Her eyes pierced the low light of the interior of the saloon before they settled on the man she was looking for. He stood there in his threadbare railroad man’s cap while the coal dust that was embedded deeply into the folds of his skin pulled him into the shadows. His eyes grew small at her approach and he downed his shot with alacrity. As he flipped a silver dollar to the barkeep, he stepped away from the table.
But he didn’t move fast enough. Before the coin finished its flashy arc, she grabbed him by his coal stained shoulder and forced him into a spin. A small cry escaped him as he fell back into the seat he had just vacated. Her dark skirts rustled in the sudden silence as she slid into the nail board bench across from him.
“Barkeep? Two whiskeys.” The words fell from her lips, like nails slowly pulled from a coffin only to strike the dirt below.
As she waited for the two thumb smudged glasses to arrive, she glared at the man across from her. His corpulent belly was framed by suspenders as it protruded over the waistline of his heavily stained slacks. The two glasses hit the table with a thump and a puddle formed underneath them. Eventually the railroad man dropped his eyes and pulled another silver dollar from his well-worn pocket.
He felt her eyes on him as he nervously twirled the dirty glass between his work blackened hands. It was with an overwhelming sense of fear that he brought the glass to his lips and noisily drank it down. The glass clumped to the table.
“I didn’t know, you see?” he pleaded with her. “I just brought them in and dropped them out there. I… I don’t know where they are.” Beads of sweat glistened on his face before he looked to the left and right. He gulped loudly. “Uh, Wallace might know. He’s off at the cat-house in this here town. They don’t have the prettiest doves there but uh…”
She slid the second dirty glass over to him. The sound of it grinding its way to him made him look down. A dainty finger stuck out of it. Blood slowly spiraled into the liquid from the severed digit. It was when he recognized the tattoo of a ring stamped into the finger that his eyes grew wide.
Suddenly, she grabbed him by the front of his ragged shirt and picked up the glass. She forced the glass into his mouth and waited until it was emptied, finger and all. Tears coursed down his cheeks as he choked on the woman’s finger. His struggles grew more insistent before her fist came up and knocked him out of the chair and his body slammed into the wall.
She rose with a flourish and a single beam of light flashed across her face. The cross that dangled from her fist winked in the sudden brightness. The Lord’s will burned in her eyes. The other patrons cowered away from her as her heels clicked into the rotting wood of the floor on her way out.
The bartender waved over a young boy who sat beside the piano. He scrawled something onto a napkin and shoved it into the lad’s hands along with a couple of nickels. “Take this over to the Melendez twins. Now!” The boy was sent reeling toward the door and fell through to the porch outside. As he picked himself up, he saw her stalk toward the little town’s house of ill repute.
(image courtesy of Ryan McGuire of http://www.gratisography.com/)