Word Count: 2000
We sure weren’t thinkin’ of nothin’ happenin’ that mornin’. Slim and me worked the fence line, makin’ sure our cattle stayed put and checkin’ to make sure none of the fencin’ was down. The week before Slim had got a wire — an answer to his own sent about three weeks earlier. Mr. Brummell in Sweetwater was real interested in our stock and was gonna come out by week’s end. He’d already told Slim he was willin’ to pay top dollar. We were really lookin’ forward to it.
A few weeks later and we got a letter from Miss Daisy. To our shock, she and Jonesy had decided to tie the knot. I remember it like it was yesterday. Slim read the letter out loud while I cooked breakfast. He read it over and over. The idea of Miss Daisy gettin’ hitched to Jonesy was one thing, but when she said her niece was too, that threw me. It was hard to wrap my head around that. Why, I even burnt the bacon listenin’ to it. I had to find out if I was hearin’ right, so takin’ the skillet off the stove, I walked over to Slim and came right out and asked him.
“You mean to tell me that Jonesy’s marrin’ the two of ’em? I thought such a thing was against the law.”
I could tell Slim was a little shocked too, ‘cause he didn’t answer right away, just kinda stared at me. Like he didn’t hear right.
Then he smiled and shook his head. “No, no, Jess. Miss Daisy’s marring Jonesy and her niece is marring some other fella at the same time. They just decided to make it a double wedding that’s all,” he said. But I could tell he wanted to bust out laughin’. I ain’t been educated up like Slim, and sometimes it gets in the way and he has a good laugh on me.
“Oh,” was my only reply and I went back to fixin’ breakfast. Or what was left of it. I think Slim felt a little bad for laughin’, ‘cause the next thing I know, he’s sayin’ we could go into town and have breakfast at Mollies. That was fine with me. A stack of her pancakes was a whole lot better than my burnt bacon and watery eggs.
After breakfast, Slim left me and disappeared — where to, I didn’t know. For me, I had met up with an old poker buddy and we headed for the saloon. Somehow, the idea of Jonesy and Miss Daisy hookin’ up just didn’t seem right. But, like Slim said, it was a good thing for both of ‘em. After all, they’d been alone for a long time, and bein’ together with someone you care about is a whole heck of a lot better then bein’ alone. I can attest to that myself. Why, ever since I met up with Slim, the idea of driftin’ for a long time alone, just don’t set well with me anyone. Reckon Slim drove those stakes in real deep this time. Although, I do kinda miss the freedom the wide open has to offer sometimes.
That night we sat and talked about the weddin’ for a long time. Then we finally decided we just had to be there. So next mornin’, Slim sends word that me and him would be comin’ on the train as close to the weddin’ date as possible. Boy, oh boy, were Daisy and Jonesy happy about that. Why, we even got a wire from Mike tellin’ us how excited they were and how much he was lookin’ forward to seein’ us. Next thing we knew, Andy shows up, showin’ us his letter from Jonesy. We just couldn’t wait! The weddin’ was planned for the first week of summer next year. That meant that Slim and me had to make sure everything was done before then. We’d already talked about hirin’ Jeb and his two sons to help out while we’re back east. The only fly in the ointment was when Slim and me went into town a week later. I was havin’ myself a good old time, playin’ poker with Charlie Dodge and Hank Farris when Slim comes up, taps me on the shoulder and says I got an appointment over at the fancy duds place down the street. I did my best to ignore him, ‘cause I figured I had a good chance of beaten old Charlie, when Slim taps me again…harder this time.
“Jess, we gotta get goin’. Mr. Waynesworth’s waiting for us,” he growled.
What could I do? I sure hated to fold, but I knew my partner was gonna mess this game up one way or another. So, I folded, pushed my chair back, and feelin’ a little sick to my stomach, followed him out.
“You got any idea of what you just did?” I snapped.
“Uh huh. Probably saved your sorry behind. That’s what I did,” he told me.
“I had a good hand, dang you.” I was none too happy and let him know it until he took a quick look behind us and whispered.
“Yeah, but Charlie had better. He was squirrlin’ away an extra queen. You’d have never beat that,” he said.
“You mean Charlie was cheatin’?”
“That’s what they call it.”
I was shocked. I’d played with Charlie for years. Now I was beginnin’ to think back on all those games he’d won and wondered. I appreciated Slim savin’ my behind and my pocket book.
“Well, you don’t have to look so danged happy about it,” I snarled. He was lookin’ a little too satisfied as far as I was concerned.
Next thing I know, we’re standin’ outside Mr. Waynesworth’s store. Now Harland Waynesworth is a fancy-minded dude who came all the way from New York to set up his fancy duds store in Laramie. Reckon he felt we westerners needed some refinin’.
But when I saw where he was leadin’ me, I put the brakes on real quick. I had never gone into that high falutin’ place and had no intention of doin’ it now.
“Come on, Jess.”
“Because we have to be dressed proper when we go to Daisy’s wedding, that’s why,” Slim told me and reached past me to pull the door open.
But I pushed the door shut. “I know. I already bought me a shirt. You saw it,” I whined.
“Yeah I saw it. And if I were a heifer, I’d find it right pretty. Now come on.”
“That shirts for roundin’ up steers and workin’ the stage. Miss Daisy’s wedding is going to be real fancy. Jonesy told me. We gotta get you a tux. I already got mine,” he told me and held the door open again.
“What? I always tuck my shirt in,” I told him as he pushed me inside. “They got extra long shirts in here or somethin’?” I asked off-handedly as I looked around.
“Not tuck…tux. It’s a special kinda suit. Go on, you’ll see.”
Now I gotta tell you for a man like myself who’s used to denim pants and flannel shirts, this place scared the hell out of me. Mr. Waynesworth is a tall slender man with one of those tiny mustaches. You know, the kind right under the nose. Kinda like he was afraid to shave that close. He talks real fancy, too. Reminds me of what one of those waiters in those fancy eatin’ places back east would look like. You know, the kind that walks around with a towel slung over their arm. I reckon it’s for those who need an extra napkin.
We had no sooner entered the place when one of his workers — a man about half my size — walked over to me with one of them tape measures — you know, the limp kind — and starts measurin’ me from head to toe. Pulls me over to that tall mirror and puts that thing in places I only go when I’m bathin’. I’d a laid him out good had it not been for Slim, who stood right next to me with a look that told me I’d better not. I was sure glad when he finished. Then he walks over to Waynesworth and rattles off a bunch of figures that set the old man afire. He disappeared into a back room, rattle some boxes, then came out with a smile on his face like he’d just won the pot over at Glancy’s.
I ain’t never seen the like. In his hands, he held a pair of pants, some kinda coat, and of all things, a shirt with frills runnin’ down each side, and then walks over to me. Slim looked over at Waynesworth and nodded, then both him and Waynesworth pointed to a small back room and insisted I go in and try this stuff on.
I gotta tell you, I felt like a trussed up turkey and just plum silly. When I stepped out, Waynesworth and the little man started in measurin’ again. I put my head down and mumbled a warnin’ to Slim.
“Hope this fella’s done soon. ‘Cause if he puts his hands where only mine belong again, he’s goin’ through a window,” I growled. But only loud enough for Slim to hear.
Slim just kinda smiled, that all-knowin’, patient smile he gets when he’s tryin’ to calm me down. “Just hold on, Pard; he’ll be done soon.”
I sure hoped so. I’d hate to have to pay for one of them windows. He had the fancy kind; you know, the type with all the cut designs and such.
I was sure glad to get out of there. I stepped out onto the boardwalk and looked over at Slim. His face was red as a beet and I could tell he was about to bust a gut. And he did, just as soon as we walked a ways from the place.
Slim knows I ain’t the kind to get all duded up. ‘Course now, if it’s for one of our Laramie square dances and I got a pretty filly on my arm, that’s different. Then I usually wear my new boots, clean white shirt with a string tie and clean pair of pants…but that’s it.
This tux thing was all new to me. When Slim was finally able to get his breath, I asked him why they called it a tux? He said he didn’t know, but when I stepped out of that little room, he said I looked like I was about to arrange it into something else. His face was still red, and by the time we got to the buckboard, he was so weak from laughin’ that I wondered if I was gonna have to help him up.
I looked around, and that’s when he hit me with the next little surprise. “Well, where is this tux thing anyhow?” I asked.
“They have to make it, special. That’s why it cost so much,” he said, pickin’ up the reins.
“Cost? Just how much did we spend in there for this thing anyhow?”
“Well, mine cost a little more, because there’s just a little more of me than there is of you. I paid a little over twenty one,” he told me.
My eyes pert near jumped out of my head. I never heard of such a thing. I only pay a buck and half for my shirts.
“And mine?” I asked cautiously.
“Yours was eighteen fifty.”
The wedding was a fine affair. And this time I knew better than to catch the flowers…I didn’t even try.
Acknowledgements: Just wanted to thank Nancy for her beta skills. Without her, you’d run for your lives.