Home of Mickey Minner
The Ghost Town-ing
stories are based on the characters of my
Sweetwater Saga series and of
--- PHILIPSBURG ---
With eyes closed, Sherry reached out for Pat. The sheets were warm where her lover should have been but empty. Peeking out of a half-opened eye, she verified that she was indeed alone in the bed. Rolling onto her back, she looked around the dark bedroom.
Pat walked out of the bathroom just as Sherry rolled over. "Morning, sweetheart," she smiled, leaning against the doorframe to wait for a reply.
"What time is it?" Sherry asked, squinting at Pat who was outlined in the soft glow of the nightlight they left on in the bathroom.
"A little after six."
"And what time do we have to leave?"
"I figure if we're on the road by ten that should be good."
"Then we have plenty of time for me to show you something," Sherry grinned devilishly.
"Oh," Pat smirked. "And just what would you want to be showing me at this time of the morning?"
Sherry threw the covers over the side of the bed and stretched leisurely, providing Pat an unobstructed view of her naked body. Holding her hand up, she crooked a finger at her lover, "come here, baby," she purred. "I've got quite a few things to show you."
Pat pushed off the doorframe, her long legs carrying her to the bed in a couple of steps. She climbed onto the mattress, laying down on top of Sherry and gently letting her weight down until their bodies were pressed together. "God, I love the feel of our skin touching like this," she sighed as arms wrapped around her waist pulling her tighter to increase the pressure.
"Know what I love?" Sherry whispered into Pat's ear causing her lover to shiver with a wave of desire that left her tingling all over.
"Being able to hold you like this anytime I want,” Sherry murmured, her hand sliding up Pat’s back to the base of her neck. “And being able to kiss you anytime I want." She drew her lover close and began nibbling her way around Pat's lips, her tongue flicking out to lick the sensitive skin after each love bite. Spreading her legs, she encouraged Pat to see to her other needs.
Pat shifted her weight, using her elbow to prop herself up, her mouth never left Sherry's. She slipped a hand between their bodies, sliding it down to the silky hair she loved to tangle her fingers in. Sherry's moan told her she was on the right track.
Sherry opened her legs wider, needing Pat inside of her. Her hips rolled upward to help her lover enter her.
Pat's exploring fingers found Sherry's clit and circled it lightly. At the end of each orbit she flicked the throbbing bundle of nerves.
"Oh, god," Sherry cried as Pat teased her clit.
Pat’s fingers slid easily through the slickness that coated Sherry's labia. "Raise your leg," Pat moaned. As soon as Sherry complied, she pressed her own throbbing clit down rubbing it against the toned flesh. Matching the rhythm she set with her body rocking against Sherry’s leg, she slid her fingers in then out of the woman beneath her.
“Please, baby,” Sherry gasped. “Inside,” she cried each time Pat’s fingers withdrew.
Pat knew it would take very little for her own release to explode inside her. Wanting their orgasms to come at the same time she quickened the pace of her fingers thrusting in and out. Sherry's cries were all she needed to know that her lover was as close as she was. Pulling her fingers free one last time, she hesitated only an instant before plunging back inside. Driving her fingers into Sherry, she pressed her thumb hard against her clit.
Sherry's head flew back thumping on the mattress as Pat's fingers curled inside her vagina to press against an extremely sensitive spot. Feeling her orgasm begin, Sherry tightened her grip on Pat thrusting her leg up against the hard bundle of nerves rubbing against her skin.
"Oh, god," Pat screamed as her body reacted to the unexpected contact. Her back arched as she forced herself down even harder on Sherry's leg.
Sherry's vaginal muscles clinched around Pat's fingers, holding them inside with a vice-like grip. Her heels dug into mattress and she screamed as wave after wave of orgasmic pleasure exploded inside her.
For several minutes, the only sound in the room was the women’s cries of release which were slowly replaced by irregular gasps for breath.
"I love you," Pat panted, her body collapsed on top of Sherry and her arm caught between them as her fingers were still held tight inside of her lover.
Sherry could not speak, her lungs seemed incapable of holding the air she was trying desperately to draw into them. Her arms remained wrapped around Pat, holding her in a death grip, never wanting to let go.
“Do you think it’ll always be like this?” Sherry asked, her hand lightly caressing Pat’s skin just under her breasts. The women had shifted positions. Pat was now lying on her back and Sherry was tucked in beside her. Her head resting on Pat’s shoulder and a leg draped over her lover’s.
“I don’t know,” Pat said seriously. “Part of me hopes it never changes,” she kissed Sherry’s forehead. “Part of me wishes we’d slow down before my heart gives out from the stress of all these orgasms,” she snickered.
“Not funny,” Sherry giggled, leaning forward just enough to suck a hard nipple into her mouth and bite it lightly.
“Ouch,” Pat flinched. “Stop that.”
“Then be good,” Sherry tipped her head to look at Pat.
“I’m always good,” Pat smirked.
“You’ll get no argument from me on that,” Sherry twisted back around to place a kiss on the nipple.
“Would it bother you?”
“If things slowed down?”
“As long as I can be with you like this,” Sherry smiled at her lover, “I wouldn’t care if I never had another orgasm.”
“Really?” Pat stared at the woman beside her.
“Okay,” Sherry smirked, “I’d care.”
“But I’m serious when I say being her in your arms is good enough for me,” Sherry snuggled closer.
“Me too,” Pat agreed tightening her hold on Sherry. “Ready to get up?”
“I could use a bit more sleep,” Sherry yawned. “When is the alarm set to go off?”
Pat grinned as she saw the time on the clock on the nightstand beside her side of the bed. “Oh, right about now,” she said to the accompaniment of the loud buzzer.
“Ugh,” Sherry groaned.
“We don’t have to go today,” Pat offered. “We could just stay in bed.”
“No,” Sherry sighed, pushing herself up. “I want to go. Come on, baby,” she grabbed Pat’s hand and started tugging her off the mattress. “Maybe a nice hot shower will wake me up.
“Or a cold one,” Pat teased. “Let me get it ready for you.”
“Don’t even think about it,” Sherry snarled. “Remember you’ll be in there with me.”
“Just a suggestion,” Pat laughed as the women walked into the bathroom.
“What kind of lunch do you want to fix?” Sherry asked carrying her dirty plate to the sink. She and Pat had made a quick breakfast of soft-boiled eggs, toast and orange juice after finishing their shower and dressing.
“None,” Pat answered as she rose out of the chair and limped to the sink.
“But I thought you always took a lunch when you plan to be out all day?”
“I do,” Pat pulled open the dishwasher, placing the dirty dishes and glasses inside, “when I’m going to be out in the boonies all day. But part of the fun of exploring the older towns is to eat in the little hole-in-the-wall and out-of-the-way cafes and diners you find in them. Just fill a couple of water bottles for the drive and we’ll eat in Philipsburg when we get hungry.”
“Okay,” Sherry smiled. “Anything else?”
“Let’s see. You’ll want to take a warm jacket and maybe a cap, the wind can be chilling if it’s blowing off the snow on the peaks. And a good pair of walking shoes. But that’s not a problem with you, is it?” she grinned, well aware that her lover only had two kinds of shoes. The ones she wore when playing basketball and her hiking boots.
“I thought you liked my choice of footwear,” Sherry mocked pouted.
“I do, sweetheart,” Pat said, pulling Sherry into an embrace. “I just need to put my brace on then we’ll be ready to go.”
Sherry was standing near the front door pulling on her jacket when Pat walked down the hallway from the bedroom. She noticed that her lover walked with much less of a limp now that she was wearing the stiff knee brace but the limp was still more noticeable than normal. She thought about mentioning it but decided against it. Her lover was sensitive to her injury and didn’t like attention drawn to it for any reason.
“Sweetheart,” Pat said as she limped across the living room to join Sherry. “Can you drive a stick-shift?”
“Um,” Pat smiled uncertainly. “Would you mind driving then? At least, for a bit? The truck has cruise control once you get up to highway speed so…”
“Baby, are you okay?” Sherry closed the distance between them, studying Pat with concern.
“Yeah,” Pat nodded. “It’s just that my knee has been bothering me the last couple of days and driving sometimes makes it worse. You know, having to hold it in one position for a long time.”
“Pat, why don’t we just stay home today?”
Pat encircled Sherry with her arms. “I want to go,” she whispered. “I want to show you Philipsburg.”
“But if you’re in pain…”
“Not much more than normal. And if you’ll drive, I can keep the leg stretched out. I might need to walk a little slower when we get there and I’ll probably need to rest it every so often,” she told Sherry. “But I’ll be fine. It’s just the weather changes this time of year, cold one minute and warm the next. Drives the leg crazy.”
“Are you sure?” Sherry asked, not at all convinced by Pat’s explanation.
“Yes.” Pat leaned forward, kissing her lover.
“You’ll tell me if you need to rest?”
“And if you get tired, you’ll say something and we can come home?”
Sherry studied Pat for any sign of her being less than truthful. When she saw none she finally agreed, “okay. Let’s go then.”
Sherry drove up the freeway on ramp and merged easily into the light traffic going east. “One thing here I’ll never get used to is there being so little traffic,” she said as she accelerated to cruising speed.
“Yeah,” Pat said, squirming about in the passenger seat trying to find a comfortable position for her leg. “Sure makes driving on the freeway a breeze. You don’t really run into any traffic unless you’re going through Bozeman or Billings. Otherwise, it’s mostly open highway.”
Out of the corner of her eye, Sherry watched Pat adjust and readjust her position. It was obvious her lover was having trouble finding a position for the leg that didn’t cause her more pain. But after several minutes, she noticed Pat relax and settle back into the seat.
“Nice day for a drive,” Pat said, looking out the window at the patches of blue scattered about the otherwise cloudy sky. “High cloud cover is good, it won’t be too hot. And the color of the clouds isn’t too dark so we probably won’t get much rain or snow. And there’s only a slight breeze,” she said judging the movement of the pine trees lining the sides of the freeway. “Should be a real nice day.”
“Good,” Sherry smiled, but she couldn’t get her lover’s distress out of her mind. After several moments she decided to voice her thoughts. “Pat, why didn’t you tell me your leg was bothering you?”
“I mean before today. I knew it had to be.”
Sherry glanced at Pat, smiling lovingly. “I can tell by how much you limp, baby, especially when you don’t have the brace on.”
“You can talk to me about it, you know.”
Pat turned back to the window, staring unseeingly at the passing scenery. How many times had she tried to talk about the injury just to have her feelings brushed aside? Would Sherry be any different? “People don’t like to hear about my problems,” she mumbled, feeling a gently hand come to rest on top of her thigh.
“I wish you’d talk to me, Pat. I won’t be upset if you don’t want to do something because you’re in too much pain. I really won’t. In fact, we can turn around right now and go back to the house if you want.”
“I won’t let my knee stop me from doing the things I want,” Pat said softly. “I can’t,” her voice hitched as her throat swelled with the pent up frustration over how her once very active life had changed since the injury.
Sherry spotted a turn off to a rest area on the side of the freeway and guided the pickup toward it. Not much more than a wide spot at the side of the road, it provided space for tired truckers to pull their rigs over and catch some much needed sleep. She drove to the far end of the parking area, stopping the truck at the edge of the pavement and switching the engine off. Seconds later, she held Pat in her arms.
“I just can’t let it stop me. I’ve lost too much already,” Pat said softly, tears flowing down her cheeks.
“It’s okay, baby,” Sherry soothed. “We won’t let it stop you. We won’t.”
“I always seem to be crying on your shoulder,” Pat sniffled as the tears began to slow.
“It’s okay,” Sherry smiled. She pulled some tissues out of her jacket pocket and used them to dry Pat’s face. “That’s what I’m here for. And someday I’ll cry on your shoulder.”
“Uh uh,” Sherry nodded. “Are you okay?”
“I think so,” Pat said straightening up in the seat. She pulled one of the water bottles from the holder at the front of the dashboard and dampened a couple of tissues to wash her face. “If I want to do something, I will. Because, I need to,” Pat said quietly.
“Okay,” Sherry was concerned by the tinge of hopelessness in Pat’s voice. “I understand.”
“No, you don’t,” Pat said tenderly. “The leg is what it is and I just have to accept that. That doesn’t mean I don’t get frustrated and angry about it. But as long as I have someone who will listen when I need to talk about it or hold me when I need to cry about it or understand when I need to scream over it, that’s all I need.”
“You have that,” Sherry smiled.
“I know,” Pat smiled back. “Come on. Let’s get back on the road. We’ve got a lot to see in Philipsburg.”
“This is the town of Hall,” Pat said as the truck slowed approaching the speed zone through the tiny community that consisted of one block of commercial buildings and private homes in each direction of the intersection with farm road. “This cross road is the route of the old stage road from points east to Missoula.”
“So that would have been the road they took coming back from Bozeman after Jennifer was attacked by the mountain lion?”
“What’s down there?” Sherry asked looking to her left as she drove through the intersection.
“What used to be down there was the wide spot in the road named New Chicago by a wishful thinker. It once had a couple of hotels and served as a stop on the stage route. Died out when the railroads came through and most business moved to Drummond.”
“Is there any of the town left?”
“No. The old schoolhouse is now in Drummond and one of the hotels burned down. I don’t remember what happened to the rest of the buildings. Probably taken apart and used to build some of the buildings here in Hall or in Drummond.”
“That was the way of the west. Once a town died out, it didn’t make much sense to just leave to rot what could be used elsewhere. We’re lucky to have as much left as we do and that’s only because some people continued living in the towns and mining camps even after everyone else moved on.”
“How far is Philipsburg from here?”
“Pull over up there,” Pat told Sherry, pointing to a large flat area at the side of the road.
“Alright,” Sherry raised her foot off the accelerator, letting the weight of the truck slow it’s momentum as she guided it off the pavement.
“Go ahead and shut her off,” Pat said, opening the passenger door and climbing out of the cab.
“What are you looking at?” Sherry asked, walking around the front of the truck to stand beside Pat.
“Up there. On the other side of those hills is a series of small valleys and Rock Creek. By Charley’s description, I think that may be the pass Jesse and Jennifer were crossing on their way to Philipsburg and Granite. If I’m right, the fire would have moved along that ridge before dropping over the other side and trapping them.”
“So the old mine would be on the other side of those hills.”
“Think we could find it?”
“I doubt it. And now would not be a good time to go looking, there’s still too much snow up there. Plus to find it, we’ve have to locate the exact route they used to climb up the other side and there’s several to choose from. Then we’ve have to be able to find the exact tunnel and these hills are full of old mines. I don’t think it’s something we should think too much about.”
“You’re probably right,” Sherry said, lifting a pair of binoculars to her eyes to get a close up look at the ridge where Jesse had almost died. She was suddenly filled with a great sense of relief that the rancher had not succumbed to the fire’s deadly smoke. “So where’s Philipsburg?” she asked, trying to focus her attention on happier thoughts.
“Right there,” Jesse pointed behind them across the road. “Just at the foot of those hills. And Granite is up there,” she pointing up to the top of the mountain behind the town.”
“Let’s go,” Sherry said excitedly as she scrambled around to the driver’s side of the pickup. As soon as Pat was seated beside her, she guided the truck back onto the road.
“Take a left just after the gas station. We’ll be on the main street leading to town and following the route Jesse and Jennifer probably rode in on.”
“This is so unreal,” Sherry bubbled. “Being able to actually be where they were. To see the same places and walk in their footsteps, I can’t believe we’re doing this.”
“It is a pretty awesome experience,” Pat agreed. She hadn’t thought she’d be as excited as Sherry when they arrived in Philipsburg and made their first attempt to match the descriptions in Charley Branson’s journal with real places. But as they slowly drove toward the town, she could feel the butterflies in her stomach starting to multiple. “Pull over to the side of the street.”
Sherry followed Pat’s directions.
“This must be what they saw,” Pat said looking up the length of the main street lined with brightly colored commercial buildings. “Only there was a lot more activity back then,” she laughed at the scarcity of movement along the street.
Sherry reached into the back seat to retrieve the journal. She began to read:
“Mommy said that supplies wagons lined the street, their teams of horses and mules stretched out in front of them responding to the shouted commands of the drivers. Men hurried from one side of the muddy street to the other, attending to business in the town’s stores and banks. Miners and workers moved in and out of the numerous saloons, most exiting more inebriating than they had been when entering. A few respectable women walked along the boardwalks lining the street, gazing into the glass windows of the stores. At the far end of the street, ladies of questionable reputations called down to the passing miners, workers and businessmen trying to encourage them to partake in their offerings.
“Momma always said she was most captivated with the holes dug in the street by miners hoping to find a hidden silver vein. It was impossible for the horses to walk more than a few steps in any one direction without having to skirt around the edges of the deep pits. She was amazed that the heavily loaded freight wagons were able to negotiate the street without the goods they carried being tossed into the mud when the wagons rolled in and out of the irregular gouges.”
“Lucky for us, they filled in those holes and paved the street,” Pat laughed. “Drive up to the flashing light and turn right. Remember how they asked for directions to Granite? And they were told to go up the hill and look for a sign?”
“I think so.”
“Where’s the road to Granite?”
“Not too far. Look,” Pat pointed to the right. “There’s the old high school. There still use it today.”
“That’s a great building,” Sherry said, looking at the two story brick and sandstone structure with a bell tower in the center of the front side. “Too bad they don’t make schools look like that any more. That building has character unlike the blah schools they build today.”
“Yeah, and it’s great they’re still using it. Oh, pull over there,” Pat pointed to a dirt road taking off to the left. “Look,” she grinned, rolling down her window to give Sherry a better view of the wooden side at the junction of the roads.
“Granite,” Sherry read the word out loud. “This is the road.”
“I’m wish we could go up there today,” Sherry frowned as she checked out the muddy surface of the road. “But I guess I can see why we can’t,” her disappointment evident in her voice.
“We’ll come back this summer,” Pat reached over, placing her hand on Sherry’s arm. “I promise.”
“But we’ll be busy with the team this summer,” Sherry smiled sadly.
Pat unbuckled her safety belt in order to scoot across the bench seat next to Sherry. “I’m sure the team will survive if we sneak away for one day,” she slipped her arm around the woman pulling her into a loving embrace.
“But you never take a day off when you’re coaching,” Sherry slumped against Pat.
“Maybe,” Pat kissed the top of Sherry’s head. “I just never had a reason to before.”
“Oh?” Sherry smiled, sitting up and twisting to look into Pat’s eyes. “Really?”
“Yeah,” Pat grinned. “Now quit feeling sorry for yourself and drive back into town so we can go exploring.”
“Oh, boy,” Sherry exclaimed, putting the truck back in gear. “Where should I park?”
“Any place near the light. The town isn’t that big and we can walk everyplace. I think we’ll start at the ghost town museum, we drove past it when we came up the hill. That way you can see pictures of some of the places the journal describes.”
“Goodie, goodie, goodie, goodie,” Sherry chanted as she drove back down the steep hill to the main street of Philipsburg. “I can’t wait, I can’t wait, I can’t wait.”
Pat laughed. She couldn’t help it. Her lover was just too darn cute.
Sherry parked and the women climbed out of the pickup. As they started to walk down the street, she reached for Pat’s hand but as soon as their skin touched she pulled her hand back.
“What was that for?” Mystified, Pat stopped to confront Sherry who had never expressed any problem with their open and enthusiastic displays of affection.
“I, um,” Sherry dropped her head to hide the blush coloring her cheeks. “I didn’t think you’d want….”
“Sweetheart,” Pat gently cupped her hand under Sherry’s chin, lifting her face up so she could see it. “Don’t you think they know we’re gay by now?” she grinned. “I mean, we’ve been plastered on the cover of every sports magazine there is and in the local news. If the folks around here don’t know, they’ve been living in a cave.”
“I know,” Sherry smiled, sheepishly. “But this isn’t Missoula and them knowing and us…”
“Showing public displays of affection are two different things,” Pat finished for her lover.
“To hell with them if they don’t like it. If I want to hold my girl’s hand, I will,” Pat leaned close for a quick kiss. “I love you,” she said, grabbing Sherry’s hand and leading her down the street. “Even if you are a goof,” she laughed.
The ghost town museum consisted of two rooms that contained large glass cases displaying clothing and other items used by the citizens of Philipsburg and surrounding towns during the last half of the 19th century. On the rooms’ walls, photographs of the old towns during their heydays were hung at eye height.
“Here’s a picture of Philipsburg,” Sherry called to Pat who was examined a case of displaying old store ledgers and records. “Boy, Jennifer wasn’t kidding about the condition of the street.”
“Let’s see,” Pat stepped beside Sherry. “You could lose a small car in some of those,” she grinned. “There’s a picture of Granite.”
The photograph showed the main commercial street of Granite. Along both sides of the street, wooden and brick buildings were crammed side-be-side and the street itself was packed with hundreds of men and a few women and children all decked out in their finest clothes to celebrate a local holiday.
“Not too many of those buildings left. See the ones on the right side of the street,” Pat pointed at the picture. “Those are the ones built on stilts that Jesse thought were so intriguing.”
“They don’t look like it,” Sherry said as she looked at the photograph.
“You’re seeing them from the front,” Pat tweaked Sherry’s nose. “Remember, Jesse was looking at them from the back.”
“Guess I’ll have to trust you on that until I can see for myself.”
“Guess you will.”
“Ready to see the rest of the town?” Pat asked as she and Sherry walked out of the museum.
“Lead on,” Sherry smiled, reaching for Pat’s hand and entwining their fingers.
“Alright. First I should point out the building the museum is in is the Courtney Hotel built in 1918. It housed offices and hotel rooms on the top two floors and an automobile dealership on the main floor.”
“That must have been noisy,” Sherry frowned, wrinkling up her nose. “And smelly.”
Pat checked for any approaching cars before leading Sherry across the street. “This is the oldest operating theater in Montana,” she said as she stepped up on the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street. “It was built in 1891 and has scenery backdrops painted by Edgar S. Paxson, the famous western painter from Missoula. They still use them too.”
“Wow,” Sherry said, reading the plaque bolted to the front of the building that described the history of the structure. “You can still attend performances in it?”
“Yes, during the summer. We should come to one,” Pat said, tugging gently on Sherry’s arm as she began to walk back down the street to the intersection with the flashing red light. “Come on,” she tugged a little harder when Sherry was slow to respond.
Pat and Sherry turned left at the signal walking along the sidewalk in front of the brightly painted McLeod – Doe Building and looking at the equally brightly colored Sayrs Building on the opposite corner. Then Pat reversed their steps, leading Sherry east on the street to see the Weinstein Building which housed one of the first general stores in Philipsburg having been built in the late 1870s.
“The story I’ve always heard is that is one of the town’s brothels,” Pat said of a two story wooden structure on the north side of the street. “It could very well be the one Jennifer saw when they rode through.”
Sherry paused to study the building. In her mind’s eye she could see partially clothed women standing on the balcony calling down to passing miners and businessmen. “Do you think it really is a house of ill repute?”
“Wow,” Sherry breathed out the word, her lips forming an exaggerated ‘O’ as she did so.
“Come on,” Pat tugged her lover across the street and headed back down toward the main intersection. “This is Morse Hall built by a Colonel Morse in 1887,” Pat paused in front of a two story brick building.
“It says they held basketball games on the top floor,” Sherry said disbelievingly as she read the plaque on the front of the building.
“I know. They must not have had too many high arch shooters back then.”
Sherry stepped back to the edge of the sidewalk, tilting her head back to take a good look at the top floor of the building. “How high up was the basket?” she asked trying to visualize the height of the room behind the brick wall.
“Doubt if it was regulation.”
“Must have been some awfully polite games,” Sherry muttered shaking her head. “You try to play a game up there with someone like Dawn and you’d end up with some pretty good size holes in the floor.”
“Probably,” Pat snickered.
“Hey, I want to eat here,” Sherry grinned. “It says you can get a T-bone steak for fifty cents.”
“Maybe in 1881 but not today,” Pat laughed. “But you have a point, I getting a little hungry myself. There’s a little café right down there. Interested?”
“What now?” Sherry asked as Pat paid the tab for their lunch.
“The surprise I told you about,” Pat said, waiting for the teenage girl behind the register to count out her change. “Thank you,” Pat smiled at the girl. “Lunch was very good.”
“Thanks, Coach,” the girl beamed at the praise. “This is the first year my folks have let me cook. I’m glad you liked it.”
“We did,” Sherry nodded.
“Come back again.”
“We will,” Pat pulled open the door at the front of the café and waited for Sherry to walk outside before joining her.
“Okay, where’s my surprise?” Sherry asked looking up and down the sidewalk for any hint of what her lover was holding back from her.
“Down here,” Pat said, she had already started walking down the sidewalk. “This building was designed by the architect A.J. Gibson, also from Missoula. He designed a lot of the original buildings at the university as well as government buildings in town and around the state. The Walker Company ran a store here and in Granite. But now it houses a nice little treat,” Pat grinned pulling open the store’s heavy door. “I think you’ll like it.”
“We’ll see,” Sherry smirked as she walked inside. She took one step inside the old store and came to an abrupt stop causing Pat to bump into her back.
“What’s wrong?” Pat chuckled at her awestruck lover. “Never see a candy store before.”
“Not like this,” Sherry said looking around at the walls lined with thousands of jars filled with candy of every imaginable size, shape and flavor.
Sure,” Pat said, reaching for a still warm piece of huckleberry taffy and popping it into her mouth.
“This is good,” Sherry mumbled as she chewed her piece of soft candy.
“We sell it by the bag or by the piece,” the woman pointed behind her at a large selection of taffy in various flavors. “Be sure to take some home with you,” she grinned.
“Oh, we will,” Sherry said already reading the tags to see what flavors she could choose from.
“Well?” Pat asked climbing into the pickup while Sherry stashed their candy purchases in the back seat.
“What do you think about Philipsburg?”
“I love it,” Sherry exclaimed just before closing the cab’s rear door and climbing into the driver’s seat. “It was great and the candy store was a wonderful surprise. Thank you,” she leaned across the seat to give Pat a kiss. “I love you.”
“I love you too,” Pat returned the sentiment and the kiss. “I’m glad you liked it. I’ve always thought Philipsburg was a great place to spend a day. I probably drive out here three or four times a year. Can’t come any more often or I’d weigh five hundred pounds. I just can’t go in that place without buying something.”
“I can see why,’ Sherry giggled backing the truck away from the sidewalk. “It’s all so good and the people are so friendly. I’m glad you like to come here.”
“Yes, but one quick side trip before we leave town. Turn right at the signal.”
Sherry followed Pat’s instructions as she guided her up a few blocks to a dirt parking lot.
“That is the old jail built in 1896. Pretty neat, uh?”
“They still use it as a jail.”
“I think that’s one jail I wouldn’t complain too much about being locked up in.”
“Well, you know, if the inside is as interesting as the outside, it would be fun.”
“Fun to be locked up?” Pat looked questioningly at her lover. “You have a strange sense of fun, sweetheart.”
“Not really,” Sherry giggled, steering the truck back onto the street. “I think its fun being with you.”
“I hope you never stop thinking that,” Pat smiled.
“Never, baby,” Sherry grinned. “Absolutely, never.”
“Pat,” Sherry stared suspiciously at a rock formation on the other side of the Clark Fork River. They were back on the interstate a few miles out of Drummond and headed back to Missoula. “That rock is looking at me.”
Pat was watching a red-tail hawk circling over an open field as it looked for its evening meal. “Hoodoo rocks,” she said not bothering to turn her head away from the hawk.
“What’s a hoodoo rock?”
“Legend says they are spirits that pose as rocks during the day but come alive at night.”
“Don’t have to,” Pat watched the hawk dive to the ground and its unsuspecting prey. “I’ve seen it before.”
As they drove past the strange looking mountain of stone, Sherry had the oddest feeling that what appeared to be two eyes peering out of a cloaked head were watching her. “Hoodoo rocks,” she huffed in disbelief, keeping a sharp eye on the anomaly.
Added part 3 of Ghost Town-ing, Episode Three -Interlude by Mickey Minner
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