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Onyx Landing

xanaphia

Philosopher? I hardly knew her!
Joined
Sep 28, 2013


The problems started the day the mine closed.

It wasn’t so bad at first. The day it closed, The Dusky Belle was full of customers, and so long as they had money to spend, Victoria welcomed them. There were a couple fist fights, nothing so major. With more volume than her girls could handle on a typical night, impatient men argued over who’d get their turn, and threw punches to secure their place in line. Poker games were heated, volatile, and accusations of cheating were met with foul language and closed fists. Hell, everyone just seemed angry, and even she found herself itching to start a fight.

And things hadn’t gotten better since then. The mine was still closed, and the men out of work with too much time on their hands. Only now, they were running out of money too, but not out of their hungers. Shit, she had to pull her revolver on one man who slammed her against the bar, demanding satisfaction. He wasn’t gonna get much further than that, not with all the people around, but the fact that he was desperate enough to go that far was worrying.

Four damn days, and the Town of Onyx Landing was losing its mind. Victoria sighed, counting her stock of liquor, and then counting it again, wishing she were counting wrong. Usually running out of booze was a good sign, a sign she was making money. But it was a fat lot of good money could do her if the people around here went stir crazy without drink or women. That kind of violence was bad for business.

“If it keeps like this much longer, I might hafta ration the booze,” she joked, pouring a glass for Maria, one of the other girls of the Dusky Belle, “We might not make it to the next shipment.”

“Nah, Chica, you keep my glass full,” Maria muttered, tossing back her drink, “You cut off my whiskey and I am gonna strike.”

Noise from the bottom of the stairs drew both women’s attention. The new girl, Xia, kissed her latest client on the cheek, and whispered promises to wait for him, “longtime.” Vic just resisted the urge to snicker. The pidgin accent was a farce, she could tell, but Xia paid out her 15% cut after every lay, so Vic saw no need to spill her secrets. She joined them at the bar, passing over Vic’s cut and another dollar for a drink.

Vic finished off that bottle of whiskey and continued, “I can either keep you girls in drinks or the men, but I won’t be able to keep both. Still got three days until more comes in, and I only have half a case left.”

“So?” Maria snickered, “We need it a lot more then the men do, especially with how busy it’s been lately. Shit, I’m surprised I can even walk.”

“I dunno, the men pay more when they’re drunk. ‘Specially when they say fifteen, and I can reply ‘fifty? Oh, you so generous.’ If he’s drunk enough, he don’t argue much.” Xia laughed, and took a swig of her drink.

Vic joined her in a laugh, and shook her head, “What are you going to do when someone figures out you speak perfectly good English?”

“Skip town. I hear Silentwood’s nice.”

“Slientwood is a damn correct name.” Vic wiped down the bar, shaking her head. “They don’t got much but cattle up there.”

“Well hell, maybe I’ll head to Tombstone then.”

“Yeah, you and half the town if they don’t open that mine up soon.”

Glass thudded on wood as Xia slammed her empty drink on the bar, “What happened, anyway? I heard there was an explosion? Or maybe a cave in?”

“Yeah, something like that. I understand three guys are still stuck in there. Or they dead.” Maria stared out the window, eyes distant, as if she could see through the mountain and sighed, “Probably dead.”

“By now at least, if they weren’t yet.” Vic agreed, following the invisible line of her sight. The mountain cast long shadows over the town, blocking the orange rays of late afternoon sun. “God rest they soul.”
 
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TheCorsair

Pulsar
Joined
Dec 17, 2013
“Ah’ve got th’ worst gawddamn timing,” Tom swore, leaning against a whitewashed wood wall and tapping tobacco into a sheet of wrapping paper. “Gawddamn mine’s closed.”

He twisted the paper together and licked the edge to seal it, then struck a match on the wall and puffed it alight. Unfiltered smoke burned his throat as he took a drag, then streamed blue-white from his nostrils as he considers his options. Onyx Landing was supposed to be rich, he knew, and rich sounded a damn sight better than punching dogies for a living. So he’d spent most of his pay on tools and lit out for the mines.

Course, it turned out that prospecting was a mite more involved than just getting a job at a mine. Particularly when the one was closed.

He took another drag, and considered. It wasn’t a complete loss. He still had all his kit, and a book he’d picked up on prospecting. Maybe he’d still strike it rich in his own. Smiling at that thought, he took a final drag and ground out his cigarette. Right now, he decided, he needed a little liquid inspiration. And the Dusky Belle looked promising.

-*-

“Give me s whiskey,” Cassie said, plunking a nickel down in the bar.

The bartender eyed her strangely, which made her fist itch, then shoved the coin back. “Outta whiskey,” he grunted, flicking her eyes at a collection of women at the end.

Cassie looked at them as well, because they were worth looking at. “They’re drinking,” she pointed out.

“Madam Vickie owns the place,” the bartender answered. “She wants whiskey, I aim sayin’ no.”

“Fair enough.” Cassie shoved the nickel back. “Got any beer?” The bartender did, a fact he proved by taking the nickel in one scarred fist and producing a dark brown bottle. Cassie smiled, then worked the cap off and took a long pull. “Good stuff,” she told him.

“Brew it myself,” the bartender replied.

Cassie nodded and took another drink, working hard to ignore the stares she was getting. Most folk held there was only one type of woman who drank in a saloon, and she'd had to bust a few heads over that assumption before. The way she looked at it, the type of woman who drank in a saloon was a thirsty woman with money.

Course, she decided as she looked over the knot of women at the end of the bar, there’s thirsty and there’s thirsty.

Picking up her beer, she casually strolled over. “Afternoon, ladies,” she said, saluting with the bottle. “Mind if I join you?”
 

xavierrol

Supporter
Supporter
Joined
Aug 24, 2013
Location
Ohio
A cloud of dust followed the heavy break pulled by four sturdy horses at a speed it had likely never traveled before. The long reins snapped just above the beasts' dusty backs, the sound doing more to urge them along than any actual physical contact. Horses were creatures of habit and their habit had been pulling heavily laden wagons slowly out of the mine and over to the smelter where the nearly worthless ore was heated to yield the silver that made it all worthwhile. But after five days of inaction after the collapse, the team now found itself racing down a road they had only come up once when they had arrived at Dead Reach Mountain. The load was light though, just a handful of men, the driver who was nearly as crazed as the horses, urging them faster and faster towards the small town doctor who was the only hope for the survivors of the collapse. In the back of the wagon, two of the three lying figures were as lifeless as the usual cargo, a third clung to life even as his blood continued to seep into the dust that seemed to be everywhere at the mine. The only reason their was still blood left in him was due to the pressure the fifth man kept on the deep wound in the victim's gut. Gustav Wagner used what was left of his strength to keep the scraps of dirty dungaree pressed into the wound but he could practically feel the man's life slipping away.

They should be celebrating right now, Gustav couldn't help but think through his sleep deprived exhaustion. He couldn't remember how few hours of sleep he had grudgingly accepted since the collapse, the last of which was at least 48 hours ago. He had led the few men left at the mine on a brilliant rescue, bypassing the unstable roof and improvised shoring as they went. It was finesse work as far as mining went, but there was no dynamite just muscle, and you could only put so many men to work in such a small place. Gustav was still recovering from the shock of what he found when they broke through. These men, they should have been alive, cold hungry and anxious but alive. Instead they had found twelve dead bodies and these three that still had some life in them. The crazy thing was, none of them seemed to have died from the collapse. The wound he was currently trying to plug was almost certainly made from a pick, these men died fighting each other, there was no other conclusion but Gustav was afraid to even say the thought out loud.

As the wagon finally pulled noisily into Onyx Landing, Gustav looked up at the driver who set the brake and looked nervously back at him. "Find the Doc." He told him, this one still has a chance. He waited anxiously for the Sawbones, wondering what he should even tell her, he was certain she would make the same conclusion and frankly his brain was in a fog thicker than the dust still settling from their ride in, that damn dust, it was everywhere. He looked down at the face of the miner he was trying to save, Frederick a fellow Deutschlander, though he didn't know him all that well. He of course wanted to save him as he would anyone, but he also couldn't help but think that this was the only (barely) living soul that could explain what the hell happened down there. His face was pale though, even through the dust he marveled at just how pale he was, as if he were turning to a ghost in front of his very eyes. It had to be the lack of sleep, where was that damn doctor?

Before the driver could return the last survivor's eyes went wide open, he clutched Gustav's shirt with surprising strength, pulling him down until they were nearly face to face. "Teufel! Teufel!" He exclaimed then his grip went limp and the light faded from his eyes, though they stayed open, like an accusation from the beyond. Gustav stared at the dead man's face even as the driver returned to the wagon. The driver frantically explained that he couldn't find the doctor, asking what he should do. Without looking away from the dead eyes he told the driver to find the undertaker, it was too late." Feeling the exhaustion of the past several days he struggled to get up and out of the wagon. He staggered towards the Dusky Belle, brushing off the worst of the dust as a courtesy to the owner. "Bier" he said to the bartender the German being close enough to the English to get him what he wanted. Normally he would have sheepishly approached the beautiful eponymous owner of the establishment but he just didn't have the energy. "Ich brauche..." he started then remembered to speak English. "A room, I need a room." He was a mess, he should really take a bath first but he would likely drown in the tub falling asleep from exhaustion.
 
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Cozette

Power is power, the fire never goes out
Joined
Jun 22, 2018
Just like you, mother. Catherine gazed mindlessly out of the window of the train as her past kept her present in check. Just like her mother had left her without word or warning, so too had Catherine left....time and time again it seemed. First Wallace and New Orleans, then New York City. She was repeating a painful pattern of running away, but never finding the solace she so desperately sought. She hoped Onyx Landing would be enough of a change to make her settle, and put some roots down. She had heard from a few wealthy prospectors back in New York that it had great potential, so she took the chance, and the train.

She disembarked the train into dry, hellish heat, with the sun relentlessly beating down upon her. So this is Onyx Landing....
She had never been afraid of travel, or change, so Onyx Landing would be no exception. But she could already tell it would be a challenge to her. Dressed in a peach colored dress embellished with fine Irish lace, her corseted figure and finery certainly caught the gaze of the men around her. She pretended not to notice as she collected her bag. Now was not the time to seduce or solicit. First she needed to procure some lodging. She looked at the card the gentleman in New York had given her. The Dusky Belle.

He had told her it was a well-tended saloon and brothel, but he warned her of the men. “Your standard miner fair. Weathered. Rough hewn. Unkempt. Hard drinking, hard living men who want their booze, perhaps a game of poker, and a good whore. Not exactly what you are used to, Kitty. They make the seedy brothels in the Burroughs look like paradise.” He said, giving her a fair warning of what she could expect, should she venture into the wilds, as he called it. He himself was a gentleman of refinement, and had rewarded her often with exquisite gifts and generous tips for her services.

He was spot on.

It was indeed a rough place, that she was certain of, but she was here, and she would stay. Until the tug at her soul made her leave out to somewhere new. She considered asking where the Dusky Belle might be, but took a moment to look around for herself. Exuding an air of confidence, she would not begin her stay here by asking a man for help. Soon enough, they would be asking her.

As she figured, the Dusky Belle was not too far from the train station, and within eyesight. Typical set up out West, brothels near the train station equates to good business. Catcalls and wolf whistles did not deter her as she made her way to the saloon. She was quite use to it from the big city. Men were men no matter where you went. She had heard of the owner, a woman by the name of Victoria, from her gentleman client with the sage advice. By his story, Catherine and Victoria had a few things in common. One, being they were both from Louisiana. The other, Catherine would try to keep to herself. Her great-grandmother had been a slave, but Catherine was fair-skinned. Only her silky, dark brunette hair and possibly her emerald green eyes might give a keen observer a clue, more likely than that would be the subtle hint of a Creole accent. Her mother’s family had hidden their heritage, even though it was fairly common back in Louisiana.

Creole.

She drew a deep breath of confidence as she entered the Dusky Belle. Walking to the bar, she politely addressed the tender, trying, as always, to disguise her Creole accent. Even in New York City she hid it, with only one or two keen folk ever catching it. Soft, Southern, with an essence of French. Unforgettable. “I’m looking for the owner of this establishment, Victoria Freeman. I would like to inquire about a room, and....work.” Her emerald eyes searched the saloon for a likely candidate for this Victoria. Sure enough, Catherine was certain she saw her. A lovely woman, just as had been described to her by Donal Riordan. He had been here months before for a stay, using the services this place had provided him, before returning to New York City. He was the one who had given Catherine the information. One of her best gentlemen. She would miss him dearly.

She gave who she was positive was Victoria, a soft but confident smile. She had money to hold her over, but it was clear to her that here in Onyx Landing, she would definitely be needing work to earn more. Not a bad place, but not the lap of opulent luxury.

And so her new adventure out West had begun.
 
OP
xanaphia

xanaphia

Philosopher? I hardly knew her!
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
“Afternoon, ladies,” she said, saluting with the bottle. “Mind if I join you?”

All three women turned their gaze upon the newcomer, and Xia gave her a big smile, “Sure, plenty of room.” Wood scraped against as she pulled her stool away from the bar, making room for the newcomer to join them. None of the women hiding their appraising glances at her outfit. It wasn’t typical female attire, but not so uncommon among the women who worked their farms. And Victoria couldn’t deny that she wore it well.

“Aint seen your face round these parts, before,” Victoria noted, nursing her whiskey and painfully aware how little was left. “What brought you to Onyx Landing?”

Vic was only able to catch half her explanation, noting the elegant figure who entered the saloon. Her fine silk dress was out of place in the mining town, but Victoria recognized the sort that got off the train in town wearing their fineries, “Ah, ‘scuse me.”

Xia turned towards Cassi with her chin on her fist, “So, do you play cards?”

~*~

The young woman smiled as she approached, hiding her nerves well.

“I’m looking for the owner of this establishment, Victoria Freeman. I would like to inquire about a room, and....work.”

You sure?” Vic took a moment to look her up and down. “This probably ain’t the sort of clientele you’re used to.” But the girl was determined, and refused to shy away, so Vic shrugged.

“It’s 2 dollars a night for the room, plus a 15% of any business you conduct there. I reckon you gotta gun?” She handed over a dainty Deringer pocket pistol, “You can keep that one in the room wit ya. Down here, we look out for each other.” She led the young woman upstairs, the lacquered railing creaking softly with each step.

“Number 7’s available,” she explained, opening the door for her newest employee. “Here is to hoping it lucky for ya.” The room was small, mostly filled by the bed at the center. A plush, hand sewn quilt covered it, and two goosedown pillows rested at the head of it. At the foot was a lard oaken chest, and a matching armoire sat against the eastern wall. There was a desk/vanity tucked into the corner, and a small chair tucked into it. The wooden furniture was sturdy and simple, allowing the natural beauty of the oak to shine through.

“The last girl left a week ago, and I cleaned it pretty good since then. It ain’t much to look at, but it’s comfortable enough.” She stood in the doorway a moment longer, giving the woman a chance to ask her questions or voice her concerns, but speaking again, “I, uh, didn’t catch you’re name, Miss…?”

~*~

Xia sat with the newcomer, trading stories of the places they’d traveled, and the trouble they’d run into. She didn’t get around to divulging why she dressed like a man, and Xia hadn’t yet gathered up the courage to ask. She figured it would take another couple shots of whisky to get to that point.

A handsome fella entered the saloon, tall and lean with light hair and eyes, and Xia flashed him a smirk. She hoped he’d approach her, and even calculated a discount rate to offer him. Maybe even a free lay, if he could prove those hands were more than just strong, but she turned her attention back to the woman beside her. Desperate was not a great look on a working girl.

~*~

Victoria was coming down the stairs when the doors burst open, and Gustav burst in behind them. She didn’t know him well, but they’d spoken a few times. He was covered in blood, but so far as she could tell, it wasn’t his.

“Jesus, what happened to you?”

"Ich brauche..." he started, and she blinked at the unfamiliar tongue. He seemed to catch himself, and started again. "A room, I need a room."

“All right,” Vic nodded, motioning him up the stairs. “Did they finally break through the cave in?” Room 8 was the last open room, and she pushed it open for him. “I imagine you’ll want a bath, so I’ll start boiling some water for ya. Do you need anything else?”
 

xavierrol

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Supporter
Joined
Aug 24, 2013
Location
Ohio
Gustav took a large draft of the beer, spilling some of it, forming streaks of relative clean from his dust and dirt covered face giving him an almost vampiric look as he looked at the beautiful owner. "Ja" he said then finished the remains of his beer before turning back to Victoria and continuing in a low voice, as if word wouldn't spread like wildfire through the town. "Dead, all dead." Even though he spoke them, uttering the words out loud seemed to strike him physically, as if it suddenly made his nightmare true. He followed her up the stairs and to the room, despite his exhaustion, he felt a surge of energy as his eyes traveled up and down the length of her body.

Though Gustav had harbored a crush on the attractive dark mistress of the Dusky Belle, he had always been too shy and far too polite to make any serious connection with her. She made him feel like a schoolboy, but now he saw her in a completely different light as an unnatural lust and aggression seemed to fill his veins with fire. His normally downcast eyes bored into her body as she asked if he needed anything else. "Ja, sie" he said, his upper lip curling into a predatory sneer showing white teeth as if he wanted to devour her. He grabbed her wrist and pulled her closer to him. The smell of three days dust and sweat in the mines filled her nostrils. It was likely fortunate for Gustav that Vic had given her small pistol to the newcomer, however he had no idea such a thing even existed and likely wouldn't have cared in his current state. The German's grip was like iron from working with his hands all his life, his normally gentle demeanor replaced with something much darker.
 

TheCorsair

Pulsar
Joined
Dec 17, 2013
Cassie smiled at the pretty Chinawoman, then sat herself down. “Aint seen your face round these parts, before,” remarked the almost intimidatingly sexy dark-skinned woman that she’d bet was Miss Vickie. “What brought you to Onyx Landing?”

“A bit of this, a bit of that,” Cassie replied evasively, taking a sip of her beer. No need to go into the Danite killers, right? “Heard there was money to be had in this town, so I figured I’d have a look.” She offered an amused smile. “They say mint don’t buy happiness, but I’m game to find test that idea out.”

Disappointingly, Miss Vickie excused herself - to go talk to another of her girls, it appeared. But the pretty Chinawomn stayed, which kept it from being too disappointing. “So,” she asked, resting her chin one one hand, “do you play cards?”

“I’ve been known to indulge,” Cassie replied. “My folks told me gambling’s a sin, but they told me a whole lotta things are sins that ain’t never hurt me none.” Sipping from the bottle once more, she regarded the other woman. “Name’s Cassie. You?”

-*-

Tom took a final drag on his coffin nail, then ground it out on the dirt and stepped into the saloon. It wasn’t dark, but it was darker than outside and he had to blink a few times to adjust. Not a bad place, he decided. Cleaner than many he’d been in, and pretty quiet. Course, it was still early afternoon. Nights were probably rowdier, with folk blowing off steam.

A couple of pretty girls sat at one end of the bar, one a dainty little foreign woman - like them Celestials working the railroads - and the other dressed like a man. Sure didn’t look like a man, though. Both of ‘em made him remember just how damn long it’d been since he’d gotten laid. Too long. But the way th Chinese gal was smiling at him, maybe not that much longer.

Just then, some burly fellow covered in dirt and blood burst in, jabbering away in some foreign lingo. Dutch, maybe? It sounded like what ol Pete van Rees would go on in, when he got worked up over fellas not liking his cooking. Still, the madam seemed to have things under control. So, trying not to act too eager - even a whore liked a fellah to take ur a little slow - he walked up to the bar at a point not too near ir far from the two women at the end. “Gimme a beer,” he said, thinking about the few dollars he had left.

The bartender plunked down the bottle and took his money, and Tom took a swig. Not bad, he decided. Not bad at all. A mite lonely, though. A bit of company would go down a treat with the beer, and then two pretty ladies at the end of the bar were shuffling cards. Another swig, and he decided to try his luck. So he scooped up the bottle, and made his way towards them. “Afternoon, ladies. This a private game, or kin a fellah join in?”
 
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Okatoma

Planetoid
Joined
Dec 31, 2018
Eli sighed with relief as he left the stable, his horse munching happily on a meal of oats. The letter pouch over his dusty shoulder was nearly empty, only a single letter remaining. He had strict instructions to bring it to the local bank. The Pony Express didn't often do special runs, but someone had paid good money for this, nearly three times the going rate of $5. Whatever it was, it must be important.

Twenty hours on the trail, and he was sore and dirty all over. He'd picked the letter up in Grand Junction in the middle of the night, along with his regular mail, and had lost track of the number of times he'd switched horses since then. He walked with a slight hitch in his step, his legs still getting accustomed to walking after being locked in one place for so long, and thought longingly of a warm bath and a bed. Onyx Landing was a bit out of the way of his regular routes, but the Express had been short on man power.

He recognized the bank by the bars on the window, and his heart when he tried the handle and met a locked door. The sun was sinking in the sky, painting the horizon in crimson and purple, but he'd hoped he could make it on time to deliver the letter today. He knocked once, hoping maybe someone was inside, but after several long minutes there was no reply.

With a sigh, he turned, scanning the streets and stopping a passerby.

"Pardon, ma'am," he said, his voice soft. "There a boarding house I could stay for the night?"

He could see the portly woman's demeanor change as she looked him over, turning from bothered to motherly in a heartbeat. Short and slight, with a clean shaven face that looked years younger than it should, Eli tended to cause that reaction, especially in women. He shifted uncomfortably, shifting his duster to reveal the well-worn travel clothes and the revolver at his hip that spoke to his ability to take care of himself, and the woman's face hardened a bit.

"Not many beds in town, with the mine closed and the miners all back from their camps. You could try the bunkhouse." She gestured back the way Eli had ridden into town. "But last I heard, it was full. Only other place is the Dusty Rose. They charge by the hour."

"Much obliged, ma'am." Eli tipped his had to her, turning on his heels and heading for the bunkhouse. He didn't need anyone asking questions at a place that charged by the hour.

A short time later, he found himself standing at the swinging doors to the Dusky Rose. Seemed it was here or the stables for him tonight, so with a deep breath he stepped through the doors, the jangling of his spurs drowned out by the rowdy place. He shifted uncomfortably as he looked around. A number of pretty women wearing scarcely enough to be considered appropriate lounged at the bar, and several others sat at tables, giggling with men. For a brief moment, he considered turning tail and camping out in the desert. The risk of being found out here was high. But there were rumors swirling around Onyx Landing, and he'd seen things on the trail that gave him pause to dismiss them as simply rumors. A chill had followed him since he'd crossed down over the western slope, and he wasn't one to dismiss such feelings.

He crossed the room to the bar, catching the bartender's eye. "Got a room for the night?" he asked, lowering his voice to make it more gruff. "Just a room, and a bath and some food. Bunk house is all full."

A commotion upstairs caught his attention, and he glanced up nervously, recognizing the sounds of a struggle. His hand went to the gun at his hip, wondering if he should intervene.
 
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OP
xanaphia

xanaphia

Philosopher? I hardly knew her!
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
Gustav’s hands upon her was an unexpected –and unwelcome– gesture. Memories returned with a vengeance, of enduring the touch of her master, of fighting her own instinct to let him do as he wish. For a moment, Victoria was lost in the memory, familiar dread pooling in her gut.

But then she remembered where she was, and struggled against his grip. “Let go!” she snarled, and then gasped as she fell hard against the door and her air escaped her lungs. Dammit, had he always been so strong? He was miner, but still! Fabric screeched as she strained against him, anything to free herself from his maddened grasp.

Finally, she had the good sense to slammed her booted heel into his foot. His grip faltered, and she tore herself free, pushing him to the ground as pain distracted him. “Get out!” she yelled, her voice carrying through the brothel. Angry fingered twists in his collar, and dragged him out the room and towards the stair, “Go on now, get!”

~*~

“Xia” she introduced, loud enough that the handsome fella at the bar could hear too. She eyed the woman, Cassie, and wondered if she might be amenable to the fairer sex. Some girls did for pay, and some for fun, and Xia let herself get hopefule. Always hard to tell for sure, and risky to ask, but alcohol always seemed to ease out the truth of the matter.

“Afternoon, ladies. This a private game, or kin a fellah join in?”

“Plenty o’room,” Xia acknowledge, shuffling the deck. Cards flashed out into neat piles before the others, but before Xia could check her hand, commotion erupted from upstairs. Xia Turned her gaze that way, just to see Miss Vickie tossing the German fella out. Shaking her head, she let out a nervous laugh, “That damn cave in is turning the town crazy.”
 

xavierrol

Supporter
Supporter
Joined
Aug 24, 2013
Location
Ohio
The pain in Gustav's foot was not enough to break his hold on her, but it was enough to bring him back to himself, the polite young man that had admired the ebony beauty from his shyness. He could see the fear turn to anger as she ripped her arm from his lightening grip, it was his turn to be surprised as she shoved him down, her speed and strength catching him off balance. Dragging him to the top of the stairs where their altercation became clear for all to see. Normally he would have died of embarrassment at being so publicly shamed by a woman he had admired so, but these were not normal times. He regained his feet, starting halfway down the stairs at the strength of her rebuke and demand. He could feel the eyes of the tavern upon him but still he stopped and turned back to look up at Victoria. "They're all dead!" He yelled back up at her. "It wasn't the cave in that killed them, they killed each other." His anger was building again but the hot flame had no more fuel to consume in him. He was exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally. He collapsed on the stairs, weeping like a child, confused at his anger, his lust, and his inability to understand what was going on around him. "They should have lived..."

***

Before the undertaker came to claim his charges, a lone figure slipped quietly out from between the buildings and climbed easily upon the wagon. Tahoma had been watching the mine from a distance, doing what he could do thwart their progress, though he hadn't been responsible for the collapse. He was curious to understand what had happened, why the digging had stopped and the dash down the mountain with a load of dead men rather than ore. He didn't know much about mining, but had been in enough battles to recognize the aftermath of men killing men. The wounds told the tale as well as any voice could, these men had been in a brutal battle to the death. White men were crazy, he knew that well enough, but this seemed beyond normal even for them.

Climbing down from the wagon he walked cautiously towards the Dusky Belle, his clothes wouldn't betray his Navajo identity too readily, but it wouldn't take much of a look to know he didn't belong here. He needed a better idea of what was going on, so he felt he needed to risk the tavern. He went in quietly, staying to the edges of the room, grateful that a handful of new comers seemed to be the focus of most of the attention. He got a little more bold as a commotion began to erupt near the top of the stairs. He watched and listened, keeping to himself as best he could.
 

TheCorsair

Pulsar
Joined
Dec 17, 2013
Tom turned to watch the commotion, scratching his head as the German ranted in heavily-accented English before collapsing. “That damn cave is turning the town crazy,” Xia laughed nervously.

He scratched his head, pretending not to notice as the blonde woman slowly removed her hand from her pistol, then scooped up his cards. “Cave? Y’mean th’ mine?” He glanced at his hand: the four of hearts, the jack of hearts, the king of spades, the six of diamonds, and the six of hearts. Garbage, really. A single pair. “Ah heard tell they was good fer th’ town. Lotsa folk strikin’ it rich.”

-*-

Cassie slowly eased her hand away from her revolver, keeping an eye on the collapsed German man until the bartender went to collect him. Even then she felt tense, struggling to remain calm. Loud men still bothered her. A lot. “That damn cave in is turning the town crazy,” Xia remarked.

She picked up her cards as the newcomer commented on the mines. He was handsome, but she wasn’t sure if she wanted him around at the moment. It was hard enough finding out if another woman was interested, without a man muddling the waters. And she really hoped the soft-voiced Chinese woman was interested. “Maybe,” she mused aloud, peering at her hand, “they’re all striking it rich? And then killing each other to be richer?”

The two of hearts, the six of spades, the two of clubs, the queen of hearts, and the nine of hearts. Fucking hell.

“Reckon that could be,” the newcomer said, anteing a buckle. “Name’s Tom, by th’ way.”

“Cassie,” she replied, anteing a nickle as well.

“It’s a right pleasure ta meet ya, Mss Cassie,” Tom said, before looking at the other end of the bar. “Reckon we outta invite that there fella as well?”

She looked, appraising the smooth-cheeked young man eating a plate of beans. What the hell? If Xia didn’t fancy a lady, he’d double her chances of getting laid. “Hey!” She called, waving a hand to catch Eli’s eye. “Yeah, you! Fancy a friendly game?”
 

Okatoma

Planetoid
Joined
Dec 31, 2018
Eli relaxed as the situation seemed to calm itself, removing his hand from his revolver with a relieved sigh. Looked like he wouldn't have to go making a fuss, which was alright in his book.

The bartender delivered an ale and a plate of beans, and Eli nodded his thanks. The simple meal tasted heavenly, after being on the road for so long.

A figure stumbled down the stairs and Eli kept a wary eye on the man as he ate. The man slumped on the stairs, crying, shouting something incoherently. With his accent, it had been hard to pick up what he'd yelled up the stairs. Hell, Eli wasn't sure it was even English, and no one else seemed to be paying him much mind now that the drama was over. Since no one else seemed to mind, Eli figured he shouldn't make it his business. Someone would kick the man out sooner or later. Still, something weird was going on in Onyx Landing, Eli was sure of it. Years spent traveling alone on the trail had given him a good sense of when to skeedadle. A good night sleep and he'd best head back to the Pony Express outpost in Salt Lake.

Movement and a raised voice caught his attention, and Eli glanced over, a 'who, me?' look on his face, noticing a table of card players and a tall woman with blonde hair asking him if he wanted to join the game. A handsome, lean cowboy who looked like he would have fit right in on the ranch Eli grew up on was sprawled in one of the chairs, holding his cards close to his chest. A pretty Oriental lady sat next to them, dressed as though she likely was employed by the house. For a moment, he considered refusing, the lure of a bath and a bed hard to pass up after so long on the trail. But if something was going on here, best to find out about it.

Eli nodded, gathering his bowl of beans and his drink before walking over bow-legged to sit with them. Twenty hours on a horse, and his muscles had stiffened something awful sitting at the bar. Maybe just a short game, he thought to himself. Then a bath and bed.

He set his meal down on the table, tipping his hat to the Chinawoman. "Ma'am." He nodded to the cowboy and to the blonde who had invited him over, taking in her attire, and the easy way she held herself, not afraid to show her femininity. "Thanks for the invite. Name's Eli. Always appreciate good company, though I ain't much of a gambler." He smiled ruefully. "Ain't got the face for it. But I got a little coin to burn. What're we playing?"
 
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xanaphia

xanaphia

Philosopher? I hardly knew her!
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
“Ah heard tell they was good fer th’ town. Lotsa folk strikin’ it rich.”

“Sure, when the mine’s open it makes everyone a lot of money. It’s great for the town but… well, it don’t do no one any good when it’s closed.”

Xia’s face was calm as she read off the cards in her hand. Two of spades, three of spades, four of clubs, five of diamonds and the six of clubs. Nice little straight. She covered her smirk with a sip of whiskey, and tossed her nickel in the ante.

Cassie mentioned another newcomer, a handsome, clean cut looking man, and finally Xia had a reason to wear the smile she felt, “this hand’s five card stud, but we can play whatever the dealer wants. At least, I like a little variety.” That statement was accompanied by a sly wink at Cassie, and the hope she might catch her meaning. But, really, the table was full of attractive faces, and she liked her odds.

Another sip, and she turned towards Tom, “Should we call, so Eli here can join in?”

***​

Victoria stood at the top of the stairs, watching Gustav break down and her bartender escort him out. And then a moment longer, until the triphammer beating of her heart slowed and her breathing calmed. The damn closed mine had everyone a bit stir crazy, that’s all. Didn’t mean nothing.

Finally releasing a sigh, she glanced at her sleeve and frowned at the tear. At least it was along the seem, easy enough to fix. But she’d have to change, before things got busy this evening. If anyone had any money left.

By the time she slipped into a new dress, the saloon was getting crowded, and she had to help out a few of the girls in getting drinks out. After passing out a tray of beers to one group of men, she passed by a man sitting by himself. He was dark skinned, and could have been Mexican or Indian or tanned. In any case, she didn’t care, so longer as he spent money and didn’t cause no trouble, “You drinkin’, partner?”
 

TheCorsair

Pulsar
Joined
Dec 17, 2013
“It’s a right pleasure ta know ya, Eli,” Tom drawled, you n response to the newcomer’s introduction. “Tom Cavendish.”

Cassie pushed out a chair with her boot. “Cassie,” she introduced herself. “Make yourself comfortable, Eli.”

“This hand’s five card stud, but we can play whatever the dealer wants. At least, I like a little variety,” Xia declared.

Cassie smiled a little as she caught her wink. This was looking promising, although her options would still have been pretty good if she wasn’t interested. This Tom wasn’t bad looking, after all, and Eli has a fresh-faced attractiveness she found appealing. “I like a little variety myself,” she replied, fanning her cards and examining them. “And I can get awfully tired of my hand.” She looked at Tom over the cards. “You?”

“Hm?” Tom replied, feeling like he was missing something. “Uh, yeah? I mean, no rule says we gotta play five card stud every hand, right?”

Xia took a sip of her drink. “Should we call, so Eli here can join in?”

He peered at his cards, considering Xia’s question. “An’ Ah reckon’ callin’ an’ dealin’ him in’s a good idea.” He tossed his cards on the table. “Ah ain’t got nothin’ worth hangin’ onto.”

Cassie threw her cards down as well. “Me neither,” she agreed, examining the newcomer. “But don’t you worry, Eli, there’s nothing wrong with your face.” She leaned forward, resting her chin in her hand. “Nothing at all.”
 

Okatoma

Planetoid
Joined
Dec 31, 2018
Oh dear Lord. Eli found himself blushing as Cassie's meaning sunk in. Hoping his tanned face hid the embarrassment, he coughed, taking a sip of ale before speaking. "No need to call on my account. But seein' as y'all have, what's the buy-in?"

Most women took to babying Eli when they saw him, thinking he was a young boy. It had saved him a lot of grief throughout the years, not having to make excuses to disappear on his own for the night. From what he'd read of this Cassie woman, she might not mind finding out Eli's secret. Miss Xia might not either, if Eli was reading the hints she was dropping correctly. Didn't mean anyone liked to be surprised, and didn't mean he wanted his secret out. What the hell would he do, if he didn't have the Pony Express? Go back to Colorado and become a good ranch hand? Or even worse, a house wife?

He nodded to Cassie, gesturing towards the cards. "So, if we're switching up, what's your fancy?" And glancing around the room to see if anyone was listening, Eli leaned forward, a conspiratorial grin on his face. "And what the hell is happening in this town? Ain't seen nothin' like this since they ran out of liquor over in Boulder. Everyone actin' all crazy like." He gestured out the door to where the man had just been thrown out.
 

xavierrol

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Location
Ohio
Gustav didn't have the energy to resist as the bartender led him out of the bar and into the dark of the evening. He no longer cared what happened to him as he slumped against an alley wall and fell into unconsciousness. The fools didn't understand the danger they were in. The last thoughts he had before dropping into a much overdo sleep was that they would be sorry.

***

Tahoma kept his mouth shut, his eyes and ears open. He had seen the scene on the stairs between the big man he was fairly certain had come from the mine with the dead bodies. The heavily accented English was difficult for the Navajo born to understand but he picked up enough to understand the fear in the man. Had he not been so focused on his concerns of the mine, he would have wondered even more about the dark skin of the women who had enough authority here to have the miner thrown out. He had never seen, or even heard of such a dark white woman as he thought of her. He had heard tales from some of the older soldiers about a war to free the white black people but none of it had made much sense to him. The Spanish had taken slaves from among the native population but that was generations before Tahoma had been born. The idea of owning another human being was foreign to him and his people, they had driven the Spanish out of their lands and he expected they would do the same with these newcomers. He watched the card game at a nearby table, he had seen soldiers playing such games but had never been invited to one and new nothing of the game. He couldn't pick out any of the conversation well enough to get a feel for what was going on, no one appeared too panicked but it was hard to read these strange people.

He had tried to keep his head down but when the dark woman asked him if he was drinking he couldn't resist looking up at her. A good luck at his face would confirm he wasn't a Mexican, unless she wasn't very familiar with Navajo. When he looked up at Victoria he was taken aback for a moment, she appeared almost otherworldly to him and he couldn't find his voice. Drinking would be a mistake here, he was sure of it, but almost out of reflex he said "whiskey", not knowing it was in short supply. He rummaged through his pockets even as his eyes stayed locked on her face, as if he couldn't look away. He wasn't used to using coins for currency but had a few stashed away but just needed to find them. The gold coin fell heavy on the table, likely worth a dozen whiskeys if it could be bought. He then asked in a slow and slightly stilted English. "That man, the one who tore your dress, is he loco or drunk?"
 
OP
xanaphia

xanaphia

Philosopher? I hardly knew her!
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
“There was a cave in, at the mine,” Xia explained, shuffling the deck again. “It’s been shut down, and everyone’s been stir-crazy without work.” Again, cards flicked out, into four loose piles. “Let’s play five-card draw, this time. Don’t want poor Cassie hear getting tired of her hand now.”

Xia hardly had a chance to look at her hand before two men approached the table. One tall and skinny, with stringy brown hair and an empty gap of teeth on the bottom row. The other was heavy-set, with thick arms like a barrel and a shiny bald head. They stood around expectantly for a few moments, and Xia hoped if she ignored them, they’d find another girl to bother. But no such luck, as she crowded even closer to her, and made her wish baths weren’t such a luxury around here.

“Hey, chinawoman, why don’t you put those hands and that mouth to better use, and take us upstairs.” The tall man managed a toothy grin, and a vice grip on her arm.

At some saloons, Xia knew, the girls weren’t allowed to say no to the men, so long as they could pay. Not if they wanted to stay. But Miss Vicki didn’t run it like that here, and that was a lot of the reason Xia had stuck around as long as she did. With a quick motion, she freed her arm from his grip, and rearranged the cards in her hand.

“Go away, I’m busy,” she snarled, not bothering to cover her English.

“Not if you still got yer clothes on, you aint. Or did one of these fellas pay for your time?”

***

Victoria picked up the piece of gold and examined it with a careful eye. Outside of US territory, she saw lots of different currency come through, but this was something else entirely.

“I don’t got that much whiskey,” she answered with a laugh,” but I can make change.

"That man, the one who tore your dress, is he loco or drunk?"

She shook her head, “Wasn’t drunk, no. But that mine is makin’ everybody a bit loco, ‘round here.” Gustav’s words, about how the miners killed each other, haunted her mind. Clearing her throat, “Maybe they can open it back up soon, so everythin’ can get back to normal. Not that I mind all the extra coin here, but these men are ‘bout to drink me dry.” With a little laugh, she headed to the bar and poured his drink. Another empty bottle left her sighing, and she collected up his change from the coin box.

“Here’s a drink, and your change. Unless you were looking to hire on some company this evening?”
 

TheCorsair

Pulsar
Joined
Dec 17, 2013
“So, if we're switching up,” Eli asked, gesturing at the cards, “what's your fancy?"

“Oh, I’m not too picky,” Cassie replies, looking around the table. “I’ll try anything, at least once.”

Eli leaned forward, a conspiratorial grin on his face. "And what the hell is happening in this town? Ain't seen nothin' like this since they ran out of liquor over in Boulder. Everyone actin' all crazy like."

“There was a cave in, at the mine,” Xia explained, shuffling the deck again. “It’s been shut down, and everyone’s been stir-crazy without work.”

“Well, shit,” Tom drawled, before clapping his hand over his mouth and looking embarrassed. “Pardon me, ladies,” he added hurriedly, looking from Xia to Cassie. “Ah surely didn’t mean ta offend.”

Cassie sipped her beer, and shrugged. “I’m not offended.” She smiled. “It’s sweet of you to say so, though.”

“Well,” Tom replied. “Mah momma raised me ta behave better. Ah jes, well, Ah came here figurin’ Ah’d strike it rich prospectin’. An’ now th’ mine’s closed.”

Xia dealt. “Let’s play five-card draw, this time. Don’t want poor Cassie hear getting tired of her hand now.”

“Nothing wrong with my hand,” Cassie grinned, starting to pick up her cards. “I’ll be happy with a pair,” she added, looking at Tom and then Eli. She shifted, ‘accidentally’ brushing her got against Xia’s calf. “Two pair, if I’m lucky.”

Tom looked at his cards, wondering what the hell she was talking about. “Uhm,” he frowned, discarding. “I’ll take two.”

“Three’d be better,” Cassie replies, discarding. “How about you, Eli. How many do you want?”

Just then, a couple of locals interrupted. Crudely, pawing at Xia and making demands. Cassie tensed, and Tom shifted in his seat and laid his cards down. The men didn’t take Xia’s hints, though. Even when they stopped being hints. “Go away, I’m busy,”

“Not if you still got yer clothes on, you aint,” laughed the thick one. “Or did one of these fellas pay for your time?”

“Jes’ havin’ us a friendly game, partner,” Tom drawled. “Ah reckon she’s off duty, so why don’ you go...”

“Who the fuck asked you?” snapped the skinny one. “You ain’t payin’, so fuck off!”

“Yeah,” the burly man laughed, grabbing Xia’s arm again. “We are, so come on.” He jerked, and his eyes narrowed as the slim Chinawoman jerked back. “Ah said, come on!”

Xia’s chair shot backwards and clattered to the floor as the burly man yanked her to her feet. “Stuck up Chinese cunt,” he snarled. “Ah was gonna let you enjoy it.” He twisted her arm. “But now...”

Tom was on his feet now, raising a fist. “You sidewindin’...”

Before he could finish, Cassie vaulted over the table and smashed her beer bottle over the thick man’s skull. He staggered, howling in rage and pain, blood streaming from a lacerated scalp. “Come on, you son of a bitch!” she roared, menacing him with the jagged end of the broken bottle. “You want some? Come on!”
 

xavierrol

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Joined
Aug 24, 2013
Location
Ohio
If Tahoma had thought Victoria an exotic beauty already, the way her face lit up from her laugh after examining his coin, made him feel as if his heart had skipped several beats. He couldn't help but smile himself, a rarity for the usually somber Navajo. It took a moment for his brain to catch up, but her mention of the mine snapped him back to his reason for being here among these strange intruders. "Why? Why do they dig into the mountain?" He asked, curious if these people knew of the evil within and sought it out deliberately or were simple victims, ignorant of the what they were getting themselves into. These bilagáana had no connection to the land, it made them ignorant and well...loco.

When she returned with his whiskey he held the glass in his hand, pondering the wisdom of his choice as he considered the liquid and what it could do to him. Her next question puzzled him, he had no conception of the concept of prostitution. He looked up at her, his face the picture of naivete as began to ask what she meant by 'company'? He didn't get much opportunity to ask his question when a fight broke out at the next table. More out of reflex than any particular intent he had a knife at the skinny man's throat before he could retaliate for his bleeding friend. "Leave them be." His voice was calm and gentle, despite the threat of violence from the razor sharp blade.
 

Okatoma

Planetoid
Joined
Dec 31, 2018
Eli studied the men harassing Xia, feeling himself grow tenser and tenser as they refused to leave her alone. The oath he'd taken when he became a Pony Express Rider prohibited drinking, and fighting, and swearing, and if word got back to his bosses he was involved in a bar fight, it was his job on the line. But hell, he'd never been that good at following that code anyway.

He stood up as the men grabbed at Xia, a cold fury in his eyes as he studied the pair, assessing them. "She ain't interested," Eli warned, but it fell on deaf ears.

Just then there was a flurry of movement as Cassie leapt into action, and a tall, dark-skinned man stepped in. Eli took the opportunity to dart forward, kneeing the heavy set man in the groin before he could recover from Cassie’s attack and relieving him of the revolver at his hip. He stepped back, placing himself protectively between Xia and her assailants as he glared at them. Keeping his eyes on the two troublemakers, he flipped open the chamber with an experienced hand, trying to count the bullets by sound as they clattered to the floor to no avail. He couldn’t tell if there was a bullet in the chamber or not.

“I suggest you listen to him.” His voice was nowhere near as calm as the newcomer’s has been, cracking with fury as he spoke. “Miss Xia ain’t got to go nowhere she don’t want to.”
 

TheCorsair

Pulsar
Joined
Dec 17, 2013
“What the fuck is this?” a voice hollered from across the bar. Tom glanced, and swallowed hard at the sight of a knot of six miners - all muscle and bad attitudes - staring at them from the entrance. “You all right there Zeke? Billy?”

“They’re jes’ fine,” Tom began.

“These fuckers jumped us,” the big man howled, wiping blood out of his eyes. “Me an’ Zeke was jes’ lookin’ get a little action, an’...”

“And you’re a lying sack of shit!” Cassie snapped back. “You busted in and...”

Laughter roared out from the knot of miners as they made their way towards the bar. “Got yer ass kicked by a shake, looks like. An’...”. They paused, laughter dying as they saw the knife at Zeke’s throat. The leader’s eyes narrowed. “You tell yer pet Injun ta put his knife down real slow like,” he growled as the others began fanning out into a semicircle around the table.

“Hey,” Tom drawled, trying to sound reasonable. “Ain’t lookin’ fer no triubke, unnerstand? We was jes’ defendin’...”

“You make yer Injun friend put his damn knife away,” the leader spat. “An’ mebbe he’ll be the only one we hang.”
 

xavierrol

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Aug 24, 2013
Location
Ohio
Tahoma didn't understand every word of the conversation but he caught enough to know he had little incentive to put his knife down. It wasn't just for a view of the tavern that he had chosen his spot, it had also been close to an exit. He had learned enough of these white men to know not to get trapped within the buildings they insisted on building everywhere they gathered in any number. His free hand reached for the colt holstered at Zeke's side but he kept their friend in front of him, hoping it would keep them from gunning him down where he stood. He pulled Zeke closer to him, repulsed slightly by the foul smell, as he pulled both of them back towards the door behind him. The smell made him wonder if the evil of the mine wasn't eating this man from the inside out.

He would learn nothing more from this room tonight and if they wanted to make good on their threat to hang him, he would at least draw them out into the night, where he would have some advantage. He would have preferred a good solid tsihał but the weight of the colt felt enough for the job. He didn't doubt the miners would hang him if they could in their rage, but if he slit Zeke's throat, he knew the whole town wouldn't rest until he was swinging from a rope. He struck Zeke over the head and disappeared out the door before the odoriferous miner hit the floor. He ran for the darkness, found a good spot to let his eyes adjust, then waited and watched to see if they would pursue.
 
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xanaphia

xanaphia

Philosopher? I hardly knew her!
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
CRACK!

The commotion in the saloon came to a crashing halt at the sound of the cracking whip, and all eyes turned towards Victoria. “Ain’t no one getting hanged in my saloon tonight,” she snarled.

“That injun pulled a knife!” some slack jawed miner protested, just to be cut off by another crack of the whip.

“I don’t care!” The whip cracked again, and split slivers of wood of the table it struck. “Ain’t no one dead. Ain’t no one really hurt, ‘cept their pride.” She wound the whip around her arm while her gaze spanned the bar, daring another man to speak.

“Finish your drinks, and get out. Saloon’s closed, and my girls need a night off from ya brutes. Go on now, get. Bring some God-damn manners with ya when you come back.”

The men grumbled, but none dared to speak up, and shuffled out the saloon. Victoria stood firm, glaring daggers at the men to stopped to finish their drinks, until they made the smart choice to leave. Once the bar was mostly empty, she grabbed Cassie by the shoulder, and turned her around to face her.

“I don’t appreciate you smashing bottles over my customer’s heads now,” she started, voice stern and expression serious. After a moment, her face softened into a smirk, and she placed a hand on Cassie’s shoulder, “But I do appreciate you lookin’ after one of my girls. Are you looking for some work? I may have a position for ya.”
 

TheCorsair

Pulsar
Joined
Dec 17, 2013
Cassie tensed assomeone grabbed her shoulder, then relaxed as she saw Miss Vickie. A little, at any rate, because she looked nail-biting mad. “I don’t appreciate you smashing bottles over my customer’s heads now.”

“And I don’t appreciate men like that trying to force themselves on women,” she snapped back, “so if you...”

Miss Vickie’s expression softened into a smile. “But I do appreciate you lookin’ after one of my girls. Are you looking for some work? I may have a position for ya.”

Cassie blinked at that. “Ma’am, I’d enjoy a lot of positions under you,” she smirked back before turning serious. “But, well, I’m not looking to, you know, earn my living on my back. Not that I’ve got anything against the profession!” she added hurriedly. “Just, well, it... isn’t for me.”

No need to mention the few times she had turned a few tricks to survive. Or the bloody way the last time had ended, when her client and his pals decide they didn’t want to pay what had been agreed. “But...” she added thoughtfully, “if you need someone looking out for your girls, full time? Well, I might just be the woman for you.”

-*-

“Shit. Shit shit shit.” Tom sat on the saloon porch, staring into his match flame as he lit his cigarette. Things had been going so well, and he might have been able to sleep in a real damn bed. And gotten laid, to boot. But then them rowdieshad to fuck things up.

“Well,” he grumbled, standing up and shaking the match out. “Ain’t like Ah ain’t slept rough before. Mebbe Ah kin still get in th’ damn stable.”

With that he set off, unaware of the figures following him.
 

Dr. Pox

Planetoid
Joined
Jun 18, 2019
The ruckus downstairs was more or less ignored. He paid for the room, and knew the madame well. A man of god. A hypocrit who espouses a life without sin who doesn’t practice what he preaches. He knows he’s in the wrong, knows some people find him a disgrace. Who could them? He doesn’t. He doesn’t flaunt his faults. He knows them for what they are, but those who know him, know his reasons. They do a respectable job of deflecting criticism. ‘A man has needs’ is what it boils down to. The truth is what is a man whose seen what hes seen is supposed to do. A man who knows that there are no angels... only devils. And god isn’t a kind god.

A kind god wouldn’t let something like that exist.

He preaches out of fear now. Not fear of hell. Not even fear of death. He prays that whatever he or it is, it doesn’t decide to break him a second time.

He takes a drag of a cigarette. He still feels the sweat of an impassioned and wild session on his flattened chest and on his neck. He still feels the slickness between his thighs, the heated droplets now cooling in the night air. He still feels the crick in shoulder from when he forced her down by the throat while he savaged her over and over. She was sleeping soundly now behind him, the sheets hugging her body just over her dainty curves, the purple of the bruise slowly forming on her neck. He knew he was going to get yelled at again. Thankfully the lady was more sturdy then most women, and had plenty of collars and scarves to not dissuade her next customer.

Colette’s real name was Diane and she was a sweet girl. Too sweet to sell her body in this god forsaken desert. Too sweet to get bruises and welts on her body because an angry and scared man just happened to need something, someone to take out his frustrations. Too sweet a girl to smile up at him with tears in her eyes and sticky filth on her face and ask for more. Too sweet to be called a friend to this husk of a man. Jacob looked at the cigarette, watching the edgings and ash burn. He reflected on how he felt. Even a lovers embrace. It was like using a trowel to fill a quarry.

Colette stirs as she unconsciously rolls over, her pillowy breasts heaving for a moment before her arms follows, pawing for something to hold onto, something warm to cuddle up against in the brisk cold. Jacob would be gone by the time she wakes, already searching the confines of the room for his clothes.

He stepped from the room just at the last moment that the Madame had kicked out the last of the drunks. He was staggering down the hallway to the second floor foyer that overlooked the pub. He could already feel the wisps of the consequences of the whiskey he had a few hours prior. He was debating whether to get water or another few shots for the road. He'd rather forget this night as well.
 
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