Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Monday, February 11, 2013
Lately, I can’t seem to get away from the story “Happiness At Least.” Here’s a sneak preview, told from Spock’s point of view.
Down From the Mountains
Summary: Spock travels to the monastery after the loss of his child.
Taktshang Dzong, Paro, Bhutan -- 10 June, 1979
I recalled the completion ceremony of my kaswan as I climbed the path to the dzong built from the living rock of the mountain.
My father had stood beside me before the High Council. I was fatigued in the extreme and weighted with grief for the death of my sehlat, I’Chaya, but I held myself upright until the end. T’Lar gazed down at me from the Council dais.
“You bring honor to your father’s house, Spock,” she said. “Though, I would not recommend such for one as young as you.” Her eyes turned to my father. “Ever again.”
Sarek shifted minutely.
I took a quick half-step forward. “My father’s house honors me, S’haile. The decision was --.” I paused. “Mine,” I finished.
“As you say,” said T’Lar, her eyes still on my father.
I attempted to hold my exhaustion at bay on the way back to the palace; but, I was, after all, a child of seven. I fell asleep in the soft cup of the flitter seat. I roused briefly when my father laid me on my bed and removed my desert boots. I
him then -- his pride in me, his love for me and his delighted wonder at my very existence. He brushed my bangs from my forehead with his fingertips and --
...with my life, Spock-kam.
whispered into my dreams.
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
I know. I know.
Another prequel to "After the Gallows." I think this is complete but there might be more to come.
CBS owns Gunsmoke. I own the original characters and creative content.
I have no beta. All my fubars are belong to me.
After the Rain
Dodge City had been dry as buffalo bones. We were nearly to the point of wringing water out of the mud at the bottom of the well for drinking when the rain came out of the clear blue sky and the four-year drought ended with a deluge, the likes of which could best be described in a parable from the Bible.
I was in my office cleaning weapons. I was preparing for the water war that was likely to start in the next day or two when I heard a sound like muffled cannon fire. The building began to shake. A moment later, I heard the whoops and hollers of cowboys in the street. The floor vibrated beneath my boots and the windows rattled in their frames. I jumped from my chair and crossed the room in one leap. I flung open the door and stepped out onto the boardwalk, fully expecting to see stampeding cattle. I could barely see anything. The world seemed shrouded in a veil of gray. Everyone, not just cowboys, was spinning and jumping in the street with their arms raised and their faces turned to the sky. Colonel Honeyman, a supply wagon and a small contingent of troops trotted past the jail. The scene was so confusing that my second thought was that this was an Indian uprising. I had actually put my hand on my gun before I finally realized that it was raining.
I stared dumbly at the dense cloud overhead. Rain was coming down hard, in sheets and from every direction.
Chester was in the street in front of the Long Branch dancing a bouncing hoedown waltz with a drunken trail hand.
“Ain’t it grand, Mr. Dillon,” he shouted.
Wilbur Jonas came out of his store yelling frantically and lugging an enormous tin cauldron. People came to their senses and rushed to roll rain barrels to downspouts and put out buckets and pots and anything else that could catch the rain.
Honeyman and his troops stopped at Doc’s office. He ordered his sergeant to supervise unloading the wagon and spurred his horse over. He grinned at me from beneath the dripping brim of his hat.
“That cloud seemed to follow us all the way from the Fort then opened up like God Himself dumped a bucket of water,” He said, holding up his hand. Water poured from his palm. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“I hope it lasts,” I said.
“If it’s raining like this up north, the run-off will fill the creeks."
I pointed my chin toward Doc’s office. “You have supplies for Doc, do you?”
Honeyman pursed his lips and looked away. “We’re installing the new auditor in that little storefront. The Army owns that block of buildings, you know. It will be a War Department office like any other.” He coughed lightly into his fist. “There’s a kitchen in the back and rooms above. I’m sure it will be nice for him and his boy. He’s a Frenchman. And he’s some kind of priest? Which is good after the Ridge Town embarrassment.” He trailed off, still unable to meet my eyes.
“I see." I kept my voice neutral.
“I’d have him at the Fort if I could but my hands are tied.” He lifted his chin. “We there are no Negro troops at Fort Dodge and I need him here, not clean out at Abilene.”
“I believe it does.” He wheeled his horse around and looked up. “Yes. I hope this rain stays with us a week or two.” He started forward then stopped. He finally met my eyes. “Could you... that is to say... the padre’s boy looks a little frail. Eyes big and grey like a fledgling barn owl’s.” He cleared his throat. “Er, Texas drovers and such...”
I nodded. “I’ll keep an eye on them,” I said.
“Thank you, Matt.” He high-stepped his horse back to the office and loudly ordered his sergeant around, making a big show of installing the new auditor, sending a message to the town that the new man had the protection of the Calvary, even if they could not reside under the same roof.
I squinted through the downpour and saw a man wearing a priest’s collar carry a small trunk into the storefront. He was tall and angular and did not look Negro from where I stood. A horse shied and created a space where I could see a black boy standing at the foot of Doc’s stairs. His over-sized clothes were plastered to his body. He tugged down his knitted cap and folded his arms across his chest, though the rain was warm as bath water. He bent gracefully and picked up something from the ground. He peered at it, tilting his head, exposing the soft hollow where his jaw met his long neck.
He was as dark and delicate as a new violet.
I blinked, startled by the thought.
I stepped off the boardwalk into the rain to clear my head. I looked back at the boy. He was gone.
I went into my office, took off my boots and socks then dragged a chair into the street. The rain beat against my scalp and shoulders. I turned my face to the sky and opened my mouth. I drank my fill for the first time in over a month. I sat in the chair and stretched out my legs, intending to let the rain wash through the dust and the sweat in my clothes and on my body.
There was a ruckus down by the Lady Gay. A cowboy wearing only his boots and hat sat in the mud and washed his armpits with soap, singing “Old Dan Tucker” at the top of his lungs. I sighed, picked up the chair and walked into the jail.
I sat in Doc’s office that evening, gazing out the open window, trying to keep my thoughts as blank and gray as the wall of the building next door. The warm damp breeze misted me with water but my clothes were mostly dry, hours after my time in the rain. The rain had let up some but still came down hard. The town sobered up as cisterns overflowed and houses sprang leaks that were forgotten in the drought.
I could feel Doc’s eyes flick toward me from time to time but he was silent, sipping from his cup of coffee. There was a muffled thump from downstairs. I pretended not to hear it.
“Gonna need to light a lamp soon,” said Doc.
“Want some more coffee?”
“Got any whiskey?”
“Just as well. I’m up late tonight.”
“There might be some antelope stew left at Delmonico’s.”
“I’m not hungry.”
Doc reached out and pressed the backs of his fingers to my forehead. Normally, I would complain, but this time I let him take my temperature. Maybe I was sick.
“You got a bellyache?” asked Doc.
“No. Yes.” I frowned. “No,” I said.
“Maybe you should take the night off.”
“Chester got drunk with everybody else this afternoon.”
Doc stood and walked across the room. He lit a lamp and brought it close to my face. He stared at me.
“What?” I said.
“You tell me.”
I turned my eyes back to the gray wall. I folded my arms and rocked back in the chair, huffing out a laugh. This morning I was preparing for a war.”
“All dressed up and no place to go.”
“Something like that.”
Doc set the lamp on his desk and took his jacket off its peg in the wall.
"Where are you going?” I asked.
“Something smells good. I’m going down to meet the new neighbors and beg for my supper.”
“Doc, you can’t just – “
He shrugged into his jacket and jammed his hat on his head. “You coming?”
“No, I’m not coming.”
“Suit yourself,” he said, stepping out the door.
I sat upright in the chair and watched as the top of his hat sank past the window. I stood quickly and took a step. I stopped. What the hell was wrong with me?
“Doc, wait,” I called.
We stood on the boardwalk and peered into the office windows. The room inside was softly lit with candles. The black boy I’d seen earlier placed cutlery and napkins on an upturned crate set at the far wall. He leaned forward and his features were revealed by the candle flame.
I sincerely hoped that Doc didn’t hear me catch my breath.
Doc rapped on the door and I nearly jumped out of my skin. The boy looked up sharply, his eyes wide. Doc waved and smiled big. The boy took a step back. His father entered the room carrying a tray that held a bottle of wine and two glasses. He smiled brightly when he saw us, setting down the tray and rushing to the door.
“Come in! Come in,” he said, fumbling with the lock. “You are just in time for supper. We usually dine later but it has been a long day for my…child.”
“We wouldn’t want to intrude,” said Doc, inhaling deeply.
“No, no. It is no bother. The Army gives us meat and I always cook too much."
He held out his hand. “I am Emile Lemieux and that is Jimmy.” He turned to the boy. “Set two more places, petit.”
“Well, if you insist,” said Doc.
“I do, I do. Crates will have to do as table and chairs. It will be cozy.”
I had to admit that the delicious aroma of beef cooked with onions and wine made my stomach growl.
“I’m Doctor Adams and this – .” Doc looked back at me and did a double take. “This is the Marshal.” He stared at my face with raised brows.
“Ah. Matt Dillon.” Lemieux stepped close and looked up at me with his hands on his hips. “In my country, I am considered a tall man. Colonel Honeyman’s description did not do you justice.”
“I’m afraid to ask,” I said.
“Were your ancestors perhaps Norsemen, Matthew?”
“I have no idea.”
Lemieux flapped a hand. “No matter. I cooked enough to feed an army of Vikings.”
We followed him to the back of the office where the crate was set up. The boy returned with the dishes but stood uncertainly behind his father. I felt Doc stiffen next to me. He took off his hat, put it back on then took it off again. He twitched his mustache and blinked rapidly a few times. I was too distracted to try to decipher his sign language.
“Sit, sit,” said Lemieux. “The meal is simple tonight but soon we will make a garden. There will be snap peas and tomatoes to eat. Right, Jimmy?”
“Oui, papa,” he said softly.
He moved around his father and began to set our places. I sat on a crate at the makeshift table, my knees bending nearly to my chest. Jimmy leaned close, laying a napkin on my plate.
I was suddenly and painfully aware that my clothes had gone unlaundered for at a month and for at least that long, my baths had consisted of a damp cloth rubbed on my rude parts. Though I had stood in the rain and gotten a short rinse, both me and my clothes could use a good scrub. I shifted in my seat and tried to keep my shirt from billowing.
“Are you comfortable, Marshal?” asked Jimmy. His voice was low and a little husky.
I opened my mouth but no words came out.
“Don’t worry about him, son,” said Doc. “He’s big but he can fold those long legs into a space a child could fit in.”
Jimmy smiled with lowered lashes and a flash of white teeth.
“Well, for heaven’s sake,” said Doc. “Some girl is going to spend her life trying to get you to smile like that.”
“Thank you, Doctor Adams,” he said.
Jimmy sat at the table and glanced shyly at me. His eyes reflected grey and gold in the candlelight. They were large and almond-shaped -- not like an owl’s at all. I was grateful for the low light because my face had flushed crimson.
I decided that I must be sick.
“Would you like some wine, Marshal?”
“Yes,” I croaked.
As the boy poured the wine with one hand, he propped his other elbow on the table, his hand limp on the end of his slender wrist. The act was absently elegant, the way a young aristocrat would pour wine for his guests after he dismissed the servants.
“I apologize for the wine. It is the best we could find the short time we were in St. Louis.”
“It’s fine,” I murmured.
I was silent the rest of the meal. Father Lemieux gleefully piled meat on my plate. I could put away huge amounts of food when I wanted to and I used it as an excuse not to speak. I tried to keep my eyes on my plate. I made the mistake of looking at Jimmy just as he tucked his plump lower lip into his mouth and sucked off a droplet of wine.
I stood abruptly.
“I need to get back to the office,” I said.
The three of them stared at me, blinking.
“Thank you for the meal, Reverend. I’ll see you later, Doc.”
I turned and fled.
In the following weeks, I managed to avoid the Reverend and his son. Unfortunately, I had less control over my mind and ... other things.
“None of us are getting any younger,” said Kitty.
I rolled unto my back and folded my arm across my face. “I'm not that old,” I said.
“You’re just tired.”
“I’ve been tired before.”
“Maybe Doc could...”
“I’m not talking to Doc about this.”
“It’s the second time in a week. There might be –.”
“Drop it, Kitty.”
She moved away from me a fraction of an inch. I should’ve taken her into my arms then but I didn’t.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to snap at you,” I said.
She clutched the sheet to her breasts. “Is it me? Have I done something? Is it something that I ... haven’t done?” she asked.
I gazed at her. Her face was bare and her hair fell in waves about her shoulders. I stroked my fingers along her jaw. She was beautiful. I pulled her to me.
“It’s not you, Kitten. You’re right, I’m tired.” I settled her in my arms. “I’m better in the mornings anyway.”
I felt her smile against my chest.
“That you are, cowboy,” she said.
I lay awake, purposely waiting to wake her after the sun rose so I could pretend to have overslept and leave in a hurry.
I walked toward Delmonico’s instead of the jail because I didn’t feel up to Chester’s morning effusiveness. Halfway to the restaurant, I realized that I didn’t want to be alone with my thoughts, either. Fortunately, Doc pulled up alongside me in his buggy.
“You look as tired as I feel,” he said.
“I could eat.”
I vaulted into his buggy and rode with him to the stable. As we walked back to Delmonico’s, we passed by Lemieux’s office. He and his son placed a placard with the War Department seal on it in the window and raised a flag on the pole outside every morning. The flag was up and waving listlessly in the damp breeze. Doc slowed but I kept going. When he caught up with me, he stopped me with a hand on my arm.
“What’s wrong with you?” he asked.
“I’m all right,” I said.
“You haven’t been right for two weeks. Not since that…” He followed my gaze.
Jimmy was out sweeping the boardwalk in front of the office.
“You got a problem with them?” asked Doc, pointing with his thumb.
“You told Honeyman you’d keep a look out.”
“I can keep my eye on them from a distance.”
He stared at me, alarmed. “Matt! You’re not saying you –.”
“You know me better than that.”
“Then what in thunder is wrong with you?”
“I don’t know. You’re right. I might be coming down with something. Look, I got to get to the office.”
“We haven’t had breakfast yet.”
“You go on. I’m not hungry anymore.”
“God damn it, Matt.”
I watched Jimmy laugh at a chicken that circled his feet, pecking in the small pile of trash he pushed with his broom.
“That boy is thin as a twig,” I said -- realizing too late that I’d said it out loud.
“He’s wispy but he’s fine. It’s just taking him a little time to bounce back from his typhus.”
“Whole family came down with it last year when they were ministering to the poor in Cairo. Lost his mother and his twin.”
“I didn’t know that.”
“Well, you would if you talked to them from time to time.” Doc gave a small shake of his head. “Terrible thing to lose your twin. It cuts you in half. That more than anything is slowing his recovery.”
I took off my hat and ran my fingers through my hair. “Listen, Doc. I – .” I glanced around. The streets were empty of traffic but would fill as people finished their morning chores. “What would cause a man to uh, to... I was with Kitty last night and I --.” I took a deep breath. “I couldn’t,” I said, quietly.
“That happens to every man from time to time, Matt. You’re not getting any younger, you know.”
“It happened twice this week.”
“Eh, you’re tired. You need to try to keep some regular hours. Get yourself a real deputy. Take those Thursday afternoons off like I told you.”
“All the sudden everybody thinks I’m old and tired.”
Doc leaned back and looked me over. “Everything else coming out okay? Any irregularities?”
"Not that I could see.”
"Anything hurt or feel tender down there? Does your back ache?”
Doc shrugged. “I could take you back to my office and examine you more thoroughly but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with you that a vacation couldn’t cure.”
“I’ll be in Abilene next week. Maybe I’ll stay an extra day.”
“Make it two days.” His eyes roamed my face. “That’s not the only thing bothering you.”
“Isn’t that enough?” I snapped. I couldn’t resist another glance at Jimmy.
Doc followed my gaze. He looked back at me. His eyes widened. Comprehension dawned on his face. He tried to hide a grin with a brush of his hand over his mustache. He hooked his thumbs into his waistcoat pockets and rocked back on his heels.
“You got something to say?” I asked.
“Only that there’s nothing new under the sun.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
He pursed his lips and twitched his mustache. “Let’s get breakfast,” he said.
I was at Quint Asper’s waiting for him to finish shoeing my horse when Jimmy came in, riding my Bay mare. He was grooming for Moss Grimmick and I’d seen him exercising her in wide circles in Moss’s back corral, posting smoothly in rhythm with the horse.
Today. he was riding bareback, using a piece of rope as halter and reins. The mare was smaller than Buck but she was tall. Without thinking, I reached up and lifted the boy from the horse’s back. He was weightless as a handful of hay.
I held him straight up over my head with my hands wrapped around his waist. I stared up at him. His face was as close to beautiful as a boy’s face could get. His hand fluttered down and lightly gripped my wrist.
“Mr. Dillon,” he whispered.
Quint brought his hammer down on a hot horseshoe. Jimmy flinched and I nearly dropped him. I set him on his feet and stepped back, my face on fire.
I got my horse from Quint and left for Abilene.
I felt the feathery imprint of Jimmy’s hand on my wrist all day.
Unlike Wichita, Abilene still had the feel of a cow town, even though both cities were established around the same time. It was a rowdy place with door-to-door saloons and a jail big enough to hold forty men. The Sheriff employed eight deputies and a full-time judge presided over the court. They were uncompromising men and anyone who possessed a loaded gun within the city limits spent seven days busting rocks with a sledgehammer in the jail yard. There were noise ordinances and weeknight curfews. In spite of this, it was a popular stop off for drovers and ranchers looking for a good time.
The best thing about Abilene was that it was populous enough that, outside of the lawmen and a couple of dancehall girls, very few people knew me. After I concluded my business with the court, I could take off my badge and lose myself in the crowd. I walked around that first night and found myself avoiding the saloons. I decided that I needed to think through what was going on in my head.
What was going through my head was Jimmy.
As Doc said, there is nothing new under the sun -- and there is very little that is new to me. I know that my appearance is striking and I have felt the speculative gaze of both men and women. I’ve been in situations where there is only the company of men -- cattle drives, the Army, a summer spent on a steamship going to and from Hispaniola when I was seventeen. I know that men sometimes turn to other men out of loneliness, fear, drunkenness, boredom or even love. I knew two drovers who were married to women at home but “married” to each other on the trail. They were good men and their relationship was no skin off my nose. But I never figured that sort of attraction for myself. I can admire a handsome man; but, lonely, drunk or bored – it was a woman I wanted. I loved the taste of women, the feel of their flesh under my hands, the sound of their laughter, the scent of their arousal.
This thing with Jimmy, I had to finally admit to myself that I was attracted to him. The attraction was immediate and visceral. Lust made my knees weak and I felt hot and slightly disoriented as if I was on the verge of an ague. Deep in my sex was a tension like a rope being stretched and stretched. I didn’t understand why I felt this way but I did know myself. Soon, that rope was going to snap.
I wandered Abilene’s main thoroughfare until I discovered a small restaurant off an alley at the quiet end of the street. There was only one large, round table inside and about a dozen vaqueros sat around it eating and drinking. The aroma of charring meat and tortillas fried in chicken fat wafted into the street. There was one empty chair. I went in. None of the men acknowledged my presence but they weren’t hostile, either. They just minded their own business.
I was seated for less than a minute when a bent old man set in front of me a big cup of sangria and a huge plate heaped with a whole spit-roasted chicken, strips of beef, charro beans and roasted chilies stuffed with white cheese. The meat was spicy and tender, the tortillas hot, thick and greasy. I took a deep gulp of the sangria and choked down a cough that would’ve brought up my spleen. Their version of sangria was tequila poured over sugar, sliced oranges, limes and crushed grapes -- and it was wholly delicious. The old man kept my cup filled and when I’d eaten all the food on my plate, he brought me a saucer of flat biscuits thickly crusted with sugar and cocoa. After he cleared the table, the old man perched on a stool in the back of the restaurant, played a guitar and sang plaintive Mayan songs. A young woman with a soft smile brought in buckets of beer and even more sangria. I sat in companionable silence with the vaqueros and spent the rest of the evening getting quietly drunk.
It was after midnight when I walked a little unsteadily back to my hotel room. My head swam pleasantly. I was very sleepy but I wasn’t ready for bed. I stopped in the doorway of the saloon across the street from my hotel. Four saloon girls stood on a balcony above the barroom. One of them had brightest blonde hair I’d ever seen. She leaned her elbows on the railing. Her breasts billowed from her bodice, and she was round as a teapot. She saw me watching. She straightened to give me a better view. Her assets were impressive and I gave them the serious consideration they were due. She could be the best thing for me -- or the last thing I needed. I was a little more drunk than I cared to be and I never did have much luck with blondes.
I crossed the street to my hotel, went to my room, locked the door, stripped off my clothes and collapsed naked onto the bed. …
“You’ve got to leave me be,” I said. But even as I said it, I could feel that rope in my belly stretch a little more. My scrotum tightened. My anus constricted and pleasure rippled down the backs my legs. All the blood rushed from my head with a roaring sound in my ears. She straddled me and positioned my cock at the entrance of her pussy. I shifted my hips and I was inside her. “No,” I groaned. I stroked in and out of her as slowly as I could, trembling on the knife’s edge of my self-control. She was so warm. It was dark. I couldn’t see. I ran my hands up her thighs and over her flanks. Her breasts filled the palms of my hands. I leaned forward and sucked a large, dark nipple hard into my mouth. She sighed and arched against me, her fingers in my hair. An exquisite pressure began to build inside me. It seemed to take forever to reach its peak and I was desperate to get there. I wrapped my arms around her and pumped my hips faster, harder. She felt so good. My self-control abandoned me and I was thrusting wildly and so hard that she bounced in my lap and I held her around the waist with my hands my head thrown back and when she lightly gripped my wrist and whispered, “Mr. Dillon” everything rolled back inside me like a receding wave then crashed forward again and I was gasping “Ah. Ah. Ah” and my cock pulsed and I came with a long, shuddering moan…
I woke with a sharp inhalation. I lay on my back, my heart hammering in my chest, my skin lightly filmed with sweat. I lifted my head and looked down at my body. Semen pooled in my navel and suspended in the hair on my belly. I dropped my head back on the pillows.
“Jesus,” I whispered.
I swung my legs over the side of the bed and sat up. I walked with trembling knees to the wash basin. I took a long drink of water, cleaned myself off and got back in bed.
I drifted back to sleep with the image of grey, almond-shaped eyes in a dark face, relieved that the person I made love to in my dream was definitely a woman.
Sunday, January 20, 2013
Monday, November 12, 2012
Monday, October 15, 2012
I’m sorry, monkies. The only thing in my head these days is Dillon.
The Time In Between
Summary: A prequel to my story, “After the Gallows.” Contains spoilers for the episode “The Gallows.” If you only ever watch one episode of Gunsmoke, watch that one.
A/N: As usual, I’m too vain to let anyone edit my writing. All my fubars are belong to me.
After leaving Pruit Dover to hang, I stayed off the roads between Hays and Dodge City. I faded into the brittle, bleached prairie grass, angry and hung over, my insides aching from hunger and grief and cheap whiskey, unsure if I was going back to Dodge or turning south to break for Mexico or the Texas coast, where I would live among the fishermen and forget this dry, hard land.
Of all things evil in the world, there are few things worse than injustice. Pruit Dover held me blameless for the terrible iniquity perpetrated upon him but I could not be absolved for my part in it. My penance was to share the last hours of life with this vibrant, good boy and then to watch him die.
On the way to Hays, he rode ahead of me, singing a made-up cowpoke song, his hat pulled low on his forehead, the breeze parting the sun-kissed hair that curled on the back of his neck. I followed behind, on my pale horse.
I sat with Pruit the night before his execution. I brought him a good steak, cob corn and roasted potatoes. I stayed and took the meal with him; or rather, I watched him eat. Dover ate with the gusto of a hungry child. I had no appetite. As I watched him plow through his supper, I noticed again his good table manners. He ate quickly but he chewed carefully and swallowed the food in his mouth before talking. He used his napkin like a gentleman. I felt a rush of sadness and looked away, swallowing past a lump in my throat.
During the three weeks he waited for trial in Dodge, I discovered that Pruit loved to read. I brought him David Copperfield and watched the expression on his face go from wonder to delight to fierce concentration. He talked about the characters as if they were real people and felt so bad for Pip, that he couldn't finish reading Great Expectations. A French clergyman who worked for the War Department kept a large collection of books that he and his son didn't mind lending. I escorted Pruit there every couple of days. It was the War Department office but everyone called it the library. We’d linger there, drinking coffee. Pruit listened with wide eyes as Father Lemieux told stories of the places he’d traveled as a missionary, many of which were in the books Pruit read. I left him in the care of the pastor more than once when I had errands to run. I couldn't bear to leave him locked up. When I was in the office, I kept his cell door open – even while I slept.
To feel too kindly toward a prisoner is never a good idea. Men are tricky. Someone you thought was innocent would then turn at trial and confess to the worse crimes. Dover was different. I knew down to my bones that he was innocent -- and I liked him. We all did. Kitty really took to him – hugging on him, bringing him sweets and kissing his cheeks. Pruit would duck his head and grin, his ears burning bright red with pleased embarrassment. I once brought him with me to share Sunday dinner at the library. He emerged from his cell with his threadbare shirt buttoned to the neck and his hair damp from his vain attempts to tame it. He was quiet during the meal but during a lull in the conversation he looked up from his plate.
“This is nice,” he said. He smiled at each of us -- Doc, Father Lemieux and his boy, Chester, Kitty and me. “I never had better than this. I never had no family. You all are the closest I come.”
Usually, my job ended at the foot of the gallows. I had no desire to see even the baddest of men swing from a rope and I never stayed around for hangings. But I wanted to stay in the Hays City jail with Pruit until the end -- as much for him as for myself.
After we finished eating Pruit's last meal, I gathered our dishes to take back to the café. I rose to leave, and panic flared briefly in Pruit’s eyes.
“I’m taking these to the café then I’m going to get us a couple of bottles,” I said.
Pruit bobbed his head and smiled. “I’m proud to drink with you, Marshal,” he said.
As I left the jail, it took every ounce of strength I had left in me not to smash my fist into the smirking face of the low-rent deputy kicked back in the sheriff’s chair with his feet on the desk. I glanced back and saw Pruit watching me expectantly, his hands wrapped around the cell bars. He was still standing there when I came back a half hour later.
Pruit and I drank through the night, neither of us managing to get very drunk. I listened as he rambled on about a wide range of subjects and told me long-winded stories of his adventures drifting, laughing hard and slapping his thigh at his always horrible luck.
“You know, Marshal, I always paid my debts first so I never had no dollar for a saloon girl. I was finally going wet my whistle with some of that hundred dollars Ax owed me. Just my luck. I never had ice cream and I’ll die a virgin.”
“I’m sorry Pruit," I said.
“Whew,” he laughed. “I’m drunker than I thought. I never told nobody that.”
“Your secret’s safe with me.”
“Miss Kitty’s your girl, ain't she?”
“Kitty’s her own woman.”
He gazed at me in silence, his eyes suddenly old and infinitely tired. “Nunc est bibendum, nunc pede libero pulsanda tellus,” he said.
“Did the padre teach you that?” I asked.
“Nope. Louie Pheeters. It means, “Now is the time to drink, now the time to dance footloose upon the earth.” Some guy named Horace said it. I think he was a philosopher or a poet or something.”
“He was both.”
“You have to grab life, Marshal. And hold tight.” He held up his hands and squeezed his fists. “You find someone, you grab her hand and you take to the sunlight, the two of you.” He reached out and gripped my forearm. “Don’t be alone. Promise me, Matt.”
“I’ll try,” I said.
Pruit leaned back and studied me with his head cocked. “I've been thinking,” he said.
“That Frenchman preacher’s boy don’t make me feel like he’s a boy.”
I coughed on the sip of whiskey I was swallowing. “What are you looking at me for?”
He grinned and pointed two fingers at me. “You’re of the same mind. I can tell.”
“Ah,” he said, waving a hand. “I’m just hurrahing you.”
“That’s a hell of a joke.”
He poured us another shot. “Take to the sunlight, Mr. Dillon,” he said.
He drifted into to sleep at about four in the morning, laying his head on his folded arms. His lashes made shadows on his cheeks and I resisted the urge to smooth his hair from his forehead. I settled for resting my hand on his. After a moment, I gently gripped his fingers and held his hand until he woke.
In the end, I couldn’t watch Pruit die.
He stood on the trap door beneath the noose and held my eyes for a long moment. He gave me a brief nod then turned his gaze to the bright morning sky. I walked away but stopped when I heard him drop.
I stood in the middle of the street listening to the creak of the rope as Pruit Dover swung in the dark belly of the gallows.
Back in my hotel room, I gathered my things. I folded Pruit’s short, thin jacket and put it and his battered felt hat in his saddlebags. There was a book in the bottom of one of the bags. It was a copy of Great Expectations. On my way out of Hays, I gave his horse to a scrawny boy lugging burlap sacks of wood along the side of the road.
I stopped at a leaning shanty of a saloon on the outskirts of town. Behind the building, Irish and Mexican prostitutes sat on the steps of a row of tiny, door-less shacks called cribs, where they serviced their customers. They hiked their skirts and cooed at me when I tied my horse at the rail. I slipped my badge into my pocket. My stomach was sour from no food and last night’s whiskey but I ordered another bottle. I bought a couple of rounds for the house so I could drink in peace and so no one would steal my horse. I don’t know how long I was in that saloon and I lost count of the number of bottles of whiskey I drank, but it was late morning when I went in and dark when I bought yet another bottle and took it with me out back.
I had to be drunk from all the whiskey and an empty stomach but I couldn't feel it. I couldn't feel anything. A dark, slender girl walked over and rubbed her hand over my sex, murmuring in Spanish. Another woman with red hair and a flattened nose gripped her bodice and bared her breasts. The Mexican girl hooked a finger in my waistband and gently pulled me to her crib. She knelt before me and began to unfasten my belt. I stepped back and leaned out of the doorway. I motioned to the redhead. She laughed and sauntered over, her hair and eyes shining in the moonlight. I sat on a narrow bench built into the wall while the dark-eyed girl finished unfastening my pants. I watched her slide my cock into her mouth. The redhead sat next to me and wrapped her hand around my shaft. She jacked me in rhythm with the other girl’s mouth.
“Ooh,” she purred. “You’re big as a horse all over.”
The rest of the night was a blur. Hours later, the saloon keeper rousted me from the crib. The redhead was gone but the dark-eyed woman sprawled naked across my body. The barkeep pulled her off me and threw her dress at her. She stumbled out, cursing. My cock was chafed. I hadn't even taken off my gun belt.
The barkeep gave me a crude grin. “You certainly got your money’s worth,” he said.
My horse had waited in front of the saloon for almost a day so I walked him for a mile before I mounted. We turned off the road into the prairie and I let the horse chose the direction.
I was in the grips of an ague of self-pity but I didn’t care.
I swigged from my canteen of stale water and rode until my horse found a creek in a small stand of trees. The sun was high but I made camp because I was too tired to go on. I unsaddled my horse and rubbed him down with a handful of grass. I let him graze while I built a fire and heated a can of beans. I was bone weary but I slept in light, fitful snatches until the sun went down. I lay awake all night and broke camp well before dawn. I repeated this pattern for the next couple of days, stopping to make camp only when my horse got tired. On the third day, I realized that I was on the road to Dodge.
My dumb horse had brought me home.
“Damn you, Buck,” I muttered.
I stared toward Dodge for a long time. I could see the lights of the depot from where I was, just over a mile away. I almost turned back. I turned instead, to the prairie again, where an outcropping of rock perched on the crest of a hill and where I knew an underground spring bubbled into a deep, clear pool hidden in the center of the boulders. I would drink and bathe and head into Dodge when the sun rose.
I stripped and laid my filthy clothes across the rocks to let some air blow through them. I stretched out on a flat boulder next to the pool. The rock was cool against my bare skin but the breeze was warm. The stars swirled in the sky and the world seemed to tilt beneath me. I felt weightless and safe, the way I supposed a child would feel being rocked in his mother’s arms. Finally, I slept.
My eyes fluttered open. A wild-haired Negro girl wearing only loose, cut-off pantaloons stared down at me. She was spindly, almost painfully thin, with incongruously full breasts perched high on her narrow chest. Her eyes were large and grey – the color of smoke and gunmetal. I watched the expression in those unusual eyes change from concern to compassion then to alarm when she finally noticed that I was awake. She gasped, rose to her toes and spun away.
I heard Pruit Dover’s voice in my head.
My hand shot out, quick as a draw. I grabbed her ankle, yanked her off her feet and pinned her to the ground. I peered into her face.
My hand shot out, quick as a draw. I grabbed her ankle, yanked her off her feet and pinned her to the ground. I peered into her face.
“You’re a girl,” I said.
Wednesday, October 03, 2012
Monday, September 24, 2012
Hey, monkies. I've got a Trek story ready to go and will post it this weekend.
So, I have ADHD and sensory possessing issues. It makes me impulsive and socially ham-fisted and physically clumsy -- even though I have strong ankles and good balance. It's pretty cool.
I live in my head and only emerge when I absolutely must. But my job dictates that I have intensely emotional interactions with people. In order to remain sane, I need periodic breaks from reality. Actually, I need to not be checked into reality very much at all. I daydream all day long. Lush, time-traveling daydreams. Filled with sex.
So deep is my internal preoccupation, that right up to the moment before I have to give a talk or interview a family or write a report, I'm daydreaming about
...being at a party in Cary Grant's Bel Air mansion in 1967. I'm wearing a strapless, cream satin gown that skims my body and pools at my feet. My only jewelery is a half carat ruby solitaire pendant surrounded by tiny diamonds on a fine platinum chain. I'm there with Dean Martin and I'm laughing and having a fabulous time because he's my best pal but everyone thinks we're lovers. The air smells like cold olives, gin, cigarettes and sliced oranges. I look across the ball room and see Peter Graves and he's leaning with one wide shoulder against the wall and he's wearing a slim, black tuxedo with the bow tie undone and his hair is the color of moonlight and I can see the blue of his eyes from where I stand and I think, how does a man like that happen? And because he's my best friend, Dean walks right up to Peter Graves and says, hey Pete, take care of my girl for a minute, will ya? So Peter...
See what I mean?
I daydream about everyone: Spock, Matt Dillon, Abraham Lincoln, Brian, Peter Graves and some real people, too. I'm going to write these down an post them.
See you tomorrow and as always, thanks for spockjonesing.
I know. I'm obsessed! I love writing fan fiction. It's so wonderfully overwrought.
A/N: I wrote this really fast a couple of weeks ago. No beta. All my fubars are belong to me.
~~After the Hunt
Dillon was back in Dodge after three weeks of hunting Frank Steptoe, a man who brutalized and murdered two Pawnee girls then bragged about it at the Lady Gay.
I have watched Dillon deal with outlaws and over-stepping cowboys. His demeanor was authoritative, his expression grim, his voice loud. He would wade into a brawl throwing and taking punches, hauling men apart and tossing them out into the street. He did not often get truly angry and most men could sense when to stop before he did. A man who pushed Dillon past that point might find himself backhanded out of his boots – or in some cases, with a bullet in his heart.
If there ever was a man who needed killing, it was Steptoe. Unfortunately, he would likely not hang for the murder of two Indian girls. But things go badly for men who rape children of any race in Kansas. The day Dillon left to chase down Steptoe, his face was hard, his eyes flat and murderous beneath the brim of his hat.
There was much speculation as to what condition Steptoe might be in when Dillon returned with him – if he was alive. But Steptoe rode in with Dillon without handcuffs and without a mark on him. I watched them dismount and walk into the jail, Steptoe glancing smugly over his shoulder at Dillon.
I hurried along the boardwalk to Dillon’s two-room house, lugging a supper bucket of antelope stew, biscuits and four apple tarts. I passed the depot and warehouses along the train track and kept an eye out for Kite Thibodaux. I stopped at the Chinese laundry for a clay pot of hot, sweet tea brewed in branch water.
When I reached Dillon’s house, I dug through the dirt in the small garden box on his porch rail and retrieved the door key. I lit a fire in the fireplace in the bedroom, set the dinner bucket and clay pot on the hearth to keep warm and put a large kettle of water on to heat. It was a cold spring afternoon but I opened the windows for a few minutes to let the chilly breeze blow out the stuffiness. I laid out a towel, sponge and a bar of my cedar soap next to his washbasin.
I turned down the bed.
I was scribbling a note for Dillon when he walked in the door. His face was etched with exhaustion and his eyes looked haunted.
“I didn’t plan to be here when you got home,” I said. “I brought food and tea. There is a kettle on and I put out your bath things.”
He stood in the open doorway and gazed at me silently.
“Your cook stove takes too long to heat so I used the fireplace.” I stood and crumpled the note in my fist. “I’ll leave now. I know that you like to be alone after these... hunts.”
“Stay,” said Dillon, closing the door. He slid home the bolt and hung his hat on its hook. He stayed in his spot by the door, staring into the space between us. His eyes were wide and dark blue in the low light.
“Are you hurt, Matt? Did you get shot?”
He blinked as if I startled him.
“Steptoe confessed to me what he did to those little girls,” he said. “They weren’t the first.” He took a deep breath and swallowed hard. “He told me about all of them.”
“Oh, cherie,” I said. I took a step toward him.
He held up his hand, palm out. “I need to wash.”
He shrugged out of his coat and dropped it to the floor. He took off his gun belt and let it fall on top of his coat. He toed off his boots and unbuckled his belt, pulling his shirt out of his pants. He started unbuttoning his shirt, became impatient and ripped it open. Buttons flew everywhere. He yanked his undershirt over his head and kicked off his pants.
He strode naked into the bedroom then returned with his bath things and the kettle of hot water. He wet and soaped the sponge and started scrubbing his body hard enough that I thought he might take off some skin. He lifted the kettle and poured water over his head. Water cascaded down his body and splashed all over the floor. He filled the kettle from the pump at the sink and poured it over himself again. That water was close to freezing when I filled the kettle earlier.
Dillon stood with his head down, water streaming from his hair. His chest heaved and he shivered. He stared at the kettle in his hand. The kettle was cast iron and big enough to hold two buckets of water. I had struggled with it even when it was empty, filling it only after I got it to the fire. Dillon had lifted it over his head as if it were made of papier-mâché. I thought he might throw it.
He set the kettle on the cook stove.
“I’m sorry,” he said.
“Don’t be. You’re tired,” I said, handing him the towel. “Dry yourself by the fire before you freeze. I will -- .” I looked at the puddle of water on the floor. “I will let this dry, I suppose.”
“Will you stay?”
“You should sleep.”
“Talk to me. Read aloud, anything. I want Steptoe out of my head.”
“Go dry yourself. Eat some of that stew.”
“I’m too tired to eat.”
“At least have some tea. Mrs. Yiu made it. I’ll get more wood for the fire.”
When I went into the bedroom, Dillon was sitting on the edge of the bed, staring into the flames, his cup of tea forgotten in his hand. I took the cup from him and set it on the bedside table.
“Get into bed,” I said.
He continued to stare into the fire.
“He wanted me to know what he did,” said Dillon, his face anguished. “Me, specifically. He thought I’d understand.”
“What could possibly make him believe that?”
“I’m a killer.”
“You are not a killer, my love.”
Dillon reached out and pulled me to him by hooking a finger into a belt loop of my pants. He wrapped his arms around my waist and pressed his face into my body. I stroked his damp hair. He inhaled deeply and exhaled in a long sigh. His breath was warm through my clothes.
“You smell good,” he said, his voice muffled.
“It is the same soap you just used.”
“You smell like… you.” He leaned back and looked into my face. “I sometimes forget how young you are.”
“I turned eighteen while you were gone.”
“You look much younger. Men like Steptoe…”
“I am not a child,” I said.
“No, Matt. Steptoe is a liar and a manipulator. He is separate from the rest of humanity. Good people share nothing in common with him.”
Dillon nodded unhappily. “Okay,” he said.
I ran my fingers through his hair. “Lie down. You need rest,” I said.
“Lay with me.”
“I thought you wanted me to read aloud.”
“You can do that lying next to me.”
“Doc will wonder why it took so long just to bring you dinner.”
“Take off your clothes.”
“I have to be back before dark.”
“I need to feel something good against my skin, Jimmy,” said Dillon. “I’ve met some bad men in my time but this...”
Dillon gathered me to him and lay back against the pillows like a child with a rag doll. He was still and quiet for so long, I thought he’d fallen asleep after all. I shifted to look at his face. He tightened his arms around me.
“Talk,” he said.
“I forgot to get a book to read to you.”
“Tell me anything.”
The wind picked up outside and whistled around the eaves but the room was warm. I pushed the quilts away with my feet. I rested my chin on Dillon’s chest.
“Your little stone house reminds me of something I read in a history text in Calcutta,” I said. “There is an ancient fortress in the northern desert of India. No one knows who built it or why. It is not near any of the well-travelled routes for trade or war. Its walls do not bear the marks of siege and the buildings look as if they were barely lived in. It was abandoned for a thousand years before it was discovered in the 3rd Century.”
“That’s old,” whispered Dillon.
“Older than the Pyramids they say. It is huge. Large enough to support twenty-five hundred people, with cattle and crops. Bigger than Dodge City. It is built against a mountain and has two gates, each thirty feet high. All around it is dry, lifeless desert but inside is cool and verdant. They even found the remains of rice paddies. Can you imagine? Rice paddies in the desert. There is water there but no one can find it. It is said that faeries brought the water to the gates.”
“The water is in the mountain.”
“No, Matt. Faeries brought it.”
“There’s a well somewhere. An underground spring.”
“They’ve been digging for two thousand years.”
“I thought you wanted me to talk.”
“I have forgotten the point I was trying to make, now,” I said but had accomplished my goal of getting him to think about something besides Steptoe.
I traced a scar on his chest with my finger. I could feel his muscles slowly relaxing beneath me. I pressed my lips against his skin. Desire stirred in my belly.
“It’s Thursday afternoon,” I said.
“So it is,” he said.
Dillon rarely had a full day off but under Doc’s strict orders, he took time away every other Thursday afternoon, from noon until six o’clock. For the past three months, he had spent every hour of those afternoons making love to me.
“Well, it’s not our regular Thursday, but we have to make up for the two we missed,” I said.
“I’m all wrung out, cowboy.”
“I will drop you off the hook, Marshal.”
“That’s let me off the hook.”
“Whatever you say,” I said, planting light kisses on his chest.
“Really, James Anna. I don’t think I can,” he said, softly.
“But I can.”
I trailed kisses down his body, nipping softly with my teeth. Dillon tensed and put his hand on the back of my head. I looked up into his eyes. I reached down and slid my palm slowly up and down his hardening cock.
“Let me,” I whispered. “I want to.”
I bent my head and drew him into my mouth, sucking gently and stroking his shaft with my tongue.
“Oh, okay. Sure,” sighed Dillon. He lay back against the pillows.
He was shocked and a little embarrassed the first time we did this. I had to remind him that I read books on human anatomy – and that I am French. It took a few times but he was no longer shy about asking for it. I laughed when, after, he always said, “Thank you.”
I enjoyed the feel of Dillon’s cock in my mouth. I enjoyed sucking him. I enjoyed drawing it out, bringing him to the brink of orgasm again and again then watching the expression on his face when I finally let him come. It troubled him the power I held over him sexually. And against this one thing, above all others, he was defenseless.
I cupped his scrotum in my hand and ran my mouth from the base of his cock to the tip, sucking it between my lips and circling the head with my tongue. Dillon groaned and his fingers tightened in my hair. I sensed that this time, he would not suffer my teasing, that what he needed now was simple release. I sucked him in until I felt the head of his cock hit the back of my throat and then slowly withdrew. I did this over and over, using my hand to gently slide his foreskin up and down his shaft, faster and faster. Dillon gasped and shuddered and flexed his hips.
“Ah. God,” he moaned.
I felt his cock swell in my mouth and knew he was close when Dillon grasped my upper arms and pulled me up his body. He rolled and pinned me to the bed, opened my thighs with his knee and thrust himself inside me. He paused, breathing deeply through his nose, his eyes glittering with reflected firelight. I was generally on top when we made love or he positioned himself behind me like spoons in a drawer to keep from crushing me.
Now, he crushed me beneath him, pumping his hips, driving his cock hard into my pussy. I wrapped my legs around his waist and twined my fingers in his hair. I held on to him and let him fuck me until he came with a long, low moan, his head thrown back, his features contorted as if he were in pain. For the first time since we became lovers, I felt Dillon pulse inside me. His body tensed then shuddered and he cried out as he emptied himself into me. He lay on top of me drawing hoarse, ragged breaths.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered. “I’m sorry.” He pushed himself up on his elbows and dropped kisses on my face.
“Shh. It’s okay,” I said, kissing his lips.
“Did I hurt you?”
“I have left you bruised on more than one occasion.”
He shifted his hips and his cock slid out of my body with a warm rush of fluids.
“I didn’t mean for that to happen.”
“Well, I think we might be okay,” I said, counting days in my head.
He moved down and lay his head on my chest. He was heavy, even though he rested most of his weight on the bed. He splayed his hand on my belly and stroked his palm over my hip bone.
“You’re so small,” he said.
I moved his hand up to my breast. “I am a woman,” I said.
Dillon slid his arms around my waist and held me with his head on my chest, reminding me again of a child with a dolly. I shifted to more comfortably bear his weight. He stirred and mumbled something unintelligible. I smoothed his hair with my fingers. His breathing evened out and deepened. The light in the windows darkened. The fire crackled and the wind blew.
In this little fortress on the high prairie, I felt like a princess held captive by a giant she loved.
Sunday, September 09, 2012
I’d like to take an afternoon nap on the couch, stretched out on top of Peter Graves, as the light through the window dims into a summer shower.
Ceiling fan, hard lemonade, bare feet and potato salad.
My head on his chest, the smell of a freshly laundered cotton shirt and the man wearing it.