Dust lifted into the air like a small cyclone, kicked up by the ill hemmed bottom of a young girl’s dress. A young boy ran across the packed road as he chased after a large wooden hoop that he rolled with a stick. The boy narrowly missed a disgruntled horse drawn carriage, a woman gasped loudly in the distance and the boy stopped dead in his tracks.
A woman, his mother, placed her dignified hand around the hoodlum's ear and pulled him along. Her purple dress flounced behind her as she walked, with a shrill voice she lamented the boy. Jane snickered behind a lace gloved hand while the two passed her by. A silent glare from the two caused her to stifle that laughter.
Five minutes in town and I am already making a name for myself. Oh my, these folks are quite unique. Jane thought as she looked around at the townspeople. Many looked quite humble and unassuming, they were indicative of Southern settlers. However some appeared far above the typical farm class people, with vibrant colored clothing and a coin balancing on their chins.
Their buildings were sand stripped with cracked paint and creaky floorboards. Even in such a distressed state, flags and patriotic decor were placed on them. At least that’s consistent. I suppose it’s not terribly odd to have such a high number of upper class here. Their money gives them more power over a small community like this. A sudden pair of eyes caught Jane’s attention.
A dark haired man with vibrant blue eyes peered at her through a large glass window she’d positioned herself in front of. She tried to shake the momentarily disturbing glance she fell under. Jane straightened her shoulders and walked away from the mercantile but she felt it follow her. Even beyond the sight of that frame, she knew the man had sized her up.
She sped quickly across the dirt road and into the lonely tavern. A bar man stood at the edge of his counter gawking at the young beauty before him. The tavern walls were filled with dust and animosity, and the floorboards creaked under her weight. The man cleared his throat suddenly, startling the stale air.
“Can I, uh, help you, Miss?” He managed to stutter while he braced his hand against his own chest.
“I need a room,” Jane’s fox-like voice fell from her lips. The man was enchanted.
“Well it ain’t real appropriate for a lady to stay in a man’s tavern. You can find yourself a room in Becky’s place, she owns a quaint little cafe just yonder,” he stuttered under the sounds of his beating heart. Jane rolled her eyes, men ruin all my fun, she thought angrily.
“Well, I’d much rather get a room here on account of my desire to have a few drinks before I turn in. I promise I won’t cause ya too much trouble, sir.” She pushed.
“No, no ma’am, there won’t be any alcohol sale to women in this town. I won’t take part in no demoralization of a young beautiful lady like yourself. You’ll do right by going and getting a room from Becky and once you’ve done that go and find yourself a husband. Now I insist you leave before folks get the wrong impression.” The old coot advanced quickly and placed his hand in the air in front of Jane.
She grit her teeth and left the traditionalist in his empty rat hole. He’s not the target, Janey, don’t get worked up. It’s just alcohol not life and death. You can’t go off half-cocked because he called you an immoral swine. He didn’t. It’s not like you would have gotten totally drunk and started a fight. She would have. I am not a bad person. She’s not but she does make terrible decisions.
Becky’s place was a newer building with fresh paint and new trim. The blush color on the siding reminded her of vomit. Memories of the night before surfaced and her stomach churned. A large woman came barreling with her arms open wide in greeting. Before she could resist, Jane was lifted in the air by her embrace. It felt like an eternity before she was placed back on her wobbly feet.
“My, my, the talk of the town! Miss I heard that a new young lady just came to town with nothing but the clothes on her back. Now I assume you’ll be needing a place to stay and my lovely, look no further. You won’t have to worry about a thing, we’ll be like old pals.” She grabbed Jane around the shoulders and pulled her into the doorway. It was a squeeze to get the two through but after some wiggling they broke free from the frame.
She guided Jane through the dining area, silence fell as they passed several of the lunch guests. Jane was pushed forward by Becky’s large hand up the stairs and into a small two bedroom nook. She placed her like a doll on the edge of a crisp bed. Becky pulled from her open hope chest a sewing kit.
“Now you’ll be needing a few more dresses. I’ll take your measurements. Oh my, I forgot to ask your name. I’m Becky Lou. You know we don’t get many new people in town” She chirped happily. It was hard to get a word in. I need to do something before she starts treating me like her newborn babe. Where did she get the idea that I was here to stay? These women gossip like dust in the wind. I should go with it for now.
“My name is Jane, Miss, I appreciate your kindness but I’ll be ordering some new clothes at the mercantile. I just can’t trouble you to make me dresses.”
“Oh, well,” she folded her hands, “Is there anything in town that I can help you with?” Her voice was low like my denial maimed her.
“Well I am looking for a man-”
“Oh honey aren’t we all! Tell me about your lover. Who caught your eye?” Becky boomed loudly. Laughter lifted the atmosphere. Seriously. She was. Why is it a requirement that every woman of child baring age be tied in matrimony to some slick, drunk, idiot man. Just go along with it Jane, Get the information and then you can leave.
“Oh my where do I start,” Jane lied easily, “He’s a rather tall man. You might know him as the state senator. It’s Mister Locland Simmons, he’s in town for the Fourth of July celebration and to visit his mother. Well I just fell in love with him during a run in at a cafe in Galveston.”
“Hm, seems that you aren’t the only one going on asking about Mister Simmons. A man came by asking on his whereabouts just thirty minutes ago. Of course I didn’t grace him with the knowledge. That man gave me a bad vibe. You know murderous intent. I am mighty good at seeing people’s hearts. That’s how I just knew you would be my friend.” She smiled kindly to Jane. A pit of guilt raised within that heart Becky claimed she knew.
“Well, I am right as rain, wouldn’t you say?” With a fake smile, Jane convinced Becky.
“The Senator will be with his mother this evening at the town dance. I’m sure if you introduce yourself to Mrs. Simmons, she will introduce you to her son but you can’t go dressed in that,” she said, eyeing Jane's cotton brown dress, “Who let you out of the house wearing such a plain dress with these odd ruffle lace gloves. Where in the world did you find those, it’s like they’re from a different era. Ah, doesn’t matter. Louanne!” I’m going to have words with the person who issued these clothes when I get back. A simpleton called me out within moments of my arrival.
A clatter came rumbling up the stairs, a young woman about Jane’s size emerged. She looked ragged in the cafe apron and covered in flour. Louanne wore men’s clothing including long brown slacks and boots. Her curly blonde hair tied back in a thick braid.
“Yes ma’am,” she spoke meekly.
“Louanne, do you got something pretty for Miss Jane to wear for the dance tonight? She is looking to impress a man.”
“Yes ma’am, my mama just bought me a pink dress that we haven’t taken in yet. I was dreading wearing it but I think it would look good on Miss Jane.”
“Oh I can’t possibly...”
“Oh hush, you’re doing us all a favor. Listen, Louanne is all tomboy but her mother insists she takes up cooking and pink dresses.”
Louanne was quick getting the dress prepared while Becky made Jane into a Texas beauty. Curls wrapped her golden head and fell effortlessly to her shoulders. Rouge purified her cheeks into an innocent lady. Finally,one grand reveal later, Jane was fortified with all the sweet magnolia beauty a tomboy and cook could bestow.
“Well, now you look mighty fine Miss. When y’all two get married, I reckon, Louanne and I should be your bridesmaids.” Becky said as she fixed one of three large ribbons on the back of Jane’s full dress. She rolled her eyes but smiled brightly. It had been awhile since she spent time with ladies or even had time to think about friendship. I’m here for one thing only. She reminded herself quietly. The senator.
The three women made their way through a large crowd. Thanks to Becky’s large bust, Louanne and Jane walked comfortably behind. The men in the hoard gawked at Jane as she passed. A sly smile spread over her face. The men in this town are so simple and adoring. This is going to work.
“Why, hello Becky and Louanne,” an older woman said, gesturing the ladies over, “Who do you have with you? What a lovely young lady.” The woman wore an obsessively large hat.
“Mrs. Simmons, this is my dear friend Jane. She is new in town and I thought she might want to meet our most treasured resident.” Becky took Mrs. Simmons hands, then gently placed Jane’s nervous hands on Mrs. Simmons. Sweetly, the woman smiled. Don’t grow attached, you're not here to make friends. You’re here to take a life. I don’t have a lot of time left before Control pulls me from this timeline and if the Senator isn’t gone...Her thoughts trailed off.
“Well hello there. It’s nice to finally meet you. I heard all over town about a handsome woman roaming unescorted through our humble town.” Her voice was soft and silky, and the smile she wore softened Jane’s hardened exterior, only for a moment.
“It’s lovely to meet you. I have heard a lot about you. I’m so glad to make this fine town my home. I do hope that one day I will take the arm of a man but for now I have yet to meet the right person.” Jane smiled slyly. She took her hands back and placed them at her waist.
“Ah, well I have with me tonight Texas’ finest bachelor. Locland, dear come here.” She waved a man with a suit over. He wore an American flag on his lapel, definitely State Senator.
“Care to dance?” Locland didn’t ask her name, he didn’t care. She was young enough to fill his desires and old enough to keep him out of the headlines. He graciously took Jane’s hand and they slowly waltzed their way across the dance floor. Jane smiled a honey dew grin.
“Well how-dy.” The atmosphere was thick with alcohol. There’s that roaring Senator we know and love. I’m afraid this will be your end. I hate men like you. Locland waved the barman over, anxiously waiting for his next drop, they waited together in silence and unmoving..
Jane intercepted the senator's glass, she graciously took a small sip. His eyes came to life, the girl appealed to him in more ways than one. Under the moonlight, he didn’t notice Jane slipped her tiny finger nail into the whisky. She reached out with the glass, her eyebrows raised a smile on her face. They were lost in the crowd. He swigged down the drink.
“Goodbye Senator,” Jane whispered as she backed away. In that moment a man with piercing blue eyes grabbed her arm and pulled her from the crowd. She struggled but his hand laid heavily on her and in the other a sharp knife.
She was unable to see the Senator fall to his knees but hear great exclaims fall across the crowd. He would be dead in seconds. A satisfying end., stolen, and the man who held her, Jane suddenly recognized.
“What are you doing here,” she whispered, “You’re an auditor you’re only supposed to watch.” The man with the blue eyes nodded quietly. Jane knew him from the mercantile earlier. His viscous stare only meant one thing, she was being watched very closely.
“I couldn’t watch you die in this timeline. Becky made you the second she got here. I'm trying to extract you before she turns the town on you.” Even if they did make me, there’s no way this town knows about Reformers screwing with the timeline. Right? Suddenly the amount of wealth in this small town made sense.
“They’re all timeline settlers aren’t they? That’s illegal, they should all be killed. What about the Back to The Future Act?”
“They’re the reason that act is in place.This is the most dangerous place in the times for people like us.” Two shots rang out across the night and both landed their targets. The knife clattered to the ground first. The sound of the blue eyed man’s body making an impact rang in her ears. Pain like a hot needle drew from her abdomen, blood. Then darkness.
The next thing Jane knew she was awoken on that once crisp bed at Becky’s place. Louanne stood above her with a revolver in her hand. Becky clopped up the stairs at Louanne’s whistle.
“Well hi there sugar, didn’t expect you to wake so soon. I take it you'll be needing those dresses after all. You can’t return to your timeline now, no worries, we’ve been waiting for you. Sheriff Jane, welcome aboard.”
She was right, there was more pain in her right shoulder. The tracker, they’ve removed it. I am lost in time, and now I have become part of this timeline. The Reformers would never find Jane or the auditor again. She can’t go back to the future.