Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Deadwood story -- post partum

This short story -- originally posted on the Road to Deadwood forum -- was based on a conversation that happened after Dio helped deliver a baby (remember, Dio has had experience with various medical situations). The child was born to Pel Silverspar and his wife Kate. They happened to be near the Bella when labor started in earnest, so Katie was brought inside what was at that time a fancy cathouse to have her baby.

The fun part of this rp was that she was one of those mothers-in-labor who decides that it is all the husband's fault that she has to go through this crap. She heaped verbal abuse on poor Pel, and at one point announced that she was done and was just going to leave and forget about the whole thing, thank you very much. Meanwhile we also had a Greek chorus made up of the drunken idiots downstairs, chatting about things like what the baby should be named and commiserating with Taj (one of the Bella girls) that her bed had been chosen as the one to have the mess made in it.

In the discussion afterwards, Dio is talking with her friend Roku, an interesting character who divided her time between working sometimes as an upstairs girl and sometimes as a lady gunslinger. Roku had been hired by Dio for security at the No. 10.

Dio slouched in the big comfy chair downstairs at the Bella. She was dog-tired, and that fact really kind of puzzled her--after all Katie was the one who had done all the real work. But Dio was happy nonetheless, having helped bring a healthy little boy into this wretched vale of tears. She sighed as her eyelids drooped.

"Sure hope Katie didn't realize it's been a while since I helped with birthin a chile," she thought, as she drifted off, oblivious to the noise of revelry and celebration. Damn, you would think these feckless rascals had shit the watermellon themselves, the way they were carrying on. But it had all been that girl upstairs, now resting and drinking Dio's god-awful willow bark tea, who had been the herioine in this story. In many years of looking after people, this had certainly been one of the easiest, quickest deliveries Dio could remember. That gal Katie was just one of the fortunate ones, somehow designed by Providence to pop one on out with remarkably little trouble and drama.

The exhausted widow had dozed off for some time in the huge, smelly, overstuffed chair, when she felt something brush her arm, gently, tentatively, and she was startled awake. It was Katie, standing somewhat wobbily, smiling and glowing, and saying something that didn't quite register, but from the look on her beaming face, Dio guessed it was something happy and positive and she responded with a tired smile and nodded as she said what was hopefully an appropriate positive response. As she became more aware of what was goin on around her, Roku's tall form came into focus, leaning back against a post, ever watchful, seemingly unaffected and unconnected to all the celebratory hoo-hah that was swirling around the tacky splendor of the Bella's main bar-room. Dio could see Roku's gaze fix on her, their eyes met, and Dio could see what was running through her protective shadow's mind.

"Roku, shall we pull up stakes and head back to the 10?"

The tall figure nodded and followed as Dio creakily rose from the big chair, and saying her collective goodnights, pushed out through the big polished doors into the night. Dio strode silently down the street and wordlessly, instinctively stopped outside the No. 10's door. In concordance with their now well-established patterns of life, Roku slid past her without pausing, and went into the semi-dark saloon to check the corners, behind the bar and in the back room.

When Roku looked at Dio and nodded, the No.10's tired owner entered her establishment, lit another oil lamp, and sat at the lone card table.

Dio briefly pondered on how it really was a pathetic little shithole of a saloon. The proprietor of such a penny-ante, piss-ant little tin-plated operation shouldn't need to have "protection." It just seemed kind of silly and out of proportion to the relative importance of the place or it's owner.

Oh well, welcome to goddamm Deadwood.

Roku seemed quieter than usual. Finally, she dryly commented, "Kate was lucky you were around. Where the hell are all the goddammed doctors when you need them?"

"Hell if I know," the older woman replied. "We got more of 'em around here than ticks on a short legged hound in tall grass. You would think folks could find one when the need arose."

Roku snorted derisively. ""Specially at night. None of 'em around at night. And that's when folks get hurt most."

Dio smiled slightly. "Well to tell the truth I kinda think that some folks hereabouts don't really trust the bastards all that much. Seems like a fair number of em would rather have me lookin after 'em than trust one o' the fancy-ass book-reading docs. Hell, mostly they seem to be good fer nothin' but bleedin', purgin' and pushin' pills o' dubious quality. Or pumpin' folks full o' laudanum."

Roku looked directly into Dio's eyes, her poker-faced expression unchanging.

"Don't flatter yourself. They only come to you because they don't have anyone else to turn to. You ever really been trained in medicine? No, they all just come to you because there is no other goddammed choice."

From anyone else, Dio would have taken this as an insult. Some people she might even have called out on such a comment. But coming from Roku, it was a gift, the gift of hard-headed realism. Roku, as far as Dio could tell, didn't have a romantic bone left in her body. Every ounce of pretense, every atom of bullshit had been scoured and burned away from this woman's heart and soul.

Dio nodded and smiled.

"Yep, yer probbly right Hon. Well, hopefully someday they'll have some better choices."

She yawned and stared out towards the street. "Roku, I'm beat. I need to get some rest...I'm gonna hit the hay."

Roku nodded. "yep. It's gettin mighty late for ye. Good night Dio."

"Good night, Roku. Be careful out there."


  1. Ha! Roku is the perfect foil for Dio – someone even more down to earth than ol’ Dio herself. Christ, can you imagine them two running a hospital ward? The poor feckers would get up and walk home swearing on the bible they were better rather than incur the scorn of you two :-D

    p.s. Why do you need a body gaurd at the 10?

  2. "p.s. Why do you need a body gaurd at the 10?"

    I pissed somebody off.