Ms. Cora’s Tale … Chapter 14

Meanwhile Lil cooked up a plan that would cause a major change in his and Cora/Corky’s life forever.

A few weeks later, Pops and Cora were having Friday brunch with Lil when, right out of the blue, Lil asked. “Elmo, do you still call this girl your granddaughter? And do you actually think about her as your granddaughter?”

Elmo looked sort of embarrassed. “I reckon so. Yeah.”. Bits of partially chewed food fell from the corners of his mouth.

“I’ll bet you’d do anything for her, wouldn’t you?”

He wiped away the food with the back of his hand and muttered. “Yeah, pert near.” He was trying to figure out where this was going.

“Then give her the bar.”

Elmo almost choked on that one but Lil, paying him no nevermind, went right on, “I happen to know you don’t have any family anywhere you can leave stuff to and, as the old saying goes, you can’t take it with you, so you might as well give the bar to your granddaughter.”

“Aaaa… W…”

“And you have plenty of money in the bank and own four or five buildings down on the gulch besides. If Cora owns the bar, she’ll be there to take care of you as you get older. Else, someday, your granddaughter is going to meet some man who’s going to sweep her off her feet and she’ll follow him to Timbuktu if he asks her. So be practical. If Cora owns the bar, you don’t ever have to worry again. Right?” She gouged him affectionately in the ribs and actually gave him a chance to speak.

“I reckon.”

“You reckon! Hell! I’ve heard her tell Esmy and some of the others how there’s lots of nights when you’ve had more rye whisky than you should and Corky has to help you up the stairs and off with your pants. Isn’t that taking care of you?”

Elmo looked at Cora. “You do that for me?”

She nodded her head, smiling at him, and then said, “Corky does. Sure. You don’t think we could leave you on that stool all night, do you.”

Pops hung his head and muttered“I don’t remember you doing that. Thanks.” This last word was unintelligible.

“I know you don’t.”

“Okay.” Lil said, “Let’s talk business. You’ll have to get a lawyer to draw up a bill of sale showing you’re selling the bar to Cora for a dollar and other considerations. … Or something like that. We’ll talk to a lawyer. I’m not saying you should give her everything you own. Just the bar. The business and the building. The rest of the property you keep in your name. If I know you, you likely have enough cash in the bank to keep you in rye whiskey for the next hundred years!”

“But.” Lil was on a roll and wasn’t going to let up, beginning to speak in the present tense as if it was already decided. “All the money the bar takes in belongs to Cora. She’ll put it in her own bank account. And when it’s time to pay the bills, she’ll pay them. The two of you can decide how to transition turning the business over to Cora and I’m quite sure she will always need your advice.”

She paused for effect but just as Elmo was about to speak she resumed.

“And that materially changes one very important thing. As a business owner, Cora must have the right to manage her business as she sees fit. Regardless of who’s making the decisions, it must appear that Cora is. Neither the city council, nor the state either, will be able to enforce an ordinance making it illegal for her, even though she’s a woman, to enter and operate her own business!”

Cora hadn’t yet begun to grasp what Lil’s true motive was but she was a fast learner. But why would Elmo actually agree to her proposal?

And Lil still wasn’t giving him an opportunity to respond. She was continuing with her speech.

“Do you see what this means, old man? Your saloon will become famous for breaking the barrier barring women from bars. The same ordinances exist in almost every mining town and it is discrimination against women. In some places out here in the west, I wouldn’t even be allowed to own my own house. That’s discrimination against me just because I happen to be a woman. I want to see things change!”

As Lil paused for breath, Elmo quickly wedged some words of his own into her monolog.

“You about to run out of tongue, woman? Can I put in my two cents now?”

He had tried to sound serious but Lil and Cora saw the hint of a smile on his venerable old face and chuckled. “Sorry. Guess I did hit you with both barrels, but I’ve thought about this ever since you agreed to having the apartment built convincing me that there was nothing wrong with an old man living with his granddaughter. There’s also nothing wrong with that granddaughter being proprietor of the bar.”

“Let me guess, if I agree to this, and I haven’t yet, but if I did, I’m going out on a limb and guessing that you’ve alredy talked to a lawyer and made sure I could legally sell the bar to Cora here for $1.”

“Yep. And, while I know I can own my own house operated, officially, as a boarding house, I had to verify that there was no ordinance that said a woman can’t own a bar in Bisbee. There’s not. At least not yet. The lawyer’s name is Lorenzo Albright. He lives up on Quality Hill and his office is in his house. Anybody up that way can tell you where it is. I told him to expect you to call but didn’t say when. Now ya’ll get on back to the bar and get it ready to open. Shoo!” And with that, she shooed them out of her dining room. Elmo walked out the front door as Cora ran up the stairs to re-emerge a minute or two later as Corky. And for the rest of the day, Cora would dream about the day when … perhaps … Pops hadn’t said no to the scheme yet … she could burn these old things of Corky’s and become Cora full time again but, when Lil had first started making her proposal, she had figured no answer was the best answer until Pops had had a chance to let the idea bounce around in his rye-fogged brain for awhile.

Proceed to Chapter 15

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