Looking down at my feet, I saw that I was wearing boots that were too tight and that were buttoned up. My drab red skirt and petticoats told me the time and place. I was standing in the doorway to the saloon, hanging on the swinging doors, and looking wistfully down the dirt street. A man on a horse rode by, kicking up an obnoxious cloud of dust, and I wondered what it would be like to live on “the other side”. I’d never had a husband or a family and knew I never would. I felt content with the path I had chosen, but from time to time I wondered what it would feel like to be respectable. I usually dismissed the romantic notion of a husband loving me, because I knew almost every husband in this town, in the Biblical sense of the word.
I was a frightfully ugly woman. I was short and had thick stocky legs. My hair was long, but poor nutrition and lack of attention caused it to be brittle and dull. My face was absolutely nothing to write home about and I wondered how a woman this unattractive could support herself as a bar whore. I guess the frontier was a harsh place and lots of men were separated from their women for long periods of time. I had offered the same thing in this lifetime as I did in the one I am writing from, in that I made the men feel special. I paid attention to them and really cared about them as people, not just as a means to support myself. It showed. They knew, and even though they couldn’t publicly pay me any mind, I could feel their hearts go out to me when they saw the way the women in town treated me.
Hanging on this door, on this uneventful day, seemed a strange place to enter this life, so I prompted myself to go forward to the next substantial event in her life. I was older and in the same saloon, but the world was a different place. I heard the men folk talk about all the new inventions man was making for himself and thought how good it was to be alive in such a progressive age. We had come so far and I took a sense of pride in the way we were moving into a future full of promising possibilities.
I owned the bar now. Since I never had any bad habits or kin to support, I was able to stash away a good sum of money. When the owner was nearing death he made me a good deal on this old place so I wouldn’t have to be friendly to men I didn’t like. I told myself I was a good person, with a respectable job and life style, but once the town whore, always the town whore, and the rest of the town folk were not as convinced of my goodness as I was. It didn’t matter much though because I was happy and I had a roof over my head and no one else to answer to. This was a good business to be in. No matter how many others tried and failed to make a living in this desert town, the bar was always profitable.
I had been disturbed earlier when I was trying to relax into this non ordinary state and decided I better move this picture show along to its final scene before I was interrupted again.
It was 1876 and I was laying in a bed in the upstairs of the saloon and the sunlight was flooding in the window. It was a beautiful day outside, but I wasn’t going to be here for it. I was really old and wrinkled now, but I felt no pain. I just felt like I was easing away, almost sneaking, out the window. Doc was there, with a young filly of a nurse. She was reading something in her lap and sitting pretty close. Doc stood behind her because he didn’t want his emotions to show. She might detect that he and I were better friends than anybody in this town needed to know. I wanted to tell him not to feel bad for my sake. I was at peace. I was going home.
I couldn’t speak and I couldn’t move anything but my eyes. I fixed them on the young nurse. I could feel that she was purposefully trying to avoid my gaze.