If yer absquatulate yer ain’t comin’ back,” cried Susan, “What bout’ the kids Lee?”
“Susan, you listen here now, I need to provide for this here family and in order to do that I must go to California.”
“Oh don’t sell me a dog,” she sighed, knowing it was no use, “get outta this here house and don’t yer come knocking on back here anymore!” She slammed the door right in Lee’s face, her legs broke beneath her as she fell to the ground and wept into her hands vigorously, having no idea what to do. On the other side of the door, Lee slowly walked down their dirt covered front porch into the deadly black night of southern Missouri. He got on his wagon, already connected to his long-legged, jet black stallion and headed out on his journey to the wild west.
Lee stared down at the California Trail before him, and regained focus on the road. He wore a duster and had on his beloved cowboy boots; the smooth leather, so crisp and neat, as if it had just been tanned from a longhorn. His wild beige hair wafted in the comforting breeze of central Wyoming; his tan skin glistened in the sun, beating down on his neck and back. He looked to his right and noticed Kennard had drifted into a deep sleep, yet again. Lee decided Kennard had slept long enough, so he slapped Kennard’s back as hard as the crack of a whip; no movement occurred.
“Kennard yer best be waking up, I know yer are banded n’ I have somethin’ for that saucebox to eat.” Lee stated as he held out a satisfying sized loaf of bread under Kennard’s tentative nose. Kennard arose, and snached the loaf of bread right out of the hand it laid in.
“Where shall we be?” questioned Kennard, in a sleepy toned voice.
“Damfino, but I think we’re close to Utah.” Lee chuckled, obviously amused by Kennard gobbling up the loaf as if he hadn’t ate in weeks.
“Holy mackerel!” Kennard exclaimed, though his voice was muffled by the amount of crumbs stuffed in his mouth. “That is a massive mountain!”
“That there is them Rocky Mountains, I think we can make it bout’ a quarter the way up n’ rest for the night.” They continued on and the sun, which had been at high noon, turned to dusk. Just a sliver of the sun could be seen when the night started to cool like an overheated elephant bathing in the mud. Lee and Kennard set up camp and went to bed, preparing for a new day of travel.
Lee popped an eye open; it was still night, but he could hear muffled whispers of a language he couldn’t quite understand. Just as he was about to flip up to his legs, he saw an indian getting on his wagon!
“Stop! You thief, get back here!” Lee ran and yelled at the top of his lungs, but it was no use, the tribe was long gone, disappearing into the horizon. Lee noticed Kennard standing right by his side, a look of pure disbelief was displayed on his face, and Lee too could not believe what had just happened to them. They stood in silence for at least a minute, before Kennard’s voice broke it.
“What are we gonna do now, Lee?” His voice was shaky, and unsure of the answer he would receive.
“We must keep going, it ain’t gone help us just sitting here.” Lee responded, confidently.
“But we ain’t got any food or water.”
“Well now, California should be over yonder.” Lee said, pointing at the tip of the mountain. The two collected what they had left, and headed out to scale the mountain.
Three days had passed, when they miraculously made it down the mountain, and onto the soil of California. Lee remembered the first announcement of gold, a man named James Wilson Marshall found the first flakes back in January. It was April now, and they were starting to see more and more people as they passed through small settlements, where their desert dry mouths got the taste of plentiful water and bountiful food. Everyone who had made this journey west were referred to the ‘49ers because it was 1849. The United States had just received California because they won the Mexican-American war and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo gave them the right to it. The two friends made it to the colossal excavation in Coloma, where there was already hundreds of men, young and old, at work.
“How do ya suppose we make actual with all these owl hoots down yonder?” Kennard questioned.
“Kennard, everyone here is an owl hoot except the natives.” Lee stated.
“Oh phooey yer are talkin’ like a church bell.” Kennard accused as he walked toward a bed that didn’t seem as if it was taken. They headed out, into the blistering heat and down to the gold mines below. Mining was dangerous, but they knew that going in, and they would take the chance for a life full of enlightened wealth.
The faint hum of the ‘49ers could be heard throughout the land, the banging of pickaxes to dirt and rock: a symphony of work being done.
“I got it chuckaboo,” Kennard grinned, “I’ve hit gold!” Lee ran as fast as he could, without hitting his head on the top of the mine.
“Holy beans n’ gravy, Kennard we’re rich!” Lee’s eyes nearly popped out of his head at the sight of the shiny, beautiful gold nuggets that lined the wall Kennard had been mining. It was a relief to the two, who had been mining for over a month with little to no luck. The precious gold filled just over half of their rusted over mining cart and they started to walk out of the mine.
“Lee you forgot your Grandfather’s canteen.” Kennard observed.
“Ugh, I will get it, but don’t you go nowhere with that there gold!” Lee exclaimed, mad as hops. As Lee started to walk back into the mine he heard a shaking sound, first a low rumble, then a loud shaking. The last thing Lee saw was Kennard laughing and saying:
“There’s only enough for one of us to take the egg,” Kennard stated, now in a serious tone, “n’ it seems like that someone’ll be me.” His gold tooth shined as he grinned, then wheeled the mining cart away into the southern abiss. Everything crashed down, compacting Lee, and everything went deathly black.
A light, so faint and dim, gleamed through the rubble and dirt onto Lee’s wrinkled forehead. He tried to keep his eyes open, but it was no use as his lids fell right back to his torrid eyes and he was out once again.
“Sir…..sir yer okay?” Lee’s eyes burst open all at once and he instantaneously sat up, feeling the sharp and steady pain in his lower back.
“What….what happened?” He asked, holding his head.
“That there mine yer were in collapsed. Still don’t know how though.” The man was tall and slim, maybe in his mid 20’s. He didn’t have a shirt on, but then Lee realized the shirt was on his own forehead, and was wet.
“Thank you sir for rescuing me, but I know who did it.” Lee told the man it was Kennard who destroyed the mine, and the two set out to find him.
The two came upon a village, just south of Coloma and searched for Kennard.
“Sir I am mighty banded n’ wouldn’t mind some food bout’ now.” Said the man, who had yet to disclose his name.
“Ah me too. We shall stop at this saloon over yonder.” The men sat and ate; Lee couldn’t help but notice a man sitting alone at the bar. He could recognize that duster anywhere, it was Kennard!
“That cracked Gypsy is sittin’ at that bar!” Lee yelled, diving out of his chair and straight into Kennard. Kennard now stood up, he was just a tad bit taller than Lee, was always a bit secretive.
“What are ya tryin’ to do shake a flannin?” Kennard boomed, seemingly ready for a fight. He took the first shot, wailed his fist into the air, but instead of hitting Lee’s flesh, missed and hit the hardwood bar top. Lee made his shot count, connecting with Kennard’s lower jaw, which created a low cracking noise. Kennard had been knocked out cold, and with no specific expression on his face Lee said, “Daisy thing he was half-rats.” Lee now had a small smirk on his face. The sheriff walked in just as the bar had started to regain itself.
“This the man that’s wanted?” He asked, rhetorically, “I’ll be takin’ him to the crowbar hotel.” Lee headed out, not really sure where he was going, but took the gold with him and climbed onto Kennard’s fine bred colt, into the afternoon sunlight.
Lee perched on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the first ocean he had ever seen. He had a bucket next to him, full to the top with gold nuggets. Looking to the mesmerizing sunset before him; he picked a nugget from the bucket, and threw it as far as he could into the never-ending body of water. He grabbed another, and did the same. He did this till the bucket was empty and the sun had all but left the sky. Lee got up and a single tear rolled from his roughed up cheek, to the silky grass underneath his feet. He turned, took a drink of Adam’s ale from his Grandfather’s canteen, and walked away in no particular direction.