Poker Face #flashfiction

This will be a semi strange week. I am on a vacation of sorts. Sure there will be stuff to read and all that but I may not get to comments in a conversational manner. If you tire of the ceaseless drivel I normally have, this might be a blessing.

Or maybe, just maybe, you will all miss me.

Either way here is a story I shared on one of the old sites that needs to be seen again. Enjoy…

Poker Face

Poker Face
Aaron Norick scraped the clay from his boots. It wasn’t the best day to bury a friend, but there is never a good day for a funeral. He hated to say it but the girl did a number on them. Just his luck that the first lass that Eddie ran into after the joint was enough to captivate him.

He chuckled to himself over the two dollar word. He used it as a euphemism for the word he would normally say. Something about the funeral brought out the gentleman in him.

He scratched the hair on his chin. Yep, the girl had to die. He wasn’t sure how but knew deep down that he would find her and take her out real slow.

He holstered his rifle, then saddled up. Eddie’s mare, Willow, was tied to the saddle so he could get her back to town. The girl was gone, but she would have to stop in town before getting too far. He could catch her trail again there.

*

Brimstone Canyon was a frontier town. A few buildings to speak of, the majority of the folk around here were ranchers. They had farms outside of town. There was a regular coach run, bringing mail and news from the world outside.

The bar was the first stop for Aaron. He was ready to move on. The loss of Eddie was bad enough. He didn’t want to pick up anymore strays. He wouldn’t catch Eddie’s Killer if he stuck around too long.

The doors swung in and the crowd inside went quiet. It was a bit dramatic but it fit his mood. He sat at the bar, his saddle bags taking the seat beside him.

The barman set a glass down in front of him. The glass was bigger than a shot glass with the shape of an inverted balloon. He filled the glass with an amber liquid. “You look like you might need this,” he said.

He took a pull from the glass, his eyes lit up with an atomic glow. He took a few gulps of air. “You got that right sir,” Aaron said.

“It’s my special blend,” the barman said. “It will treat you right.” He picked up a glass and polished it with a hand towel.

Aaron dropped a few coins on the counter, and took another drink. This was more of a sip, giving the blast a chance to cool. “Been busy?” he asked.

“The usual, we have our regulars.” He put the glass down and picked up another one. He held it to the light before taking the towel to it. “People come and go.”

“I’m looking for a girl.”

The barman put the glass down and leaned closer to Aaron. “Aren’t we all,” he said. “I came out here with hope and a dream. Little did I know the deceit they sold us all.”

“I mean a specific girl,” Aaron said. “Might have stopped in town at some point today. Long black hair with bright green eyes, stands about this high.” He gestured toward his shoulder. “She would have been dressed like a field hand.”

The barman gave him a blank look. “All sorts come through here mister.” He picked up another glass and began cleaning it.

“She had a big scar on her left cheek. Went from the side of her eye to her chin.”

“Oh, yer after the disfigured girl,” he said. “She came into town about three hours ago. Think she might have gotten a room at the hotel.” He topped off Aaron’s glass with more of the special.

The more he drank the better it tasted. After the third or fourth swallow it didn’t burn nearly as much as the first time. It was a creeper. After he finished the glass he lost all track of the world around him. He missed the girl with the club standing behind him. He didn’t notice when it connected with the base of his skull.

*

Buckets of water splashing into your face is never a great way to wake up. Aaron made it a point to avoid situations that called for it. This was one of those situations. He spluttered awake pulling against the chains around his wrists. His hands were chained to wall above his head.

“What the hell,” he said.

“Bout time,” a light feminine voice said. “I thought you were going to be out forever. I barely tapped you.”

He fought against the bonds. “I’m going to kill you.” He pulled to stand but couldn’t get off his butt.

She laughed, it might have been a pretty laugh, but in this case he was sure she was mocking him. “You can’t even make it into town without calling attention to yourself,” she said. “You have no chance of killing me.” She kneeled in front of him, out of reach. “I miss Eddie. How’s he been?”

Aaron kicked at her, missing her by inches. “I’m gonna kill you,” he said. He pulled at the chains on his wrists again.

She laughed and stepped away. “Tell you what,” she said. “If you can catch me, you win.” She tossed the keys down, just out of his reach. “Of course, you better figure out how to get loose.” She walked out of the room.

“Bitch…” he shouted after her. The keys were just off to the side. He could reach them. He was sure of it. With a good stretch he could just move them with the tip of his boot.

It took him ten minutes. But with patience, cursing, and a bit of luck he managed to get the chains from his wrists. He was free but that wasn’t enough. He needed to get to his horse and his rifle.

He slammed the door open in his haste to get out. The blast from the shotgun attached to the door hit him square in the belly. He fell to the ground as his insides found the outside.

“I forgot to mention that I cheat,” she said.

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