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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Home (01/09/06)

TITLE: Cleve's Store
By dub W


A gray mouse peeked out of a hole in a sack of dried beans at Cleve Hammon’s new supply store. Despite wandering snow flakes whistling through cracks in the walls Cleve kept busy building the shelves that would hold the dry goods. A month earlier, before winter set-in, he had finished the roof and used pine tar to seal its seams and gaps. A barn and a woodshed completed the collection of buildings located above Cimarron Creek in Southwest Kansas.

“We got plenty to do here.” Cleve looked at his old dog curled at the foot of the wood stove. “Got enough wood to get to the thaw…I hope.” The Franklin stove he had hauled from Boston burned in the middle of the main room of the three room cabin.

Outside the cabin horses whinnied. The hound dog stood, and Cleve dropped his hammer. He hurried to the side of the door and cautiously lifted the edge of the rawhide covering the window opening. Through the storm he spotted two men, a young woman, and a child walking toward the cabin. One of the men wore a pistol and carried a rifle, much like the weapon Cleve grasped in his hands.

“Yo, in the cabin.” One of the voices cried out.

“I ain’t open yet.” Cleve hoisted the Henry to the window. “Keep rid’n.”

“Too durned cold. Open the door Cleve. And put that Henry back down.”

“That you Emmett?”

“I picked up some stragglers, you gonna open that door or do we have sleep in the barn?”

Cleve set the Henry on the floor and opened the door. “Daggone it’s good to see you, Emmett. What cause you to ride this way?” The dog lopped out the door and sniffed at the strangers.

“Lucy and I finished work on the Bar-T an there’s no winter’n on that spread, so we headed south. Maybe pickup somethin’ around Amarillo.”

“Who’s that yer dragg’n along?” Cleve nodded at Clarence.

“Kids got caught in the storm. Brought’m here maybe Bertha could mother’m a bit.”

Cleve lowered his head. “Bertha went to the Lord three months ago, consumption got

“Oh, sorry Cleve.”

“Tough life out here Emmett, she got to cough’n blood then she was gone.”

“You runnin this alone then?”

“Best I can, dog and me.”

“Well, you got a family now, though these kids don’t have a lick of sense. They’re what’s left of a bandit raid west of here. Lost their folks, cabin burned out, they managed to run. Boy and his sisters said they was headed for Liberal to sell their cows, but dust storm got’m.”

“Emmett, all I got is some beans and some dried jerky, there’s some stores in the barn.”

Emmett turned to the three youngsters. “Clarence, you kids put them animals in the barn, then come on in here. Bring that flour and anything else in the wagon.” He walked past Cleve and set his saddle on the floor. “Well, it ain’t fishes and loaves, but it’ll do. I think the girl can cook, and the boy – Clarence will help with the work I spect. The little one, Merci will keep you entertained. They need a home.”

“You ain’t stay’n?”


Cleve walked in behind Emmett, “I don’t know Emmett. Look around, I ain’t got half a house yet.

“Ain’t no choice Cleve – I hereby bequeath Clarence, Mary, and Merci to your care. Amen. Got any coffee?”

“On the stove.”

“Last time I was by here all ya had was a barn, ya done a lot for a man with little or no help sides his wife. ”

Mary appeared in the doorway. “Sir, where can I put this Bible. Ma always kept it out at home.”

“Kin you read it?” Cleve scratched his chin.

“No, sir, but Clarence can.”

“Put it right here,” Cleve tapped the table, “ I guess Clarence is going to be reading that to us a little each day.”

Emmett gulped his coffee. “This here’s yer new home. You kids are gonna stay here with Mr. Hammon.”

Merci ran in the door followed by Clarence, her eyes were big as silver dollars. “Look Clarence, the promise land.”

Emmett tipped his hat back with his coffee cup. “Yup, probably so.”

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This article has been read 1170 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Christl Boyd01/16/05
I loved this. Could you use this as a beginning to a novel? I'd love to hear the rest of their story. (hint -hint) Blessings to you!
Steve Clark01/16/05
Nice story. I kept wondering about the mouse. Very good descriptive use of terms and dialects. I got lost a bit when the children arrived. You told us about Clarence's name before Cleve learned it. (“Who’s that yer dragg’n along?” Cleve nodded at Clarence.) If Cleve is our point of view, then how did he nod at "Clarence" when all he knew was that it was the other man? Maybe some more of your descriptive text could tease us along the mystery another line or two. Just a thought. Well done, though. You got me to be interested through the end.
Jan Ackerson 01/19/06
Loved your matter-of-fact characters, and your ending was perfect.
Pat Guy 01/19/06
'“Ain’t no choice Cleve – I hereby bequeath Clarence, Mary, and Merci to your care. Amen. Got any coffee?”' (favorite)

I think I'm going to like this one! (and I don't like westerns too much!) So keep 'em acomin!

Really, really enjoyed it!
Shari Armstrong 01/20/06
I enjoyed this-good characters :)
Marilyn Schnepp 01/20/06
I too, kept wondering when the mouse would return to the scene; but perhaps that was the bait to bring the Reader into the story, who knows? Anyway, I'm not much for Westerns, but this was truly a lovely story..."the promised land" - how nice!
Shannon Redmon01/20/06
Brought back the Little House on the Prairie days! Could picture Michael Landon in this one...loved it!
Maxx .01/21/06
Fast moving, great dialect. Keep this up, Dub, and you'll grow up to be a writer! ;-) Excellent as always. Ya done good. Look! The Promise Land! Love it!
Cassie Memmer01/21/06
I loved this, Dub! Great story and I hope to read the rest of it! :o)
Val Clark01/24/06
Promised Land! It's so easy to take the basics: food, shelter, the Word read aloud, for granted. Thanks for this reminder.