I am still working on this one, but still thought I’d share it for fun.
It was rejected for a flash Fiction magazine but I was given some pointers to improve it. I may share it again when I touch it up.
Strike it Rich
“Holton Fields, you can’t be serious.” Her voice grated on his nerves like a baby rabbit stuck in a garden fence. “Put that contraption down and get back in this camper.”
But he wasn’t going to put that contraption, as Lulabelle called it, down. No siree, he was not. That contraption was the key to his fortune, and he aimed to use it tomorrow up there in those hills right in front of him.
“Why do you think I brought you all the way out here to Wyoming, woman? Just to sight-see? No. I’m here to make us some money. Just like Charlie Steen.”
Lulabelle propped a hand on her hip and tipped her head. “What crazy stories you been listening to?” Wearing a pair of thigh high denim jeans and a sleeveless red and white checkered shirt tied above her belly button, she looked like a movie start to him. If he hadn’t been so annoyed with her, Holton would have been turned on.
Now her arms were tight across her chest. “And who is this Steen fellow anyhow?”
“That guy I read about in the paper. I told you. He’s rich now. Made all that money when he found the uranium over there in Utah.”
Lulabelle rolled her eyes. “Uranium sounds like a disease.”
Holton slapped his hand to his forehead. “It’s a metal, Lulabelle. An expensive metal that Steen made a bunch of money from and now I’m going to do the same thing.” He shook his head and twisted the knobs on the machine he’d bought from George Kissinger before he left.
“It’s a waste of time, Fields,” George had told him. “It’s all wishful thinking. A pipe dream. There ain’t no way to strike it rich looking for that stuff. Steen got lucky. That’s all.”
Holton ignored him though. He was going to find uranium. He’d been studying how to do it. Read all the books he could find at the library. Read all the articles in the paper about that Steen fellow. He’d even talked to a professor at the local college.
All he’d needed was that Geiger machine and George had sold him that. He’d cashed in his life savings, bought the camper and took off for Wyoming. The land there was ripe for picking. That’s what it’d said in the newspaper.
“How you going to use that thing anyhow?” Lulabelle was looking over his shoulder now.
“I’m going to go up in those mountains and do some digging, and this machine will tell me when I strike it rich.”
His wife pursed her lips together and played with a dark curl draped across her shoulder. She looked past him at the mountains. “Those mountains don’t look safe to me. I don’t think you should go. You might fall down a hole and break your neck, and then what will I do? I’ll be all alone. All alone in this camper with no way to get home to my mama.”
Why did women always go to the worst-case scenarios? Break his neck. Good grief. What Lulabelle needed was for him to paint her a positive picture.
“Now come on Lulabelle, baby.” He hoisted the machine against his shoulder and turned to face her. “Don’t think that way. I’m out here for you. I promised you the moon when we got married, didn’t I? Told you I’d find a way to give you everything you wanted. Don’t you want to be living high on the hog like those Rockefellers? Don’t you want a fancy house on the river? A fancy car to drive and a mink coat to wear? I’m going to go up there tomorrow so I can give you all that and more.”
Both hands dropped to her hips and her eyebrows dipped down. “I’m allergic to mink, Holton. It makes me break out in hives. All over my body. You know that. Or you would if you ever paid attention to anything other than all these hairbrained ideas of yours.”
Hairbrained ideas. That’s gratitude for you. Didn’t that door-to-door book salesman thing do okay? Before he’d left the books out in the rain and had to pay the company back all the money he’d made?
So that idea didn’t work, but what about buying those hens and selling eggs? That worked for a few months.
Until that he’d left the door open, and the coyotes ate them all.
“Yeah, well, you might be right.” He set the machine in the back of his pickup. “I made some bad decisions over the years. This ain’t one of them, though. I’m going to find uranium and buy you a genuine diamond. It’s what you deserve, Lulabelle. It’s what you deserve after all these years of putting up with me and my crazy ideas.”
Lulabelle sighed and shook her head. “Holton Alexander. When you gonna realize that I don’t want anything in this world except you?”
He squinted at her, studied her face. She’d never said anything like that before. Did she really only want him?
Even now, 40-years after that conversation in the middle of nowhere Wyoming, he couldn’t believe it, but it was true. She really had only wanted him.
He’d never found the uranium, even though he’d tried for two weeks straight. He’d never bought her that mink coat. Good thing, since he never forgot again that she was allergic to mink. Who ever heard of anyone being allergic to mink? He shrugged and laughed.
He’d never built her a fancy house or drove her around in one of those pink Rolls-Royce cars either.
None of that mattered to either of them now.
Love had made them richer than any of those men who went looking for their fortunes in the hills.
“Grandpa?” A little voice pulled him from his thoughts. “Tell me again about driving to Wyoming in a camper and seeing those coyotes and Buffalo and how grandma fell in love with you again.”