Monday, June 29, 2009

Dio's story, part five -- So what was life like in Deadwood in those early days?

well, since you asked....this is reposted from The Road to Deadwood Forum, and essentially summarizes the early months of rp that Dio experienced in the sim:

In a remarkably short time, Dio found herself adapting to life in the rapidly growing mining camp. The taciturn Mr. Dryke proved to be a a fair and very businesslike landlord. It seemed to be more important to him that the town have decent, reliable laundry service available than his turning a quick profit: he was quite reasonable in allowing her to begin work and start making some money before requiring the first rent payments on the wash house. An old hand at getting everything from blood to beer out of filthy work clothes--and more than used to working long hours--Dio quickly began turning a profit that allowed her to make the necessary payments. Almost immediately, she was able to begin making some improvements to the place.

She traded for some lumber to wall off a bit of living space in the back. In short order, she rendered her new quarters more than comfortable with some second-hand furnishings acquired from greenhorns who were already having trouble making it in this new El Dorado. Among these acquisitions was splendid sheet-iron wood-burning stove, which expanded output at the laundry by increasing the speed and convenience with which she could heat water for washing and soaking clothes. This in turn helped Dio generate more income.

She rapidly realized that the best way to make your fortune in a mining town was not necessarily with a pick and shovel.

The majestic triumph of technology that was her new stove also helped Dio to make her first friends in Deadwood. The business next door turned out to be a Chinese opium den and bath-house, and the girls who worked there quickly noticed that Dio was no longer heating her wash water over an open fire. They were delighted when she struck a deal with them: in exchange for their help in gathering wood and hauling water, she allowed them to use her stove for heating the water they needed to provide baths. The business arrangement with the bathhouse girls--and their affable employer, Mr Bu, who was in fact, the owner of the white beard and bamboo hat she had seen on her first night in town--soon turned into friendship. Some old friendships were reestablished as well--her cowhand friend Adar Merlin appeared in town one day. And Mahaila Bertrand, the Dodge City friend in whose cause Dio had been severely wounded, turned out to be in Deadwood as well, running the newspaper.

As violent memories from her past were rekindled by seeing "Mah"--along with seeing the abuse and violence that Bu and other hard-working "celestials" were subjected to--Dio quickly concluded she needed to acquire some firepower and brush up on her skills with firearms. This determination was reinforced one night when she and Adar overheard a drifter talking about robbing the bank. When the would-be thief was confronted about his plans, he made the mistake of calling Dio a liar. As Adar said, "she took after the man like a rattler" with her knife. Although the robbery was prevented, the leering ruffian told Dio he "was going to remember' her. The skinning knife she wore at her waist and the boot knife that had been a constant companion since Dodge City were soon joined by a well worn surplus army revolver.

Dio also began making new friends. Her colorful profanity and ready, rough frontier wit made her a welcome regular at the Gem, the same saloon where on that first night in town her offer to help treat the wounded owner, Miss Lillian, had been so forcefully rebuffed by Lil's associate Foxy Innis. There, Dio would drink coffee and tell stories, or simply share observations about what was taking place in town. The Gem's ladies, as well as male employees like bartender and security guard Lefty Fargis, seemed to like her as they found her explosive commentary on life in Deadwood hilarious. Others, like her landlord's younger brother Deacon Dryke, became friends with her on the basis of her less obvious qualities: a kindness, and a practical wisdom that came through in her quieter moments.

Some, like Mahaila, found a sense of what could only be called sisterhood with Dio, in the course of late night discussions of their shared loss and heartbreak.

For the first time in many years, Dio was starting to feel as though she belonged somewhere--that even in this squalid setting, and the rapidly shifting social fabric of this town on the edge of possibility and nothingness, she had friends, some shred of purpose, and reasons to let the past fade and disappear.

Then one night--a night, when after 12 straight hours of washing other people's filthy garments, Dio decided to skip heading to the Gem and instead collapsed on her bed in the tiny back room of the wash house--a solitary figure rode down from the hills in the dwindling light.

A horse soldier in federal blue--no longer young, but not yet ready give up the only life he had known for years--swung down from his creaking old cavalry saddle and tied his mount to a porch post. He surveyed the rowdy little town as it began to come to life in the dusk. He wore his battered forage cap and an obsolete-pattern shell jacket like an old campaigner, and the eye patch that covered one eye suggested that he had been through some dirty business in his time.

He wore his army Colt in a curiously adjusted butt-forward position like someone who had learned combat on horseback in certain style favored in certain circles. In his saddle bag was a crumpled gray cavalry cap, marked with brown stains that had dried long ago, and holes of the type made by small pieces of red hot iron produced when an artillery shell blows into fragments. Within the inside breast pocket of his shell jacket, in a small leather bag, there rested a tarnished locket that had lost most of its gilding over time. Inside that locket was a small ferrotype image of a youngish woman, dressed in clothing of a style from before the war, wearing small oval glasses, a slight sardonic smile, and her hair worked into two braids that framed her face.

Even as she sought to move forward with her life into what she hoped would be a better future, a part of Dio's past was about to resurface...

1 comment:

  1. Bravo! A breakneck tour that manages to feel luxuriantly paced at the same time! I'm sill holding out formore Mr Bu in the future though ;)