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The Customer is Not Always Right


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Mature Content: No

With: Clara, Emeline, and Billy
Location: Lickskillet, Main Street
When:  April 25, 1876
Time of Day: Late morning

 

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Clara was back and forth between the kitchen and the dining room, waiting on customers and still doing what she could to assist her employer, Emeline, with cooking and baking duties. She did all of this with her usual efficiency and she enjoyed the work. The day had started out as just another typical one but that soon changed.

 

A young man had entered and sat himself at a side table. As Clara approached, she came to a halt abruptly and glared. The would be customer signaled with one hand for her to head his way. She instead spun about and marched straight into the kitchen once more then right up to Emeline.

 

"Excuse me but I have a favor to ask of you. I am sorry to have to do this but could you go out there and wait on a particular customer who just came in?" she got right to the point.

 

"I would not make such a request but he and I have long running ....issues and I might not be able to resist hitting him or throwing hot coffee in his lap," she added in all seriousness.

 

@Bongo

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Emeline was startled as Clara swept into the kitchen and made her unusual request, and because it was so unusual, she really didn't mind helping.  But first, she started to laugh, the girl was so passionate.

 

"Yes, of course, I don't mind."  While she would have done it anyway, Emeline could sense that there was an issue, and Clara didn't make such requests often...ever...

 

"Just tell me...who is it?  How has he insulted you?"

 

@Wayfarer

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Clara was relieved Emeline was willing to accomodate her on this request, she had not made it lightly. She was now prepared to explain why too.

 

"That one with the hat on still at the corner table. He is near my age as best I can tell...no, probably older. Do not know his surname but everyone knows him as Billy. He works for the Evergreen spread. Late last summer I was swimming in the lake by myself and he and another cowboy rode up and wanted me to come out so, as Billy fully admitted, they could see what I looked like. I absolutely refused so he stole my clothes and my father's Dragoon Colt and rode off."

 

"I confronted him at the fall festival in the beer tent and he was quite amused by it all. Long story short, Greer knocked me to the ground and a full brawl broke out. Hannah's father was sheriff at the time and he arrested the both of them. One of the stipulations to him being released was he had to return both my items of clothing and the Dragoon. Which he did."

 

"There is worse though. Not all that long ago, just before the dance, another one of the Evergreen cowboys rode onto the farm whilst I was hanging up washing. As we talked, I admit I was not all that friendly because frankly I did not trust him, someone up in the treeline took a shot at me and just missed. Now Brendan, that was the Christian name of the cowpoke I was talking with, admitted that two other hands were up in that treeline. Greer and Billy."

 

"It is one thing to swipe some clothing  but quite another to shoot at someone. I simply do not want anything to do with Billy anymore. I trust you understand my reasoning," Clara now finished her long drawn explanation.

 

@Bongo

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"Yes, of course."  Honestly, Emeline wasn't so inclined to serve the lad either, after this, but this was a business and she had to stay professional in it.  "It will be difficult, I admit..." 

 

Wiping he hands on her apron, she instructed, "The biscuits need to come out in five minutes, and stir the stew."  She grabbed the coffee pot, then shook her head.  "I'm tempted to pour this over the young man's head!"

 

She wouldn't, of course, but it would feel good!

 

Going out to to the table, she smiled at the boy, wanting to give him a piece of her mind, but instead offering him coffee...

 

@Wayfarer

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Emeline was willing but had some reminders about kitchen goings on.

 

"Yes, I will keep a close watch on the biscuits and stir the stew also. And I promise I will forebear from adding salt to it," Clara nodded, the last part was a long running joke between the ladies based on an early incident when Clara had first started. The two of them each had tasted the stew but had not time to add more salt to it at that moment (even though they both thought it needed it) as they were interrupted with customers. Then later each one, unbeknownst to the other, dumped in more salt. It ended up a mite on the salty side.

 

***

 

Billy sat impatiently, as most young folks tended to do, a bit annoyed that the Redmond girl had definitely noticed him yet disappeared right into the back room. But now here came a woman and carrying a coffee pot too. Service at last!

 

Going out to to the table, she smiled at the boy, wanting to give him a piece of her mind, but instead offering him coffee...

 

"Yes ma'am, I'll take a cup. Oh I need ta tell ya straight up that Marshal Guyer is payin' for this meal, he told me I can have a free meal and he'll pay you for it later," he figured he better get that out from the start.

 

"Oh and say.....could I have  Little Miss Pigtails wait on me? I'd like ta talk to her?"

 

Billy was never shy alright.

 

billyforsaga1.jpg

 

 

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"Marshal Guyer?  Of course."  Emeline smiled as she poured coffee.  "I guess that means you can have whatever you'd like."  While it didn't happen often, it wasn't unheard of that someone was sent over from the jail for a meal, and they usually took full advantage, ordering a steak and potatoes, then pie.  She didn't mind, she was always paid.

 

"Oh and say.....could I have  Little Miss Pigtails wait on me? I'd like ta talk to her?"

 

"Oh, I'm sorry, there's no one here by that name."  Emeline smiled sweetly, really wanting to pour hot coffee in the boy's lap!  "So, what can I get for you?"  Mister No Manners, she added silently in her head.

 

@Wayfarer

 

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"Oh? Whatever I like? Well then, whatever dinner you got would be nice. Beefsteak or chicken. I ain't a picky eater, specially since I don't have ta make it," Billy flashed what really was a charming smile. He certainly could be when he put his mind to it.

 

His request for the young waitress though got immediately shot down and his grin vanished. He saw her just a minute ago, she sure was here!

 

"Oh, right....umm, that Redmond gal then. I meant her. I know she works here, I just saw her," he wasn't going to give up that easily.

 

billyforsaga1.jpg

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"Miss Redmond is busy in the kitchen," Emeline told the young man.  There had been a hint of gentleman in him, and she wondered if that could be brought to the fore under the right circumstances.  "I can relay a message if you'd like?"

 

She surely wasn't going to just turn him loose on Clara, and maybe once he got his meal he'd forget about her.

 

"I'll just be a moment."  And without giving him a chance to say anything more, she returned to the kitchen. 

 

"Good heavens!  I think that young man doesn't have a mother to teach him how to behave!  No wonder he's a hooligan!"  Chuckling, she shook her head.  "He'll have the chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes."

 

@Wayfarer

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"Miss Redmond is busy in the kitchen," Emeline told the young man.

 

"Oh, yeah, Miss Redmond then," he quickly nodded.

 

  "I can relay a message if you'd like?"  the woman offered.

 

"Ummm, I'd rather just...." Billy started.

 

"I'll just be a moment."  And without giving him a chance to say anything more, she returned to the kitchen. 

 

Billy stared as she walked away. She was certainly a fine looking gal with a nice shape to her. Bit old for his taste though.

 

***

"Good heavens!  I think that young man doesn't have a mother to teach him how to behave!  No wonder he's a hooligan!"  Chuckling, she shook her head.  "He'll have the chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes." 

 

"Very well, I will do that then. And I promise I will not poison him. Only because it would be very bad for the Lickskillet's reputation," Clara remarked dryly.

 

 

 

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Emeline laughed.  "Well, I'd almost lose a little respectability just for the pleasure!"  Grabbing a tray, she set out the accessories -- fork, knife and spoon, a small plate with a couple of hot biscuits and a bit of butter -- while Clara plated the main part of the meal.

 

"Is there anyone else waiting for food?"  There were other customers, and as long as they were trading places, she needed to know what was going on out front.  "It's actually good to get out among the customers again."  Of course, there had been a time that she'd done everything, but since Clara had started working for her, she spent most of her time in the kitchen.

 

@Wayfarer

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"Is there anyone else waiting for food?  It's actually good to get out among the customers again."

 

It was a good question and Emeline needed to know the answer. Clara kept working on the plate even as she replied, "Ah yes, well Mr. and Mrs. Emden and their two children are in the midst of their lunch. They are fairly new in town. I only know this because Mrs. Emden asked about the Kalispell school."

 

"And then there is Widow Carson," Clara added, the old woman was a regular customer for lunch, claiming she could no longer be bothered with all that work of making meals herself. Clara had no idea what she did about breakfast and supper. Anyhow Widow Carson always ordered pretty much the same thing.

 

"There! Billy's food is ready."

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"All right, I'll check on the others after I take care of Master Billy."  Emeline picked up the tray.  "He was asking to talk to you."

 

Of course, Clara likely knew that, after all, that was part of the reason she was in the kitchen, but Emeline wanted her to have the chance to change her mind, however unlikely.

 

"Is there anything you'd like me to pass on?  Decent, of course!"

 

@Wayfarer

 

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Emeline now told her that Billy had asked to speak to her. Clara frowned. She figured as much. Didn't change her mind in the slightest though.

 

"Is there anything you'd like me to pass on?  Decent, of course!" the woman asked.

 

"No....well, wait. Tell him this. Tell him I know he was one of those up on the ridge that day when one of them took a rifle shot at me. So I do not think there is anything for us to discuss. Ever!" Clara was visibly angry.

 

 

 

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"All right, then."  Nodding, Emeline took the tray and headed back to the dining room, and Billy's table.  "Here you go."  She set the meal down, then relayed the message.  "Miss Redmond says that she knows you were one of those on the ridge who shot at her, and she doesn't want to discuss anything with you." 

 

Stowing the tray under her arm, she added, "I can't say that I blame her, and honestly, from what I've been told of your antics, there will be a bullet or a rope waiting for you if you don't change your path."  It was friendly, but stern advice.

 

@Wayfarer

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Well, Billy got his plate dinner and it looked damn good too at first glance, but he also got that Redmond gal's answer, leastwise this woman said so. Billy wasn't happy. But the woman wasn't quite done yet.

 

"I can't say that I blame her, and honestly, from what I've been told of your antics, there will be a bullet or a rope waiting for you if you don't change your path."

 

The young man's happy go lucky look just faded for an instant and there was anger in his eyes before his smile returned, or rather more of a smirk.

 

"Oh, lady, I think you made a slight mistake here with my order," he now declared leaning back to look up at her.

 

"I just came here for the dinner, I didn't order no lecture."

 

billyforsaga1.jpg

 

 

 

 

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Emeline smiled at the boy, not at all intimidated or put off.  after all, she'd faced off with bank robbers, real desperadoes.  Besides, Billy was just a boy, and hopefully, he'd learn.

 

"Not a lecture, just advice."  She shrugged.  "Let me know when you're ready for some pie.  We have apple, pecan and huckleberry."

 

With a nod, she moved on to check the other tables.

 

@Wayfarer

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Once Billy was finished with his dinner, in fact that plate was clean as a whistle, and coffee empty, he waited til the woman was close then waved her over.

 

"That sure was good stuff. I see why this place does good business. Food makes up for the service I reckon," he needled her though much of it was meant for the snooty Redmond gal.

 

"Could I have two pieces of pie? I don't care what flavors, I like 'em all," he now requested.

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Emeline took the compliment for what it was and gave the young man a nod, and even a hint of a smile.  "Of course, two pieces...Marshal Guyer is paying for it, right?"

 

Maybe, if the boy was treated right, he'd straighten out some and not end up in an early grave.

 

On her way back to the kitchen she checked on the other customers, collecting some dishes as she went, and once back in the kitchen, she set the dirty plates in the basin.

 

"How are things going back here?" she asked Clara, noting that everything was well in hand.  The young woman was very competent and responsible, and Emeline was sure she would do just fine if she ever decided to spend a lot of time out at the ranch once she and Barnabas married.

 

"I'll need two slices of pie...how about apple and pecan?"  She chuckled.  "Kill the boy from too much pie!"

 

@Wayfarer

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"Of course, two pieces...Marshal Guyer is paying for it, right?"

 

"Yeah, though I kinda paid for it in a way, havin' ta sit in that jail cell for doin' nuthin. Oh well, worth a big meal I reckon," Billy grinned.

 

***

 

Clara was busy but she also knew the ropes by now for doing pretty much anything required in the kitchen. No mishaps or drama currently. Emeline re-entered the kitchen.

 

"How are things going back here?" she asked Clara.

 

"Good, in fact I just put some more biscuits in," the girl nodded.

 

"I'll need two slices of pie...how about apple and pecan?"  She chuckled.  "Kill the boy from too much pie!"

 

"I do not know, there may not be enough pie in the world to accomplish that at least with the boys I happen to know. My little brother could easily devour three big slices if he had the chance.  But yes, give me just a minute," Clara finished stirring the mashed potatoes.

 

 

 

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Emeline laughed.  "I do suppose you are right on that count, and it's one thing they don't grow out of."  While she was waiting for Clara to get the pies ready, she rinsed off some dishes.  "One thing that is pretty consistent with men, they're always eager for food, and sometimes it's a good way to tame a beast."

 

Not that she expected Clara to forgive Billy his trespasses, but sometimes it was better to make someone feel really terrible about what they'd done, and torment them in a different way.

 

@Wayfarer

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"I believe that some men probably think the main reason to tolerate us at all is so we do the cooking for them," Clara asserted, though she wasn't naive, there was another even more vital reason for menfolk to yearn for womenfolk.

 

"Oh, I was not referring to Mr. Pike of course," she hastened to add, not wanting to offend.

 

Clara cut two slices of the pies and plated them for Emeline, "I will have to say one thing positive at least about Billy. He likes our food, he has that much taste."

 

Then she held out the plate to the woman.

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"Well, now," Emeline observed with a grin, "there are indeed more reasons than food that men and women get together..." she felt a warm blush come to her cheeks, "and no, I don't mean...intimate relations..it's...common likes and goals, just a feeling that the other person is someone you don't want to live without."

 

She offered a smile, although it was a bit sad, as she took the plates and headed back out to the table.

 

"Here you are, Master Billy.  Let me know if you need anything else."

 

@Wayfarer

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Clara always hung on every word Emeline uttered and had to come close to a little smile herself at how the woman put it, but made a good point, it was certainly not just about intimate relations but life long companionship and partnership. That's what Clara wanted some day too. Her parents had had that til her mother was taken away too soon.

 

"Good luck with...............him," Clara remarked as Emeline headed back out.

 

She hadn't even reached his table yet when  Billy grinned at the two pie slices, "Oh, big slices too. They look good."

 

"Here you are, Master Billy.  Let me know if you need anything else."

 

"Master? That's a good one," he shook his head, "But yeah I need that Redmond girl out here once, just to talk to her. I ain't gonna do nothin'. Just talk."

 

billyforsaga1.jpg

 

 

 

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"She's already made it clear that she doesn't want to talk to you," Emeline commented, "but I'll ask her one more time...and I can't promise she won't do something rash."  Nor that she would stop her!

 

Back in the kitchen, she relayed the request to Clara again, adding, "There's no obligation, of course, and I'll go with you, if you like.  And should something happen, I'd likely not see it."  She chuckled.

 

@Wayfarer

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Billy knew the woman was probably right, that stubborn Redmond gal was not going to come out to face him. But he had tried his best, as consolation there was always delicious pie. He dug in then with his fork.

 

Back in the kitchen, Emeline relayed the request to Clara again, adding, "There's no obligation, of course, and I'll go with you, if you like.  And should something happen, I'd likely not see it."  She chuckled.

 

Clara appreciated the offer for backup but actually Billy was right about her being rather stubborn.

 

"No, I have made up my mind and see no need to change it. He would only get his way then and I am determined he shall not have his way in this," Clara announced.

 

"Sorry you have to be the go between in all this drama," she sighed.

 

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