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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Supernatural · #1640516
A supernatural cowboy chases after his bounty
Church is out

God worked in mysteries ways, yep, that was what they said. Well, the Devil was a bit more direct. I loaded a bullet in Gracie, my revolver, gave it a quick spin (I don’t need to spin it, but I liked to do it anyways, ‘nuff said), and when I woke in the morning, the name of the next job was seared into the casing. This was how it had been for all time. Sure, the weapons change, but the game was always the same.

Sometimes I miss the old days. All I needed back then was my sword. A flaming personification of millennia of frustration. I wielded it with complete authority. I invoked so much fear. It truly was something to relish and from time to time, I still did, but how the times have changed. I’m forced to adapt to humanities’ progress. I have to adapt to their clothing, customs, and weapons. It was hard to inspire dreadful awe in these ridiculous rags, but I did what I could. A ten gallon hat rested upon my head, slightly curved up at the sides, and bent down in front, obscuring my eyes completely. I don’t think anybody would have liked to look me in the eyes if they could help it. I wore a blood-red cavalry shirt upon my chest and over that a worn, leather duster. (Black, of course) When it came to jeans, denim was the only way to go. The tighter, the better. Snakeskin boots adorned my feet, and with my one showing of pride, six-sided silver spurs. Oh, and of course, Gracie was always at my hip. Speaking of Gracie, the last bullet she burped up had the name Navin Mclarus upon it.

The game began again. Now, I know what you’re thinking, how could I find a man in the entire great west with only a name? Well, I have an instinct I like to call satanacity, the ability to find evil men like myself if I concentrated hard enough. It pulled me in the direction of my prey, and I had a powerful urge to travel to Dodge City, Kansas-the most disreputable city in the Americas and my second home. It only seemed fitting that my latest job should be hiding out there, but right now, I needed to finish the job at hand.

Outside of the church a sign read, “Open to all. Please come inside, God welcomes you.” It was good enough for me. I kicked the double doors of the Southern Tabernacle Baptist Church of Atlanta in. The thick wooden doors of the church exploded, covering the congregation with wooden debris.

“By the name of everything that is holy what are you doing disrupting the word of God,” said the preacher. He looked at me with complete condemnation, unaware of my insights into his life. More than half of his congregation had iron aimed at me. I glanced over the congregation, and then I did a double take. On the second pew closest to the pulpit, there was an eighty year old woman with a double barrel shotgun pointing right at me. Fucking Baptists, hard asses till the end, but it was time to change the tides. I pulled a hand rolled cigar out of my pocket put it the corner of my mouth. I pulled out a strike anywhere match from the same pocket. I did this all real slow as to not upset the church goers. I struck the match against my jaw line and lit the cigar. I inhaled deeply. Ah, the simple pleasures.

“You may speak the word of God, but your actions tell another story, Preacher Man. What kind of man looks towards a boy for his pleasures? Well, not a man at all, I suppose, but a sinner, a cohort of the Devil. That’s why I’m here. I’m here to collect for the Big Red Man. He’s got a bounty on you, Preacher.”

The preacher’s face turned the color of ash and his eyes became wide with terror. The congregation paused for a moment. They turned to each other then back at me. If I were an ordinary man, they would have already dropped me, but my appearance tended to put people off guard. The parishioners were uncertain. They looked towards their preacher, trying to make sense of it all. He stood there behind his pulpit more dumbfounded than his congregation. He stared back at me trying to figure a way out, and if he thought he found one, he was wrong. No one gets away from me.

I tilted my hat back, so the preacher could get a good look at my face. It was the last face he was ever going to see on this earth. He stared right into my dark, yellow eyes and he knew it was over. Gracie was heavy against my hip. The parishioners sensed something amiss. Quick, quicker than the eye could see, I drew, leveled my gun, and fired. A small dark hole appeared on the left side of the preacher’s forehead. His eyes became unfocused, and that was that for mister preacher man. His lifeless body slumped over his pulpit, rolled, and fell to the ground.

The congregation was stunned. Every one of them fixed on the lifeless body of their preacher. Every one of them that was, except the old lady in the blue sun dress. Her life was almost over. It has been a good one, and she had nothing left to fear. That fact made me nervous. I had no sway on her. She was resolute. She cocked the hammers back on her shotgun and fired. Buckshot peppered my left shoulder, and damn did it sting. The other armed parishioners awoke from their stupor, followed suit, and opened fire at me.

I hit the ground. Bullets were flying everywhere. The wall behind me shattered and splintered from the gunshots. I dove towards the doors taking a few hits in the extremities as I went. Damn, this congregation was pissed. I leaped towards what was left of the front doors, making it onto the veranda barely intact. I stood up and ran for the street. I put my forefinger and pinky in my mouth and whistled as hard as I could.

Neco, my horse, came around the corner at a full gallop. I waited with bullets flying all around me then mounted Neco at full speed. I settled myself in the saddle, looked back at the chaos erupting from the Southern Tabernacle Baptist Church, grinned a little, and headed towards Dodge City.

The First Dead One

The Train swayed and shuddered as it made its final approach to the Dodge City railroad station. I raised my hat slightly and looked around. The horses inside the boxcar widened and braced their legs. I knew it made them uneasy, not being on solid ground. I got up from my makeshift bed of hay, and headed towards Neco. She whinnied and pulled against her reins, tied to the hitching rod of the boxcar. I shushed her and made a little clicking noise, so she would know it was me. I caressed her head feeling the smooth, powerful jaw muscles tighten and slacken every time the train shifted weight on the tracks. I whispered in her ear, “Almost there.”

I didn’t wait for the porter to come along with the ramp. I opened the door of the boxcar and then turned around and untied Neco’s reins. She was still saddled. I mounted her and yelled, “YA!” She jumped from the boxcar like it was the most natural thing in the world and landed surprisingly soft on the hard, red dirt street of Dodge City.

There was something about this town that always got to me. Maybe it was the fact that on the outside it looked like every other town in the west. You had your main staples; a post office, a railroad station, a saloon, a hotel, a jail, and other countless familiar edifices, but this city had a savage underpinning. It may be in the back of your mind, but you could bet your ass as the feeling that anything, anywhere could happen to you, more here than anywhere else in the world. And I reveled in it, because I was one of the agents that propagated this contained hysteria. Me, I made little kids piss the sheets. I was the slight push that turned decent men into killers. I was the reason wives cheated on their husbands. But no time for fun right know, I was looking for a man who might be doing all of that and more without consent from the higher beings. And that we can’t allow.

I headed towards the west part of town. That was where the Long Branch saloon stood. It was the best place to find the pulse of the savage west, and a better place to find the pulse of a savage man. The sun was in the last stage of its daily routine, when I secured Neco to the hitching post. A fistfight had already spilled out into the street before I could make my way into the saloon. A couple of amount to nothing lowlifes pummeled each other senseless in the background as I swung the saloon doors in. Nobody gave me a second look. That was the way, I liked it. I sauntered my narrow ass up toward the end of the bar, and ordered a double whiskey. Damn how long had it been? A couple days? A week? No wonder I’d felt like shit of late. The bar keep poured me two shots of Irish whiskey and made to turn around and leave me.

I didn’t mean it to happen this way, but dreams and dogs, they both tended to piss on you. I grabbed the bartender, pulled him hard back towards me. Harder than a normal man would have. His eyes widened with fear. I tried to speak to assuage his fears, but it came out gruff and worse than if I wouldn’t have said anything at all. “Leave the bottle of Jameson. I have a few questions for you barkeep”

“You can ask your questions, I have no quarrels with that but leave your damn hands to yourself.” said the Bartender as he made a great show of jerking his arm out of my clutches.

I had a powerful urge to backhand the little son of a bitch, but I maintained my composure. “Sorry Barkeep, the long train ride made me forget my manners.” I told him while I placed both hands neatly on the polished wood of the bar. With a little flourish of my left hand, I produced a twenty dollar reserve note and laid it on the bar. The bill was a bit crinkled.

The bartender eyed it suspiciously, then asked, “What’s that for?”

“It’s for nothing really. All you have to do is tell me if you’ve ever heard of someone who goes by the name Navin, Navin Mclarus.” After a prolonged silence, I put my middle finger on the bill and gave it a little shake. Nothing. I flicked it at the bartender. It hit him in the chest and fell to the floor.

Finally he spoke, “I don’t care how much money you got mister. It ain’t worth having that devil after me”

I was losing patience with the bartender. I reached over the bar and grabbed a couple of handfuls of his shirt collar. I pulled him over the bar and held him up at arms length. I smelled the sharp order of shit. I tilted my head up towards the bartender, and let him get a good, long look at my eyes. Then I asked him, “You think it would be better having this devil after you.”

The bartender immediately closed his eyes. I could see tears spilling out from underneath his thick lashes. He was shaking pitifully. Through blubbering sobs and quivering lips four words escaped, “China Doll, Iabiel Summer.”

I put the bartender down gently on a bar stool and gave his chubby cheeks a couple of playful slaps. Sometimes when you really wanted to know something all you had to do was ask nicely. I looked around the place and everyone was staring at me with wide eyed terror. The bar scene was getting a little old. I needed to talk to a whore.

The China Doll was only a couple of blocks away from the Long Branch, so I decided to give my legs a stretch and headed on over to one of the best brothels I’d ever been to. That was saying a lot considering how long I’ve been on Earth. It was nestled between a general store (Tim’s Toole Shoppe) and an apothecary (Saint Hosh’s), but neither of these buildings contained a fraction of the wealth that was inside the dollhouse. How I loved the great bounty of their flesh. And this new girl had my interest piqued. She had an unusual name.

I slowly ascended the front steps of the China Doll. I took my time to admire the beautifully adorned pillars. Wooden girls stood out in relief. Their prominent, ample breasts provided good contrast with the flowers and horses. I fingered my jacket pocket and found my tobacco pouch. I leaned on a pillar, rolled a cigarette, and enjoyed a smoke. The cherry of the cigarette was quite close to my fingers, when the front door opened, and a fine specimen of woman walked out.

“Oh, you startled me. I didn’t expect anyone to be out here.” She giggled uneasily while she twirled the curls of her hair around her fingers.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t think any of the girls would be up this early, I was, you know, just passing the time. Enjoying this ‘buena vista’ if you will,” I told her then conjured up a sparkling set of teeth with a side of lovable bastard and just a splash of wink.

She let her guard down a little, smiled at me, and then asked, “Would you like to come in? I think some of the girls are still working.

“I’d love to. Say, tell me. Do you know if a girl named Iabiel Summers is in at the moment? I’ve heard great things about her,” I asked absolutely oozing charisma.

“As a matter of fact, she is. One of the hardest working girls here. It’s always work, work, and more work for her,” she confessed then let escape a very girlie snicker. “I think she mostly deals with married men, and I don’t see a ring on your finger. You may not have the best of luck with her. Ask for Lucy. She’s nice and sweet and cute. You can’t go wrong. Best of luck mister, I really should be getting on home,” she said then gave me a fleeting wave and she was gone.

I opened the door to the China Doll and casually strolled into the foyer. It was nice with a big oak counter and an extravagant chandelier hanging from the rafters. I tapped the table bell and waited. A short, robust woman appeared from behind a beaded doorway. She slowly looked me up and down with a hard gaze.

“These are the rules, Mr. ---?” She asked turning the last word into a question.

“Mr. ---- Smith,” I lied.

“Well, Mr. Smith, the rules are as follows.

Rule Number One: Cash up front. Pay me; I’ll make sure the girls get their fair share.

Rule Number Two: Be a gentleman. If you’re nice to the girls, the girls will be nice to you. Tipping is always encouraged.

Rule Number Three: Get rough with any of my girls, and I’ll personally cut your fucking balls off.

Now are clear on the rules?”

“Yes, Ma’am,” I replied. Believing that she would enforce rule number three if any dumb son of a bitch actually tried to hurt one of the girls. She looked the type. Scrappy with a low center of gravity.

She seemed happy enough with my demeanor, so she continued, “Let’s get a good look at you,” she said while putting on some ridiculous spectacles. “Tall, lean, maybe a little wiry for my taste, but the girls won’t mind. High cheekbones and a fine, thick, coal black moustache. Yep, I think the standard rate will apply. Now, do I need to go get the girls still working or do you have a particular one in mind, being it’s 7:45 in the A.M.?”

“Iabiel Summer, is she available?” I asked trying to sound casual.

“My newest girl is quite popular I have to admit. Yeah, she’s available. Ten dollars,” she said matter-of-factly.

I pulled out my billfold, plucked a Hamilton, and extended it out to her between my fore and middle fingers. She grabbed it every so daintily, folded it once and pressed it down into the crease of her bosom. She walked off towards a set of stairs, stopped halfway, looked back at me and motioned her head toward the stairway. I followed her up to the second floor and then down a hallway until we reached the fourth door on the left.

“Here we are cowboy, remember the rules and have some fun.”

She reared back and slapped my ass. Before I could say anything, her stubby legs were already making their way down the stairs. I turned back to the door with a little smirk on my face. Every once in a while you’ll find a person who has the perfect balance between morality and iniquity. A rarity in this day and age, I had to admit.

With rule number two still fresh on my mind, I delivered a gentlemen’s knock to Iabiel’s door. I waited a moment, and then heard the unmistakable click of the deadbolt being released. She opened the door and revealed herself. On the first plane, she was an exquisitely well put together woman. Her remittent long red hair changed from the color of freshly-picked strawberries to the color of freshly-split blood with the angle of the light. A bustier pressed her pale breasts in and up. The freckles upon her check spelled innocence, but I knew better. I had eyes that could see more than the average man. On the second plane her skin was dark and leathery. All traces of beauty was long forgotten. Her dry hair was shaped in grotesque horn like shapes.

If I could see her, I knew she could see me, see my true form. The black fire all around me would tell her that I was a hunter, this was bad. She would think I was after her, which wasn’t the case at all. She tried to slam the door on me, but my stubborn stingray boots wouldn’t let her end the conversation before it began. I forced the door open and let myself in. She tried to open the left drawer of her vanity. No doubt looking for some cold steel to fill her hand, but my right hand had already drawn Gracie. My left hand was open palmed in a calming gesture. She knew I had the drop on her ugly ass. She let the small caliber Dillinger fall to the ground, and with it her fighting spirit. Her shoulders sank with acceptance and desperation. She exhaled for a long time before she spoke.

“What now? Am I to return to the pit, or does he require my services elsewhere?

I stood there in the doorway immobile, deep in thought. I didn’t know how best to handle this situation. On the one hand, she was a demon, albeit a lower class succubus, but none the less, a demon like me. On the other, I knew demons. I was one. They were double-crossing, proud, and selfish creatures. That was why we were cast to the pit in the first place, but this was Earth, the world of men and neutral ground, so I would give her the benefit of the doubt, and then get on with it.

“I’m looking for someone, a mortal. I think he’s been here before. Goes by the name Navin Mclarus”

“So this isn’t about me?” asked Iabiel with a mixture of wariness and elation.

“No, as I said before, I’m looking for a man named Navin Mclarus.”

With the threat of danger gone, she settled into her more relaxed, seductive nature.

“Yeah, I know the guy,” she said as she sat on the corner of the bed. Her legs slightly parted, fully coming into her own again. “One tough cookie that one. Usually I’ll break a man in an hour, but not Navin. I’ve been seeing him for a week and I don’t think I’ve had the slightest effect on him. In fact, I think he’s been gifted with the Sight, well, a partial Sight. I think he knows I’m not human, but I don’t think he could see my true form.”

“Why do you think that,” I asked

“Well, he wouldn’t be so eager in bed, if he saw me as you see me right now, would he?

She had a point. And this job was starting to get interesting. So I had a man with partial Sight, who had successfully been able to hold his own against the psychological terrors of one of the better succubae that I’d seen. Plus, the Red Man had sent me after him. I wondered what other secrets this Navin Mclarus kept hidden.

“What’s he doing in Dodge?” I asked Iabiel.

“I don’t know, working. Isn’t that what the humans do to pass their time here on Earth,” she said in an exasperated tone. Her eyes rolled in her head. As the last syllable escaped her lips, she slapped her hand to her mouth hoping against hope that she hadn’t really mocked me.

She looked at me through penitent and fearful eyes. On the first plane, a tear streaked her human cheek. I pulled Gracie from my holster and playfully threw her back and forth between my hands. Iabiel’s eyes were as wide as saucers. They fixed upon me. I had the feeling she was looking at my true form, a writhing mass of black flame obscuring and distorting a faint line of silhouette, but the eyes, that piercing yellow. Damn, I was scary.

“Please,” she begged me.

“Oh, Darling,” I replied then I raised Gracie and pistol whipped the shit out of her.

After I thought she’d learned enough manners from me today, I sat down in the corner chair and crossed my legs. My silver spurs jangled. She knew I was letting her off easy. I could have just thrown her back in the pit and be done with her, but I needed information. It’d be easier tracking if I knew specifics, instead of relying solely on my instincts. I reached in my duster and pulled out a gnarled cigar. I lit it, took a puff, and watched the smoke dance in the light from the partly opened curtains.

“Let’s try this again, shall we?” I asked her and waited for her acknowledgement. It came in the form of a curt little nod. So I continued. “What’s Mclarus doing in Dodge?”

“He does what you do. He hunts people down and kills them. Unlike you, he does it for money. You’re too late; he’s already got his man and moved on. Some small-time crook, you know the type, pick-pocket, cattle rustler, anything quick and easy. The undertaker has him in the window as we speak. He has been on display for a couple days now,” said Iabiel almost completely in monotone.

“Where’s he going?” I asked

“I don’t know. All he said was he had another job lined up after this one. He said he was ‘gonna bag a savage’. That’s all I know.” She said

While I was sitting in that fine chair, digesting what I had learned from Ms. Iabiel, Madam Ramera was downstairs, looking for her garden shears. She found them in a cluttered closet. With the shears in both hands she snipped, presumably checking for rust. A little smirk graced her face. She quickly waddled her fat ass up the stairs and down the hall to Iabiel’s door. Her stubby, little legs kicked the door in, and the rest of her soon followed. She wheeled her arm around, and I saw a small glint of something silver. It was a derringer. Women and their derringers. The bullet hit me right in the gut. It surprised me more than anything. Now if the small caliber had hit me in the head or the heart that would be a different story. I would wake up in the Pit not knowing what century it was with the Red Man pissing fire down my throat. But I digress, back to Madam Ramera, by now she was shrieking like a banshee with fire ants in her asshole.

“What did I fucking tell you, you son of bitch!?! You get rough with my girls, I get your balls,” whaled Madam Ramera while snipping the air fiercely with her shears.

I popped out of the chair. Madam Ramera was taken off guard; she took an uncertain step back. Normally, when she shoots someone in the gut, they stay where they are. They don’t jump up out of their seat as if their barn was on fire. If jumping up out of my chair after being shot in the gut took her off guard, what I did next shattered her down-home perception of the world, and probably would later be attributed to the heat, lack of sleep, spicy food before bed, or maybe a mixture of all three.

I ripped the cavalry shirt open, exposing the bullet hole. A thick tar-like liquid was oozing out and slowing making a trail down to my breeches. Vivid, purplish bruising blossomed all around the small dark hole. I flexed my abdomen muscles, forcing the bullet out. It fell to the floor with an unceremonious dunk. A small wisp of smoke rose off the deformed slug as it charred the hard wood floor. Madam Ramera stood there slack jawed. Wits and speech had abandoned her. I bent down close to her. My pale face was inches away from hers.

“I think I’ll be keeping my balls today,” I hissed at her, then grabbed her face, and shoved her to the ground. I turned my attention back to Iabiel. “Where’s a good place to get a new shirt?”

“There’s a Hurbury’s down the road. It’s caddy-corner from the mortuary, next to the tack shop.”

With a deliberate motion of my hand, I tipped my hat to the demon and the passed-out pimp on the floor. Turned my boots on their heels and headed out the splintered door. I made my way down the stairs and headed out the front doors of the China Doll. I stepped out onto the dusty street. I looked down the road and saw the unmistakable shapes of coffins, placed haphazardly on the veranda of what had to be the mortuary. So that meant Hurbury’s was right across the way. I strolled up the street, head down making sure I didn’t step in any piles of shit. Occasionally, I would sneak a quick look up at the street to make sure I was still on track and not about to run into a wagon. When I was about to Hurbury’s, the sun flashed off the big plate window of the mortuary and caught my eye.

Behind the window in a bare wooden coffin was the dead man Iabiel had told me about. I stepped up to the window to get a better look at the poor son of a bitch who wasn’t quite cut out for this hard world. The undertaker had him gussied up like some sort of fairy. Rouge was liberally applied to his pale cheeks, making it look like he was stuck in a particular nasty and cold winter. Then on second thought he was, so I guessed it was fitting. The mascara on his eyelashes served no purpose what so ever, unless you count making him look like a complete git. The undertaker saw me looking in at his handy work, so he came out of his shop to greet me.

“Good day, mister” said the undertaker. He looked at me, looked at the dead man in the window, and then once again settled his eyes on me. “You look like the type of man who would bring in some more business for me. I’ve got plenty of boxes for the bad men,” continued the undertaker. He smiled and flashed a set of rotten teeth at me. Then he arched his thin eyebrows to goad me into speaking.

“What makes you think I’m here to gun down a bad man?” I asked the undertaker.

“You have gunman written all over you, a shabby gunman with a ripped shirt, but no doubt a gunman.”

“You didn’t answer my question, undertaker. What if I’m here for a good guy?”

“Well, I’d tell you that you’re in the wrong place. This is Dodge City. Ain’t no good guys here,” spouted the undertaker with solid logic and bad grammar.

I nodded my head towards the dead man and asked, “What’s the stiff’s story? How’d he meet his end?”

“Gunfight, but don’t get me wrong, he didn’t do much fighting. A stranger, kinda tall and thin like you, rode in to town and called ol’ Jeb out, and Jeb, having about as much brains as a horse turd, accepted. I saw the whole thing. You know, since it was my business and all. The two stared at each other for a long time, then Jeb got scared. He pissed his pants and fell to his knees, but the damnedest thing was he still went for his gun.” The undertaker looked at me then asked, “What’d make a man do that? Why didn’t he drop his gun and admit he was a coward. The wet spot on the front of his pants would agree with that,” said the undertaker followed by a burst of unabashed laughter. After he reigned in his laughter, he continued, “The townsfolk say the stranger was a gun for hire, paid by the railroad to kill Jeb, on account of Jeb stealing cattle and messing with the railroads business, but that’s just gossip, and I don’t like to gossip.”

“Well, thanks for the story, but I best be off to get a shirt,” I said picking at the loose threads of my ripped shirt.

“Yeah, I can see that. Hey, give me a heads up if you’re gonna drop me some business,” said the undertaker then he disappeared into his shop.

I stood on the wooden porch for a second after the undertaker had left. The sun shone brighter now, morning giving way to the heat of the afternoon. The shade was nice. The faint breeze felt cool on my face. I breathed the Midwestern air. I looked across the street at the clothing store. The lavish sign read Hurbury’s. It looked like a respectable place. I started down the steps of the mortuary. The door bell chimed behind me. I stopped and turned around. The undertaker poked his head out of the door.

“I got to thinking. If a man was on the run and didn’t want to be found, the best bet would be to head into the Territories. Ain’t no law in that part of the world. That’s where I would go,” said the undertaker.

“Thanks,” I replied smiling. He withdrew his head and shut the door.

I could feel the pull of the job. My bounty was in the Oklahoma Territories, but before I could get going, I needed a new shirt. I purchased a fresh, crisp pearl snap from Hurbury’s. The tailor needed a good smack in the mouth, but I was on the hunt and in a hurry. I walked back to the Long Branch, untied Neco, mounted her, and headed towards the Territories.

...............to be continued.
© Copyright 2010 T.C. Abernathy (sealkris at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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