Fields steps out of the cafe, the door closing behind her with a musical tinkle.  Outside, the wind returns, swirling around her in greeting.  She reaches up with a hand to adjust the bandana holding back her hair, her face looking towards the hotel down the street.  She turns away from it and walks through the dust towards the two storey building at the other end, the wind following like a friendly dog.

Wooden shutters sit like punctuation on the face of the building, closed against the wind.  The wind at Fields’ heels blows up to rattle the shutters, but little more.  She bangs on the nearest one with a fist and leans against the wall of the building, staring back down the street.  The nearby shutter opens a crack, allowing a rough voice to emerge.


“I want to talk to Crobus.  Tell him I’m available for hire.  Tell him, also, to watch: I’m going to show him what I’m worth.”

Fields fishes in her jacket for a cigarillo, puts it between her teeth and lights it, bending her head to catch the tip in the flame.  End lit, she straightens up and pushes away from the wall, stepping out into the middle of the street.  She walks unhurriedly, letting her steps take her one at a time back to the hotel.

The door of the hotel opens, spilling four toughs back out into the street.  The porker with the nose ring turns and laughs over his shoulder at the others as she approaches.

“Knew she couldn’t stay away, boys.”  He turns back towards Fields with a leer.  “Be a good girl and get inside, eh?”

Fields takes the cigarillo out of her mouth and examines the smouldering end of it.  “You know, I’d ridden a long way to get here, and all I was looking for was a drink.  I wasn’t looking to upset you local farmboys.”

Nose Ring scowls.  “Do you see a farm anywhere around here?  You’re pretty, and we’re patient men, but you need to watch that mouth.  I’m thinking that maybe I’m going to show you how.”

Fields finishes the cigarillo and drops the butt to the ground, grinding it into the dust with a toe.  “Actually, you’re right.  I was thinking about you, and that offer you made to me earlier.  I was thinking, ‘What would these dickless fucks actually do with a woman, anyway?’”

There’s a slight pause, while Nose Ring takes it in, followed by a flash in his eyes.  His hand reaches down for his gun.  It doesn’t make it.  Fields’ gun is already in her hand and smoking before he can complete the motion.  The bullet takes the nose ring, along with most of his face.  The body’s buckling at the knees and falling when the others reach for their own weapons.

Fields’ revolver barks again, faster than thought.  Two of them fall into the dust; another drops to his knees and howls, clutching at the bloody stump of an elbow.  The moment after her gun has spoken, it’s back in its holster; Fields turns on her heel, and walks back the way she came, as unhurriedly as before.

As she passes the undertaker on the return journey, she points towards him.  “Three coffins.”   She pauses, then looks over her shoulder at the armless man slumping back against the ground.  “Maybe make that four.”

~ by Electro-mechanical Man on May 31, 2011.

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