Daily Word prompt is Detonate. Untimely, in my opinion. The word itself is too commonly used these days and its connotation is disturbing. How about we all gather at Disney World and watch as the fireworks are ignited? Let’s see the beauty and feel the magic instead of the alternative. Care to join me? I’ll pass out the Mickey ears.
The scream from upstairs booted us from our chairs. Reba ran to her bedroom yelling, “Don’t you go up there ‘fore me.”
In no time, Reba followed me up to the first door on the left, Ratchet steady in her arms.
The cowboy turned when the door opened, his wicked grin melting. Naked and trembling, Sadie stood an arm’s length from the cowboy.
Blood pounded in my ears. “If you did anything to hurt her…”
The two-syllable ratchet of Reba’s shotgun finished the sentence. She aimed at the target. “I say time’s up.”
“Why, you old pickaninny,” he growled.
Reba’s face Radiated brown flames of fury. The cowboy backed away.
Sadie wiped her eyes and unclenched her teeth. “I told him my rule. He tried to break it.”
I knew the one she referred to—animal and specialty acts. Reba and I knew the reason, knew what had happened to her back then. Never would I allow a client to fracture the boundaries that made my girls feel safe.
“Tried to? Did he?” I draped a dressing robe around Sadie’s bare body and steered her to the bed.
John opened the paper and tapped a small ad on page three. A glance down at the headlines, my smile faded.
The mayor already hated me. Now, he had new artillery.
Mayor Marshall Hicks, the blue-skin Presbyterian, and member of the Knights of Pythias who had taken an oath to abstain from vices. My bordello sat a mere block outside the district; a fact Dick-Hicks pointed out on a regular basis in his crock of shit. The mandate had been established only a year ago, six years after I opened the bordello.
“What is it, Sheriff?” Reba fiddled with the ties of her apron and remained a vigilant guard by the sink.
“San Antonio Women’s Club have asked the Women’s Christian Temperance Union to speak at a public forum,” he said.
“I believe in Lawd Jesus too, but them Thumpers from their Christ Union are full’a horse pucky and needs to mind their own business.”
The WCTU pledged to protect women by banning alcohol, as well as prostitution. Obviously, they’d never known a woman who could have Survived without my profession, me included.
At Madam Fannie’s Boarding House, my girls earned a good living and treated fairly. A client who forgot that rule or broke any others got a hard stare down the barrel of Reba’s Ratchet. Over the years, that shotgun proved well worth every cent we coughed up to buy it. When trouble knocked at our door, Ratchet made its point with one threatening crack.
Great Gatsby Franken-Farter stares at the creek. “I saw my aunt die.”
“I saw my grandpa die, too.” I remember Mama crying when she pulled the bed sheet over him and Daddy hugging her for a long time after. When they buried him, Scooter kept going back to the cemetery to see if Grandpa was sprouting from the dirt.
“Your grandpa. Was he run over by a get-away gangster, too? Like Aunt Sissy was? She didn’t Survive like your dog,” he says.
It sounds too horrible for truth. “Phonus balonus.”
“Suit yourself. You’re next?”
“Okay,” I say. But I won’t mention Miss Helen. I think for a while then decide to tell him another truth. “I’ve been Cooter Browned before,” I say, and almost taste the vomit-varnish from that night.
He’s not so smart after all.
“You know, I’ve been blotto before.”
His eyes crinkle when he laughs. “Let’s drink to that. Plenty of mornings I’ve had to chew my water. Tomorrow might be one of them.” He hands me the Mason jar.
I take it thinking it’s his way of making peace. I pretend to drink then hand it back.
“Where were you when you got drunk?” he says.
“At the carnival. Last weekend. The night Mama left.” I didn’t mean to say the last part. “I gotta go.”
There’d been a bull on top of Aunt Nolie last night and now he was sitting on a bar stool kissing the woman next to him smack-dab on her red lips.
“Cono, this here’s Sunshine.”
I know that song, “You are my Sunshine, My Only Sunshine.” I figured that song was named after her. She has short blond hair and looks like she hadn’t missed a meal in a while. Not that she’s fat, but she has more meat on her bones than most gals I see.
“Well, hello there, Cono,” she says giving me a little wink.
“Hello,” I say, turning back to look at No-Account and giving him my best “you’re a no-account” stare.
“Cono,” he says, “Ye go on over there and sit at an empty table, and I’ll get ye a sody pop. Sunshine and me are gonna talk some business fer a minute.”
No-Account gives Sunshine a pinch on her round butt and she lets out a stupid sounding noise that’s something between a squeal and a giggle.
Sitting there by myself doesn’t stop me from staring, disgusted-like at their carryings-on. She whispers in his ear, he gives her a little smooch, he whispers in her ear, she lets out another harebrained giggle. I get so fed up my belly starts to twist around and I think I might just puke. Standing up I say, “I’m gonna wait in the truck.” And that’s what I do ’cause neither of those fools leave a good Impression on me. They leave a bad taste in my mouth.
I look around the truck, but I don’t see any rope. That sorry son of a bitch never intended to buy me a donkey.
I watch people go in and come out and think about the loser I’m with, the jackass full of bullcorn. My hard-earned-honest-days-work-seed-selling money had gone straight toward something to do with that blonde-hair giggly-eye winker named “Sunshine.”
No-Account finally gets back into the truck and starts jawing again about more things that don’t make no sense. The difference is, this time he’s swerving around the road like a drunk man, which he is.
“Damn” he says when we almost go off the road, “What was that in the street?”
I don’t answer. Even Dad could drive better than this. I just keep sitting and feeling like a stool pigeon, a stool pigeon that has to hold on to the door handle just in case it needs to jump out.