A Story in Progress: Darkness Falls on Endurance, Part Three

“That fella is a snake in the grass and I want you to keep away from him, you hear me?” Spinner Davis pulled Lorraine behind him as they left the tent.

“Spinner, you’re hurting my arm!” Lorraine exclaimed, pulling away from her date. “If you’re going to behave like this, then maybe you should go ahead without me.”

Spinner stopped and took a deep breath. “Ahhh, I’m sorry, honey,” he said, releasing her arm. “It’s just that I don’t like the way that old carnival barker looked at you. I know what it means when a man looks at a woman like that, even if you don’t.”

” Now, you’re just being silly,” Lorraine said, rubbing her arm. “Spinner Davis, if you bruised me I’ll never speak to you again!”

Lorraine’s brow furrowed as she thought back over her earlier exchange with Spinner. As she’d feared, a bruise was forming on her arm. Well, Dorothy Faye would have something to say about that, no doubt. Dorothy Faye wasn’t Spinner’s biggest fan, always telling Lorraine that she didn’t trust him. “There’s something not right about Spinner, Lorraine,” she would say. “I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something not right.”

Lorraine sighed and continued thumbing through the latest issue of Photoplay. She hated to admit it but Lorraine knew exactly what Dorothy Faye meant. This wasn’t the first time Spinner had revealed his jealous side. However, it was the first time he touched her with anything other than tenderness. His past transgressions had been fairly minor and easy to ignore. Plus, he would follow his offense with something so charming or funny that she would all but forgot his momentary lapse. She glanced down at the imprint of his fingers on her arm. This time, however, forgetting–and forgiving–weren’t going to be easy. Her father had inflicted enough pain to last Lorraine a lifetime; she wasn’t about to allow another man to hurt her.

“Penny for those thoughts,” said Mrs. Schrift, who was standing in Lorraine’s doorway, toweling her hair dry. Clearly, she was returning from the bathroom all the ladies in the boarding house shared.

Lorraine smiled at her house mate. Although Helen Schrift was Miss Meacham’s sister, the two siblings couldn’t be less alike. Miss Meacham wore her gray hair pulled into a tight bun and dressed conservatively in fashion that was popular thirty years earlier.  Dorothy Faye joked that the last person to see Miss Meacham’s ankles was probably changing her diaper at the time. Miss Schrift, on the other hand, was downright glamorous. In fact, she would have been right at home on the pages of the movie magazine spread out on Lorraine’s bed. Lorraine knew from Miss Meacham that Helen Schrift was in her fifties. However, the woman could pass for someone fifteen years younger than that, a fact which hadn’t gone unnoticed in Endurance. The widow had been turning local heads ever since retiring from nursing in Temple and moving to be near her sister, several months earlier.

“Oh, they’re not even worth a penny, Mrs. Schrift,” Lorraine said, smiling.

“Are they troubling thoughts about a boy?” Helen Schrift asked.

Lorraine nodded. “They are, I’m afraid.”

“Then you are correct; they aren’t worth one red cent!” She nodded to the open magazine in front of Lorraine. “Forget all about him! Instead, focus on that handsome Joseph Cotten, who is gazing up at you from that article in Photoplay. I saw that new movie of his at the Rex tonight and it was wonderful.”

“Oh,” Lorraine started. “I was sure I saw you at the tent show this evening.”

“No, dear. You must have confused me with someone else. My sister and I are attending later this week. No, tonight I was at the movie. Now you and Mr. Cotten have a good night, you hear?” She winked and continued down the hall to her room.

“Thank you, Mrs. Schrift. You too!” Lorraine sat back against her pillows and completely forgot about Spinner Davis. No, now she was too busy trying to figure out why Helen Schrift had just lied to her.


Corabelle Sills flipped through the new Photoplay magazine she’d purchased at the drug store. She was hoping to distract herself from the dark thoughts that had become commonplace as of late. Unfortunately, the old worries and the anger had taken hold and weren’t letting go. She missed Mama more than she could say and she blamed her father for that and for everything else. Perhaps most troubling was the anger she felt toward the girl in the audience tonight; the one who’d captured her father’s attention. Why this particular girl was so troubling to her, when there had been so many like her along the way, was a mystery and, perhaps, unfair. But as Corabelle knew all too well, life wasn’t fair.

(to be continued)

Categories: Story in Progress

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