Rosanna sat on the hardwood floor, weeping and wailing as she snuggled with her babes. Three year old Charlie slept on the floor with his head resting on his mother’s lap. Susan, a tiny infant, was bundled up in her mothers arms. Both children slept soundly.
The door creaked as Travis entered the room. He sat on the floor opposite his wife. A flickering candle stuck in a holder sat on the floor between them.
Travis waited for the crying to subside.
“Father was right,” Rosanna said. “I’ve married a charlatan.”
“Darling, please,” Travis replied.
“A fraudulent reprobate,” Rosanna said.
“A lowlife debtor!”
“Sweetheart, please,” Travis said. “As a well-read man I assure you that you mean none of these statements and they are just the product of your weak feminine mind.”
The tears stopped. Rosanna’s blue eyes lit up. “My weak feminine mind?”
“The female brain is not as advanced as the male brain, my dear,” Travis said. “All the scientific treatises I have read say so. You can’t argue with science.”
“So, what?” Rosanna said. “Our home isn’t getting foreclosed on? All these people who have been ransacking our house all day and buying everything we own…I just imagined all of this?”
“No,” Travis said. “But there’s no reason to be emotional.”
“Emotional?” Rosanna said. “We don’t have a pot to piss in!”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Travis said. “I’m sure they left us a pot to piss in.”
On cue, two voices traveled into the room from the other side of the house.
“Thanks for selling this pot to piss in, sheriff,” a random man said. “Sure can’t wait to piss in it.”
“No problem,” the sheriff replied. “Piss in that pot in good health.”
Rosanna shot her husband an angry look, as if to communicate, “See?”
“There will be other pots,” Travis said.
Rosanna frowned. “Now the children and I have to move back in with father. He despised you so vigorously.”
“I know,” Travis said. “I recall the toast he gave at our wedding in which he wished for my death. It was charming in an odd way.”
“Father will tell me that he told me so about you all day long,” Rosanna said. “He will be positively insufferable.”
Travis scooched closer to his wife and stroked his son’s hair.
“I still love you though, William,” Rosanna said. “I shall pray for you every day as you rot to death in debtor’s prison.”
“Darling,” Travis said. “That’s what I have come to talk to you about. You will not have to live with your terrible father forever…and I will not spend a day in prison.”
“I don’t like the sound of this,” Rosanna said. “Whenever you get one of your bright ideas it inevitably makes things worse.”
Travis wrapped his arm around his wife. “I haven’t much time so please listen. Now, I realized about a year ago that my financial woes would inevitably get the best of me.”
“Yet you continued to print your foolish paper,” Rosanna lamented. “Absolutely no one read it, you know.”
“So I’ve heard,” Travis said. “Moving on, a year ago I struck up a correspondence with Sam Houston.”
“The drunken adulterer?” Rosanna asked.
“What?” Travis asked. “No, the former governor of Tennessee and current General of the Texan Army.”
“I’ve heard he is a drunken adulterer,” Rosanna said.
“All politicians are drunken adulterers, darling,” Travis said. “Do try to keep up.”
“Sorry,” Rosanna said.
“General Houston has commissioned me as an officer in his Army,” Travis said.
Rosanna giggled. “You’ve never fought a day in your life. What are you, a corporal?”
“A colonel,” Travis said.
“Jesus H. Christ,” Rosanna said. “They must be really hard up.”
“Pardon?” Travis asked.
“That’s really nice,” Rosanna said. “Best of luck.”
“Thank you,” Travis said.
“When do we leave?” Rosanna asked.
Travis looked down at the floor.
“William?” Rosanna asked.
“Darling,” Travis said. “This is a very precarious situation. Tomorrow morning I’ll be considered a fugitive from justice in America. I’ll have to ride like the wind to keep the law from catching up with me. Plus, Texas is in a very precarious position right now. President Santa Anna has proven to be quite the dictator and there’s talk of rebellion. I can’t risk bringing you and the children with me now.”
Rosanna sighed. “Why couldn’t you have been a simple farmer?”
Travis returned his wife’s sigh with one of his own. “Because life is absurdly short, dearest. A man who does not spend every day striving for greatness has wasted his life.”
“The children and I are a waste?” Rosanna asked.
Travis squeezed his wife closer. “That’s your weak female mind talking again.”
Rosanna shook her head.
“Judge Harlow was harsh when he reprimanded me,” Travis said. “But I have realized he is right. I will never again take a short cut to greatness. I will earn it every step of the way as an Army man, through the sweat of my brow and the fruit of my labor and…”
“You’re going to die,” Rosanna said.
“Pardon?” Travis asked.
“You’re not cut out to be in any kind of army,” Rosanna said. “That life will kill you, one way or the other.”
Travis scoffed. “You fail to see what a great opportunity this is. How many people get the chance to take part in building a new country? Why, one day, years from now, you’ll…”
“…be looking down on your grave,” Rosanna said.
“I was going to say that you’ll be the wife of a great Texan statesman and you’ll look back on this time and laugh,” Travis said. “Why does no one believe in me?”
Rosanna kissed her husband on the lips. “Its not that we don’t believe in you. Its that you want too much and we don’t believe the world can provide it.”
Travis returned his wife’s kiss, then kissed his two sleeping children.
“This will all pass,” Travis said. “We will all be together again, but tonight I will take my leave. Rosanna, what I’m about to say is very important.”
Rosanna listened intently.
“When the sheriff comes looking for me tomorrow,” Travis said. “You must not let on that you know that I ran. All that you need tell him is that I was here when you went to sleep and when you woke up, I was gone. Understood?”
“Understood,” Rosanna said.
The door creaked as the sheriff stepped into the room. “Alright Travis, you deadbeat sack of shit, let’s go.”
“What?” Travis asked.
“I’ve sold all your shit and you’re still broke so it’s off to the hoosegow you go,” the sherrif said.
“Sir,” Travis replied. “Few are lucky enough to posses a legal mind as well versed as mine so I won’t think less of you for your ignorance, but you are incorrect. Judge Harlow said my time would not be up until tomorrow.”
“Its an hour till midnight,” the sheriff said. “Close enough. Move your ass.”
“Sir,” Travis said. “I will further point out that the judge said I will be arrested tomorrow when he has issued a warrant.”
“He will,” the sheriff said. “Don’t you worry about that.”
“Yes, but,” Travis said. “Until he actually issues the arrest warrant, I’m a free man.”
“Travis,” the sheriff said. “I am in no mood for your fancy mumbo jumbo.”
“And I’m in no mood to have my rights violated, sir,” Travis said. “Should you arrest me without a proper warrant then you will leave me with no choice but to file an extensive lawsuit demanding satisfaction from you in the form of financial payment.”
“Huh?” the sheriff said as he scratched his head.
“I’ll take all your money,” Travis said.
The sheriff rested his hand on the butt of the gun holstered on his hip, then grumbled.
“Fuck it,” the sheriff said as he took his hand off his gun. “Enjoy your last night as a free man, peckerwood. Hug your kids. Pork your woman. I’ll be back bright and early tomorrow morning with the judge’s warrant in hand.”
“I wouldn’t expect anything less,” Travis said.
The sheriff stepped out into the hallway, then poked his head back into the room one last time.
“You make me chase you and you’re a dead man.”
Travis nodded. The chubby sherrif waddled out of the house and slammed the front door behind him.
“OK,” Rosanna said. “I’ll give it to you. That was impressive. You finally impressed me with your fancy book learning.”
Travis smiled. “Now imagine how many people I could impress if they’d just start believing in me for a change.”