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Monday, March 28, 2016

The Starshine Kid: Arroyo Grande - Fiction Novel - Part 2 of 20



The Starshine Kid: Arroyo Grande - Part 2 of 20

 

Della

 

The Starshine Kid entered the Lazy J Saloon as cautiously as a field mouse roving the high plains on a moonlit summer’s night. One could never be overly careful in an establishment such as this and especially with the times being what they were. What manner of human varmint may be slithering around in the darkened corners was always of the utmost concern for any lawman.

“Beer, Sheriff?” questioned the bartender, Bill McCredie, knowing full well that the sheriff did not indulge in such trivial pleasures.

“No thanks, Bill,” was the quick reply, “I’m here for Della.”

Della Madarász was a statuesque woman of thin, strong build, determined, inquisitive and never one to hide her feelings or not speak her mind. Something about Della intrigued the Starshine Kid. She was born in October of 1842 in Pressburg, Hungary, the oldest child of a musician father, Michael, and his wife, Katherine. Her younger brother was named Anton. In 1857 the family departed Hungary for a new life in the United States, settling on the East Coast. Her beloved brother, however, was reportedly ambushed and killed by outlaws while on his first cattle run as a teen in 1859. From that time onward Della lived the life of a free spirit, as free as a bird flying across the open desert plains. She eventually traveled west after the end of the Civil War, settling in at the Lazy J Saloon where she managed the daily operations as well as the evening activities. She had little time for socialization and even less time for nosey sheriffs, but she had found something different, something intriguing about the man who had just entered the saloon. Della had a particular fondness for this quintessential western frontier law-enforcing icon.

“She’s upstairs, second door to the right,” replied the bartender.


 The Lazy J featured a second floor office with additional rooms used for rental space. Under the first floor was a limited sized storage area accessible from a small room behind the bar. The establishment also featured an outer stairway to the second floor to the right of the main entrance. Many a fight on these precarious stairs had ended with either serious injury or death to one or more of the parties involved.

The piano player never missed a note as Starshine climbed the stairs. The men lining the gentlemen's bar turned briefly to glance at him before continuing with their early evening endeavors; men dedicated to their liquid poison of choice as just about any other men would be who lived a day-to-day existence in the unpredictable world of the untamed West.

Hearing the knock on the door Della stood up from her oak desk. She heard the sound of a familiar voice, “Della, it’s me.”

“Adam!”

The Starshine Kid responded quickly once the door to Della’s office opened, “I need to talk with you.”

Della smiled and replied to the tall man she treasured so dearly, “Well, now is a good time, come in.”

Della admired the Starshine Kid’s strong jawline and rugged features. Though Adam looked ten years older than his days he was rather charming at times. Della knew that years of hard riding in the harsh desert sun could scorch decades onto the face and demeanor of any man.

“You know Parson Jennings? Of course you do,” he said with a bit of embarrassment, “He told me that he needs to talk to you as soon as possible, something about a telegram and taking six months to find you. That’s all I know.”

“I wonder what he wants,” she pondered as the two sat down on the small sofa in the corner of the room. A large window adjacent from the sofa overlooked the horizon that stretched out endlessly toward the Parker family’s Double-K Ranch.

A perplexed Della remarked suddenly, “This sounds serious.”

“The pastor didn’t seem all that rustled up about it, so maybe it is nothin’ at all,” comforted Adam.

Making their way down the back stairway and past the cowhand’s private bar, Starshine escorted Della to the small church on the edge of town.

The picturesque little church humbly stood as a beacon of light offering refreshment to the hungry souls of local residents. A large granite quarry nearby and the abundance of skilled stone masons provided the adjacent cemetery with much grander than usual tombstones. It was a beautiful place to be, whether one was dead or alive.

Della entered the church as awkwardly as a new student enters a classroom full of strangers on their first day of school, out of place and insecure.

“Della Madarász?”
questioned the man standing by an ornately decorated alter. “Daughter of Michael and Katherine Madarász of Pressburg, Hungary?”

“Yes, Pastor, or Father, that is my name. May I ask what this is all about, sir?”

Walking toward her, the minister removed a telegram from his cloak and handed it to her.

Della reached for it slowly and took it from his comforting looking hands. Clutching it tighter than a trail hand does his last drink for the night before a month-long ride, Della said to the Padre, “Thank you.”

“It seems that your mother has searched for you for many months. She decided to send telegrams to just about every parish in this part of the West. I am sorry to hear about your father’s passing. If there is anything I can do, do not hesitate to contact me.”

“Thank you very much. I will contact you should I need anything.”

After leaving the church they stopped by the sheriff’s office for a quick cup of tea before returning to the saloon. Della seemed a bit distraught. She informed Adam about the contents of the telegram and gave him a brief overview of her family’s history.

“I think I need to head out to New York for a spell, Adam. Can you look after my things while I’m away?”

“Of course, Della,” Adam replied, “I’ll do anything you need. I know what it is like to lose a father.”

The tough outer shell of the Starshine Kid seemed to crack a bit at the thought of Della departing and the possibility that she may never return again. But such was the everyday fate of life and its many accompanying miseries.

The next morning the two dressed up in their finest clothes for one last moment together before Della’s departure. They met on the way to the stagecoach station and stopped in at old man Pete’s photography studio to have a memento of their flowering relationship preserved on film. The flash of the photographer’s camera seemed to be just as brief as their time spent together. Sadly, Adam bid his farewell to Della. As he touched her shoulder, she quivered slightly. Adam did not know how to interpret this reaction, so he said nothing. Della boarded the 10:00 am eastbound stagecoach.

Returning to the sheriff’s office and changing back into his daily attire seemed a bit arduous for Adam. Life felt as empty as a big city politician’s promises… until he noticed Della’s telegram sitting on his desk, she had inadvertently forgotten the paper the evening before. Reading it sparked more interest than a lightning bolt sparks brush fires in the foothills. Della’s father had indeed died, but her brother was alive… and he bore a new name.

As he read the brother’s current name, Antonio from Antonio, he hoped and prayed that Della would be safe, safe from the most notorious criminal of the East Coast.





 * * * Stay Tuned for Part Three: Cresting the Horizon * * *

________________________________

The Starshine Kid: Arroyo Grande

By Royce A Ratterman © 2012

All Rights Reserved

Cover Art & Illustrations by Erlend Evensen

The characters, locales, enterprises, entities, and events herein are entirely fictional and intended for educational and entertainment purposes. Content portrayals do not reflect any actual events, locales, entities, or any individuals living or deceased.

Dedicated to all of those who lost their lives establishing peace, safety, and harmony in the days of the Old West

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