The Curious Tale of Diamond Lil

The Curious Tale of Diamond Lil

A Chapter by Bud Kelly

A western, romance, adventure, drama, with poetry and humor. This is Chapter II, introducing the female protagonist Meredith L. Brockton.


Beacon Hill…

   It was raining. Meredith Brockton sat looking out the window of her drawing room. She wore a fine black lace dress, and her long flaxen hair was brushed up from her neck and tied with a wide black velvet ribbon. She sipped tea from a cup as thin as an eggshell, holding it so lightly in her slender fingers that it almost seemed to float to her lips.

   It was an evening in early September, in the Beacon Hill section of Boston, thousands of miles and a world apart from the wooden sidewalks and narrow dusty streets of Gaston, Arizona. Meredith watched the rain falling on the fine boulevards of Louisburg Square, on the rows of stately Georgian brick homes with their white doorways and baroque wrought-iron balconies. She watched the light from the gas lamps shimmering in the puddles that formed on the cobblestone sidewalks.

   Louisburg Square was the home of some of the finest families of Boston, the descendants of the Puritans who had originally founded the colonies. But on this rainy evening, it seemed to Meredith that nothing and no one lived. She sat as she had on so many evenings, looking out at the window of her drawing room, watching as if somehow her beloved Pierce would suddenly appear from the blue darkness beyond the circle of light from the last street lamp and give her life back to her once again.

   It had been over three months since Pierce had been murdered, struck down in the bud of his youth like the noble Hamlet, and yet the rent in her heart seemed as raw and painful as on the afternoon it had been opened by that awful telegraph message that had arrived at her door. Meredith fondled the gold locket that Pierce had given her for her birthday, opening it up to gaze at the small photograph of him that she kept inside. She thought what a handsome man he was, how the other ladies would envy her when she strolled down the Common arm-in-arm with him in springtime, when they arrived at the opera, or when they sauntered down the Charles River on Sunday afternoons holding hands. She remembered his broad shoulders, his dark eyes, the way she had to stand on her tiptoes to kiss his cheek. She remembered the way he smelled.

   Meredith looked at her left hand and gazed into the diamond that he had given her on the night they became engaged. How it sparkled in the light from the table lamp. It seemed like an entire rainbow had been chopped up and squeezed into a little stone. She remembered how she felt when he put it on her finger. She was so happy that her feet could barely reach the ground. She remembered how he looked into her eyes, brushed back a wisp of her hair from her forehead, and said, “Meredith, you smile like the dawn and speak like a song.” She knew that she could never forget those words. “Meredith, you smile like the dawn and speak like a song,” those words would live in her heart to her last day upon this earth. 

   They were to be married at Christmas. How, she now wondered, would she ever bear the coming of Christmas without him? Surely her heart would burst. How could she even pretend to be in the holiday spirit?

   Before Pierce, the only thing that Meredith knew of love was what she had read in those racy dime novels that were passed around among the girls back at school. They would sit up nights, taking turns reading to each other, snickering and giggling at the most intimate passages. But then she met Pierce. Then they locked eyes for the first time. Then she knew, as women often do, that she had found her true happiness at last. Pierce became her world. He was her present and her future. He was her constant and faithful North Star, the beacon by which she had come to navigate her entire life.

   But now her North Star had been taken away from her by some murdering scoundrel out in the Arizona Territory. Now she was left alone, staring out the window of her drawing room, waiting for her heart to mend. It seemed it never would.

   Meredith’s younger sister, Julia, bounded down the long spiral staircase and pirouetted into the drawing room. She giggled. Then she looked around to find Meredith sitting sadly by the window again. Julia felt guilty about being so happy, but tonight Ambrose was picking her up and she was drunk with excitement.

   “Meredith,” she said, “Would you like me to warm your tea before I leave?”

   “Thank you, Julia, but I’m fine,” Meredith replied. She thought to herself that not even warm tea could chase the chill of death from her heart. Could it really be that Pierce was gone, forever? She could not believe it. She remembered first seeing him lying in that coffin, covered with lilies. His eyes were closed, and he was cold, still, not even a breath. She simply could not believe it.

   “Meredith,” said Julia, “I wish you would come away from that window and join Ambrose and me at the opera. Verdi was always one of your favorites, and tonight they are playing Aida. Please, dear sister, won’t you come with us? Ambrose has a spare ticket and we both would be delighted to have you.”

   “No, Julia, but thank you for being so kind to your older sister,” said Meredith, placing her hand on Julia’s, “You go along with Ambrose. I am going to build a nice fire and read a collection of love poems translated from the Spanish that I found in Father’s library. They’re by Pablo Martinez, and I hear that he is all the rage now in New York,”

   “Very well,” said Julia, bending to kiss her sister on the forehead, “But next time you must join us. Promise?”

   “Promise,” said Meredith rather unconvincingly. “Now go on along. I hear Ambrose’s coach in the drive. Have fun. Don’t come home too late.” She was, after all, Julia’s older sister. With their parents now gone, she had come to adopt a manner of parental authority and responsibility toward Julia. It was only natural that she look after her.

   Julia skipped from the drawing room, and Meredith got up and bent over the fireplace. She piled some small pine kindling and crumpled newspaper in the center of the blackened stone floor. She struck a match against the stones and touched it to the middle of the pile, watching the flames twist and leap as if trying to escape from their bondage. She piled on some small branches and watched the fire climb and lick with blue and yellow tongues. She added some small logs and patiently knelt, waiting for them to take flame. The magnificent yellow and orange conflagration danced and gyred, disappearing up into the blackness of the flue. She piled two large hardwood logs onto the fire, arranging them with a heavy brass poker. The logs crackled, spit, and steamed, and their heat dried the skin on her face and hands.

   Meredith looked deep into the fire and thought that it must be what hell was like, if there really and truly was such a place as hell. Perhaps it was just a story that was made up to scare children into behaving. She wondered if God could really be so cruel as to confine someone eternally in such burning agony. She wondered if anyone could be so evil as to deserve it, but then she thought of one person who truly was, the man who had murdered her beloved Pierce.

   Meredith lit the crystal oil lamp beside the reading chair and sat down near the fire. She opened a copy of Trista Paena, Poetry by Pablo Martinez, and began to read the poem entitled “Roberta.”


                                          How many years now has it been

                                          Since I first saw you standing there,

                                          And smelled the earth still in your robes,

                                          And felt the wind yet in your hair?


                                          And though I know you’ve gone beyond

                                          This frozen world you’ve left behind with me,

                                          And though I know the past is gone,

                                          You laughter echoes in the heart of me.


                                          How many years now has it been

                                          Since I first saw you standing there,

                                          And drank the kisses from your lips,

                                          And spoke your name just like a prayer?


                                          And when I find a love that’s new,

                                          No matter how hard that I try,

                                          The one I’m holding close is you.

                                          I just can’t bear to say goodbye.


                                          How many years now has it been

                                          Since I first saw you standing there,

                                          And can I live with all this pain,

                                          And can I ever love again?

                                          I take you with me everywhere.


   Meredith lifted her tearful eyes from the book and stared into the roaring fire. Hours drifted by unnoticed, and the flames slowly dwindled. Then she sat staring into the orange glow of the embers. She heard Julia come home with her Ambrose, and they whispered and giggled as they tiptoed up the spiral staircase to her bedroom, thinking that Meredith was already asleep and didn’t hear them.

   But Meredith was not asleep. In fact, she was only just beginning to feel awake. She felt as if the past few months had only been bad dream, as if she was just now beginning to come to her senses again. What she felt now sent a shudder through her. It twisted and leapt from her heart as the flames from that small pile of kindling and newspaper. And like those flames, it would grow into an inferno, reaching toward the sky, crackling, spitting, and steaming like the fires of hell itself.



© 2011 Bud Kelly

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One of the things I find interesting about history is how every-day run of the mill people deal with uncommon occurances.The characters reacted in dialogue and action consistant with this time in history. You did get the feeling you were there. You get the feeling lil is a woman of all ages, and would have been at home in 1890 or 1990.

Posted 9 Years Ago

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There are some nice details here, Bud. The historic scene really comes through with the details you provide. I like that you are writing through the eyes of a woman, though I will say the end when she becomes filled with "the fires of hell itself" I felt the change in her was abrupt she seemed so calm before (tortured yes, but not enraged). What was the sudden cause of her changing mindset? Was it the hours of thinking or the realization that she would never see Pierce or jealousy over her sister's relationship? I like how you incorporated the poem into the piece. Nice work!

Posted 9 Years Ago

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2 Reviews
Added on June 13, 2011
Last Updated on June 18, 2011
Tags: western, adventure, romance, action, drama, poetry, humor


Bud Kelly
Bud Kelly

San Diego, CA

I write poetry, song lyrics, music, fiction, non-fiction, and jokes. I have written articles for national magazines and had my own column in a local newspaper. Right now I am finishing up a novel enti.. more..