This story is by Garfield McAdam and was part of our 2022 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
The following is an excerpt from the diary of Susie Q. Farrell. As executer of Susie’s estate, it came to me after her death in February 1917. The events recorded are the final entries written by Susie.
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‘Today is February 16, 1917. I have been indisposed for a few weeks and unable to make entries in my daily writings. I am feeling better with time to catch up. For my peace of mind, it is important I record somewhat sad and exciting events of February 16, 1885, before it is too late, before I am unable to. I have endured much over what happened during the three days of the blizzard of 1885 and have never talked of it before. Now it is time.
Everything started on the evening of the fifteenth when mother decided to bake some bread on the morrow. Next day, I was dispatched to Harrods Emporium to fetch flour and yeast. I really didn’t want to go. It was stormy outside, and a real blizzard was whipping up. It was the kind of weather we expect in January, not February. Mother was adamant, so I went.
By the time I left Harrods to return home, the blizzard had hit full blast. I could not see two feet in front of me and knew I would not be able to make it home and needed to get out of the storm. Barely discernible to my right, there was a doorway. Quickly I turned and entered the building. Shutting the door firmly behind me, I turned and found myself in Jason’s Bar and Eatery.
What a place for me to be! Me, Miss Goody Two Shoes, in a bar! For me, quiet, shy, non-drinker, non-partier, one who never goes anywhere or does anything, to be in a bar is unthinkable. I cannot go back into the blizzard, so I must make the best of it. Since it won’t be for more than an hour or so, it shouldn’t be too bad…or so I thought.
Jason’s, like everything else in town, is small. Seven tables with four chairs each grace the tiny well-worn hardwood floor. Along the left wall is a wooden bar with three stools for those not wishing to sit at a table. At the back of the room there is a swinging door leading, I presume, to the kitchen. Also, there is a stairway ascending to the rooms above. A room-length mirror adorns the wall behind the bar and lanterns hanging from the ceiling throw an adequate but somewhat gloomy light. Seven people are sitting at different tables.
Closest are Mr. and Mrs. Johnson from EZ Farm, in town for supplies, no doubt. Next to them sit Dr. Evans and his wife. Two tables over are the Macy sisters minus their husbands. All are dripping wet and seem to be sitting out the storm just like me. In the ensuing events, their part was to watch and report on my behavior (which they later did with glee and malice). The prime movers in what was about to unfold were the perfect stranger sitting at the table nearest the back wall and myself. When I had taken a seat at the closest empty table, brushed some crumbs from it onto the floor, the barkeep shouts to me.
“Can I get you something miss, or are you just in out of the storm for a while?”
“I came in out of the storm, but a cup of coffee would be just great thanked you.”
When he puts it down in front of me the barman says, “Anything else, holler. Watch out for that guy, he thinks he’s a real ladies’ man. Always partying, drinking, carrying on and stuff like that.”
For the first time I take a close look at the person alone at the back table. He is kind of young, perhaps about my own thirty years I would guess. He looks rather, well… handsome, and strangely, for me at least, very appealing.
On a bleak wintry afternoon with a blizzard raging outside, time passes slowly. A short time later I hear a bonging sound. A grandfather clock is chiming out five o’clock. Where have I been? I must have dozed off sitting in my chair. Looking out the window, I see the storm still raging. A bouquet of aromas comes wafting to my nostrils telling me someone is preparing food.
Suddenly a shadow falls over my table. Looking up, I see the stranger from the back table. Yes, he is good looking. Dark wavy hair and soft blue eyes match a broad winning smile. He is well dressed. For a cowhand, that is. Neat blue denim shirt and pants and a leather vest. His white slightly soiled hat is sitting back on his table beside his gun and holster. His smile relaxes and I realize he is older than I first thought, perhaps closer to forty.
He starts to smile again, and my heart commences going pitty pat, pitty pat. When he starts to speak with a soft, gentle mid-western perhaps Iowan, or Kansan drawl, it starts jumping up and down, does a couple of back flips and lands full out on its back in the pit of my stomach. I am blushing so badly I can see the red down to my hands. My god, what is happening to me? I am so excited I am almost falling off my chair.
“Excuse me ma’am, my name is Cody. It looks as though we will be here for some time and will have to eat supper in this place. Today is my birthday and I wonder if you would do me the pleasure of dining with me? It is not pleasant eating alone on one’s special day.”
I thought, “What a line! A real novelty!” However, his voice was music to my ears and my excitement only heightened as I listened to him talk. We stared at each other as I sat contemplating his line and offer. An electrical magnetism passed between us.
Finally, I took the plunge, doing and saying something I had never done before. I accepted this strange man’s even stranger invitation. There certainly would be a lot of talk over this
“Why, Cody, what a novel way of approaching a girl. I would be pleased to accept your invitation. My name is Susie Farrell. Please, do sit down.”
“Thank you, ma’am. It is not often a cowboy like me has the pleasure of the company of such a beautiful woman as yourself.”
While he settled into the chair opposite me, I kept my hands neatly folded in my lap so he would not see them trembling. We made small talk until supper came and by that time, I had gained control and stopped shaking. By then my blushing was gone. We continued talking through a roast beef supper and into the evening hours. All the while I was aware of a deepening attraction and an awareness of falling in love. At some point it came to me that if he asked me, I would go to his room with him. So much for Miss Goody Two Shoes. As fate would have it, that is exactly what happened.
Just before I started to climb the stairs I looked back at the occupants of the room and thought to myself. ‘This will not be easy to live down. The scandal will be enormous.’ But I did not care!
The blizzard didn’t end for another day and a half. We stayed upstairs for all that time coming down only late in the morning of the third day when it appeared we would soon be able to leave. Everyone, including the barman, diverted their eyes and were wise enough to remain silent.
When the sheriff came in and said we could all leave, I walked to the livery stable with Cody. We stood holding hands until the stable boy brought his horse.
“Well, Miss Farrell, I guess this is it,” he said. “You know I have enjoyed our short time together, but I never did commit to anything.”
“Yes, I know, and I expect nothing. I also enjoyed our time together. The difference is I fell in love and will continue to love you forever”
* * *
I found it so compelling to print these words of Susie’s, not so by much the words themselves, but rather an obituary with a photo taped to the inside of the diary. It was of a man dressed in denim. He had a leather vest and white hat.
What the obituary says in essence is—
Passed away on this day, January 10, 1917
William Frederick Cody
Born February 26, 1846, in Scott County Iowa
Cody was a scout, plainsman, showman, and lover
Written in a petite clear hand across the face of the picture are the words “I loved you Mr. Cody, I still do, and I always will! It’s an everlasting love”