A Guilty Love
By K. Pontikes
In three weeks the town is going to hang Michael Stark for what he did. The sheriff said the crime was unprovoked. Now Don Hart, the town butcher, is dead. Shot in the back. But I knew Don Hart and believe me, he was guilty of something.
I find myself a part of this drama. I can barely believe I have become involved. It all started the first time I spotted Michael on the back of that horse, his hands bound behind his back, his blue eyes searching the crowd on the square; I knew he was the one for me. I can’t really explain what appeal he held. He is not particularly handsome. Of course, I’m not much to look at either. It isn’t like I’m swatting off the suitors, as my dad always reminds me. But there was a lonely look in his expression, and I knew I could make him feel better.
Folks around here are quick to judge. All they needed to hear was that an arrest had been made and they were practically collecting the rope to hang him. I ignored every single comment these bitter, small-minded people made. They said a lot too. At the supply store, the blacksmith’s, even at church, people spoke their critical judgments as though they were the hard truth. And it didn’t take long for those same tongues to start lashing out in my direction.
The town buzz started the first time I went to the jail, during the trial. I had baked one of my extra special lemon pies. I dressed up right nice, put on my cameo pin and my lace blouse that shows off my bosom nicely. I sashayed right into the jail and told the deputy I had baked a little something for the jail staff. He lit up, so I guess he must have had a sweet tooth. I waited until he had taken his first bite, so I knew I had his attention. “If you want another one of these pies, you need to be nice and give your prisoner a slice.” I smiled demurely.
He stopped mid-bite and looked as if I’d put a choke collar on him. I swirled and left right then. I didn’t even have to wait for his answer. The next day I came back with some biscuits and announced I wanted to visit Michael Stark. I saved two of my biscuits so I could hand them to Michael directly. Our fingers touched when I put them in his hand. I sat and watched him eating them, his eyes on me. I can’t tell you the amount of heat that went back and forth between us.
I keep going back to the jail every day, delivering something new that I’ve baked with each trip. The townspeople gawk at me with their slack jaws, aghast that I have chosen a man with such limited time left to be the object of my affections. They can’t understand the depth of my love for this man. I don’t expect them to.
Now, you are probably wondering why I’d let myself fall in love with a murderer. I had looked at all the other pathetic excuses for gentlemen in this town, and I didn’t have a tender feeling for any of them. They were all crass idiots, rough and dirty, and none of them were looking at me anyhow. Michael, he looks at me like he really thinks I’m special.
We write letters to each other too. He says sweet, flowery things to me. My eyes are like the moon, my lips like ripe cherries. I tell him I know he had reasons for what he did, and that I hope he finds it in his heart to seek the Lord’s forgiveness before he leaves this earth. I also tell him I love him more deeply than I have ever loved any man. I don’t tell him he is the only man I have ever loved, but he doesn’t have to know that. I have three weeks to get him to propose to me. I think my chocolate cake is going to be the thing that breaks down any resistance he may be having. It is called Divine Love Chocolate Cake.