Blood, Mud and Whiskey – #2

Blood, Fiction, Mud and Whiskey

Owl

The cold wooden floorboards were the first thing I became aware of that morning. There also was a subtle breeze; I could feel it brush my hands and feet and when it blew through the right cracks, I could hear it whistle. My eyes fluttered, but the early morning haze simply lulled me back into the comfort of unconsciousness. I took a breath, turned to my side and as I slipped into blissful darkness, I heard footsteps. My heart froze – for the first time I stopped to think about where I was, or why? Quickly my eyes opened freakishly wide, and my ears perked up. thump. Thump. THUMP. The sound of heavy boots grew louder and louder, but there was something else… a tone. Was it humming? The hum turned to a whistle as it passed by, never acknowledging me. I didn’t have much time, I had to do something before he realized I was awake. My hand slowly crept down my side, seeking the familiar feel of my lovely gun aside my hip, but it found nothing. My clothes too had been removed, and my wounds had been dressed. Wounds? Immediately my mind was rushed with overwhelmingly alarming facts. The Ambush. The Fire. The Horses.

thump. Thump. THUMP. He walked past me again, adding complexity to his tune as well. It was now a careful combination of low hums, cheerful whistles, and soft, murmur like vocalizations. My head was pounding with questions, I knew I didn’t have any friends. And anyone working for the Governor woulda just dragged me by the ankles back to town and had me hung. This strangeness wrung out the acid in my stomach, confusion and anxiety dripped out of every pore. I wasn’t afraid, certainly not of dying – there was just a certain smell in the air. And I recognized it. It had preceded every unforgettable moment of my life; and this pressing notion of everlasting change was thick in his voice as he sang. I could hear him busy, rustling things around in the other side of the room. Carefully, I peeked over my shoulder and saw a dark man standing five-five with black hair parted to one side, and an equally colorless beard and mustache that hid his mouth. A straw cattleman hat hung on his back by a string tied around his neck, and he wore a short-waisted jacket with decorative gold embroidering around the shoulders. I looked around the room, it was empty with the exception of us and a bulk in the corner I believed belonged to me. I sat up slowly, watching him as he moved about, oblivious of the scourge that follows me like a shadow, and falls upon any that take my company. I readied to bolt. My body tightened, refusing the order with painful reply, but I remained steady. He picked up a bottle and drank from it and set it down over the unevenness between two planks of wood, and the bottle fell. Not a drop had seeped down the cracks in the floor before I reached my gun and had it pointed at the back of his head. He turned to me gently. Hands by his ears, he rose to his feet and asked for a favor.

“Now you tell me cowboy” he said dramatically. “Before you do nothing; which gun you plan to kill me with?” His face painted a smirk, as the last few words turned to a chuckle. With his eyebrows, he pointed at my crotch.

I heard what he said, but it was as if I had to wait for someone to tell me what it meant. And once they did I couldn’t help but to laugh inside as well. This man, he wasn’t so different from I – He wasn’t afraid to die, he wasn’t afraid of me: he was confident, and that made rethink my strategy.

“You think this is funny? A bullet in the chest ain’t funny.” I made no effort to cover myself as I talked. “Who the hell are you?”

“Why don’t you dress yourself and we can have a drink about it?” I stretched my arm out further, shortening the distance between him and the barrel. “Listen cowboy, that, that you see there, those ain’t bullets, them are shells. Empty shells. Check if you don’t believe me, but you ain’t shooting nobody with that.” I felt my gun lighten as he spoke, and I knew he wasn’t lying.

“Alright then, but— you know it ain’t like a man to shoot another in the back, when his bare ass is showing.” He agreed in silence. I lowered my gun and got dressed. Meanwhile, he poured from the bottle into two separate jiggers.

“Tequila-ah.” He said in a soft voice and handed me a glass.

“I don’t drink.” I told him, taking the glass in my hands.

“Everybody drinks cowboy, whatever they drink is the only thing that changes, you see. Today – today we drink tequila for your wounds.” I paused and looked him in the eyes. “Go on! It’ll be good for you I promise.” I didn’t want to trust him. I didn’t trust him, but what choice did I have besides going along. We raised the glasses and drank.

“So, why are you helping me then?” I asked after the burn had passed.

“And why do you think I’m helping you cowboy? Maybe I’m helping myself…” He said drinking again, this time straight from the bottle. “I saw you out there, being dragged by the boot by tired horses, and I thought to myself: hell blessed, that poor man with all those many things and no use for them. So I walked up with hopes of a loot, but to my surprise you wasn’t dead. How lucky! I thought. You see, as it turns out, I am in need of a place to stay – for a while at least. And I figured, If I kept you from bleeding-out and dying out there in that field, you might wanna return to your home once you could – if you have a home that is…”

I knew where this was going and I didn’t like it. However, given the circumstances, there was a benefit to having a second man riding along. “Tell me, what did you do? Why are you running?”

“Never-mind you that.” He replied, forcing a smile out one side of his mouth.

“Alright then. I reckon you can join me for a time, if you can behave… What should I call you by?” He stopped to think about it, resting his chin between his fingers. After a moment, he brightened with an answer.

“For now,” he said pointing his finger upwards.”You can call me Owl.”

 

Blood, Mud and Whiskey

Blood, Mud and Whiskey, Fiction

Intangible Proof

There was a sudden silence, a rare stillness that gave warning of forthcoming danger. I ordered the wagon to a halt and looked in all directions quietly. The first shot was fired. It missed me, but knocked my hat clean off. I jumped between the barrels of whiskey in the back and surrendered to my fate. Bullets were flying all around me, coming from the south side of the car, going north. And by the way the shots were being fired, I could tell there were only two gunman involved. One of the bullets found me and dug itself into my shoulder blade. I kept from crying out in pain, shrunk as small as I could and watched as the liquor poured out.

They stopped. I reckoned they were outta bullets. One of them climbed off his horse and came closer to the car, loaded both barrels of his shotgun and shot them in my direction. A barrel exploded, wood chips and buckshot tore through me, and whiskey came down on me like a malty rain igniting my wounds. The other one joined, and they could now see me through the holes in the canvas cover, as they both stood beside the wagon.

“What a shame about these horses.” One of them told the other and started towards the front. He stood a short distance aside and as he loaded his gun, he asked: “We kill’um? He shot the horses dead before there was an answer.

“He’s not breathing from what I can tell.” His partner’s eyes remained stiff assessing the situation.

“Well, let’s get’um out of there and make sure.”

Together they walked around back, grabbed me by the ankles and dragged me off the car, dropping me violently onto the mud. The hammer of a gun cocked behind my head.

“What are you doing?”

“You said we ought make sure he’s dead.”

“How do you know it ain’t him, but someone else?”

There was a pause. He flipped me on my back with the tip of his boot, and they looked down and examined me as I lay there covered in blood, mud, and whiskey. I remained still, barely breathing.

“Is that O’Connell?”

“Looks like O’Connell.” He re-positioned to have a better angle of me. “And…” he said with a grin. ” That looks like his gun.”

He bent down over me, brought his face close to mine and tried to feel my breath, but there was nothing; he seemed convinced. He looked back at my gun and said, “this ought to make for a nice prize.” Before he reached the butt-end of it, I took hold of his head and with a quick jerk twisted his neck; his body fell over me like a sack of potatoes. His accomplice opened fire, but I went unscathed by the flesh of his dead partner. I drew the gun off the corpse’s hip and wasted the second man.

I stood up as I could and checked them. One of them boasted the uniform of a U.S. cavalry man, the other looked the same as every other goon. They were too heavy and I was busted good that I only managed to drag their bodies to rest on the side of the car. There, I lit a cigarette I found while looking through them and, though I don’t smoke, I took a few drags and gazed over everything that had just happened. I put the cigarette to my lips for the last time and pulled long and hard, and flicked the tiny torch over the alcohol-soaked canvas and the whole scene caught fire.

I took their horses, tied the extra one to the one I mounted and rode off, as the only evidence of my crimes turned to smoke.

 

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Nothing to Lose

Fiction

On the fifth floor of a brick apartment building, Wes hunched over a stack of papers. There was a pint of warm beer to his right, half empty and repurposed as an ashtray. The telephone was green, and the table was made of unfinished wood. A small television filled the room with a blue glow, tough the volume was turned down to a soft murmur. His face was twisted with anticipation, and sweating. He knew nothing could change what happened, nothing could bring her back; she was irreplaceable. But the pain in his heart was still very real, and so was his anger and his thirst for vengeance. The phone started ringing. He lit another cigarette before answering. With the phone to his ear, he pulled from the cigarette and exhaled. He did it again.

“It’s done.”

The words traveled from the speaker into his ear, and the call ended.

Prompt courtesy of Cake and InMon.

The Daily Back-n-Forth

Fiction

The pavement was wet, so were the trees outside, the glass window in front of which she sat, and her cheeks. A white, knitted sweater hung on her, too big and loose; it was all she wore. The padding on the bay window was spotted red from the wine in her glass, half an inch of ash crumbled on the pillow she hugged tight between her breasts, but she never noticed. She pulled from the cigarette as the door opened. A man wearing a three-piece suit walked in, his hair was short and professional, a square chin, and clear blue eyes. He set his briefcase down when she called from across the condo.

“Where have you been?”

“Not now Claire…” He started to work the tie off his neck. “I’m tired okay? Not tonight, please.”

Her bare feet staggered through the room, pounding her heels on the hardwood with a thud.

“Answer the fucking question.” She demanded, as she came up to him, close enough to smell any guilt hiding behind his perfect skin.

“Your drunk, Claire.”

“Stop avoiding the question.” Her eyes were red and puffy, she had been crying for hours, days, months – hell, their entire marriage.

“Can you please just move out of my way? You’re acting crazy.”

“STOP. Stop making this about me! Quit turning things around on people and face your shit!”

He continued to ignore her and started packing his bags. She continued screaming and continued getting louder, her questions never ceased; and her mind, at the lack of answers, began to slowly wither.

“I’m gonna do it John, I swear I’m gonna do it.” Tears and drool, and sweat, and regret were all running down her face.

“And you say and I’m one who tries to manipulate the situation. Look at you; it’s not even loaded.”

He shut the door behind him and started walking. The sound of the gun shook him; he stopped, sighed and kept walking wearing the smile of a newly rich man.

 

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Do Not Disturb

Fiction

He pulled the screen-door open and knocked on the aged, wooden one. No answer. The whole house whispered his location as he moved about. What an oddity this place was, he had never seen something like this, not in his fourteen years as detective. There were contraptions hanging above the door, and the windows were lined with lamps on the outside and heavy dark curtains on the inside. He knocked again. The door cracked slightly: “The Darkness is out there, you have to leave!” It slammed shut again.

“Mr. Wojick, please, it’s about Dianne; she’s missing.”

All the lights turned off.

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Working Onna Sunday

Fiction

Steam rose. His hands were sweating inside those thick leather gloves. Someone called out his name. He looked up, his eyes were dark and scrunched, skin folding at well established creases. The rest of him wore simple clothes; he was about forty. Holding a wrench, he blocked the glare from the windows and the cars outside. A mechanical hiss, and a cloud of steam, thick and white formed before him. The atmosphere swayed like a curtain as the whiteness dissipated. And there she was, like a mirage, warped, but that was only the illusion; and beautiful, just as he remembered.

Written for Friday Fictioneers.

Word Count: 100

A Higher Calling

Fiction

Off the record: it probably is just a bunch of lies – who knows? I don’t know… I only do it because it makes the people feel better, but I’m no better than any of them. Off the record: I like to drink and do drugs and have sex as much as anybody else, and I still do, except I’m forced to be discreet. I don’t agree with much of what The Big Book says, but I do believe in what I do. I believe that people feel better when they come see me, and I do believe that’s a good thing. I love helping others, even if I have to lie to them – it’s for their own good. But that’s just off the record.

 

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A New Beginning

Fiction

Our Father revealed himself to us in the middle of the night, just as he had said. His eyes were blinding bright, and his divine body was wrapped in gold – it shone brighter than the sun. We all stepped out of our homes and gazed upon his majesty, gathered our families and began walking the streets. As we came closer, his anger grew palpable, and the sound of women and children crying and men crying, grew louder. It was far too late when it all became clear. There was nothing we could do, this was the end.