The Nun with a Gun ~ Chapter 29: A New Day ~

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The boy’s eyes were caught by the long stretch of coffins that decorated the walls of the undertaker’s shop before he turned back to watch the sister go.

She left the little town as she had come to it.  Alone, with no horse, no wagon or donkey.  Only the two legs given her by the Lord saw her way out.

Her habit had shadowed her face in the early morning sun while the white edge of the coif fairly glowed with promise.  Her black skirt rustled in the light breeze and the dust raised by her feet pillowed outward to be caught and thrown further out into the world.

For a moment she stopped and watched the train on the horizon as it cut its way back to San Francisco.  A light smile graced her lips.   The Chinese women and the Madam’s girls were making their way back to their new home.  Fahn Quai would see them through as she had done for so many others.

The words of Cavanaugh echoed within her, “How can Man have free will with a God that is omnipotent?”

Her eyes followed a cloud as it slowly scudded its way across, “How am I any different than he in your eyes?”

She had kept her promise.  A killer she may be, but she had done that much.  Maybe she would burn in Hell for all eternity, but maybe that’s what was needed of her.

A wry smile cracked her lips, “They do say you work in mysterious ways…”

The dusty plains called to her and the hymn of the Queen of the Waves came to her lips.  It wafted back to the young boy who stayed behind.

About her waist hung a gun belt.  Well-worn was the leather and the steel of the Colt Peacemaker as it gleamed in the sun.  From one wrist dangled a string of prayer beads made of darkest ebony and a single cross hung at the end which swayed with the movement from her steps.  Where she went was where justice was needed.  What she left behind was ashes and hope.

The boy jumped when the burnt hinge to the right saloon door snapped and it clattered loudly to the wooden floor.

***

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The Nun with a Gun ~ Chapter 28: Boxed In ~

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The sister strode out onto the raised sidewalk along the main street of the little town.  The air stank with the smoke from the burning buildings and rang with the screams of wounded horses.  Gunshots continued to burst out until only the smoke and fire remained.

Her eyes tracked to the middle of the street where Major Cavanaugh stood at one end while the brothel’s madam slowly moved out to face him.

The flat dead, voice of the daughter of the Pinkerton woman broke the silence, “How’s your poor feet, Major?”

Cavanaugh’s laugh was grating, “Funny, girl.”  His eyes lit on the scarred woman as she came to a stop across from him, “You taking me on, woman?  I would’ve figured you’d have learned that lesson a long time ago.”  His finger traced a mirror image of the cut in her face.

The madam remained quiet as did her daughter, the voice.  With a move that seemed practiced, she slipped her pistol free from its holster and checked to make sure it still had a few shells in it.

Cavanaugh sneered, “When I’m done with you, demimonde, there won’t be enough of you left to snore.”

Her response was to simply slide her pistol home.  Her right leg slipped behind her into a dueler’s stance.  Her left hand moved toward the holster she wore on her right hip.  Her right hand stretched out and she waved him on with her index and middle fingers.

His snarl whipped across the quiet and he grabbed for the butt of his pistol.  Before he could even bring it to bear, the air cracked with a shot.  His body was hammered back by one hit and then by another.  His pistol slipped from his nerveless fingers before he slumped to his knees.  His hand reached out before he slammed face first into the dirt of the town road.

In surprise, the nun watched as the madam holstered her pistol and stepped out of the road.  She felt a tug on her skirt and looked down at the adolescent girl whose voice held no emotion.

That young girl looked her square on when she said, “To cut a man’s suspenders, a girl must be fast.  Wouldn’t you say, Sister?”

The Nun with a Gun ~Chapter 27: Fisticuffs ~

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Tuco, with two of his men on his boot heels, burst into the Bella’s Cage.  While the door swung loosely against its hinges, the nun stood calmly across from them, her pistol in hand.

“Burn it!” cried Tuco.

Tuco’s men threw their lit bottles of kerosene against the walls of the building.  Before the bottles left their hands, the sister had squeezed the trigger on her pistol twice.  One of the bandits grunted as a round punctured his chest. As he crashed into a table, the other barely had enough time to raise his gun before his legs were shot out beneath him.  Her third shot went through the brigand’s head.

Tuco raised his Paterson and yanked on the trigger but the sister had already moved.  She slid to a stop by the bar and the two of them stood facing each other.  As the cylinders on both pistols clicked over, they each hit a spent chamber.

Tuco dropped his gun and winked at her, “Your move, Sister.”

The nun flung her pistol behind the bard and took a boxer’s stance.  A smirk split its way across her face, “I’m not hanging from the rafters this time.  Think you can take me, Tuco?”

A vicious grin lit up his face, “I told him I’d kill you.”

With a scream he launched himself at the woman.  She threw up a block against his clumsy strike and drove a fist into his sternum.  His breath caught quickly as he stumbled back.  She slammed another fist high into his ribs close to the armpit.  He tried to pull back, but she rode him up against a table.  As he slipped, she step inside his defense and threw a jab under his rib cage, followed by another into the sternum.

He twisted to get away from her, but in doing so, dropped the arm that protected his face.  She was unrelenting as she followed him with a quick inner shift and her fist smashed into the bottom of his jaw.  He flailed wildly as she struck him repeatedly high in the ribs near his armpit.  As he rolled over to get away, her fists drove into his kidneys repeatedly.

His hand caught a chair and he was able to right himself.  He forced a sloppy punch that caught a glancing blow to her temple.  As she stumbled back, he threw another jab, but she caught his wrist.  Using the momentum of his lunge, she spun him like a top and smashed his wrist into the edge of the table.

The crack of the break was loud in the confines of the room.  His scream tore out and he fell to one knee.  Her eyes lit up as she twisted his broken wrist and struck him repeatedly in the temple until he went limp.  She kicked him square in the chest after he fell heavily to the floor.

The bursts of gunfire outside in the streets had become sporadic while the shouting had intensified.  Clementine poked her head into the building and took in the nun standing over the big man, Tuco, as he lay on the floor.

“Any trouble, Sister?”

The nun looked down at the man and back at Clementine, “He didn’t know what he was getting into.  Keep an eye on him, would you?”

As the flames licked into the dry wood of the walls, Clementine bent down and retrieved a pistol from one of the dead desperados.  A quick check revealed a couple unspent rounds were still left in it.  With a practiced throw, she tossed it to the nun, “Of course.  We’re almost done outside.”

As the sister stepped through the door and back out into the street, Clementine turned to the man lying on the floor.  His eyes fluttered open and he scrabbled around.

“Where’d she go?  I’m not done with her yet.”

“You heard the madam’s voice.  Third time’s the charm, Tuco.”  Clementine squeezed the trigger of her own revolver and watched as his head burst before it bounced against the floor, “Third time’s the charm…”

The Nun with a Gun ~Chapter 26: Trapped ~

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Ling Moy could hear the horses behind her as she ran.  She had dropped her shotgun somewhere behind her, but she had pulled the trigger twice.  Its barrels were as empty as her stomach.  She came back out to the main street and bullets were flying in all directions.

“Stop running, you flash-girl!” roared a voice behind her.

The wooden flooring she ran across exploded and wood fragments flew around her face.  She tripped and fell into the street.  The ground thumped beneath her as the horse moved closer to her.  She rolled over and found herself lying in front of O-Lan.  The man on the horse laughed as he aimed his pistol at them.  She threw her arms over her face.

The gun in O-Lan’s hands barked and the horse threw itself upward.  The rider slipped off the back and tumbled to the ground.  O-Lan strode forward with no fear showing on her face as she pulled the trigger on her pistol two more times.

Though muffled, Ling Moy heard O-Lan curse, “Stupid, color-seeking wolf.”

Ling Moy slowly sat up when a pistol clattered next to her.

O-Lan shouted, “Get up lazy bug!  We aren’t done yet.”

The Nun with a Gun ~Chapter 25: The Hustle of Bustles ~

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As the rifle blasts erupted into Cavanaugh’s men, the sister watched as one horse fell squealing on its side, trapping its rider.  Two men toppled off their horses and a third ran toward the saloon.

This horse’s rider roared like a banshee as he flung burning bottles of kerosene against the sides of the saloon and it quickly caught fire.  The other riders turned to give chase to the China girls.

“Now!” shouted the nun as she ran out into the street.

Gunfire burst from the high windows of the brothel and the bank.  The sister stood in the middle of the street and raised her pistol to shoot one of the men as he wheeled his horse back around.  He went down as a hole sprouted in his chest.  The bottle of kerosene in his hand shattered against the hard ground.  Flames leapt out and caught on the man trapped under his horse.

The sister ran across the street and a shot blasted into the post nearest her head.  As she turned to see who fired it, a man slumped forward on his horse and the horse bolted.  The nun took aim and the pistol kicked in her hands.

Cole, who had been riding next to Tuco, went down.  Tuco wheeled his horse around and watched the sister run down the street back into the brothel.

The Nun with a Gun ~ Chapter 24: Whisper of Silk~

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(Photo by Larm Rmah on unsplash.com)

As the men on horses thundered closer, Ling Moy thought back on what the giant woman had said, “It’s going to be loud.  It’s going to be frightening and you may think you’re ready.  But I can tell you, you’re not.”

Hai Tang had protested loudly at this point and Ghee Moon had laughed.  The lady, all dressed in black, waited until they quieted down.  “Some of you may have never shot a gun before and you’re afraid you’ll miss, but if you’re close enough and you all fire at the same time, you’ll hit something.  That’s the most we can hope for right now.”

Ling Moy closed her eyes as the dust from the horses rose into a cloud and the pounding sound receded away from them.  Her eyes opened and she peeked around the corner of the building.  She watched as the horses slowed down in the middle of this dirty little town.

“Go!” O-Lan cried.

She and her fellow Chinese ran out in the street and formed a rough line behind the horsemen.  They were now less than a stone’s throw away from the men who had locked them up.  She could hear the other girls counting slowly when a shot rang out from Hai Tang’s rifle.

She cursed as those bastards turned their horses around.  She pulled the hammers back on her shotgun and let loose with both barrels after the order for “Fire!” was shouted.

Adrenaline ran through her and her hands shook.  She almost dropped her gun at the kick and from explosion of sound they had made.  The screams of horses and men flooded out from the smoke of gunpowder.

O-Lan screamed, “Run!”

Ling Moy almost missed the command, though once it registered, she ran back into the small alley she had been waiting in.  Gun fire erupted behind her and she heard screams from a couple girls, but she didn’t look back.

The Nun with a Gun ~ Chapter 23: Leather & Tobacco ~

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Cavanaugh’s men rode hard and fast to the small town on the horizon.  Their rage was palpable as they beat their foam slathered horses ever closer.

Once they crested the hill, a man seated on his horse stood starkly out against the horizon.  Cavanaugh called a halt.  As the rising dust plumed outward, the Major cantered over to his tracker, “what’s the news, Boone?”

“Most of the townsfolk have holed up in their homes or headed out of town,” he answered.  “I think they can smell the trouble that’s been brewin’.”

The Major’s face twisted into an ugly mask, “What about that witch of a sister?”

Boone gulped and his horse shied back a step, “The nun is down there, sir.  I’ve seen her with my own eyes.”

The tracker proffered the spyglass and Cavanaugh snatched it from his hands.  While he scanned the streets of the town, Cole drank loudly from his canteen. Tuco lit up a cigar while Frank and Holt chewed on the jerky that they had salvaged from the villa.  The other men waited on their commander.

“How many are down there?” asked the Major.

Boone sat quietly on his horse as he calculated in his head, “Besides the nun?  Nine of them calico queens.”

Cavanaugh stiffened and leaned forward, “I see one of our China girls down there.”

“Well, there was fifteen of them, last we saw.”  Boone started counting on his fingers, “I’d give a guess at twenty five, then.”  He looked over what was left of the gang, “Only thirteen of us.  We are sorely outnumbered, sir.”

The clap of the spyglass being closed snapped his men out of their reverie.  Cavanaugh turned to face his posse, “How about it, boys?  We got twenty five fillies down there and only one of them can shoot.”

Tuco growled, “That nun aint no woman.  She’s a curse.”

“Best way to end a curse is to end it, hombre,” Cavanaugh shot back.  “Let’s clip the horns on those painted cats!  Hyaah!”

The Major shot forward and his men followed close behind.  To some it seemed as if Sam Hill rode with them.  To others, they were the devils and the desire for vengeance was thick.