When I wrote this blog, I didn't know it'd end up on Mother's Day. For all you moms, and all of us who have moms-- which is all of us--
You know, a mom isn't just about biological mothers but all those who nurture others. In the book, from which he arose, Curly was a man and a lifelong cowboy. He'd never had a child, but he was one of those who nurture others (which is what cowboys do-- sometimes having to pull life into existence and then fight to keep it alive). He's appropriate for Mother's Day :)
Years back, for a friend's summer short story blog, I wrote one that followed up some of my favorite characters in the contemporary western romance, From Here to There and follow-up novella, A Montana Christmas.
Sometimes a character takes hold of you, but there really isn't a whole story for them-- at least not at the time. Curly was such a character, a cowboy all his life with no desire to change it. He thinks he knows all he needs to know but is about to find out he's not too old for some new lessons. This is a short story that stands alone. I have though been considering a possible novella for the Rocking H-- a senior romance. The question is who would the characters be? The short story offers a few clues.
Curly Learns a Lesson
“Amos,” Curly yelled wondering where his boss had got to. Seemed he was more and more disappearing at odd times. When his friend’s bearded face appeared, he was grinning and in his hand was a cell phone.
“Dang it all,” Curly said glaring at the phone. “You on the phone to that woman again.”
Amos’s smile broadened. “You know her name.”
“Supposin’ I do.”
“Wal, use it.”
“Ever since you reconnected with that old teacher of yours, you ain’t been no good for nothing!” If he had expected his older friend to take offense, he’d been wrong. He was grinning like a fool teen-ager.
“Well, first off, wasn’t talkin’ on the phone. We was texting.”
“Only kids text.”
“That and those without enough signal to talk on the blamed phone.” Amos' smile hadn’t disappeared. Clearly he was proud of himself.
“She’s old enough to be yore mother,” he tried a new tack.
“But she ain’t,” Amos said with a chuckle, “and it ain’t like she’s all that old inside. She can still dance me under the table.”
“Ninety-five if she’s a day.”
“Ninety-four and I’m seventy-six. So what. We ain’t kids, and we know what we want. More than I can say for you.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Curly walked over to a bale of hay and plopped down wishing he still smoked. Stupid habit smoking but it gave a man something to do with his hands and an excuse not to answer without seeming like stonewalling.
“You danged well know what it means.” Amos sat on the feed bin across from him.
Outside a welcomed summer rain began. The distant hills were quickly swallowed by mist as the rain grew heavier. The sound on the barn roof was pleasing to Curly’s ears though he’d heard it thousands, maybe millions of time. Never a time where Montana didn’t need more rain especially in the summer.
The steady rain also kind of set him and Amos off into a little world of their own. Friends for well over fifty years, nearer now to sixty, this little man was important to Curly, as important as his own existence. He guessed he didn’t want to lose him and suddenly felt he might. Danged women. Nothin’ but trouble, that’s what they were.
“All right,” he gave up when Amos wasn’t willing to let this go. Bad as a dog with an old bone. “Ain’t really goin’ nowhere with Linda.”
“That yore doin’ or hers?”
“Both. She’s busy a lot getting that little deli of hers going. Still got that brat daughter living with her. Ah hell maybe it’s all an excuse.”
“You just scared is all,” Amos suggested.
“Not of nothin’.”
“Sure ya are. You don’t want to get burned.”
“Been married four times. Seems a man oughta learn something one of them and I see she ain’t wantin’ nothin’ with me... not with no man right now. She’s been burned too.”
Amos nodded. “All right, if not Linda, how about Marion, Belle’s friend?”
“Belle? Now ya call her Belle?” Curly felt his face pickle up as though he’d eaten something sour.
She likes it better than Annabelle.”
He looked around for another excuse. “Marion’s older than you.”
Amos shook his head. “Don’t look older than you, ya old coot.”
“Likely had that plastic surgery stuff or maybe that Bo something that they inject in their skin.”
“So what if she has?”
“Well it’s all to fool a man.”
Amos chuckled again. “Never know about that ‘til you find out what’s under the peelings.”
“You talkin’ dirty to me, Amos?” Curly tried to find a shocked look.
“I mean personality, ya dumb...” He stopped before he finished the insult. “Trouble with you, Curly, is you never did get to know women. Married ‘em maybe but never took the time to get to know one. How about you double dating with me and Marion, go to a movie or something. Dinner out.”
Curly stood up with outrage. “This is going too damned far. First, you’re texting. Now you’re wanting to double date. Good God, Amos, how far you takin’ this with that woman?”
“Well with Phil and Helene busy with two babies and Rafe off on a buying trip for Phil’s business and Emile and Nancy busy with school stuff, I shore got no family reason to hold me here. As for age, she’s more likely to bury me than me her. Man only got so many years and better make ‘em good. Only got one nursemaid wanting me to back off. And that ain’t happening. I had one good marriage; and if I get lucky enough to get another, why I’ll just damned well do it.”
Curly let that seep in and fully digest. He could lose his friend. “Where would ya live if ya done that? She’s still got that painting stuff she does and wants to be in Bozeman. I cain’t see her coming out here.” He felt fear now greater than before. He’d be alone because Amos was right, the young ones had their own lives. What did he have?
“I been thinkin’ about that and ain’t ready to take it that far yet. Might be Belle don’t want a husband.”
“She’d be a fool not to want you.” Curly still found it hard to believe their old teacher and his best friend had found love at their ages.
Amos grinned. As for where it takes you... Wal, I’d say—learning to text. Want Marion’s number or would ya rather it be Linda’s?”
“She’s got one? Hell, I ain’t even got a phone.”
Amos’ smile broadened. “Sure ya do. I bought it for ya a month ago. Ya just been too stubborn to learn to use it. Ain’t like a seventy-year old man can’t learn new tricks.”
Curly slumped back to the hay bale. “Could ya write it all out for me?”ow