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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1662406-Moses--Curio--The-First-Hammer-to-Fall
Rated: 18+ · Fiction · Crime/Gangster · #1662406
Curio's first contract killing with Moses is a morbid bellweather of her future with him.
MOSES AND CURIO AND THE FIRST HAMMER TO FALL





         

Tammie Trotley cursed under her breath as she tried to keep the U-Haul truck from scraping or bumping against cars around her as traffic moved slow as cold molasses.  Trying to get out of the city quickly, she instead meandered up McFarland Blvd. in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  The thoroughfare was clogged with baseball fans emptying into the streets immediately after the Crimson Tide had fallen 4-3 in the twelfth to Georgia.

The cars honked and fans whooped and hollered from their windows at each other.  It was far from the raucous environment that a football game aftermath would have brought, but loud and annoying still.  Worse, the traffic on the normally fast road was almost at a standstill.  Construction at the interstate end of the boulevard had a pinching effect on the already-high ‘assholes behind the wheel’ count.

Even the slightest fender bender was a cause of great concern.  If someone gave the truck a love tap and wanted a report for the insurance, they would in fact be sentencing her to a long stint in prison locally and implicating her in a foul murder back home in Kentucky.

The traffic around her was rife with beer-drunk sports fans fresh from three plus hours of sun beating them drowsy and careless as they left for home or more drinking and sun.

         She drummed her fingers on the wheel impatiently; keeping her eyes on the idiots around her and watching the stalled cars for the signs of a policeman out of habit.  Her eyes were sagging from lack of sleep and over-exposure to the sun and constantly studying the glares from faces she could see in her mirrors.  Everyone was a foe to her, whether they actually were or not.

         And whether they were or not…the slightest hint of any female behind the wheel of a car near Tammie caused her stress level to rise to rabidly foaming immediately.

          Everyone around her was a prospective nail in her coffin.  Everyone could have that woman in his or her back seat, hiding and waiting for Tammie Trotley.

The twelve-foot U-Haul was packed with four thousand pounds of fine Appalachia marijuana, primo Kentucky bluegrass.  Paranoia wasn’t the word for her state of mind.  The word was horrified.  A traffic cop being called to write a report that would put her whereabouts in Alabama was bad enough.  Losing the load, though, was by far a more relevant problem.  It did not belong to her and would lead investigators home.

Two days before she ended up in the middle of a SEC fracas in Bama-Land, Tammie and her boyfriend Shannon worked for sixteen hours in a tin shed outside Paducah, shrink-wrapping two-pound bales of grass and loading the U-Haul for a trip down to Selma, Alabama.  They expected to get paid for several months’ worth of chewed nails and illicit horticulture.  Things had gone horribly awry, put mildly.

“And in a got-damned hurra’.  Wut tah fuuck!”  Over and over again she relived the event in her head.  It happened fast, but the drive offered time for her to have properly processed the turn of events, if she had been rational and lucid.  She was not either, however.  She was tweaked out and maniacal.

Jittery fingers rubbed her temples into raw blisters as she crawled along at thirty.  When she was tweaked, she would often rub them nervously.  Before, she had Shannon to remind her of what she was doing to her skin after a while and make her cease.  Not that day, though.

“Finally!” The flow was picking up.  Her eyes darted nervously ahead, to either side.  Always glancing in the side mirrors for the first glimpse of a brunette wearing sunglasses and blood-red lipstick.

Events prior pored through her mind. The timing.  The shock.  The blood.

Gettin’ the fuck out of there when that crazy bitch missed me with a sawed-off shotgun! 

Tammie ran through the events in her head, the whole ordeal surreal in her head.

We came in from outside and you flopped on the couch.  I heard the TV turn on behind me when I went in the bathroom to wash my hands and pee.  I come in from a-peeing and wrapped my arms arountcha from behind. 

“Baby, I’m tired.  Y’er tired.  I’m sore and I know y’er sore,” I said.  “Let’s just take a power nap and when we get up…”  I was about to say go get some late breakfast at the Huddle House.  I knowed it you wuz tarred.  You worked on that truck a-stackin' a half a day and all night.  I was a-rubbing your shoulders, I'm rememberin' that now.  I heard one footstep and bam!  There goes the door.  That bitch in black leather came in a-flying in from the right with that scattergun pointing at us.  You pushed me over behind the couch.  I rolled offa that little table thangee that that statue was a-sittin’ on.  Hit the floor hard. Almost had time to scream but I used it to run...and then she shot you dead.  Never said a word, neither of y'all.  She just walked up and shot you.  I mean…jess fuggin shot you, baby.  Not a word.  No emotion.  Not a fuck you…she just stood thar all purty as a peach and she a-done it!  Shot you dead-cold.

         Now and then her actions, at that time prudent but now she called cowardice, brought sobs.

I’m so sorry I ran, baby.  My poor dead baby, Shannon.  I love you.  I’m so fuckin’ got-dam sorry they a-killt you.  Why the hell did they have to do that? 

"Who in the hell was that bitch?" She asked the question aloud for the umpteenth time since Tennessee and looked in the mirror again.  Her eyes were wide as an owl’s. “Gawd, I’m so tweaked!”

Jackasses of every Southern persuasion passed her as she kept her head on a swivel.  The temples still got pressure applied in tiny manic laps, around and around.  The crank had run out a long time before.  Weed and yellow jackets she had in abundance and they kept her wired and paranoid with hours to think about Paducah.  Never known at any time in her young life as a bastion of composure, the ordeal was sending her mentality irretrievably askew.

After I got loose of the house and I saw they flatted out the tires on our rides.  I heared that next gun go off agin' from in the house.  I still had the truck key in mah pocket.  Man, that girl!  I cain’t believe she shot you...wearing cherry-red lipstick.  She looked kinda had a lacka respect for herself, if you ask me.  Looked like a stuck-up model or like Joan Jett back in her heyday with all that black leather get-up she had on.  And with her silky-lookin' headscarf and them sunglasses on.  Lookin’ like-a she a-thankin’ she was a drivin’ in some convertible out on a road ‘tween a mountain and the ocean.  I never heard her say a word.  Jess that boom!  I dove in and got this thang cranked up raht quick and hauled ass.

She glanced down at the fuel gauge, adding the price of a fill-up against the cash she still had remaining in her purse.

A quarter tank.  Selma is what?  One hour? Two? I gotta’ git some gas.

There was a Kangaroo service station up ahead.

Too taht up in nyah.  I’ma head up to Skyland.  Hit that truck stop out that way.  Grab a bite real quick.  Maybe just some chips.  I gotta pee though, damn!  Raht here it is then...whoa!  To hell with that.  Too many-a them black folks up in that one.  Raht here.  Raht here will do nicely.  I hope their sheeter ain’t all sheetie from whar some nasty bitch in thar done been dog sick...

The U-Haul pulled into a Dixie Diamond just north of the I-20 on-ramp.  Tammie pulled up to one of the pumps nearest to the store’s front door.  It had been a long road driving the speed limit. 

And without peeing since the state line truck stop at Ardmore.

She had “the bladder of cat squirrel,” Shannon liked to kid her.  She wept as she remembered him saying that to her the last time he had.

Jamming the nozzle into the truck’s tank, she set the catch and rushed in to pee.  There was a line for the men’s but not for the women’s restroom, a rarity.  Most of the guys were wearing Georgia gear.  They were all drunk and feeling it. 

One poor Bammer was sandwiched between them, catching hell in his hometown from a beer-tainted mortal enemy made more cavalier than gracious by their team’s victory in hostile territory.

She locked the door and quickly got into action.  Sitting and peeing, she quickly fished her pipe out from her jeans’ pocket and loaded up a bowl.

Gawd, it’s so hard to think raht now.  What the hell, man? Why they jess come in and shoochu?  How did she miss me with buckshot? I know that second shot was meant for me.  She miss on purpose?  Bad load?  Mebbe she got skeered and missed?  Almighty Gawd Almighty-ly spared me? 

She finished and pulled up her shorts, the pipe clenched in her locked jaw.  There was an exhaust fan purring over her head.  The store was either new or kept new by constant management.  The place was pristine.  She noted the hood covering the fan was dust-free and nodded in approval. 

Careful not to stomp a foot in the toilet bowl accidentally, Tammie mounted the seat and cleared the bowl with a few hurried tokes.  The fan caught the lion’s share of the tell-all smoke.  The acrid curl of smoke from the Sonoma Menthol 100 she lit as she washed her hands and the timed spray of an air freshener mounted above the commode washed the cubicle clear of her prohibited scent instantly.

The Georgia fans finally pushed the Tide fan overboard.  Opening the door, freshly feeling the weed hit her square in her addled mind, she was immediately pushed back into the restroom by the door as the force of two men viciously wrestling and punching on each other slammed into it.  Cooler heads were trying to prevail amongst the cacophony of loud voices as the Bulldog’s fellows tried to separate the two.  From the yells, she could hear one of them was clearly concerned they would end up arrested far from home by a probable Tide faithful, whose Lady Justice would be far more blinded by the sight of his crimson brethren being roughed up by a number of goddamned Dawg fans in his own backyard.

Got damn!  Fuckin’ drunk sumbeeches!  Y’all goan git me pinched out here over that dumb shit.  Gawddamn jocks!

She pounded on the door.

“Hey sumbeeches!” She hollered. “I gotta’ be somewhars!  Take that sheeit outside!  Drunk-ais aisholes!” 

She heard more cussing mixed with shoes squeaking and blows landing on solid bodies.  Then the sounds were coming from the floor.  A foot kicked wildly at the foot of the door as someone tried to brace their leg awkwardly but misjudged in the heat of battle.

“Y'all take yer shit away from nyah!  I ain’t gots the time fer y'all’s bullshit!”

Paranoia began almost immediately and she regretted burning the bowl.  Her eyes always got bloodshot in an instant after smoking grass.  By now the black lady clerk she heard screaming now and again from the register was on the phone with 911.  She still had to pay for the gas someway in the middle of all that, get the nozzle and gas cap put up, and get long gone before the cops got there.  She knew the cops were numerous around sports events and not too far off with a sporting event letting out onto McFarlane- a road she had traveled often in her life and knew was full of people at any given time, day or night.

The fight ended but the cussing did not.  It moved away from the door and she burst through quickly.  Fumbling for her wallet in the purse, she noted the pair who was scrapping were being restrained and hustled toward cars.  Tammie made a beeline for the register.  Fixing on the clerk’s nametag, “Vanessa,” she pulled out a hundred.

“Is six finished pumpin’ yet?” Tammie looked out at the fresh fight breaking out in the parking lot.  Two Bama fans were acting as judicious interlopers on their man’s behalf.  Now the factions were rumbling in earnest but thankfully, their ring was now in the parking lot.

To her dismay, another pickup truck pulled out of line and a duo of beefy athletic types clad in Tide gear jumped into the fray.  The Georgia men were now in a bind.  Horns blared and curses flew in from the clogged artery.  Somewhere to the south, the unmistakable crunch of two bumpers colliding erupted.  From far off in the neighborhood behind the store, a siren wailed, muffled through the thick glass of the store.

“Hang on one second, ma’am.” Vanessa said, rather coldly, to the offending customer. “I gotta’ get some police here before that road-full of drunks out there sees what happenin’ in here and, Laaawd, we have another Rodney King ‘round here.”

“Please, ma’am.  I gotta’ git tah Selma raht quick.” She thought of a lie. “My mama got hurt bad in a car wreck and I’ma tryin’ to git there raht quick.  It still pumpin’?” Vanessa looked at the pump monitor and shook her head, still answering questions over the phone.  Tammie slid a hundred across the counter.

Another customer from the checkout line but not in the fight now walked up behind her with a huge bag of pretzel sticks and a gallon of Milo’s tea in his hand.

“Dumbasses!” The man was black, short, well dressed, his mood aloof and disgruntled.  “Five-O gonna’ nigga-stick the hell outta’ them for starting that shit out here in public at this place.” He nodded hello at Tammie and spoke to the clerk. “How you doin’, V?”  Vanessa gave him one finger “hold-on.”

“Ma’am, I’m serious.  I gotta’ git.” Tammie slid the bill to her. “You keep the change.  I gotta’ git outta’ here raht now!”  Before she turned halfway away from the register, Vanessa was punching keys and sliding the bill into the tray.

“You have a very nice day, ma’am!” Vanessa cupped the phone and bellowed at her.  The man asked her if she was giving out hundreds to all black people that day.  She never looked back to answer him.

The first police cruiser was 10-8 on scene, pulling up next to the U-Haul as she pushed the door open.  She swallowed hard and pushed past the cop as he jumped from his cruiser.

“There a fight in there, ma’am?” The heavyset cop with stripes on his arm asked her.  He pulled out an extendable baton, called an asp, and flipped it downward to ready it for use.  She could hear two sirens from opposite ends of McFarlane and another behind her on the back street converging on her.

“They were in the store.  Now they out on the other side, sir.  They’s some more folks done jumped in it now.  It warse jess two of them drunks a-fightin’ in thar and some of one of the Georgia feller’s friend were tryin’ to split ‘em up.  Now they all out back dustin’ up like idiots.”

He nodded and rushed into the store.  Rigid with fear and breathing hard, Tammie pulled the nozzle out of the tank and hung it up.  The pump had stopped at a shade under seventy-seven dollars.

Breathe easy.  Just get in and go.  Damn them sumbitches.  Hope they git an ass whoopin’.  How many bad scrapes can a country bitch git into?  My boyfriend gits shot.  I almost git shot…

Tammie cranked up the truck and cleared the pump as fast and nonchalantly as she dared.  “Gotta’ git on 69.  People let me out!  Dammit!” A kindly old couple waved her out into traffic and she waved.  “Thankee!”

Her mind lost the stop behind her.  Immediately she looked around for women in sunglasses.  They seemed to be everywhere!

When she was a few blocks behind the fray, her mind continued to ponder the shooting.

Got loose of that crazy bitch that done shot Shannon.  My poor baby, Shannon!  Damn! I got loose.  Hauled ais outta’ thar and drove over into Dozier and I hid out hoping I wasn’t bein’ followed.  Slept in the truck that night out at that warehouse rental place where they rent U-Hauls.  Hoped I wouldn’t stand out.  Hoping she didn’t find me!  I was fuckin’ scared that girl would git me while I slept so I never did sleep too good.  Why we started on that powder…Gawd, I coulda used that sleep raht now.  I was probably paranoid from all the grass but a little paranoia is a good thang when some woman takes a shot at you and knows what you drivin’ and whatchew look a-like.  Then of all thangs, them thievin’ ass kids was out thar out popping locks on them storage sheds at three this morning…of all the got-dam storage shed complexes in Kentucky…I swear.

She did not like to think about pissing on herself when she first heard the thieves and thought it was her.

Tammie headed east on 20 toward Skyland Blvd.  A sheriff’s deputy was careening around the exit ramp heading toward the fight.

Had to haul ass because I reckoned they heard an alarm somewhars around there.  Jumped the line and went towards Nashville.  Stopped at that rest stop raht there across the line and tried to sleep.  Gawd, I hope they ain’t done followed me! What if they got a tracker on the truck?  They could be waitin’ fer me down in Selma.  Dat shootin’ girl may be a-standin’ thar at Lee-Boy’s with that same damn little outfit on and the same little shotgun pointin’ at me when I hit the door.

The pot buzz kicked in.

Hoo-wee I’m higher’n airy angel! Gotta focus!

She nibbled some more yellow jackets.

Too many folks around bangin’ car doors and running their mouths all loud at the truck stop to sleep so I headed down south.  Stopped and loaded up on yellow jackets so I don’t pass out and wreck.  Everybody could be her or workin’ for her.  She could be two cars behind me, jess waitin' to plug me.

She looked in the rearview mirror.  Every car seemingly held a brunette with shades on…pointing a shotgun at her and smiling with bright-red lips gleaming.

Shit fire!  I gotta’ ditch this truck.  Maybe Lee-Boy can help me.  I bet news about Shannon and this truck is all over the radio by now.  I ain’t too hard to spot.  They probably do got a tracker in here somewhars.  But I need the money.  Lee-Boy needs that grass by day after next.  Shannon told me that's fer sure.

Many miles further, miles filled with yellow jackets and pipe tokes adding to her mania, Tammie suddenly found herself speculating on the motive for the killing.  The ultimate conclusion hit her as she neared her destination.  Had it swept through her addled mind twenty miles prior, she might have dismissed it as bullshit.  Unfortunately, the timing for the manic certainty was poor.

Hell, what if Lee-Boy a-done it?  He had somebody come up there to kill us when we had it all loaded up and ready to run fer him, maybe?  He never done us wrong but it ain’t too many times that we had a load this big headin' down there.  Maybe he don’t wanna’ pay us off and thinks he can keep the whole bundle fer himself? Hell, I left a pile of money in that suitcase by the stove when I hauled ais.  That’d’ been a helluva payday for someone if they killed us both, took that money and all this herb. And they shot him after we got the grass already packed and covered.

That disturbing thought preoccupied her as soon as she had left her would-be killer in a trail of dust.  All the way from Paducah to Selma, the steady dose of epinephrine paranoia and grass tokes worked the poor girl over.

After the fight at the convenience store, she was sent even further apprehensive about her truck number being called in because she left the scene of a fight.  The cop that she saw had a good look at her.

No sleep to speak of, dead boyfriend’s corpse perhaps, perhaps not even discovered yet.  Witness to a cross-conference tussle off the field of play…it was a lot for her to take in at the tender age of nineteen.  That particular day came after a life of Appalachian hand-to-mouthing followed by getting married at sixteen and divorced by seventeen, good weed daily by eighteen and mixing weed with dirty crank and quickie sex almost hourly by nineteen.

Folks would later add she was always a little high-strung as a child and growing up and getting skinny on that crankcase powder did not mellow that girl out one iota.  Most agreed she needed a stupid man like that cranked-up weed grower Shannon Chambles like she needed a second asshole on her elbow.  They were only happy them two didn’t reproduce because the child welfare folks already had enough on their hands without finding a foster family for any poor bastard borne from a Chambles and a Trotley’s rutting-around.

Tammie eased into Selma coming south on Hwy 69.  She was starving so she dared to stop at a Dairy Queen and get a burger to go.  Most of it was ingested in fast, nervous chomps.  She was remotely aware of the taste of pickle on it but the rest of the meal may as well have been a pan-fried choad.  Tammie was wired so badly on mental anguish, weed and epinephrine poppers she may well have ordered one. 

She downed a can of Mountain Dew to wash down a few more yellow jackets for dessert.

At the Hwy 84 interchange, she headed east toward Mississippi.  Lee-Boy had a place about six miles outside of town.  The paranoia was replaced with misplaced fury by the time Tammie hit the long driveway that lead to his house.  The Alabama weed guy had never done them wrong, had no intentions to do so and was probably oblivious to the whole sordid ordeal in Kentucky.  Thus it was a true wonder of the effects of an irrational mind that sent her spirally into murdering him. 

Sumbitch Lee-boy!  He done it!  I knows he done it and he knows I knows it if I still show up with the load.  I’m glad he knows I know.  I git to see that look of skeered on his fat face when I shoot him down.  He done killt Shannon and woulda’ had me laid out ice-cold on the slab raht next to him if’n I had’na got thrown outta’ the way of that scattergun and made a break for it.  Oh Lawd!  I just remembered…there was another man there.  I heared him say something like, “Cock that other trigger and be done with it!” Did he say he’d get me, too?  I ain’t heard it or did I and I cain’t ‘member?  Ain’t he got a scattergun like that 'un?  Hell yeah he does!  He gots five of em!  A few for him and a few for that bitch!  I’ma kill her too!

Gawd, why ain’t I remembered that til jess now?  Hell, he done been the one who got the door opened!  I ain’t make out the voice but it sounded country and Lawd knows Lee-boy is as country as grits and cornpone.  He done had time to git back here ahead of me…had time to screw that little brunette fifteen times before I git down here.  I guess he’s a-thankin' I’m supposed to go in there and tell him all crying and shit that Shannon done got killt and what do I do?  Boo-hoo-hoo…dumb lil Tammie Trotley done got herself in a bind again.  Ain’t that what they always said about me?  Well, she in a bind again.  Girl don’t know her ais from a damn hole in the ground.  Ha-ha, she too young to even know how to piss a hole in the ground…jess like Lee-Boy done told Shannon behind my back.  She ain’t nothin’ but a wet spot on a Friday night and ain’t gonna never be no more than that unless she fucks up and starts droppin’ babies.

Like Shannon was so much older’n smarter’n me!  He's beautiful and dead at the age twenty-three.

“Lee-Boy is dead at thirty-seven and that’s what it’s-a gonna’ be, goddammit!”  She announced to herself as she drove the last leg of her trip.

Tammie had not enjoyed driving with two tons of prison time and a loaded .357 in her purse the whole time.  Shannon always made her carry a gun.  Being a country girl, she was not shy about them and was a decent shot. 

That day, she was glad she had it in case she pulled up and the sunglasses girl was there.  That bitch would get dropped.

As she neared Lee-Boy’s house, she had the gun cocked and ready in her hand.  Needing a fresh dose of courage, she emptied a few yellow jackets on a mound of pot in her pipe and winced from the taste.

He’ll be comin’ out in that porch, lookin' all upset or surprised.  I can hear him now.  Why didn’t y’all tell me y’all was comin' early? Or might it be better to look all innocent and broken up, Lee-Boy?  Sorry for your loss, Tammie.  What the hell happened?  And I’ll tell that sorry lowdown sumbitch, “Like you don’t know, you double-crossin' sumbitch! 

He’ll try to get a drop on me.  Maybe that bitch is with him and I can git her, too.  Serve her raht for looking so pretty but still jess a-shootin’ a good man while he jess sittin’ in his own house after a hard night a-workin’ and a-gittin' his shoulders rubbed by his woman.  I was gonna’ have some sex with him.  Make some love for a while and when we was plum tuckered out from it we could sleep a spell and then head down here…make a little money and get Lee-Boy outta’ whatever he done got hisself into that needed that grass a-gittin’ down here in such an all-fire hurry.

She watched as the curtain in the front window quivered open a tad and waved toodle-loo as she ground her teeth. 

But no, Lee-Boy, we try to help you out when you was down, done worked ourselves like slaves to git you this grass and get your ass outta’ that sling you said you was in…and you shotgunned Shannon to death and try to do the same to me and I ain’t done you nothin’ wrong.  You’ll get yours just as soon as I git in thar, you fat sumbitch. 

As promised, Lee-Boy died in tremendous pain about three minutes after Tammie emptied the six shots into his torso immediately after pulling up at his house.  Tammie Trotley repeatedly kicked at his corpse, wailing and incoherent with rage.  Six plainclothes narcs came streaming from the rear of the house with their guns drawn.  They had indeed been waiting on the load to arrive but neither they nor Lee-Boy knew of the shooting in Paducah.

The narcs closed on Tammie, begging her to drop the big revolver.  She looked at the U-Haul, then at the body, then to heaven where her Shannon was hopefully holding out a glass of Strawberry Hill on ice for her in his birthday suit and welcoming her to their doublewide in heaven.  Closing her eyes and hoping they fired more proficiently than that dumb bitch that missed her clean with the spread of a shotgun, she pointed the empty pistol at one of the cops forcefully and as suddenly as it began two days prior, it ended for her in much the same manner.



Two days before a tweaking Tammie Trotley aimed an empty revolver at some Greene County deputies in Alabama...



Moses Holliday and Curio Phelonie shared the back of an Appaloosa mare.  Trotting up and over Foxtick Mountain and then down through the valley that separated Foxtick from Graves Well Mountain was getting Curio saddle-sore.  Her initial notions of the romantic idea of her and her lover riding a horse toward infamy dropped extremely quickly as the bumps and jolts of the mare’s trudge up the steep mountain wore her down.

Even Moses was forced to admit the Texan steel in his own ass had ebbed significantly in his later years.  He tried to console himself with the fact that most of his riding had been in a good saddle in the flat desert and that it was merely the rocky terrain and the rented horses that had not allowed him to ride with the authority he fancied himself being capable at managing the ride.  Truth be told, he knew he was just getting old and rusty as hell in a saddle.  Curio hugging him for dear life was no help but he indulged her when she asked if they could ride instead of hike to the target.

It was her first job with him and he started to make her hike just to test her mettle.  He did see the advantages of having a packhorse so he agreed.  Her mettle would be tested enough when she dropped the hammer on a man, he reckoned.  No sense being pooped from a forced march into danger just yet.

A big jenny meandered behind them, tied at the halter to a D-ring screwed into a hole drilled into their saddle for that purpose.  She was saddled with a load of canvas-wrapped gear.

The house they were planning to assault was nestled on the far side of Graves Well Mountain.  The owners owned a sizable parcel of land around the property to keep their presence as clandestine as they could manage.  Moses whistled aloud when he and Curio reached a well-maintained fence.  The owners had spent a nice piece of change to fence off their property with barbed wire.  Moses clipped a section out with a multi-tool when they reached it and the pair continued.

“Odd place for a fence.  Way up out here going through mountains and shit.” Curio whispered in his ear. “Who the hell came out here and dug the holes for the posts?”

“They got the loot to pay for some guys to come out with a digger, cheri.  Hell, for that matter, a weed grower got plenty of time on his hands while the crop is out earning their keep in the sun.  They coulda’ done it themselves.  You just keep your eyes open.  We’re in bad guy land from here on out for real.”

He watched the air for cameras or cables leading to cameras.  His eyes were sharp and fast to spot something unnatural but he respected the hillbillies’ ability to conceal both themselves and their defenses.

“The fence ain’t keeping out people like us or anybody else who might be wanting to sneak in here for some reason.  Why bother?” She asked.

“No it ain’t keepin’ nobody out, baby doll.  But it does tell someone about to get shot for trespassing they are fucking trespassing.  Keeps them in the right if they cap us.  Good fences make good neighbors, but they also define where you can get your head blown off just for being there.  Hillbillies already don’t like strangers in their county and they hate strangers around their property.  Now you add some felonious fuckin’ weed money and a not-so-honest set of business partners such as the ones who have sent us out here?  It’s now a barrier they dare you to cross.  Crossing a fence will get you shot most ricky-tick, so be sharp, okay?”

Curio hugged him a little tighter. 

Fuck ‘em, though!  They ain’t gonna’ get us though, are they, baby.  You smarter than they are…right? You the master, I’m the learner, right?  We just dippin’ my cute little toe in the water kinda’.

In her mind, she had no point of reference for what she was underway to accomplish.  Holding her man around his waist as they climbed up the last ridge, she closed her eyes and tried to ignore the cramps that were gnawing at her gut.  Angry, harsh menstrual cramps at that moment were trampling all over the nervous butterflies in her stomach.

“I’m nervous, Mo.” 

“Good to know, baby.  You’ll be that way every time if you’re smart.” He pointed at her and stared.  “And you are smart.  Cute, too.  Hang on!” Moses coaxed the horse around a boulder, following a deer path up the grade. 

“C’mon girl, dig it up here!” 

The horse bounded up the last few steps and then they topped the ridge.  “Whoa, girl.  That’s good. Right here is perfect.”  He rubbed the mare’s neck.  “Good job, girl.  Damned good job.”  He felt Curio hug him more tightly out of affection and then she finagled her way off the saddle and onto solid ground.  The jenny snorted and nosed around the ground for something to chew on.

“My ass hurts.  My belly hurts.  My chest hurts from being nervous.  Damn!” She stretched and then jumped up in down in place a few times to get the blood moving.

“No jumpin’ too loud up here, baby.” Moses climbed down and walked to a vantage point. “Sound travels funny in valleys.”

She froze in place.

“Sorry.”

“Don’t forget it again.  It’s deadly serious now, remember?”

She nodded and swallowed.  Her hand instinctively felt for her tiny pistol in her pocket. 

From one of his cargo pockets, Moses pulled a small pair of binoculars and edged toward the face of the ridge to take a clandestine look at the faraway house. 

“They’re home.”  He mumbled.

“I wanna’ see!” Curio sidled up to him. “They got the truck loaded already?”

“The ramp is down so I’m a-thinkin’ not just yet.  I bet they’re in there wrapping up bundles in that shed.” Moses leaned forward, the eyes panning slowly, absorbing every detail.  “They got one helluva load to prep up to move and they ain’t had time to get it done by themselves.”

Satisfied what he was seeing looked as reported, he handed the binoculars to her.  She looked through them but found only brush.

“I can’t see.  I’m too short.  It look good?” Moses knelt down in front of her.

“Hop up.” She mounted him and he stood her up piggyback.  When she was secure, he looked at what she was seeing.

“You see the house, Candidate?” For months he chided her as she trained with him.  His pet name for her was always Candidate.  He thought it fitting.  Even after he agreed to train his young lover to work alongside at her insistence, he had claimed the option to refuse to have her along if he felt she was a liability in any way.  Their safety was paramount to him.  Safety meant finishing the job, escaping, and keeping her existence a secret from his employer.  Any lapse in any aspect of safety meant their deaths.

“Yes sir, Mister Moses, sir.”

He rested his arms around her thighs, softly rubbing under her knees.  “What kind of kind of door is on the front of that house, Candidate?”

“Looks like wood, Sir.”

“How many locks are on that door, Candidate?” He already knew those details.  Pete Fontenot, the brother of their employer Bertrand Fontenot- a fact not known to Curio- had been to the house before to negotiate with Tammie’s father.  He had an eye for detail comparable to Moses, but not the veracity of the easy-squeeze index finger. 

It was an easy job compared to most.  For dope growers, the pair was not especially security-conscious.  Pete reckoned it was because most of the local law were either in the market themselves or on the take.  They could tip whomever they needed to if the Feds were around.  Pot was the preeminent cash crop in that part of the world.  No sense stirring up trouble if you were a local. 

Moses was hoping Pete was right.  Pete was right about most things.

“I see the handle and one deadbolt.  Sir!”

There was a chain on the inside, too but he knew she could not know that.

“What year was the house built?”

“Huh?”

“Just joshin', Candidate.”

“Shit!  I see her!  I see the girl!”

Moses could see her, too.  The skinny girlfriend left the shed with a plastic-wrapped bundle that gleamed when she hit the sun just so. 

“They are loading up it looks like.  Hell!  There’s Shannon, too!”

A young man followed the girl, carrying a load himself.

Curio studied the man carrying four shrink-wrapped bundles of weed. “Working hard at it, eh, boy?”

I’m gonna’ kill you, man…Holy shit!  I’m gonna’ really kill you and someone is going to pay me to do it.

She focused on his face in the binoculars.

Man?  Hell, boy, you barely older than me!  Kinda’ cute in a hillbilly kinda' way.  I like that shaved head, no shirt, muscle thing you got going.  I wonder what you did to piss off the boss?  He done sent Moses up here to make you stop breathing so it must have been pretty dumb or pretty ballsy.  But, like Moses said a few weeks ago, Miss Cocky and Mister Stupid get together and fucked a many a man to death in their day.  Of course when I asked him if he thought we fit that mold he said the jury was out on that.  Not very reassuring, Tex.

Moses saw all he needed to see when the couple came out of the U-Haul with a spring in their step, laughing and hugging whimsically as they went into the shed again.

“Coming down, cheri.” He lowered himself slowly.  She sprang from his back.

“They aren’t tired out yet.  Must have just got a-going good on the load.  You see how they were dancing around grab-assing?  They’re tweakers.  Their demeanor now is much different than it will be after they bring a few hundred bundles of dope outta’ there and into that truck and then get to a-packin’ whatever they pack behind it to make it look kosher to a quick visual inspection.  We’ll hang tight, let them load it up and get tuckered out.  Then we hit them.”

“I got cramps.  You couldn’t wait for next week to camp out here and shoot a fucker?”

“Sorry, ma’am.”  He walked over to the jenny and started unsnapping buckles on the cinch straps, freeing up the gear he needed. “I never had to account for menstruation before.  It’ll take some getting’ used to, I reckon, Candidate.”

“I’m kidding, dick.  We girls do a lot of shit on the rag and guess what?  We don’t piss and moan about it. You never even know about it.”

“That’s not what I meant.”

“I’m grouchy, asshole.  Don’t mess with me.”

He winked at her.  He was not grouchy at all.  Moses was in his element.  Hiding in the forest, watching an enemy and then dealing with that enemy was not exactly a real elation to him, but he was to the task, as the saying went.  He found himself realizing that many times before meeting Curio it may have been a joy just to have something to do.  Killing someone and earning a dollar was a morbid endeavor, yet he tried to make it as casual and Moses-friendly for himself as he could and still be successful.

Tonight, despite his trepidation about getting his little Curio irrevocably marked for life as a killer, plain and simple, the call of the wild had him relaxed and happy to be away from home.  Riding up on a couple of horses, sleeping under the stars (the weatherman promised a high-pressure ridge would keep them dry for three days at least), talking endlessly about the job they would do early the next day…it all had him loose and ready.

Having her with him, he realized, made him that way.  If nothing else, she was someone with whom he could share an otherwise lonely stakeout.  There had been a few jobs to come his way while he was training her.  It had been a chore to convince her she was ill-prepared to accompany him on the types of hits he was tasked to perform before she was ready.  Even after he judged her, in his private mind, tactically competent with the assortment of weapons he selected for her to learn to use, there had been a few jobs he left her behind for while he handled them.  She could have come along, but the three men he killed for his boss, Grizzly Fontenot, were good ole fashioned scum of the earth felons.  With her predilection for judging people based on mere appearance and supposed bad behavior, he knew she would be very eager to have shot the three men had she met them.

Moses chose young Shannon Chambles for her first because he was young, good-looking, and had a girlfriend who would probably be a screaming witness to the murder.  He was still inherently uneasy with letting her taste the life of murdering for pay he had so long before taken as his own.  Her innocent but twisted notions about what he did and to whom he did it were about to be called into question, he hoped.  Frankly, he hoped seeing a man brutally shot to death by her own hand would scare the ever-living shit out of her and make her swear off ever asking to go again.  Since he explained dozens of times that he could just as easily be shot down somehow in the commission of his crime, he wanted her to also see the shocked torment of a young woman who witnessed her man being shot. 

Curio was excessively adoring of Moses.  He enjoyed that.  Her price to stay with him was about to be a sum tallied in slices of her soul’s nobility, if it ever had such a thing after her upbringing.  His own soul’s ledger’s reckoning was littered with almost a lifetime of pen marks scribbled in blood.  He hoped one for her would be enough.

He looked at her as she fumbled with freeing the tent from its bag and then with the poles.  She was wearing some kind of soft, tan leather pants and a camouflage blouse.  It was October and unseasonably warm and sunny.  The weather reporter indicated a change toward a wetter, more fall-like pattern in a week and urged everyone to get out and enjoy it while it lasted.  He doubted she enjoyed the ride up that much.  They had not ridden very far by a west Texan’s standard, but it was a bumpy ride and even his own back and butt was complaining.

Don’t matter none…She’s tougher than woodpecker lips.  I knew it the instant I saw her…

“Here darlin'.  A little taste of Kain-tuck.” Moses pulled an Altoids tin from a cargo pocket and flipped in to her.  Amongst the contents of the tiny survival kit in the tin were three joints and two powdered drug packets.  “Take some of the sting outta’ that cute keester.”

“Thank you, dah-lin.” She said. “And this is the boss’s herb?” She smelled a joint.

“It’s why we’re here.” He gave a canvas ground cloth a practiced toss, spilling it in the narrow space between two healthy ash trees. 

“So you got a sample of the local flavor then?  Nice!”

“It’s the same shit you been smoking since we met.”

“Oh.” She flicked her lighter and lit one. “Thought it was some weird exotic stuff.”

“Trust me, baby girl.  Appalachia is as exotic as it gets.  Fiji ain't gotta damn thing on exotic bluegrass hill folks, Candidate. A little background, my sexy young learner."

"Do tell, professor."

"These people and a bunch of other people up here grow and sell that very weed you are bogarting…” he pulled it from her hand and inhaled “…to the boss.  Boss then breaks it down and gives it out to his little peddlin’-ass minions.” He passed it back and crouched to help her sort out the poles.

“Now, I’ve met some of them down that way, but I’ve not met most, for obvious reasons.  Now, up here.” He exhaled.  “Up here, one of the other guys up here doesn’t like his daughter’s boyfriend and apparently them two down there are a-gettin’ some kind of serious.  Jerk-off down there messed up and got a cop lookin’ at him for somethin’.  It’s got some kind of backwoods feuding or something thrown in, too.  Hell, I dunno’ all the facts as to why.  Country Joe down there is on a list and I sign off on the list.”

“I thought rednecks handled this kinda’ thing themselves.  You mean a daddy can’t run off some jackass boyfriend up here by himself?”

“Well, they woulda’ handled it way back before they started clearing a few million dollars a year.  When they just ran shine, they’d all hide in the hills at their stills and shoot anyone they didn’t know.  Since they grow the weed now and the Feds are all up in their asses, they band together and don’t get involved too directly with stuff like that anymore.  Nowadays they meet like little wop mobsters in smoky back rooms and take votes and shit.  Kinda’ sad to think old some no-tooth old men in overalls sit around sipping single malt instead of white lightnin’ and hash out who gets what for what instead of breaking out the old shootin’ irons and settling things hillbilly-style.”

They separated to opposite sides of the tent and started clipping the hooks of the thing to the poles.

“Snuffy Smith is more like John Gotti, you’re saying?”

“Seems so.  So it got to be where this kid and this girl got sloppy with who they dealt with or something.  They ended up gettin’ noticed by the cops down our way.  Way too close to the boss.  He’s got a lot of informants close to home.  One of them tipped him off that one of his guys was being watched on account of Bubba Dumb Shit down there.  And there was no way to get it washed away; the eyes were on the prize.  So he has to cut his big weed guy up here a-loose on account of the young ‘un over there.  Our guy ain’t moving the hillbillies’ weight no more like he used to and they get to askin’ why.  He tells them to ask Griz.  So Grizzly and Pete meets with them and they laid it out to the locals up here about why it is what it is and thanks but no-thanks them for their time.  It got back to this girl’s daddy, who already can’t stand the guy.”

“Final straw?”  They raised the dome.  Moses clipped the final hooks and pulled the bottom taunt.  The tent was a bivy-style, camouflaged and built for a compact pair of bodies.  It fit nicely between the ash trees.  The ceiling was less than two feet high.

“Appears so.  He pissed off Grizzly.  The boss up here, he liked our guy he was dealing with down in Alabama and now the jackass over there done got the cops onto our guy down there.  Young un’ pissed off the honcho up here even more, because now he’s got the cops in Alabama lookin' up this way at him, which means task forces and Feds and shit.  So.  The honcho up here, he’s probably done at some point.  They’ll be all over him and none of the other guys can take the risk he’ll take them down with him.  So it’s a nice mess for everybody.  That little fucker has done got all the locals pissed off because he made waves with the buyer, Grizzly, who moves a lot of their green for them and now is done with them because the risk is too high.  And who knows?  Maybe the guy down there flips if he gets busted and starts sending cops from exotic places like Nashville or Chicago helicoptering out here in the hills with some mean-ass warrants they cain’t slap a back and get quashed no more.”  He stretched for a moment and scratched his sweaty chest. 

“Then there’s a daddy who’s tired of his little girl making some shitty personal choices and spreadin' her legs for the dipshit over there.”  He stood up and watched the ants in the distance still moving bundles into the U-Haul.  He sucked at his teeth and shook his head.  “That boy done pissed off some bad people in at least four states before the age of twenty-five.  Quite an accomplishment.  Now he has to go.  Some things aren’t forgivable.  I don’t know how he stepped in it exactly but he did and that means I got a call and a name in Kentucky.  So here we are.”

“Why this one, Moses?”  You ran off doing what you do quite a few times when I wanted in and I wanted to come.” 

Curio unzipped the tent and dove in to smooth out the floor and find any roots or rocks she might find poking her in the breast through the floor at two in the morning.

“You said once you never been to Kentucky.” He shrugged and flippantly waved his hand around. “Welcome to the Bluegrass State, darlin’.”

“That’s the reason?  Nothing special about this guy?”

“Ain’t nothin' special about none of ‘em.  Only one that ever gets to be special is the last one I handle for whatever reason.” Moses fixed his stare upon the upright ants as they marched into and out of the rental van.

“Was the first one special?”

“Perhaps.  I remember it clearly enough and I don’t remember a lot of the ones after it so yeah, I guess it was.”

“In the war?”

“Yeah.”

“What do you remember about it?”

“It was in one of the first actual firefights I was ever in.  This little gook guy and his buddy popped up from a slit trench and took a few shots over my way.  I shot him in the head.  Clean kill, just like they teach you.  It didn’t feel special really and since it was the first I always thought it should.  But, what do I know?  It didn’t and ain’t none felt special since, either.”

“I bet you was pissin’ all over yourself, Mr. Cool.  I’m nervous as hell.”

“I can’t remember that.  You might be right, though.  I just remember I made a good shot and had a good result.  The special, I guess, was that it was him and not me despite his best efforts.  Or anyone else around me, for that matter.  Of course, then I got shot by the machine gunner next to him that I didn’t shoot in time.  That felt way more special.”  He chuckled.  “I hope you never get to know that kinda’ special.  That really fuckin’ sucked.”

“There ain’t ever been one you felt bad about?”

“Not in a while.  That’s what whiskey and pussy is for, Candidate.  That used to send us on R&R but we called it I&I.  Intoxication and Intercourse.  You serve that purpose now, Candidate.” He winked at her.

“Dick.”  She gave him the finger and blew him a kiss with it.

“Present.” He walked over to the Appaloosa and pulled two lengths of rope from a bag.  She emerged from the tent and set about tossing bedding and a pack of her clothes into it.

“Don’t forget to zip up.” He tied off tethers to the horses and got them some feed poured into collapsible buckets.  “I hate spiders in my tent and mosquitoes will drive you bat shit crazy if a few get in there with us.  That tent’s a tiny bastard.”

“Yes sir, Mister Moses, sir!”

She kissed at the air toward him.  He could be so bossy.  She made sure the fly was zipped, though.  Spiders grossed her out and she was terrified of the thought of being trapped in the tiny, almost coffin-like confines of the bivy tent with a snake.

He settled the horses and found four large stones.  Using them as a makeshift table, he set up a butane stove between them and got some canned red beans and rice heating up slowly.

Curio sat on a folding stool and painted her nails in a pocket where the sun found a path through the hardwood canopy.  It was a long while before she saw him pour himself a cup of water and spill some Rebel Yell whiskey in with it.

“It’s my first time, you know.  You could show a guy a little of that nice side, you know.  It ain’t every day a chick gets signed up to kill somebody.” 

"I brought you weed and Tabasco.  That count?  And don’t forget, you volunteered, Candidate."

He dumped their dinner into two tin bowls and propped his bowl atop his cup.  Flopping down beside her, he handed dinner to her and fished out a small Tabasco bottle from a MRE meal.

“Mon cheri.  Your gourmet Cajun delicacy is served.” He kissed her on the cheek.

“I’m starving.”

“Me too.  It’s been a long day.  Tonight, we’ll nap out.”

“You really gonna’ sleep?  What if they leave?”

“They got orders to leave no earlier than two tomorrow.  Even if they load it out early, they ain’t going nowhere in a U-haul full of weed they just busted ass a-loadin’.  I reckon when they get done, that toot they’re on will probably be emptied out, too.  Look at ‘em, they’re kids.  If I know anything about young girls, it’s that they like some sex when they see their man working hard and gettin’ all sweaty in front of them.  So I’ve been told, anyway.”

“Not when they got cramps.”

“Exception noted.  Anyway, we roll out super early, get our shit together and packed.  Head down there, shoot the sumbitch and leave.  Sound easy enough?”

“Yeah.  Easy.  Except for the fact I’m shooting a guy with a gun in such a way that he dies.  And in front of a screaming girlfriend, no less.  Why are we leaving her breathing again? ”

“You got your stuff to disguise you is why.  Make sure she can’t identify you under any circumstances and she lives.  I remind you again, they made sure to tell me that she lives through this.  Without a scratch is actually what they said.  If she gets popped due to our fucking-up up here, it wouldn’t be good for us.  I only want you aiming at him and make damn sure you hit what you aim at.  Please.”

“The intangibles, though.  You always pissin’ and moanin’ about intangibles.  These ain’t bad for pre-canned, by the way.”  She took a pull from his water cup.  “Spicy!” She fanned her mouth.

“They are good, ain’t they?” He ate greedily.  “I’ll deal with the intangibles if they come.  You just make sure you’re cool with this.  Until you go with me down the mountain, it ain’t too late to do the smart thing.”

“I’m as cool as I can be.  Nervous as hell though.  A little buzzy in a way.  You ever get that way?  I swear I’m like, light-headed or something.  I feel weird.”

He looked at her and mimicked smoking a joint.  “When the shit is good enough, I do kinda’ like to get that way.”

“Oh yeah.  Shit, I forgot!” She covered her mouth as she giggled. 

“Not bad for bluegrass, huh?” He chuckled. “Another joint and I think you’d forget why I brung you here.  Maybe I should light you one.”  He leaned back and held up a hand as if vending on a street corner.

“Good price, good product!” Moses beamed and announced in his best pitchman voice. “When you want the best grass that ain’t been up a wetback’s ass, shop Atchafalaya Mudbugs!”

She only snickered.  “Damn, I’m gonna’ be full and then I’m gonna’ have cramps and be bloated afterward.  I better not eat too much.”

“A woman’s intuition is usually accurate regarding such matters."  He stood up and stared at the distant couple as they worked.

“Mine says tomorrow is a strange day.  You may blow off shooting some chink, but somehow I don’t think I’ll think of it the same as you tomorrow.”

"We’ll see, Candidate.” He finished her portion when he was done with his and settled the horses down.

The sun was fading fast in front of them when they stowed their gear and lay down in their bags to sleep.

Despite the wafting song of a traveling pack of coyotes in the valley below them, Moses slept fine.

Curio…not so much.

         

Somehow, Moses woke up at 2:59.  His watch went off at three.  Curio rolled over in her bag and nuzzled his neck, as he lay quiet and listened to the sounds of the dark.  Everything was twittering and rustling, as they should be.

“Let’s roll, cheri.”  He pushed himself out of the tent and pulled her out by the feet.

Far below them, music played from a vehicle.  The occasional thump of heavy, tired feet on metal floated to them in the clear night air.  Curio could make out his and hers.  There was a difference in the sound of their feet in the truck.  The hollow sound of their feet inside the U-Haul some hours before now had a fuller thud to it instead.

“They been at it most of the night.  I bet that they tootin’ crystal to stay awake like that.  Pete said they been known to do bumps a lot, right?  That ain’t too bright.” Curio whispered in his ear as she sat up in her bag and stretched.

“You been awake all night?”

“Most of it.  I might have slept a little but I can’t remember.  You look so different when you sleep.  Even in the moonlight you look so calm.”

“I sleep well because I’m tired and because I may have no sleep for days after this if we fuck up and need to get a lot of miles put behind us in a hurry.”

“You think I’ll sleep well tonight?”

“No.  But you’ll learn to because you have to.”  He yawned for a long time and mumbled, “Candidate.”

“Let’s get rolling then.”  She pulled out the pistol Moses gave her to carry with her and studied it.  It was a tiny Beretta .380 automatic.

One of the horses snorted at the commotion he made.  Curio heard him crunching in fresh-fallen leaves over to them and soothing them.

She stripped out of her clothes and unzipped her pack.  By the light of the moon that streamed in through the netting, she found her outfit she had precisely chosen to wear the day she lost her "murder cherry" as Moses called it.

         As silently as she could, Curio slipped into some black patent leather pants that form-fitted to her ass.  She wore a tiny black leather halter-top that had the word CHERRY emblazoned in sparkling glitter across the bust line.  She at first relented at Moses’ advice for her to wear a sport bra on the trip.  She was almost fanatical about her bras.  Her breasts deserved a nice, uplifting underwire, preferably with some lace accoutrements or maybe some sheerness in the most flattering of places.  The ride up on the horses had been in such a bra.  Her breasts now aching and a nipple was slightly raw as she dressed.  She lashed her tits down tightly and slid into the matching black leather vest.

Without light, she stuck out her lips and ran them over with a hot-red lipstick by feel.  She could do it blindfolded, she often bragged.  In the dark of the early morning, it was a field test of that statement.

“Burning daylight, ma’am.” She heard him pissing against a tree not far from here.

Ewww. Damn men!  Just pissing where they please.  Nasty!

“Almost ready.”  She tossed her stuff into the pack and zipped it.  “Let’s get it on!”

Yawning, she hurled the sleeping bags out and then her own pack.  He was there to help her crawl out.  Quickly, they collapsed the tent and loaded up.  Moses had their camouflage suits out and strapped the shroud around Curio and then himself.

They did not speak.  Now was when loose talk was both dumb and a fatal distraction, he had warned her on the way to Kentucky.  Talking would lead to side-talking about other issues and there was no issue near as important as making sure the job was complete without a hitch.

When Moses was satisfied the false foliage would conceal them, he checked their pistols.  When he was satisfied the pistols would perform as advertised, out came the gun he chose for her to use.  It was a Barry White, an old Stephens double-barreled twelve-gauge he had fashioned a pistol grip for.  The twin barrels were sawed back to only sixteen inches.

She thought she was shooting the pistol and looked at him in awe.

“You didn’t tell me about this thing.”  She had hated firing the tiny shotgun while training.  The power of the open breech was daunting for her small stature and hands.  Curio flat-out tossed it in terror the first time she dropped the hammer on a load in practice.

“This thing is about as nasty a gun for up close you can have.  And on top of that, I loaded it up with some dime shot.”  He whispered cautiously. “It don’t matter what he gets shot with, really.  That .380 will do but it might not be quick enough if you don’t hit him right.  You got a better chance of dropping him clean with the shotgun than with a shaky pistol.”

“Who said my hand will shake?”

“It always might.  It’s a damned funny thing when you throw down on a man sometimes.  So just in case, you get Barry White.  That adrenaline is a funny thing.  Remember, we only want him took down.  If she gets in the way, don’t shoot.  Let me handle it.  Those dimes will plumb cut a motherfucker in half at close range.  But if they go out too far they get to flyin’ wild cuz’ they ain’t round like a pellet.  They go to flying crazy in all directions pretty quick in ballistic terms.  We don’t need no more trouble than we already got.”

“Wow.  You really put dimes in a bullet?”

“Old cowboy trick, I think.  They been doing it since a shotgun was invented.  I think that term, ‘gettin’ your money’s worth’ came from using dimes.  Hell, I may be wrong but it sounds good though.”  He pulled out the case that contained his gun.  In a few seconds, he had a tiny carbine version on the military’s M-16 battle rifle in his hand.  He called the sleek weapon, Cletus. 

She looked at the shotgun, recalling the first time he placed it in her hands.

“I call this one, Barry White.” He had chuckled.  “When that fat bastard sings, people drop their drawers and pay some serious attention.”

“We gonna’ make slow, sweaty love or kill a man?  Where did you get those names?”

“Just names.” He had winked at her.

Standing in the Kentucky woods, she looked at Barry White in her hands.  It felt surprisingly light.

He slid a magazine into the rifle slowly and pulled the charging handle to chamber a round.

“You ready?” she asked him.  The pitch black of the night seemed to be ebbing.  He nodded at her and walked the horses down the obscured side of the ridge to keep them hidden and their noise blocked by the mountain.

“Alright, baby.  Listen?  You listening?  Now look.  We go slow.  You follow me.  Think about every step you take.  Step where I step as much as you can.  Slow and quiet, right?  Think about every damned step you take.  Listen for me.  Listen for them.  Listen for birds.  Listen for cars.  Listen for you.  Like I showed you, huh?”

“I gotcha’.”

“We’re gonna’ creep up behind that little tractor shed.  We get set and wait for them to get done.  If they spook and haul ass somehow, I’ll have to take a sniper shot.  You stand still and I take the shot, got it?  Don’t you go to unloadin’ a shotgun at a front door or a fleeing truck, okay?”

“I copy.”  Curio nodded under her suit.

“We can’t risk them getting away or her getting hurt too bad in a wreck.  Like I said, dime shot is unpredictable after a certain distance and that distance ain’t very far.  You’ll just have to get yours another day.”

“Okay.  Comprende.” She heard the feet still coming and going into the truck.  In the still night, she heard snippets of talking between the couple as they kept loading the bundles.

“If they go inside, we hit them there.  We’ll drop these camo suits and try to figure out as best we can where they are in the house, up front hopefully.  Then I pop the door, you go in and I’m right behind you covering you.” 

In the dark, Moses looked as if he was talking to an actual bush.  The suits were a sniper invention from way back.  Turkey hunters were using them a lot. 

“You don’t forget, now.  Cock one hammer, not two.  Just point and shoot.  If you miss, cock the other hammer and fire again quickly.  I’m right behind you and I got your back.  You good, right?  It ain’t too late to hang back.  I can get that seven-mag out and pop his ass from up here no problem if you don’t think you’re up to it.  Ain’t no shame in being smart and not jumpin’ in this, baby.”  He extended a leaf-covered arm and clasped her on the shoulder.  “You a go?”

She never hesitated.  “Yeah, I’m a go!  Shit, I’m excited!  Nervous, but kinda’, you know…tinglin'.  Down there!  Is that wrong?  You ever get hard going into a thing like this?”

“No.”  He said sharply.  “I don’t get hard, I get smart and I get hard when I get home alive, Curio.”

“It’s just weird.  I swear I’m kinda’ horny.  Jesus, these hormones do some crazy shit to a woman, I swear.”

“They better focus you into a shotgun-shooting instrument of death, Candidate.  That’s what they better do.  You can come in your panties all you want later, if you survive this.  I promise I’ll help you out with that.”

“I’ma hold you to it.”

“Done deal.  Now look, it’ll be a while before we get to them probably.  We got to move slow and there’s bound to be some seriously thick brush between us and them.  Hopefully we find a nice deer trail like we found coming up here.  Just don’t blow it on the way down the ridge.  We came a long way to just end up shooting wild or watching them haul ass in a cloud of dust because you broke a nail or got a saw briar across the cheek and went a-cussin’ without thinking.  It’s dead-serious time, pretty lady.”

Holding Cletus in one hand, he pulled her close to him.  They looked like two giant bushes copulating.

“Ain’t this some shit?” He chuckled and shouldered his rifle.  “Let’s go, Candidate.” 

He disappeared completely into the night in an instant.  She was about to freak out when she noticed he had fastened a part of fluorescent eyes, Cat Eyes in the military’s jargon, to his head.  She could follow the glowing eyes in the dark.

They moved down the ridge, pausing to look and listen, halted once by a fierce blackberry thicket that kept snagging their suits in its briars as they penetrated through it.  Curio’s cramps were in full-on crunchy mode after a few hours of stealthily moving through the woods. 

Damn my Midol is back with the horses.  She cursed her stupidity.  Intangibles…

They reached their starting position behind the shed by seven.  The couple was still coming and going from the giant barn.

Man, what the hell am I doing?  I can pop his ass from right here no problem.

Moses held Cletus tightly, forcing himself to let his girl have her chance.  She begged him many times to let her into his world completely.  Now he relented, and was missing an easy shot, just so she could get a dose of the juice he was so used to tasting.  He would have let her try the rifle out from the ridgeline if the task had not been a real contract.  Curio had fired pretty well at beer cans behind his house.  That, however, was just shooting at fixed, inhuman targets after beers and laughing.  Now, it would be a shot into the chest of a moving man. 

It was just not the same for a first-timer not used to shooting guns at tiny circles and silhouettes.  A miss could cause issues that could take them both down.  He could not trust her with the rifle.  Could he trust her with the shotgun?  He hoped so.

Moses tried to stifle a giggle as he thought about how she would handle shooting a younger fellow with the dime shot.  It would be a mess.  He hoped it would deter any further desires from her to tag along.

Not very likely, he smirked.  The girl wanted to see what it was he did.  It was all she gabbed about for months. 

The combined and compounded fright of every other job he had ever done for “the boss,” his friend Grizzly Fontenot, was insignificant to the utter terror he felt on a simple shooting of a redneck in Kentucky. 

He was infinitely more nervous about one day letting Grizzly in on his secret…that he was in love with a nineteen-year-old runaway from Grizzly’s backyard.  Now that was about to be complicated further with the fact that he, hard ass Moses Holliday, was cultivating the beautiful young girl to be his understudy of sorts.

For months, she laid with her head in his lap, asking endless questions about how he did what he did.  And he told her what he knew, painting her toenails and blowing them dry as he explained about poisons, strangulation, arteries to slice, the shotgun versus a pistol, a rifle versus bombs.  He would towel her hair dry as she relaxed in a plush, thick bathrobe after a long shower and give explanations of ambush, overwhelming force and visceral brutality as a means to an end if and when it was necessary.

They jogged every day, often smoking cigarettes while they huffed up and down the meandering mile-long driveway that led to his secluded cabin on Flechette Bayou.  As they perspired in the matching sweats Curio insisted on them wearing, Moses would point out plants to be avoided if they had to lie in wait.  He showed her ant mounds under pine straw, not easily seen but merciless when stirred.  Poison ivy, blackberries, saw briars, thistles, nettles, green pine cones, saw grass, palmettos fronds that always hid rattlers in the swamps…he pointed everything out to her.  He drilled it into her with a stern bark of his mouth and then a sweet kiss on her cheek to keep her smiling.

“C’mon, baby girl…smile!  It’s just business.  The more you learn, the more you earn, cheri!” And she would sweetly slap him on his face and ask when she got to really shoot somebody.

The time is now, cheri…

Moses watched as the couple quit carrying bundles of weed and started toting out old furniture, mattresses, and taped boxes to stuff into the truck.

“That wouldn’t stop a dope dog.” Moses whispered. “But at least they give it a try.”

The couple loaded junk into the truck for twenty minutes.  They stopped to smoke a bowl of the bluegrass and finished loading.  They were dragging now.  Their gait was lethargic.

At no time did they stop and look around for people watching, as Moses would have done.  Whatever they were taking to keep going through the night, they were out of it.  It was sheer exhaustion that Moses noticed.  The couple was beat.  Their hands swayed at their sides, their heads hung.  Frequently, they would bump into each other as if punch-drunk and mumble apologies without even laughing at the folly of their exhaustion.  For Moses, it was a boon.  Their tired minds would get Shannon Chambles killed that much easier.

“They been tweaking all night.  I can see it on their face even from here.” Curio muttered.

“And they are out of the geek, I’m a-bettin’.” He pulled out a small monocular and watched them in the glare of the cargo van’s light.  “They cain’t hardly walk.” 

Shannon pushed the ramp back into the undercarriage of the U-Haul.  “All aboard.”  Moses whispered.

Chambles jumped up and pulled the cargo door down and slapped a padlock on the latch.  He dropped his head against the door for a moment and sighed with fatigue.  The girl shut the door to the barn and took him by the hand.  With a quick smooch, they shuffled hand in hand and went to the house.  As the couple walked into their house and shut the door, Moses’ eyes sharpened on the doorknob and the door itself, watching for the slightest movement.

“It didn’t jiggle at all.  They just went in,” he tapped her camouflaged ass with his arm, “and didn’t even lock the door behind them.  Learn the lesson, cheri.  Take care of security at all times or it will cost you.  Come on.  It’s time to get paid.”  He stood up slowly and surveyed the scene one more time.

“Clear.  Drop that shit off of you if you wanna’ do it like you said you wanted to.”

“Goody!” Curio stood up in her camo suit.  He released the latches on his over-wrap and instantly, he was in his black BDU’s, his face under a black balaclava.  Cletus the rifle appeared from nowhere and his .45 was snug under his armpit.  Moses helped her out of her Ghili suit.  He wadded both of the mesh suits together and cinched them together with a strap.

Curio Phelonie stood next to Moses Holliday, clad in her tight black leather suit, a tiny double barrel shotgun in her hand.  She slipped a pair of over-sized sunglasses on her small face and pulled a black headscarf with tiny red roses sewn into it from a pocket.  Moses helped to tie it over her hair and chuckled.

“Audrey Hepburn eat your heart out.”  He shook his head with an amused chuckle.  “You forget the white gloves, ma’am?”

“The fuck I did.” She pulled out a pair of thin white cotton gloves with tiny black baubles glued to them and slid them on.  Gripping the pistol grip of the shotgun tightly in her right hand, she patted her .380 in a pocket holster on her left hip and thrust her ass out sharply to the her side.

“How do I look?” With her bright red lips fixed in a kiss-me pout, her glasses and scarf covering her face and the leather molded like a second skin to her voluptuous frame, she was every bit what Moses had hoped for. 

Confident, eager, and fucking dangerous…Dammit, ain’t she sexy?

“You’re sexy.  He couldn’t ask to be shotgunned to death by a prettier bitch.  I look at you and all I hope is that when I get myself shot one day, it’s by a woman looking as good as you.” He aimed Cletus at the door and crouched.

“Like I’d let some bitch try even try to do that to you.”

“Let’s hope we don’t find that out.  Alright, like I told you, stay low, move fast…the pretty ho that wanna’ live stays tight on my ass.”  He moved quickly in his bent stance, the rifle barrel locked onto the front of the house and popping its muzzle at the windows as he anticipated someone smart enough to look outside.

“I ain’t a ho, asshole.” She muttered and followed him.

Okay…maybe a little bit of one.  My coochie is still all tingly down that way.  What the hell?

They crossed the open yard between the shed and the U-Haul quickly.  Moses stopped behind the truck, looking around it with a little mirror on a stick he brought.  They could hear a television through the door.  The couple owned a pair of cars.  One was Shannon’s new Silverado.  The other was Tammie’s new Explorer.

“Stay here.  You watch that fucking doorknob!” He whispered sternly and pulled out a long instrument that looked like a screwdriver.  She tried hard to watch the door but was fascinated as he moved like a black cat between the two personal vehicles.  Moses jammed the tool into the front tires of both of them.  There was no sound as the air leaked quickly from them yet they flattened in an instant.

He returned to her and tapped her on the back.

“Go.  Watch your steps on the porch.  Wood makes noise.  I think you made a noise too loud, I’m charging ahead of you. Just don’t shoot me in the back from behind.”

“Very important Curio doesn’t shoot Moses in the back.  Yeah I think I got it.”

“Wiseass.  Here we go.  Get hot for me, baby.  Remember, horny or pissed is the best two friends prepared and observant can have in these kinda’ things.”

He was quoting himself from when she was in training and he lived every day to be a new sort of asshole to her.  She rolled her eyes.  Stealthily he bounded across the open yard again, making it to the porch.

I heard that shit already, Moses.  Let’s do it already.  Ewww!  She retched as she looked at her feet.  Goddamn, I hate these shoes!

Against Curio’s objection, they were wearing cheap black sneakers with thick tread on them, in case they needed traction for juking or all-out speed. 

Curio’s heart was pounding.  She took her place to the right side of him at the steps.  Her eyes watched him as he took slow, measured steps up the stairs, every placement of shoe measured as never before in her young life.  Sneaking out at night so many years ago seemed like such child’s play compared to ambushing a man quietly in order to shoot him full of supersonic coins.

Holy shit!  The door is all that is keeping me clear of this thing I choose.  He’s ready and waiting to die only a few inches of wood away…

Moses hovered his hand over the knob.  One last time, he looked back at her.  He pointed at her, “You!”, then waved a no-no finger and pointed at the ridge where they had started.  She understood he was asking her one more time if she wanted to renege.  Perturbed, she gestured angrily at the door and set her feet.  She leaned into the shotgun at her hip.  He gave her a nod and a thumbs-up.  His hand returned to the doorknob.

Here I go.  Holy shit! 

He startled her with an angry flurry of pointing fingers.

         “What?” she shook her shoulders, looking around her body for some misplaced detail.

Moses pointed tersely at the gun, his eyes glaring.  She saw what he saw and gulped.

Forgot the hammer!  She pulled the left side back until it clicked.  He wiped his face and shook his head anxiously.  Only his eyes were showing but she could see his eyelids had sweat glistening on and around them.  She could hear voices and motion inside the house.

Sorry!  Ready now, baby! Ready as I’ll ever be the shotgun some asshole in his house with his bitch there to see it all…I wonder if I’ll ever have to go through that with Moses?  God, I hope not.  I don’t think I could watch him die.  I’d kill myself first.

Moses waved her up on the porch, motioning for her to stay low.  It was too easy so far.  An easy assault there never was.  In his mind’s eye, he could just see the couple inside, smoking crystal with an Uzi pointed casually at the door at all times just in case the creepy-crawlies they felt all around them decided to kick in their door with a shotgun.

I hope it’s not a trap.  I’ll make them and me both pay if they do something to her…

Moses watched her breath in deeply, hold it and exhale. 

“OK?” He made the letters with his fingers.  Someone inside was flipping channels.  The TV was blaring just to the left of the door.  That meant someone was probably sitting directly in the door’s line of sight with a remote control.  Curio took her hand off the fore grip and gave him a thumbs-up.

He held up a finger and nodded.

Here we go…on three!  Wake up, asshole!  Time to die!

Curio steadied herself.  Her vision sharpened.  Her ears tried their best to discern what was happening through that door.  Moses held up his fist, his eyes meeting hers.  One of his eyelids trembled ever so slightly in the instant she peered into them from behind her shades before he turned to fixate on gripping the knob stealthily.

Ooooh! He’s scared for me!  It’s all in his eyes.  It’s okay, baby… She winked at him.  That motherfucker up in here will hardly know what hit him when I hit that fuckin’ door.  She laid the shotgun across her hands and held the pistol grip firmly.

Just to prove to you I can.

His fingers began flipping up.  One…two…

He raised his rifle with his free hand and pointed it ahead of them.

Three!

Moses turned the handle and gave the door a decent push to open it without it bouncing off the wall and hitting her as she went in.  The knob hit with a thump.

Curio was inside the house in an instant, marching in looking like some imperious movie diva trying to fake out paparazzi and fans.  Her eyes swept from side to side as rehearsed.

The room’s d├ęcor was taken straight from some NASCAR fan’s notion of domestic nirvana.  She watched as Shannon gave his woman a push to roll her over behind the couch.  She was leaned over him; her arms on his shoulders…a gleam of lust in her eye Curio knew when she saw it.  There was a big automatic pistol on the cluttered table in front of him but it was way too far for him to get to before she had Barry White singing to him.

She never heard Moses’ feet moving behind her.  She never heard the television as it went from a commercial for next weekend’s baseball showdown between Kentucky and Vanderbilt to right in the middle of a random Family Ties rerun.  Curio never heard the screams of the girlfriend nor the shattering of a statue the girlfriend knocked over- a cheap ceramic bust of two lovers embracing each other.  All she heard was her own gasp of surprise when she realized playtime was done when that door opened.

The tiny gun roared.  The jolt was more mental than physical.  The smell of gunpowder filled her nose in an instant.  Her panties were either wet from the excitement or she had either just started her monthly or pissed herself.  Curio had no idea what the pad would look like when she changed it.

Shannon Chambles took a load of ten U.S. Mint dimes in the chest from barely six feet away.  Most of his insides were shredded and jettisoned through his back, where they mixed with the shredded filling of the couch cushion behind him.  An impossibly inhuman gurgle came from him as he tried to scream.  Gore instead of sound flew out of his mouth and tumbled in clotty chunks down the front of his t-shirt.  He seized up and tried to hold his torso together tightly with his arms.  His eyes were wide with horror as he looked down and saw what had happened to him.

Tammie, the skanky girlfriend, was running crouched-over, screaming as she dove out of the rear door.  Moses followed her with his rifle.  Shannon kicked convulsively with a jerking leg.  His eyes rolled back in his head as he shuddered.  His breaths only brought blood into his lungs and a horrid gurgle began to rumble from his nose and mouth immediately.

“Cock the other barrel and finish him!” Moses thundered behind her.  He could see Curio was staring at what she had done.  Her mouth, with those pouting lips pursed as if in deep contemplation, was not a good indicator of what she had going inside.  She snapped her head in his direction as if she forgot he was there.

Fuck… She fumbled with the other hammer.  Moses heard the moving truck crank up outside.

Curio finally got both hammers cocked.  Shannon was making a sickly wheezing sound through his chest.  His hands twitched.  His eyes drooped as he looked at his killer.  Curio aimed the shotgun one-handed and gave him the other barrel in the face.  She winced at the sight of the shattered head for only an instant before Moses grabbed her arm.

“Come on!  We’re done here.” The U-Haul’s engine roared as Tammie stomped on the gas and made a tight U-turn to get pointed down the driveway.

“What about her?  We ain’t supposed to kill her but we let her drive off with all that weed?” Curio bitched as Moses swept the area for other witnesses or enemies.

“Fuck her!  Go!  Go! Go!” He pushed her toward the hill as he shouldered Cletus.  Quickly he pulled two one-quart water bottles from his pockets and opened them.  They were full of kerosene.  He sloshed the body and the couch with one and flung the contents of the other in a wide swath around the walls and furniture.  Standing back at the doorway, he looked around for some stupid bit of evidence he or she may have dropped on the porch.  Aside from their footprints, he saw nothing.  Moses flipped the flame of his Zippo a book of matches and tossed it on the couch. 

He took off at a dead run away from the blaze, leaving the door open for aeration.  She was waiting for him at the foot of the mountain. 

“I said go!”  He ran past her and disappeared into the brush.  Carrying the shotgun like a handbag, she followed.  They crashed through the brush.  Aloof and surprisingly fleet of foot despite the ascent grade up the ridge, they made it to the waiting horses in short order.  The adrenaline was flowing.  Their breaths were shallow and rapid.  She was wired, not exhausted, by the race away from the scene of her first capital crime.

Moses took off his balaclava.  When she came up the ridge and approached him with the sly grin of one who finally is in the know of an evil secret few dare to explore, he pulled off the shades and her scarf.  He kissed her hard and she pushed her own mouth back to his.  She could feel him, hard and pressed tightly against her pelvis.

“You did good…” A swoon came over her as the serotonin flowed freely.

“Shit!” He caught her quickly in his taunt arms.  “Wake up there, cheri!  We got ridin’ to do now!  We ain’t done yet.  Time to move our asses.”

He lifted her chin with his fingers and stared into her eyes.  They were watering.  She widened them and blinked it out a couple of times. 

Then she giggled.

“Shit.  I got a head rush all of a sudden.  My eyes went red.  I got goose bumps.”

“You okay?” He pulled her to him.  She buried her face in his chest.

“I did it, Moses.  I fucking did it.  I shot a man dead.  Right in the face, man.  I shot him.  I mean, no way he’s alive if I shot him with a shotgun in the face, right?”

“He’s dead as they get, Candidate.” Moses said simply. “Congratulations.  Welcome to the club, I guess.”

“What now?”

“Now comes the hardest part.  Now we try not to get caught and get the fuck outta’ here.”

“Okay.” She hugged him. “I love you.  I don’t think thank you is what I should say for bringing me in with you, but a holy shit don’t seem to cut it either.  You still love me?”

“Of course.  I’m just wonderin’ what kinda’ man does what I do and then lets the love of his life participate in it.  I’m getting soft…” He breathed out slowly. “And you’re getting hard.”

He stroked her hair softly as they stood in the forest around Paducah, Kentucky.  Early morning sunshine cut bright swaths through holes in the foliage. 

There were no longer any animals stirring, however.  A new predator was casting a shadow in their forest and they paid heed.

         “Tell me what you’re thinking.” He asked her, low and soothing in her ear.  He could feel the heat coming off it on his lips. “Right now.  First thing out your head.  Quickly!”

“I’m hungry and I think I’m starting my period.” She mounted the horse.  “And I hate these shoes.  Can we get the hell out of here before someone sees me in them?”

“My thoughts exactly.” Moses stepped up in the stirrup and swung his lean frame over the saddle.

         He looks the part, thought Curio.  Long, lean, sinewy.  All hard cock and balls.  But with those eyes that wink just that little bit when he sees me and smiles.  He does it to me every time he sees me.  It’s almost like when people see something religious, his eyes.  He exults in me.  Lucky ass me!  God, I love his old Texas ass.  Look at them tough hands gripping the reins.  And off we go!

Moses gave a little nudge of the foot and the horse walked carefully down the trail.  Curio followed, her ride dutifully following behind the lead horse.

She watched him lazily in the morning sun as they descended the trail and opened the horses to a trot as the grade leveled out.  Soon the hay field where they were parked emerged from the woods.  His head turned side to side, always looking for danger.  He urged the horse faster into a canter when they saw his Bronco parked just in the cover of the forest on the far side of the field.

“Wait here while I clear it.”  He called to her.  Curio halted her mount.  She watched him as he galloped to the Bronco, got off cautiously and had a look around.  He waved back to her when he was done.  She trotted down and arrived just as he pulled the Bronco out from the woods and got it turned around to expose the cattle trailer for the horses.  He had his gear stowed before she made it.  As he worked, she could see his .45 jammed in the small of his back.

“Moses, my ass hurts.” Curio crawled carefully from the saddle and handed him her guns.

“I'll rub it in Tennessee if you want.  Rub it all kids of goodly.”

“Promise?”

“You ever known me to break that kinda' promise?” He winked at her and walked her horse up the ramp. 

“Good girl!  Some damn good horses we got for this run.”

“Not so far you haven’t.  But we've been at it a while.  You sure you ain't getting' tired of me?  I gotta’ be getting on your nerves by now.”

“If you was on my nerves,” He got the horse settled and stomped down the rusty ramp. “Don’t you think I would have left you out of that whole shotgunning-a-sumbitch thing?  You ain't on my nerves, baby doll.  Just on my mind.  I just hate Kentucky for some reason.  I’d rather us not die here.”

He led his horse in and closed the ramp.  “The quicker I get gone from here, the better.  You did good back there.  I expected you to piss yourself and tell me you changed your mind and then I woulda’ had to done them both.  Witnesses hear a voice of a person shooting at them, they remember it, trust me.”

“It was surreal.  I actually got serious fuckin’ tingly when I did it.”  She got in and buckled up.  “I didn't know if I was bleeding or just wet right after it.”

He walked around and put the idling Ford in gear. “I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a really bad thing.  You go to having to shoot a man to get off, where's that leave me eventually?”  He winked at her.

“That leaves you as the beneficiary of my misdirected passions.” She reached over and rubbed his crotch.  “You do still like my misdirected passions, don't you?”  She bit her lip and smiled that mischievously sexy smile he loved to see on her.

The Bronco bounced up over the cattle guard and onto County Road 1324.  Turning right to head back to Hwy 65 and then later a turn to I-65 headed southbound and toward the relative safety of the state line, he looked down at his burgeoning crotch with her demure hands and her sultry gaze paying dues in inches gained.  He reckoned her soul’s ledger was firmly in the black by her reckoning.

“You really asking me if I still like your misdirected passions?”

She nodded and rubbed him some more. “Yes.”

He looked at her and winked.  “Does a wild girl shoot in the woods?”





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