Knuckle Ridge, Chapter 7

  • Posted on October 27, 2020 at 3:19 pm

by Purple Les

Andromeda Purdy was basking in that blissful state halfway between sleep, and wakefulness, nestled in the bedsheets, snug as could be. Finally, though, the aroma of the hot coffee The Kid had left for her on the nightstand proved too tempting to resist.

Sitting up, Ann propped a couple of pillows against the headboard and sank back against them with a contented sigh. She reached over for the coffee, took the warm mug in both hands, held it under her nose for a moment to breathe in the dark, steamy smell, then took a sip. “Oh dear, so good.” she murmured. Just then, she heard The Kid shutting the door as she departed for town and, smiling to herself, took another sip.

Ann began to mull over the events of the day before, shuffling them around in her mind as she finished her coffee. Once the cup was empty, she rose from bed and headed to the kitchen for a refill.

Ann sliced some bread, spread it with blackberry preserves, and ate it with her coffee. Brushing the crumbs away, she slipped out of her nightgown, standing nude in the kitchen. She gave herself a sponge bath, then padded back to the bedroom and put on a white blouse and a long black skirt. After lacing up her boots, she headed out in search of The Kid.

Down the street, Ann saw a crowd milling around the front of the Ridge Hotel and wondered about it as she made her way to the sheriff’s office. On the way, Josh spied her going by the telegraph office and hastened to the door.

“Mornin’, Miss Purdy,” Josh called out, and Ann turned to face him. “Will you be seein’ The Kid anytime soon?”

“Yes, indeed, Josh. In fact, I’m looking for her right now.”

“Wonderful. Would you please give her this telegram?” Stepping out into the street, he handed her a piece of paper. She’s been by just about every day this week, askin’ about it. Reckon it’s important.”

“Yes, of course. Thank you, Josh.”

“Thanks, Miss Purdy.” With a nod, he went back inside.

Ann glanced at the envelope, then shoved the telegram into her skirt pocket as she approached the sheriff’s office.

She poked her head in, then stepped inside. Seeing no one there, she looked around for a moment,  wondering where everyone was. As she pondered where to go next, Ann idly picked up a wanted flyer from Sheriff Masters’ desk and glanced at it.

One look, and Ann’s face turned pale. She quickly read what it had to say, then slammed the sheet down on the desk and rushed out the door, running to the livery.

As Ann dashed into the dark stable, she saw that Button’s stall was empty. Seeing Mac mucking out a stall, she ran to the man and grabbed his shoulder, spinning him around. “Mac! Do you know where The Kid is?”

“Sure do,” Mac said — then, seeing the frantic look on Ann’s face, quickly added, “She said she’d be goin’ out to old Miz Ruggles’ place.”

Ann stood on tiptoe and gave the very surprised man a kiss on his grizzled cheek. “Which is the fastest horse you have here, Mac?”

Mac took off his hat and scratched his head as he looked around. “I reckon it’s Mr Garret’s horse, Razor. He’d be fastest even if all the stalls was full.”

“Saddle him up for me please, Mac. Right now,” Ann ordered.

As Mac hastened to saddle the tall black gelding, he asked, “You fixin’ to ride him, Miss Purdy? I know Mr Garret ain’t one to ride out this time of day, but if you take Razor here without his say-so, ain’t that horse thievin’?”

Ann frowned. “Of course not, Mac. I am merely borrowing Mr Garret’s horse. I have every intention of returning him as soon as I can. And if Mr Garret does need a horse to ride, let him know that he is free to use Pegasus.”

As soon as Mac had the bridle on, Ann snatched the reins from his hands and mounted up.

Mac stood just outside the doors, looking puzzled as he watched Ann ride off at a fast gallop. With a shrug, he slowly bent to pick up his shovel, then shuffled back to the dirty stall.

It didn’t take long for Ann to reach the Ruggles estate on Mr Garrett’s swift horse. She dismounted before the horse had come to a complete stop, hurriedly tied the reins to a hitching post near a water trough and ran to the front door.

Banging the door knocker loudly, Ann listened to hear if anyone was coming. Impatient, she knocked again, then opened the door.

Stepping inside, she called out, “Hello! Anyone here?” Her voice echoed in the huge entryway. Going from room to room she shouted, “Mrs Ruggles! Kid? Anyone?”

As she approached the grand stairway she heard a voice say, “Up here, Miss Purdy.”

***

Jessica Sinclair carefully placed the barrel of her gun against the back of Gracie’s skull, looking up to smile sweetly at the three women, all still on their knees.

She drank in the sight of her victims, reveling in that lovely warmth she felt all over when she was about to kill. It’s not as good when you have to do it quick, she told herself. Murder is like a fine wine. You want to take your time, enjoy the taste of it. 

Of course, it was even better when there were others to watch her kill, to witness the power she had to take their lives away, one at a time. And the fear they showed, she loved that, too.

Jessie had to laugh at the sight of Lady Jane’s brat, whispering a prayer as she waited to die. And the ashen-faced old woman bleeding from her scalp — wasn’t so damn high and mighty now, was she? Then there was Lady Jane, the bunco artist, crying and begging for the little girl’s life to be spared.

Jessie stopped laughing as she stared into the cool blue eyes of The Kid. I’m gonna do something extra special to her, she thought, the fires of hatred roaring through her once more. The head shot, that’s too kind. Maybe put a bullet in her gut. Lock her in a closet in some back room of this place, where she won’t get found for days, Weeks, maybe.

Her attention shifted back to Gracie, still on her knees, still praying. Jessie was bored with the brat, sick of her sniffling. She wanted to be done with this one. Time to die, child. May God show you more mercy than I will.

“It’ll all be over for you in a moment, child,” she said.

As she was about to pull the trigger, they all heard a racket at the front door. Someone knocking.

“That’s Sheriff Masters right now, Jessie.” The Kid said softly. “Best give it up.”

Jessie grabbed Gracie’s hair and pulled it hard, all but dragging the girl to her feet. Then they heard a voice calling from downstairs, a woman’s voice.

The Kid felt a cold lump in her stomach. No. NO. Anyone but her.

“Mrs Ruggles! Kid? Anyone?” Ann Purdy called out.

Half-choking Gracie with the crook of her arm, Jessie said softly, “You three. Upon your feet and stand over there.” Jessie gestured with the gun toward the wall.

Jessie opened the door halfway saying loudly, “Up here, Miss Purdy.” Then she moved behind the door, holding Gracie tightly.

If I could just get to her in time to snatch that gun away, The Kid thought, in agony. But she’s too sharp for that. She knows I’m bustin’ to make a move. 

Ann sprinted up the stairway. Pausing a moment at the top of the hall, she saw the partly opened door and ran straight into the room. Seeing The Kid standing there, Ann went right up to her.

“Kid! Molly Hardy is the killer and thief! I saw a wanted flyer in the sheriff’s office!” Ann went on excitedly. “Her real name is Jessica Sinclair. Also known as Jessie St.Clair, Molly Novack, and Molly Hardy. She’s wanted for murder and robbery. The description on the flyer matches her, right down to that beauty mark by her lip.”

Ann’s voice began to wind down as she noticed the odd, sick expression on The Kid’s face. “There’s a five thousand dollar reward on her head…” Her eyes shifted to her right, where she saw Mrs Ruggles, whose head was bleeding, standing next to a white-faced Lady Jane. “She’s wanted…”

The Kid moved her eyes slightly and Ann slowly finished her sentence. “…dead or alive.” She jumped as the door slammed shut. Turning slowly, Ann saw Jessie Sinclair with a gun at Gracie’s head.

“Oh, dear,” Ann said softly as she raised her hands.

Jessie roughly shoved Gracie across the room in the direction of the other women. “Well, what a nice little party we have now.” Her eyes were bright with excitement. “Down on your knees!” she demanded. “Hands up nice and high, where I can see them.”

The four women and the trembling little girl all slowly knelt, raising their hands.

“Kid?” Ann whispered, as Jessie Sinclair quickly bent to withdraw one of The Kid’s guns from its holster where it lay on the floor. Moving carefully, keeping an especially close eye on The Kid, she moved to stand behind the group of kneeling women.

“If you’re wondering what’s going on, Miss Purdy, and why you’re here,” Jessie said, her upper lip curled in a sneer, “Your friend The Kid has cheated me out of the gold certificates I stole.”

Everyone heard the hammer on the other gun click as Jessie pulled it back.

“And then this old bat” — she jerked a thumb at Mrs Ruggles — “doesn’t seem to know where her husband hid a million dollars worth of diamonds in this house, and I’m fed up with her wasting my time. So I’m killing all of you now, just for fun.” Jessie was speaking calmly as if they were discussing the weather.

Then Ann laughed, and everyone looked at her as if she were crazy. “A million dollars in diamonds? I know that isn’t true.” She paused. “More like forty thousand, from what I remember.”

The room fell silent, except for the sound of racing heartbeats.

“What do you know about it?” Jessie asked, narrowing her eyes.

“I stayed here for a week, back when I was eight,” Ann replied.

“Go on,” Sinclair growled.

“Well, it’s a wonderful house for a child to play in. So many places to hide. Anyway, that’s how I saw where Mr Ruggles put his diamonds. He didn’t know I was watching, at first… and when he did see me, Mr Ruggles told me I was a good girl, and if I kept his secret, he’d give me one of those pretty little stones.” She smiled. “I still have it at home, in my memory box.”

Jessie licked her lips. “Good… good.” She pointed her gun at Ann. “Tell me where they are.”

Ann laughed again. “Why on earth would I do that? You’re already going to kill us all. At least I’ll die with the satisfaction of knowing those diamonds will never be yours.”

Dang, The Kid thought, we might still have us a chance to get out of this mess.

“Now, perhaps,” Ann continued, “If I had a reason to tell you where they are, we just might be able to strike a bargain.”

“What sort of bargain?”

“Let the child, Lady Jane, and Mrs Ruggles go free,” Ann said, “Then I’ll take you straight to the diamonds.”

“Hmmm… now, how do I know you aren’t trying to buffalo me?” Jessie asked.

“Well, The Kid and I will still be here for you to kill. And who knows, you might still be able to catch the others, once you’ve dealt with us. All I’m asking is that you give them a fair chance.”

Jessie began to pace back and forth, her gun still trained on Ann. Finally, she came to an abrupt halt. “What’s your offer, Purdy? I’m listening.”

Ann swallowed. “You let those three go,” she said, indicating Lady Jane, Gracie, and Mrs Ruggles. “When we hear the front door slam behind them, I’ll show you where the diamonds are. I assume you’ll keep your gun on The Kid the whole time.”

Jessie thought about it for a moment. “All right, then,” she said slowly, glaring at Ann, then The Kid. “But I warn you, missy. If you try to play me for a fool… oh, you two will die sure enough, but it won’t be quick, or easy.” She gave them a thin, icy smile. ”I like to kill, but sometimes I especially like making folks suffer first. Remember that.”

“I will,” Andromeda quietly replied.

With a quick nod, Jessie strode over to the game room door and flung it open. “All right, you three,” she said, looking at Gracie, Lady Jane and Mrs Ruggles, “Get out, and make sure you slam that door hard as you leave so we can hear it up here.”

The two women and the girl stood up shakily. Mrs Ruggles seemed to be on the edge of fainting. She had to be supported by Gracie and Lady Jane as they made their way to the door.

“Oh, and ladies?” Jess added, “You’d best make tracks, because I will be coming for you, soon as I’m done with these two.” She laughed, hard and ugly, then gave a mocking salute. “Until we meet again…”

Moving faster now, the girl and the women exited the game room, then began to descend the stairs.

Jessie Sinclair slipped The Kid’s Colt in the sash on her dress, holding her own gun on Ann and The Kid as she impatiently waited to hear the front door shut.

***

Halfway down the stairs, Mrs Ruggles shook off the arms of Gracie and Jane, then hastened the rest of the way until she’d reached the first floor. The old woman didn’t stop until she was standing beneath a portrait of herself with the late Maurice Ruggles that hung over the fireplace.

Mrs Ruggles turned to the others, who were hurrying to catch up. “Help me get this painting down,” she hissed to Lady Jane, who quickly moved to assist.

Behind the painting was a small wall safe. Mrs Ruggles spun the dial to and fro, pulled the iron door open, then reached inside and withdrew an old Navy Colt.

Spinning the chambers to ensure that the gun was fully loaded, Mrs Ruggles led Lady Jane and Gracie to the front door. “Run for the barn and set the horses loose,” she whispered. “Now, in the last stall, there’s a trap door down under the straw. Maurice had it put in as a hidey-hole for us, if we ever needed one. That woman won’t find you there.”

As Gracie and Lady Jane went out the door and ran for the barn, Mrs Ruggles shut the door hard from the inside.

***

Upstairs, Jessie smiled as she heard the door slam.

“All right, Purdy,” she said, gesturing threateningly with her gun. “Where are the diamonds?”

“Can’t you at least give ‘em a minute’s head start?” The Kid protested.

“What, give them time to ride into town and get a posse rounded up?” Jessie scoffed. Then she giggled. “They won’t get far, anyhow. Those Englishers can’t even mount a horse, much less ride one… and the old woman… did you see her? Shit, she could barely stand. I’ll hunt them down like dogs.” Her mirth suddenly vanished, and she glared at Ann. “Where are those diamonds, damn you?”

“Right here in this room.” Ann answered. “May I get up?”

“All right, but nothing funny, or the first bullet goes through your friend’s foot,” Jessie answered, her gun aimed rock-steady at The Kid.

Struggling to her feet, Ann walked across the room. She stopped by the table with the fish tank, then looked back at Jessie, who moved toward her, glancing every few seconds back at The Kid.

“Where?” Jessie asked.

Ann looked at the tank. Jessie stepped closer.

“Right there,” Ann murmured, pointing. “See them sparkling in the gravel, down there at the bottom?”

Jessie now stood in front of the fish tank and looked down into the water, her gun still aimed toward The Kid.

“See, right there.” Ann said. “Look close. You can make them out, plain as day.”

Craning her neck, Jessie peered deep into the water, trying to see past the small bright fishes that darted about, her face within inches of the rippling surface.

The Kid tensed, ready to make her move.

That was when Ann seized the back of Jessie’s head, forcing her face into the water. Bubbles roared up as Jessie screamed, her head submerged in the tank.

With her right hand, Jessie fired the gun in the direction of where The Kid had been kneeling seconds earlier. Before she could get off another shot, The Kid had grabbed Jessie’s arm and banged her wrist once, twice, three times on the table’s edge. The gun fell to the floor, and The Kid kicked it across the room.

The bubbles in the tank stopped coming, and a breathless Ann eased her grip on the woman before The Kid could warn her. Sure enough, Jessie wrenched her head out of the tank, splashing water every which way and gasping for air. Before Ann could react, Jessie butted her in the forehead.

A stunned Ann staggered back — losing her hold on Jessie, who nearly lost her balance, but spied the Bowie knife on the floor where The Kid had placed it. With a quick snatch, it was in her grasp. She drew back to lunge forward with it, but The Kid’s fist smashed into her mouth first.

Jessie hit the floor rolling and quickly came up, the Bowie knife still in her grip. She slashed out with a wide sweep of her arm, and the tip of the steel blade sliced through the bridge of The Kid’s nose. “Shit!” The Kid gasped, jumping back.

Now livid with rage, Ann hurled herself at Jessie, knocking her down hard. The knife clattered to the floor.

Back on her feet in a heartbeat, Jessie gave Ann three fast, hard jabs to the jaw with her fist. Ann collapsed, the skirt she wore flying up to expose her thighs.

Reaching for the Colt, still tucked in her dress sash, Jessie froze suddenly as a derringer appeared from nowhere into The Kid’s hand. She stared at the small gun, now aimed at her head. Jessie’s own hand twitched, inches from the gun at her waist.

“Go on!” The Kid spit out, wearing her best poker face as she held the empty gun. In a quiet, ice-cold voice, she said, “Go on, Jessie. Go for that gun. Just give me a reason to shoot you dead, here an’ now.”

It was clear that Jessie was struggling to decide, weighing the odds as she gazed into The Kid’s eyes. Finally, she put her hands up.

Ann rose to her feet, somewhat dazed. The Kid reached down, plucked her gun from Jessie’s dress sash and set it on a nearby table. Then she quickly removed the gadget from her arm and put it down, too, along with the empty derringer.

The Kid turned to pull the drape sash down from the window, intending to tie up her prisoner. The second she took her eyes from Jessie, the woman lashed out at Ann like a hissing cat, ripping into her face. Ann fell with a surprised cry, her cheeks scored by Jessie’s sharp fingernails.

Gritting her teeth, The Kid sprang to punch the outlaw woman again, sending her sprawling on the floor. At the same instant, they both saw the other gun on the floor, within easy reach of Jessica’s hand.

With a growl of victory, Jess lunged for the weapon. But before she laid a hand on it, a large splinter of wood came flying up from the parquet floor, accompanied by the roar of a gun.

The Kid and Jessica turned in the direction of the shot. Leaning against the frame of the door to hold herself steady, there stood Mrs Ruggles. She held the Navy Colt in both hands, her arms extended.

Looking down the gun sight, Mrs Ruggles said, “The next bullet will be in your head.”

Jessie’s hand dropped to her side. The Kid picked up her gun and moved to assist Mrs Ruggles, helping her into a chair. As The Kid turned once more to pull down the drape sash, Jessie sprang to her feet, snatching the derringer from the table. She cocked the hammer back and pulled the trigger, only to hear a dull click.

Blood flowing down from the cut in her nose, The Kid smiled, aiming her gun at the dismayed outlaw’s face.

“Lay face down and put your hands behind your back,” she ordered. Letting the derringer drop to the floor, Jessie did as she was told, her eyes glowing with hate.

Tugging the sash down from the window with a single yank, The Kid handed it to Ann, who was wiping the blood from her scratched face with a handkerchief. “Tie her up for me?”

“I’d be delighted to,” Ann hissed, glaring at her assailant. She began to bind Jessie’s hands behind her back, being none too gentle about it.

“You goddamned bitches,” Jessie muttered. “You filthy, lice-riddled pieces of prairie shit. Cocksucking whores.” Her voice was rising to a shriek. “You no-account pig-fucking–”

“I think we’ve heard enough from you,” Ann said, stuffing a piece of the sash into Jessie’s mouth, then tying a strip of the same material around the woman’s head to keep it in place. Jessie continued to make furious sounds, but finally fell into a sullen silence.

They heard heavy boots come thumping up the stairs and turned toward the open door. Gus Masters burst into the room, gun drawn. Halting in his steps, he took in the scene.

“Well, now,” he said, glancing at The Kid. “Reckon I shouldn’t of rode my horse half to death to get here.”

Ann gave Gus a hug. “Believe me, we are very glad to see you.”

***

Alice Johnson, the doctor’s wife, knelt on the floor by Ann’s sofa where Ann lay stretched out, her head propped against the armrest. Alice had already put a single stitch in The Kid’s nose where the tip of the Bowie knife had sliced it.

Now she was applying hydrogen peroxide to the scratches Jessica Sinclair had left on Ann’s face with her fingernails. Ann was already holding a cold wet cloth to her swollen jaw where she’d been punched.

A knock at the door made them all lookup. The Kid yelled, “C’mon in.”

Doc Johnson entered. “Well, now,” he asked, closing the door behind him, “How are your patients, Alice?”

Alice finished with Ann’s face saying, “Oh, I think they’ll survive. How about yours?”

Examining his wife’s work on The Kid’s nose, Doc Johnson gave a satisfied nod, then replied, “That poor  Gracie girl is still pretty shook up. I gave her a sedative, so she’ll sleep through the night.” He glanced at  Ann’s face and nodded again, adding, “Mrs Ruggles got a small concussion. I think she’ll be fine, but I’ll check back on her a time or two. For all her airs, she’s a tough old bird. She’ll be staying at the Ridge Hotel for now.  So will Gracie, and that Lady Jane woman.”

Reaching into his bag, the doctor took out a folded piece of paper and handed it to Ann. “Miss Purdy, I’d like you to take this sleeping powder. You need rest, and that pain will for sure keep you awake.” He poured some water in a glass from a pitcher on the coffee table and gave it to Ann, then turned to The Kid. “Reckon I shouldn’t bother to ask, Kid, but how ‘bout you? Need anything for the pain?”

“Why, I got a near-full bottle of tequila here. I’ll be fine if I get to hurtin’, Doc,” The Kid answered.

Johnson gave a snort of laughter. “That’s what I figured. You best save some of that bottle for another day, Kid, else you’ll be in more pain from the cure than the cut!”

Before The Kid could answer back, another knock at the door brought Lady Jane into the room.

“Hello,” she said, looking somewhat awkward. “There is a message for you, Doctor. Mrs Saur is ready.”

Alice nodded. “That’s the woman expecting twins. I’ll go with you, Jed.”

“Thanks, Alice.” Doc said, “I’ll need your help with that one.”  He turned to Lady Jane. “My goodness, you didn’t have to come out here to tell me that, ma’am! Usually, when folks need me, they send one of the boys hanging out by the general store.”

Lady Jane blushed. “They were going to, but I offered to do it. Um… I needed to speak to…” She glanced at The Kid, her cheeks getting redder.

“Well, I thank you, ma’am. How’s little Gracie doing?”

“She’s resting comfortably. I’ll be back at her bedside soon. We’ll be leaving on the morning train for Austin.”

“I strongly advise against that,” Doc Johnson said, furrowing his brow. “That child needs to rest for a few days. There’s stages to Austin every morning.”

“I’m not very keen on taking another stage,” Lady Jane said.

Doc Johnson gave a brief smile. “Guess I understand that. But your Gracie isn’t ready for a long journey, not yet. I hope you’ll consider leaving next week instead.”

Lady Jane gave a thoughtful nod. “Thank you, Doctor. I… I will give serious thought to postponing our trip.”

“You do that, ma’am.” By then, Alice had finished packing her bag, Doc Johnson picked up his, and the couple made their way to the door. “Well, ladies, our duty calls. Try to stay out of trouble, least until the end of the day.” He tipped his hat.

“Thank you, Doctor,” Lady Jane murmured.

“G’night, Doc,” The Kid called, raising her tequila bottle. “G’night, Alice.”

From the sofa came a soft snoring noise. Everyone looked over to see that Ann had turned on her side, her face near the back of the sofa, and was sound asleep.

“Fastest working sedative I ever did see,” Doc Johnson declared. “Well, good evening.”

“Good night,” Alice murmured, and they made their exit.

The Kid looked up at Lady Jane. “The doc was right — anyone could of brought that message. Why’d you really come here?”

Lady Jane looked at the floor for a moment, then at The Kid. “I believe that whether I leave with Gracie tomorrow or not depends on you, Miss Kid.”

“Just call me ‘Kid’. So why’s it up to me if you go tomorrow or not?”

The woman hesitated, then spoke. “By now, I think you know that I am not really Lady Jane Wyeth-Boton.”

The Kid nodded.

“Have you learned who I really am, then?” Lady Jane asked.

The Kid hesitated a moment before saying, “I know you ain’t the real Lady Jane… and that you and Gracie are pullin’ a flim-flam on folks with that spiritualist act. But I will know who you are, soon enough. I’m waitin’ on a telegram that’ll tell me everything.”

“Oh, dear,” Lady Jane said, the color draining from her face. “I always knew this day would come.”

“No one knows about you yet, ‘cept for me and Sleepin’ Beauty there on the sofa.” The Kid paused to pour herself a drink, then held up the bottle. “Care for a shot of tequila?”

“No, thank you.”

The Kid drained her glass, then set it on the end table with a contented sigh. “Look, I like Gracie. She’s a good girl. Reason I say that is cause she don’t like runnin’ that con game with you.”

“Are you going to turn us in?” Lady Jane asked, her cheeks still pale.

“Not unless you killed someone.” The Kid raised an eyebrow. “You ain’t killed anyone, have you?”

“No. I — I’m just an honest criminal. I’d never hurt another person,” Lady Jane answered with a shaky laugh.

“Then I reckon Gracie and you best rest up here for a week or so, like the doctor said.”

“I’d better get back to her now.” Lady Jane turned to leave, stopped, then came over to where The Kid sat. She gazed at The Kid a moment, bent down and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “Thank you again, Kid. That’s twice you’ve saved our lives.”

The Kid blushed. “Shucks, now. I reckon the second time was Ann’s doin’, mostly.”

“Give her my thanks, too.” Lady Jane made her way to the door, then glanced back. “Those diamonds that Maurice Ruggles was said to have had… did they ever really exist?”

The Kid slowly shook her head. “Nope. Nary a one. Mrs Ruggles told me it’s just a story someone made up. No truth to it a’tall.”

“Thank you again,” Lady Jane said, then made a quiet exit.

Rising unsteadily to her feet, The Kid took one last slug of tequila from the bottle, then put a blanket over Andromeda, who was still snoozing peacefully on the sofa. She spread her bedroll out on the floor next to the sofa, put out the lights and laid down. The Kid fell asleep listening to the steady rhythm of Ann’s breath.

***

Gus felt more tired than he’d been in ages. He’d dispatched the two horse thieves to Austin with the posse. They’d rode so far in pursuit that it was easier to hand them over than bringing them back to Knuckle Ridge. Gus had found out their game, how that Jessie Sinclair woman had hired them.

Furious at having been taken in, Gus raced back to Knuckle Ridge. He was relieved to find Jessie Sinclair caught and no one else dead except for the Count. You got lucky this time, old man, he told himself, gazing into the tarnished mirror.

Finally he sat at his desk and began to do paperwork. Jigs returned a few moments later with a plate of stew. Gus had sent him to the Highland Cafe to get supper for their prisoner. “It’s still warm,” Jigs said.

He took the plate and a spoon back to the cell that held Jessie. Moments later, Gus heard her screech, “I won’t eat that shit!” then the sound of the tin plate hitting the wall. He frowned, listening to Jigs grumble as he cleaned up the mess.

Jigs finally emerged from the cells, bearing the empty plate, a mop and a bucket. Livid with anger, he slammed the heavy wooden door that separated the office from the cells.

Damn that bitch, Gus,” Jigs growled. “She ain’t right, I can tell you that for sure!” He stalked out into the night to take the empty tin plate back to the Cafe and get something to eat for himself.

Rising from his desk, Gus looked through the slat in the wood door to see Jessie lying peacefully on the cot. Shaking his head, he wandered over to the cot in the corner of the office, where he took off his gun belt, then sat down and pulled his boots off. Stretching out, he was asleep within minutes.

Hearing nothing outside the heavy door and seeing no light through the slat, Jessie Sinclair rose from her straw-stuffed pallet. Jigs had failed to notice that she’d kept the spoon he brought.

She stayed up all night kneeling on the floor, scraping the handle of the spoon against the rough concrete.

Just before dawn, Jessie had worked the spoon handle into a long, sharp point. Concealing it under the pallet, she finally laid down, smiling to herself.

On to Chapter Eight!

 

12 Comments on Knuckle Ridge, Chapter 7

  1. Captain Midnight says:

    This is SO different from the previous one. Only one quick Ff encounter. A female villain who I see is far from down even yet. Far less violence than the previous story. You gone gentle, PurpleLes? That said, this is a great ride! I keep wondering if Andromeda will go to the scene of the previous story and say howdy to the girls and women Kid loved over there. I suspect they would treat her very nicely. But whatever happens, I really want to encourage you to keep writing in whatever genre you choose!

  2. David says:

    Great chapter Purple Les, love the story line but I wish they would of killed the bitch, but then the story might come to an end too soon! Love the detail in your writing, I felt like I was there in the middle of the action. Looking forward to the next chapter and others to come.

  3. Lakeisha says:

    Another great chapter Purple Les!

    Can’t wait for chapter 8!

    Lakeisha

  4. No One says:

    Oh good, they survived. Not that I had any doubt! 😉 I didn’t expect Ann to show up at the estate, but it’s good that she did, providing the crucial distraction. That was some quick thinking. I like that everyone contributed in some way to taking down Jessie. Sounds like we haven’t seen the last of her, though…

    A good action-packed chapter overall, my only quibble would be the part where The Kid has Jessie at her mercy, and then she puts down her guns and turns her back to the villain! That seems extremely out of character for the usually clever Kid, as it should have been obvious to anyone that Jessie would seize that opportunity to try to free herself.

    • Erocritique says:

      Yeah, I kinda thought the same thing, but in a way, it’s an homage to old westerns and action dramas, where the baddie always has a few desperate moves left in them. When the kid turned her back on Jessie when all she had access to was the derringer it wasn’t a big deal, because the kid knew it wasn’t loaded. However, in the instance before that, the kid did underestimate her opponent, and that was a bit out of character. Creating tension in a story is one of the more difficult things to get perfect, but seeing as everything about the kid and her universe is over the top, a minor faux pas in consistency of behavior from the kid can be forgiven IMHO. Jessie palming the spoon after throwing her food tray was executed better, and has left me anticipating what the crazy evil bitch will do next. I’m actually liking that I can’t totally predict how things are going to turn out. The unpredictability of this series is one of its main charms. Keep us guessing Purple Les.

  5. Euphrosyne, Thalia & Aglaia says:

    Excellent writing Purple Les!…completely excellent!
    so damn good too! The way Jessie Sinclair deviously schemed about how she was going to kill all the ladies and especially the Kid, was truly frightening, I had goosebumps!

    Also the way Ann was so cool and collected as she tricked Jessie, whose insane greed, got her to look into the fish tank, was brilliant!…that part of the scene seemed eerily familiar, as if I’d seen something similar in an old black & white movie or television drama some where.
    But, best of all was that the derringer gizmo worked!..yay! and Jessie, flustered by all the quick paced goings on and fisticuffs was too shaken to notice that the little gun wasn’t loaded.

    Anyway, I LOVED this chapter. exciting and thrilling to the end. And it seemed to leave us with some lingering oddities, like,why was Lady Jane so smoochy face with the Kid? and what was going to happen to little Gracie? and what’s gonna happen with that spoon that crazed Jessie Sinclair’s so sneakily fashioning?, hmm?!

    Thanks, Purple Les, for keeping us readers in suspense and enjoyment!, we’re all staying tuned for the next amazing chapter…

    E,T&A

  6. sue says:

    Yes! So agree with the others. Fantastic chapter. Just like the old cliffhangers we see an element we didn’t know about, which was Ann heading toward the action.

    Like others said, instead of it being wrapped up, we wonder what is really building up here. Lady Jane scheming to get the gold certificates? Jessie Sinclair to be dealt with again? Eagerly awaiting the next chapter.

    Kim & Sue

  7. obsessive imaginings says:

    Yea this story remains one of the better action adventure stories I’ve read in a while. It’s quality is obvious combine that with the F/f romance angles of the story and this is a must read. Thank you Purp.

  8. Purple Les says:

    Thank you all very much. And as always a tip of the old stetson to JetBoy.

    E,T,& A, I guess there must be similar situations out there where someone gets their head dunked. If I lifted it from somewhere,it was purely unintentional.

    No One, Erocritique, Kid is not perfect, and sometimes she makes an error in judgement. So far luck has helped her. I put the lapse of being careful with Jessie to the unexpected events of the long day.

    I’d also thank you all for taking guesses of what happens next. Some of you have been close on things and others have been right on. All will be reveled so enjoy the ride and thanks again.

    • Euphrosyne, Thalia & Aglaia says:

      Hey,Purple Les!
      Not to make a mountain out of a mole hill here, but, please forgive me if it seemed I was trying to cast aspersions on that plot device of your wonderful story, I would never,ever do that. I respect your literary skills and ability as an author too much…it’s my improper use of grammar, so I’ve been told, that might give that impression.
      I believe you that it was purely unintentional, and will remand myself to the county jail..just as long as I don’t get no cell next to that there crazy lady,Jessie Sinclair…

      all apologies,
      E,T&A

      • Purple Les says:

        Please, E,T,&A, no apologies necessary. With so many movies and shows I’ve watched you never know, but when I write I try to come up with my own ideas and plots.

        I worry even more when I do a regular sex story because so many great ideas and scenes already exist here at JS.

        I heard Paul McCartney asked everyone he knew when the music for ‘Yesterday’ came to him in a dream, if they’d heard it before. He couldn’t believe it was his own and thought he must have nicked it from somewhere.

        • Euphrosyne, Thalia & Aglaia says:

          Hey,Purple Les!

          Isn’t that what they call a collective “shared memory”?, like in that movie: Quatermass and the Pit (1967) known in the States as: Five Million Years to Earth, where Quatermass explains to Dr. Roney and his very sexy assistant Barbara, that the invading ant-men from Mars must be the progenitors and ancient “overlords” of the proto humans and have “tapped” into the subconscious collective shared memories to control the minds of the Londoners being affected?
          and as you’ve said, the process of writing takes an enormous amount of creativity and juggling of your thoughts and ideas, ruling this out, keeping that in, and a multitude of other things that constitute the final make up of a story, and of course you must be wary of falling into a formulaic pattern, especially when it involves writing sex scenes! ( no wonder so many of the great writers were heavy drinkers )
          Yes, Sir Paul McCartney, was and still is, a genius. and he and his best mate and collaborator, John Lennon, must’ve endured many a sleepless night writing and fretting over lyrics…

          So, thanks for your understanding absolution, I’ll choose words more carefully, and whatever you do, be careful of the Underground ( the Tube )if you see a tiny ant-man mucking about, run the other way!

          E,T&A

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