Chapter 10

Written by: Ray Stone

Mary’s mouth was open with shock, her mind stunned into facing the reality that Jake was running a high-class bordello.

Jake smiled nervously as he led Mary from the room. “I guess I should have told you about my wives,” he mumbled as they reached the main lobby.

Several elegantly dressed gentlemen, reading newspapers or in conversation, sat comfortably on the red velvet loungers and Chez-long that were lining the front of the panelled walls. A large chandelier festooned with cut-glass drops was hanging from the centre of the ceiling.

“Stop lying, Jake,” said Mary, turning on her heels. “We both know what you are doing here and if you think I’ll be part of this as one of your wives you can think again!”

Jake held his hands out, his face creased with concern. “Oh no, not that. No, you’ve proved what a no-nonsense girl you are. I was hoping you could run the mansion for me. I need someone like you, someone I can honestly call my wife…if you will marry me.”  His hand swept in an arc around the lobby. “All this could be yours.”

Touring the rest of the mansion, the seed of an idea formed in Mary’s mind. In the kitchen, she examined the stove and then the contents of the pantry. “You will need to spend money in the kitchen and have official opening hours for business. There will have to be a bar and chairs and tables in the large room off the main lobby area.”

Jake scratched his head. “What have you got in mind?”

“The sweet treat on offer is just part of a menu. You need something strong to start that whets the appetite and a good meal to build up the strength.” The thought that the future was beginning to look brighter brought a smile to her lips.

                                                                                             ***

Dust kicked up by the station waggon settled as the vehicle came to a crunching halt outside a large, partly demolished brick mansion. The cluster of small buildings around it that once made up the small outback town stood empty but full of ghostly voices from the past.

Unice O’Leary stepped from the waggon and brushed the hair from her eyes. Her husband, Harry, gently patted her shoulder and kissed her cheek.

“Happy anniversary, darling. I know this is something you have wanted to do.” He pointed to the building. “We’ve made it before it all goes.”

A sign warned of demolition and development  in progress and there was a parked truck  in its place. Outside the brick building, Unice opened a scrapbook she was carrying and turned to a page that showed a drawing of a man and woman standing where she now stood.

Unice grinned. “That’s my great-grandmother and her husband. Now there was one hell of a woman.”

She looked at the faded wooden sign above her head and then the same sign in the drawing.

MARY’S – THE GREATEST LITTLE WATERING HOLE IN THE WEST.

Comments

This wraps this serial up well. The way you brought the time frame forward was cleverly executed and well written. Unice's comments captured the pioneering spirit of Mary and Jake. I also liked the way you managed to keep the story realistic without falling into the trap of describing the house as a bordello. It was left nicely ambiguous.