Image from Far West Forum

“Kitty’s Saloon”

“Kitty,” his breath was warm against the back of her neck. “I’ve missed you.” His voice, barely above a whisper, had a knife-edge to the softness. He pulled her golden curls to one side and kissed the hollow of her neck. She straightened her back, chasing away the memories that clouded her mind, and put the drinks she was carrying in front of the two of the men playing poker. She turned slowly taking a step back from him as she did, needing space between them.

“Jake,” she said, walking behind the long oak bar. He sat on a stool as she set a glass of whiskey in front of him. “I heard you were out inCalifornia, trying your hand as a miner. Thought you’d have found your fortune by now.” Although a glance at his dusty, worn coat told her luck had not been on his side.

“Never made it there.” He avoided telling her about the rattlesnake bite that had nearly killed him. The cursed thing had gotten him on the leg. He had managed to make it back to town, and to the parlor house he tended to frequent. The madam, who had always liked him, or at least his money, had set him up in a bed, where he had stayed for several days, hovering on the edge of unconsciousness, but finally regained his strength. By then,Californiaheld no lure for him. All he wanted was to get back here, the closest thing he had to home, this oneroad townof ramshackle buildings. And, he admitted only to himself, back to Kitty.

A shout from the card table interrupted his thoughts. He turned slowly, not surprised to see one of the players, a young slick man with a white shirt and brown leather vest, pull a six-shooter out and take aim at the rancher across the table. Kitty glanced to the far end of the bar. “Whoa now,” the sheriff called from a dark corner of the saloon where he had been nursing a drink and talking to one of the girls. The man spun around, searching for the face to match the voice, and the rancher, seeing his opportunity, whipped out his own pistol and shot the upstart dead.

“Damn,” Kitty whispered.

“He deserved it, Sheriff,” the rancher declared. “He was the one cheatin’. Kitty, next round’s on me.” He and another man dragged the body outside and left it off the side of the porch in the dirt. They came back in, sat back down at the table and the next round was dealt.

Jake shook his head. He had forgotten how tough this town could be, but Kitty could handle it he knew. Beneath her soft curves and faded petticoats, she was made of steel. She was behind the bar pouring drinks. “I got a room upstairs,” she stated without looking him in the eye.

“I appreciate that,” he replied.

“Up the stairs, second room on the left.”  Next door to hers, if he remembered right.

“I’ll go up and settle in. Thanks.” He stood up and glanced at the other patrons, but everyone seemed under control. “Adios,” he tipped his hat to her, hoping she’d stop by his room after the place cleared out some.

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Today’s Flash Fiction post is based on a prompt at Flash Fiction Friday. The assignment was to write a Western using the following words: Rattlesnake, Six-shooter, Adios, Miner, Madam, Dusty, Sheriff.