Several authors are coming out with stories based on three songs by Marty Robbins: El Paso, Feleena and El Paso City.
This is a follow up to our first "Invitational" in the fall of 2006 with entries based on the Statler Brother's song, "This Bed of Rose's." If there is continuing support we might make this a regularly semi-annual event.
As always I would like to thank my editors, LadyCibelle and Techsan, for their continuing editing of my stories.
Chapter 1: The Beginning:
I'll start off by saying my name is Bill and I'm twenty-five years old. I'm a general contractor; I do all types of home repair and improvements. I've been working in Louisiana for over two months now helping to rebuild homes for the needy. I'm self-employed but hooked up with a contracting crew to do this work.
I got a call from my dad the other day asking if I could go to El Paso, Texas for a combination family reunion and the celebration of my Grandfather turning ninety. I was the youngest of all the grandkids in the family. I told my dad I would be sure to be there.
My grandfather might be old but he had a memory that wouldn't quit. He was great when it came to history but had a hard time remembering what he had for breakfast that morning. He and my grandmother were married for seventy years. She was eighty-seven and they still lived in their own home down in El Paso.
I told Meek Contracting that I would be leaving them at the end of the month. I wanted to give them time to find a replacement. I was good at what I did and could find work just about anywhere. I dated a lot of girls in the cities where I worked but didn't have anyone that I was overly serious about. I moved around too much and most women seemed to want to stay put.
I looked back on my schooling and knew I wasn't the smartest kid in the class. In fact I just got by on average grades. I knew I wouldn't be going to college so I took up general contracting in our tech schools. Got my diploma and set out working.
I found that I was good working with my hands. Home repair, electric to plumbing, I could do it all. The reason I brought all this knowledge stuff up was because since I got out of school, I found I was interested in history. Being down in Louisiana I learned a lot about the past of people living there. Now I kind of wished I would have listened a little more in school when it came to history. I began to find the history of the different regions of the United States fascinating.
I had been watching the HBO series 'Deadwood' with my dad when I was home. It was something about the way they lived back then. I wondered how much was made up and how much might have been true. Dad told me to ask Grandpa when I saw him. If anyone knew anything about Western history, it would be Grandpa.
I headed down to El Paso to see the family. About half our relatives still lived in the state of Texas. The rest of the family lived all over the United States. This would be the first time that almost all our relatives were going to try to be there for the family reunion and Grandpa's birthday.
I had one uncle that owned a motel in El Paso and he had it all booked up with relatives. Other family members were staying with relatives who lived in the area. Mom and Dad were going to stay at Grandpa and Grandma's house. They told me that I could stay there too. At first I was just going to stay at a motel, but since I spend half my life in motels, I told Dad I'd be happy to stay at Grandpa's.
They had a finished basement that no one used anymore. My grandparents were too old to climb steps. The room was mainly used for storage now. I had to move a lot of stuff around just so I could get near the bed.
The house as a whole needed some work done. My grandparents kind of let it go. A couple of my aunts and uncles as well as my dad pulled me aside and asked if they could talk with me. They asked me if I would be willing to fix up my grandparents' house. They would all chip in and buy all the needed material. I could live in the basement for as long as needed to get the place fixed up.
I figured I could get it done in about a month; new windows, siding and a new roof. They offered to pay me but I told them that it wouldn't be necessary. It's the least I could do for my grandparents. I wasn't hurting for money and I was going to have free room and board as it was. I told them I would start on it as soon as the reunion was over. I figured if I did need any extra money, I could easily pick up a remodeling job or two in the area.
I came up from my room in the basement when I started hearing laughter coming from upstairs. A lot of the relatives were arriving. The reunion was to be the next day and the birthday party for Grandpa was on Sunday. Most everyone would probably be there for all of it. As I walked upstairs I saw some of my cousins, aunts and uncles.
It was great seeing all my relatives. Many of them I met for the first time and others I hadn't seen since I was a little kid. Overall we were a damn good looking and friendly family. I had three older sisters who were coming in with their families in the morning. There sure were a lot of people arriving.
As I was looking around, my dad came up to me. He was a great father and always stood by me. Of course I was his youngest child and his only son. While we were talking I looked toward the door and said, "Holy shit!" My dad looked toward the door to see what grabbed my attention. There stood the most beautiful girl I have ever seen. Of course it was just my opinion, but if there was such a thing as love at first sight, it just happened to me.
She looked to be Mexican or of some type of Guatemalan descent. Shoulder length dark hair and deep brown eyes. I saw her smile and she had those beautiful dimples. The best way for me to try to describe her is to say she wasn't dressed sexy but she looked sexy. If she had on a potato sack she would draw my attention.
"Dad, who is she? Is she a cousin or relation of ours? Everyone else here is a relative or married to one. Damn, Dad she takes my breath away."
"Easy, Billy," my dad laughed. "She isn't a relative, but she is here to see someone."
"Just my luck, Dad. I see someone like that and she's with a relative. Who's the lucky guy, Dad?" I asked.
Dad started laughing. "It isn't funny, Dad; it's just something about her." I was always able to talk openly with my dad that way. He wasn't just my dad but was probably my best friend. I could tell him anything and he would do his best to help me out. Most sons don't have fathers like him.
"I'm not laughing at you, Billy. It's just that I've never seen you fall for a girl that you haven't even met. She is a cute one though. The person she's here to see is Grandpa. She's his and Grandma's nurse. She stops by every day to make sure they are okay."
"So she's not a relative and not a girlfriend of a relative. Gosh, I sure hope she's single, Dad."
"She's single, Bill," Dad laughed again.
She had walked up to Grandpa and was talking to him. Grandpa saw me watching her and he waved to me to come over to him.
"Billy," Grandpa always called me Billy. He was Bill, my dad was William and of course that made me Billy. We were all Williams and I was the third. "Billy, I want you to meet Corinna. She may be beautiful on the outside, but once you get passed that soft beautiful person you'll see this horrible mean nurse."
"Oh, Grandpa Bill," that's what Corinna called my Grandpa. "I'm not that mean. Someone has to get you to take your medications and help you with your diet. Besides, underneath that gruff exterior, I know you love me," smiled Corinna.
Corinna looked over at me. "So, I finally get to meet you. Your Grandfather has talked about you for the longest time. He told me that I was going to... never mind, it isn't important," spoke Corinna.
"Yes, it is! What did he say?" I asked to a blushing Corinna.
Grandpa blurted out, "I told her that after you saw her that you would fall in love with her just like I did. I told her that one day the two of you would get married and she would be my granddaughter. You two would have the most beautiful offspring."
"I'm sorry," said Corinna. "I should have never mentioned it. I'm so embarrassed."
"Hogwash!" said Grandpa. "What do you think, Billy? Was I wrong?"
"Corinna, Grandpa's right. I don't want to embarrass you since we just met, but you are one beautiful woman and over the next few days, maybe we can get to know each other a little better."
"I told you, Corinna, didn't I? Billy and I have the same taste in women. Billy, don't let this one get away. I've been saving her for you."
"Grandpa Bill, stop it. You're embarrassing me," smiled Corinna. "If you don't behave I'll give you a shot in the behind in front of everyone, or I'll tell Grandma Louise and she'll set you straight." Corinna called my grandmother Grandma Louise. She told me later she didn't feel right just calling them Bill and Louise since they were so much older. That's when Grandpa told her what to call them.
Corinna had graduated from nursing school about a year ago. Her mother was also a nurse and she took care of Grandma and Grandpa for the last six years. After Corinna graduated, her mom asked my grandparents if they would mind Corinna taking over their account. Grandpa said he knew Corinna from the day she was born and would be glad to have her help them out.
Corinna worked at the clinic and she was the home care provider for my grandparents. She was supposed to just stop by and help them with their medications but she said she fell in love with them and she would talk to them for hours. She would help make dinner and usually eat with them.
My grandparents ran a country general store most of their life. When grandpa turned seventy-five he decided to turn the store over to one of his daughters. Aunt Helen and her family bought the store from my grandparents and are still running it today. Corinna said when she was a little girl she remembered going into the store and my grandpa giving her goodies. Often times it was an apple or orange. They didn't want her to have just sweets.
I was talking to Grandpa alone for a few minutes and he asked me what I thought of Corinna. He was a gruff old man on the outside but everyone knew he had a heart of gold. He always spoke his piece. He would say that at his age if he wanted to say something he wasn't afraid to say it.
"Well, Grandpa, I told Dad that when I first saw her she took my breath away. I really would like to get to know her better. The first thing that came to my mind when I heard her name was the song, Corinna, Corinna." I started singing a little bit to Grandpa.
"I love Corinna, tell the world I do
I love Corinna, tell the world I do.
I pray at night she'd like to love me too.
"Corinna, Corinna Corinna, Corinna,
Corinna, Corinna I love you so."
"It's just the first thing I thought about Grandpa. I know it's crazy; we don't know anything about each other. It was just my first thought. I don't usually get this way when I see a girl. Anyway, I would like to get to know her better."
"Billy, all I can say is she is special, really special. We'll talk more about that some other time," said Grandpa.
Boy, he sure had me wondering now. I guess I would just take it one day at a time.
We (Corinna and me) seemed to be together most of that evening. The relatives that knew Corinna just smiled at us. The rest kept asking me if she was my girlfriend. I kept trying to explain to everyone that asked that she was gramp's nurse. Corinna just laughed about it every time.
"Forget it, Billy. They're expecting over two hundred people tomorrow. Just tell them we're friends. We are friends, aren't we?" She smiled.
I smiled back at her. "I sure hope so. If gramps is right we'll be more than just friends eventually," I laughed.
God, was I happy. I just met her and felt so comfortable with her. Whenever we looked over at gramps or dad they would both be smiling. I think they had this planned. I sure hope Corinna felt a little bit like I did. I did notice that she was smiling at most everyone she talked to. I don't know why, but I felt just a little jealous. I've never been the jealous type.
Later that evening I asked Corinna if she would like me to walk her home. She had said that sometimes she just walks to my grandparents' home since it was only about a half mile away. She could always use the exercise.
As we were walking I asked her if she dated. It seemed odd that a girl as nice as her would be alone at twenty-four.
"I date once in awhile. I guess I never found the right guy yet. I buckled down in school to get my nursing degree. I put dating on the back burner for a while." She smiled after telling me this. I knew there was something more.
"Okay, Corinna, why the smile. What aren't you telling me?" I asked.
"Oh, it's my brothers. I have seven brothers and two sisters. I'm the youngest girl in the family and my brother and brother-in-laws watch out for me. Whenever I go on a date, they have a tendency to be over-protective of me. They've ruined more than one relationship. I still live at home with some of my brothers and my parents. Most of the rest of the family live nearby."
"Doesn't it bother you that they kind of interfere with your dating?" I asked.
"Not really, I know they mean well and as I said, I don't think I have met the right person yet. When that happens I'll stick up for my man," she laughed.
When we got near her house there were three guys sitting on the porch watching us walking toward the house.
"Those are two of my brothers and a friend of theirs. Don't worry, they won't hurt you," she smiled again.
"Who's your friend?" her brother Carlos asked.
"Take it easy guys. This is Grandpa Bill's grandson. He came for the birthday and reunion party. He offered to walk me home," Corinna told her brothers.
I stuck out my hand and shook the three men's hands. They did shake my hand. "So you're Bill's grandson. He's one of the nicest gringos we ever met. He was always good to our family. Thanks for walking our sister home. We'll see you at his party Sunday. He invited our whole family."
I knew that was my cue to leave. I didn't want to overstay my welcome the first night.
"Will I see you tomorrow, Corinna?" I asked.
"Of course. I have to stop by and make sure Grandpa Bill and Grandma Louise are okay. It's my job. I know your family will be there but I want to make sure they take their medications. Grandma Louise isn't really doing too good. She has sugar and a heart condition. I'm worried about her. So, I hope to see you there."
"Okay, till tomorrow." I squeezed her hand and she returned the light squeeze. I know it's stupid to some people but it meant the world to me.
I talked with mom and dad when I got back. I mentioned to them what Corinna had said about grandma.
"We know, Billy. It is part of the reason for the family reunion. The doctors only give her about six more months to live," said my dad.
"Does grandpa know, Dad?"
"Yes, he's aware of it but he won't accept it. They've been together seventy years. We know that when grandma passes that it won't be long before grandpa joins her. It's just seems to happen in marriages when the couples are close. I guess it's a type of loneliness and heartbreak. Don't talk about it around Grandpa."
"I won't, Dad; Thanks for telling me."
The next day the reunion was going full tilt. Everyone was having a good time. I must have walked up to grandma and kissed her on the cheek ten times. She was the perfect example of a grandmother. She was worried about everyone having enough to eat and having a good time. It was great seeing her kissing my grandpa. Just the thought of the two of them brought tears to my eyes.
I kept looking for Corinna. I looked up and there she was. She walked over and kissed both of my grandparents on the cheek. Gramps looked over at me. "See, Billy, I still have the touch," said Grandpa. "I have all the good looking women kissing me," he smiled hugging both Grandma and Corinna.
Corinna smiled. Damn, the way that girl made me feel did something to me. She just had this flirty nature about her. "I wish a good looking woman would kiss me," I replied.
Grandma got up and came over and gave me a kiss on the cheek. Everyone who heard me started laughing including grandma.
"Thank you, Grandma. I don't know a more beautiful woman," I said. She kissed me on the cheek a second time.
I turned to Grandpa, "Grandpa, I have a question for you. Dad said if anyone would know, it would be you. It has to do with history."
"What is it Billy? I'll try to explain it if I can," said Grandpa.
"Dad and I were watching the HBO series Deadwood. It was about a town in the 1870's in South Dakota. Have you ever heard of the series or the town? This western was so different than the old ones I used to watch as a kid."
My Grandpa smiled at me. "Billy, I watched it with Corinna."
"Grandpa, that show had some really nasty language in it and a lot of killings and nakedness."
Corinna spoke up. "I'm an adult, Billy. I've heard bad language before. Grandpa Bill wanted to watch it and Grandma Louise didn't want any part of it, so I watched it with him. To be honest with you, Billy, I found the show to be riveting."
"Billy," Grandpa said. "Deadwood was as close to the real west as any movie I have ever seen. It's probably why I wanted to watch it. Let me try and explain some of it to you."
Chapter 2: Grandpa explains Deadwood and El Paso.
"Most movies don't show what it was really like back in the old west. Deadwood did. Of course a few things were made for TV but they got most of it right.
"Deadwood was an outlaw community. When they started out they didn't have any law and order at all. They weren't the only town where there was a lot of violence. Texas towns were also known for being unruly. Towns like Fort Griffin, Laredo, San Antonio and even El Paso. They really were a wild frontier and the likes of Calamity Jane, Wild Bill (Butler) Hickok and Seth Bullock were real people.
"They did their part in helping tame the towns. Wild Bill really did get killed in Deadwood by Jack McCall and was buried in Deadwood. That show depicted life like it really was. The women really had it rough. They were talked into believing they would have nice positions and jobs when they arrived out west. When they got there they found that there was no jobs to be had and they didn't have the finances to go back so they were stuck in towns like Deadwood.
"The men outnumbered the women two hundred to one. The women needed to either marry a man to help take care of her or find work. Most had to turn tricks and become soiled doves. It's a name they gave to prostitutes. It was a horrible time for most women out west. There was no law and order to protect them.
"It was a time of turmoil for most women. Many turned to drugs and a lot took their own lives. The movie Deadwood really explained the true beginning of the western world more than any movie I've seen," explained Grandpa.
"Grandpa, you said that El Paso was also a violent town. Was it about the same time as Deadwood?"
"Yes, it was, Billy. Do you remember the songs that Marty Robbins sings about El Paso?"
"There were two of them. Wasn't there? El Paso and Feleena," I asked.
Corinna spoke up. "There was a third one also Billy. It was titled El Paso City. It came out later after the other two were popular."
Grandma got up to get something and came back with a picture of Marty Robbins and Grandpa together. It was autographed saying, "To my good friend Bill."
"Wow, Grandpa, you knew Marty Robbins personally?" I asked.
Grandma spoke up. I knew she was so proud of Grandpa. "Before Marty sang El Paso he came to town and asked around to see who knew any of the history of the town. He came to the store one day to talk with your Grandfather and after he went back to Nashville, he made El Paso. Shortly after that he made Feleena."
Grandpa spoke, "After those songs were made, Marty would come to see us whenever he was in town."
My Uncle Ralph, dad's younger brother came in with his guitar. He sat down and sang El Paso for us. Man did he ever sound good!
"Out in the West Texas town of El Paso
I fell in love with a Mexican girl.
Night-time would find me in Rosa's Cantina;
Music would play and Feleena would whirl.
Blacker than night were the eyes of Feleena,
Wicked and evil while casting a spell.
My love was deep for this Mexican maiden;
I was in love but in vain, I could tell."
One night a wild young cowboy came in,
Wild as the West Texas wind.
Dashing and daring,
A drink he was sharing
With wicked Feleena,
The girl that I loved."
As Uncle Ralph sang the song everyone was listening. The song went on to say how Feleena's boyfriend was jealous of this cowboy and challenged him to a gunfight. He shot him dead and realized that the cowboy had friends and he had to escape. He ran out of the back door of the cafe and mounted a horse and left town.
After Uncle Ralph finished the song everyone applauded him. He sure could sing. I didn't even think of it at the time but I was holding Corinna's hand throughout the whole song.
"Grandpa, was it a true story? You know, about this man and Feleena? Was he really her boyfriend? Did the shooting really take place? Did he get shot? What happened to Feleena after that?" I asked.
"Easy, Billy, too many questions to answer all at once. Let me start at the beginning." Grandpa then asked Uncle Ralph to sing the song Feleena.
After he finished and everyone clapped for Uncle Ralph, Grandpa told us the story behind the songs. It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Everyone that didn't know the story sat around in the different rooms and listened to Grandpa speak.
"It all began back in the late 1800's - 1870's to be a little more exact. The west was rampant with violence. Like in Deadwood there was no law. The only justice was how fast you were with a gun. The young women of the day only had their families to protect them. Some like Calamity Jane could protect themselves.
"As in the song, when Feleena was seventeen her parents wanted her to marry so that she would have a man to protect her. She lived in New Mexico with them and her brothers and sisters.
"One day she ran away. She said she was going to decide whom she would date and marry, if anyone. No-one was going to make her decisions for her. She was tired of the desert nights, poverty, grief and strife. She didn't know where she'd go, but she'd get there, and she would find happiness, if she would follow her dream.
"As it said in the song,
"After she ran away, she went to Sante Fe
And in the year that she stayed there, she learned about life
In just a little while, she learned that with a smile
She could have pretty clothes, she could be any man's wife;
Rich men romanced her, they dined and they danced her
She understood men and she treated them all just the same
A form that was fine and rare, dark shining glossy hair.
Lovely to look at, Feleena was this woman's name."
"She became restless in Sante Fe, and knew she had to get away. Again she didn't care where. It could be to any town where the lights had a bright glow. One cowboy she had talked to mentioned the town of El Paso. He told her that in El Paso the music never stopped and she could dance forever if she wanted to.
"She bought a one-way ticket from Sante Fe to El Paso. It took three days and three nights by stage with a slight rest now and then. She didn't care; she knew she would find that her new life would be more exciting than where she had been.
"She went to a hotel and got a room at the Lily Belle. She quickly changed to a form-fitting black satin dress. She wanted to experience the lights and sounds of this new town. Every man that saw her stopped to stare at this woman who had just arrived into town. There was something extra special about her. Even the women remarked of the charm she possessed. Yes, Feleena was in a class of her own.
"Another verse of the song tells about Feleena.
"Dancin' and laughter was what she was after
And Rosa's Cantina had lights, with love in the gleam
That's what she hunted and that's what she wanted
Rosa's was one place a nice girl would never be seen;
It was the same way, it was back in Sante Fe
Men would make fools of themselves at the thought of romance
Rosa took heed of, the place was in need of
This kind of excitement, so she paid Feleena to dance."
"Rosa was a business woman but she also was childless. She took Feleena under her wing and protected her and treated her as her daughter. No man touched Feleena unless Feleena wanted to be touched. There were many brawls and fights over the rights to Feleena. No man ever won. Many were stabbed, others were shot, a few were even killed. In the end they all learned, no-one had any rights to the mysterious beautiful woman named Feleena.
"About a year had passed and Feleena was dancing and felt as free as ever. She glanced up through the swinging doors and saw a young cowboy. He was so different from any of the other cowboys who frequented the establishment. He wasn't like all of the rest; he was tall and so handsomely dressed. Feleena had to meet him. She asked Rosa if she knew the handsome cowboy but was told that he was new in town; no-one knew who he was.
"Feleena walked over to his table. She knew she had his attention. She got every man's attention that ever came through the swinging door of Rosa's cafe. He asked her to dance and she said yes as he got up and took her into his arms. Feleena danced close to him, and they both felt the heat of each other's body as he held her body tightly against his.
"They spent the next six weeks together. Each minute he spent with her, he fell more deeply in love with her. He had a problem. He was insanely jealous of glances she'd give to all the other customers. He didn't understand that it was just her nature and the way she had always lived. As it said in the song, 'he was hurting inside from all of her flirting.'
"He saw her flirting one night; it started a gun-fight. After the smoke cleared away, on the floor lay a man. Feleena's young lover had shot down another man right there in Rosa's cafe. He knew he had to leave town. Even though there was not any law in town, the man was known to have a lot of friends. He knew they would be coming after him to avenge the death of their friend. He ran out of the back door of the cafe and mounted his horse and rode away. According to the song, he rode back to New Mexico.
"It was about three months later around five o'clock in the evening, it was said that Feleena heard gun shots. She quickly ran to the back door of the cafe and saw her young cowboy, riding low in the saddle, and riding in fast. He wanted to see Feleena. He was riding hard and fast to Rosa's cafe. His love for her was much stronger than his fear of death.
"As he was riding in, he saw at least a dozen cowboys chasing and shooting at him. He knew he had to see Feleena one last time. Life without her was nothing. She ran out to meet him, she wanted to kiss and greet him. She wanted to tell him, make that needed to tell him that she was carrying his child. When he saw her, he tried to motion her back, with a wave of his hand. The bullets were flying and he didn't want her to get shot.
"As she saw him fall from the saddle and into the sand, she ran to him and knelt beside him. She wrapped her arms around him and wept. She felt the warm blood that flowed from the wound in his side. He raised to kiss her and she heard him whisper, "Never forget me — Feleena, it's over. Goodbye."
"She screamed out, "No! No! You can't die. Please, God, don't let him die. I'm carrying your baby. Please wake up, please wake up," she cried as she held him to her breasts.
"Now at this point is where most songs and stories get it wrong," said Grandpa.
"They have Feleena grabbing a gun and holding it to her breast and pulling the trigger. That is not what happened at all. She did grab the gun but aimed it at the cowpoke who shot her young lover. She shot and killed him but one of the other cowpokes shot her. The bullet went into her chest.
"At that point all shooting stopped. Rosa came running out crying. She saw Feleena lying across her lover's chest. She ran up to her and found her still breathing. 'Get Doc Hoyt, ' Rosa yelled. 'Get him now. Feleena is still alive.'
"The cowboys didn't want any part of anyone saying they were involved in the shooting of Feleena. They knew they would be hunted down and killed. Feleena had too many friends. They quickly departed never returning to El Paso again. In the meantime Doc Hoyt came out to see Feleena. A crowd gathered and the doc had two men carry Feleena into the cafe and lay her on the pool table. He did what he could to stop the bleeding but he told Rosa he didn't know if Feleena would pull through or not.
" 'She's going to need that strong will of hers to make it, ' said the doc.
"Most doctors of that day didn't have the best of training. They carried around a small kit with a few remedies in it. After he got the bleeding stopped Rosa had two men carry Feleena up to her room. The doc tried to make the place as sterile as possible.
" 'Rosa, ' said the doc. 'We have to get the bullet out as soon as possible if she's to have any chance to make it.'
" 'She's pregnant, Doc, ' said Rosa.
" 'Yes, I can see that. We'll do the best we can and hope they both pull through, ' said the doctor.
"They spent an hour removing the bullet. It was lodged close to her heart. The doc used a steady hand and Rosa prayed. After removing the bullet, the doc said, 'All we can do now is wait. It will take time and a will to live.'
"It was two days before Feleena regained consciousness. She cried, remembering the loss of her young cowboy. Rosa talked to her and explained that she needed the will to live for her baby now. It would be the offspring of her and her lover's love for each other.
"Feleena did pull through and had a son. She never married but she continued to work for Rosa and raised her son into a fine man. Even though she never had any more children and never got married, she was blessed with eight grandchildren from her son who married a nurse.
"A few years after the death of her young lover and the birth of her son, El Paso grew and law and order was then making the city a little safer place to live."
Chapter 3: What happened next?
"Wow! Grandpa, that was a fantastic story. Is that the way it really happened? You sure know your history. What happened after that? You know, to Feleena and her family. Also, Grandpa, how did you learn about all this?" I asked.
Grandpa laughed. "You sure ask enough questions, Billy. That's enough storytelling for tonight. I'll tell the rest of the story tomorrow, after my big birthday party."
"I agree," spoke Corinna. "Grandpa Bill needs to get some rest for his big day tomorrow."
After grandpa and grandma retired to bed, the party still went on till the wee hours of the morning. Corinna stayed with me almost the full time. I really did wonder if it was possible to fall totally in love with a woman in two days. A woman I didn't even know. If what Grandpa said was true, all those men were fascinated with Feleena. Could I be that way with Corinna too? She was with me at the party but I wondered how she felt inside.
I walked her home but she didn't talk much. She just smiled at me. I didn't want to keep asking her questions. I did reach out to hold her hand and she returned hers willingly. Did that mean something? Was I reading too much into her simple movements?
I couldn't believe that when we got to her house there were two men on the porch. It was two of her brothers. It was three in the morning and they were waiting for her?
"Where have you been?" they asked Corinna.
"At Grandpa Bill's reunion. I don't want you guys interrogating Billy either. Is that understood?" Corinna said it more as a statement than a question. Her brothers just nodded.
"I better go. I'll see you tomorrow at the birthday party," I said.
She leaned over, smiled and gave me one gentle kiss on the lips. "Goodnight, Billy. Sleep tight. I'll see you tomorrow." She turned, smiled at her brothers and walked into the house.
Her brothers didn't say a word. I told them goodnight and headed home a very happy fellow. I couldn't believe such a gentle kiss made me feel like the king of the world. God, I must be in love.
The next day we had to go to the county fairgrounds for Grandpa's birthday party. Besides all our relatives, the whole town showed up. I've never seen so many people at a birthday party. I knew Grandpa and Grandma had the respect of the whole town. Just listening to everyone talk about them and how they seemed to help so many people throughout the years.
I was talking to some townspeople when I saw Corinna. She came over to me and said she wanted to introduce me to a few people. A hundred would have been closer. She introduced me to most of her family that had attended the party. The guys shook my hand and kind of just looked at me. Her sisters and sister-in-laws gave me hugs. It was then I met her mom and dad. Her dad wasn't a tall man but built stout and sturdy. Her mom was a beautiful woman in her own right. I kissed her mom on the cheek and shook her dad's hand.
Throughout the day I talked to my relatives and to Corinna's. I wasn't with Corinna most of the day. Everyone was busy talking to everyone. There were games and music for everyone to enjoy. I later found out that there was a big cover dish dinner. I have to tell you this town of people could cook.
A few of my relatives and even a few of Corinna's talked to me like I was the chosen one. Maybe I'm not explaining this quite right. It was just the hints that so many people said about Corinna. I understood a little better when I talked to her mother.
"So, Billy, how long are you going to be in El Paso?" said Mrs. Herrero, Corinna's mom.
"I'm not sure right now. I'm going to fix-up and repair my grandparents' house. Can I ask you a question, Mrs. Herrero?"
"Of course, Billy. What is it?" she asked.
"It's about Corinna. A lot of the people here say that she never dates much, others told me her brothers have chased her suitors away. I would like to date her and get to know her better. What can I do to get your family on my side?" I tried to say it with a smile.
"Billy, no-one chased Corinna's dates away. The only time her brothers interfere is if men keep bothering her and wouldn't leave her alone. She decides who and when she wants to be with someone. She has never been very serious about anyone yet. You need to know that she is one special lady in this town. I will add that she sees something special in you. She has never introduced any man to the whole family until today. She knows she doesn't need anyone else's opinion. She has always made her own decisions. All I can tell you is to always be honest with her."
"Thank you. I promise I'll be honest and good to her if she decides that she'll go out with me," I smiled.
It wasn't ten minutes later that Corinna found me in the crowd. She asked me if I wanted to dance. We went inside the pavilion where Grandpa and Grandma were sitting. I took Corinna into my arms and felt the heat of her body close to mine. I couldn't help remembering how Grandpa explained how the young cowboy felt when he held Feleena. I closed my eyes and Corrinna and I moved around the dance floor like two young lovers in the old west.
After a couple of songs a man in the crowd asked Corinna to dance. Immediately I felt jealous. I again thought about the jealous cowboy that shot the man dancing with Feleena. What was wrong with me? I've never been jealous before?
Corinna looked at the man and said, "No, thank you, I'm dancing with my boyfriend." Everyone who heard her looked surprised except Grandpa and Grandma. She had called me her boyfriend. I didn't say anything; I didn't want to spoil the moment.
I took her back into my arms and held her even tighter as we moved around the dance floor. We danced past her mother and father and they just smiled at us. I felt like I was floating on air. After the song had finished the band started a fast Mexican song that I had never heard. Corrina got up and moved her body and hips to the song. She was a fantastic dancer. She stood there and danced in front of me. So exotic and almost hypnotizing, again I pictured how Feleena must have danced for her lover. When Corinna was finished everyone clapped and she came over and gave me a hug and whispered in my ear. "That was for you and you only."
The rest of the day went by in a flash. The crowds began saying their goodbyes. Most of the townspeople went home. There were still a few of the family members left. We went back to my grandparents.
"Grandpa," I asked. "Are you up to finishing the story of Feleena tonight"
"Of course, Billy. After seeing you and Corinna at the party I really want you to know the rest of the story," he smiled.
I looked over at a smiling Corinna. "You know the rest of the story, don't you?"
"Yes, I do. I love hearing it over and over again. I would never give away the surprise ending."
"What surprise?" I asked, seeing if she would say anything; she didn't.
Later Grandpa continued his story, "Feleena never got remarried or had anymore children. As I mentioned, her son, whom she named Harley, married a nurse and had eight kids of their own. Feleena loved her grandchildren.
"After Feleena got better she went back at work in the cafe. She still danced and served drinks to the customers. Her son was the number one person in her life. As he grew up she asked Rosa if she could buy an interest in the cafe. Rosa agreed on a price. Feleena had purchased her part of the cafe so when Harley grew up he took over the bartending and bouncer part of the business.