Saturday, July 4, 2009

Dio's story, part six -- a face from the past

reposted from The Road to Deadwood forum

Dio and Sepp had no idea how close they finally were to each other.

Sepp was now a First Sergeant in the 3rd U.S. Cavalry, under General Crook at Ft. Fetterman, in the Wyoming Territory. As the lure of gold enticed soldiers to take "French leave" and take up mining in the area around the new settlement known as Deadwood, First Sgt. Bogart was dispatched with a small detail of troopers and scouts as a provost marshal's detachment to round up deserters. In the course of his work, Sepp began periodically stopping in the town seeking information on stray soldiers and to get supplies for his little command, but he never happened to encounter the woman he had been seeking since the war.

Then one night he happened to visit the Gem, where Miss Lil, in one of her "entrepreneurial moments" picked his pocket. All she got for her troubles was a battered locket, which she tossed in one of her jewelry boxes without even opening it. When he realized he had lost the locket, Sepp felt a huge emptiness inside--he thought he must have carelessly let it slip out while he was on the trail, never imagining that it had been stolen. He had carried that little trinket since Jack was killed, hoping to give it to Dio so she would know how much her husband had loved her, and that he had been thinking of her every day while he was gone from their west Texas ranch. Now it had evaporated, and he felt it was a sign that he would never see her again.

Not long afterwards, Deadwood's folks were having one of those days: a day when everything seemed to be going from bad to worse, to just downright unbelievable. Lil had been sick, gone through a botched operation, and was dealing with the consequences, including infection, excruciating pain and delirium. Dio had befriended a newcomer--a young man from the slums of New York who went by the name Amsterdam--who subsequently had to be talked out of killing himself, and then prevented from shooting Deac (which Dio accomplished by standing in between the two of them when they were about to pull their weapons).

Afterwards, called upon to help Miss Lil--as no one else with any medical knowledge was around to alleviate her suffering--Dio found herself re-bandaging the woman's wounds and administering some morphine from Mr. Bu's supplies. In between facing down and cussing out an irate Percy (livid that Dio had protected someone who had threatened his brother and frightened Miss Estwee), and trying to keep various friends and strangers from wandering into Lillian's sick room, Dio was given an odd gift by the Gem's owner. For some reason, the delirious and heavily drugged Lil decided to give Dio a memento to thank her for her help--and the piece she chose to give the widow Kuhr was an old locket she had "found."

When Dio opened the strangely familiar object, she found a familiar face smiling up at her from the picture inside the locket. It was her own, in a tintype taken over 17 years before.

Once she had recovered from the shock, Dio got some semblance of an explanation from Lillian, and realizing that Sepp was patrolling the hills near Deadwood, she returned to the laundry. She grabbed her pistol, and dug out her old buckskin trail clothes from the immigrant trunk she had acquired from yet another disappointed fortune hunter who had given up the hunt for gold. After one final round of exchanging harsh words with Percy and preventing him from killing Amsterdam, she set out on a rented horse to begin looking for Sepp.

She suddenly wanted to reconnect with her lost past very, very badly.


  1. This is fantastic! I enjoyed each chapter and can't wait to hear more! You're a fine writer, Miss Dio!

  2. thank you Hon, I always appreciate the kind words.
    And kindly keep in mind, I also would very much appreciate useful criticisms, such as if something doesn't any goddam sense, or just seems outright silly. If so, I would like to hear about it and we can talk it over.

  3. So far there is nothing that hasn't made sense - trust me, this is some mighty fine writing!