The Tale of Frank and Lilly of Desolation Desert Valley

In a frozen stand-off, all three halted, just a few feet from each other. Like wooden soldiers, they stood silent in the middle of the street. Slowly, Frank reached up and tipped his hat, took Lilly’s hand and walked on.

Frank and Lilly

“No, Frank, don’t! He didn’t mean it!” Lilly exclaimed.

“Don’t hold me back this time, Lilly, he ain’t got no right to talk to me like that!” Frank growled, as he grabbed his drink and angrily gulped it down, wildly splashing the rich amber liquor all over his new jacket. He grunted loudly in disgust.

“Git outta my way, Lilly, it’s time I took care o’ that rude basturd!”

Frank started to slide sideways off his chair to follow the man who had had the nerve to insult him. Him! The Mayor of the community of Desolate Desert Valley! The owner of the Desolate Desert Valley Silver Mines! The owner of the Desolate Desert Valley Bank!

Lilly reached for her purse, grasping the one-shot Derringer and pressing it to his side under his silken jacket.

“No ya don’t, Frank!” she whispered. “I’ve had enough o’ yer Mr. Alpha BS. You even begin to get up, and I shoot!”

Frank froze, his eyes widening as he felt the cold metal against his skin. He slowly turned to face Lilly, his anger now mixed with surprise and a hint of fear. His hand trembled as he carefully placed his empty glass on the bar counter.

“Lilly, what are you doing? Put that thing away,” he said through gritted teeth, trying his best to sound authoritative despite the cold unease creeping up his spine.

Lilly’s eyes narrowed, her grip on the small pistol tightening. She had loved Frank for twenty years. She had always been the calm and supportive partner, but she had reached her breaking point. Frank’s aggressive behavior had escalated over the past few months, and she refused to tolerate it any longer.

“No more, Frank. I won’t let you ruin our lives with your temper and your greed,” she said, her voice steady but filled with determination. “I love you, but I can’t continue like this. It’s time you faced the consequences of your actions.”

Frank’s face contorted with fury, his eyes narrowing, incensed at Lilly’s defiance. The atmosphere in the dimly lit saloon grew tense. Everyone held their breath, expecting an explosion of wrath. Frank’s hand moved towards his holster, his fingers brushing against the cold metal of his revolver.

Lilly’s grip on the small Derringer tightened, her finger lightly caressing the trigger, her hand pressing the tip of the barrel into his skin relentlessly.

Lilly was angry, but she knew that lives hung in the balance. The consequence of a single bullet would ripple through the saloon and beyond, forever altering the course of all their lives and their small frontier town.

Suddenly, a rugged figure swaggered from the shadows at the back of the saloon, capturing everyone’s attention. It was Grizzly Dan, the saloon’s bartender. His reputation as fierce as his unkempt mane of tawny hair.

“Hold on there, you two,” Grizzly Dan growled. “There’s enough blood spilled on these streets already. Lilly’s right, Frank. You’re a damn liar, and we’re all sick of your cheating and stealing. Your stubborn, reckless anger has torn this town apart.”

Lilly’s delicate hand steadied. Holding the beautifully curved pearl handle of the Derringer against Frank’s ribs, her resolve was solid, certain.

Frank’s face hardened, his hand creeping closer to his revolver. “I don’t need no lecture from the likes of you,” he spat, his words dripping with arrogance. “This ain’t none of your business, Grizzly Dan. Stay out of this. Make no mistake, I won’t be pushed around,” he growled, defiance spurting through his veins like poison.

The atmosphere became unbearable, thick with tension and rage. Grizzly Dan’s gaze remained unyielding. “You’re wrong, son. It’s everyone’s business when folks are at each other’s throats.”

Grizzly Dan’s eyes narrowed, his own hand casually resting on the heel of his well-worn six-shooter. “You’re a fool! You’re so close to death right now I bet you can taste the rust on the Grim Reaper’s blade. You’ve crossed one too many lines, Frank. It’s time for you to face the consequences.”

Frank’s jaw tightened, his pride swelling his head. But under it all was a flicker of doubt.

Lilly felt the slight shift in Frank, and surreptitiously dropped her gun down into her purse.

With a heavy sigh, Frank slowly eased away from the bar, his eyes locked on Grizzly Dan.

“Fine. But mark my words, Grizzly Dan. This ain’t over,” he growled, his voice laced with resentment.

Grizzly Dan nodded, his gaze unyielding. “There’s a reckoning coming, Frank. And it’s long overdue. It’s just a matter of time,” he warned.

Frank and Lilly slowly left the saloon under Grizzly Dan’s watchful gaze.

The town was teetering on the edge of chaos. Tension continued to mount, day by day.

People whispered behind their hands.

A storm was coming, one that would bring justice in its terrible wake.

Lilly found herself torn between her love for Frank and the understanding that his erratic, violent behavior had pushed the limits of forgiveness.

The unsettled scores from years of Frank’s unchecked greed, abuse and humiliation cast a wide shadow. Could they successfully grapple with the consequences of their actions?

By day, the winds howled through the town. Huge, spiny tumbleweeds bumped and flew over the sandy streets, into the buildings, getting stuck in corners and under railings.

Horses whinnied in their stalls, feeling the unease. The people huddled within, frightened, waiting.

One night, strolling back from the saloon under a dark moon, Lilly and Frank came face to face with a figure from her past - the enigmatic gunslinger known as “Blackheart Bobby” McCallister. He had come back to town after fifteen years, driven by a deep thirst for vengeance and a score to settle. Hatred seethed in his scarred, broken, battered heart.

In a frozen stand-off, all three halted, just a few feet from each other. Like wooden soldiers, they stood silent in the middle of the dusty street.

Slowly, Frank reached up and tipped his hat, took Lilly’s hand and walked on.

Out of the blue, the night exploded with gunfire. Echoes of revenge reverberated through the air. The town stood still. Blackheart Bobby, his sharp shooter still smoking in his hand, tipped his own hat to Lilly, turned and walked into the black shadows.

Lilly watched in shock and disbelief as Frank loosed his grip on her hand. His wide eyes briefly meeting hers, his blood-glazed lips mouthing uselessly, he slumped bonelessly to the ground. A life extinguished by the wrath of a long-lost adversary.

Lilly, stunned, found herself torn between mourning the man she once loved, and flooded with relief that his reign of terror had finally ended. She looked to find Blackheart, but he had disappeared.

Later that night, in the shadows of a town scarred by too many years of unending violence, a boy saw what he thought to be a small, delicate man ride off on a black horse, trailing a pack-pony laden high.

It was time for a new journey, seeking solace in the untamed wilderness beyond the town’s borders. Only there, amid the untrodden paths and relentlessly long, dangerous trails, would Lilly find the strength to reshape her own destiny, and leave behind the haunting legacy of Frank’s fetid memory.


The Tale of Frank and Lilly of Desolation Desert Valley

Image: Frank and Lilly, © Brain Simons 2023, 
Outsider Artist, – used with permission.

Story: © Angela Treat Lyon 2023


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