybody else the Army thought worthy of protection near Fort Dodge, Kansas. The one stipulation is that we would not be asked to fight against our brothers in the Confederacy.
Frontier duty wasn’t too bad but I didn’t want to make a career out of it. When my enlistment was up and the Civil War was over I decided to seek my fortune. Also, I had met a girl. No not a girl, a woman. Her name is Mary and she works in the stage station. She didn’t want me to leave. I gave her a ring and promised I’d be back for her when I found some gold or gave up trying. Gold has been discovered in Montana and I decided to go there and find some for us.
Roy was a breed, that is, his father had been a soldier and his mother was an Indian. I met him when we served together. He was also being mustered out and decided he didn’t have anything better to do than to tag along and maybe find his fortune with me.
All in all he didn’t seem to have any inclination to settle down. He didn’t have any trouble finding girls, they seemed to flock to him He had somewhat dark skin which looked about like a suntan. For the rest of us the sun usually left us with red and peeling skin unless we kept covered. His hair was dark, but not black. He was a bit shorter than average. I would guess about five foot six inches. He was a bit brash but not enough to be annoying. The girls liked him and he never went to a dance alone, unless he wanted to.
I guess we were about four days out of Fort Dodge and I figured our food supply needed replenishing. A little extra cash would come in handy, as well. We came to a little town that had a general store, a livery and a saloon. There were a few other buildings as well. We decided to try our luck at finding some work in order to get more supplies. We were down to few cans of beans and some bacon that was beginning to go bad. Rancid, actually!
Our first stop was the general store, a likely place to find a bit of temporary chores. When we told the storekeeper that we could use some work to buy food and tools he asked: “Can you cook?”
“I’ve had my share of kitchen duty in the army and helped out at the post café,” I said.
“Try over there,” he said and pointed across the street to a sign that said “Maureen’s Café.”
“That’s my daughter’s place. She serves a great table. She also don’t take any guff from rowdy cowboys, drifters, or drunks. She can use some help with the cooking and the heavy chores. You know, like cutting wood, hauling water and such.”
Well, we went over there to talk to Maureen. She was one fine looking woman with sleek black hair that was braided down her back. Her eyes were black and overall looked stunning. The storekeeper din’t mention that his daughter was part Indian. Some frontier people would be bothered by her being an Indian woman, or worse part Indian. As far as I was concerned I’ve fought against Indians, I’ve negotiated with them and at times, I’ve gone hunting with them. I’ve learned to gain their respect and they have earned mine. Now, I also understood why he said his daughter didn’t take any guff from anybody.
When Roy came in he looked at her seemed to have lost his voice. He just looked. I’ve never seen him tongue tied before.
“Can you cut wood and keep the wood bin filled?’ she asked him.
Roy blinked and said, “Yeah, sure, I’d be glad to do that for you.”
Maureen, who we found was named for the storekeeper’s mother, went on. “We do a lot of cooking and it takes lot of wood. Especially when we’re baking pies and such.
“I can get you all the wood you need,” Roy replied.
And Roy did that. He found a wagon, an axe and a saw. He disappeared into the nearby woods for about two or three hour and came back with a wagon full of wood. Then he went about cut and splitting the wood into various sizes to use for various purposes. After that he put some kindling and such into the woodbin and started stacking the rest by the side of the building.
I noticed that as Maureen watched Roy stack her wood that she felt a connection, I guessed. I got the feeling that I’d be heading to Montana by myself
I felt a pang of regret that I would not see my Mary for a while, but I was glad that Roy had found something or someone that he wanted.