Achromatic: Chapter 2 Scene 1

PM Friday February 1, 1963

Buffalo Bill Museum, Cody, Wyoming

The two large stone fireplaces, with the help of a pair of smaller fireplaces, helped to spread warmth throughout the large log cabin, the heart and soul of the growing Buffalo Bill Historical Centre.  In the orange glow, Bill and Jane busied themselves with ensuring the sea of memorabilia displays in the main room.

“Come on, Bill.  We’ve shut up shop for the night.  You can take your Stetson off your head.”

He looked to his wife with a look of pride.  “That Belleview gent, I’d bet money he wears that ten-gallon hat of his to bed.  He never takes the thing off.”

Jane gave him a horrified look.  “I don’t care what he does, William Redman, you are not wearing that to bed.”

A knock at the cabin’s front door drew their attention.  The wind was howling outside, the sleet driving hard, and everyone in town was likely in their homes getting their evening meals prepared.  Bill went to investigate, and quickly opened the doors upon seeing who sought entry.

“Jane!  The Marigolds have come over for a visit.”  He ushered the visitors in as jane came over to join them.  Tom, Margaret and Amber were all decked out in orange snow jackets and wet weather gear.  “The weather’s already getting nasty, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets into single digits tonight.  What brings you over?”

Tom has removed his gloves and was doing his best to rub some feeling back into them.  “We’ve checked on all the customers at the Lodge, and everyone’s happy.   We wondered if there was any help we could give you, since yourselves and Scarlett have helped us out so much in our first few months.”

Jill beamed.  “That is mighty thoughtful of you, and that you braved the elements to come here is very much appreciated.  Scarlett is over at Dwayne’s place studying for some big test coming up…”

Amber quietly guffawed to herself, drawing all the parents’ inquiring eyes to her, making her drop her own to the floor.

“… so having one less person helping clean up this place and the Whitney Gallery makes it a little bit harder.”

Margaret straightened her wide circular glasses.  “Having the three of us should help you whip through the work in no time.  You’ll be open tomorrow, and I’m sure a decent night’s rest never goes astray.”

Bill made a show of stretching and yawning.  “It’s this frosty weather that makes you sleepy, more than anything else.  I feel sorry for those poor workers building the television studios the other side of town.”

Tom nodded.  “I am sure they were paid good money to get everything up and running in double quick time.  The Marathon Oil boss said it would be ready in early spring, but they’ve got it all ready to go for next Monday.”

Bill nodded his appreciation of the monumental effort that the construction workers had put in to fulfil Mr Donnell the Second’s wishes.  The winter was a harsh mistress to the town, requiring the shutdown of Yellowstone National Park for almost six months until the weather cleared up enough.  The number of people visiting Cody dropped significantly with it.

Margaret looked to Jane.  “Didn’t you tell me that the art museum is a new building?”

Jane nodded.  “It’s in its fourth year now, going on five.  The Whitney Gallery was built thanks to a most generous donation by the son of Gertrude Whitney, the mighty fine sculptor who made the bronze monument of Buffalo Bill you see in our grounds.  Sonny Whitney donated a quarter of a million dollars back in 1955 in order to build an art centre here.  So the decision was made to build the art centre, and now we seek out any original pieces of art relating to the Wild West.”

Tom whistled.  “That is quite the donation.  Very generous of him.”

“Absolutely.  His mother had sculpted ‘The Scout’ back at her studio in Long Island, and it considered one of her best works.”

“Long Island?  That’s a long way to send such a large sculpture.  How did Gertrude get the commission from a town so far away?”

“The curator before us, Mary Allen, God rest her soul, was a resident of New York City for most of the twenties.  Mary was a very determined woman, and when she was fighting to get this museum established, she made use of her contacts in the Big Apple to get something amazing made and brought here to Cody.”

“She must have been a driven woman.”

Jane had a wistful look on her face as she remembered.  “She was almost possessed in her desire to see a museum dedicated to her uncle, and she fought tooth and nail to make it happen.  The Whitney Gallery was finished in 1958, so she had two years to appreciate how much her vision had expanded before she passed away.”

Amber had wandered off to look at the many artifacts that had been collected for the museum over its thirty-six year history.

Bill looked to his watch.  “It’s getting close to six o’clock.  We had best get moving with the cleaning.  Jane and I have finished here, so we’ll all head over to the art gallery to clean up there.  Once we’re finished, you should all come over to our place and have dinner.  Least we can do for your coming over and helping us out.”

Margaret smiled gratefully.  “We’d be delighted.  We will need to check in quickly at the Lodge, in case someone needs anything from us.”

Jane looked over to Amber, in the furthest corner of the room from them.  “Amber, Scarlett is due home at seven, around the same time we should get back home.”

“Sounds good.  Thanks Mrs Redman.”

Bill and Jane checked that the fires were going to safely burn down to embers before grabbing their own jackets and weather gear.  With everyone huddled under the entrance door, Bill locked up the doors, and held his Stetson hat for dear life as he led the charge to the art gallery.

– Î –


5 responses

  1. Ah-ha! Amber knows something that we don’t! Do I scent a minor mystery concerning Scarlett and Dwayne?

    1. Haha, well what can you expect from 16- and 17-year olds when they’re doing homework? Likelihood is that they’re doing something else =P

      Thanks for reading =)

  2. Contrary to your concerns with the visuals, I think it’s very atmospheric and active in the imagination. You’ve got the winter and the log cabins downpat.
    When you say “single digits” in regards to the weather, do you mean in Fahrenheit or celcius?

    1. As it’s an American location, I mean Fahrenheit. Single digits in Fahrenheit is really cold; 9 degrees F is just above -13 Celsius.

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