Several authors are coming out with stories based on the song, "This Bed Of Rose's." There are two main versions of this song, one by Tanya Tucker with the main character (other than Rose) being a young girl and a version by The Statler Brothers with the main character a young man. Having a choice of male or female for the main character offers many options for variations in the story line.
The genesis of this story was an exchange of emails between Josephus and I and we decided it would be fun to have stories written by different authors based on the same starting story source, released at more or less the same time. We quickly added techsan and each of us invited additional authors to participate. Enjoy the stories coming out of this "invitational challenge."
Regards, Dynamite Jack
Thanks very much, as always, to Techsan for his quick and accurate editing! A kind though to Lady Cibelle for her comments and ongoing support.
Thanks for reading, please vote.
This story takes place in and around Julesburg, Colorado from the late 1880s to the early 1900s.
"This bed of roses that I lay on
Where I was taught to be a man
This bed of roses where I'm living
Is the only kind of love I understand"
Bed of Rose's
The Best of the Statler Brothers
©1987 UMG Recordings, Inc.
(Don Reid — Harold Reid)
My life changed that first day of the big storm. Later people came to call it the Christmas Blizzard of '87. We lived on a farm a few miles out of what just became Julesburg for the third time. The first Julesburg just kind of fizzled out. A few years later the town was resurrected and moved a few miles to be close to the new transcontinental railroad. It also became famous as a Pony Express stop.
When they started the spur down to Denver, the town moved a few miles to be closer to the new line and renamed itself Denver Junction. Now six years later we got some civic pride and wanted to get out of Denver's shadow so we went back to Julesburg.
Dad had to go to Sedgwick for a couple of days for the funeral of a close friend of his. I wasn't figuring to see my girl for Christmas but 'cause dad was leaving we had our Christmas a day early. Everyone called my dad Dutch and up until last year I was known as Little Dutch. Then I shot up a few inches and put on some weight so I was bigger than my dad so we both come to be called Dutch. Dad came over from Germany when he was a teenager and settled in Pennsylvania with his folks. When he married mom, they came out west to have their own land.
Dad took off on his buggy about four on Christmas morning, saying he'd be back in four, five days. Sedgwick was about 15 miles west of us. Our farm was on the South Platte River five miles downstream from Julesburg. Around ten I asked mom if it was okay for me to go into town and see Julie.
"Sure, honey, I'll be okay. Just be back 'fore dark — Dutch said it might snow today."
I saddled up my pinto and rode into town. Julie's dad worked for the railroad doing track maintenance and was gone a lot. Her mom was a full blood Cheyenne and had died of the fever a few years ago so she was on her own a lot. Her dad, Frederick, was there when I got there but had to leave after an hour. The guy that came to the door said it was snowing heavy with big drifts towards Cheyenne on the main track and they needed everyone to come in to keep the tracks clear.
"Dutch, this looks like a bad one, so don't stay too long."
"Yessir. As soon as I whip this cream and eat some of that great gingerbread of Julie's, I'll take off."
Julie had a slightly olive tinted skin with long, straight black hair she wore almost to her waist. She had full eyebrows shadowing the darkest brown eyes I'd ever seen. She had the high cheekbones of her mom but she had the height of her dad. She was almost as tall as I was and as pretty as a picture.
Well, I was awful moony about Julie and it was about three that we could hear the house shake from a sudden blast of air. I opened the front door and the wind tore it from my hand. The temperature had dropped somethin' alarming and I grabbed a last piece of cake and kissed Julie on the cheek.
I'd just worn a regular jacket so Julie gave me one of her dad's. It was way tight on me but the fleece lining felt good. I always kept my gloves in my saddlebag. My pony, Paint, didn't want to leave the small shed behind Julie's house but I kicked her a few times and we got started. That was the worst ride of my life! It was hard to tell which end was up in what was now a full-fledged blizzard. The wind was blowing the snow straight out of the northwest and was starting to drift somewhat fierce.
After losing the road a couple times I cut off to my right until I reached the river. As long as I followed the riverbank I knew I'd hit the farm. About half way home, I had stop off and give Paint a rest. I walked until I couldn't any more, breaking a path through the snow. My ears felt like they were on fire.
I finally had to get back on my horse — now I was worrying some about even stayin' alive. At last, I knew we were on our land — two quarter-sections laid along the river — and started feeling better. I saw the barn and jumped off to pull the door open. I took the saddle off and put some grain in the feedbag for Paint — he'd sure earned it. As I pulled the heavy barn door closed, my life as I knew it ended.
I heard the heavy roar of a shotgun, barely muffled by the wind, and knew it was my dad's twelve gauge. From the sound, I knew it was both barrels. I stumbled through the drifting snow, scared now. I knew dad kept the gun on the rack on the kitchen wall and he always kept it loaded. An eerie keening sound drew me towards my folk's bedroom. It was an unearthly sound, not anything that could be made by a sane person.
I got to the open door of the bedroom and froze in shock. My mom was in bed with Bill Curtis — he owned a big ranch some miles south of us — both of them naked and both of them... very dead. I could see what happened: my dad had tried to kill Mr. Curtis but in his agony he forgot what both barrels could do. Mr. Curtis was most blown in two but mom had caught enough of the double-ought pellets that she died 'most instantly too.
I forced myself to look at Dad and saw his eyes were as dead as my mom's were. He was still making this god-awful noise and I was about to panic.
I knew where my dad kept his jug and I ran in and grabbed it. Taking a big swig for myself, I ran in and handled the jug to dad. He seemed to know what to do with it so, after he drank several long swallows, I led him into the living room and sat him in his chair. I built up the fire and covered Dad with a blanket.
I sat down on the floor in front of the fireplace and just started sobbing. I didn't know what to do — I wouldn't even be able to get over to Edilson's place a half-mile away through the storm. I guess the storm also made Dad turn back.
The storm lasted three days. My dad was catatonic — he just sat there drinking. He went through a couple of jugs of corn whiskey while the storm lasted. He didn't talk even once... once in a while he would look over to the bedroom door. A couple times he would use the bucket in the kitchen corner I'd set up.
I thought I'd go crazy — in the house with my crazy dad and two dead people for three days — no one to tell me what to do, no one to help me out. I couldn't do more for Dad than give him the whiskey, which seemed to help him some. I covered Mom and Mr. Curtis with a heavy quilt and opened the bedroom window wide and closed the bedroom door. I put some rags again the base of the door to keep the wind from coming in.
I made it to the barn a couple of times to take care of the animals. I had to tie a rope so I could find my way back and forth. Dad had left the horse and buggy in the front of the house. I got them in the barn but almost died doing it. I took the saddle off Mr. Curtis' horse and turned him loose. I knew I didn't have enough feed for our horses and his also.
On the morning of the third day the storm cleared. I made a path so I could go back and forth to the barn but didn't see how I could get to town. Around noon a group of riders, maybe six of them rode in looking for Mr. Curtis. They didn't know he had been here; they were just looking.
I told them what had happened and led them in the house. The wind had drifted snow in through the bedroom window and covered the floor and the bed. The bodies were frozen stiff. Four of them rode into Julesburg to get the sheriff and a wagon. They got my dad on a horse and took him with them. I never saw him again. I found out later they had put him in a crazy people's place and he died six months later. I never could find out what had happened.
The other three talked it over and just left the bedroom the way it was, window open and bodies frozen. One of them stayed to keep me company and the other two went back to the ranch to tell Mr. Curtis' wife that he was dead.
The sheriff came the next day but couldn't get a wagon through yet. He stayed for a couple hours looking things over and talking to me... but it was pretty clear what had happened. He left and finally was able to get through with a wagon the next day. He took the bodies and the guy that had stayed behind helped me clean up the bedroom. We took all the bedding out in the yard and burned it.
.... There is more of this story ...