Colorado- nuit 2005/pirates_cove13
*Subject: It is a story concerning Joe Byrne, and an OC called Sarah (and no, her middle name is not Mary Sue ;-)) It is set in the American West around 1885
*Rating: It is NC17 by the end
*Disclaimer: Did some one mention money? Well we don't have any, though if anyone wants to pay us to write please form an orderly queue..heehhe. Seriously Joe Byrne was obviously a real man, this is a work of fiction inspired by Orlando Blooms portrayal of him in the film Ned Kelly, and takes place in a time after those events which in reality led to his death. We have enormous respect for history and no harm is intended to the real Joe Byrne nor any one connected with him
*Feedback: Any comments, criticism, professions of undying love are acceptable and welcome. It is not beta'd, so please look upon mistakes as local colour..
Hope you like it.
Leaning against the door frame rolling a thin cigarette Joe followed Sarah’s movements- the nuzzling, stroking of her hands over the horse’s nose and flank, just about catching the encouraging purrs and clicks of her tongue as she coaxed and asked the animal to drink, Sarah’s fingers twisting in the mane that hung long over the horses neck and Joe almost forgot to strike the match. Sarah gave a last gentle pat before she turned to return to the house, an empty can in her hand just as the sulphur illuminated his face and she jumped a little.
“I didn’t mean to startle yer… I just came out see how she was”
Christ he wanted to touch her again.
“She will be fine now. Chuchip that is, should be able to ride her to town.”
She could feel his eyes on her even in the dark.
“Aye well that’s grand then, I best be on me way…”
She wasn’t quite sure whether she said it too quick or not but either way she almost heard him breathe out “Oh there’s no hurry, let her tea and your supper go down first” the air still around them and Joe moved first holding out the cigarette to her.
“The tobacco’s turned to dust. So be careful as to not suck on it too hard”
Sarah felt herself slip a little but it was dark, he couldn’t see her face as she held it to her mouth, moist from his lips and she pulled on the smoke, letting it curl around before she breathed it in. And they were comfortable again, right here and now, leaning against the wood wall of the shack looking up at the sky, and she had his cigarette between her lips and for the life of him he couldn’t think of a reason why after all the encounters he’d had with women, that he should find that so intimate, but he did, and he closed his eyes, her voice bringing him back.
“That tastes awful Joe.” Sarah nevertheless thanked him with her smile as she handed it back.
“Aye, that it does, a poor return for that food and that’s for sure.” He took one more drag regardless though, mostly to feel where her mouth had been, and his body found that quite an idea as well and he thought it was time to move again.
“Well I’ll not be leaving you with a mess anyway,” and his fingers touched hers as he took the pail from her hands and walked with some purpose toward the pump.
She didn’t know what to make of him. Watching him at the pump she thought he had a kind of quiet competence about him – which went with his gentleness toward the horse. He was a man who knew how to do things without forcing them. But there was something else…no one rode over those mountains when the snow was so deep without a powerful reason for it. There was restlessness there too – the way he’d followed her outside and all, that didn’t go with the calm. It made her think of sorting beads with her mother, making little piles of blue and green and yellow and then you’d come to one where the colors got mixed up in the making some how and she wouldn’t know where to put it, just roll it around in her fingers awhile, feel the hard smoothness of it, like she’d held on to that awful cigarette, just liking the fact that he’d offered. She rolled her eyes at herself in the dark and thought that clearly she should be chopping more wood because she was floating off like a book. Which made her think yet one more thing as he came back to the doorway, “I have thought of something Joe, if you’re willing,” and it was almost as if her words travelled up and around the doorway and back to her and she heard them as Joe stopped in his tracks so suddenly the water still sloshed in the bucket trying to find its way inside.
For just that moment, Joe didn’t school his face, didn‘t drop his eyes and the very air she had trouble finding said he was more than willing. Several minutes might have passed, and he just looked at her, reading the flicker of surprise and worry and breath of desire too. Minutes when the water found its level again.
“I have books Joe, I thought you might to read some..to me..that’s what I thought of..” That seemed not at all big enough for the space that needed filling, space that was keen and sharp and not that comfy warm blackberry pie sort of a place but the hard edges of want.
“Was it now?”
She could almost see the rise of his chest and they both knew, once they said yes it would be unstoppable. But for now he saw yes mixed with maybe and whatever else Joe had done he had never forced a woman to do anything, so he looked up at the mountain, steady and quiet peaks that didn’t answer and that was just fine, and then he filled the space.
“Aye well that would be grand Sarah, once I have cleaned these dishes.”
She could have kissed him for it really, but under the circumstances thought better of it, concentrating on passing him the few dishes to wash in the nearly cold water, watching his hands work meticulously and carefully, placing each plate on top of its partner almost soundlessly. He was more careful now with her too, almost too far away to make the passing of the plates easy, his fingers keeping their distance but the last pot being the cobbler and he smiled at her, at last.
“Sure they’ll be not much to clean there, I think I polished that off without a lick left..” dark eyes crinkling under his lashes which might have even brushed his cheeks when he closed them, and Sarah felt a lurch that she might see that very thing if she let him stay, but Joe was for now focused on the job in hand, set to the task of swilling water and rubbing the stubborn edges of browned sugar.
Sarah couldn’t help but smile, “Well I am very glad that you liked it, now will you put that down and come read to me, a sing song voice to read to me in trade for a blackberry pudding. How does that sound?”
“You’d fair have yer work cut out back in Australia then Sarah. A whole field full of blackberry bushes you’d have to plant, though there’s not many as had books to read, save the Bible, and between you and me, that gives the game away in the first chapter.…” to which he might have added “unlike you” but instead he grinned and reached up to place the pan back exactly where it belonged on the shelf and she very nearly shook her head. This man was definitely an odd bead in the pot.
“Now what book is it you are wanting me to read?” Joe sat back down at the table, the only other possibility being unthinkable for just now, “Something you were enjoying on your Sunday before a stranger came up and pulled you from it?”
“Well as a matter of fact,” a great smile at the accuracy of his guess as she picked up her book from the chair by the fire, and carried it to him, “It’s this. ‘Innocents Abroad’ by Mark Twain. I’d only read the first three chapters - I make myself read slow so I don’t use it all up in one day. I can only get one every 2 weeks so I try to make it last like a big pot of stew for a whole week at least.”
“So that would be me upsetting all your plans then, aye? For stew and book? A troublemaker, Joe Byrne, me Ma always said…” but there was a twinkle in his eye and she knew he didn’t mind that much at all.
“We can start back at the beginning, so you don’t miss anything,” she offered, and then thought about the implication behind those words and turned her attention back to the water just coming to a boil for tea hoping the glow on her face could be ascribed to the fire. She heard more than saw the touch of a grin in his answer as he flipped through the pages, “Well now, we don’t always have to start at the beginning do we?”
She swallowed just as he slipped his fingers between the pages he’d been flipping with his eyes closed.
Joe leaned back against the hard back of the chair, stretching his legs out under the table, just a scrape of his heels on the floor as his eyes scanned the pages in front of him, searching for a way in to the text in front of him. His hands almost seemed to big for the book, more used to horses and fires and pistols maybe, but nevertheless holding the bound pages like she could imagine he would a new born foal, with the sort of gentle comfortableness and wonder that would pull at every string. His eyes frowned a little and searched the title again for a clue before he cleared his throat
“Well Sarah it sounds like someplace from somebody’s imagination, one of them smoky dreams maybe” His eyes flickered up to hers for recognition “ But well since this is the place me fingers found what do you say we find out where this fella went both together?”
Sarah let her shoulders fall and her smile tell him ‘yes’ and she watched him focus those brown eyes on the paper in front of him.
“Will you need more light Joe? I have another oil lamp”
“Its grand as it is, cozy wouldn’t you say?” he was grinning “just grand Lass, but thank you all the same”
Joe’s words started slowly, a stumble of difficulty over the sound that the letters should make in an unfamiliar tongue, but well if was possible for words to seep into you, that’s what they did
Rested and refreshed, we took the rail happy and contented. I shall not tarry to speak of the handsome Lago di Gardi; its stately castle that holds in its stony bosom the secrets of an age so remote that even tradition goeth not back to it
She let him take her, soft spoken words mixing with warm air and crackles from the fire until it was a thick cloth around that could have lifted the little house and swept away with it. Swept it to a place with water for streets and boats instead of horses
The imposing mountain scenery that ennobles the landscape thereabouts; nor yet of ancient Padua or haughty Verona; nor of their Montagues and Capulets, their famous balconies and tombs of Juliet and Romeo et al., but hurry straight to the ancient city of the sea, the widowed bride of the Adriatic. It was a long, long ride. But toward evening, as we sat silent and hardly conscious of where we were -- subdued into that meditative calm that comes so surely after a conversational storm -- some one shouted
And sure enough, afloat on the placid sea a league away, lay a great city, with its towers and domes and steeples drowsing in a golden mist of sunset.
Joe looked up from the book
“Holy Mary..A floating city, did ye hear that Sarah?”
He saw her face wide-eyed as she shook her head in amazement, unable to imagine the feeling of nothing underneath her. Her feet pressed into the soles of her boots as if to remember that the mountains and stones she breathed in everyday had never faltered. He grinned as if to say it was all just as fantastic to him and then picked up again.
Right from the water's edge rose long lines of stately palaces of marble; gondolas were gliding swiftly hither and thither and disappearing suddenly through unsuspected gates and alleys; ponderous stone bridges threw their shadows athwart the glittering waves.
Her eyes involuntarily moved to the door as if it might suddenly swing open to show them floating on their own cabin-shaped raft, while galleried houses moved in and out of view and women clad in jewel-toned silk paddled by in old canoes.
There was life and motion everywhere, and yet everywhere there was a hush, a stealthy sort of stillness, that was suggestive of secret enterprises of bravoes and of lovers; and clad half in moonbeams and half in mysterious shadow…music came floating over the waters -- Venice was complete.
She’d let herself flow with the current long enough that when the silence caught up with her it was like finding the nose of her boat bumping up against the shore. She opened her eyes not knowing when she’d closed them and found Joe watching her as a very contented Cheetie purred on his lap.
“It’s quite a picture isn’t it…? So tell me now we’ve introduced you to a kangaroo and sent you floating down the Grand Canal, what’s the most fantastic place you’ve seen?”
Her tea had gone cold and Joe’s was empty, so she poured some more while she pulled herself back into the room, though she didn’t have to think about her answer. “The Cliff Cities of the Anasazi – the Old Ones” Many years before the people found this good grass, this land, there were the Old Ones. And they built their homes, carved their homes in limestone cliffs in a place called Mesa Verde. It’s a whole town and you can walk around and its not a cave like a bear cave or something with a room its more like…hollowed out of the earth, so the earth curves over you to protect you some from the wind and the rain and all, but it is still open.”
It was Joe’s turn to look amazed now, trying to find pictures in his memories to fit but feeling they were not grand enough. “Were they hard to get to then?”
“Well not that far from here really, a long day’s ride or two easy ones. But the cliffs themselves…some of them you can walk up paths and it’s an easy walk because the ground is sandy there and soft. But some of them you had to scrabble up and down the face of the cliff with handholds…you should see it sometime Joe, “ she smiled, “Not palaces exactly, but then they are too….”
“Well since I don’t know the way perhaps you will agree to show me one day?”
And it was hard to say no to a man who seemed to be so enthusiastic about almost anything she suggested or offered and quite a lot that she hadn’t, well that and a man on whom one’s cat seemed to have taken up residence.
Fingers were scratching behind his ears and Cheetie was showing an indecent amount of pleasure
“Sure he likes to be tickled. Don’t you me darlin’” and Joe picked him up to look in her face “But I better be on me way before I am thrown out.”
He placed the cat back on the seat, despite the mew of discontent and reached to find his jacket which seemed like all of him to have decided it was comfortable, molding itself round the back of the chair.
If she was going to ask him to stay this was the time, and so she kept her lips shut for fear of what they might say while his eyes looked at her face
“Thank you Sarah, I feel like I slid down that hard old mountain and ended up in a feather.. well now.. a pillow.” Which wasn’t much better really and his eyes were glinting “Would you mind if I borrowed this book, give me something to do when I get to the hotel. I’ll be sure to have it back to you in time.”
It was her turn to smile “Of course not.Or you might try the second floor of the saloon..”
There was a stop in the conversation where he frowned, a nodding grin back, this woman took him back with her frankness, but he could play too.
“Aye well that I might, see how it goes with the Doges Palace and all shall I? Thanks for the tip. Straight down the valley so you say?”
He seemed taller when he stood next to her and she was almost taken aback by his hand stretched out.
“Thank you from me and Chuchip.”
He had hardly let go before he was lifting the latch, a blast of cold night air almost taking their breath away
“Shut the door quick will yer..keep the warm in” and he disappeared in the black, Sarah sat on her chair listening to the tinkle of buckles as he saddled the horse, a breath out as he mounted her, and then the click of his tongue as the hooves trod over harder ground back out to the trail. And then it was quiet save for the wind in the aspens and the night birds and the whisper of the mountains, well all that and the purr of Cheetie as he settled into another lap.