Ms. Cora’s Tale … Prologue

Prologue… 1906. Bisbee, Arizona

A good hour and a half after the sun had come up in Lowell, it had finally risen to a height sufficient to peek over the mountain and flood my room with light. I swung my legs over the side of the bed and sat up, falling right back over, my head swimming. I pushed myself back to a sitting position, keeping my eyes focused on the radiator in the far corner of the room.

Slowly the vertigo subsides and I am able to to make my eyes focus. My clothes are neatly folded on a chair although I had no recollection of folding them. No recollection of arriving back home after closing the bar at two. I stumble across the room to the small corner sink, grabbing the coffeepot on my way. I fill it at the tap before tossing in several spoonsful of coffee that I ground yesterday. I place the pot on the hotplate before spooning tomorrow’s ration of coffee beans into the grinder.

I sit at the table drinking my coffee and begin to recall my walk home. I remember topping off my pint of whiskey just before locking up the bar at two. I remember turning up Broadway and upturning the pint, taking a long pull, getting ready for my climb back up to Temby. I have no recollection of anything after that. Normally, I could get three nights out of a full pint but this morning there was barely enough left for my morning nip. Clears the cobwebs away… But not enough for me to remember any more of my trek back up to my room.

Around eleven I heat water on the hotplate to shave before getting ready for the day. I always tend bar in black slacks and a sky blue shirt with a black vest and frilly dark-blue arm garters… The ensemble is topped off with a derby hat… I may be seventy years old, but I am still Elmo.

At eleven-forty-five I begin my walk down from Temby Street. A flight of steps down to Clawson and then another down to Opera. I drop down into the alley behind the school and now stand at the top of the Broadway steps looking down at Brewery Gulch. At the bottom of the steps I see wagons passing up and down through the muddy street. The gulch is always muddy. Everything comes running down it. Dishwater, bathwater, piss, shit… You name it.

The sun, high in the sky now, shines brightly onto the steps,making the damp and slippery old leaves gathered there sparkle in their newfound sunlight. Small critters, just being awakened by the warm sunshine as I had been a little earlier, scurry from cover to cover.

I continue down the steps, passing several houses and the sides of commercial buildings before emerging onto the boardwalk at the bottom. I turn left and pass two small shops before coming to the bar. I unlock it and enter, kicking the refuse from the night before aside as I walk further and further into the gloom to the back where I find the light switch.

Shortly after twelve I hear the customary knock of my trusted assistant Jonny, a kid about sixteen. I open the door for him and he steps inside followed by his old man who he parks on the last stool at the end of the bar furthest from the door. The old man immediately lowers his head to the bar. Jonny grabs the broom and starts to sweep the place out.

Jonny began immediately sweeping out the trash and I began cleaning up the bar and restocking it. About one a fresh keg of beer was delivered from the brewery up the street followed a short while later by the iceman who dropped a fifty pound block in the back sink. Jonny began picking it into smaller chunks that he dropped into the beer cooler around the kegs. At two I opened the curtains over the bay windows that flanked the door, raised the shade covering it and then unlocked it. The bar was open.

Proceed to Chapter I

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