I saw the dead girl from the window of the train as we passed the Hundredth Meridian marker, but I didn’t say anything.
She was lying atop the bronze tablet, turned on her right side with her knees drawn up, as if asleep. I knew she was dead because her throat had been cut. Her hair was straight and blond and riffled by the breeze, and the ends were stained claret where they had trailed in the blood. Her flower print calico dress was torn to the waist; her corset was popped open, and judging from her bare shoulders, she was young. The hem of her dress was bunched around her scuffed knees, her hose had fallen, and she wore only one lace shoe, her left. Her right arm was outstretched, with the hand clenched, blue fingers squeezed tightly over something.
Few things now surprise me, but I covered my mouth and uttered a bit of a gasp. Instinctively, my left hand went out to Eddie’s cage on the seat beside me, seeking a familiar comfort. Then the train slid by a row of warehouses, cutting off my view of anything but unpainted lumber.
“Dodge City!” the conductor called, walking unsteadily through the coach, one hand on each chair back, as if pulling himself along. “Ten- minute stop for coal and water. Dodge City!”