Arizona Blue rode old Dan along the banks of the Mississippi from St. Louis, to St. Paul, Minnesota, better known to old timers as Pig’s Eye, it was November, 1885. The last time he had been in Minnesota was back in 1877, in the far north country, in the dead of winter.
The air was filled with smoke, and there had been a break in the water, the ice had thinned, and some flooding was taking place, it was unusual, in that flooding took place in Spring, but it was a early winter, and December was around the corner, and Indian Summer had crept in late, it would last a few weeks, then the harsh winter would roll back to stay until March or so. The levee was flooded with ice water, and the sixty or so homes on it seemed to be packed in among the mud. Carriages were hard to pull even with two horses in front. The mud was soaking into everyone’s shoes except for the high rubber ones.
It was a bad summer also, bad harvest, there would be a shortage of corn, wheat and sugar this year, things looked a little bleak. His quick eye saw two Indians canoeing down the Mississippi. The whole river would freeze over by the end of December, or early part of January.
A few folks were fishing on the banks of the River, ice fishing, the high cliffs behind them, and the city on the mesa above the cliffs. He greeted a few passers-by, and he was sure no one in this part of the country knew him by sight, perhaps by reputation; he had been in most every paper in the country at one time or another.
In the bottom of his jacket pocket, he had a leather pouch; it was filled with silver and gold, perhaps five-hundred dollars worth. On the back of his horse, he had a sack, it had some grub left in it, and a coffee pot, and a frying pan. He knew he had to find a place quick to warm up; his hands were numb, cold as the ice on the river. He saw a wooden sign, it read “Pig’s Eye Trading Post,” under the sign was anther one, that said, ‘Hot whisky and food…!”
“Whiskey Stranger,” said a giant of man behind the wooden bar, he must had been 250’pounds of muscle, “Big Ace is the name,” the barkeeper said.
“Yup…!” replied Blue, a whisky sounded good, it would warm up his insides, “and how about some soup?”
“Sure,” Ace said, pouring whisky in one small glass, and handing a hot glass of water to wash it down, Blue pulled out a twenty dollar gold piece, grabbed the whiskey, and 健康食品店 walked over by the wooden stove that was in the middle of the saloon, and warmed himself up, drinking from the bottle.
The bartender kept a close eye on him, he wasn’t from Minnesota, he knew that, and therefore, was suspicious.
“The bluffs around here are pretty high,” commented Blue. Ace shook his head as if to agree. To Ace, the first omen was he simply walked away with the bottle, he looked like trouble to him, and he could handle trouble. But as Blue opened up his jacket, he noticed he had two revolvers, one on the right hand side of him, the other in a holster upper left-hand side of his belt, a bit slanted so he could make a quick draw with his left right hand either way.
The barmaid brought the soup over to Blue, moved a table over by the stove, so he could sit down and eat, she did a double take on him, Blue barely noticed her, but he did notice she was checking him out, and it wasn’t the face of a whore, or prostitute. She went to serve a few other folks, but kept looking back a Blue, and Ace kept looking at her looking at the stranger.
Blue took another look as she walked around the stove slowly, staring, she was in her late 30s or early 40s he guessed. A shapely woman for her age, and still some beauty in her face, but she had scares he could tell, a hardness to her eyes, and chin, as if suspicious, or guarded.
The bar was filled with the levee folks, Italians and the Irish, not a good combination when they got drunk. An Indian and his wife were also at the end of the bar drinking some beer, perhaps 20-folks in this early morning bar, on Saturday. It was half past ten AM.
Blue’s body was becoming unthawed, his hands no longer numb. The soup was gone, and the once full bottle was half gone. Again the woman looked at Blue, a glimpse here, there. He stood back up, put his hands closer to the stove, also his knees, and feet, then he took his boots off, sat back down to warm his feet up, socks and all.