Sarah Leah is Caught in the Buff


Sarah-Leah_icon.jpg Marlowe_icon.jpg


* Lulie Mae

* Billy Jeff

Summary: Sarah Leah goes to the hot springs to perform a sacred ritual in the nude and finds that her clothes have been stolen. Hilarity ensues.

Date: August 3, 1883

Log Title: Sarah Leah is Caught in the Buff

Division Street

Although evening begins to fall upon the small town, Sarah Leah finds herself headed out of the house. She has a cloak draped over one arm, despite the fact that it is summer, and continuously looks left and right. Direction: toward the outskirts of town, where there are no houses and only nature (trees, lakes, etc.) prevails.

A young cowboy, pitching woo to a gingham clad girl with blond hair doesn't look up as he pleads, "Come on Lulie Mae, we can go out to the hot springs and sit awhile. Don't nobody hardly go there at night, 'cause of the haunts."

Lulie Mae giggles, blushes and shakes her head, "Pa'll skin me for being this late, Billy Jeff. Mayhaps you should walk me home instead?"

Hearing the pair, Sarah Leah pays them no mind except to stiffen a bit and wrinkle her nose. That is, until she hears of their destination. Muttering with frustration under her breath, she looks up into the heavens with exasperation. "Is this what You do for fun?" As she nears the pair, the stout woman slows down and calls out toward them, unable to identify the couple in the failing light. "Do you children need some help?"

Startled, Billy Jeff comes off the hitching rail and sweeps his battered hat from his head. Peering into the gathering gloom, he replies, "Don't reckon, Ma'am. We's just a-talkin'." No older than fifteen, he seems of an age with the girl, but the heavy Colt on his hip was man-sized. "We tain't zactly children, though, Ma'am, we's plannin' gettin' hitched."

Sarah_Leah cocks an eyebrow, taking a few steps closer to make herself more visible. "Would that be before or after your trip to the hot springs." Young she may be as well, but a fool she is not. After a moment, she adds to the girl, "Make him wait for it. It will be better in the end."

"Wait fer what?" the cowboy howls, while Lulie Mae blushes and ducks her head, with a secret smile. Shyly, she says, "We ain't going to the Springs, it's too late already and I gotta git home." Leaning forward, she gives Billy Jeff a kiss on the cheek, and takes off in a coltish run down the street, her skirts held high. That young worthy yelps, turns an accusing look on Sarah Leah, "Now look what ya done did!" Then he, too, takes off, calling, "Lulie Mae! Wait fer me, LULIE MAE!", his bowlegged gait comical as he pounds after the laughing girl.

Sarah_Leah winks at the adolescent girl, then chuckles as she watches the boy chase after her. With a shake of her head and a nostalgic sigh, the suddenly-feeling-old woman turns to continue along her path toward the hot springs. It is nearly pitch black now and she is purposely without a lantern to avoid calling attention to herself. Unfortunately, this also means she has to stumble along the not-so-familiar path. "Hashem [G-d] help me," she murmurs.

The path was rather well marked by hundreds of feet, but now, it seemed dark and lonely, no whisper of voices in the dark pines that seemed to lean in threateningly. From somewhere in the dark trees came a "Whooowhooo" of a huge barn owl, then the whisper of wings just over Sarah's head, a shadow blotting out what little light came from the stars.

Now everything seems rather eerie and Sarah Leah shivers despite the heat. "Why couldn't the Rebbetzin [Rabbi's wife] be home when I knocked," she murmurs softly, more to break the silence than anything else. Apparently, a nearby owl has the same idea, causing her to jump and let out a small screech. Her hand speedily covers her heart and she breaths heavily once she realizes how silly she is being.

Even the sound of the water falling was muted, as though afraid to waken the shadows of the dark woods. Close by the path a mournful howl rent the night air, answered by others in the distance. A huge bull elk bounded from the trees, pausing in the path, his great head lowered towards the woman. The elk snorted, pawed the ground and shook his head threateningly.

Noting that nothing in life is ever easy, Sarah Leah continues along, despite the chills running down her spine. The hulking elk quickly halts that, however. Shaking fiercely now, the Jewess closes her eyes and quietly speaks, "Hashem, please do not let them say I was killed or hurt while trying to perform the very sacred mitzvah [commandment] of mikvah1. If not in my merit, than in the merit of Sarah, Rivka [Rebecca], Rachel and Leah, please let me keep taharas hamishpachah [family purity]2, as you commanded." Those brown eyes open to gaze upon the beast with a mixture of fright and hope.

The elk snorts again, then raises his head, bellows and jumps into the trees once more. The mournful howls increase in number, coming closer, it seems, but in the direction of the beast's departure. Silence again reigns in the woods, save the slow, steady sound of falling water from the spring. No cicadas humming, no mosquitos buzzing.

Something is wrong. Very wrong. Yet, Sarah Leah is determined to complete her task. Besides, she cannot see the danger and, therefore, cannot fight against it. Still, her shoulders hunch and she hurries her pace. "What have I gotten myself into," she says aloud, again for the company of sound.

The springs themselves were quiet, several open cairns built around the edges to keep the hot and cold water from mixing overly much. Steam rose off the top of the pools, as the cooler stream water fell from the cliff and ran over the carefully laid stones. One large tree had been carved with names, initials, hearts and graffiti.

Finally, the springs! Sarah Leah actually giggles with relief, although the slick rocks surrounding the warm waters pose their own threat. After looking around, as though anybody in their right mind would be there at night without a light, the meaty woman sets down her cloak before beginning to undress as quickly as possible. As she does so, her eyes are closed and she meditates on the enormity and responsibility of this particular, regularly performed mitzvah for married women.

The water was quite warm, relaxing, and the cairns, carefully built by several of the local residents were so set as to encourage relaxing. For many years these springs had been used, by the natives for medicinal purposes, and by both they and the animals for the sweet, clear water from the stream and the rich mineral water of the springs.

Unseen, a pair of dark eyes focused on the white woman as she prepared for her bathing.

As her clothing lay in a semi-neat pile beside her and she finally has worked her way out of the shift, Sarah Leah smiles and opens her eyes. She looks for a safe spot to enter, one step at a time as much as the natural stones will allow. After gathering her mousy brown curls, the newlywed takes a deep breath and completely submerges, releasing her hair under the water and ensuring that her feet are not touching the body, eyes open. She is in a brief moment of full suspension, the water covering every inch of her. As soon as she comes up, she clearly recites the blessing before taking another deep breath and preparing to go under again.

Mid blessing a slim brown hand reaches for the carefully folded and placed clothing, snaking them backwards into the low undergrowth surrounding the pool. Silently, almost as though they didn't move, the fingers grasped the clothing, then were snatched back, the prize secure!

No more than a whisper of movement, rapid whispers of feet on the needlecarpeted forest floor..and the clothes were gone.

In far too deep of a meditative state to hear the quiet footsteps or cloth-snatching, Sarah Leah repeats her dip twice more. As she rubs the water from her eyes, smiling with gratitude, the round woman senses something is not quite right. She leaves the hot springs and searches for her clothing. "I would lose my head were it not attached to my body," she mutters to herself. Quickly, though, she comes to the realization that the clothes are simply… gone. Gaping, the woman stands frozen for a moment.

A doe steps from the woods, hesitant, then prissily steps to the edge of the pool, lowering her head to drink. Her tail flicks, and a pair of still spotted fawns step out after her, getting their own drink. The braver of the two fawns stops, a pace away from the woman and extends it's nose to sniff. Startled, it's tail flips up and it wheels, crashing into the trees, followed by the doe and it's sibling.

Sarah_Leah looks up toward the sky again as if to ask, "Are you serious?" She sighs resignedly just as the deer arrive. When one doe moves toward her, she holds out her hand in an attempt to lure the creature and perhaps use it to keep -some- modesty on her way back to town. The reaction has her actually biting back the urge to swear and she tries extending her fingers in the general direction of the other fawn.

But the deer want no part of this strange, pale, hairless animal with the funny smell. So, they flee through the fragrant woods, leaving this strange beast to itself. Overhead, dark clouds begin to gather, blotting the night sky, and a low rumble presages a coming storm.

So it is that Sarah Leah, without any physical protection from her environment, starts back on the long path, feeling around for loose or broken leafy branches. She may have to do this Eve-style.

The wolves howls, now with a veritable chorus of yips, grunts and growls were closer now. In fact, feral eyes glowed all along the path, and then one, a huge specimen of Canis Lupus sits in the middle of the trail, it's tongue lolling over sharp, white teeth. It appeared, almost, to be grinning at the unfortunate woman, it's yellow eyes half closed.

A shiver runs down Sarah Leah's spine just as she finds a branch with enough leaves to be held over her nether regions. Blushing as she does so, the short Jewess suddenly stops when she sees a wolf directly in her path. A hungry wolf who can undoubtedly smell the fear on her. She silently prays for help.

Behind the woman, other wolves come out of the trees, ghostly shapes..grey, white, brown, with yellow and brown eyes. A female, with half grown cubs close behind, pokes the woman with a cold cose, goosing her. One of the cubs growls, and darts at the plump ankle of the woman.

The cold nose is enough to make Sarah Leah jump and scream, fortunately avoiding the bite of the first cub. Of course, if there are others, their aim is likely to be much better… and far deadlier. Running for her life, she holds onto the branch in the air rather than at its original, intended position. "Help… HELP! WOLVES!"

The huge male darts after the woman, easily keeping pace, his tongue still hanging out as he gambols beside her. The remainder of the pack trails behind, keeping on pressure, but not threatening. At every try to stray from the path, the alpha male snaps at the woman, keeping her on the path.

"HELP!" Sarah Leah's cries have not stopped, nor does she realize that the wolves are keeping her along the path. Tears stream down her plump cheeks and her breathing becomes labored. As she feels her legs growing heavy and lungs burning, slowing her down, the woman finds herself somewhat resigned to her apparent fate. The chunky lady brings the leafy branch down to cover her lower area and cries out "Shema Yisroel, Hashem Elokeinu, Hashem Echad!"3 The words that a Jew must say before death, if at all possible.

They were nearing town now, the pack peeling away into the woods, leaving only the alpha male. The huge beast makes a sudden dart in front of Sarah, snapping at the branch, and runs into the now sparse trees following his pack, the branch clenched in his strong jaws.

A rummy, tossed out of the Golden Nugget, stops to stare at the woman, his rheumy eyes bugging from his head, "Laws a-mercy!" he mutters, "Time I gived up on drinkin'."

The alpha male is, of course, the one Sarah Leah is most concerned about. When he snatches her last attempt at modesty and dignity, only to bound away, relief washes over her at the same time that she begins to cry. Hearing the drunkard, the woman literally turns red from head to toe and gnaws mercilessly on her lower lip. Covering her face with her hands, she quickly walks (for running is now out of the question due to her lack of physical prowess) toward the direction of Division Street and the meat shop.

Oh no..who was this coming up the street? The familiar, shuffling gait, the glow of a cigarette revealing a dark, scarred face. Then the rough, uncivilized voice, "Now whut we got heah?" The halfbreed leaned against a rickety fence, swatting at flies with a raggedy looking branch. The smirk on his face revealed dangerous looking white teeth, "If it ain't the Joo-gal, without all her dayamed clothes on." He raises his voice a hair, needlessly, "Ya git caught out by some gal while ya was rolling with her husband in the barn?"

Of course. The bad experience must turn into a true, unadulterated nightmare. Sarah Leah recognizes the man through her tears and lets out a mournful groan. However, before she can run off to avoid him, Marlowe says something entirely inappropriate. She does her best to dash behind the nearest shop, only peeking her head out. "What? I would never! What is wrong with you? You are sick! Demented!" She yells this rather loudly as the tears stream down her cheeks. "I was engaged in a holy act, not that you would know what that means. You're probably the one who stole my garments from the springs," she growls. Finally, entirely flustered, she barks, "Avert your eyes so that I may return home."

By this time, the disturbance has drawn a, some with their wives, women of less than sterling character, scraggly kids from all over town. But, no one moves to help the angry woman, until the halfbreed turns to one of the crib-girls, 'Heah, you Sary, gimme that wrap of yours.' The girl sniffs, turning up a pert, if pock marked nose, "For HER?", but takes it off readily enough when Marlowe flips a silver dollar at her.

Taking the wrap, though stained and having an odor of cooked cabbage clinging to it, the scarred man tosses it towards Sarah, then resumes swatting at the flies with the ripped up branch..several places showing gouges in the bark.

Wondering why so many people are out at this incredibly late hour (as it is well past sundown in the heart of summer), Sarah Leah now hides her face in a vain attempt to avoid identification and lessen the shame. Although biting her lip helps quiet the sobs, they wrack her shoulders and she sniffles every few seconds. When she feels the shawl hit her, the dark-eyed woman quickly grabs the fabric and wraps it around herself as best she can about the middle so that it will cover her most private areas despite her exposed shoulders and extremeties. It is only once she has wiped her eyes with her free hand that she notices in the lamplight something strange about the branch the halfbreed is holding. Her eyes quickly narrow and she slowly asks, "Mister Marlowe, precisely where and how did you acquire that branch?"

Looking at the branch, he replies, "Hell, Ah dunno..damned dawg wuz a draggin' it, and I taken it away from him to swat the flies, heading to work." He extends the branch to her, "Take it, if it's yours, plenty of them in the trees." He turns on the straggling crowd, 'Go on, git on out of here. Damn, gal's done been through some kinda trouble." He turns back to her, "Yore husband know you out in yore birthday suit?"

Sarah_Leah does, in fact, take the branch although it is not strictly necessary any longer. Averting her eyes to the wall of the shop in front of her, she murmurs, "Of course he knows. I was out… doing something important when my clothes were stolen. Then I was… attacked." The way her voice chokes up could easily lead someone to believe it was a nefarious person rather than an animal pack who caused her this strife.

"Well, ain't gonna be no critters attackin' you in mebbe two legged ones." Marlowe turns and shambles on up the street, ignoring her, and quotes Poe as he heads for the Casino.

Thoroughly humbled and outright shamed, Sarah Leah quickly makes her way back home. She slams the door closed behind her and locks it, preparing herself to explain what has occurred to her waiting husband.


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