This month we invite you to sit back
and read a little ghostly entry from Ron Jenkins, a fellow writer
hails originally from Pennsylvania where he spent his youth in the
Appalachian region, but has traveled everywhere. He
has completed several novels, and is currently working on a
collection of short stories entitled Zephyrs Through the Hills
and another novel. For a taste of Ron's works go to
With just a
few tidbits of information about Cecile, Ron put together this great
little piece. The characters, except for Cecile, are entirely
fictional. So sit back and enjoy!
The summer sun at 9000 feet broiled
the desolate landscape as Cecile parked the four-wheel drive truck
in front of the Cerro Gordo hotel built in 1871. The deserted ghost
town, once flourishing with silver and lead miners, prostitutes, and
cowboys now only offered the sound of wind blowing down the dusty
dirt street. The blonde haired Cecile jumped down from the driver’s
seat of the battered pickup truck, and stood with her hands on her
hips surveying the weather beaten boards on front of the old hotel.
It was her first time alone this late in the evening in the ghost
town, and already she felt a sense that she was not alone. For
Cecile, she hoped she was, because she stood to win a new pair of
handmade cowboy boots and a bar of silver smelted from the silver
mine that made the town famous.
two story American Hotel as it stands today in Cerro
There was a catch
though; she had to spend the night in the hotel, alone. She grabbed
her backpack, and adjusted the six-shooter hanging from the
low-slung holster around her waist, and walked slowly to the front
door. The rusted hinges shrieked when she opened it, and she stepped
inside welcoming the cool shade even though it was only a few
degrees different from the skin baking heat outside. But, in less
than an hour the sun would be going down anyway. She walked across
the dusty boards that made up the lobby floor, and her boots left
prints in the thick powder. Had she turned at the time, she would
have noticed…the other set of prints that appeared behind her with
each step she took. Cecile had company.
Elinore Kramer was a ghost,
and was still seeking revenge for her murderer and had been since
one night in 1873, when her Madam who was half owner of the hotel at
the time believed Elinore was withholding her “tips,” from the
gentleman callers. Elinore swore to her boss she wasn’t. When the
Madam searched her room in the hotel, and found 23 silver dollars
under a folded stack of bloomers in her dresser drawer she wasted no
time in dispatching poor young Elinore with a derringer she carried
strapped to her thigh. Of course the sheriff decided it was in
self-defense and his investigational time was spent in the company
of three other prostitutes provided free of charge by the murdering
Madam. Her dust-covered picture still hung on the wall behind the
scarred front desk in the lobby.
Cecile walked behind the
scarred and bullet riddled front desk, and wiped the dust from the
picture’s thin pane of glass. She studied the face of the woman
whose blonde hair was pulled tight into a bun, and Cecile thought if
she put her long blonde hair up she could pass for the woman’s twin.
Slowly, she moved the picture to her face for a closer look. A small
and tarnished brass plate was engraved with the name, Tilly
Southern, Proprietor. Suddenly, the pane shattered as if struck in
the center by a hammer. Cecile screamed throwing the picture to the
floor, and dashed toward the door. She lowered her shoulder pushing
it open, and jumped in the truck. After three trembling tries she
finally got the key in the ignition. When she turned the key there
was no roaring engine, in fact, there was nothing.
Her wide eyes scanned the
empty street from left to right. Then she heard it. Horse hooves
clip-clopping on hard packed dirt. Straight ahead of her the Sheriff
rode his brown stallion toward her. His eyes were hidden under the
brim of his black Stetson, and his matching duster showed off a
five-pointed silver star.
Gordo in early 1900's. The American Hotel is the white
building on right.
(L.D. Gordon Collecion, courtesy Doug Gordon)
Behind him the sun lowered
on the horizon, and then she heard the player piano’s happy music
drift from out of the hotel. The long dead Sheriff circled her truck
once then pulled the horse up to her driver’s side window. His face
was pallid with sunken cheeks, he stared with lifeless blue eyes,
and Cecile’s fingers pressed down on the door lock. She slid toward
the passenger side quickly and locked that door too. The Sheriff’s
gaze bored into her own scared eyes, and she watched his thin finger
point at the door lock. A dry cry came from her throat, as she
watched the button rise on its own. Another twitch of his finger and
the truck door opened slowly, and Cecile felt herself floating out
of the truck.
She was lowered slowly
until her feet touched the ground and she found herself standing in
front of the Sheriff who looked down upon her from his saddle.
Petrified, the fear seemed to freeze her to the ground. She wanted
to run, but couldn’t. She cursed herself for all the times she
wished she could have lived back in those days. She cursed louder
when she looked down to see the high top buttoned shoes on her feet
nearly hidden by the hoop dress.
“Time to meet the new
girls, Madam Tilly,” drawled words poured from the blue and icy lips
of the Sheriff. She reached for the handle of the truck’s door,
while keeping an eye on the Sheriff. Glancing from the corner of her
eye, she jerked her reaching hand back. She twisted her head to see
the truck was gone and in its place was a stagecoach. Cecile stepped
back, and watched as three young women stepped out from the
stagecoach, just as the last light of the orange sun took the light
from the sky. In an instant the entire town came alive.
The boardwalks clattered
with the sound of boots, spurs jingled, and horses whinnied all
about. Two men threw a drunk out the door of the hotel, and he
landed in the street near the stagecoach. Cecile wanted out of it
all. She felt a tap on her shoulder, and turned to see one of the
girls from the stagecoach. Slowly, she tilted the parasol hiding her
face, and Cecile could make out her face in the flickering lights on
poles that lined the dusty streets and sent smoky trails into the
night sky. Cecile’s fear was mixed with puzzlement. The young girl
held out a white-gloved hand to her, and said, “ I’m Elinore, I’ve
come from Chicago to work for you, and did you get my wire?”
“Wire?” Cecile responded
automatically. She new nothing about telegraphs except what she
taught herself from books, she was used to cell phones. Now, these
apparitions obviously thought she was Tilly, when in fact in the
real world; the last counter she stood behind was as a receptionist
at a YMCA.
Elinore tugged on the long
sleeve of Cecile’s dress seeking urgency to her question about the
telegram, and repeated again to her.
“The wire, I sent to you last week. Did you get it?”
Cecile realizing she had to
play the part of Tilly thinking it probably was the only way she was
going to escape this dimension in time she was locked into.
“No, it never arrived.”
Cecile said. Her hope was Elinore would at least tell her what the
telegram was about. Instead, Elinore just shook her head with
disappointment. Cecile wanted to run from the town, but to where,
she thought. Just then, a man with a huge handlebar mustache came to
the hotel’s door. He yelled that Tilly needed to get busy. It was
her partner, Pancake Bill Flannery.
Cecile didn’t respond until
she realized it was she, now Tilly that he was speaking to, and she
moved inside followed by the three girls. The lobby was busy with
all sorts of people registering for rooms. Cigarette and cigar smoke
rolled from another open doorway. It must be the bar, Cecile
thought. She walked into the packed room, and saw Pancake Bill
behind the bar pouring a shot of whiskey for an already drunken
miner. His coal black eyes looked at her, and he waggled his head
for her to come over. The three girls obviously knew their jobs, and
wasted no time getting acquainted with the men. Elinore moved to the
card table where five men shared a bottle of whiskey. One of the men
pointed to an empty chair, and she sat down.
Cecile moved behind the
bar, and Bill poured another shot for a dusty cowboy, and collected
the coins from the pile he dropped on the counter. When he placed
the money in the huge register, he turned to Cecile.
“This came for you today,”
he said. He handed her a yellowed envelope. It was a telegram from
Chicago. She turned it over in her hands, and then opened it.
Somehow it arrived late. She opened it and stared at the short
sentence written in capital letters.
“YOU ARE ONE OF US NOW.”
Cecile’s weak knees barely
held up her quivering body. Pancake Bill asked her if she was
feeling okay, and that she looked like she saw a ghost. He said he
had something for her that would make her feel better. Cecile
watched the portly bartender reach under the long counter. He
straightened and turned to face her holding out a small blue velvet
“A gift for being my
partner,” he said.
Cecile took the bag with
her shaking hand and with two fingers pinched the drawstring. She
reached inside and gasped at what she saw. The engraved silver
derringer was a two shot model with inlaid pearl handles. She
screamed when Elinore looked over at her smiling.
The nightmare woke Cecile
at seven-thirty the next morning. She chose to sleep in Elinore’s
old room at the hotel last night. Sweating, she pushed the sleeping
bag off her, it was already baking in the room. She dressed quickly,
and walked to the window. Her truck was right where she parked it.
The streets were deserted with the exception of rolling tumbleweed
that bounced across the brown dirt of the road.
The nightmare was soon
forgotten, when it occurred to her she won the bet. Gathering her
things, she hurried downstairs to the lobby. She paused at the
picture on the wall of Tilly. She laughed at herself when she saw
the glass was perfect. She held it closer to her face admiring the
resemblance. Suddenly, the pane crashed as if hit by a hammer again.
The picture crashed to the floor. The player piano struck up a happy
tune. Cecile’s mouth hung open wide, but there was no scream. She
would know forever now, how things really were “back then.”
Cerro Gordo returns to normalcy.