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"San Francisco Gold"

“Well, howdy boys. I see you’ve pulled in yer horns. You seem to have settled.”

Vivacious Daisy Mae Brinner had strolled to the table. By all counts of crows flying, men talking, boys gawking, Daisy was pure maple syrup, honey on wheat, smooth silk that covered sweet corn, or, in other words, a ripe, honeydew melon whose smile could steal your eyes, whose voice could send you to heaven, and whose looks could steal your soul.

“What if I sit a spell?” she went on. She batted long eyelashes. “Strangers in town, I’ve…”

“Um, yes mam,” Knicknack gulped. He drooled like a runaway faucet dripped. His eyes popped as he stared.

“Yes, we are,” Jack rolled short words. He grinned ten miles long. “Mam,” he said and he tipped his cow-cap.

“Sir, my pleasure,” said one hot lady. “How, do,” she went on and curtseyed. “Well, I like to make new folk comfortable. I’m Daisy Mae, gents.”

Snake-eye Black’s cheek twitched. He gleamed. “Howdy Daisy Mae; an’ we like to be made welcome, mam. An’ ye’r sure a spring flower to make a man smile.”

“Thank you, sir,” said Daisy.

Fiddlers played, men strummed guitars, and a man played spoons to his spindly legs while another blew into a deep jug to keep tune with bar room, dolled-up dancing ladies. The night was young.

Daisy Mae shifted in her seat. Soft, golden hair spilled to her smooth shoulders. Knicknack’s blue eyes became glossy, as if his eye balls had frozen in ice.

“Where are you boys from?” Leaning to the table, she gazed first to Snake-eye and then to Jack. “And what are your names?”

“Well, mam, I’m Knicknack.” Grinning as if he’d had his best birthday, he swerved and waved. “Then, this is my brother, Knacksack. We’re the Saddlebackawhack boys from big Texas parts and…”

“An’ there-on into Oklahoma, Kansas, big sky country, even to Colorado and Montana, missy,” Jack explained.

His dark eyebrows rose and fell like the tides. Jack’s voice was deep and persuasive, his tongue slick as grease. He could talk a rabbit into a fox hole or coax a baby to give up its candy. Slick, slick, Jack was no hick, sharp as a razor he was a praiser. Jack winked as his men listened.

“Too, we’re gamblers. We’re dudes,” Snake-eye groaned. “Yep. We’re shadow chasers, moonlight racers, twilight tracers, and mystery makers.”

“Oh,” Daisy gasped. Her eyes grew three sizes larger; and she bit her lip, listening, as fingers twirled at her cherub’s chin. “And what…”

“Well, how do.” A young woman drawled and drew closer.

All heads turned. As the music played-on a tight-waist, trim and full-figured brunette smacked ruby lips and puffed her cheery cheeks.

“Sally, won’t you have a seat?” Daisy gazed to her girlfriend. “These cowpokes, these boys have got the bulge over us girls. They have the advantage. They’ve been all o’er parts of places west of the Mississippi, north to snow and south to the border. They’re shadow chasers, moonlight racers, twilight tracers, and mystery makers.”

“Gosh-a-Moses,” Sally gushed. In her bristling, red and yellow, pleated dress, with straps over her bare shoulders, her dainty hands slapped her perfect cheeks. She cast deep-brown eyes as soft as an otter’s coat to, rough and tumble dudes. “You’re mysterious men of the plains?”

“Yes, mam,” said Snake-eye. “We’re that and more.”

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