Chapter 43

This entry is part 44 of 44 in the series Smile

Chapter Forty-Three — The Palace Returns

The sun was high when I awakened. I got up and shaved and showered. Bill and the Texans could be in any day; maybe the Texans wouldn’t even come out to the mine. Maybe they would stay in the city and play with the Señoritas.

I picked up my Polaroid camera and decided to take some pictures for them to take home to show their wives. I had just finished snapping a picture of the big mud oven when I heard a truck — the Palace!

A warm glow came over me. How could I bawl out Chuck and Jock when I was so glad they were back. The Palace came bumping in over the rough road, swaying from side to side. I climbed up on a little bank and watched it. I saw three men in the cab.

Chuck brought the truck to a stop. He was grinning from ear to ear. There sat Jock and Chase beside him. They got out and just stood there weaving a little.

I roared at them, “You damned outlaws, what took you so long?”

All they did was grin.

“Been drinking, too, you darn villains! But welcome home!” The camera was in my hand so I snapped their picture.

“Did you get everything I sent you for?”

They nodded.

“Did you get some women?”

They nodded again.

“Well, get them out and I’ll take their pictures.” We walked around to the rear of the Palace, then I climbed up on the bank and waited. Chuck unlocked the door, pulled the ladder down and held up his hand. Down the stair-steps came Argentina!

For a second I stood there too astonished to utter a word. Then I started to laugh.

“Good going, Chuck old boy! You sure brought one girl these natives will leave alone.” I snapped a picture.

“Did you bring more?”

“Sure,” said Chuck.

“Well, get them out. I want to take more pictures.”

I counted to sixty, took the print out and was ready for another shot. I pointed the camera toward the back of the truck and was looking through the viewfinder as more females came walking down the steps. There were three of them.

“Stand closer together,” I said. “I can’t quite get you all in the picture.”

They obeyed and stood with their arms around one another. Something looked vaguely familiar and I was startled. I looked up. The camera fell from my hands. It hit a rock and rolled down the hill. There stood Connie, Juanita, Rosa….and little Tiny. They were all smiling at me.

This irritated me. I halted and said, “Where are you going, where do you come from?”

This usually was good for a smile, but Jock and Chase also wearing their best clothes didn’t smile.

“How come you two are looking like dandies?” I asked. “What for?”

Jock stepped up close to me there in the moonlight. As I looked down at the little fellow’s handsome face I saw how serious he was, and saw the strange look in those deep dark eyes.

“Is something bothering you?” I asked.

He nodded.

“What is it, Jock? You know I’m your friend.”

“I must tell you something,” he said softly.

He held out his hand and I took it in mine.

Suddenly he blurted out, “Señor Joe, Juanita and I are very much in love. It has been that way for a long time, have you not noticed?”

There were tears in his eyes.

“She loves you very much, Señor Joe, we both love you very much. Can’t you understand?”

For a moment I stood there looking down at the little fellow. A warmth spread over me.

“God bless both of you.”

“Señor Joe!”

“What is it, Jock?”

“You are breaking my hand!”

I put my arm around his shoulder, “Jock,” I said, and pointed to number three cabin. “There’s a light in the window for you. Hurry, man, hurry!”

Jock was off on a run.

Chase was still waiting.

“Now what the hell do you want?” I asked.

The expression on the handsome dark face of Chase didn’t change. He said a little uncertainly, “Señor Joe, Rosita and I were married two days ago.”

“You and Rosita?” I was flabbergasted.

Chase nodded. There was nothing more for me to say. I held out my hand again. He smiled as I pointed to the light in the number two cabin. He was gone.

I walked back and sat down on the log and looked up at the stars. “Everyone’s destiny is written there, the stars do not lie.” Never again would I doubt them.

The lights in cabins number two and three had gone out and a pitch candle was flickering in the window of cabin number one. It looked like a star beckoning to me.

I started slowly toward the light.

A little breeze had come up, and the light began to flicker I quickened my step and headed down the trail.

The End

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