Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Now Playing: The Songbird of the West
New to these parts? To start the story from the beginning, click
Episode Thirteen concluded with:
“Correct.” Patten leaned against his desk and pointed to a chair. “That’s why I’m expanding into other areas. That, and the opportunity to get filthy rich. You’re going to get filthy rich with me, Carrie.”
The young woman realized that Bruce Patten hadn’t changed much since he had made her the star of the Wild Horse Saloon. His attitude was one of a commanding officer addressing an underling.
Still, Carrie couldn’t shake the notion that she was in debt to Patten. What would her life have been like without him?
Against her better judgment, Carrie sat down in front of her former boss. “I’m listening.”
“Along with my front man, His Honor Felix Murphy, I have struck up a deal with a large outfit in Denver. The short of it is, they’re going to establish an irrigation system in this area. Property will more than double in value. I’ve already bought up a lot of land from the ten-head ranches.”
“And you want to buy up more before word gets out.”
“There are only three other people besides me and you who know about this: Felix, Tal Streeter, and Curt Weldon. Felix is no problem. He manages most of my saloons and hopes to manage this one when I go on to better things. I had to tell the two lawmen. I had guests from Denver who required VIP treatment. Tal is okay. I see to it that he is well paid. Curt is a little too idealistic for his own good…”
“He might tip some of the ranchers to hold on to their property.”
“Maybe. I’ve told him it is morally wrong to let the cat out of the bag about this sort of thing. So far, that’s working. But Curt is only a small concern.”
Carrie smiled cautiously. “I have a feeling you are, at last, getting to the point.”
Patten’s smile slashed a crooked streak across his face. “There are two big ranches in this area. I want to buy them, but my capital is a bit low. The Songbird of the West must make a lot of money off those Eastern tours. How about a partnership?”
Carrie shook her head.
Bruce Patten inhaled on his cigar, then gradually released a large puff of smoke. Carrie had been in show business long enough to recognize an effort to set up a dramatic moment, but Patten’s next move still shocked her. “Carrie, we would make a great team,” Patten spoke in a robust voice. “Let’s you and I get hitched. We’ll have a big wedding in Dallas, with--”
Despite herself, Carrie Whiting broke out laughing. She stood up immediately and began to walk toward the door. She had her laughter under control when she turned and faced the saloon owner. “You don’t want a wife, Bruce. You want a bauble, someone you can show off to prove you’re a big man.”
The Songbird of the West pressed her lips together and briefly looked down. She regretted her laughter. The young woman returned her gaze to Bruce Patten, who was still leaning against his desk. “I’m grateful for what you did for me, Bruce. But the road ran both ways. I helped you make enough money to get out of the Wild Horse saloon. Just now, I helped you name this town after yourself. Tomorrow’s concert will bring in more money. After tomorrow, it will be time for us to go our separate ways.”
Carrie had taken another step toward the door when Patten grabbed her by the arm and pulled her toward him. Hatred steamed from his eyes like heat from a branding iron.
Tomorrow: Episode Fifteen of The Songbird of the West