…………Later on this evening. I purchase the Longbranch bar and establish my base of operations in Dodge City. Unfortunately I can’t afford to hunt to often where I live so Nathan gets to keep his heart. I’m thirsty and since I own the bar now I help myself to some liquor that isn’t laced with opiates. I grab an un-open bottle of McGintys from the customer side of the bar and two shot glasses. I have no intention of sharing it I just hate waiting between shots so I typically take two if I really plan on drinking.
I pour two shots and down them just as quickly. I’m hungry and tired, maybe I should make something in the kitchen. Maybe I should wake someone up to make me something. That isn’t going to happen, not tonight at least. The only person I can call is Nicolette, but she’s entertaining and stealing from Nathan.
…Nicolette…..as the warm rush from the Irish whiskey rolls up from my loins to the top of my head her name pops back into my head and my dark passenger bats it around like a kitten playing with a ball of yarn. I can feel it inside me, charming and chiding me, appealing to our mutual need. Then it hits me, my hunger is not of a visceral nature more metaphysical. I caught the scent of my next tribute. Her perfume is more of a sweet oil to cover up the natural perspiration accumulated over a long day of whorin and dancing for a wild west town she is a good smelling woman. Unfortunately for Nicolette she has triggered the wrong set of desires.
I look into the mirror across bar from me and for the faintest of moments I can see my dark passenger, old patch leaning over my shoulder patting me on the back assuring me we’re on the right path. If he’s so fucking sure that I should kill this girl then I’ll let him come up with the plan.
“How am I supposed to do it?”
Patch smiles and pours me two shots of McGintys, cause he knows what I like and whispers his fiendish plot in my ear as I pound two more helpings of whiskey in succession.
I cackle and slap the bar.
“You are one insane son of a bitch!”
I pour two more as I contemplate my role in his scheme, but this time instead of leaving both drinks to me my dark passenger grabs one of the shots and proposes a toast. I of course add on to the toast.
“To our continued health.”
Both of our shot glasses hit the bar and I reach in my bag for my partially empty laudanum bottle and fill the bottle of McGinty back up with opium and re-cork it.
Nicolette took Nathan up to room three about an hour ago. She seems like a good girl so even if he’s unconscious she’s going to give him his moneys worth before she steals from him. I use the fact that I’m the new owner to my advantage.
I make my way to door number three and lightly knock so as not to disturb anyone else currently enjoying rooms one through seven. Within a few seconds the door opens a sliver and a tuft of blonde hair, fair skin one green eye is staring at roughly chest level.
“Darlin I am done for the night, but I do appreciate your patience. Comeback tomorrow and I’ll give you a discount.”
She winks, which is a nice touch. The final note of any good seductress is to leave them wanting more. Before she can close it on me I jam my foot in the door.
“My apologies miss. I realize you are off the clock, but seeing how my friend is in there probably passed out and I have purchased the Longhorn and everything contained within…….”
The door opens and she steps back.
“Please come in Mister….”
It’s at this moment I can hear the door to room number four creaking open. I can’t afford to be seen so I jump into the room and slam the door shut. Nicolette feeds off of my nervousness and backs up to the wash basin she was cleaning herself at. We stand staring at each other for at least a minute in the candle lit room with nothing but the clomp of spurred boots walking down the hall and descending the staircase.
“Well, that was weird.”
Nicolette looks spooked. She obviously doesn’t want to be alone with me.
“I’ll just grab my things and go mister.”
She grabs a small bag of toiletries by the wash basin, but most notably a sizeable knife that she doesn’t stuff into the bag, but hides behind her back.
“I just bought the place from Chalkey not ten minutes ago and was hoping to celebrate with my buddy and our new lead lady.”
She takes a couple seconds to digest what I’ve said. I back up the words by pointing to Nathans unconscious body and her.
She doesn’t know what I’m talking about.
“I’m talking about making you the new madam here and take this….”
I pull fifty dollars in tens out of my wallet and hand it over to her.
“…..is your new clothing and food allowance.”
She sets her bag down by the basin to grab the fifty, but the knife is still hidden and in hand. She clutches the hand full of crisp ten dollar bills.
“What about Sue? She’s the Mistress and she’s been here a real long time.”
“We’re changing management, out with the old and in with the new. Now, she can go back to work if she wants or down the road I don’t care. You’re the girl we need here.”
Nicolette tears up and exhales unevenly. Her nose is running and she’s having trouble catching her breath. I hear the knife drop behind her back on the counter the basin set on and she slides to the floor with the money firmly held in both hands.
“My kids are going to be so happy.”
She looks up to me with those baleful eyes, tears streaming lips sputtering and I realize that this is a dream come true for her. No more laying on her back for strangers, getting slapped around and abused she was now management.
“You have kids?”
She stuffs the money between her breast and wipes off her now running make up with a handkerchief and giggles vibrantly.
“Hah yes! A boy and a girl ages 6 and 2. Cody and Bethany, they spend most of their time with their grandmother at the Huelk Farm in Cash.”
I can’t kill her she’s got kids and a momma depending on her. This promotion is one of the best moments of her adult life, I can’t rob her of that. I’m off in my head contemplating the moral implications and she reaches up to retrieve her bag, which contains a rather large hand mirror. It’s almost amusing watching her attempt to reassemble her work face with nothing, but a mirror, spit and a hanky. I honestly can’t help chuckle.
“What’s so funny mister?”
She doesn’t even know my name.
“The names Salinger, J. D. Salinger and what’s funny is your face.”
“Oh yeah well you should see yours……”
Nicolette smiles and playfully spins the mirror within inches of my face, not knowing what she is forcing me to confront.
Her laughter echoes through out the room, but fades to the background as patch and I confer in the mirror. To the outside world it seems like a second, but hours of conversation go on in my head. At one point in my life I could have loved a woman like Nicolette, a soiled dove with a heart of gold. She’s tough cause she has to be not cause she wants to and I am quite the opposite. Patch and I spark debate, but I lose and when I come out of our trance I know what has to be done. I start to tune back in at the sounds of her voice.
“…..and I’m going to by my kids a mule. Not for work, just to play with…..”
I leave the mirror up as she still has it in my face and draw my boot knife as quickly as I can and in one grand gesture I push the mirror out of the way with my head, put my left hand over her mouth and slit her throat with my right. My knife is sharp enough that the only splatter of blood is the trail from the exit and that lands on the wall to my right in a large fan. She’s a small woman roughly one hundred and twenty pounds so she should go quickly. After the initial cut her eyes bulge almost out of her head and out of pure instinct she kicks me in the genitals at least twice while I hold her down. The pain would be excruciating if it weren’t exhilarating and to watch the flame in her tear soaked eyes dim as the crimson flood falls freely from the exit point I made in her neck. I don’t think I could love Nicolette, I know I can. I would have raised another mans children with her as though they were my own and taken care of her until the day we perished of old age.
As I resolve my issues with the life I will never get to live, Nicolette stops scratching my face and biting my hand. The blood isn’t flowing as quickly, but her eyes are still aware. She’s getting sluggish, it’ll be over soon, but she’s maintaining eye contact in search of one last human moment.
This is my favorite moment for my prey when they accept what has happened and are almost happy it’s over. Her struggle, pain, the day-to-day hustle of just going forward with life. She seems almost relieved to not have to worry about tomorrow.
Nicolette’s having trouble keeping her eyes open and blood is everywhere. I grab a towel on the dresser and stuff it under the door to keep it from rolling out into the hall.
Nathan groans in his sleep and rolls over on the bed. That is a mistake I cannot afford so I will have to drug him a little bit more before I leave. My shirt and clothes are covered in blood so I start taking off my shirt and pour some water in the basin. Nicolette tugs lightly at my pant.
“I can’t believe you’re still alive, but thanks for the reminder.”
I reach down between her breast and grab my fifty dollars with my clean hand.
“You would have made a fantastic Madame by the way!”
Nicolette takes one last desperate gasp and falls over on top of her bag lifeless.
Honestly those are the good parts and everything else is mundane. The removal of her heart, my re-drugging and framing Nathan, how I exit naked as a jay -bird. How I covered Nathan with her blood and changed boots with him right before I exited through the window so he’s wearing the ones that have been tromping around this room. Or even more boring still how I burned my clothes in the desert later that night.