|Naked, and Ye Clothed Me
Author: fragrantfields PM
Gen fic, spoilers for S3.No pairings. Reverend Andy Cramed, reformed con-man/smallpox survivor, does his part in helping Deadwood recover after the fire.T for language/references to prostitution. Thoughtful reflections on grace & good works non-preachyRated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Western - Words: 2,094 - Published: 07-27-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7224053
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: this will include all the Deadwood characters over time.
This is based on the fire of September 1879, which burned down most of the town and is as historically accurate as possible, with a liberty or two taken along the way
All characters and concepts other than historical ones belong to David Milch and HBO
No money getting made here
According to Milch, Season 4 would have included the fire. I have no idea where he would have taken that, but this is my imagining of how it would have gone.
This will be only my stories, but on LJ, I am collaborating with two fine writers who also mourn Deadwood's untimely passing, and there they have added their own chapters featuring the characters I seem to have given short shrift here.
Andy Cramed thought he could still smell smoke. Likely it came from the clothes he was still wearing from the night he was caught up in the chaos of the Deadwood fire. He had managed a wash-up the day after, restoring his ashen hair and moustache back to their normal ginger-brown, but no time or laundry had been available for his clothes.
Andy was a small, slender figure up on the buckboard seat of his borrowed wagon, with the humble demeanor of an itinerant minister. His eyes managed to hold the fervor of a true believer while retaining the compassionate warmth of a man who had backslid on occasion and been lifted back up each time. A kind-looking man in his thirties, face marked here and there by fading smallpox scars, he was now putting his considerable gift of gab towards good works instead of running a con. He was late to hear his calling to the Lord, having answered calls to the gaming tables and riverboat rackets for most of his life. He now put his energy into preaching and comforting others. There were times, though, that his old skills of persuasion came in handy.
Not that he had had to use very much persuasion to get the ministers and priests of Sturgis to solicit their congregants to provide some charity towards the Deadwood residents. Sudden tragedy could strike any community, and "do unto others as you would have others do unto you" was as much a survival tactic as it was a piece of scripture.
Most of the time, anyways.
On occasion, "do unto others before they have a chance to do unto you" was his maxim, but he hadn't had to use that interpretation for over a year now. Or maybe that had been more "eye for an eye". Andy was still learning his vocation, and at times his actions didn't fit into neat theological boxes.
The folks of Sturgis had answered his requests as abundantly as they could. His wagon was loaded with pants, shoes, shirts, a few dresses, socks, and some children's clothes. Most would need mending, but he was grateful for everything offered. He knew in the normal course of things, almost everything in the wagon would have been mended and re-worn there in Sturgis.
He turned left onto a side street, wagon wheels rattling on the rutted outbound road. The last minister had asked him to speak to one Mr. Chin, the de facto leader of the small Chinese part of Sturgis. Andy looked through the alleyway crowded with meat sellers, cook-shops, and a laundry stand, the residents giving him curious glances then returning to their tasks. A tall, thin older man came out of an unmarked building and walked towards him. He was wearing the type of loose pants and tunic that Mr. Wu usually wore, his long grey queue hanging well past the middle of his back. A Chinese woman joined him, black hair neatly arranged in a roll at the back of her neck, just above the collar of her simple black shirtwaist. The man approached the wagon and nodded at Andy.
"Mr. Chin." He touched his chest. He did not introduce the woman, although she nodded politely at Andy.
Andy nodded back. "Good day to you, Mr. Chin. I'm Reverend Cramed."
By gesturing towards the wagonload of clothes, then at his own clothes, and using the few words on English he had, Mr. Chin conveyed that his community wanted to donate clothing for the Chinese residents of Deadwood who had lost their possessions. Andy didn't know how many Chinese had been affected, and was chagrined that he hadn't asked before leaving Deadwood.
Two young men loaded several boxes brimming with black pants, tunics of several colors, hats, and shoes. They talked among themselves and Mr. Chin in Chinese as they worked. He spoke harshly to them once or twice. Andy wondered if he was reminding them that the Sturgis Chinese could very well need Deadwood's help at some point.
He had been around the Christians in the Chinese community enough to know to say a polite "Doh Je" to the young men and Mr. Chin. They looked at him with some surprise, then looked at each other with raised eyebrows. As they finished, he used a phrase he had only learned this month and hoped he was getting it right.
"Shang di ju fu ni."
This was the first time he was trying out "God bless you" and he hoped the man at the main cook shop in town hadn't taught him "fuck you" or the like as a joke. All three men stopped what they were doing, said a few words in their own language, and bowed towards him. Mr. Chin said a halting "God protect you" with a solemn nod.
Andy had the warm feeling he used to get when he was starting a good run of dice; happy, and lucky, and light in his heart. He waved towards the clothes and said "Doh je" again. Looking at Mr. Chin, he touched his chest over his heart and said a quiet "Doh je" directly to him as well. Thanks for being willing to see me as a good man. Thanks for offering me a blessing. Thanks for trusting me to take your donations to your countrymen even though I'm a White.
He gravely nodded to the group as they cleared a path for his turn. His horses had started to toss their heads and twitch their tails like they were ready to be on the road.
Andy saw a last group of buildings at the edge of town closest to the fort. Noting that proximity, he was not that surprised when a lady in a fine red satin dress waved him down with a lace-trimmed handkerchief. She was in front of a large building with doors open, big yellow sign above the doorway with "Goldie's Rest" written in floral script. He pulled to a stop and waited.
The lady had bright golden hair, part swept up under a neat little satin hat trimmed with dyed feathers, part hanging down in ringlets, accenting her bright blue eyes and dove-soft skin. She walked to his wagon with a confident step.
"Hey, you that preacher from Deadwood? Looking for help for the folk that got burned out?"
"Yes, ma'am. Reverend Andy Cramed, at your service."
She gave him a look that was almost shy, behind the paint on her eyelids and lips.
"Somebody in your town did me a real good turn once. Saved my life, I expect, and took on considerable risk and cost for it."
He waited. He knew it could be hard to speak straight-like when you're used to talking mostly to hustle or shill.
"It was a madam, name of Joanie. You might not know her, being a man of the cloth, but she's blond, like me, and I hear she's still in—"
Andy smiled. He remembered the good turn Joanie had done for the three whores who had barely escaped Wolcott's knife. He knew Joanie still had nightmares, afraid that she'd failed. Mornings after those, she usually sought him out for a comforting word.
"Ma'am, I know Miss Joanie Stubbs. She's a woman with a good heart. And she came out of the fire with no harm, if you were wondering."
"Well, thank the Lord for that," she smiled an honest smile.
"Anyways, me and my girls heard the ladies in town were getting up some clothes and the like for you folks. And…not speaking against Christian charity, but we had the feelin' most would be things…dresses and…" she struggled to explain without offending.
Andy helped her out. "It didn't look like there was much donated that would be what a saloon workin' girl would likely wear."
She seemed relieved. "Yeah, that was my meaning. I'm Molly Denning, by the way. I operate Goldie's Rest. And, if you wouldn't mind, we've got some things for you to take to the working girls that might need 'em."
He thought he recognized her, maybe from working on the riverboats, or in one of the places he hit, trying to run games. He almost asked, but decided he didn't need to drag up memories of the old Andy, or sound prideful of the hustler he'd been back then.
He thanked her and her girls for their kindness, tying up his horses and carrying out three boxes overflowing with satin and white cotton, lace and ribbons. A couple of boxes rattled with face paints, lubricants, hair geegaws and other tools of the whoring trade. His inclination was to put this aside for the Gem whores, not wanting to help Cy Tolliver in any way, form, or fashion. He figured he'd pray over it, maybe consult with Joanie before deciding. Bella Union whores needed clothes, too, and Cy was less likely to dig in his own pocket than was Swearengen.
A sincere thanks, a short prayer at the whores' request, a freshening of his canteen of well water, and Andy took his leave. Molly walked to his wagon with him, studying his face from the side, trying to imagine what he looked like without the preacher's clothes and the pockmarks.
"I swear, Reverend, I feel like I know you from somewhere. Maybe from two, three years back? Were you—"
He turned and took her hand, an oddly respectful gesture.
"Two or three years ago, and a good bit before that, I was…not this Andy Cramed. If you knew him, you knew a scheming, game-running con man, who had no faith in anything other than loaded dice and the willingness of greedy men to be gulled."
She smiled with understanding. She'd known some men of God in her time, and when their flesh won out over the spirit, as sometimes happened, heard their late night rambling about how it was when they got called to the Lord.
"So, you got you some faith, Reverend Cramed? Saw a miracle or such?" Her smile was just short of being cynical.
He thought about not a single soul dying in the fire. About the soldiers from Ft. Meade coming so quickly. About the town of Sturgis, and its Chink Alley boss, and now a whore-mistress and her whores, showing compassion and concern for their fellows. Women who were alive because others took risks they didn't have to.
"Honey" he said, with his old hustler's twinkle in his eye, "I get more and more faith all the time. And the miracles—," he paused and looked back at the fully loaded wagon, and glanced at her throat. "—if I'm lookin' for 'em in the right places, I can see 'em every day."
He squeezed her hand, swung up onto the wagon seat, and headed out on the two hour trip to Deadwood. He looked back at the town of Sturgis, running his fingers along the gilt-edged Bible next to him. He thought the next time he had occasion to preach, he'd turn to Matthew 25, verses 31 through 46.
I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me:
as ye have doneitunto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have doneitunto me.
The more he thought about those verses, the better he liked them. He thought he could work out a pretty good Deadwood sermon by the time he got back.