Sunday, May 29, 2005


The woman stepped from the bath and dried her hair and body with a towel. She felt each worn board beneath her feet as she walked to the front door. The sun reflected off the dirt all around her home in the desert, temporarily blinding her. A gentle breeze entered the house and refreshed her clean, pale skin. Two wavering specs appeared over the horizon and were headed in her direction. She stepped all the way out onto the front poarch and waited - her arms crossed over her chest, holding up the towel.

The two men rode their horses at a trot toward the house. They could see a well out front, and the blonde-haired man swore he could smell the water just waiting for them. "Yes, but lookee here," interjected the red-haired man, chewing the end of a twig he'd picked up at the last town - two days ago. There on the poarch of that house stood a ghostly woman. Her hair and eyes were dark and serious, but her skin was white as a sheet. "Where you reckon her old man be?" he asked the blonde man. "Le's find out," the other replied. As they neared, she never moved, and the two began to wonder in earnest if she were one of those manequins they'd seen in the taylor's window back east. They stopped the horses not ten feet from the poarch steps, and the red-head dismounted and walked slowly toward her. She watched him in a waiting way. She didn't smile or make a peep. She had no expression whatsoever, but looked him straight in the eye. He smiled and tipped his hat, "Afternoon." She was still. "Are you deaf? Can you hear what I'm saying to you?" Her left eyebrow rose a fraction of a centimeter. "Where your old man?" No response. He turned to his friend and laughed, then said, "Look like we got more than just water here, Buford. Look like we got some sugar too!" The blonde man smiled, "Weeeelll, alright then," and tipped his hat to her. Red-head turned back to her with his scruffy, yellow-toothed grin, and he moved his right arm toward her left shoulder. Like a cobra, her right arm shot toward him, and her open hand slammed into his adams apple, crushing his throaght. She casually put her arm back over the other where it had been before and continued to watch red-head as he gagged and coughed and his face turned from red to purple and finally he sank to his knees and then forward on his face and gagged no more. She turned her eyes to blonde-head, who had stopped his dismount and was still frozen standing with one foot in the stirrup and the other draped over his horse's back. He fully mounted and began to slowly turn away from the cabin. Her hand shot out again and she snapped her fingers loudly once. He turned back to her, and as she held his eyes she pointed her finger down at red-head. With the heal of her foot, she kicked his hip and he rolled down the poarch steps and into the dust. She waited patiently while blonde-head dragged his friend up and over his horse and mounted it, turned and rode away forever. She looked at the remaining horse for a moment, then walked back inside, leaving the door open to catch the breeze.

The next morning when the sheriff arrived, her door was still open. She was sitting at the table in a white cotton frock and bare feet so she could feel the coolness of the floor. She'd slept with rags tied in her hair and now her hair was soft and wavy. Small strands would tickle her cheeks in the breeze. She sipped her coffee and watched the sheriff walk up the steps and remove his hat.

"Naoma, you know there's a horse out here?"

She cocked her head and smiled with half her mouth, "Yeah, I know."

"What'd you do? Why'd you kill that man, Naoma?"

"He was trespassing, John."

The sheriff did not reply. He only shook his head slowly with a resigned look about him.

"You can have that horse if you want, John. Seems I get more visitors lately. I don't need him. Anything I need I guess I can get off one of these people that come around here. I can't feed a horse." She paused. "You hungry?"

"I could eat."

"Ok, then."


Blogger jobwich said...

Ever heard any Gillian Welch? "Caleb Meyer," from her album "Hell Among the Yearlings" has a similar tale, wherein the heroin cuts the would be rapist/moonshiners throat with his own broken bottle.

Not to be annoying by mentioning that your writing reminds me of this or that. More just to say that it's got a universal thread.

4:15 AM  

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