I don't own the Adventures of Brisco County Jr. except on DVD. I just like to play with it and pretend that this is what Season 2 might have looked like.
Thanks to IcyWaters for reminding me of a character from Socrates' past. Without that kick in the pants, I never would have written this story.
When I'm Calling Lou
Louisa Allen always hated the first snowfall. No matter how beautiful, it always created problems. People drive like idiots and crash, like they've never driven in snow before! She always tried to find other alternatives to using her little car, because as a poor college student she couldn't afford to repair or replace it if someone hit it. Insurance was useless if you didn't have the money for the deductible. But no amount of insurance coverage could help her little red Fiesta now, because it was dead and buried under ten feet of landfill, right under the main street of Sunset Ridge, at the closing of the year 1893.
It was her fault. She blew it up when Pete Hutter attempted to steal it and use the car's time machine upgrade to forever ruin the past, present, and future. Unfortunately, her presence, along with Cal Reynolds and his sister Kelly's, was probably enough to make a dent, or a rip, in the time continuum. It was better than being dead she supposed, and hopefully their friends and relatives in 2012 wouldn't know that their world had changed, if it had changed. There was no way to go back and check. The three of them were stranded and trying to make the best of it in this backwards time in a backwards little town.
Cal, who had arrived first, acclimated and married Sara Hart, the daughter of one of the shop keepers, who also happened to be the town's Reverend. Word had it that Sara and Cal were already expecting. As Louisa walked to the school from Sheriff Brisco County Jr.'s house, where she boarded, she passed the store and saw Cal inside with his bride Sara. Sheesh, has he no shame, necking with her like that, practically in public? It was actually quite innocent compared to twenty-first century standards, but for the nineteenth, it was nearly scandalous even if they were married. Louisa smiled and waved when they acknowledged her, and she again successfully hid the cold lump of regret behind her cheerful expression.
He could have been mine, but I was too busy focusing on my new life here and how I would survive. Socrates Poole didn't help matters. He distracted me, and then it was too late to change allegiances, because Cal was engaged. He was Sara's hero after he saved her from the Muldoons, and there was no way I could ever compete.
She was only a block away from the school yard, and the street and boardwalks were already covered with a thin blanket of white. One shop keeper came out with a broom and swept the flakes away.
"Mornin', Miss Allen." He smiled at her.
"Morning, Mr. Mueller."
"Be careful walking in this stuff, ma'am. These walkways can get slippery!"
She turned her head to reply, as she had already passed his shop. "Thank you. I'll do that." She still hadn't gotten used to being addressed as ma'am. That's what people called her grandma. But in this time, it was normal. Lost in her thoughts, her head swiveled around to look straight ahead, and she ran right into the sturdy chest of a strange man. Louisa let out a yelp as her shoes slipped and she fell onto her seat so hard it took her breath away.
"I'm sorry, Miss." The dark haired stranger held out a gloved hand and helped her stand. "Are you injured at all?"
"No, I'm okay, thanks." She found herself staring at him. He looked familiar, but she couldn't place him.
He smiled at her under a full black mustache. "The shop keeper is correct. These boardwalks can be slick when it snows. You must not be from around here, or you would know that."
"I..." She hesitated. In her time, no one traveled the concrete sidewalks unless absolutely necessary, so she wasn't used to walking in snow no matter what the surface. "I'm sorry, I really need to get going. I'll be late for prepping the classroom." She gave him a weak smile. "Thank you, Sir, for your help. But I really, I have to go." Louisa broke away from him and hurried down the street, shuffling her feet to avoid falling again. The boardwalk ran out, she stepped down to the dirt and grass, and found better traction for rushing to the little school house.
She turned and saw Socrates standing at the bottom of the stairs that led to the apartment above his law office. He waved and his grin was a mile wide, his blue eyes crinkled up behind his spectacles as he greeted her.
"Hi Soc! I'll talk to you later! I have to get the classroom set up, and I'm running late." Beyond him, she saw the stranger watching. Who is that man? She had no more time to consider him. She had work to do, and Louisa was one who focused on a task and ignored everything else until it was finished.
Louisa.The stranger smiled as her name echoed in his head. She was beautiful, and unfortunately quite young. But that never stopped him before. When he was her age... he shook his head. No time for that. He had business to take care of. He caught sight of the man she called Socrates, and his eyes were on him, peering back through round glasses as if in recognition. But that was impossible. Time had dimmed peoples' memories of the man he resembled. He thanked God for that, because he'd endured many a close call sporting a rope necktie until he could prove who he really was.
Socrates approached him warily in front of a shop window. "Is there something I can do for you, Sir?"
"I don't know. Why do you ask?" He decided to be cautious.
"I was wondering, because you're standing in front of my office." Socrates smiled slightly.
The stranger looked at the sign painted on the window, and up to the placard that hung over the door. "You're Socrates Poole? You're a lawyer?"
"Yes. I specialize in civil law, but I've been called upon to handle a criminal case now and then."
"Ah, I see. Actually, I need a lawyer to assist me with a matter of property rights."
"That I can certainly help you with, Mr..."
"Barry. John Barry." He held out his hand.
"Mr. Barry. It's a pleasure to meet you! Now, why don't we go inside? I'll get the stove heated up in no time and we can talk about your situation."
"Thank you. I appreciate it." He gave the school yard one last look. Louisa must have gone inside. A thin wisp of smoke floated up from the chimney in the center of the rooftop. He made a mental note to see if he could speak with her later, then followed Socrates inside the cold building.
That man's dark brown eyes captivated Louisa. When she looked into them, they were so dark that she couldn't see the pupils. Brisco had brown eyes, but his were nothing like the stranger's, which were unique and full of pain and regret. She'd been so entranced, she barely noticed that his hair was nearly black and his pale face seemed so serious, and that he was fashionably dressed. She stood in front of the blackboard thinking about him, trying to solve the mystery of why he looked so familiar. The children arrived and she startled out of her trance when the first one dropped his books on his desk. To cover up her inattentiveness, she swiped the chalk off her hands and slowly turned.
"Good morning, Joseph."
"Good morning, Miss Allen." The little blonde headed boy continued up the aisle to stop at her desk. In his hand, he held a cloth napkin wrapped around something. "My Ma made some chocolate cake and asked me to bring you a piece."
"Awww, thanks, Joseph! You tell your Ma thank you for me, please?"
"I will." He set the wrapped cake on her desk, grinned at her, and turned back to his own desk to prepare his books for the first lesson.
The other kids arrived in singles or bunches, chatting with each other and excited about starting a new day. Louisa had never taken any teaching classes, although she had a brief stint as a teacher's assistant in college. Kids were different than college students, but one thing was a constant: if the subjects weren't interesting and relevant to their minds, no measure of lecturing would capture their attention and desire to learn. Sometimes she worried about the school superintendent coming to inspect her classroom while she taught. He would no doubt be shocked with her methods. However, the test results didn't lie. Most of her kids consistently received Bs or above, and those that didn't were improving with some extra attention.
"Alright, let's get started." She couldn't wait to fill them with the day's lessons, especially science, her favorite class. "Today, since it's snowing right now, I want everyone to get into their coats and hats and mittens, because we're going outside to start our science class."
Emily raised her hand. "Miss Allen, we're supposed to start with spelling today." Like Louisa, the girl thrived on structure.
"Well, today there's a slight change. I don't want to risk losing the falling snow by the time we have science. Come on, let's go outside!" She picked up a large case from a bookcase behind her desk, grabbed a small wooden box beside it, and led the children outside. "Would someone please swipe off the snow from that stump?" One of the older boys did her bidding. "Thank you." She opened the case and brought out a black iron object with shiny metal parts.
"Wow, is that one of Dr. Wickwire's microscopes?"
"Yes it is, Joseph. He let me have it when he moved away. Now, I'm going to give each one of you a small, thin piece of glass. It's called a slide. I want you to take this slide and try to catch a snowflake with it, and when you do, come over and we'll try to look at it under the microscope."
"Won't it melt?"
"Not if you stick your slide into some snow first to cool it, and then hold it by the edges." The kids did what she said and walked around the yard trying to catch just the right snowflake. They compared flakes with each other and oohed and ahhed over the variety. "As you look at each other's flakes, you'll notice that not a single one looks alike. Isn't that amazing?"
"I caught two on my slide," one of the older boys said. He brought the glass to Louisa.
"Well, then you'll get to look at both of them. Go ahead, put it on the stage, clip in there, and then take a look. This knob will focus it."
The boy leaned over and he gasped when the flakes came into focus. "That's really neat!"
"Can you sketch what you're seeing?" She handed him a pad of plain newsprint and a pencil. He nodded and took his time drawing the flakes. "Good job. You can take that inside and tack it up over the chalkboard. I want everyone to do the same. Do your best rendition, because this is also part of our art project for today."
The kids loved it when she piggy-backed subjects. It helped to make things more concrete and eased their learning experience. Some days were a lot of work, and then she would have to go home and prepare the next brilliant day between helping Dixie with supper and tidying up the house. The couple had a little one on the way, and as her belly increased in size, Dixie found it harder to keep up with everything.
With the days growing colder, the night came sooner. All day the snow fell in light flakes, so by the time Louisa closed up the school house, the gray sky turned almost as dark as ash. She needn't have worried about her safety. With Brisco as sheriff and Cal as his deputy, the town was quite secure. She approached Socrates' office and peered through the window. The lamps lit the inside, although never like electric lights in the twenty-first century. Socrates had his head bent over some papers. She would have just knocked, but she didn't want to startle him.
Instead, she opened the door and entered. A bell jingled and announced her arrival. Socrates looked up, his eyes adjusting to the distance and focused on her. His expression went from serious to joyful, and his eyes lit up as he grinned, jumped from his seat, and closed the distance between them.
"Louisa! I'm so glad you could stop by on your way home." His hands cupped her elbows. The desire to kiss her was so blatant in his eyes, it sent a tingle down to her toes.
Her free hand touched his arm. "I can't stay long. Dixie needs my help. Besides, I couldn't very well walk through the door alone. I think she would send me marching right back here to get you!"
Socrates laughed. He loved the odd ways she spoke. "I take it I've been invited to dinner."
"Of course. Brisco wants to hear how the practice is going in your new building. I think Dixie just wants you to socialize with us." Louisa smiled. And maybe you can distract me from fine tuning my lessons for tomorrow. But she would never tell him that. She learned what sort of behavior was expected of a woman in the late nineteenth century. She didn't care for it, but if she had any hope of finding herself a man of quality, she quickly learned that following the rules would not only charm them, but keep her out of trouble.
"I would love to. I was going to go to the saloon for dinner tonight, but I would much prefer more wholesome company."
His warm smile made her giddy. No man had ever done that to her before, not even Cal. Maybe her corset was too tight. "Are you ready to leave?"
"Yes. Just let me put these papers away." He closed the file and stuck it into the top drawer of the cabinet. He locked the cabinet with a small key on his key ring, slipped into his coat and hat, and let her go ahead of him out the front door. Another key secured the entrance. He slipped the ring into his pocket and asked, "Would you like me to take your books, Louisa?"
She giggled, which was so unlike her, and she wondered what had gotten into her. "I've never had anyone ask that before, Socrates." She smiled wide, held out the stack, and he took the books in his free hand and tucked them under his arm. She brought her hand up between his side and his other arm, laid it on his sleeve, and the two walked east toward Sheriff County's home.
As she walked beside him, Socrates' warmth helped take the chill out of the darkening evening. People greeted them and looked upon them with approval in their eyes. Rumor had it that someone at the saloon put up a bet that Socrates and Louisa would be married before the year was out. She wouldn't let anyone, especially Socrates, know how silly she thought that was. He hadn't even kissed her yet other than platonically on the cheek, so how could they? Maybe someday he would get up the courage to do more and express how he felt. Until he did, she would bide her time because he was the only one she had eyes for. But she wasn't getting any younger, even if she was in the past.