CHAPTER 1: DISA
Disa Oelstrom came to the doorway just in time to see a most captivating man ride by on a bay horse with an ornamentally braided mane, but she scarcely noticed the horse she was so captivated by the man in the saddle dressed all in white from the tip of his hat, which went Disa’s way, to the tops of his knee length probably special made leather boots. Ole Oelstrom stood in the yard with a double barrel shotgun, or the two might have let more than their eyes meet. But meet they did indeed as Ole instinctively perhaps pulled back the hammers on the old shotgun staring at the stranger whom he instantly took for a gunfighter that scarcely seemed to notice seeming lost in visions of Disa Oelstrom and him together, a thought that prompted Ole to glance back at his wife of less than a year, and when he did that, he suddenly knew a fear of a completely different kind, taking then to staring at his wife in disbelief; no longer interested in the stranger.
“Mind if I water my horse?” the stranger said as he neared the well-built farmhouse, reminding Ole he was even there.
“There’s plenty water in town,” Ole said nodding the direction the stranger had been going. “You best be off that way too!” he said jealous and angry for the stranger mockingly never took his eyes off Disa for a second and she loved it.
Then Ole raised his shotgun almost to eye level never to have to say, “Get!” to the stranger, who did finally notice Ole who stood before him dressed way too warmly for the time of year with one suspender slid over his shoulder and the laces of his left boot, the one he always removed first, nearly completely unlaced, letting the stranger think he might have interrupted an afternoon delight of Ole’s own.
The horse neighed a little while the stranger turned his head away from the water trough and nudged him in the ribs urging him on toward town.
“What’s the name of that town?” he said as friendly as could be to Disa, who lost her breath as she went to speak.
“Tain’t got any yet,” Ole said and pulled the gun up to his shoulder again to protect what was his, I suppose.
“That’s a funny name for a town,” the stranger said and Disa giggled, causing the stranger to glance back over his shoulder at her just in time to see her disappear into the darkness of the house. Left alone with Ole, he said, “I’ll be back. You can count on that,” as Ole lowered the gun just as Disa reappeared at the door and stepped out into the sunlight where her silhouette almost gave away all the details of her body still clad by the white cotton dress she wore.
Both men looked. Then the stranger looked Ole in the eye and said again that he could count on him coming by again.
As the stranger rode away from the house, Ole looked Disa in the eye and yelled,
“What the damn hell was that all about? Your my damn wife not his playmate!”
“Damned wife,” Disa mumbled wishing she was free to be with the stranger and not even noticing that would normally be completely out of character for her, “that about covers it,” she finished her thought a little less discreetly.
“What did you say?” Ole said and grabbed her by the shoulder and whirled her around so that she faced him for she had turned her back so as not to incite Ole to a rage.
Disa threw the large spoon she suddenly remembered was in her hand for she had been cooking and had intended to tell Ole dinner was about ready. It hit a metal feed trough and made a loud noise distracting the pair for the moment, but when she looked up to see the stranger was nearly out of earshot yet, she yelled, “If you weren’t so busy building your damn cattle empire one cow at a time, I might get to know it sometime!” as she went through the door again, hoping the stranger heard, and as she turned her head to look she saw him glance back at her, slow his horse, and then tip his hat to her before, turning he rode even farther away.
Ole pushed past Disa heading for his dinner, while his wife watched the stranger until he was just a spot in the Dakota prairie, a speck under the big sky, but big blot on her reputation, a huge crush on someone other than her husband. How risqué? How amazingly improper? She smiled and sat at the table opposite Ole, not eating.
Ole was eating and his appetite was large, but he couldn’t help but notice Disa ate nothing and worse seemed not to be present mentally staring at him but clearly not even seeing him, not really. Never had he seen her behave like this. Never had it occurred to him, he was keeping strangers from ruining his marriage more so than defending her honor from undesirables.
“Eat something, damn it!” he yelled, “You’re worse than a pie eyed little girl with a May basket.”
“Hmmm?” she said still lost in the spell cast by the most amazing man she had ever seen.
Then Ole slammed his fork onto the plate and rising said, “You would think that b*****d was the Devil himself the way you are acting,” and stormed away to a waiting heifer that had just been bred by a borrowed bull, the bull nearly completely disinterested as Ole led the heifer away.
Then he stopped as he separated the pair for the moment, only to notice Disa standing in the doorway gazing off in the direction of town, and he wondered both about his appeal to Disa, the stranger’s, I mean, but he was unsure of his appeal to her also, and he wondered whether she had been dissatisfied lately; he hadn’t noticed it if that was so. Then his thoughts turned to the women in town, and he pictured them all greatly enamored with the stranger the same way as Disa was, before he walked toward the house and said to Disa as much to himself, “I’m sorry, it’s just that I never saw you act that way before,” never noticing until that moment she seemed to be embarrassed.
“Me neither,” she said absentmindedly as she caught his hand and led him back into the house to the privacy within, and the security within their marriage, and the love she had always known, now changed perhaps forever by her desire for another man, a mere stranger, dressed in white, on a bright bay horse, on his way to a town not yet named.
What was the point of it all?
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