I Am the Resurrection

Submitted into Contest #114 in response to: Write a story that involves sabotage.... view prompt

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Fiction Western

Tristan Frost blew the dust off of a stack of gold coins. His miniature tower of wealth was more money than anyone else had in Atlantis. He stood behind the counter at the trading post and awaited his next customer. 

Atlantis, a forgotten town on the road to nowhere, was nestled deep inside the New Mexico Territory. At its height, Atlantis was a pit stop on the southern route to California. But now, after the gold rush, Atlantis saw more tumbleweeds than passers through.

“Mr. Frost?” Jacob Smith said with sunken eyes and a dry mouth.

Frost turned his head with the minimum amount needed to acknowledge Smith’s presence. Frost raised a thin eyebrow, as if to say, “Can I help you?” Frost’s eyes continued to ogle his coins. 

“Mr. Frost, my family and I . . . we . . . we need food.”

“That’ll be five coins for a week of rations, Smith.” Frost rapped the fingertips of his left hand on a nearby stack of canned goods.

“But Mr. Frost, we don’t have any gold. We done gave you our last ingot and there ain’t been no shoes to fix cause no one done come through here no more.”

“Five coins, Smith.”

“But—“ 

Enos Smith, Jacob’s gaunt seven-year-old son peeked from behind his father and looked at Frost with similar defeat.

“Please, sir?” Enos said. 

“Five coins . . . or, get out!” Frost tapped his right index finger on the barrel of his Smith & Wesson, which lay on the counter.

Jacob and Enos retreated to the dustbowl that was Main Street. A tumbleweed blew by. Jacob and Enos joined Mrs. Smith, who sat in a rocking chair across the street on the porch of McCoy’s Saloon. Anita was trying to breastfeed her infant daughter, but Clarissa wouldn’t latch on. Clarissa howled. The Smiths huddled in the hot desert wind and began to feel a hunger beyond anything they had ever endured. They began to starve.

Frost returned his attention to his coins. He polished the stack before him with the cuff of his black shirt. He had so many coins. When the delivery wagon came through in three weeks, and he purchased rations and supplies for the trading post, he’d still have hundreds of coins. 

“We’ll take a week of rations,” a doubled female voice said. Frost looked up and saw two rancher women dressed in white. Frost had heard that times were a-changin with the new territory and all, but he had never seen women dressed like gauchos, let alone donning white serapes, white hats, and white leather boots. 

“Howdy,” Frost said. Their symmetrical white clothing impressed him, but their identical long blonde flowing hair, slender builds, and identical sharp faces revealed something even more unfamiliar. They were twins. 

“A week of rations, please.”

“That will be twenty coins.”

Olivia, the twin on the right, placed five coins on the counter.

Frost sneered and snorted. “You’re fifteen short, honey.”

Alice, the twin on the left, said, “You quoted Smith five.”

“Smith’s a townie, an Atlanteen. Y’all ain’t from around here. Twenty for you.”

Olivia placed another fifteen coins on the counter.

“Thank you much,” Frost said. He slapped five tin cans on the counter and stuck a toothpick in his mouth.

The twins took the weighty canned goods from the counter and walked out of the trading post. The swirls of brown dirt and gray dust did not tarnish their white clothing. They crossed Main Street and walked over to where the Smiths had gathered.

“Here’s a week’s worth of rations for you,” Alice said. 

As the Smiths looked up, tears had traced trails in their dirt covered faces. Jacob returned his best smile, but it looked more like a sneer tinged with surprise and disbelief. 

“How can we thank you?”

The twins said nothing. Olivia handed Jacob a can opener from her white leather utility bag. Alice nodded at the Smiths. The twins walked into McCoy’s Saloon. 

The Smiths opened their rations. While they curbed their hunger, Frost cackled alone in the trading post. He stroked his profits with his palms. 

Alice and Olivia took up residence in the inn above the saloon. Over the next few days, they passed the hours by visiting with the major families of Atlantis: the Smiths, the Joneses, the Johnsons, and the McCoys. The Joneses were from Kentucky and ran the horse stables. The Johnsons had traveled all the way from Erie and took care of the town buildings and utilities. The McCoys got run out of Chicago but ran the inn and saloon. 

Alice and Olivia also befriended Widow Flatley, an old woman from Iowa who spent her days sitting on a rocking chair on the porch of the saloon. They spoke at length with Old Man Kensey, the undertaker from Georgia, about grave stones and pine boxes. The also met Longines, the town pariah who usually stuck to the shadows because no one trusted him.

In the evenings, everyone gathered in the saloon. Old Man Kensey played the upright piano and everyone sang along to “Camptown Races” and “Swanee River.” On that first night, Alice and Olivia just sat at the bar and took in the scene. On the second evening, Alice whispered to Old Man Kensey and asked if she and Olivia could do a number.

“Sure thing, dahlin,” he said.

Alice sat behind the piano and played a raunchy groove. Her left hand rolled out slinky bass notes while her right hand stretched far and high into the upper ivories. 

“Here come old flat top. He come, moving up slowly . . .” Olivia sang with a power and might that moved the heavens. As she got well into the first verse, the whole gathering of townspeople clapped and stomped along. When she sang, “Come together, right now, over me,” the town gasped in awe. A few minutes later, as Alice and Olivia finished the song, the congregation roared with happiness.

“What song was that?” Enos asked from atop the saloon table. 

“Get off the table, Enos!” Anita said. “But, really, what song was that?”

As Alice and Olivia explained how “Come Together” was a song from far away, Frost derided the town’s joy from the shadows, outside of the saloon. Through the window, he looked in at the jocund din and wanted to vomit. He held sleeves of gold coins in each hand, stroking them with this thumbs. 

On the morning of the third day after the twins arrived, Alice and Olivia were up before dawn. They ventured just out of town and returned with a covered wheelbarrow, just as the sun rose. They wheeled it to the trading post. 

Frost was sweeping his shop. Alice rolled the wheelbarrow through the stable gate of the shop and Olivia walked beside her. 

“Whatcha got in der, ladies?”

“We’ll take the lot,” Olivia said. “All of it. Everything you have.”

“You ain’t got enough for that. I won’t let my stock go for less than a thousand coin.” 

Olivia pulled the burlap cover from the wheelbarrow and the wheelbarrow was full of gold coins. 

“How about two thousand?”

Frost peered deep into the pile of gold. Before him was the sum of his ambition, more gold than he had ever seen in his life. He laughed and grabbed his side. He almost fell over he laughed so hard. 

“It’s all yours,” he said.

“Keep the wheelbarrow,” Alice said. 

Alice and Olivia removed the canned goods, rations, and necessaries from the trading post while Frost salivated over his new riches. The twins loaded the inventory onto a flat wagon and rolled it to the other side of town. Frost peeked out of the trading post door and saw a small gathering where the twins had set the wagon. The townspeople stood before of the twins, who passed out the goods, distributing everything from the cart. The Joneses rolled barrels of oats from the wagon toward the stables. The Johnsons took tools from the wagon. The McCoys carried linens and bourbon away from the cart. The Smith children brought the Widow Flatley food and blankets. Mr. Smith gave Old Man Kensey a new sewing kit. Mrs. Smith gave Longines some food. 

Frost’s stomach grumbled. He turned to look at his store and realized that it was empty—completely empty. He had sold all his food to the twins and forgot to set some aside for himself. 

Frost walked out of the store and into the street. “Hey! Hold on now, I need some food. Let be buy back some rations. I have nothing to eat!” He walked toward the townspeople. As Frost arrived within 10 yards of the gathering, the twins—and everyone else—looked at him with stolid indifference. 

“Jones! Jones, give me some of your rations,” Frost said. Mr. Jones shook his head.

“McCoy! Tell him! Help me out, McCoy!”

McCoy took a swig from his new bourbon bottle and spit it out at Frost’s feet. 

“C’mon people! It’s me, Tristan Frost. I am your humble servant. I need some food. Someone give me some food!” 

No one said a word. No one moved.

“Give me some food God dammit!”

“Mr. Frost,” Enos said from below, tugging on Frost’s black shirt. “Doesn’t feel so good does it? To be hungry.”

Frost stomped his feet and caterwauled. He took ten paces back to his shop, but then stopped and turned around. 

“Sabotage . . .“ Frost said, under his breath. He looked at the ground and then pulled his pistol from his side holster. “You’ll give it here, now. Just a bit of rations. Supply wagon gonna come through in a while and I’ll restock, recon?”

Frost walked closer to the towns people. He cocked the hammer on his pistol. 

Alice and Olivia walked in front of the crowd, shielding them, their white serapes mirroring each other, their pistol hands over their sides.

“Oh, please, I’m already drawn. I’ll mow you two down before—“

The twins shifted their sarapes a touch and Frost fired twice. Bang! Bang! The twins hit the ground. Their white shirts bloomed in red, blood cascading out from their hearts. Alice and Olivia were unarmed. 

“No!” Longines said.

“Dammit, Frost!” Jones said.

“You want some, Jonesy? Well, here you go!” 

Frost pointed his Smith & Wesson at Jones and pulled the trigger, but his pistol only clicked.

The town stood agape. “Mama!” Enos cried. Everyone paused and looked at the fallen twins, their faces now drained of life, their white serapes tarnished with dirt and dust from the street. 

The Widow Flatley stood up from her rocking chair on the porch of the saloon and said, “Why don’t you done get out a here, Frost?!”

Old Man Kensey stood up from his rocking chair, cocked his rifle, and pointed it at Frost. 

The congregation gathered and marched toward Frost. They furrowed their brows. They did not smile. 

Frost ran toward his shop. He grabbed the wheelbarrow of gold by the handles and wheeled it out to the edge of town at top speed. He kept going, out into the tumbleweeds, into the low desert.

“Mama!” Enos cried again.

“I know, dear,” she said.

“No, Mama, look!”

Enos pointed to the place in the street where Alice and Olivia had fallen. Their bodies had disappeared. 


October 08, 2021 16:51

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