Journeys West - Chapter 20 - Yolanda

Chapter 20 - Yolanda

By Monica Rose and Marina Kelly
Proofread by: Qmodo

Mary Sue stood in the doorway of the library's special archives, hands on her hips. Before her stood the rows of shelves that had been in the basement when she had arrived.

One of the first things she had done after taking over as the temporary librarian was to get a group of teenaged boys in to move the boxes stored in the basement up to where they would be better protected. She had then spent several days briefly inventorying the contents of each box and listing it on the outside of the box.

She would be on her own for the next couple of days for her search for Yolanda's grave as Pat was still settling as the new owner and the ranch was just like any other farm or big business, there is no time off when you’re the boss. So while he arranged with his new foreman to take a couple of days off later in the week, she would search through the archives for any information that might refer to Yolanda and Nathaniel.

She already knew the general date range that she was looking for, so she could bypass the first dozen or two file boxes on the shelves. As she looked through the files, she was very aware of how the newsprint was becoming brittle and in danger of breaking instead of tearing. Maybe a case could be made to have the deteriorating documents transferred to electronic documents. While the papers might have been read and thrown away at the time they were printed, they represented an important window into the past and needed to be preserved, on the computer if nothing else. The original hard copy documents could be stored in the proper environment so that they could be examined when necessary.

She hit pay dirt of sorts when she opened some boxes of military records. Documents from several years were all mixed in together, but she came across some reports that really excited her. There was a brief report that related how a young soldier had reported seeing the ghost of an Indian girl in a cave on Kaylock land. The soldier had spent three days in the guardhouse for getting drunk and submitting a false report. She frowned when she saw that the date on the report was almost three years before Yolanda had come to Laramie.

Another report was about the mustering out of a young Nathaniel Kaylock from the Army. He had served satisfactorily under U.S. Grant in the Army of the West and had been discharged honorably. He had kept his service revolver, but had turned in his rifle. Finally, she found a request from the Kaylock family for a graveside rifle detail at Nathaniel's burial.

Knowing the date that Nathaniel had been buried, she turned back to the newspapers, searching for any mention of their burial. All Mary Sue was able to find was a short mention of Nathaniel's funeral and burial in the family plot of the cemetery. There was nothing said about Yolanda at all.

* * * * *

When Pat and Mary Sue met up for dinner, their conversation ranged over many things.

While she wanted to talk about Yolanda, Mary Sue cared about how things were done on the ranch and if there were any problems for Pat. There had been problems at the beginning with some of the ranch hands who had been upset at working for Pat instead of Ron. Tom, the new foreman, had dealt with those kinds of issues rapidly and decisively. Labor on a ranch was just like any other workplace, even if the number of possible of workers might be smaller. There were still men and women out there who wanted to work, so Tom was not afraid to fire anyone who might be a problem.

Their talk finally turned to what she was so excited about. They were both happy to know more about Pat's something-great uncle, Nathaniel, but it was disappointing that nothing had been said about Yolanda. It was apparent that bigotry was not something new to the twenty-first century.

"I think that our best bet is to go back to the cemetery to see if the caretaker will talk to us," Pat said. "Now that there is no one to threaten him to keep quiet, we might find out what we need to know."

"I hope he is willing to share what he knows. I got the feeling that he wanted to tell us more than he did."

They waited until mid-morning to drive out to the cemetery. That way, the caretaker would have had time to have had his coffee and to settle in. They wanted his cooperation and the best way to do that was to avoid putting him in a bad mood at the start.

The cemetery was rather large, but Laramie had been a waypoint on the Oregon trail for years. That meant that pioneers bound for the west contributed to the overall 'population' of the cemetery. At some point in the past, ownership and management of the land and church had been transitioned to the town as the membership had grown and a larger church had been built in Laramie proper. The caretaker position apparently had gone along with it.

While visitors to gravesites could just walk on into the property, Pat and Mary Sue stopped at the cottage that was situated just outside of the gates. The building was actually fairly large for a dwelling, but it also contained a small chapel and offices. The entire area was shaded by a multitude of trees, making it feel like a park.

Mary Sue studied the brass plate set into the outside wall of the chapel that stated that the chapel was almost as old as Laramie itself and that it had been designated as a historical landmark. She thought that explained why there was still a caretaker employed, this place was probably popular to certain tourists and having someone here insured that things would be halfway protected as a result.

The gentleman who came out to see them was the same man they had talked to months ago. He was well past the point of retirement, but he only needed to watch over things and organize the occasional service. Mary Sue had seen that the cemetery was generally at its capacity. The only new graves would be members of families who were already permanent residents.

The caretaker's smile faltered for a moment when he saw who his guests were, but it came back almost immediately.

"Young Summerfield," he said. "Congratulations on finding your way home." The way the old man made his statement said that he had expected something like what had happened to Pat. It hinted at the fact that he might know other things as well.

"Thank you, Mr. Olson," Pat began. He was not sure if Mr. Olson was a retired pastor, priest, or man who has been hired into the position. Olson had been old when Pat had been in school. "I know what you told us when we were here a few months ago when we were looking for Yolanda Kaylock's grave."

The old man's smile went away again as he nodded, "Yes, I remember."

"Well, we are still trying to find her grave."

Now Olson's guarded expression was replaced with narrowed eyes and a set face. "I already told you everything that I can," he almost snapped. He was not quite rude, but he was also not friendly.

"I know that sir," Pat said, politely. "But we got the impression that you might know more than you were telling us and we were hoping that you would talk to us now." Pat spread his hands and continued, "I mean, there would be no reason to be concerned about telling us now. Tom Kaylock is gone and I don't know if Ron will be back here any time soon.

"To be honest with you, we want to find Yolanda Kaylock's grave and do what we can to have her buried next to her husband. Because I am also a Kaylock and owner of the Kaylock estate, I would have the authority to request that be done."

Pat's statement made the old man pause. Olson's manner changed from being challenging to more of a posture of examination of Pat and Mary Sue.

"The family didn't want her buried beside him," Olson said. "They were offended by the fact that the son married someone who was not born as a woman."

"We know," Mary Sue said. "We found the diary that Yolanda wrote and one from Samantha Jackson's great-aunt. Nathaniel's brother, Peter, is the one who actually killed them. All Samantha's diary says is that Yolanda was buried somewhere out on the prairie, but it did not say where."

Mr. Olson nodded and replied, "Yes, my grandfather was there when she was buried. He was just a kid then and he was with his father." He gestured toward some chairs, inviting them to sit down. His manner was no longer as aggressive as it had been, becoming almost friendly.

"My grandfather used to tell me stories from back then," he said, looking distant. "I understand that there were only a few families who actually had a problem with who Yolanda was. Everyone else liked her. Granddad said that everyone felt she was a real lady and that is how she acted. He really liked her."

Mary Sue looked at the caretaker and made a mental note that she needed to come see this gentleman. The knowledge of the history of Laramie was sitting here before her and it would be a crime if it were lost.

"So you know where her grave is?" Pat prompted.

The old man looked at him and smiled. "Well…That is an interesting question son. I've been out to where they buried her, just to look around. It's actually on your land in fact."

Mary Sue's eyes lit up.

"Can you tell us where it is sir?" This was more than she had hoped for. She had expected that they would have to search a large area, looking for tell-tale clues of a grave.

Mr. Olson smiled at her. His whole face changed when he did that. "Of course my dear." He paused for a moment, looking devilish. "I can draw you a map to where she was buried the first time." He did not continue after that, almost as if he was waiting for them to pick up on what he had said.

He was not disappointed when Pat and Mary Sue asked simultaneously, "First time?"

Mr. Olson smiled broadly. "Yes, the first time." He shifted around to make himself comfortable, obviously feeling good about knowing something this important. "You see, Yolanda Kaylock was actually very highly regarded in Laramie. The kids all loved her and her way with children actually made their parents like her too.

"When Nathaniel and Yolanda were killed, there were suspicions about who did it, but no proof. All people could do was be sorry that they had been murdered and want to catch their killer. After the sheriff told everyone that a drifter was suspected of doing it, they kind of stopped looking. Everyone was angry about the fact that old man Kaylock would not allow her to be buried next to his son, but they couldn't do anything about it. The Kaylock family was powerful, even back then. Maybe more so because it was easy to hire a drifter with a gun to teach someone a lesson."

Pat and Mary Sue sat quietly, not wanting to interrupt their storyteller.

"Remember when I said that my grandfather saw Yolanda be buried?" Olson asked. At their nods, he continued, "Well, he was along with my great-grandfather who helped to bury her. He told his friends about it and where he thought she was. A group of fathers who had liked Yolanda went out there one night and moved her body."

"Where did they take it?" Mary Sue asked quietly.

"They brought her back here," he answered simply. "The Kaylocks didn't want her next to their son and there was no way to do that without it being known. But there was nothing to keep them from giving her a Christian burial."

"So is she already buried in the cemetery?" Mary Sue asked with surprise.

"Not exactly," Mr. Olson replied with a smile.

"There was no way to bury her in the cemetery itself without it being seen, but no one would know anything about what or who might be buried in the garden of the rectory. You see, the pastor of that time had come to learn that people were just as much different as they were the same. He was part of the group of men who went out to Yolanda's grave and brought her home."

Mary Sue could only look at Mr. Olson with her mouth ajar in awe, tears in her eyes. Compassion, just like bigotry, existed throughout the ages too.

"So where is she buried now?" she asked.

Mr. Olson smiled at her and pointed to a large lilac bush in the middle of his garden. "This house was the old rectory. Yolanda might not have been buried next to her husband, but she was on holy ground. She's over there." He looked at Pat. "Do you think that you can get her remains moved into the rest of the cemetery?"

"Of course. I don't know of any reason why anyone would object. Besides, she will be going to my family's section. If nothing else, I know that there are still open spaces in there."

The three of them spent quite some time discussing the logistics involved in moving Yolanda's remains. It was something that Mr. Olson had some experience with as families associated with the many wagon trains had endeavored to relocate the remains of their ancestors in the past. It came down to applying for a permit to have Yolanda moved to the family plot and having the work done by a licensed funeral home. Pat made plans to get everything started the next day.

* * * * *

It was a couple of weeks later that Pat and Mary Sue drove out to Yolanda's first resting place. Moving Yolanda to be next to her husband had been almost anti-climactic. There was a good-sized group of their friends who came to witness Yolanda's reinternment and there was a general feeling of friendship and welcome. The attendees had all been involved in the events over the past months and a happy ending was appreciated. The reception in the old rectory that followed had a somewhat festive feel to it, almost like an Irish wake.

Pat brought the old truck to a stop near the base of the hill indicated on the map. Mr. Olson had drawn a very detailed map, even showing an old Indian cave in the hill. The spot they were looking for was supposed to be situated near a group of large boulders. The large rocks had fallen at some time in the past so that they provided natural protection for the former gravesite. Mary Sue was certain of the location the moment she saw the growths of violets throughout the area. The flowers almost seemed to follow her.

"I know that Yolanda is no longer here, but I feel like I'm standing in a special place," Mary Sue said, quietly.

"Yes, I know what you mean," Pat replied. "I can feel it too."

"It's peaceful," Mary Sue said.

He nodded as he looked around. "This section isn't being used for grazing for the cattle, so I think that we should fence this area off and protect it."

Mary Sue looked up at him and smiled before she kissed him. "I think that would be a good thing to do."

* * * * *

Mary Sue settled back in the armchair, watching her bridesmaids work at getting themselves ready for the ceremony. It wasn't time for her to be putting on her wedding dress yet and she was just relaxing. Not that she wasn't in a hurry to be ready, but she didn't want to damage the dress or ruin her makeup. Occasionally, Liz or Leslie would come over to see how she was doing and if she needed anything. She would just smile and tell them that she was fine.

Truthfully though, she was nervous and it was hard to keep from fidgeting. She'd been looking forward to this day almost from the first time she had had a real conversation with Pat. Now…she had not seen him in two days and she missed him.

The first night had been the traditional hen and stag parties. When she had sent Pat away, she had a very serious talk with her brothers who were to be Pat's groomsmen. If they pull any pranks on her future husband, they would suffer long and hard for it. Considering that she was backed up by her sisters in-law they promised to be on their best behavior in how they handled him.

The party the ladies threw for Mary Sue was rather sedate. They could have driven over to Cheyenne and found a club with male strippers, but half of the women were married and had men of their own they were happy with. The other half of the group had women they were happy with and had no use for male strippers any way.

Yesterday was spent at an all-day spa, being pampered and getting ready for the ceremony. They had to be careful about how they slept to keep from completely destroying their hairstyles, but an hour at the salon this morning put everything to rights.

All of the time at the spa and the hairdresser had come out of Pat's new savings account. Pat and Mary Sue thought that it was the least they could do because her brother's families had to come from Iowa while the members of Mary Sue's wedding party had to miss days of work.

Mary Sue's four bridesmaids, Liz, Sam, Emily, and Leslie, each wore a comfortable dress. She did not have bridesmaid's dresses picked out for the wedding. Her only requests had been that they wear muted primary colors and that no one wore the same color. Pat's group was wearing simple business suits instead of rented tuxedoes. It certainly saved everyone a lot of money.

The result was that Mary Sue and Pat stood out in the midst of everyone else. Pat had opted to wear a tux anyway, but Mary Sue was going to wear the wedding dress she had discovered in the trunk beneath Yolanda's journal. For its age, the fabric had survived remarkably well. After it had been cleaned and pressed, it only needed to be altered to take into account that Mary Sue was more well-endowed than Yolanda. Pat had teased Mary Sue that he might wear cowboy boots with his tux, but had relented with a grin under her intense glare.

As it got closer to the time to slide into her wedding dress, Mary Sue found herself feeling somewhat depressed and it was obvious to Leslie. Leave it to the police officer and former Marine to know when someone was feeling down.

Leslie slide onto the loveseat beside her and gave her a hug. "What's wrong honey?"

"I'm just missing my mother and father," Mary Sue said quietly. "I always dreamed of having my mother at my wedding and having Daddy walk me down the aisle to give me away."

Leslie turned her so that they met eye-to-eye. "As long as you remember them, they will always be with you. As long as you love them, they will never leave you."

Mary Sue blinked back a few tears and smiled shakily. "Thank you. That is the nicest way to think of them."

"You're welcome," Leslie said, hugging her again. "Come on, we have about half an hour to get you into your dress and do your makeup." She pulled Mary Sue to her feet and led her over to the vanity that had become Makeup Central for everyone. "Of course, things aren't going to start until you are ready and the bride is NEVER late."

In relatively short order, Mary Sue was in her wedding dress and her makeup applied. The style of the dress was timeless, so it was not obvious that she was wearing a dress older than even her grandparents would be. It had a look of a dress that had just come from the bridal boutique.

When the traditional wedding music began to play, each of Mary Sue's brothers escorted one of the ladies down the aisle until only Mary Sue was left. The plan had been to have her walk down the aisle herself because she had not found anyone she wanted to ask. Hiram would have loved to have the honor, but she had found a graceful way to avoid asking him without hurting his feelings. Standing alone in the front alcove, she began to wish that she had looked harder for someone to walk with her.

Before she could begin the short trip down to the altar, shaking all the way, she became aware of the fact that she was no longer alone. The ushers had already stepped into the church and she knew that there was no one else left.

She had experienced enough unusual things over the past months to only be apprehensive and not afraid. Still, it was a shock when she sensed someone standing on either side of her. Even though she could see and hear nothing, the words came to her, 'Your mother and I are right here Sweet Pea. We are going to walk with you to your husband.'

A warm feeling surrounded her as Mary Sue began her walk to the altar and to Pat. Nothing could have removed the happy smile from her face. While most people thought that it was because she was walking down the aisle to be married, that was only part of it. She was walking with her parents, the people she wished most of all that she had a chance to talk to and to tell them how she felt about so many things. Now though, it felt like that was all unnecessary.

It was when she reached the altar where Pat waited for her that Mary Sue knew that words were no long required. There had been additions made to the wedding party on both sides and Mary Sue instinctively recognized that it was Yolanda and Nathaniel who were standing there with them. From the way Pat smiled at her, she knew that he could see them as well and recognized them for who they were. She was glad that she was at with their presence.

They had thought ahead and asked everyone to not throw rice as they left the church. Instead, they had provided bundles of bird seed that would be much safer for the birds and ground animals to eat.

It came as no surprise to either of the newlyweds that there were violet flower petals mixed into the birdseed that fell. Only Pat and Mary Sue saw Yolanda and Nathaniel standing as a group with Pat's mother and Mary Sue's parents. They watched smiling as the grouped returned their smiles and faded from view.

At the same time, a young native American princess moved restlessly through the broken pottery in the cave that had been her prison and resting place for well over a hundred years, hoping for some kind of release.

FIN



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