I fumbled around in the dark for my boots. I clumsily got them on and pulled on my overcoat. In a sleepy haze, I made my way down the stairs and out onto the street. The commotion had started to die down, a crowd still stood around Pistol Pete and oohed and aahed among each other. It was then I realized that Pete had done it this time, he had taken a shot that would cost him. I guess he was pretty lucky that it was only his pinkie toe. He shot that little guy clean off his foot. Old Doc. Stevens arrived on the scene just then and wrapped up the bloody nub left on the man’s foot. He then told him to go sleep it off in his cabin or he’d have to spend the night in the local jail. Pistol Pete, still slurring and staggering around (who knows if due to the whiskey or lack of a toe) finally agreed and headed down the street, pistol still parked in his holster.
Nobody was quite ready to go back to sleep after all the excitement so a few of us gathered in the hotel dining room for a cup of coffee. Rosie served us all in record time and even offered some pound cake in addition to the brew. I asked Joe what had set Pete off? Apparently, there was a dispute over an old mining claim. Pete would dig a hole anywhere, anytime it struck his fancy. In his mind, if he found something, it was his. A real finders-keepers sort of attitude. Some guys didn’t take too kindly to that, and Pete found out the hard way. Pete was always in a brawl of some type and quick to draw his pistol, earning him his nickname. I heard a rumor that one time he even took a shot at his own mother, although I don’t know if that’s true. Eventually the group dwindled, and we tried to get a few winks before the sun rose.
The next day the whole camp was dragging a bit and the tone was a somber one. None of us had much to say as we headed to the mine. One day ran into another, was this Wednesday or Thursday? I knew Friday was payday and boy, won’t it feel nice to have some money in my pocket. I’d be sure to take care of Tom and Rosie at the hotel. They were good folks with big hearts.
One of my fellow bunkmates, Billy and I had a plan to construct a cabin for us bachelors at the town’s south end. Nothing fancy of course but something that was ours and could withstand the cold for the upcoming winter. It would feel great to get off the floor and into a bed. If only Carol was here to share it with me. I wrote her a letter yesterday. I told her of the strides I’ve made. I told her I’d changed, that I’d be home one day soon and that I love her more than anything. Would it be enough? Would she believe me? Will she wait for me? The way we had left things didn’t settle well with me. She was still mad, and that bearcat could stay mad for a long time. Tough women are like that. They won’t put up with guys like me. I’m just hoping that soft spot she holds for me will be enough…it has to be.