Western Short Story
The Paint Lady, Beth Dolliver
Tom Sheehan


Western Short Story

She rolled around Texas with a wagon carrying at times a dozen cans of a pale green paint, and an entourage of a few guards with noted gun skills. She openly declared them to a man as being “my working crew if ever needed, but ladies of this fair land will be forever thankful for stepping into the work breech on their own. There’s nothing like a lady’s kitchen being a lady’s kitchen, but don’t paint the beams, they belong to the menfolk, as you can imagine.”

The lady’s name was Beth Dolliver, 30-ish, pleasant looking facial features that gloried in green eyes, a kissable mouth from the outset, a noticeable woman’s frame in odd woolen shirts and denim pants, a voice from a choir of sorts, a music at some level of immediate appreciation. She’d often be at full voice coming over the rise, songs that had been around Texas forever, the olden, golden spirits of heroic tales and sweet romances. Don’t sell short a singing lady, at a wagon helm or in her own kitchen.”

Beth Dolliver was always welcome because stories preceded her, whether planted earlier by a minion of hers in, of all places, the local saloons, a usual crowd on hand; “Tell your ladies or your ranch owners or wives of ranch owners that Beth Dolliver can brighten up their lives until they don’t believe they went this long without saving their days and their surroundings, and starting right there in their kitchens. Just arrange for Beth to make a visit to see them and see what her paint can do for her home, her kitchen, for her herself, that lady of the house, so help me.”

It was a cinch, like the time she came into in Drubaserton in the heart of Texas, a town damned near forgotten except for one good-sized ranch, The Bar-B-Q and its owner, the widow Drubase, Alma by name, hard as a prong and twice as tough, her most apt to say, “There ain’t no woman can sway me one way or t’other, but I ain’t so one-minded that I can imagine a change doing me some good. Bring her on, whether she comes by date or accident!”

Those two solid ladies came together when Bess opened a can of pale green paint and painted a panel on the inside of the kitchen door. The panel leaped with a life it had never show before, and before Bess was done with the door and a cabinet door in the same lively, lovely pale green like it was talking to her, those two lovelies were hugging at the circumstantial joy of a new beginning for the kitchen.

The widow Drubase, without a bit more of fuss and do, bought two cans of the green paint, the remodeling of her kitchen assured.

And men in local saloons in towns with echoes, heard how Bess Dolliver had swung widow Drubase into her camp, and not one huge beam ever feeling the masquerading of pale green paint on their manly surfaces.

The arguments started, of course, twixt those against and those in-between the color scheme, beams above all, being men stuff right from the beginning.

One of the Drubase hands vouched that he went into visit the widow and was in a kind of heaven, “Which made me look at that lady like I never looked at her before, kind of dream-like and prettier than any picture could show her in her wide breeches and her lips as tough as tongs up front and on top of every word and every curse she knew in her reperttwar. coming the way she said repertoire.

That same cowpoke might have been the same one who eventually said, “Made me think of marryin’ her on the spot, caught right there in a heaven of sorts, though no matrimonials have ensued on the situation. But it did keep the chatter in the saloons along the way up close to tales of Bess Dolliver and her pale green paint jobs moving across Texas like a smothering blanket of smoothness on the runaway.

The stories about Bess Dolliver kept moving until they found the pinnacle in the palatial home of the Governor of Texas, a grand mansion you can imagine from one magnificent end to the other magnificent and amid all the little castles found on a walk through, long as some trails, it’s been said. And some Texans, who’d

made that trip, say, “Even largesse don’t fit it.”

The story goes that the governor’s wife. Mona by name and herself once a cowgirl in her own right, got wind of Bess Dolliver through another captured lady off the saddle and they swung Bess into that very Governor’s home for a walk-through of a couple of days.

The resultant agreement came at a miniature campfire set up in a room of its own complete with wine and good song, where the mesmerized Mon bought every single can of that loveliest pale green paint off the wagon of Bess Dolliver at the highest price Bess had ever received for her paint goods, well enough for Bess to make a trip all the way to Chicago to re-supply her wagon and hire a couple of gun shooters as company and handymen wherever and whenever they might be needed; like her former help on the trail.

The story gets an historic ending when it’s revealed that Mona took her own time at painting up a goodly chunk of Texas those voting years, even down the road a long way, providing for voter walk-throughs in the governor’s successive five terms at his job, not one incident taking place in any of those years and in any of those walk-throughs to force the governor to change a single bit of his campaign measures and policies during all of his terms as governor and none at his latest occupation as chief custodian of the classic and palatial museum of his home as an historical site open to the general public, as long as they bring their own lunches, him being no cook and his Mona at her own pleasures.