If it crawls up your drawers

“So’s what she found a scarf? Who wouldn’t pick it up if it weren’t attached to a person?” Reba’s hands might have been in the kitchen when Meta came home, but her ears were everywhere in the house. She knew what had happened.

“It belongs to that missing Temperance girl, Rebie.”

“And ‘member that red hat I’s left at Market Square? Belongs to somebody else now. That Sadie might have a stubborn streak miles long, but she wouldn’t hurt a Bumble bee ‘less it crawled up her drawers.”

Had it? Had the Temperance women hovered over her, gotten too close? Invaded her safety? Sadie had become a barbed-wire fence that kept others out or, perhaps herself in.

What was Sadie keeping from me?

Excerpt from The Last Bordello

daily word prompt: Bumble

The Brute at the Butcher Shop

Savage. An appropriate name for a butcher.

The door ajar, the stench of raw meat penetrated my nose, but the familiar voice inside stopped me from running past. “Hold on, Sadie.”

“What?” Sadie bent down, retying her bootlaces.

I peeked inside the butcher shop. Miss Reba stared up at the burly man towering over her. “No sir, you must’a misunderstood I’s just—”

“Don’t tell me I misunderstood.” He drew his arm across his chest then slapped Miss Reba across the face with the back of his hand. She tumbled sideways, her head smacking the edge of a table before she hit the floor.

“Colored’s always have to wait,” he added.

My blood curdled as I rushed to her side. “Miss Reba!”

“What have you done?” Sadie yelled behind me.

I knelt beside Miss Reba. “Ach Gott. Are you all right?”

She moaned and lifted a limp hand to the side of her head where blood dripped onto the floor.

“She needs to wait her turn, ain’t that right butcher?” the brute said.

Mr. Savage stood there, his mouth open. The patrons gasped and whispered. No one came forth. What was wrong with these people?

Sadie glared at the man and reached inside her small black purse. She unfolded a man’s shaving knife, stood and approached him. “If I pricked you with this, you’d squeal like a stuck pig.”

My mind blurred. What does it take to kill someone? To sacrifice one’s self for a cause?

The bearded man pointed a finger at Sadie. “Whoa, now girlie …”

“And then, our butcher will take you for a hog,” she said. “After hanging you on a meat hook, he’ll slit you from neck to belly until you bleed out. Isn’t that right, Mr. Savage?”

Mr. Savage blinked a few times and cleared his throat. “Sadie, you best look after Miss Reba there.”

The abuser’s nostrils flared. He pointed a finger inches from Sadie’s face. “You need to shut that vulgar trap ‘a yours, Missy. Surely you got a sheriff in town who can lock you up for pulling a weapon on me.”

“ Unmensch! Her weapon?” My words hurled forth, surprising me. “Your hand was a weapon! You hurt Miss Reba.”

Sadie glanced side to side. “We have the best county sheriff in the state. Looks like he’s not here right now. So, the next time any of us return to purchase pork, including this fine lady on the floor bleeding the same color red as everyone else, you might be the pig we get to eat.”

The man clenched both hands into fists. “Why you …”

Excerpt from The Last Bordello

Savage

Bootlicker

“Do you have news for us?” Miss Fannie asked.

“Some of it funny.” He turned to Miss Reba. “A Snack?

“If you catch this here.” Miss Reba tossed him a biscuit.

Giovanni caught it and took a bite. “Okay,” he said, chewing. “Last night on my way home I went to check on Sadie. She was standing on the curb. Clayton Lamont was with her.” He glanced in my direction. “We were right, Meta. He lives across the street from Aunt Amelia.”

Miss Fannie pinched her lips and let in a sharp inhale.

Miss Reba squinted a stern look. “What you talking about? That same man who threw his hands ‘round Sadie’s throat?”

“Yep,” Giovanni continued. “Someday, I’m going to own a three-button pinstripe suit like he was wearing. A real beaut. Anyway, I sat on the curb close enough to hear. Sadie caught my eye but didn’t let on she saw me.” He stuffed the remaining biscuit in his mouth, chomping as he stared out the kitchen window.

“I’s could fried green tomatoes in the time it take you to—”

“Get to the point,” Miss Fannie snarled, interrupting Miss Reba.

“Okay, okay.” Giovanni stuck his thumbs behind imaginary lapels and faced his audience. “Lamont said, ‘Miss Dubois’,” Giovanni lowered his voice to base. “’I don’t think we have been properly introduced’. Told her he’d been rude and callous. Sadie stammered out, ‘pleasure to meet you,’ real nervous-like. When she asked why he moved across the street he said, well, what he said is something I’m going to remember if I ever meet a girl I’m smitten with. He said, ‘when a good man needs to apologize for a misdeed, he finds a way.’”

“Bootlicker,” Miss Fannie said.

Daily prompt: Snack

Not Invited

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Madam Fannie Porter

There he stood, the man whose cleft chin always reminded me of a bare ass. “Well, well, well, Mayor Marshall Hicks. What can I do for you?”

“May I come in?”

I hesitated, my eyes scouring him from head to toe. “What do you need Mayor? I’ve paid my dues.”

“It’s about Sadie.”

“What about her? She’s upstairs sleeping.”

A thunderbolt cracked. The puffed rooster Cringed. “Can I come in?”

“For a minute. I have things to do.”

I opened the door wide enough for him to squeeze through. Too wide would seem like an invitation and asking him to sit a spell was out of the question.

He removed his hat and hung his rain jacket on the hook by the door. Now inside, he took an uninvited seat in the parlor—the same chair William Pinkerton sat on when asking about the Wild Bunch. Not a good omen.

Excerpt from The Last Bordello

Daily word prompt: Cringe

Fear

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photo credit

I blamed my restless sleep on the killer who remained a mere Illusion lurking in the dark.

Never in my life had I been so scared. Last night the waves of maelstrom pulled me under and made it hard to breathe. Seeing Sadie bloodied on Mrs. Carver’s porch was bad enough. Thinking of Aunt Amelia in danger ripped ribbons of terror throughout my limbs. When I knew she was unharmed, and nausea had passed, I had asked my waiting driver to summon Sheriff Tobin. He arrived fifteen minutes later at the crime scene but after that, he never came to the bordello. I wondered why.

Excerpt from The Last Bordello

Daily photo prompt: Illusion

 

The Madam’s Ire

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Meta stood and removed her clothing down to her chemise. “And Mr. Harmon was there. I had the good fortune of meeting his wife.”

“Ah, Ingrid. A delightful woman. Each Christmas, Edgar brings us baskets of fruits, nuts, cheeses and the finest of brandies. It’s really Ingrid who buys the gifts.”

Meta blinked, her eyes rolling to the left. No doubt, Meta’s curiosity rested on why a married woman would support her husband’s attendance at a bordello. Meta didn’t need to know the reason.

“You seem to know a lot about San Antonio’s denizens, Miss Fannie.”

She had no idea. The secrets I knew about San Antonio’s citizens would fill more than a dozen barrels in Otto Koehler’s brewery.

I left Meta and returned to my room. Unless a straggler walked in, no more appointments were scheduled for the night. I had the inclination many of my regulars attended the meeting to please their wives.

I thought of Sadie, her nightmare, her disobedience. I pushed the thought aside and picked up the February 14th edition of Life magazine and stared at the cover—a red heart shot through with Cupid’s arrow.

 

The loud slam of the front door jostled me awake.

Four a.m.

I crept out of my bedroom and found Sadie stumbling and swaying toward the staircase. “Where the hell have you been?”

Sadie collapsed on the first step, laid her head on the third and motioned me away. She lifted her head and vomited.

I left her there to stew in the mess she Created.

Excerpt from The Last Bordello

daily word prompt: Create

Straightjacket to Hell

I peeked out the front window of our house then bolted out the back door. The second man in white grabbed me. I screamed and struggled as he secured the straight jacket around me. Resigned there was no way to escape, I watched Lucinda hand the signed papers to the driver.

“Let’s see here,” he said, reading. “Promiscuous, belligerent, violent tendencies. Anything else?”

Surely, there were other sections on the paper Lucinda wanted to circle to drive me deeper into a hole. My mother only shook her head. “Isn’t that enough?” she asked, her face smug and determined.

Just before being dumped in the back of the wagon, I caught my mother’s Triumphant grin. She spat the words, “For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but, in the end, she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death. Proverbs 5:3.”

I hated her.

The driver snapped the reins toward San Antonio.

“I didn’t do anything wrong. I’m not crazy.”

Pleading did no good.

“Not for us to decide,” they laughed.

“You’re a pretty thing, though,” the driver said.

Excerpt from The Last Bordello

Daily word prompt: Triumph