It had happened in a moment of darkness. Billy had been working on the western front of the railroad for months, and Callie longed for him more than ever on that beautiful spring afternoon the day of the church picnic.
She had been walking near the stream, thinking about her husband, when someone tapped her on the shoulder. She never expected to find an old beau when she turned around, but there stood Sam, smiling. Callie was overcome with emotion and flung herself into his arms.
The guilt from that moment would have haunted her even if Billy hadn’t surprised her by sliding out from behind a rock at that exact moment, but standing there with another man flushed her body and soul with shame.
Sam explained that it was an innocent reunion and took his leave before punches could be thrown, but Billy wasn’t convinced . The next few days were an uneasy dance between reconciliation and a permanent split.
In a last-ditch effort to save their marriage, Callie convinced Billy to visit Madame Charity on the outskirts of town. Neither had ever been to a medium, but there was nothing else left to try.
So it was that on Wednesday afternoon, Billy sat starting into the drape-darkened gloom of Charity’s tent.
“Can we go home?” he asked.
Callie was confused. “Why, yes, of course, Billy. Aren’t you angry with me?”
“No, of course not. Why would I be angry with you?” He stood and headed for the opening. “I have a terrible headache, though.”
In the candle glow of the canvas-clad den, Madame Charity pushed a finger to her lips and extended her other hand toward Callie. She held a tiny cloth man with a pin jammed into the top of his head.
“Use it well, child,” Charity said.