The Last Rose
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The Last Rose

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  • He had brought her a rose, though he didn't know that it would be the last. He saw her from afar. Before he could make his way to her, they dragged him out of the place. He laid the rose on the counter before he left, hoping against all hope she would somehow receive it and know it was from him. She later posted a photo implicating she did receive it. It seemed to him she did so because she wanted him to write her about what it meant to him. He fulfilled her wish by writing this short story for her.
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The Last Rose The Last Rose Presentation Transcript

  • The Last Rose by D. R. Jenkins A Short Story For the Love of Kelsey
  • It was another Saturday night; one not unlike manyothers she had come to know since she arrived in the deserttown. Devils Gulch was hardly hospitable to sidewinders, GilaMonsters, and other predators let alone a shapely SouthernCalifornian transplanted to the Utah Territories. "The day will come," she thought to herself, "when KateStar will return to her paradise." Determination has always been the cornerstone of herexistence, she realized as she considered the matter. Suchconviction characterizes her family inheritance, she furtherconcluded. Why she ever left her city by the Pacific, however, wasbeyond her immediate comprehension. It must have been aspiritual urging, she often pondered as she weighed leaving onemountain encrusted village for another. 1
  • Actually, she had to confess to no one listening she had toprove to her family she was as much a Star businesswoman asher father a Star businessman. Thats why she bought thesaloon from her grandfather, who had one the damned thing ina poker game. Admittedly, Grandpa Hank gave it to her at a good price.After all, Kate knew, her mother was his favorite child and Katewas his favorite grandchild. By the burden of that measure,Kate could not fail. The moment she arrived in Devils Gulch,however, she knew the town was a hell-hole, and the saloon along way from any sane persons notion of a successful westernfrontier business. "Darned family inheritance," was her finalthought on the matter. 2
  • As she dressed for the evening she turned her thoughts tothe midnight romance arriving. It wasnt an unusualpreoccupation. She often seized such solitary moments toreflect on her life now determined by this strangers desire foreverything about her. She knew he found her to be a womanafire in the pursuit of a fulfillment elusive. That factor, alone,explained his relentless intoxication with her. As she slipped on sheer stockings and ruffled garters, sheallowed the memory of him to consume her thoughts;particularly on this Saturday night. She knew he was coming totown to see her. Moreover, she knew coming to see her was theonly reason he would ever broach the city limits of DevilsGulch. 3
  • As well, she knew he preferred the anonymity of visitingher under the shield of darkness. A daytime arrival wouldcertainly bring a gunfight the towns Sheriff would dread. Thenews of his impending arrival would quickly fill the valleybecause his tell-tale frame mounted atop his black stallionwould be seen for miles as he descended from the foothillsedging the valley. He often told her he came to town at night because shedistilled his purpose in coming to this hell-hole and she madeherself available to him only in late evenings. But, she knew thereal reason he came at night. She could tell by the fear in theeyes of the saloons other customers. 4
  • As she thought about his impending arrival, a smilebegan to caress her lips. He had recently taken to writing herletters; written from wherever lifes dusty roads had taken him.Interestingly, she came to realize her feelings for him,heightened by the raw and innocent romance he confessed bywritten words revealing. His letters served a chronology of how they met,documenting litanies of electricity and sparks. "Who couldblame her?" She pondered. Surely, seduction written byproximate living death and destruction would stir passionsseeded in the roots of life in any womans soul. That was herargument whenever she needed to believe her mother wouldaccept this romance now breeding cause in her existence. 5
  • Kate knew she handled herself well in his arms, nomatter how her body craved surrender to lusts persistentlyexuding. A concomitant smile emerging recalled the first timehe urged her to kiss him. His confidence betrayed a belief hecould have her by a will divined. "No," she had squirmed the moment, pushing her wayout of his hell-bent fury. She knew she wanted him to hungerfor her -- like he panted for no other. Thats the only way shewould ever allow him to kiss her lips. Along another vein, though, she had to give it to him forthe way he made her feel so beautiful. It was another Saturdaynight when his urgings were particularly insufferable. The saloon was filled with so many gorgeous women thatnight, Kate reflected. She actually thought she might lose hisinterest to the wiles of another beauty. 6
  • She could never have been so wrong. When Maria cameby the dance hall that night, he made himself clear to her in amost persuasive fashion. Maria was her housemaid. She alsoworked to clean the guest rooms upstairs. On nights like thatSaturday night, Maria would bring single roses to the saloon.She sold them to desiring hombres so they could persuade theirevenings intention. Maria knew the lascivious nature of men;sure to be frisky after a few whiskeys. The condition made itoptimal for the sale of single roses. Sure, there have been lots of fellers who bought a rose forKate Star. They knew, however, at best they would get a warmsmile of thanks; but never a debt of gratitude. 7
  • Out of curiosity, Kate kept track of Marias efforts thatSaturday night. It was as if Maria had granted licenseprosecuting romantic privilege. Indeed, Kate detected anaroma of promise from Marias fortune-telling behavior. Against all expectation, Kates blue eyes followed hisevery step. In a very public way, the most feared gunslingercurrently then within the Utah Territories stood from his chairsituated across the room from Kate. He made his way toMaria. Out of the corner of her baby blues, Kate watched asthe outlaw holding her heart purchased a flower, giving Maria agold piece. Kate held her breath as she watched him, flower in handheld at a height close to where his six-shooter rested impendinghavoc. He passed by one beauty after another as if he walkedacross their backs to make his way to her. 8
  • When it became clear he was bringing the flower to her,Kate found tears welling her eyes; her chin began to quiver anuncontrolled message. As he raised the flower from his side,Kate continued to recall, his other hand reached to touch herface in an obvious comforting gesture. He told her over andover, "Youre so beautiful, youre so beautiful." She took theflower from him and it has been since planted in her heart, shehad to admit. Just a peek in the mirror to confirm her preparation andshe would go downstairs and greet her guests and await hisarrival. Jose, Marias husband, would keep a look-out for him."Señorita Star, señor is coming," Jose always told her aside andout of earshot of others. 9
  • Joses revelation meant it would be an hour or so before theoutlaw crossed the saloons threshold. Kate knew he would notcome to her before he cleaned the trail dust he wore. Rather,on arriving in Devils Gulch his first stop was always at Chi TsusBath House and Laundry. However, Kate knew he receivedslightly different treatment at the effect of soft Chinese hands. Though the hard lines in his face and his triedappearance characterized his needs among those to be fulfilledat Miss Sallys Brothel, Chi Tsu knew the desperado came toprepare to see Kate; a task nonetheless challenging if only tospeed his arrival at the 5 Aces Saloon. 10
  • Just as this accounting reconciled in Kates minds eye,Jose appeared and conveyed the evenings news ordained:"Señorita Kate, señor ees coming." Out of habit, Kate took thepocket watch from underneath the bar and noted by its face thetime she could expect the man dressed in black to make hisway across the crowded saloon to see her. Midnight: Right ontime. For his part, the midnight rider dressed in black garbunmounted the black stallion outside Chi Tsus place ofpreparation. As was the usual practice, Chi Tsus husband,Chang, gathered the horses reins from the desperado to takethe steed to the stables. Chang would brush the dust from thebeast, if only to lighten its load. The horse would also bewatered and fed a mixture of oats, barley, and alfalfa. Thehorse would retire atop freshly laid hay. The Chinese knewhow to win favor from the white man. 11
  • The outlaw followed Chi Tsu into the bathing parlor.Being somewhat less prudish than her white counterparts, ChiTsu began drawing the strangers bath with the hottest water shebelieved his pale skin could handle. The outlaw had removedhis gun belt, boots, and hat and had folded his clothes andplaced them on the chair. He turned to get his naked carcass inthe sudsy steaming water. Chi Tsu couldnt help but notice hismanhood was aroused, probably as a result of her presencewhile he undressed. Certainly, she would bathe him well, sheconcluded as she took his clothes to the laundry mistress. 12
  • When she returned to the bathing parlor, the naked manwas totally immersed and his head lay quietly against the castiron tubs porcelain edge. Quietly, Chi Tsu took the cloth andsoap, and washed the strangers face. She then reached overand swashed the razors edge several times along the strap, backand forth, again and again. She lathered his face and cleaned itwith the honed edge. When she returned to the bathing parlor, the naked manwas totally immersed and his head lay quietly against the castiron tubs porcelain edge. Quietly, Chi Tsu took the cloth andsoap, and washed the strangers face. She then reached overand swashed the razors edge several times along the strap, backand forth, again and again. She lathered his face and cleaned itwith the honed edge. 13
  • When the laundry maid returned with his freshlylaundered and ironed clothes, the naked man stood while ChiTsu dried all his limbs. When he stepped out of the tub,turning to get dressed, Chi Tsu left the room. Finisheddressing, the gunslinger left a single gold piece on the batherstray. At the rates the Chinese charged, it was enough to pay for5 visits, including stabling his best friend for the night. As he headed for the door, the outlaw drew his six-iron andcounted six pieces of lead. He knew he was ready for any foolwho might want to face him down. He grabbed his hat andheaded out the door. 14
  • The 5 Aces Saloon was a block down Main Street, on theother side of the road. He walked out into the night, his earskeenly aware of the sounds emanating complete confession.As he approached half way down the block he noted a noisygroup of people coming toward him from the oppositedirection. It appeared that a wedding had just concluded andthe wedding party was heading toward the only hotel in DevilsGulch, The Diablo Hotel. It appeared no one was armed. Hetook a relieving breath. 15
  • When the bride and groom passed, he saw her bouquet ofroses and it occurred to him he should find Maria and bringKate just a single rose. He hadnt given her a single rose sincethe first time he had given her "flowers." In the interim, he hadtaken her various sorts of bouquets of other types of flowers.He wanted to impress his reputation didnt necessarily translatehe was insensitive to a womans desire for fragrances deliveredby the man she loves. As if a prayer had been answered, a few steps after thewedding party had passed him; he espied Maria walking thewood sidewalk toward his direction on the other side of thestreet. Excitement emerged a long-lost friend as he implicitlyrecounted how flowers always seemed to send Kates heart intoa tizzy; more so than the other and more expensive things hehad lavished on her. 16
  • He crossed the street and hailed Marias attention with ahand slightly raised. It became obvious she knew he wascoming and had set out to meet him somewhere between theChi Tsus Bath and Laundry and the 5 Aces Saloon. "Buenos noches, Maria, qué tal?" He beseeched in his bestSpanish. "Oh Señor, buenos noches; Mees Kate is waiting for you!"She corresponded. Both knew the transaction impending. He selected theprettiest yellow rose among those held gently in Marias arms.Finding the perfect delicacy, he gave Maria a twenty dollar goldpiece and waved off her effort to give him $18.25 in change. 17
  • With rose in hand he again began crossing the dirt roadcalled "Main Street," heading toward the 5 Aces Saloon and thebeauty he knew to be waiting for him. Loving her had beenelevated by the preparation transacted and by the solitaryfragrance of adoration he then held in his hand. The aromawas titillating. Within seven steps of the 5 Aces Saloon, the night quietedby the love of her in his heart and the excitement bred by theanticipation of holding her in his arms was violently shattered.The last thing he heard was the great interruption of firepowerfilling all roads leading to Devils Gulch. At once he feltpiercing pain and the fire of death entering his back. There wasno time to reach for his six-shooter to a levy a condemningresponse. 18
  • As his body seemed to insist he lay on the ground, herecognized the taste of blood in his mouth. As consciousthought dwindled life then ending, he saw the rose was still inhis hand. He breathed his last knowing in his soul he had givenher his heart though he had yet to kiss her lips. The love of herdrowned the town coming to life in a seeming celebration. Thelast thing he heard was Marias voice screaming, "Mees Kate,Mees Kate, they kilt him, they kilt heem dead!" Commotion filled the streets of Devils Gulch. Shoutscould be heard, "Get the Sheriff, get Sheriff Murphy quick!” Other shouts brought freedom to utter his name withoutfear of death following close behind, "They shot him, they shotJesse James dead. Come see quickly; hes laying dead in themiddle of Main Street." 19
  • Another recounting usurped air for breathing as Kateburst from the 5 Aces Saloon. "Six bullets breeding death and apound of lead kilt the no good shiftless bastard." Ya see pardner, Jesse James wasnt shot hanging nopicture on the wall in some peaceful Midwestern town. No sir,he died right here in the streets of Devils Gulch, the UtahTerritories, coming to see a beautiful saloon owner he fancied.It was loving a dang woman that got him in a position wheresomebody could shoot him, even if the coward shot him in theback and never faced him down like a man. It was only a few seconds before Kate reached the placewhere he laid dead in the street. She noticed his hat a few feetfrom his head. She noticed his clean shaven handsome face;realizing he had just come from Chi Tsus Bath and Laundry. 20
  • She noticed slight blood oozing across his lips, whichbrought her eyes to focus on deaths damage concentrated bythe six holes in the middle of his back. She noticed his gunremained entrenched in its holster; concluding he was unawareof his attackers presence. As she continued surveying the scene sure to be writtenin her memory until her remains are remitted to the grave, shethen saw the single rose in his hand. Her bosom heaved andher eyes filled with tears. Beyond restraint she felt the warmwater falling to her bosom; breasts somewhat bared toenrapture his senses. Sheriff Murphy suddenly appeared at the scene. The firstthing he confessed was, "Im sorry, Kate. Im sorry this hashappened; but you know it was bound to happen. He was justtoo damned infamous." 21
  • Kate looked at Sheriff Murphy as if she dared him to sayanother word. With a confidence unequivocal, she reacheddown and took the rose from his hand, touching him as shedid. She slightly stroked his face telling his soul, "I will alwayslove you." With that, she stood, wiped the tears from her eyes and,holding the last rose close to her heart, she made her way backto the 5 Aces Saloon. At that moment she knew she would sellthe place and move back to her treasured Pacific paradise. Sheknew she would take the love if Jesse James with her. And that, my friends, is the true story how Jesse James,the greatest and most feared outlaw to have lived, died in theUtah Territories in a hell-hole known as Devils Gulch. Therehasnt been one like him since. 22
  • The End