Mark of the Shadow Part 2: Ms. Darby
Here’s Part 2. For those history nerds out there, I assuredly will get things wrong about Civil War/Utah history. Live with it, I mean there’s already been a creepy smoke monster. Miss part 1? Read it here!
He left almost without telling me his name. I got it out of him though. Said it was Rolph. It didn’t seem to fit him when I thought about it, but then again Ann Louise never fit me neither. He left me in the care of some old bat in The City of the Great Salt Lake. Said he had some business needed attendin too. I supposed I’d never get to see my uncle like Daddy had planned. Seemed nothin Daddy ever planned truly went that way.
“Just keep hold of that necklace and you’ll be fine. I’ll be back before you know it,” he said. Truth be told it wasn’t that smokey creature I was afraid of, more this place, this town, these people. Yet hold on I did.
The house the ol bat lived in was a rickety wooden shack by all accounts. I always wondered, and dreamed of what it must be like out in the west. The land of oppurtunity! But now that I had seen it, I wondered what was so great about it. Everything was dirtier than usual, and the house smelled like it was made out of horse shit. It was, surprisingly enough multi leveled. This meant while Ms. Darby, as I came to know her by(she never actually told me her name but I had a way with things), sat and sewed in the main room, I could be upstairs mindin my own business.
Problem was: there wasn’t any business to be havin. Ms. Darby had nothing in her house for kids to enjoy. No books, or little wooden toys like Daddy had saved up to buy. She gave me a book of Mormon, but I decided not to read it. Daddy said a lot of controversy surrounded them Mormons. Now I didn’t know controversy meant, but I did know it’s what started the dang war.
So I sat, and well sat some more. At night, the wind howled and I heard a loud banging comin from downstairs. I would of hid under the bed like at home, but having a different bed was even more frighting than not hiding under it. Most of the night was spent in a sweat filled fever searching the room for my fears, and clutching the necklace tight.
I learned that it was much easier to sleep during the day when voices, and random noises filled the air outside and the sun shone through the little cracks in my room’s walls.
One day, as I had neglected to count the days, I heard shouting and horses neighing. I crept outside to see a tall mustachioed man on horseback, full clad in the army’s uniform, openin his mouth so fast to a smaller man in a suit that you could hardly tell what he was sayin if you wanted to. Turns out the man didn’t want to listen as he just walked off. The man on horse back turned his horse around with a smile on his face. Despite what I saw happen it looked to me like he thought he’d won. Couple more army men on horseback rode up to him and they had a quick exchange. Then they all went their different ways.
Now why in tarnation would the army be here? That thought quickly gave way to the more important one: could Daddy be here? Yes, yes he could. I drifted off rememberin his strawberry syrup he made so good, and the way he’d switch pillows with ya just so yours could be half an inch taller. As the memories came fluddin in I decided I had to find out about him. One of the boys on horseback was still looking around after the others had left.
I called out to him, “Hey!”
He was obliged to respond, “Get inside little girl. It ain’t right for the like of you to be talking to a bonified soldier.”
“And why’s that? My daddies a soldier, yes sir. Now supposing you ain’t some scalawag, could you tell me if my fathers with ya’ll?”
“I suppose so, if you gave me his name, but thats the end of this conversation got it. If he is, I ain’t got the power to let you see him. Understand?”
I nodded. I waited.
“His name, little lady?” he shouted.
“Oh, sorry Maxwell Tills. Thats t-i-l-l-s.”
“Sorry, never heard of him. He’s probably off east finishing this war for us,” he grinned, and I didn’t particularly like the way he grinned. I spat on the ground and went back inside. Stupid soldiers, with their stupid guns. What were they doing in Utah anyway? Didn’t Daddy send me here to stay away from the war? Figuring Ms. Darby had gone out to town and not left me anything to eat, I went into the kitchen. Somethin smelled a little strange, at least like nothing I’d ever smelled before. I grabbed an apple, and bit down in it, just letting it rest their. A little bit of juices dribbled down my chin as I moved into the living room. And there was Ms. Darby sitting in her chair as usual.
I removed the apple, and wiped away some of the juices sayin, “Ms. Darby, I don’t suppose your making anything for lunch today?” No response. My heart grew louder in my ears.
“Ms. Darby?” I moved up to her chair. Her head was slumped forward as if she was sleeping. But she wasn’t sleeping. A dark red ooze had soaked its way through her shirt. I backed away slowly,dropping my apple my eyes widening as I realized I was alone. In a house, in the Utah territory. Tales of indian attacks, and massacres rushed through my mind. I barely noticed the soggy feeling against my back as I bumped into something, or someone.