by M.K. Hutchins
Sometimes, seems like my clothes are just mud. Cracked mud, wet clumpy mud, fine dusty mud.
Underneath it, there's cloth somewhere, but it don't show on the outside much.
I slouch out back of the saloon, under a lip of roof. Didn't have the money to be inside, and I'd
already managed to steal a shot of whisky tonight. Barkeep said he'd cut my tongue out if I try
That still made the saloon the safest place to steal from. Brothel, apothecary, and the main
general store? They've got a sniper on their roof to shoot anyone who runs out suspicious-like
-- two dead miners this week alone.
The longer the rain drips down the roof, the more the ground I stand on turns to mud. Maybe
Miss Annie will let me sit in her shop awhile. Unnerving woman, but her gaze won't kill me
faster than the freezing rain.
I churn my feet through the street. A few of the brothel girls dance at the window. They'd be on
the balcony, except for the rain. It'd rust their gears, those wind-up girls. No women actually
come this far west, except Miss Annie. I pat my coat pocket for the money I know isn't there.
The brothel girls might only be warm due to the gears whirring inside their chests, but they're
warmer than whiskey.
Something shifts in the rain. Likely the sniper. After the saloon threw me out, he knows I
haven't got nothing to spend. I tip the hat I don't have and shuffle by. Miss Annie's light glows
stronger, the closer I get.
I step inside and a tiny silver bell chimes above the door.