TITLE: Blue Fire and Chocolate
By Jody Day
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Blue Fire and Chocolate
By Jody Day
I could have the reenactors actually shoot someone. Martha Andrea Anderson squinted her teal blue eyes at the planner on her desk. She wrote BUY REAL BULLETS on her purple Marti’s To Do list.
BLOOD BATH AT HISTORIC FORT STOCKTON
CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS IN CRITICAL CONDITION
FRUSTRATED CURATOR SUSPECTED OF REPLACING BLANKS WITH REAL BULLETS
Jim “Two Walks” Kade, part-time preacher, full time preserver of Comanche culture, and a consultant to Hollywood scriptwriters on the subject, interrupted her daydream. “I know that look. You are scheming up something. What’s up?”
“Oh, Two Walks, how good to see you.” Marti hugged the old man and found him a chair. “I could use your help, that’s for sure. I was thinking of killing off the city council. You in? They just don’t give me enough money.”
“You couldn’t kill a fly, Marti, but if looks from those blue eyes could kill, well, that might work. I don’t understand. I just heard they were shutting you down.”
“What? Oh, you don’t listen to Candee Carter, do you? She’s wanted to have this place razed forever. We’d be sitting in a nail salon right now, on top of this sacred ground, if she had her way.”
“That old bat? No, but I actually heard that the city is going to sell to some big entertainment firm out of Dallas. They plan to turn this Fort into a Wild West theme park.” Two Walks bent over to tie his shoestrings. They always dragged the ground behind him.
“I don’t believe it, Two Walks. They wouldn’t do it. This Buffalo Soldier fort is an important part of our history, our nation’s history. We have original buildings, documents, the whole nine yards.”
“I don’t think anyone loves this place more than you, Marti. You’ve done wonders. But I’m serious. I was at Maggie’s for lunch, and there were at least four of the council members discussing the possibility of selling out.” His face turned red and he breathed a little harder after bending down over his shoes.
“You okay?” Marti worried about the man who adopted and raised her when her father, Two Walks best friend, died suddenly of a heart attack. He and his wife, Helen, were her mother and father since she was eight years old. Marti was born to her parents in their old age, and certainly Two Walks and Helen were old enough to be her grandparents, but they raised her with love. No doubt, he moved a little slower these days. The Fort’s impending demise, however, was inconceivable.
“Just heading for that happy hunting ground.” He sighed and leaned back in his chair.
She did not like to hear him talk this way. “You’ll sit around the campfire for many more years.”
“Did I ever tell you that my horse had a chestnut brown mane, same color as your hair? Wish you wouldn’t cut it so short, though,” he said, eyeing her close cut style.
“You’ve told me many times about your horse. You called him Shining Eyes, right? I’ll let my hair grow when it gets cooler. It’s just so hot out there and I do a lot of outside work around here. How about a song?”
Two Walks loved to sing the old Comanche songs. Sometimes he sang in English, sometimes in the old language. Marti loved best the ones he wrote himself. He closed his eyes and crooned one of her favorites. He chose English this time.
Two Walks sits at Grandmother’s knee
Learning the old ways, her ways
Father’s wife is not Comanche
He learns her ways as well
He walks with songs of the past
His heart in the past
But he lives among the whites
And knows their ways.
Great Father calls Two Walks
And Two Walks follows Him.
“So beautiful, that on is my favorite. When are you going to let me record you?” She’d been after him for years to make a CD.
“No one cares about the rambling of an old man. Waste of time, Marti.” He stood to leave and she reached for another hug.
“I forget how short you are, Blue Fire.” He let her take his arm and they walked together to the door of Marti’s office.
“I love it when you call me that.” She smiled up at father.
“Eyes of blue fire, warm when happy, ice when angry, but always loving. That’s you, my little Blue Fire.” He stumbled a bit down the stairs, but righted himself on the sidewalk to his car.
Marti followed him outside. She had no doubt that Two Walks had overheard ridiculous plans over lunch at Maggie’s Diner. One or the other of them always tried to solve the city’s financial problems by promoting the sale of the Fort, like an old lamp at a garage sale. She wished the citizens would get in an uproar about it, but it seemed they didn’t care anymore.
Nevertheless, it was time for lunch and Marti may as well eat at Maggie’s. She locked the door to her office, walked three blocks across Rooney and Water Streets to the corner of 3rd and Main. Rubina Salcido stopped her before she could swing open the door.
“Hola, Mija. Como esta?” She carried purchases from the Bella Bonita dress shop next door to Maggie’s.
“Great, Rubina, thanks,” Marti said, helping Rubina load her bags into her car. Twenty-five years old, and her mother’s best friend still calls her “Mija”, little girl.
“You better get in there, Mija, they are trying to sell your Fort. I think they mean it this time. Gotta go, now.” She backed out of her parking space and waved as she zoomed off.
My fort. Come on, it belongs to all of us. She stepped around the corner, under the caricatures of John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, and Lucille Ball painted on the south wall of Maggie Newton’s building. Her cell phone buzzed. Cecil Mason, just the person she needed to talk to.
“Cecil, you beat me to the call. How are you?” The late August sun bore down on Marti. This better be a quick call.
“Fine, thanks. Listen, just wanna make sure you show up at the Friends of the Fort Society meeting tonight,” Cecil said.
“Don’t I always? Of course I’ll be there. Anything special coming up?” Weird, he never called with a reminder. Marti fanned herself with her hand.
“Lots to talk about, just reminding you, gotta go.” He hung up without so much as a “Bye.”
The meeting was scheduled to sew up plans for Fort Days. What would make Cecil think she I needed a reminder? In fact, Marti planned to ask the Friends of the Fort Society to run a fundraiser so that she could hire more acts for the event. You bet she’d be there.
The bell on Maggie’s door jingled her entrance. Marti scanned the tables. Yep, there sat Candee Carter with the three, newly elected council members. A spider with three flies in the web came to mind. What had it been, just three weeks since the election?
Marti had to sit somewhere, and the empty chair at Candee’s table would do just fine.
“Candee, hello. May I?” Marti pulled out the chair. The three men stood.
“Carl, hello. Kevin, nice to see you. Hey, Jethro. Ya’ll sit down. What’s Maggie’s special today? I’m starved.” Marti opened the menu, avoiding Candee’s eyes.
“Hello, Marti. Ordinarily you’d be welcome. We are actually having a meeting just now, so if you don’t mind, there’s a table free over there,” Candee said, pointing to a table far from Candee and her recruiting session.
“That’s alright, Marti, we’re done.” Jethro Woolsby motioned over the waitress for her.
“What will you have, Marti?” Kitty Bloom poised her pen to pad.
“Iced tea, no sugar, and a grilled cheese.” She handed the menu to Kitty and then leaned toward Candee. “So, I hear you are trying to make some money off of our legacy again.” No love lost between these two women.
“You make me sound like a slave trader.” Candee strummed her red nails on the table.
“Excuse me?” Did she really just say that? Marti leaned across the table, her eyes demanding an answer.
“Bad example, I guess, no need to get so upset.” She crossed her arms. “Look, you’ll hear all about it at the meeting tomorrow night. I have to go.” Crisp exit. She looked over her shoulder at Marti, still sitting at the table with Carl, Kevin, and Jethro. Marti noticed that they didn’t stand up for her.
“You know she’s playing you, right? If you believe that selling the Fort will solve this city’s problems, then you might as well be Larry, Moe, and Curly.” Marti felt comfortable needling these three high school chums. “How did you ‘no accounts’ get yourself elected to the city council anyway?”
“You’re not the only one who grew up, Marti. We care about Fort Stockton, as well as you. Lived here all our lives, same as you. It can’t hurt to check out all the options,” Carl said. He picked up his tea glass and drained it.
“He’s right, Marti. You have a one track mind about that Fort, have had since you were a kid. It can’t hurt to just see what is available. You know the city is struggling with debt. If you cared as much about the whole picture as you do that old eyesore, you might be able to help us come up with an answer and not fight against us all the time.” Jethro crammed French fries into his mouth.
“Fighting against you? Old eyesore? What would Fort Stockton be without the Fort? Might as well just drop the prefix and call it Stockton,” Marti said, her voice rising and attracting attention.
The front door opened. The cowboy walked in. All heads turned in a hush. The theme from ‘Fist Full of Dollars’ came to mind. Sam Marshall, rancher, cavalry re-enactor, and Marti’s sweetheart dropped four quarters into the newspaper canister, opened it and pulled out the paper. He crossed one boot in front of the other, leaned against the wall and then opened the paper, reading it while standing.
“Time for me to go, Marti, see you later,” Jethro said, leaving in a hurry, but going out the side door to the street. Carl and Kevin followed suit. Marti smiled. Her man had that effect on people. Nobody would mess with her when Sam Marshall stood nearby. She wished he’d talk a little more, but not for want of understanding him. The sound of his resonate voice, an old soul; deep, wise, symphonic, made her heart hum like the strings of a cello. She felt like she bit into a gourmet chocolate with a crème center, every time she heard him say her name. He only ever called her ‘Martha’. If he talked, it meant something.
Kitty brought Marti’s lunch and then quickly cleared the other plates and glasses away, wiping down the table. “Will Sam be joining you?”
“Your guess is as good as mine, Kitty.” Marti picked up her sandwich and took a bite. Sam turned down one corner of the paper, nodded a ‘hello’ with smiling brown eyes, and then left the restaurant. Nothing unusual. Sam probably saw Candee leave the diner and so he slipped in, not to protect Marti, but to make sure he didn’t miss a cat fight.
Back to work. Lots of phone calls to make. Marti would have to line up the usual acts, those that would perform for just their name in the paper. Sam would provide the cavalry re-enactors. They showed up with only the promise of a cookout. The Laundress Unit would demonstrate their craft.
Marti dreamed big for this event, threw herself into it with all her heart. She looked up the number of the Buffalo Soldier Corp in Massachusetts one more time. Maybe they’ve come down on their price. If she could just get them here one time, she felt the city’s faith in the Fort would revive.
Nearly time for the Friends of the Fort Society meeting, Marti began gathering her things to leave for the day. The sound of gravel grinding in the parking lot meant tourists. Marti would take the folks around anyway. She jumped up to open the door and give a good old west Texas greeting.
A big man got out of an SUV and shook hands with Candee Carter. The logo on the side of the vehicle read Tombstone Entertainment - Dallas, Texas.
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