“All of my marriages have been marriages of convenience,” Alma explained. “And this would be no different.”
Al Swearengen looked thoughtful. “So you’ve sold out your claim, but your bank will continue on?”
“Absolutely. There’s everything I accumulated before the sale, and Hearst wanted my holdings so badly that he paid a good deal more than my experts suggest they were really worth.”
“And I would be contributing?”
“Not only the Gem, but the influence, both obvious and otherwise, that you hold over this town. I believe if we present a united front, which our marriage would consolidate, we could have a powerful influence over Deadwood.” She looked ladylike, and determined, and beautiful, and like no one else in all Dakota territory. Swearengen was still having some trouble with the notion that she was proposing to him, but finally, he understood.
“King and Queen of the fuckin’ place, in other words.” He expected her to shy at his language, and was surprised when she did not.
“Damn right,” Alma Garret Ellsworth said. “King and Queen.”
“When you said we could adopt Sophia if the Widow Ellsworth don’t want to keep her anymore, what exactly were you meaning by that?”
Sol Star looked Trixie in the face, but stumbled over his words. “I think we should get married.”
“What . . . the . . . fuck?” was all she could manage. She looked at him suspiciously. “Is this some kind of trick?”
“No, Trixie,” he replied. “I’m in love with you. Surely you know that.”
“And you don’t hold my bein’ a whore against me?”
“Of course not. Everyone has a past, of some kind. And I’ve enjoyed your favors, but I believe they were given out of affection.”
Not in return for the bookkeeping lessons?, Trixie pondered. But she knew that he would have done that for her, without. And she knew what great fortune she had, having won the heart of the most honorable and sane man in camp. Possibly, she thought, the only honorable and sane man in camp – a few were one, or the other, but only Sol was both.
“There’s only one thing, Trixie . . .”
A minute later, Trixie slammed the door of the Star and Bullock Hardware emporium. She lit a cigarette and smoked it furiously as she stomped her way down the street, into the Gem, and up the staircase to Al’s office.
Dan Dority and Silas Adams withdrew quickly, as they caught sight of Trixie’s expression.
“State your fuckin’ business,” Al demanded.
“The fuckin’ Jew’s fuckin’ asked me to marry him,” Trixie seethed.
“That sounds like good news.”
“Well . . . yeah. It fuckin’ is.”
“Then what’s the fuckin’ problem?”
“I gotta become a fuckin’ Jew myself. I gotta read a stack of books, write letters to some rabbi in Denver, and then go there for awhile to get made a Jew. Otherwise he can’t marry me.”
“Is not being a Jew doing you any particular fucking good?”
“Well . . . no.”
“Then why not? You like the man. You can read and write, so you can do the required. And you don’t ever have to go back to whoring.”
Trixie thought for a moment. “I guess that makes sense.” I don’t just like the man. What I feel for Sol Star is more than that.
“Good. Then run along and get started.”
She let the door slam behind her, but she was no longer smoking furiously, and by the time she’d returned to the hardware store, she was even in the mood to give Sol a quick one. Someday soon, she might even be ready to admit to him the truth: that she loved him and had for a long time.
Joanie Stubbs knew that she was attracted to damaged people, but Jane Cannery was the most damaged of all the damaged people she’d ever been attracted to.
“Now, Jane, I need you to stay sober for the wedding tomorrow.”
“Not fuckin’ going,” said Jane, taking another pull from her bottle.
“But we got you that nice dress and everything.”
“I’ll look ridiculous,” Jane sulked.
“You will not. You’re my gal, now, and you’ll look lovely.”
“Really?” Jane looked incredulous, but she put down the bottle and walked towards the bath Joanie had provided for her.
“Good evening, Mr. Bullock,” said his wife.
“Good evening, Mrs. Bullock,” Seth replied.
Martha Bullock took a deep breath, and straightened her fair hair. “I think we should reconsider attending the Ellsworth-Swearengen wedding.”
“You want to go?”
“I think we should. Your association with Mr. Swearengen is such that it would seem strange, us not attending.”
“And you and Mrs. Swearengen-to-be the two most prominent ladies in the camp,” he nodded. “Schoolteacher and banker.”
What went unspoken was that the child Mrs. Ellsworth was to bear had been fathered neither by the late, sincerely lamented Whitney Ellsworth, nor by the far less regretted Brom Garret, but by Seth Bullock himself. It was before Mrs. Bullock had joined him in Deadwood, but Seth had a strange feeling that his wife knew everything, even though he’d confessed not a word.
“And Mr. Bullock?”
Seth turned to her. “What?”
“I think we’ve been married long enough, now that . . . would you call me Martha?”
He nodded. “A very fine idea, Mrs . . . Martha. And you can call me Seth.”
He took her hand in his, and they just stood that way for some time.
“So will our marriage be consummated, and drive you back to drugging, like your marriage to Brom Garret? Or will it be unconsummated, to the relief of all parties, like your marriage to Ellsworth?”
“Consummated, I think,” said Alma. “It seems to make things more official. I never really felt like I was married to poor Ellsworth. No laudanum this time, though.”
“If you’re certain.” Al hadn’t expected this, and as the owner of the Gem, he didn’t exactly need marriage to get his cock sucked. But he was intrigued by the possibilities of the lovely Mrs. Garret-Ellsworth, with her delicate skin and her graceful figure. Not that she’d ever suck his cock. She was far more ladylike than anyone he’d ever fucked before, and there was something, as well, that appealed to his competitive nature. He’d follow after Bullock, far handsomer and younger, both friend and adversary, but he’d be the one with a legal and moral claim to the lady.
The baby she was carrying would bear Whitney Ellsworth’s surname, a fitting memorial for his sacrifice on behalf of the child and the mother. Al had gone into this understanding that.
Now Alma was scrutinizing him closely. “You’ll need to wash your hair. On a regular basis. And we’re burning all your union suits, once the new order comes from Sears Roebuck.”
“I like my fuckin’ union suit,” Al complained. He thought about how Ellsworth had scrubbed up during his brief marriage, and he hadn’t even been sharing a bed with the lady. Of course, as he contemplated her beauty and her surprising strength of character, he thought that sharing a bed with the lady, even if only occasionally, might well make a bit more soap and water more than palatable.
“Your suit’s good, though.” She continued to scrutinize him. “That’ll do very nicely. And then we need to think about what we need to do to make sure the elections go our way.”
King and Queen of fuckin’ Deadwood, indeed.