This short story was inspired by a silly thread on Facebook, the gist of which was “What if Hemingway wrote a vampire story?” After a short discussion, I got the idea for this story. Thanks Tim Cahoon & Bruce Sutton for the inspiration!
The bar door crashed open. Late afternoon sun streamed around the figure silhouetted there. Noises in the bar ceased. Everyone looked up, worried. No one ever came in like that unless there was trouble.
Raven wing hair whipped around the stranger’s face. Dark sunglasses covered the eyes. Full, red lips slashed across the lower part of the face. The firm chin was softened slightly by a shallow cleft. A long leather duster billowed in the wind. Broad brimmed hat covered the forehead, concealing the features. What was most remarkable about the stranger was the amount of armament. Of secondary importance was that the hunter was female.
A soft wolf whistle broke the silence. She turned her face to the sound, raising her sunglasses. The men in the room took in more details as she scanned the room. Her eyes were a dark green, the lashes long and thick. She was a tall woman, close to six feet. Her shoulders were broad, her waist narrow. Her jeans fit like a glove, her denim shirt gaping slightly over full breasts. Dusty boots showed the wear of years.
She clumped into the room, the door swinging shut behind her. Approaching the bar, she leaned on it. “Barkeep, water on the rocks.”
“Yes, ma’am. Coming right up, little lady.”
Her eyes followed him as he filled the glass with ice and water. He set it in front of her with a flourish. She thanked him with a nod, paying him for the water. She pocketed the change without a sound.
“What brings you here, stranger?” The barkeep asked.
“I’m looking for a man,” she began.
A chuckle scurried around the room like rats.
“Got a whole room full, sweet cheeks,” the whistler said behind and to her left. “Take yer pick.”
She ignored him. Instead, she sipped her water, elbows on the bar, one foot on the stool next to her.
“A particular man,” she added quietly. “Maybe you know him. Taller than me, dark hair, blue eyes. His skin holds a pallor the sun won’t brown….”
The men in the room exchanged a furtive look. None of them spoke. One of them got up, walking quickly and purposefully toward the door. A knife thumped into the wood next to his hand. The fellow froze, fingers half an inch from the quivering steel. The woman reached around him one hand held the door shut as she leaned on it, the other took the knife out. She examined the knife, green eyes following the line of the blade from hilt to tip.
The man smelled of fear and urine. A puddle formed at his feet. She scooted her boot away, spreading her legs. No one else moved.
“Want to tell me about your buddy?” She said, her voice husky and low. Any other time, he’d have found her irresistible. Now, he prayed she’d go away before she killed him.
“Not my buddy,” he whispered. “Just said if anyone ever come lookin’ for him, I’s to tell him.”
The knife blade hissed through the air, cutting the bandana around the man’s neck. It fell to his feet and a thin line of blood trickled to the open collar of his shirt. The hunter squinted at his neck, full lips pouted, thinking.
“What bitcha?” She pointed to the half-healed scar.
“Pretty big snake,” she commented, twisting the blade before his eyes.
The light slithered up and down the blade making the man shiver.
“Some of them rattlers get to be ten feet or so…. One of ’em bit me t’other day.”
“Lucky you lived. That’s right on the jugular.”
He swallowed, nodding rapidly. “Peers I’m immune…. To snake bite….”
“You’re a lucky man. Come one, lucky man. Lemme buy you a drink.” She clapped an unyielding hand on his shoulder, leading him to the bar. “And you’re gonna tell me where I can find your master, or I’m gonna cut your balls off and make ’em into a necklace with bailing wire.”
He gulped again, Adam’s apple bobbing in his scrawny neck.
“Any of you other boys feel the burning need to leave,” she said to the room in general. “Think how nice your balls would look decorating my necklace. So, you boys itching for a smoke or heading to the privy, you recalculate and have a seat. I don’t want trouble. Just need my man and I’ll be gone.”
The men, who’d been thinking about leaving, didn’t. Those working their way toward the exits, stopped.
“She can’t take all of us at once,” the whistler said, standing. “Ain’t nobody that fast.”
Six gun drawn, he stood with his legs wide apart, snarky grin on his face. The hunter eyed him, sizing him up. A smile crept slowly up her cheeks, her green eyes glittered.
“Anyone not wanting to die, lay low,” she said. “Anyone thinks they can take me, rock on.”
Shoving her informant to the floor, she shot the whistler in the forehead with her right hand. With her left, she winged another, the third caught it in the chest, knocking him through the front window. Number four rushed her from the left, roaring like a tornado. His brains splattered on the mirror over the bar.
Four pairs of hands flew into the air, weapons clattering to the floor. The hunter laid money on the bar, lifting her informant by his collar.