Sigh. I’m gutting my novel (again) to change plot lines I felt would bore younger readers.
I have been working on the changes and I must confess that after 5 years I am getting tired of these people and their adventures. I think I’m trying to rush things because I would like to move on to new inspirations and material. Forcing yourself to make decisions and create a better story is not working out for me.
I refuse to give up! To keep my spirits up during this upheaval, I am working on what I call the “fun” parts. Since I decided to rip out the really fun parts (to write) I’m fleshing out the story details, so things are less disjointed.
Enough talk! I thought I would tease you with a random section – somewhere around Chapter 16…
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The next train leaving for San Jose would depart at 1:00pm. That gave her only 2-hours to get into trouble. They would make stops in San Mateo and Santa Clara, arriving in San Jose the next morning. The route map in the SF depot was more detailed than the one in Milton. It showed the Bay in blue and how the tracks were routed around it.
She finally got it! The tracks had to go around the Bay.
None of the bridges were finished yet.
The return trip began relaxed and pleasant. John taught Mollie and Millie how to play poker. Mollie had played with her family enough to learn the game, how to bluff and all that. The men seemed more entertained by the girls than the cards, but there was plenty of laughter from both sides. At one point an usher asked them to stop playing – they were disturbing other passengers.
“Inciting another riot! What am I going to do with you?” Travis teased her.
“Thanks for teaching us,” Mollie told John. She just beat them all with a full house on the last hand and gathered up the pot and scooped it off the table into her purse.
“Perhaps ‘Money Bags’ here would like to treat us to lunch?” John teased.
“Maybe…” Mollie pretended to weigh the option.
“I’m starving!” Travis said. He gazed into her eyes and grinned.
“Put that away!” Mollie touched his dimple with her index finger.
Travis frowned. “I never met a girl who did not like my dimple before.”
“Who said I didn’t like it?”
Before Travis could ask more questions, a waiter showed up to take their order.
The menu for lunch was simple and straightforward:
Sandwich of the Day
Soup of the Day (crackers included)
The salad instantly appealed to both ladies. The Sandwich of the Day happened to be a Philly Cheesesteak, and it smelled wonderful as the men’s order passed under their noses.
Mollie was anxious to return home. She missed the place. She missed Zeus. And, she missed sleeping next to Travis. Even though she slept on him during the night while they traveled, it was not even close to being the same.
I’m becoming addicted to him, she thought. Or in love with him. No, that couldn’t be it. Could it? I’ll sleep on it, she decided. There would not be much sleeping when they transferred to stagecoaches in Milton. Funny that she thought traveling by bus was a big pain – Ha! Traveling by an old smelly bus would be luxurious compared to a stagecoach. They sure made it look romantic in the movies.
The first afternoon on the train, when Mollie was not beating them all at poker, she spent the time sleeping. The next morning, she awoke to the sensation of fingers stroking her hair. Keeping her eyes closed, Mollie savored Travis’s gentle and loving touch. Sure, he touched her before – helping her in and out of wagons, steadying her while she maneuvered muddy streets and wooden sidewalks. A proper gentleman and lady touching, that was subconscious habit on Travis’s part, but arousing on hers. Even though she didn’t believe Travis was consciously running his fingers through her hair, Mollie’s breath quickened and her heart raced just the same.
“Oh no!” Travis sat her up and began looking through her hair at her scalp.
“What is it!?”
“You must have picked them up in the jail.”
Travis broke the news to her, “I’m sorry to tell you this, but you have head lice.”
“WHAAAT?!” This news completely grossed her out. Bugs! In her hair! Not a dry and dirty scalp itching. Bugs crawling around her head itching.
“How do I get rid of them?”
Millie looked like she was going to cry. “First, they cut your hair off,” “Then they wash your scalp with lye soap, soak it with vinegar and olive oil, and don’t rinse it out until the next day.”
“ALL of my hair?”
“Pretty much. But don’t worry, they won’t shave your head if it clears up quickly”
“Who are ‘they’?”
“Usually a doctor or the Sheriff.”
“Lice spreads like wildfire,” John said, “and no one should go near you.”
Millie told her, “Please don’t take offense, but I need to move away now.” She nudged John and pulled him up out of his seat. Mollie waved.
“Well?,” she looked at Travis. “You better leave too.”
“No point.” he said. “I must already have them from you by now.”
“Not your fault.”
“I’m going to the powder room now,” Mollie told them. “I’m going to try and take care of this”
No one in the busy kitchen noticed when Mollie slipped in and stole a sharp knife, from a row of place settings. which she hid in her sleeve, She also “borrowed” a 1 cup of vinegar and 1/2 cup of olive oil from a confused cook’s helper.
Barricaded in the ladies room , Mollie methodically mixed the 2 ingredients and began rubbing the mixture on her scalp, then her roots, she tried to decide how she was going to cut most of it off and remain fairly decent looking. After 5 minutes of rubbing and thinking she came to the conclusion that nothing would help her looks except a paper bag. Of course with the horrible smell, no one would want to be close to her anyway.
At least the damned itching had subsided.
Cutting hair with a knife was not easy to do. Or watch. Mollie worked on keeping 2 finger widths of hair on her head and sawed off one section at a time. It was not fun at all doing the back of her head, and her arms and shoulders were not happy about their role in all of this and ached like never before. How was she going to find a piece of fabric big enough to make a do-rag for herself to wear?
Her question was answered by the next person to come through the parlor of the ladies room. As soon as she came in and saw Mollie, she apologized and backed out. Mollie had to chase her down the skinny fast moving hallway, pleading with her to stop and help her.
“Help you?” the bronze skinned woman shook her head. “How do you suppose I could help you?”
“I’m hoping that you have an extra cleaning rag, that isn’t too dirty, that you could give me, or I could borrow?”
The shapely bronze cleaning lady stood with her arms crossed, staring Mollie down. Suddenly her face broke into a gorgeous smile.
“OK. I give up,” she laughed heartily. “What does a rich white lady need one of Nettie’s old rags for?”
“First of all,” Mollie blushed, “I’m not rich. I just had to cut my hair because of lice. I don’t want to walk back to the dining car looking like this.” Her voice was quivery, but Mollie would not allow herself to cry.
“I thought I smelled salad dressing! – I’m sorry mam, I do like to crack the jokes.” “I think I have just what your situation calls for. Go back in the powder room and I will be right back.”
Mollie thought that Nettie’s accent could have been Jamaican. Wherever she was from, her English was perfect and her lovely voice was musical.
True to her word, Nettie soon strutted through the door and handed Mollie a worn hat box.
“This should look wonderful on you.”
And it did. The hat was modest, a burgundy silk covering, trimmed with tan colored lace. It reminded Mollie of a tilted beret. She saw right away why Nettie did not want it. It was too tame for her taste. Nettie liked bright explosive colors to surround her, even her apron was light blue with large splashes of reds and purples.
When what remained of her hair, and her oily scalp were tucked in tight, Mollie looked like any other non-infested young woman. Who apparently smelled like salad dressing.
“How could I possibly repay you for saving me?” Mollie asked.
“Why, you have already done that!” Nettie laughed. “The hat was from my sister, and I have hated the thing ever since I first saw it. Now I won’t feel guilty about getting rid of it, to help someone in need, you know.”
“You are the most awesome person I have met on this trip!” Mollie hugged her tight. Now she could walk back to the dining car with her dignity intact. She was pretty sure that women did not have to take off their hats while dining. Mollie saw hat wearing women in the dining car all the time.
Now the threat of her spreading lice would be much less. The shock of her new “do” could come later and privately.
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Have a lovely spring week!
♥ TTFN ♥