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Posted: Jan 6 2016, 08:12 PM
Joined: 7-August 14
WARNING: contains language, mention of rape, and violence.
“How many men do you think my bounty is worth, Sheriff?” Lucille ‘Lulu’ Piston folded her legs one over the other, leaning them against his solid wood desk, heeled boot pressed into the grooved impressions. On the corner of his table sat his cigar, stewing a long string of smoke. She simmered on her own special sin of a whiskey she had found in an abandoned mine right before she had set dynamite to blow it to pieces. Her wrist circled the bottle, letting the fluids swish and swirl before settling to the bottom.
The other hand held her pistol aimed for his heart.
“Wiley Carpenter, Pissin’ Pete Jenkins, Slimeball Stevens O’Rodney, The Great Robber Jack Coats, and I think your bounty, Sheriff – yours will pay for all my debts and more to the grand ol’ settlement of Watertown. I believe you’re as acquainted with our dear friends back home as I am. Where you can sin till they hang ya, but if the devil pays his dues all will be forgiven. And you haven’t paid your dues. You know, they hung my sister for what you did to her, raping her in broad daylight in front of a pack of drunks like some animal you were showing off before you killed it. Wasn’t much fair,” she swallowed the remnants of her bottle and threw it to the floor where it fell with a dull thud and slid over to the Sheriff’s half-blind, half-dumb dog. It barely raised its head, accustomed to the life of guns and accusations. Wasn’t the first time nor perhaps the last he’d seen of the Sheriff facing down a loaded barrel.
“Thought it was only right, only just that you be the last notch in my belt. When you hang, it’ll all be for her. C’mon now, git your pretty ass up. You’re going to walk all night until your ankles bleed.”
Out in the West, if the dehydration or the animals didn’t kill you, man was surely there to finish the job. Three days of walking and the Sheriff’s feet were blistered and bloody. She had ensured his suffering as he hobbled along until he could no longer bear the pain. Her wide brimmed hat covered her face, hair swept up into a bun so as not to be noticeable. She did not need to learn the lesson her sister had with the unruly appetite that men shared. Angular jawline, and a stern weathered sunburnt scowl on her face peered ahead of them. With men’s breeches and a long coat, her silhouette was the same stain on the horizon as any veritable bounty hunter. Worn leather gloved hands tightened on the reins of her horse, steadying him as he limped along behind the Sheriff.
Watertown was not a locale known to both sinners and saints. It was the place men and women flocked to for hiding and wrongdoing. Each man and woman that lived there had a due to pay to someone. With a bounty on each and every one of their heads, it meant there were always disputes. A genuine Watertown citizen did not need a cock to wake them when the sound of gunfire echoed down the street. The town gravedigger (bless his heart) never had a day without work. He chiseled tombstones faster than the men three towns over who cost three times as much for the same job. Most people couldn’t afford a fancy gravesite anyways; half the town graves went unmarked. It was better not to be remembered or honored. Relatives didn’t come out this far to pay respects to scoundrels, thieves and murderers. Not unless they wanted the plot next to their relative to be filled.
When the town came in to view, there was nothing to its namesake. Summer’s fury had brought upon a drought that sapped the earth of its fertility, leaving the residents to kick up dust and the animals to wheeze for salvation. She nudged the horse’s bit against the Sheriff’s back as they crossed past the wooden fencing that defined the town’s borders. He made a noise and pitched forward, falling face first into the hard dirt. A dust cloud bloomed out from around his body as she shifted off the horse and grabbed him by his collar.
Noticing the Sheriff from Oldsbury was dead (or a damn good imitation), she sighed. “Alive or Dead—at least,” hauled his dead weight over the horse and then proceeded to drop him off at the Sheriff’s building in Watertown. Richards O’Donnell, the town Irish with fierce red hair and a beard longer than his pinky finger eyed the corpse as she dropped it on his steps and called out to him. “A deal’s a deal. You promised my freedom for this man—“
He eyed the body, looked over to the side at the onlookers and then at the town gravedigger. With a snap of his fingers, brought the man over to measure out a coffin for the new tenant to the graveyard.
“We’re even then, Lulu.” He spat at her feet, just shy of her boots as she ran her spur over the deck of the office.
She wasn’t naïve to believe that an assertion like that came without an expiration date. The next wrong step she made, and he’d haul her ass up to the hangman’s noose and snap her neck. Their eyes met in understanding as she turned on her heel and headed for the Lucky Horseshoe Saloon where a bout of rowdy music clambered out between the doors. Inside she watched the saloon girls sashay their currency, dragging feather boas through alcohol stained flooring and around chair legs.
“Double bourbon,” she ordered to the bartender. With a brief scope of the room, she noticed more new faces than old. In the five years it took her to get back here, the town population had overturned most of its residents for a new cache of unsavory characters. Green eyes scanned briefly and then gave up. She had a pack of cards, the meager coins she had picked up for odd jobs, and a wide brimmed hat that concealed scars she was eager to hide.