Knuckle Ridge, Chapter 4

  • Posted on September 26, 2020 at 4:12 pm

by Purple Les

Gus took the glass chimney off the lamp on his desk, then turned the wick up a notch before lighting it with a match. Putting the glass back on, he glanced out the window at the darkening magenta of the early evening sky.

The Kid was brewing up a pot of coffee. While she waited for the fire in the woodstove to catch, she looked over at Gus, who was shaking his head sadly as he refilled his pipe.

“What is a gold certificate, anyways?” The Kid asked. “Must be valuable, if they’re worth robbin’ the stage to lay hands on. Are they like paper dollars, but made out of gold?”

Gus gave a snort of weary laughter. “Well, no… it’s not actual gold. To put it simple, it’s a document that’s legal tender that you can cash in for gold coinage, if you’ve a mind to. Looks almost like regular paper money, ‘cept for what it says on it.”

Pretending to understand, The Kid nodded as she put the coffee pot on the stove, said, “See you, Gus,” and with a nod, walked out the door and into the night.

Once the coffee was ready, Gus Masters got up and poured himself a cup, then sat back down at the desk with it, thinking about the bundle he’d put in the safe. Then, taking out his stag-handled buck knife, he sliced through the string that was tied around the other bundle, now resting on his desk.

He took a sip of coffee and savored it. The Kid sure knows how to make good coffee, Gus thought to himself with a smile. He enjoyed a couple more sips, then his smile turned grim as he began to sort through the stack of wanted posters in front of him.

The Kid had offered to help, but then said, “But y’know, Gus, most of them flyers will have descriptions, ‘stead of pictures. Reckon I wouldn’t be much use to you.”

So he began to pore through the posters, examining each one in turn. All of them featured female criminals. He made it through the first dozen, sighed heavily, then went to refill his cup.

***

The Kid ambled back to the livery stable to say goodnight to Button and Pegasus. From there she strolled back to Andromeda’s house. Approaching the back screen door to the kitchen, she saw the gleam of a lit lamp through the chintz curtains. She entered to find Ann seated at the dining table, consulting a piece of paper and writing on another one. A letter, most probably. Never knowed no one to write so many blessed letters, The Kid thought.

She bent down to press a kiss into her lover’s sweet-smelling hair, smiling as Andromeda glanced up. “I’m back, Ann. I’m gonna go take down the laundry.”

“Okay, Kid. Thank you,” Ann softly replied, then turned back to her letter.

In the twilight, The Kid unpinned clothes from the line, folding each one before carefully placing it in a large wicker basket. Taking the last piece down and folding it, The Kid looked up into the evening sky, marveling at the expanse of glittering stars that adorned the heavens. Casting a melancholy sigh, she bent to pick up the basket, then carried it indoors.

She set the basket on the kitchen floor and said, “I’m just gonna have me a smoke out back.” Ann absently nodded, still engrossed in her letter as The Kid went back outdoors.

The Tequila Kid made her way over to the most private part of the yard, pausing to gaze up at the stars. She looked for the consolations Ann had taught her about. Andromeda, the one Ann was named after, and there was Pegasus, the flying horse. The Kid glanced back at the light in the kitchen window and smiled. Looking up into the sky again, she reached beneath her shirt and, with thumb and forefinger, toyed with the gold wedding band that hung from her neck.

She whispered, “Dang it, Arabella. I still think of you all the time. Close my eyes, and there’s that pretty little face, smilin’ at me. I got me a good woman, and I love her to bits… but I can’t help but miss you somethin’ fierce.” After a moment’s pause, The Kid added, “You oughta forget me. That’d be the best thing for you.” She felt a tear roll down her cheek. Wiping it away, she shook her head to clear it, muttering, “Shit.”

She turned back toward the house, marching into the kitchen with a determined stride. “I’m feelin’ hungry,” she told Ann. “How ‘bout you?”

Laying her pen to one side, Ann stood and stretched herself. “Yes, I am, now that you bring it up,” she said, carefully corking the inkwell. “Like me to fix something?”

“Naw,” The Kid replied with a shake of the head. “Let’s go over to the Highland House, and I’ll buy us both a big supper.”

Andromeda arched an eyebrow. “I suppose I oughtn’t to ask… but just how much of your Ranger pay have you got left?”

“Enough to get us fed tonight,” The Kid shrugged.

“Oh, my goodness.” Drawing close, Ann wrapped both arms around her lover. “I love you more than my life, Kid… but I swear, you couldn’t keep a dollar if it was sewn to the back of your britches.”

The Kid slipped her hands down to cradle Ann’s firm bottom. “That’s what money’s for, honeybunch. If you don’t spend it, it’s nothin’ but paper.”

“But you have to…” Andromeda’s voice trailed off, and she laughed. “Guess I should know better than to try and change your ways. Listen, I’ll pay for supper. You best save what you got left, in case you need to send any more telegrams. Now stop touching my ass, unless you mean to start something, and let’s go eat.”

The Kid stepped back, but not without giving Ann’s rump a playful squeeze. “How ’bout we take us a shot first?”

Ann smiled. “Sure.”

Reaching for the same tequila bottle that she’d drunk from the night before, The Kid handed it to Ann, who downed a swallow of the fiery liquor. The Kid took a generous slug, then they took their leave, strolling arm in arm to the Highland House, where they enjoyed a hearty meal.

Back home, Andromeda and The Kid had another shot of tequila apiece, then snuggled together on the sofa and chatted for a while. They retired early, intending to be rested and on time for Roy and Bob’s funeral the next morning.

***

More than two dozen townsfolk stood around the open graves in the late morning sun. The Kid, feeling a bit vulnerable without the gun and knife she usually packed, wore a black Victorian dress with her moccasins. She held tightly to Andromeda Purdy’s arm. Ann also wore black, as did most of the women there.

Carefully glancing about, The Kid noticed that Molly Hardy was there, standing alongside Dr. Jed Johnson and his wife Alice. Freddie stood near The Kid and Ann. Of course Jack was there, standing next to Nate Lincoln, with Ed from the hotel close behind. Gus Masters wore a black suit and held his hat in his hands, his short salt and pepper hair slicked down.

Parson Ricks was speaking. “In sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, we commend to Almighty God our brothers Bob and Roy, and we commit their bodies to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” His oration complete, the parson closed his bible.

One by one, each person came forward with a handful of dirt, which they let fall into the open graves. The sound at first was that of dirt on wood. As more earth was thrown down, the sound grew steadily fainter.

Once everyone had paid their respects, Jack spoke up. “I thank you good people for comin’ to say farewell to Roy and Bob. Now, I hope you’ll all join me at the Broken Horn for the wake. I’ve got food and drinks waitin’ there, as I know the boys would’ve liked us to hoist a few in their honor.”

As the crowd moseyed off to the bar, Sheriff Masters came over to Ann and The Kid. “I’ve found nothin’ yet, Kid,” he softly said, “but I still got a lot more to sort through. As for the man with the broke tooth… “ He shook his head, “no one seems to know him.”

The dead man had been put on display in an open coffin outside Elisha Bessop’s furniture store and mortuary. Bessop built most of the coffins in Knuckle Ridge, though he’d only done a simple pine box for this stranger. Everyone in town had wandered past to take a look at the corpse, but none admitted to knowing him. Gus had interviewed Nate Lincoln and his employee Mac; both had assured him that, whoever he was, the man hadn’t shown his face at the livery stable.

Gus put his hat on and said, “Shall we, ladies?” extending an arm to each of them.

Ann took hold of the Sheriff’s elbow, but The Kid said, “You two go on. I’ll be along directly.”

The Kid watched as they walked away. Mac from the livery stable was leaning against a nearby tree, shovel in hand. His cheek bulged with a wad of chewing tobacco, and he occasionally bent to spit. He was waiting for all the onlookers to leave before he filled in the graves.

The Kid knelt between the deep-dug holes where the two caskets rested. She murmured, “I promise you both, I’ll have the killer for you. That much I swear.”

She stood up, her face wet with tears, then wiped them away with her sleeve. Turning away, she walked slowly toward the saloon, briefly accompanied by the sound of Mac’s shovel as he set to work.

Glancing to the left as she approached the swinging doors of the Broken Horn, The Kid thought she caught a quick glimpse of Lady Jane and Gracie.

The saloon suddenly forgotten, The Kid turned from her path and, staying out of view, began to tail the woman and her young servant.

She watched them stop at the library, where Lady Jane tried the door, frowning when it refused to budge. Of course it was closed, because Ann and young Freddie had both attended the funeral.

As The Kid continued to watch, Lady Jane spoke briefly with Gracie, paused to think for a moment, then set off in another direction, the younger girl hastening to keep up. The Kid gave them a head start, then followed.

Lady Jane soon reached the town hall, then she and Grace mounted the stairs and entered. About fifteen minutes later, they emerged and made tracks toward the cemetery. “What in hell are they up to?” The Kid whispered to herself, puzzled.

By then, Roy and Bob’s graves had been filled in, and the two mounds of dirt had been patted smooth with a shovel. Mac had made quick work of it, wanting to get to the Broken Horn and the wake before the free liquor ran out.

Lady Jane and Gracie bypassed the fresh graves, though, heading straight for a large black obelisk. The Kid knew it to be the resting place of Mrs Ruggles’ late husband Maurice — as well as her two children, both of whom had died young.

Bending to study the inscription on the memorial’s onyx surface, Lady Jane tapped a fingernail against her teeth, lost in thought. She then spoke to Gracie, who quickly took a small notepad and a pencil from a pocket in her dress. As her mistress continued to speak, Gracie scribbled in the pad, her brow furrowed in concentration.

After a couple of minutes, Lady Jane fell silent, then gave the young girl a nod. Gracie tucked the pad and pencil back into her pocket, and the two of them set off once more.

Keeping well behind, The Kid followed them back to the Ridge Hotel. When the front door opened, Count Cousiourac was waiting. He greeted Lady Wyeth-Boton with a slight bow, and they continued inside, leaving Gracie behind. The girl seated herself in a nearby chair and sat back, closing her eyes.

The Kid waited a minute or two, then wandered over to the hotel. She came up to the daydreaming youngster and said, “Howdy, Gracie.”

Startled, the eleven-year-old looked up, then jumped to her feet, giving a small curtsy and bowing her head as she said, “Good day to you, Miss Kid.”

It hadn’t escaped The Kid’s notice that Gracie’s eyes had drifted down to steal a glimpse at her breasts, which the dress she wore showcased to impressive effect.

“What brings you to town, Gracie? Thought you’d still be out to the Ruggles place.”

“Oh, we are, Miss Kid, but my lady has business here today.”

“Hmmm. Will she be long at it?”

Gracie nodded. “At least an hour or more, Miss Kid.” She paused, then shyly added, “You look very lovely in a dress, if I may say so.” Her cheeks flushed a bit as she spoke.

“Aw, thanks. Folks keep tellin’ me that, but I’d feel a lot more like me in my regular duds… or hell, in nothin’ at all.” She snickered, pleased to see Gracie’s blush deepen. “Say, can I buy you some lunch?”

“No thank you, Miss Kid. Madge fixed me a very large breakfast. I couldn’t touch another bite.”

“Could I get you some candy at the general store?”

“No, thank you, Miss Kid.”

The Kid fell silent for a moment, then said, “I feel bad for you, Gracie.”

“Why, Miss Kid?”

The Kid pulled up a chair and sat down. “Sit with me for a minute.” Gracie slowly took her seat. “Y’see, I can sense things. I know you got somethin’ big weighin’ on your heart, and it troubles you.”

Gracie tried to keep her expression neutral, but The Kid could tell that she’d struck a nerve.

Her cheeks gone pink again, the young girl said, “To be honest, Miss Kid, it’s you that troubles me.”

Surprised, The Kid said, “Me? How’s that?”

Looking down at her feet, Gracie softly said, “I keep thinking of… of tipping the velvet with you again.” She glanced up at The Kid, her eyes filled with longing.

The Kid considered the girl’s words for a moment, then said, “I liked that myself. You sayin’ that you’d do it with me some more?”

Nodding eagerly, Gracie said, “Oh, yes! I’d like that very much.” She looked around. “Is there somewhere we could go for a little while?”

The Kid stood and offered a hand to the little girl, which Gracie bashfully took. Together they went down the stairs and into the dusty street.

A few hundred feet from the hotel, The Kid took an abrupt detour, leading Gracie down an alley and to the door of an old adobe building. Standing on tiptoe, The Kid reached over the door frame and produced a tarnished brass key. She glanced both ways down the alley, then quickly inserted the key, unlocked the door and entered, gesturing for Gracie to follow. She did, and The Kid locked the door from the inside.

The room was dim inside but not dark, and very quiet. The sounds of the street seemed to come from a great distance.

The Kid pulled a dusty sheet off a black leather daybed — carefully, so as not to foul the air — then turned to the little girl. “Still wanna do what you said, Gracie? This here is a secret place; a friend of mine lets me use it when I want. Ain’t nobody can find us here.”

Gracie made no reply. With trembling fingers, she removed her bonnet, advanced to the daybed and laid down on her side. The Kid stretched out next to her, their eyes met, then they slowly drew together, the child’s soft full lips lightly brushing those of the young woman.

With a quivering sigh, Gracie drew back for an instant, staring into The Kid’s face — then, lunging forward, kissed her fiercely, reaching out to touch The Kid’s breasts through the black dress she wore. Gracie’s excitement mounted as she felt her new lover’s nipples stiffen through the velvety material. Their tongues sparred and danced as the kiss deepened, grew more passionate.

Sliding a hand under Gracie’s dress, The Kid let it glide up along the thin stocking-clad leg until she reached the hot, bare flesh of the child’s inner thigh, then touched the front of her drawers, feeling the warmth of the girl’s slit underneath.

The Kid broke the kiss to look down at Gracie’s lap, barely concealed by the raised hem of her dress. She moistened her lips as she studied the little girl’s legs, covered up to just above the knee by the coal-black stockings she wore.

With a single finger, The Kid traced the child’s slit through her underpants. “I swear, Gracie,” she said, “you are just about the sweetest little thing I ever did see.”

“I love you, Miss Kid,” said Gracie.

Sitting up, The Kid unbuttoned the front of her own dress. She wore no underclothes and, baring her breasts, offered one to the child.

Gracie reached out to cup a breast, then fastened her mouth to the other, whimpering with pleasure as she suckled and teased the woman’s taut nipple.

No longer able to control her desire, The Kid thrust a hand into Gracie’s drawers, her finger quickly finding and exploring the cleft of the eleven-year-old’s vagina.

She couldn’t feel a single hair. Just silky smooth flesh, wet and ready for love. The Kid easily found her way to the tiny hole and, pushing gently, gained entrance. With an ecstatic moan, Gracie spread her thighs wide apart, and the probing finger was welcomed inside.

The Kid pulled Gracie’s face away from her breasts and guided the child’s mouth to hers, where they came together in a frantic kiss. Gracie’s tight but delightfully slick tunnel seemed to gush wetness, gripping The Kid’s finger like a hot, sucking mouth as she rolled it around inside the body of her little lover.

Gracie began to thrust her hips, wanting to get that finger even deeper, and The Kid gave her what she wanted, penetrating the child right up to the third knuckle. With her other hand, she sought out Gracie’s tiny erect clit and pressed it with her thumb.

The girl cried out, then breathlessly whispered, “Oh, oh, Miss Kid, I love you ever so dearly. Please, please don’t stop what you’re doing, d-don’t!”

Continuing her gentle but persistent and quickening movements, The Kid could tell from the spasming of Gracie’s sex that she was close to coming. Grasping the tiny clitoris between forefinger and thumb, she gave it a light pinch.

That was enough to take the eleven-year-old over the top. Gracie squeezed her eyes tightly closed, her mouth fell open and she cried, “Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, OH!” clutching The Kid to her. Those helpless cries quickly built into a small scream. Gracie went iron-rigid for a few heartbeats, then she went limp, completely spent and gulping for breath.

The Kid kissed the angelic face, now flushed and shining with a light glaze of sweat. She began to withdraw her finger, but Gracie seized her arm.

“No!” she panted. “Please, Miss Kid, k-keep your finger there.” Gracie gave her older lover a weak, but happy smile, then added, “Oh, my, that was heavenly. Thank you, thank you!”

“Shucks, the pleasure was all mine.” The Kid began to adorn the child’s face with tender kisses. She could feel Gracie’s heartbeat with her finger, which was still buried up to the hilt in that baby-smooth vagina.

“Want me to give you another?” The Kid offered.

Gracie pondered the notion, then shook her head. “It’s a very tempting offer, Miss Kid, If there were more time, I would take you up on that.” She took a deep breath, then said, “You can take your finger out now, b-but do it slowly.”

The Kid did just that, loving the mixture of surprise and pleasure that showed on Gracie’s face.

They lay together contentedly for a while as the child took her rest. But after a moment, Gracie began to sniffle, then tears were flowing from her eyes. Finally, she sat up, mumbling, “Miss Kid, you were right. My heart is troubled.”

The Kid sat up, taking the sobbing child into her arms, and whispered, “Whatever it is that hurts so bad, you can get it off your chest here and now. Tell me what it’s about, child. You’ll feel a whole lot better.”

Gracie fought to compose herself, then sighed heavily, unable to meet The Kid’s gaze as she began to speak. “It’s about this seance we’re doing tonight, Miss Kid. You see, my lady is not a true spiritualist. We just tell people things they want to hear, and take their money for doing it.”

“What do you mean ‘we’, Gracie?”

“My lady pretends to contact the dead… and I pretend that they speak through me. I feel perfectly awful about it. Oh, I try to tell myself that it makes them happy, and we only play this trick on people who have a lot of money. B-but I know it’s wrong. I…” Leaving the words unfinished, she slumped against The Kid, her tears flowing again.

The Kid cradled the weeping little girl, an interesting idea starting to take form. “Listen, Gracie. Don’t know if you heard, but Mrs Ruggles invited me and Miss Purdy to be there tonight for that seance.”

Horrified, Gracie stared at The Kid in disbelief. “Oh, that’s even worse. To have to pull this, this charade off in front of you, with you knowing the truth?” She shook her head, “It’s too much to bear.”

“Stop your cryin’ now, Gracie, and listen to me. You won’t have to pretend tonight.”

“No, Miss Kid! Please, you can’t expose us. We’ll go to prison if you do!” The child was pale with fear, her hands trembling.

Clutching Gracie’s shoulders, The Kid spoke firmly. “Hush now, child. Here’s what I want from you. Tonight, you let Lady Jane do whatever it is she does. When it’s time for the spirit to speak through you, don’t say a blessed word. I’ll take care of everything.”

Gracie shook her head. “Don’t d-do anything at the seance, Miss — please! You can’t! If the Count finds out I told you about this…” She shuddered.

“Listen, child. I’ve got a plan, a good one… but you got to trust me.”

“B-but you’ve never even been to a seance, have you? You don’t know what happens, how it works!”

“No,” The Kid calmly replied, “but I’ve dealt with many a bunco artist since I become a lawman. I know how they operate. I got a good idea how to work this… and don’t worry, I reckon I can pull this off without gettin’ you in trouble. Either way, I’ll keep you safe, won’t let that man do nothin’ to you. Trust me, Gracie. Trust me.”

The girl gazed at The Kid for a long while, then finally gave a small nod. “All right.” She didn’t seem very confident, though.

Lying back, The Kid placed both hands behind her head. “So, Gracie… is there anything else you need to tell me? Like, maybe, about the stagecoach robbery?”

Gracie went pale. Seeing the look of terror on the little girl’s face, The Kid quickly said, “Listen, forget I asked you that. But at least answer me this: how does the Count fit in with you and Lady Jane? Does he help out any with the seance?”

The child had both hands clasped before her. “Please, Miss Kid, don’t ask me to say. I am sworn to secrecy.”

Sighing, The Kid tilted Gracie’s face up toward hers, bent down and gently kissed her mouth. Gracie gave a bashful smile, and The Kid smiled back. “Now don’t you forget, or worry none. You won’t have to lie tonight.”

The Kid had Gracie blow her nose, then she took out her handkerchief, folded it, moistened a corner with her tongue, then used it to clean the little girl’s face. She took stock of Gracie’s appearance, then nodded. “That’ll do. Now I best walk you back to the hotel, and no one will be the wiser.”

A short while later, The Kid left Gracie sitting just as she’d been in front of the Ridge Hotel. As she made her way to the Broken Horn, The Kid glanced back over her shoulder and spied Lady Jane and Count Cousiourac emerging together. She quickly stepped into the shadows, looking on.

Before long, Mrs Ruggles’ buggy and driver pulled up, and Gracie, Lady Wyeth-Boton and Count Cousiourac climbed inside, The driver tugged at the reins, the horses began to move, and the buggy pulled away, clearly heading back from where it had come. The Kid watched it disappear, then turned and continued on to the saloon.

Before she entered, The Kid took a moment to peer over the swinging doors of the Broken Horn. The funeral crowd had thinned out, but many were still honoring the memory of Bob and Roy by downing drinks.

She came in slowly, unobserved by anyone. If anyone had wondered where she’d gone off to, it had been forgotten about. The Kid slipped into an empty chair next to Andromeda’s, smiling as she watched her tipsy lover raise her glass.

“We women will get the vote someday soon,” Ann proclaimed. “You mark my words, gentlemen!” She paused to hiccup, then added, “And that’s not all — someday a woman will be president of this great nation of ours!” She bellowed, “Cheers!” and downed her drink in one gulp.

The others at the table echoed, “Cheers!” and drank.

As he clumsily refilled the empty shot glasses, pausing to set one before The Kid, Jack declared, “I‘d vote to make you president any day, Miss Ann. Don’t see how you couldn’t do better than the scoundrel who’s occupyin’ the position now.”

Hoisting his glass high, Mac bellowed, “To — to President Purdy!”

“President Purdy!” everyone chimed in, and they all drained their glasses once more.

“Well, I mus’ dishagree with you there,” Ed from the Ridge Hotel put in, swaying in his seat. “I think a man here of Nate’s race will be in the White House afore a woman gets in.”

Everyone at the table raised their glass and shouted, “To President Nate Lincoln!” then polished their drinks off.

“Hellfire,” Nate said with a grin, “don’t give me th’ job. I much prefers the comp’ny of hosses over politicians.”

With a lopsided smile, Ann turned toward The Kid as if she’d been there the whole time. She had a lock of hair dangling over one eye, and her hat was askew. Molly Hardy was on the other side of The Kid, and Gus Masters was seated next to Molly.

As the others around the table gabbed, Molly looked at The Kid, then Gus. “Did Bob have any last words?” she asked.

Staring at his empty glass, Gus was about to speak, but The Kid put a hand on Molly’s shoulder and said, “Sorry to say, Bob never come to afore he passed.”

Molly gave a thoughtful nod. The Kid added, “Don’t reckon we’ll ever get them murderers, if we ain’t got ‘em by now… will we, Gus?”

Gus shook his head sadly, and Molly said, “That is very unfortunate.”

Plucking the cork from another bottle of whiskey, Jack stood up and refilled the glasses on the table.

He looked around the table at the remaining drinkers: Dr Johnson and his wife Alice, Nate Lincoln, Ann, The Kid, Molly Hardy, Gus Masters, Mac, Smitty Smith and Ed. His eyes rested on Molly.

“A toast to Miss Hardy, for her kindness to Bob,” Jack said. Like all the rest, he’d heard about how she’d comforted the mortally wounded Bob on the ride back to town in the stage.

Everyone looked toward Molly. “To Miss Hardy,” they said, then drank.

Molly’s eyes became moist. “Thank you,” she whispered.

By that time, the last bottle had been emptied and nearly everyone but The Kid, who’d only had two shots,  displayed varied degrees of intoxication. Pushing their chairs back, they began to slowly dissolve from the saloon.

Conversations started and stopped with no meaning to them. Handshakes, hugs and slaps on the back were exchanged. Tears and laughter mingled together as one. Mac had drunk himself into a stupor, and Nate draped the man over his broad shoulder before making an exit.

While Ann was struggling into her coat, Molly Hardy approached The Kid. “I wanted to thank you one more time for saving our lives the other day,” she said in her gentle voice. “What you did for us… it was as noble a deed as I’ve ever witnessed.”

“Thanks,” The Kid replied, gazing into Molly’s eyes. “I only wish I could of got there in time to help Roy and Bob. Maybe if I did, they’d still be alive. Good men, the both of ’em.”

“Then comfort yourself with this, dear friend,” Molly murmured, touching The Kid’s arm. “If Roy and Bob were good men, then they have gone to a better place, far from this vale of tears. I believe that even now, they are resting in the arms of Jesus.”

Gently withdrawing from the smiling woman, The Kid said, “I ‘preciate the thought, Miss Molly. Now you’ll have to pardon me… I got to get my friend home safe.”

With a nod and a quiet “Good day, then,” Molly turned and took her leave.

The Kid picked an abandoned bottle from another table, one that had an inch or so of whiskey remaining. Tilting her head back, she drained it in a single hard pull, then slammed the empty bottle back down on the hard oak surface.

Seconds later, a giggling Andromeda bumped into The Kid, then seized her arm, holding on tightly. “You’ve had enough now, young lady.” Ann slurred, then a loud belch escaped her lips. “Oops! ‘Scuse me. Well, goodbye, all,” she called out, waving her hand in a wide arc. “I mush get Kid home now. She’s had too much to drink.” Wagging a finger at her lover, she said, “You oughtn’t to take spirits, y’know… it’s not ladylike.” She giggled helplessly, unsteady on her feet but still clinging to The Kid, who put an arm around Andromeda and guided her out to the street.

They slowly made their way home, The Kid mostly silent while Ann spoke of everything under the sun. By the time they reached the front door of Ann’s house, she was explaining the difference between crickets and grasshoppers.

The Kid managed to get Ann over to the sofa, where she laid down, dozing off in the middle of a sentence. Draping a blanket over her, The Kid went and sat on the back porch, rolling a smoke as she made her plans.

On to Chapter Five!

 

29 Comments on Knuckle Ridge, Chapter 4

  1. David says:

    Another great chapter Purple Les. I love this story and how it is developing as the Kid and Gus close in on the bad guys! Also love the little afternoon delight with Gracie. Not sure what Kid has in mind but can’t wait for the next chapter to see what happens as the seance.

  2. obsessive imaginings says:

    Another mystery wraps up the chapter. That will keep me coming back. Liked the chapter. Absorbing personal interaction throughout.

  3. sue says:

    Interesting chapter. The Kid still missing the little girl from her last adventure. Can’t help but wonder if Arabella has forgotten The Kid, or if she still looks at the stars also.

    Loved that there was more sex with The Kid and Gracie. The funeral and wake was very good. A nice reminder also of the 19th amendments hundredth anniversary. Miss Purdy on the forefront like a lot of western women when the idea of women voting was a wild crazy idea. Still wondering if Miss Hardy will be joining in some sex fun? She seems too religious,but..

    We digress, good chapter and looking forward to the next. Can’t help wonder what else Gracie knows and when we’ll know also.

    Kim & Sue

  4. Purple Les says:

    Thank you all very much. I really appreciate the kind words so much. I know JetBoy does too. I also thank those who just read it, and thanks for a nice vote also.

  5. Euphrosyne, Thalia & Aglia says:

    Great guns!, what a really good chapter, Purple Les!

    The excitement builds!…
    The mystery deepens!…
    The anticipation is so palpable!…

    As the ever discerning reader Sue( of Kim and Sue ) has commented, it was really nice to read how The Kid got a bit teary as she reminisced about her past love, sweet little Arabella. And I too, got a bit blurry eyed, when she(The Kid), muttered that “expletive deleted”… having felt that exact emotion in my younger days,and said under my breath, the same( maybe there was an additional “damn it!” ) . But what a nice additional dimension to the The Kid’s character!
    Also, as Sue mentioned, it was a really great gesture( a tip of the ol’hat, if you will ) to have a passage of the plight of the Suffragette Movement and how it permeated even to the wild & woolly western environs, and kinda nice to hear what Nate Lincoln said when being “nominated” as president, after miss Purdy was so “nominated”:

    “Hellfire!”, Nate said with a grin, “don’t give ME th’job. I much prefers the comp’ny of hosses over politicians.”

    And I mustn’t forget the thing Andromeda said about The Kid’s inability to keep a dollar:

    ” I love you more than my life Kid,…but I swear you couldn’t keep a dollar if it was sewn to back of your britches.”
    The Kid slipped her hands down to cradle Ann’s firm bottom. ” That’s what money’s FOR, honeybunch. If you don’t spend it, it’s nothing but paper.”

    Ha! so good! truer words were never spoken so concisely plainly!

    Okay, so I almost forgot to make note of the ever burgeoning sex fun The Kid and young, innocent,but quite randy, Miss Gracie keep experiencing, but always save the best for last I’m told,…YES!..so delicious! Gracie surely knows how to turn The Kid on with her charms! and she holds more secrets that The Kid must figure out, too.

    All in all, this chapter is a delight and fun read… can’t hardly wait for next one, it’s like riding across the desert, knowing the next watering hole is only 20 miles further…cool….clear….water..gulp!

    E,T&A

    • Purple Les says:

      I love your comments. Sigh, now sorry to say, the two quotes you choose are JetBoys contributions. And very good ones I must admit.

      But I was smart enough to say, sure we’ll keep those in. ; )

      I do take credit for the rest pretty much.

      Honest, the watering hole is only seven miles away, and you can take a sip from this chapter now and then till you get to that sweet cool water.

      • Euphrosyne, Thalia & Aglaia says:

        Thanks for sharing that info, about Jet Boy’s contributions, Purple Les.

        He’s kinda like a Swami editor-at-large at Juicy Secrets, or even like all of our collective Grandmas’ secret ingredient for her home made pumpkin pie that we all can’t wait to gobble up, helping & suggesting, moulding & shaping, convincing & cultivating the best from an author that would benefit her or his story…imho

        Also, it was so nice to read your gracious expressing of a bit of pride, in your own prowess and good instincts of your really great writing skills, bravo for that! Remember, a baker(writer) who uses a pinch of [that], makes the most delicious cookies(stories) and gets the best smiles(praise)…or something like that…

        Jeez!…what’s with all these confectionery metaphors?..must be the change in seasons, with Autumn starting and people trapped in their
        homes, baking must be permeating our minds…hmm!?…*sniff* *sniff*, do I smell chocolate chip cookies? 🙂

        p.s.- is the word “sniff” an onomatopoeia?

        E,T&A

        • Purple Les says:

          onomatopoeia, I had to look that up. After reading a chapter of Ripples or Sheltering, my pussy was all splorpy.

          • Euphrosyne, Thalia & Aglaia says:

            Ha! good one!

            Splorpy, isn’t that also the sound a can of whipped cream makes when one squirts a bit on a nipple?…
            and after reading Ripples & Sheltering, one could use a whole can! 🙂

        • JetBoy says:

          Thanks for the kind words, E,T&A. I do love the way you describe what I strive for as an editor.

          Gotta say, though, that my humble efforts to make an author’s work more shapely would be in vain without a good story as the foundation. The first time reading “Tears of the Sun,” I knew it was something we had to have for Juicy Secrets… and so it has been for every story Purple Les has sent me. Her ability to come up with a compelling plot is nothing short of awe-inspiring — and working on them never feels very much like work.

          • Euphrosyne, Thalia & Aglaia says:

            Your so welcome,JetBoy.
            all the great comments, here at JS, that far out weigh the bad, are confirmation that,the proof is in the pudding… And to cite an old saw, the best carpenter’s work is all for nought, if she/he doesn’t have a good solid foundation to build upon…

        • Euphrosyne, Thalia & Aglaia says:

          Hey, Purple Les!

          not to belabor this thread, but, would this pic represent a *splorpy* pussy?:

          https://www.imagefap.com/photo/1400136995/?pgid=&gid=9009514&page=0&idx=45#106

          ‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
          Did gyre and gimblein the wabe:
          All mimsy were the borogoves,
          And mome raths outgrabe.

          E,T&A

          • Sapphmore says:

            The Jabberwock has to be right up there with Shakespeare and Dickens!
            Who says English is difficult to learn?

          • Euphrosyne, Thalia & Aglaia says:

            Hey, Sapphmore!

            good point, and I agree…and yet English is the accepted “international language” of commerce, just as German was accepted many, many years ago, as the “international language” of science.

            Imagine what it must be like to be from a country like Uzbekistan, and having never heard English before to be asked to learn it, or even how English of the 13th century was spoken, compared to modern day English!

            As a side note, I remember having to spend several sweltering months attending summer school to make up a failing grade in English in high school,.. that left an impression on me that lasts to this day, even though in daily life I don’t have much call to use said skill!, and have laughed as I’ve caught myself using a few “dese, dem, and dhose” as it were.

            This is one reason I love the stories here at JS, all the wonderful authors are so amazingly talented, the brilliant craftsmanship of the editor(Jet Boy)and the seemingly magical abilities of the support staff(Amanda Lynn)and last but not least, my fellow readers, whose thoughtful, exuberant, and devoted comments inspire me to be a better English speaker and commenter…

            Finally and more to the point, I believe it was the indomitable,pugnacious,wily war time prime minister Winston Churchill who reiterated what Oscar Wilde and Bernard Shaw had written previously, that:
            ” America and Great Britain are two nations divided by a common language.”

            And trying to read and decipher Lewis’ the Jabberwocky is an exercise in futility( much easier to watch the movie! )

            E,T&A

          • Purple Les says:

            What I like most about Lewis Carol was his nude child photography. Too bad so little of it remains.

            Interesting little thread here, the site is educational to me.

          • Euphrosyne, Thalia & Aglaia says:

            Really interesting observation, Purple Les!

            Thanks for sharing that info on Lewis Carroll’s photography interest, something which I wasn’t even aware of, as Lewis Carroll was to me, just another strange poet and somewhat of an icon of the 1960’s counter-culture crowd, along with his child’s book Alice in Wonderland, there were the referencing verses in the rock group Jeffereson Airplane’s 1967 song- White Rabbit…

            I did a casual search and learned about his differing avocations, and his penchant for photographing young children,especially young girls. Seems to me,he might have subconsciously derived his Alice in Wonderland character from a girl he photographed many times, Alice Liddell.

            There’s an interesting web page that has a good bio about him, and I was reading some of the comments and they were pretty interesting and quite informative…
            I’ll list it here:

            https://petapixel.com/2014/04/18/look-unknown-controversial-photography-career-lewis-carroll/

            hope this thread won’t bring us down any rabbit holes,Purple Les..we all need you to write more lovely stories…oh,my gosh! look at the time..I’m late I’m late…

            E,T&A

          • Sspphmore says:

            My wife is Italian, which is her first language, and even after decades in the UK, she still has trouble with some words. In Italian, like many other european languages, rules are generally set in stone, (bar a few irregular verbs, but even they have rules) in terms of how you pronounce words according to spelling, letter order and pairings, ending letter (gender) etc. In fact I was a latin scholar in my youth and everyone knows you spend hours reciting verb conjugations like amo, amas, amat, amamus, amatis amant. Whereas in english we have rules but loads of exceptions that you just have to learn. One of the worst examples is “ough”. Just think, thought, though, bough, rough/enough, trough.
            How the hell does any one learn english?

          • Euphrosyne, Thalia & Aglaia says:

            Again I agree, Sapphmore!
            I reckon being born to English speaking parents would be the easiest, and learning from “scratch”… plus, twelve years or so of schooling and I guess having a strong aptitude for remembering the “rules” and an accepting mind for those “special cases” that just don’t seem to make any sense…and a boat load of determination couldn’t hurt either!

            L’inglese e pazzesco, amico mio

            E.T&A

  6. No One says:

    Seems like The Kid is zoning in on what really happened. I wonder what she has planned for the seance. Molly is suspect as well, and clearly The Kid doesn’t trust her either. Can’t wait to see how that all turns out.

    And sex with Gracie! Phew, hot… The girl didn’t return the favor, though. Rude. Ah well, I’m sure she’ll get the chance later.

    Thanks for another interesting chapter in what is shaping up to be a great series–as expected!

  7. Luke says:

    Great story well written interest,intrigue and little bit of sex (lot more than Mills & Boon). The Kid should have a whole series of stories. Waiting with high hopes my hunch of who done it are right. Keep up the great work Purple Les

  8. Erocritique says:

    Another richly detailed chapter in the life of our favorite Texas Ranger. I am somewhat torn however. As much as I want the Kid to bring Roy and Bob’s murderers to justice, I can’t help but feel that resolving the Kids’s relationship issues is more important.

    It’s hard to believe that I feel pity for such an amazing individual, but the Kid’s lifestyle and her career choice has made her a transient soul who is constantly separated from those that she loves. I know she has an important job to do, but part of me wishes she could settle down with Ann and adopt Arabella and Gracie. There’s nothing sadder than leaving those you love behind, and the scene where the Kid reflected on her feelings for Arabella drove that point home for me.

    There’s so much more to resolve than just a stagecoach hold-up and the murder of the drivers. I can’t wait to see how everything turns out.

    • Euphrosyne, Thalia & Aglaia says:

      Hey there, Erocritique!
      I think many of us readers feel the same way about our lovable and respected character,”The Kid”…Having grown up reading western stories and watching my share of great western movies, there is a recurring theme that seems to posit that the hero or heroine, most always leaves behind the damsel in distress and rides off into the sunset…alone, much like the ending to that famous western movie, Shane(1953)
      Perhaps The Kid feels that her raison d’etre is to right the wrongs of her wild, semi-lawless environment, especially since she herself experienced a most horrific childhood, with the killing of her parents and the subsequent enslavement of she and her sister,and the respected treatment they later received from the Mojave Indians and that any relationship she develops along her path of justice and woe are really only fleeting at best, and heart breaking at worst…
      We can all only hope for the best for Miss Mary Ann Wallace aka; The Kid, and that she, as you so graciously feared for, will eventually, perhaps in a more peaceful time in her life, find happiness and contentment with those she values and loves the most…

      Happy trails!

      E,T&A

    • Purple Les says:

      I am so moved by your insight of thoughts regarding the Tequila Kid. Both you and E,T&A, and other readers,see deeply in to her character.

      All I can say at this point is, your thoughts may or may not be answered in the upcoming chapters.

      Thank you all so much.

      • Euphrosyne, Thalia & Aglaia says:

        Hey Purple Les!
        This is what happens when you, as the author, create such amazing and relatable characters and stories, that enfold us readers into it, and make us become so invested, and concerned for the well being of said characters. And in regard to this genre, I think most of us desire them to be happy, to love and be loved, and to enjoy the pleasures of varied lesbian, shall we say,”encounters” that are so lucid and realistic we feel we are not only observer, but part participant!

        So, it’s all your fault, Purple Les, you’ve roped us dogies in and branded us with your hot iron of Western lore, Love, Intrigue, and down right delicious Sex… whew! it hurts so good! 🙂

        E,T&A

  9. Leo says:

    I found this: “She looked for the consolations”, it could go, but I think PL wrote constellations. Anyway, I totally agree with all the positive remarks on this enthralling story, as well as the previous one on this wonderful and sexy Texas Ranger!

    • Purple Les says:

      Thank you so much, Leo. To be honest, I had simply put ‘she looked up at the stars’ my wonderful editor, JetBoy always strives to make things better.

      Thanks for reading the stories and taking and taking a moment to comment. Us writers are always much obliged.

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