Western Fiction posted November 5, 2013


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Jessica the harlot makes her presence known

Hosea (Part I)

by forestport12

Cripple Creek turned a pewter cloud from the pools of gold speculators who swarmed the valley and panned for hours. There'd been rumors of a one-pound nugget found below a waterfall. A carnival atmosphere blossomed along the banks, dotted with tents, tarps, and wagons with unproven gold sleuthing contraptions.

Gold fever helped revive an old silver mining town nearby. Carved from the side of the mountain, Grandview had been looking ghostly. Skeletal remains of hickory colored buildings looked like tooth picks on shaky foundations. Then thanks to the novice speculators who passed through the former town, it showed signs of life. Saber tooth saws and hammers reverberated in the canyon. A revival of manifest destiny helped to sweeten the sawdust air.

Those who presided over the original demise of the town stayed because they had nowhere else to go and would have preferred to haunt the place when they died. Now they stood to profit from fortune seekers flush with cash and an unhealthy optimism. Shopkeepers stood outside their battered doors with brooms in hand, swept up in the moment, as if they should look upon the dingy caravans like it were a parade.

One such survivor, the only remaining harlot named Jessica knew her fortune was about to change. Her cream-colored bosoms perked at the possibilities, ready to escape their tightly tied corset. She waved and waxed with a confident smile from her private balcony above the saloon as the men rode by. The one asset she had left was her pampered beauty that need only be skin deep. Men craned their necks to get a good look at her as they passed through town. Some of the married men, who stuck their necks out like ignorant turkeys on Thanksgiving, drew the ire of their stalwart wives.

Jess had a way of turning the world upside down. One good milk bath in a claw foot tub and some glaze on her delicious skin would make any man salivate. She possessed a proud head of shiny, chestnut hair that flirted with her bare-shoulders. She smiled from a small wet mouth when she rolled her tongue. Her hazel eyes had been known to reflect flames of passion.

"Jess." A call came from inside the shadow of her doorway where the bartender and owner could see her flaunting herself on the balcony from her room. "I've sent for more painted ladies."

Jess need not look the man's way. She knew his baritone voice from the darkness. She amused herself by waving at some peach-faced boys who snuck a look from under the back flap of a passing wagon. "I can hold the fort until they get here. But I want to be paid as the matron. Money smells a might better than cheap cologne."

The lanky owner with a handle bar moustache licked his chapped lips and stepped into the room. "Amazing what one rumor can do for a town, eh, Jess."

"Harrison." She turned and strutted toward him. You're one shrewd survivor." She ran her delicate fingers through his coal black hair. Let's hope no one finds out that nugget never existed in the first place."

Harrison pulled her hand from his hair and twisted her wrist, wrenching her down without mercy until she knelt below his crotch in pain. She screamed hellfire. But no one heard.

"You know what shines better than gold?"

She struggled and fell backward on the pine floor. "No, what might that be?"

"Silence."

Jess scrambled to her feet and charged toward him. She slapped him across the side of his pockmarked face.

Harrison took her by the arms and threw her on the Victorian bed. He straddled her. "I'm too busy to fool with you. Just mind your manners. Before the sun sets, this place will be crawlin' with thirsty men and then it's your turn. Just make sure you're open for business."

Jess said nothing. She smiled a knowing smile. Holding a secret can be a powerful tool, a kind fulcrum for her when the time was right. And she was in the best position to understand that time was money.



Recognized


A western retelling of Hosea in the Bible. I'm attempting to do it in four parts.
Not really a novella, just a long short story divided.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.


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