I always hated being an heiress. Whenever I went out into town, the street urchins would holler, “Look everyone! It’s Railroad Roxie!” They would always beg me for rides on my father’s locomotives, and I would have to say that I don’t have that power, and then they’d get close to me and tug at my bonnet, and they all smelled really bad and probably had syphilis. Needless to say, I had to get away.

Just as I was looking for a way out, along came Sharp-Shootin’ Silas. I was out west at a train station, waiting to get on Pa’s new steam-powered locomotive, when I saw a brooding young man pass by on a stallion. At that point, I didn’t care if I missed my train, or if I never had another Rhode Island summer. I needed to know more about this enigmatic cowboy.

He was not the kind of guy Pa would want me to be with, but that made him all the more attractive. I learned about sharp-shooting, stallions, sheriffs, and saloons. It was every girl’s dream. Why would I ever go back to that stuffy upper-class world when I could watch Silas get in a sharp-shootout at the slipshod saloon with a slapdash sheriff? I was Silas’ girl, and it was a fairytale romance.

Until it wasn’t. Over time, Silas’ cute, rebellious quirks just got annoying. I quickly learned that it’s not only the poor city folk that smell bad—cowboys smell even worse. And he definitely had syphilis, but I couldn’t even get him to go to the doctor because he was afraid he’d run into Johnny Law on the way. In fact, he would hardly go anywhere, because there were so many Wanted posters with his face all around town. He started to use this as an excuse, and pretty soon I was hiking down to the saloon three times a week to pick up some to-go moonshine. 

Worst of all, for all he preached about not conforming to society, he clearly just wanted me for my money. Just like those beggars on the city street, he thought he could get free train rides whenever he wanted, and he even hinted at meeting my Pa out on the East Coast. I asked him if he really loved me. He told me that cowboys only love their horses. That’s when I knew I needed to end things.

As I took a locomotive home and made up a story about how I was kidnapped by a band of pirate-ninjas for several years, I deeply regretted my rash decision. I bet everyone around town will call me Runaway Roxie now, or worse, Ran-Through Roxie, or worse, Ran-Through Railroad Roxie. That’s not even to mention that I can barely see and am having psychotic episodes, which probably means I have an advanced stage of neurosyphilis and will likely die within the year. Maybe I should’ve been more grateful for what I had. I guess it’s too late now.

—K. Walsh