Don't You Know?
by: Miss Raye
It took too long
to dress for the dance, or at least that is what Teaspoon proclaimed as
they mounted up less than an hour before the dance was to start. “I
should’ve just left you boys behind to fend for yourselves,” he gruffed
as he swung his body up into the saddle.
Six boys, well five really since Lou didn’t much cotton to dressin’ up
for dances, crowded around the two mirrors and any polished surface in
the bunkhouse. It didn’t make for a lot of room in any one location and
certainly lent itself to a lot of sore elbows and bruised egos.
The pushing and shoving didn’t end there. Once off their mounts inside
of Sweetwater, the boys all jockeyed for position, playfully shoving
each other out of the way. Later, Emma would comment to one of
the other ladies at the dance that the boys seemed to think that there
was some sort of ‘first come, first served’ rule and they all had to be
first through the door if they had any hope of spendin’ time with one
of the girls.
Buck ended up sandwiched between Jimmy and Ike in the crowded interior
of the Hall. When a gentleman moved past Ike, he shifted over to give
the man some room and pushed Buck in the opposite direction. Jimmy
pushed back. “Move over… you’re crowdin’ me.”
“Maybe you’re crowding me, Hickok.”
Ike blinked as the two went nose to nose in the confined space and even
as their fists clenched other folks went happily by on the dance
floor. *sorry it was my fault* Ike leaned in so they could see
it, but they were too wrapped up in their confrontation to notice. They
weren’t interested in anything else besides seein’ who would be the
first to blink.
“Now boys,” Emma began, and it was truly her well timed intrusion that
made them back down, “don’t you think you should spend less time
starin’ at each other and more time noticing the pretty girls… like
All three of them looked at the girl standin’ to Emma’s right. “Marion
Hartley, these are some of my boys out at the station.” Beaming, Emma
continued on. “That’s Jimmy Hickok.”
“James Butler Hickok, Miss Hartley.” He bent over her hand and winked
before he kissed it.
“And this is Buck-”
He took her hand from Jimmy. “Buck Cross, Miss. I’m pleased to meet-”
“Well, enough of this meetin’ and greetin’ stuff.” Jimmy peeled her
hand from Buck’s and tucked it under his arm. “How about we
Marion gave Emma a smile and was swept out onto the floor by Jimmy.
Emma moved away, giving Ike a pat on the shoulder. Buck caught
the gesture and leaned closer to Ike so he could hear over the
noise. “He shouldn’t have done that.”
Ike shrugged. Thankful that his friend was so thoughtful to worry about
“Interrupting the introductions. I was going to ask her to dance
The music shifted into a schottische and Ike settled into his mood. A
few girls walked by and he saw Buck smiling at them, but he couldn’t
muster up so much as a little lift of the corner of his mouth.
Cody sauntered up with a girl on each arm. “Well hello there, boys.”
The girls giggled and Cody beamed. “I was dancing’ with Izzy here,”
indicating with his head the girl to his left, “and she told me she had
a sister… the lovely Helen here,” his head fell to the right.”
Ike stood a little off to the side and his mouth went dry. Helen was a
little slip of a girl, with wide green eyes and a length of wheat
colored hair. She was a little taller than Lou and looked like one of
his sister’s china dolls in her green dress. She was beautiful.
She was delicate.
He moved to the side to reach his hand forward.
“Just when I was thinkin’ that both of these lovely ladies wanted to
share me,” he chuckled as Izzy gave him a haughty look and Ike took a
step forward, “Helen confessed that she wanted to talk to you, Buck.”
Buck? Ike shrank back behind his friend and didn’t even try to get an
introduction. His future or rather lack of any chance with Helen had
already been determined for him.
“Well, Miss Helen,” Buck extended his hand, “it’s a pleasure to meet
“And you, Buck.”
Cody nearly rolled his eyes as the seemingly proper Miss drew out his
friend’s name and gave him a look that spoke volumes.
“Would you like some punch?”
Helen nodded quickly, her long hair sliding up and down her back with
the motion. “I’d love some.”
Buck moved through the crowd with Helen’s arm in his and Cody followed
right behind with Izzy tucked into his side.
Ike stood staring at their backs, his mouth slack with disbelief. He
quickly shut it when he caught a look from Lou across the room. He was
looking at Ike with a curious expression. From what Ike could tell, Lou
felt sorry for him, and he didn’t like it one bit.
* * * *
Catching Teaspoon’s eye through the crowd, Buck gave the station master
a nod as they reached the dessert table. Reaching toward the punch bowl
he filled two cups and handed the first to Helen. “Here you go.”
“Thank you.” She took a sip and looked up at him through her lashes.
“It’s very kind of you.”
“Kind?” He gave her a big smile. “Getting you some punch wasn’t about
being kind. It’s about doing something nice for a beautiful girl.”
“Oh?” She cupped her punch in her hand. “You think I’m beautiful?”
He saw the way she fluttered her eye-lashes and the artful tilt of her
head. “You know you’re beautiful.”
She tossed a look back over her shoulder and when she looked back at
him she had a smile, “It’s just nice to hear once in awhile.“
“I’m sure you have people saying that to you everyday.”
“Sure,” she scoffed, “my father, his new wife can’t be bothered, but
that’s not what we’re here for, is it? Talking about my family?”
“No,” Buck looked over her shoulder when she did again, trying to see
what was bothering her so much. “Are you all right?”
She turned back, her smile in full force again. “Of course I am,” she
playfully swatted at his arm and turned her green eyes on him in open
adoration. “What a silly question.” She tossed her hair
Buck heard the band strike up a waltz and he looked down at Helen.
“Care to dance?” He held out his hand for her to take.
“I’m sorry, what?” Helen looked around, the corners of her mouth tight
and her eyes slightly panicked.
* * * *
Ike moved backward inch by inch as the crowd pushed around him, but he
didn’t realize how far he’d gone, until the border of the window bit
into the backs of his legs.
He watched Buck and fought down the urge to scowl. It wasn’t fair. It
wasn’t fair to his friend that he was standing back here pouting like a
child, but if truth be told that’s what he felt like.
Didn’t Buck know? Didn’t he know how much it hurt that Buck could so
easily ‘fit’ into everything? Sure, he knew sign, but it was Buck that
had to translate for him most of the time. How was he going to
‘talk’ to anyone if Buck was off dancing?
Suddenly the room wasn’t big enough to breathe in. He had to get out.
Ike lit out for the door, jostling folks as he brushed by. He clipped
Cody as he pushed past the dance floor and Cody called him on it. “Ike,
what’s goin’ on?” Ike didn’t answer, he just tucked his head down and
stepped out into the night.
Kid moved closer and caught Cody’s eye. “What’s wrong with him?”
* * * *
Buck cleared his throat and asked again. “Would you care to dance?”
She looked over at the dance floor. “It really is quite crowded…. Why
don’t we just stand here for awhile? Talk a little more.”
“Sure…sure.” Buck looked over at Cody and Jimmy holding their girls
tight and he wondered when he’d get to do the same. Of course for him
things would be different. Difficult. “Would a different dance be
“No!” She looked startled for a moment and then seemed to school her
features into a smile. “I guess I’m just winded. Really, Buck, I’m
happy just being here… with you.”
“Oh, that’s all right with me… do you need more punch?” He knew
his voice sounded strained and try as he might, he couldn’t get it to
sound… normal. He took her cup and moved over to the punch bowl, his
eyes scanning the crowd for Ike. He didn’t see him on the dance floor
and he hadn’t seen him leave… then again, he hadn’t been looking.
The dance ended and Cody walked his partner off the floor with a big
grin on his face.
“That was grand fun, Billy, let’s go another round.”
Cody waved off with a hand as his other swept over his brow. “I’m done
for awhile, Izzy… how about you take a turn with Buck, here? He looks
“Buck?” She looked around and caught sight of him standing at the
punchbowl. “You know, Cody… I’m plum tuckered out myself. Why don’t I
find my mama and take a rest.”
“Sure… whatever you say, darlin’.” Cody walked over and dipped a cup
into the punch bowl and poured it down his throat. “Dancin’ and
romancin’ are tiring, Buck… don’t you agree?” Cody walked off before
Buck could answer.
And if truth be told, no one was close enough to the Kiowa to hear him
say, “I wouldn’t know.” He lifted the cupful of punch and headed back
to Helen’s side. “Here you go.”
“Thank you, Buck,” she reached out to take it and her fingers brushed
Buck’s by accident.
He was about to apologize when he saw the look of revulsion cross her
face. “I… I’m sorry.” She managed to stammer out.
“There’s no harm, Helen. It’s just-”
“What are you doin’ with him?”
Buck looked up at Thomas Mercer, a brute of a man that just hired on at
the Smithy. “I was just-”
Helen cut him off. “I was just having a polite conversation with-”
“With the half-breed? What kind of fool are you, anyhow?”
“Fool?” She spat the word out and yanked the punch cup out of Buck’s
hand so fast that its contents splattered all over the front of
Thomas’s white shirt. “I talk to who I want, when I want, Tommy.”
“Not him you don’t, Helen. What are you playin’ at here?”
Buck waited, but he didn’t hold out much hope at that point.
“I’m not playin’ with anything, Tommy… that’s your game, not mine. Care
to explain why you’re out there on the floor with Constance?”
“You noticed, did you?” He smirked at her.
“Just like you noticed that I was standing with the injun.”
It hit Buck like a bucket of cold water and he took a step back as if
he could avoid the mess. Thomas noticed it. “That’s right, boy. You run
along, now… Helen doesn’t need you around.”
He caught the sympathetic glances thrown his way and turned his head to
avoid the curious stares that followed. “Excuse me…” he disappeared
into the crowd and somehow found his way outside. He expected Ike to
come out after him. He expected to have that comforting hand touch his
shoulder, but it never came.
‘Maybe he didn’t see what happened.’
‘Maybe he was busy.’
Buck took off into the night. He needed to walk… he needed to clear his
head. He wanted to talk to Ike.
Stopping in his tracks, Buck saw their horses, reins looped around the
hitching post, waiting. Ike was probably still inside, dancing… having
a great time.
And really, could Buck deny his friend a fun night once in awhile?
Could he expect that his friend would leave what he was doing, just to
help Buck salvage what was left of his misbegotten pride?
Buck unwound his reins and walked his mount back a few paces so that he
could swing up into the saddle. He knew he should be happy for his
friend… he knew that he should want his friend to enjoy himself at the
‘But doesn’t Ike understand that I’ll never have what he has? I’ll
never be able to fit in with white people like he does. I’ll never be
able to walk into a room and not have folks look at me like I was
carrying some kind of plague.’
With a shake of his head, Buck pointed his mount in the direction of
the station. He was lucky, it was a full moon and he’d be able to find
his way back without having to wait until morning. He’d find his way
home and bury himself under the covers and sulk.
‘Ike just doesn’t understand.’
is one of
SEVEN 'Sins' stories... Raye's chosen sin was 'ENVY.'