Do you believe there are demons in this world?
According to witnesses, they are like humans.
The only difference is that they have shiny golden fingernails.
They can transform and grow out wings during their transformation.
Their ears and fingernails will grow longer.
Their pupils will change to a different color.
They cry golden tears, and they have pink blood.
Other than the ability to fly at fast speeds with strong attacks, they are no different than humans.
They can get sick.
They can die.
They also need food and water to survive.
They hibernate in the winter as they are very susceptible to the cold.
When they die, they melt into a puddle and are immediately reincarnated as children, though they have no recollection of their previous lives.
This is what it means to be a demon in the modern world
A city is under siege. Buildings are on fire, and citizens are running for their lives as the Civil War is underway. The Confederate troops are shooting as citizens run from the city. Explosions ignite more fires as we focus on one particular family, heading towards the gate. A mother carrying her baby, as the husband, Wilfred Pike, clears the way for them to run. As they reach a stable, Wildred mounts a horse and yells to his wife, “Hurry, we don’t have much time. Give me the baby.”
The wife reaches up and hands the baby to her husband. Wilfred looks at her, “Get on a horse, and let’s get out of here!” She mounts a horse, and they ride to the gate, and as soon as Wildred is on the other side of the gate, his wife turns her horse around.
“Take Eloise and run as far and as fast as you can.”
He shakes his head, “What are you talking about? We have to go together.”
His wife shakes her head, “There isn’t time. Take care of our daughter. Our life together ends today. You have been a wonderful husband, but this is how it must be. I will find a way to repay you in the next life.”
Wilfred screams after her as the gate begins to close, separating the family as the woman remains on the inside of the gate.
As soon as she hears the gate slamming, the woman slips from her horse and begins to walk towards the invading soldiers. There must be thirty or more standing there facing her down.
Her fingernails begin to turn gold and grow from her fingertips. Her eyes turn red, and suddenly large black wings unfurl from behind her. She rises into the sky as the soldiers stare at her wide-eyed and raise their weapons to fire on her.
One man, a doctor, lays on the ground, but his eyes watch her in surprise as the demon woman flies towards the soldiers. Her wings send several flying through the air as she swats at them while using sharp golden nails to slay a few others in her path. She charges a few more, kicking them with a dropkick, flipping backward as she remains airborne.
She begins to spin as the soldiers begin to fire on her, knocking the rifles from several soldiers’ hands and slashing their faces, sending them down. She reaches out and grabs two soldiers around the neck, and lifts them into the air before sending them flying into another group of soldiers as they scatter on the ground.
She spins around and lands her feet on one soldier’s shoulders; however, a carefully aimed shot hits her in the heart as she winces in pain.
Outside the gate, we see Wilfred Pike stop riding and turn to face the closed gate as if he already knows her fate.
Inside, she spins around, sending more flying as her mighty wings strike them. She slashes a few more men, taking them down as the downed doctor watches from the sidelines in disbelief.
The remaining few soldiers aim and fire several more bullets into her body as she slowly falls to the Earth, landing on her back. The soldiers move in cautiously on her as she twitches on the ground, then in shock as she slowly turns to water on the ground.
Eloise Pike (narration): I never knew my mother, but I know my father loved her deeply. It took us 15 years to reach Durango, or what would eventually become Durango. My father remarried, and my sister was born. Three years later, my stepmother died of an unknown disease. It would be the second wife my father buried. From that moment on, he swore he would devote his life to ensuring our happiness.
The scene opens up on the exterior of a Saloon with music playing inside. We get a close up of a makeshift sign that reads “Eloise Pike” with the words “Singing Tonight” written underneath. There are horses with carts behind them moving along the street. Inside, Eloise Pike applies some color to her lips as she looks into the mirror.
“It’s almost time, Eloise! Let’s get moving,” yells the barkeeper.
“Coming!” she responds as she gets up from her seat. In her hurry, she stubs her toe as she yells out in pain. A star-shaped birthmark suddenly appears on her arm, and we can see an invisible set of wings pop out of her back and then just as quickly as they arrived, they disappear — Eloise catches only a glimpse, causing her to think perhaps her eyes are playing tricks on her.
She limps over to the mirror and turns to the side, “What was that?” she asks in her confused state but sees nothing. “I must be seeing things,” she says to herself.
A few minutes later, she is standing in front of a rowdy group of drinkers, singing her heart out as a man plays the piano for her. The barkeep ushers the new sheriff into the bar. “Come on in, Sheriff.” The barkeep walks up to the bartender, “Sheriff drinks for free in my establishment.”
The sheriff shakes his head, “That won’t be necessary. I pay my way,” he says, laying a golden coin on the counter. “You can start my tab with this.” The bartender immediately pours him a drink, which the sheriff accepts as he takes a seat at the bar, though his attention seems to be drawn to the woman singing on the stage.
“We were so happy to have a new sheriff coming to town. The last one, well, he wasn’t all he was cracked up to be, but with your history in the military, I’m sure you’ll do much better. I just want you to know that if there is anything you need, do not hesitate to let me know, and we will do what we can to oblige.” There are some ladies of the evening, making their way down the staircase as if on cue.
The sheriff ignores the ladies and motions with his drink to the woman on the stage, “Who’s this?” he asks.
Barkeep seems surprised that he would ask about Eloise. He motions for the other ladies to leave before answering, “That is Wilfred Pike’s oldest daughter Eloise. She sings her during the evenings. As Eloise sings, she finds herself looking at the new sheriff, their eyes meeting before she turns away from him to continue singing. The barkeep notices the sheriff’s interest, “I should warn you, she’s turned away many suitors.”
“Has she now?” the sheriff says as he watches her. “I never said I was interested in being a suitor.”
“That’s right. You didn’t. I apologize if I inferred something inaccurate,” the barkeep says as Eloise finishes up singing, and the bar gives her a round of applause. She steps down from the stage, and the barkeep motions her over. “This is the new sheriff, Eloise.”
Eloise smiles politely to the sheriff, who nods to the woman, “Pleasure to meet you, ma’am. You done well on the stage. I enjoyed your singing very much.”
A blush comes to Eloise’s cheeks as she nods to him, “Thank you. I enjoy it.”
“Perhaps, Eloise, you can spend the evening with the sheriff here tonight.” The barkeep has never asked this of Eloise before as she has made it very clear she’s not going to do any of ‘that type’ of work, but to have the sheriff on his side, the barkeeper had to ask her.
The look on her face almost immediately tells him that he made the wrong choice to ask.
Sheriff Anderson draws his attention away from the singer to the barkeeper, “I am sure you are aware that the Governor of Colorado has outlawed prostitution in this state, so I’m fairly certain you aren’t suggesting that to your law-abiding sheriff.”
The barkeep’s eyes go wide, and he shakes his head, “I wouldn’t dare suggest that.” He shoos Eloise, “You can go,” he tells her. Eloise nods, “If you’ll excuse me then,” she says as she heads to the back to change.
The sheriff finally turns to the barkeeper, “So, what is it exactly you asked me here for?” he says as he finishes his drink and motions for it to be filled again.
The barkeeper rises, “How about we go into my office where we can talk freely.” The sheriff just nods as he gets up, taking his refilled glass, and follows the barkeeper into the back office. There is a desk and a couple of chairs. The barkeeper offers one to him. The sheriff takes a seat.
There’s a velvet sack on the desk, tied up nice and neat. The barkeeper reaches for it and offers it to the sheriff, “We do things a particular way here in Durango, Sheriff. We’d like to keep things going if there’s something we can do to persuade you to allow us to do so.”
The sheriff accepts the bag, gently unties it, and peeks inside at all the golden coins within. The sheriff ties back up the back and sets it back on the desk, “Gold isn’t really something I’m interested in,” he tells the barkeeper.
“You aren’t interested in gold or women,” says the barkeeper, “You seem to be enjoying our whiskey just fine.”
“Knowing that I was coming to this lovely town, I’m sure you checked into my background,” says Sheriff Anderson.
The barkeeper nods, “I know your mother is a very wealthy woman and plans to relocate here with you.”
“So you know that all of the gold or worldly possessions that you offer me would be something that I could already buy for myself. I feel almost humiliated that you would try and bribe me on my first day in town.”
“There’s too much at stake for you to come in here and throw your righteousness around in our faces.” The barkeep reaches behind his desk and pulls out a pistol, and aims it at the sheriff. “You see, the previous sheriff tried to clean up Durango as well and, well, I’m afraid we just couldn’t let him do that. So, we can agree here, or you can be carried across the street to the undertaker. I’m sure he will have a nice pine box for you, just your size.”
The sheriff rises from his seat as the barkeeper keeps his aim on the law. Mockingly, he begins to clap his hands, “Bravo. You put on quite the performance, Mr. Smythe. When I accepted your invitation tonight, I admit that I was a little on the skeptical side. But here you are, threatening the sheriff of this fine community.”
The barkeeper looks confused, “You do realize that I have a gun pointed to your head, sheriff.”
“You see, I have chosen to forsake my fortune that my family has promised me to become a lawman. I worked hard in the military, nearly lost my life. This isn’t my first time being a sheriff, as you well know. At the Governor’s request, I was sent here to clean this place up, and that’s exactly what I will do. So you can fire that weapon and shoot me clean dead, or you can hand it over to me and follow me to jail. Or there’s a third option.”
In the blink of an eye, the sheriff snatches the weapon, points it at the barkeeper’s foot, and fires. The barkeeper screams out in pain as the sheriff grabs him by the shirt and literally drags him across the floor and out of the office.
The music stops, and everyone gets to their feet in the bar when the sheriff drags the barkeeper through as he cries about the pain in his foot. The sheriff stops.
“Let me make one thing clear to everyone,” he says. “I’m here to clean up Durango. Pass the word around that I will bring in anyone who opposes the laws of this land as established by Governor James Benton Grant and the governors who came before him.”
Eloise walks into the main bar from the back after changing her clothing and stops when she sees the sheriff speaking.
“I plan to bring law and order to this town. You can abide by it, or you can move to another town. If you break the law in Durango, you will go to jail.”
With that, the sheriff continues to drag the whimpering barkeep from the saloon where Deputy Trawls is waiting, “Take him to jail. I’ll send word to the governor in the morning by coach,” says the sheriff as Trawls nods, “Right away.”
The sheriff places a hand on the deputy’s shoulder, “You might call Doc Banner about his foot.” Trawls nods his head. “I’ll see if he’s about.”
Eloise steps out of the saloon, “What did he do?” she asks the sheriff, who turns to her.
“Ah, well, he thought it was a wise decision to point a pistol at the sheriff. It didn’t turn out well for him,” answers the sheriff. “You live close by around here?”
“Just a few miles down the road towards Animas City,” she says. She starts to walk onto the dirt road heading towards her father’s place when the sheriff rides up next to her on his horse and offers her a hand, “At least let me make sure you make it home safe, miss.”
She’s a little embarrassed by the offer, but she can hardly refuse a small request by the new sheriff. She reaches for his hand, and he lifts her up so she can sit behind him, legs off to one side to accommodate her dress. “Hang on,” he tells her, and the horse starts to trot.
“What will happen to the saloon?” she asks as they ride, her arms around his waist.
“I’m sure it’s already been taken care of,” he tells her.
“What do you mean? I need to know if I still have a job.”
Sheriff Anderson chuckles, “I assure you that you will still have a job.”
Eloise finds this confusing, “What will happen to Mr. Smythe?”
“That’s up to the governor, I suppose. He’ll be tried threatening a law officer. Plus, it appears he had a hand in the death of the last sheriff. He won’t get a slap on the hand, that’s for sure.”
“I live up here,” she tells him as she points to a smaller road that leads to a homestead off in the distance. The sheriff turns his horse, follows the path, and soon arrives at the modest home with a small barn. He reaches for her hand and helps her down to the ground.
“Thank you for the ride,” she says. She glances towards the home, hoping her father has gone to sleep.
“Have a good evening, miss,” the sheriff says as he turns the horse around and rides down the dusty road.
Eloise walks up to the door, pausing to listen inside before opening it and stepping inside. She walks past the dinner table and to a ladder that leads up to a loft, and she starts to climb when a man’s voice asks, “Who was that man?”
She pauses in her climb and steps back down, “You’re up, pa. Why aren’t you sleeping?”
“I noticed you were out. Why are you coming in so late? Who was that man?”
Eloise clears her throat, “Well, that was the new sheriff. I was coming home, and he didn’t feel comfortable with me walking by myself and offered to give me a ride.”
“I don’t like you working so late into the night,” says her father. “Can’t we talk to Mrs. Picket about you working at the market during the day?”
Eloise shakes her head, “I ask her every week, but she can’t afford to hire me. Besides, pa, I like singing at the saloon.”
“What’s all the noise?” asks Sarah, who peeks down from the loft. “Some of us have school in the morning,” she says with a yawn.
“Sorry, sis,” says Eloise as she shoos her sister, “Go back to sleep. I’ll be up in a bit.”
Sarah disappears back into the loft as Wilfred looks at his oldest daughter, “I worry about you.”
“I know, pa,” says Eloise. “I’m careful, I promise.”
Wilfred waves her off, “Go on to bed then. I have to be up early to tend to the farm and then off to the feed mill.”
Eloise leans down to kiss her father on the cheek before ascending the ladder to the loft.
Wilfred watches her go, hardly believing she’s just turned 21.
Eloise has changed into her nightgown and crawls into the bed she shares with her sister Sarah who groans. “You really need to get a job during the daytime,” the younger sister says. “You come in late and wake me up every night.”
Lying her head on the pillow, Eloise sighs, “Nothing pays me as well as the saloon. If I were to work for Mrs. Picket, she won’t only pay me but scraps. I’m not smart enough to work at the bank and not strong enough to work any labor jobs as pa does. Without my pay from the saloon, pa would surely lose the farm. It’s the way it has to be,” she whispers, not wanting her father to hear her speak of such things. She turns around so she can face her sister, “I’m counting on you to get a good education so you can get a smart woman’s job. I’ll take care of this until then, so do your best.”
Sarah yawns, “I will. I promise. Did you say you met the new sheriff?”
“Yes, I did.”
Sarah grins, “Is he handsome?”
Eloise considers the question, giving a slight nod. “He’s ruggedly handsome, sure.”
There’s a giggle from the younger sister, “My favorite kind of handsome.”
“You focus on your school, young lady,” scolds Eloise playfully. “You have time for boys after.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Sarah scoffs back at her sister. “Good night.”
As Eloise blows out the lantern, the newly formed tattoo on her forearm glows briefly before fading.
The following morning, Sarah and Eloise are in the barn, where they use a wood fire to heat up the large metal bath and are soaking inside.
“You know pa hates that you work at the saloon, right?” says Sarah. The tub is filled with bubbles as steam rises from the water.
Eloise nods, “I know, but it brings us money. The crops this year weren’t the quality that he was hoping for, so we are going to need the extra money. I know he hates it, but we have to eat. How are things at school?” she asks, trying to change the subject.
Sarah makes a face as she splashes some water towards Eloise. “It’s fine. There’s some girls who like making life difficult for me, but I can handle it.”
Eloise narrows her eyes, “Need me to come to school and teach these girls a lesson?” she asks.
“No!” squeals Sarah as she gets water splashed on her too. “It’ll just make it all worse. I can handle myself just fine,” she says, then more seriously responds, “You already do so much for the family, Elle. I wonder if I should just drop out and find a job too.”
“Don’t you dare,” says Eloise. “You’re almost to graduation. You hang in there and get graduated, and then you can help the family. Things would have been fine if the creek hadn’t dried up during the summer drought. Hopefully, the rain will come and fill it up again.”
Sarah nods. “Okay. I’ll graduate and then get a fancy job, and I’ll take care of you for a while.”
Eloise laughs, “I didn’t say that. Besides, one day I hope to find a husband.”
Sarah makes a face, “Most of the men in this town are awful, though.”
Eloise shrugs, “Not every man…”
Sarah gives her another splat, “You’re thinking of someone in particular! Have you been courting and not telling us?”
Eloise shakes her head, “No. Nothing like that, I promise. And don’t say anything to pa about this either. There’s nothing to tell him, and he’s already worried enough. If there’s ever something to tell, I’ll let you know.”
The two begin to splash each other in the bath again, but this time the mark on Eloise’s arm begins to glow, and a crack begins to split down the side of the large metal bathtub as water starts to drain.
“What’s happened?” asks Sarah as they both look over the side.
Eloise sighs, “This old tub. We’re going to have to start bathing in the stream again.”
“You mean the stream that dried up?”
Eloise sighs, then turns to the horse that is inside the stable, “Turn around, Elmer, so we can get out.”
The horse seems to comply as we hear splashing in the background. When we see Sarah and Eloise, they are out of the tub and have wrapped bathrobes around themselves. Eloise leans down to inspect the crack in the metal, “Maybe it can be repaired fairly cheap. I’ll go in and ask around town.” She grabs a pail and catches some of the spilling water, and uses it to put out the fire.
“I’m going inside,” says Sarah as she hurries out of the barn. “Don’t tell pa about this!” Eloise yells after her. “At least until I see if I can get it repaired,” she says mostly to herself at this point. Something causes Eloise to glance at her arm, and she sees the mark for the first time. It looks like an “X” or a cross, perhaps. She’s trying to recall how she would have gotten it as it almost looks like a scar of some sort. “What is this?” she thinks to herself.
Eloise walks out of the blacksmith’s workshop after having negotiated for him to repair the bathtub. Her eyes fall on the sign across the dusty street that says, “Sheriff.” She starts to walk in that direction, but the pauses and changes her mind. She heads towards the saloon.
Eloise is lying in her bed when a man walks in and nudges her, and she looks up with a smile, “Why are you here?” she asks the man.
The man simply said, “You missed me, so I came.” When he sits down, we see it’s Sheriff Anderson. Eloise sits up and asks, “How did you know I missed you?”
The Sheriff brings a finger to his lips to shush her and then leans in, and just as he’s going to kiss her…
Sarah screams out! “What are you doing?” She pulls down the edge of her gown to reveal a bite mark on her shoulder. “You bit me!”
Eloise sits up, “Did I?” she asks as she vividly recalls the dream from before.
Sarah nods, “You’ve been acting strange lately.”
Eloise pushes her back down, “Just go back to sleep,” she says. As Sarah goes back to sleep, Eloise remains sitting up as she relives the dream in her mind.
Eloise steps out of the home first thing in the morning. She starts her daily chores by walking over and picking the eggs from the hen house. She carries a bail of hay to the horses. She fills a pitcher with water from the well.
She stops when she sees Sarah over by the fence, and it looks like she’s upset. Eloise walks over, “What’s wrong? Why aren’t you going to school?”
A weepy Sarah looks at her, “Why do we have to be so poor? Everyone looks down on me at school because we are poor.”
Sarah sighs, “You know Mrs. Ratcliff, she runs the market.”
Eloise nods her head. “Of course.”
“She’s holding a birthday party for Emma, and everyone at school was invited. Everyone except me and then…” she starts to say but doesn’t continue.
Eloise looks at her, “What is it?”
Sarah looks like she doesn’t want to say it, but finally continues, “When I asked why I wasn’t invited, they told me because I was too lowly.”
Eloise shakes her head, “If she didn’t run the only market in town, I’d tell her where to put her prejudice. Don’t worry, we’ll find a way to get you into that party. After school, you come home and get ready for the party. Do you understand?”
Sarah nods, “Are you lying to me?”
Eloise reaches up and grabs Sarah by each shoulder and looks her in the eye, “When have I ever lied to you?”
Sarah grabs onto Eloise in a big hug, “You’re the best sister ever!”
“Run along to school! Don’t be late.” Sarah scurries off down the road as Eloise gets a mischievous grin on her face.
Darkness has fallen, and Eloise and Sarah have put on their best country dresses as they walk towards the market. The Ratcliff’s live right behind it in a rather large home.
“Are you sure I look okay?” asks Sarah as she stops for the umpteenth time. Eloise just rolls her eyes, “How many times are you going to ask me that? You look beautiful. Don’t worry. You just make sure you stay away from those teenage boys in there.”
“Thank you for loaning me the dress,” Sarah says. “I guess your job at the saloon comes in handy after all.”
Eloise smiles and takes her sister by the hand, but her sister stands firm, “Where are our invitations?”
Seems Eloise didn’t think of that, “The invitations….”
“You didn’t forget them, did you?” asks Sarah.
Eloise shakes her head, “Don’t worry, I have them.”
As they reach the door, a man is looking at invitations before allowing anyone to enter. “Your invitations, ladies?”
Eloise makes a show of digging into her purse, “I had them here somewhere.”
Sarah leans over and whispers, “I thought you said you had them?”
“I did bring them,” Eloise says as she digs deeper. “Here they are,” she says as she pulls out a small spritzer of perfume and sprays it into the man’s eyes. As the man is blinded, Eloise grabs her sister’s hand and pulls her into the big house.
As they get inside, another man takes their jackets, and they walk into the sizable lavish room. Eloise and Sarah separate as Eloise walks over to a large table of treats and helps herself to a glass of wine.
In the meantime, Sarah tries to talk to some of her classmates who just walk away from her, not understanding why she would even be there. From a distance, Emma Ratcliff spots her and walks over, “Sarah Pike. What are you doing here?”
“Did you invite her, Emma?” someone asks.
Emma scoffs, “Hardly. She’s far too uneducated for my company, that’s for sure. How dare you barge into my party uninvited.”
Eloise walks by, pausing when she hears the conversation.
“She just wandered in like a stray cat.”
Sarah is beginning to tear up.
“You weren’t invited. You should respect that and leave. Your kind is definitely not welcome here,” says Emma with a mean tone. “It won’t be long before it’s evident you are not of our stature and humiliate yourself even further.”
The girls giggle all around Sarah. Eloise sets her wine glass down and marches over, “What’s going on here? Are you a bunch of classless bullies?”
Emma tilts her head, “We are just making sure she knows her place. We wouldn’t want her to embarrass herself. This is not bullying. It’s an education.”
The other girls all agree with her.
Emma continues, “Just look at her. She’s talentless and just looks silly in that fancy dress. No one here is paying her any attention.”
Sarah starts to walk off, but Eloise takes her hand and pulls her back.
“My sister can dance better than anyone here,” Eloise says. Sarah’s eyes go wide at this.
“Who’s going to ask her to dance?” asks Emma. “She’ll have to dance all by herself.”
“Who says no one will dance with her?” asks Eloise. “You just wait and see who will ask her to dance. Then it will be you who are humiliated.” Eloise walks away from the mean girls and leads her sister away from the group.
As the music begins to play in the background, Eloise begins to dance. Attention soon turns to her, and she nudges her sister, who begins to dance alongside her. There are murmuring compliments about their dancing as they have obviously practiced this routine before. Soon, Eloise steps out of the way, allowing the attention to shift to her sister, who continues to dance as Eloise looks on proudly. As the song ends, there’s polite applause as everyone seems impressed by the teenager’s dancing.
Eloise steps up to Sarah, “This is my sister, Sarah Pike. She attends school with your daughters and sisters. Would anyone care to ask her to dance?”
Emma Ratcliff scowls towards the two as she watches them get all the attention.
Several young men walk up and offer Sarah a hand, leaving the other young ladies alone.
Satisfied her work here is done, Eloise steps away from her sister and walks up to Emma and her friends, “As you can see, my sister has no shortage of men who’d like to dance with her. But, I don’t see anyone here asking you to dance.”
Emma’s friends just kinda look around as if they aren’t part of this conversation.
Eloise sniffs the air, “Smells a little like jealousy here. Perhaps I should step out for some fresh air.” She walks out and steps out onto a balcony. “It’s a little stuffy in there,” she says. “I have no idea why these types of parties are such a big deal.”
She walks down a path when she sees the sheriff talking to a young lady, “Sheriff, my mother told me that you were a perfect match for me, blessed from God.”
The sheriff shakes his head, “Listen, I don’t know what my ancestors did in their lives to bring this curse upon me, but I promise you that I am not your perfect match. You may run back to your mother and tell her that she’s got her holy mail mixed up with someone else’s.” The sheriff sees Eloise standing there, and he waves to her, “Sorry to keep you waiting.”
He starts towards her, but the other woman catches his hand, “You’ve already used that tactic a few times on me already.”
Eloise can’t help but chuckle at his antics.
The other woman says to him, “Whatever you say, I will not let you go until you agree to court me.” She leans and tries to kiss him, but the sheriff leans as far back as he can possibly go with an annoyed face.
Eloise’s eyes go wide, and she runs in and grabs the sheriff’s arm and pulls him away from the woman, “Who are you? How dare you try and kiss my man.”
The woman puts her hands on her hips, “How dare you interfere with true love. Who are you?”
Eloise looks at the woman, “You’ll have to ask him.” She gives a knowing look to Sheriff Anderson.
Catching on, the sheriff turns to the woman, “This is the young lady I am courting.”
Aghast, the woman looks between the two, “How could you have a girlfriend? You are lying to me, aren’t you?”
The sheriff leans down and plants a kiss on Eloise’s cheek, causing a blush to rise to her cheeks. To help him out, Eloise turns and kisses him on the cheek as well.
Sheriff Anderson looks at the woman, “Are you convinced yet, or do you need further proof?”
The woman is appalled, “You’ve gone too far! How dare you act like this!” she looks between the two. “Don’t ever set foot in my sight again!” she says as she turns around and storms off in a huff.
“Yeah,” says the sheriff, “Sorry about that.”
“A kind deed was given last night. I only returned the favor. You seemed to be in dire need of rescuing.” Eloise turns to look up at him, “Consider us even.”
“We haven’t been formally introduced. I’m Sheriff Anderson. Friends call me Bobby.” He offers his hand.
Eloise accepts the handshake, “I’m Elo–”
“Eloise Pike,” he says. “I’m well aware.”
Eloise seems surprised that he knows about her and the sheriff, assuming her confusion explains.
“There’s a sign outside of the saloon with your name on it as the headline singer,” he explains.
Eloise ah and nods. “I forgot. It’s kind of embarrassing. Looks like your problem is solved if you’d like to go to the party now.”
Sheriff Anderson nods. They turn away from each other, walking separate ways. They only walk a few steps when they both turn back and see each other. They turn around as the Sheriff walks towards her again.
“What’s the matter? Afraid she’s going to creep up on you again?” Eloise asks. “As the sheriff, shouldn’t you be prepared for that sort of thing?”
The sheriff shakes his head, “Nah. Seems everyone is dancing inside. I can hear the music.”
They begin to walk. Eloise asks, “Let me guess. You don’t know how to dance?”
He ponders it for a moment before responding, “I used to think dancing was a girl’s thing. As a man of my stature, it was embarrassing to know how to dance. But now I see there are times when a man has to dance, and I lack the experience to do so.”
“Perhaps I can be of help,” Eloise says as she turns to face him.
“How do you reckon to do that?” he asks her.
“You may not know this, but I am one of the finest dancers in all of Durango,” Eloise explains. “There doesn’t seem to be too many folk around, so I could give you a few pointers.”
Surprised, the sheriff looks at her, “You want to teach me to dance right here?”
“Why not?” she asks him. “How will you ever dance with your wife if you decide to marry one day?” She reaches for his hand and puts it on her hip, “I’ll show you.” She reaches for his other hand with hers. “It’s like this and this.”
Sheriff Anderson seems a little embarrassed as she begins to sway them back and forth. Even so awkward, he accidentally steps on her foot, “Sorry about that,” he says.
She ignores it and continues to dance with him, showing him a few other moves, which he quickly catches on to.
“Turn,” she says as she twirls into his arm and then back out again. “You’re doing well for your first time,” she admits.
“Obviously, it’ll take more than one lesson for me to do any good, right?”
“Concentrate before you step on my foot again, unless you want this lesson to end,” she teases him.
“Tell me!” demands Sarah as they climb down the ladder from their loft. “What’s going on with you and the new sheriff?”
It’s been a week now, and Eloise has met with Bobby Anderson every day for dance lessons.
“He has a name, you know,” Eloise says. “Bobby. And I’m only teaching him to dance, so don’t get the wrong idea.”
“Wrong idea, feh,” Sarah says. “Do you know how many men in this town have wanted you to teach them to dance? And you’ve turned them all down? Why the sheriff, oh, excuse me. Why, Bobby?”
“I don’t have time for you, Sarah! I’m running late already!” Eloise says as she grabs her jacket, “I’ll fix some dinner when I get home.” She opens the door, and her father is standing in the doorway.
“You have something you need to tell me, Ellie?”
Clearing her throat, Eloise looks at him, “I’m just heading out to work.”
“Are you? I just came from the mill, and folks are saying you’re spending an awful lot of time with the new sheriff in private,” Wilfred seems disappointed. “The preacher accosted me on the street and told me rumors are running wild, but I told him he must be hearing it wrong, and then I heard the conversation you were just having with your sister.”
Eloise sits down on the dining table bench, “It’s not what you think.”
“It may not be what I think, but you know how this town is, Ellie,” he walks in and closes the door behind him. “We don’t have much while others in this town have so much. We are always looked down on even though we provide the food they put on their tables. All we need are rumors about us, and they’ll probably try and run us out of town like that family down in Animas City.”
“That’s not going to happen, pa!”
“Believe it or not, we have a reputation to uphold. Since your mothers have passed,” Wilfred looks at both Eloise and Sarah, “I told myself that I would spend the rest of my life ensuring you girls were happy and healthy. A rumor like this would have broken both of your mothers’ hearts. So, whatever it is that’s going on, you need to put an end to it.”
Sarah knows to just stay in the background, though Eloise is a little more hard-headed as she stands up, “Pa…”
“Don’t ‘pa’ me. If you make me walk up to those graves and explain to your mother where I raised you wrong, I’ll get hell poured down on me all the way from heaven. I need you to stick around the house for a few days.”
“I said, don’t. I’ve given in to you at every turn, but I’m gonna put my foot down. I’m putting my foot down now. I won’t have you running around town, ruining your reputation. I won’t have it. Do you understand?”
Eloise sits back down, “I understand,” she says softly as Sarah looks on.
Sheriff Anderson is waiting outside of his office. He’s a little concerned as he’s been getting dance lessons for a week now, and Eloise Pike hasn’t been late one time, but it’s been two hours since they agreed to meet.
Eloise brings dinner and sets it at the table. Sarah and her father are already seated, and she joins them, but she’s not happy at all. Wilfred knows it too. He dishes up his plate and is about to eat when he looks at Eloise again, seeing how unhappy she is.
“I know you’re upset with me,” he tells her. “One day you’ll realize your ‘pa’ was doing what was best for you.”
Eloise doesn’t answer as she waits for Sarah to get some food before dishing up her own as the family sits in silence for the remainder of the meal.
The next morning, after her father leaves for work and her sister leaves for school, Eloise rushes out of the house and heads into town, being careful not to walk by the mill or the school, she enters the sheriff’s office.
“You ditched me yesterday,” he says, not rising from his seat.
Eloise seems a little flustered, “It’s because…”
Anderson holds up a hand, “You don’t owe me any explanation. You do have a life, and I don’t intend to intrude upon it. If you could just send word next time, I’d appreciate it.”
“I’m afraid there can’t be a next time,” Eloise explains.
Sheriff Anderson rises up from his seat, “Say again?”
“My pa is against me spending time alone with you. He’s worried about my reputation. It seems there’s been some gossip in town. I’m not even supposed to be here, but I wanted to let you know. I know it’s for my own good, but he gets up early to tend to the farming, then comes into town and works at the mill. I would feel bad if I went against his wishes.” Eloise turns to look out of the office window, “He doesn’t want me at the saloon either. He doesn’t realize how much of my pay goes towards the fixings and such that we eat because I don’t bother him with the details.”
“Have you explained all of this to your pa?” asks Bobby.
Eloise just shakes her head, “He won’t listen.”
The sheriff walks over and stands next to her at the window, “That’s a load of bull. Ever heard of prayer?”
Eloise scoffs, “I mean, I believe in God, but I don’t believe he answers every little trivial prayer.”
“You’re wrong about that,” he says. “Just watch.” He makes an exaggerated move to bring his hands together in prayer. “Dear Lord,” he says aloud, “I wish you would make Eloise smile today.”
When he finishes, Eloise blushes and just can’t stop the smile from coming to her face.
“See,” Bobby tells her, “It’s simple and it works. Give it a try. Ask the good lord to help your pa understand you. Go on,” he encourages her.
Eloise looks at him, then looks out the window. She closes her eyes and starts to laugh, “You’re making me feel silly.”
“Trust me, alright?” he says.
She closes her eyes again, “Dear Lord, please help my pa understand me better.”
Eloise opens her eyes and looks up at the sheriff, “Was that so hard?” he asks her.
She doesn’t really answer, just shakes her head a little.
Sheriff Bobby Anderson stands out in front of his office as he watches Eloise Pike walk back home. He thinks to himself, “I used to think Eloise Pike was just a pretty girl. Deep down, she’s good-hearted with a great personality. It never occurred to me she was strong-willed, cheerful, and thoughtful. It reminds me of a saying that goes something like this: There are some people and some things that God will put into your path for a reason.”
He turns to go inside and turns his attention to the church just down the road and says aloud, “I’m listening, God. I’m listening.”