Daisy and Arthur were an idea I had a for a flash fiction competition. They didn’t make the cut to submission (I went a different route, entirely) but I still kind of like them, and their story. Enjoy!
-Image credit shutterstock.com
Daisy felt like she was literally dying in the hot August sun.
Plus her ass hurt from bouncing on the slatted seat of the rickety carriage currently jaunting along Millhouse Road and transporting a shipment of Canned Clam Chowder to Dame Matilda in East River.
Daisy hiked her skirts up, creamy legs now exposed to the beaming sun but allowing air to at least cool her nether regions. The pistol strapped to her thigh glinted brightly in the midday light.
“This shite is fer the birds, Arthur! Th’ trip AND the soup! I wouldn’t even feed it t’ me dog! And he licks his own arse!” she called to the stallion, laughing as she rolled her head to relieve some of the tension there. Her neck ached something fierce from hauling the wooden crates into the belly of the rig this morning but it was a better ache then the one her last “patron” had left in her battered body on her most recent, and final, night as a “Lady” of Darcy’s Saloon.
She’d begged, borrowed, and maybe even stolen (from the sheriff, no less, but he was snoring in his knickers on her stained mattress, wasting time, and time costs money, thank you very much) to get up enough cash to finally convince Darcy to take her off the front lines and get into management side of things. She was good with figures and less experienced girls looked up to her. Daisy knew it was just a payoff, but anyone with a cunt could lay on their back at night and she wanted to be done with that if she could.
Daisy was meant for bigger things.
Darcy had laughed when Daisy told her so.
She’d remembered that laugh as she slammed the last crate into place. There was a strangeness to it, and Daisy didn’t figure it was the pun…
Something metallic had jingled inside the cans.
Her brains told her this wasn’t just rations she was hauling. Matilda sent Darcy new girls, Darcy was sending Matilda….soup?
“There’s more than beans and rice in them thar cans, yer hear me Arthur?!” She bit into the skin of an apple she’d brought along for the ride, staring off into the horizon. The horse flicked his tail in response, dropping his own apples as he plodded along.
Gunfire pulled her out of her heat induced daydream of making off with whatever the cans contained. Gold, perhaps. Jewels? Daisy wasn’t sure of anything other than it was hidden, and hidden meant valuable in a world where entire bodies were laid bare for consumption. She’d never do it, she wasn’t a swindler like her daddy. Prostitution might be dirty work, but it was honest. Goods and services for payment rendered.
Arthur perked his ears, whinnied, and Daisy flicked the reins. He responded accordingly (just like she had to do with the chaps in her bed), and the jaunt turned into a slow gallop.
Daisy pulled her red curls aside, glancing over her shoulder. Sure enough, three bandits on horseback were racing toward her, guns drawn. She could see the colors of their kerchiefs from here. Dusty red, blue, and green covered their faces, hats low over their foreheads.
They meant trouble, and Daisy meant to give it to them.
She pulled her pistol and ducked low, nickering at Arthur between her teeth. A snap of the reins and he began to fly, his tail a flag in the wind.
Daisy aimed over her cargo, trusting her horse to do his job while she did hers. Her daddy had been good for something, afterall; He’d taught her to shoot before losing their home and his life in a poker game when she was ten.
She waited, knowing she’d need to see the whites of their eyes to be certain she could hit her mark.
She fired. Her shot was true and red bandana flew off their mount like they’d been clotheslined by a tree branch.
A hot whistle of air buzzed by her ear and she smelled burnt hair and gunpowder before she registered the thunder of the gun that had sent it for her.
Daisy looked at the cans and back up at the remaining riders. Whatever was in those cans, it was getting to Dame Matilda, come hell or high water. She hadn’t bent over, knelt, and laid on her back for all those nights to die out here in the roasting sun.
She aimed again, finger caressing the trigger like the love of a man she’d never feel. Her body was used to hard, fast, angry. Guns required a gentle touch. Her daddy had taught her that, too.
Aim. Breath. Squeeze.
Blue bandana’s face contorted in pain before dropping their rifle , following it like an anchor into the ocean of dust clouds left behind by the ongoing chase.
Green bandana slowed, confused by fallen comrades at the hand of a two dollar whore.
Daisy smiled, happy with the opportunity to finish her defense without any oncoming fire. She noted something familiar about those eyes as she’d graced the trigger with her touch one more time.
Then all three bandits lay still in the road and Daisy was dismounting, reloading her six shooter just to be sure the job was done.
Towering over the closest body, Daisy recognized the hair and a beauty mark by the left eye.
“Everyone knows you paint that on, y’ bitch.” she growled. Daisy bent down, grunting as she pulled the bandana from Darcy’s face.
Darcy couldn’t answer. An august fly had already landed on her unblinking eye, and Daisy knew there would be more to come.
“Come on Arthur, get up now. Git!” she called after hauling herself back into the seat. “Looks like I have somethin’ more important than this here soup to talk to Matilda ‘bout now, don’t I?”
Arthur whickered and began moving the wagon forward again.
Soup cans rattled and jingled as Daisy mouthed the word “Dame”.