These three stories are “interequals” or “midquels”, meaning they overlap each other. They can possibly be read in any order.
Note from Ricki: Although a bit different than the normal fare, this story caught me immediately and I begged Azalea to let me put it up here to share with everyone! ^_^ There's just something that captures me when I hear it from the insurance girls'! If you're a fan of them, I'm sure you'll get captured too! ^_^
Melinda Baker: The project began when I heard they were still alive-Stun Gun Milly and Derringer Meryl, the “Insurance Girls” of legend, companions of Vash the Stampede. Well, they weren’t “girls” anymore-they were old ladies of ninety years. In our modern age of airplanes and color TV, those so-called “Old Frontier” days seem so long ago. We think of all its citizens as having passed on to new frontiers in the afterlife. And indeed, renowned names from that time, the already mentioned Vash the Stampede, and his comrade, Nicholas D. Wolfwood, are a memory. I guess I just assumed that Meryl and Milly were, too, when an overheard conversation let me in on the truth-they were sharing a home in Inepril City. |
The Insurance Girls hold a special place in my memory. As a child, I would often play one or the other, while my brothers alternated the roles of Vash and Wolfwood. We’d reenact old adventures of theirs, some real and some from TV and movies, or make up new ones of our own.
Now a lot has been written on Vash, including Emil Hector’s book Vash the Stampede: Hero or Villain?, published when Vash was still alive and still in print. It cleared Vash’s name of many of the crimes and catastrophes associated with him, so much so that many people now thought him a saint, and even the government granted him a pardon. He was able to live a relatively quiet and peaceful life. That book detailed a lot of the specific adventures of Vash’s career, especially the ones experienced with the companionship of the Insurance Girls.
Well, although I revisit some of those adventures in my book, recounting them from Meryl and Milly’s points of view, I wanted more to focus on romance. These women had loved Vash and Wolfwood, two of the most legendary men of the Old Frontier. Not just been in love with them, but had that love returned to the fullest extent. I couldn’t imagine what that was like, so I intended to meet with Meryl and Milly and ask them everything.
I drove my truck to Inepril, site of many of Vash’s adventures, and pulled up in front of the Insurance Girls’ homestead, an old-style cabin with a front porch. As I walked towards the steps, I passed by a black cat lying on the ground. “Nice kitty,” I said, reaching down towards it. It trotted away, telling me, “Meow meow meow” the whole time.
Melinda: Your men had mixed reputations-described as both heroic and ruthless. I have in my hand a testimony of one Susan Porter, who was an orphan living outside of Keybos over six decades ago. She says, “Nicholas D. Wolfwood was very kind to us at first, but then he shot one of us down, right in front of the rest of us. It traumatized me for life. I took me awhile to realize Bete wasn’t really a kid at all, but a member of the Gung-Ho Guns. But that didn’t heal all my scars. And I was never able to forge a friendship with a priest from that time onward.”
Meryl: You came all the way here to read that to us? You should be careful; Milly is a sensitive woman.
Milly: Oh, it’s okay, Meryl. Miss Baker, Nicholas was not proud of that incident, but his intentions were not evil.
Melinda: Believe me, my intentions are not put down either of your men. I just want your take on the story.
Milly: They did have two sides to them. More than two sides, actually. They were very complicated. I’ve heard lots of lies-or maybe some partial lies-used to describe Nicholas. They say he was violent, bloodthirsty, and murderous. But when I looked into his eyes, I saw kindness. Any they say the eyes are the windows to the soul!
Melinda: Just to play the devil’s advocate, but could it have been you were seeing what you wanted to see?
Milly: Could be-but I noticed that about him and his eyes when we first met. And I didn’t fall in love with him right at that moment, so why would I be seeing what I wanted to see then? I did end up seeing in his eyes things no on else ever saw. Hmm-mmm. Feelings directly solely at me.
Meryl: We saw our men at their heroic best, and we saw them when they hit rock bottom.
Milly: I think seeing them in such a pathetic state actually made us love them more.
Meryl: Yeah, you’re right. It wasn’t long after seeing them at their worst that we, well, personally experienced the best they had to give us.
Milly: Hee hee. So to speak. It’s been, what? A half a century for me-no, over sixty years, and I can still feel Nicholas’ hands on my skin as he-
Meryl: Milly, shush! There’ll be time to tell that part later!
Milly: I can still see his naked body by the light of the moons. Sigh.
Milly: All right, I’ll be good. Hm-mmm.
Meryl: Sigh. Vash was so sweet-he’d cry every time we made love.
Milly: I thought you said there’d be time for that later!
Meryl: Oh, I guess so.
Melinda: Was Wolfwood really a priest? In one of the movies, he was portrayed as just a gunslinger masquerading a priest.
Milly: Oh, he was a priest, all right. He worked for an orphanage. There’s still an orphanage there today. Nicholas was just very..odd..for a priest.
Meryl: So, you admit it! He was a strange and unusual man!
Milly: I’ve never denied that, Meryl! It’s part of what made him so intriguing! Besides, you could never pass off Vash as normal.
Meryl: No, I guess not. Karen thought we were both nuts for hooking up with the guys we did.
Melinda: Who’s Karen?
Milly: What happened to Karen anyway?
Meryl: I heard she had three husbands and died a bitter woman.
Melinda: Who’s Karen?
Meryl: Oh, just someone we used to work with back at Bernadelli Insurance.
Milly: She’s not very interesting. You’re better off hearing me tell you about my Nicholas.
Meryl: I hope you’re prepared, because she loves talking about him. She won’t know when to shut up.
Melinda: That’s what I’m hoping for.
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