This should be up soon at Amazon and Nook for $2.99, which ain't bad for a Mean Pete Press original publication.... (See what I mean about the ellipses?)
So, welcome to Mean Pete's spinner rack in cyber space! (Don't forget to hide the rag from your ma!)
BULLET FOR A VIRGIN
1. Rainy Night in Sonora
THE RIO CONCHO KID sagged back in his rickety chair and listened to the soft, desert rain drum on the cantina’s tin roof while a lone coyote howled mournfully in the Forgotten Mountains to the south.
The Kid was pleasantly drunk on baconora, a favorite drink of the border country. He smiled sweetly as he reflected on happier times, hopeful times when he and his reputation were still young and, if not innocent, at least naive.
Mercifully, just when his thoughts began to sour, touching as they did on the smiling visage of a fresh young girl named Lenore, who was so long dead that he could just barely remember the color of her eyes but no longer the timbre of her voice, hooves hammered the muddy street outside the cantina’s batwing doors.
Over the doors, out in the dark, rainy night, a large shadow moved. She smell of wet horse and wet leather, as well as the faint fragrance of cherry blossoms, wafted in on the chill damp air.
Leather squawked and a horse chomped its bridle bit.
Boots thumped on the narrow wooden stoop, and then a shadow appeared and became a young, red-haired woman as she pushed through the batwings and instantly stopped, letting the louver doors clatter back into place behind her. Hunted brown eyes quickly scanned the long, dark, earthen-floored cantina, finding its only customer, the Kid, lounging against the wall opposite the bar consisting of cottonwood planks laid across beer kegs.
The barman, Paco Alejandro Dominguez, was passed out in his chair behind the clay baconora bowl, snoring softly, his head of thick gray hair tumbling down over his wizened, sun-blackened face. His leathery, hawk nose poked through it, nostrils expanding and contracting as he snored.
The girl glanced behind her, nervous as a doe that had just dropped a fawn, and then strode forward to the Kid’s table. She was a well-set-up girl, twenty at the oldest, her thick, wavy, rust-red hair falling down over her shoulders and onto her plaid wool shirt that she wore open to the top of her cleavage. Between her breasts, a small, silver crucifix winked in the salmon light of the mesquite fire crackling near the bar’s far end.
She wore a black leather skirt held snug to her comely hips by a leather belt trimmed in hammered silver, five-pointed stars. Black boots with silver tips rose to her calves. There were no spurs. This was a girl who could ride--she had the hips and the legs for it--but who had a soft spot for horses.
Her hair was damp, as was her shirt, which clung to her full bosom, and her eyes were just wild enough to make the Kid’s trigger finger ache.
“Buy a girl a drink?” she said quickly in a thick Spanish accent.
The Kid looked her over one more time, from the tips of her boots up past her breasts pushing out from behind the damp wool shirt, to her eyes that flicked back and forth across him with a faint desperation. The Kid smiled, shook his head. His dark eyes looked away from the young girl, no more than a child.
She slammed her fist on the table. “Bastardo!”
“I ain’t gonna contest it,” the Kid said mildly, and casually lifted his gourd cup to sip his baconora.
She lifted her mouth corners, leaned forward against the table, giving him a better look down her shirt, and said in a smoky, sexy rasp: “I could make you a very happy hombre tonight, amigo.”
The Kid looked at her well-filled shirt. A few years ago, when he was as green as a willow branch, such a sight would have grabbed him by the throat and not let go for several hours. “And a dead one. Oh, true, there’s worse things than dyin’, but I’m enjoyin’ this evenin’ here with the rain and my drink and the prospect of a long sleep in deep mound of straw out in the stable with my mare, ole Antonia. Run along, Chiquita. Spread your happiness elsewhere, will ya?”
The Kid reached into the breast pocket of his hickory shirt for his tobacco makings, but stopped suddenly and pricked his ears. Hooves drummed in the distance, beneath the patter of the rain on the tin roof and the cracking and popping of the pinyon fire in the mud brick hearth. The girl wheeled toward the batwings with a gasp.
The hoof thuds grew quickly louder. The girl’s horse whinnied. One of the newcomer’s horses’ whinnied a response. Over the batwings, large shadows moved, and then boots thudded on the porch and a big man in a wagon wheel sombrero pushed through the batwings. Two men flanked him, turning their heads this way and that to see around him, into the cantina.
“No, Chacin,” the girl said in a brittle voice, backing away from the door, brushing the tips of her right hand fingers across the top of the Kid’s table. “I won’t...I won’t go with you. I can’t!”
All this had been in Spanish, but the Kid, who’d been born Johnny Black in the Chisos Mountains of southern Texas, near the Rio Grande, though he’d acquired his nickname while riding the long coulees along the Rio Concho, knew the rough and twisted border tongue as well as he knew English.
The big man, dressed in the flashy gear of the Mexican vaquero, complete with a billowy green silk neckerchief, moved heavily into the room, bunching his thick, mustache-mantled lips in fury. His chocolate eyes fired golden javelins of sheer rage as water dripped from the brim of his black felt, wagon wheel sombrero.
“Chiquita, my orders are to bring you back to the General or shoot you!”
Suddenly, moving with more agility than the Kid would have thought possible in a man so ungainly, he swiped one of his big paws at the girl and caught her shirt just as she’d turned to run. The shirt tore with a shrill ripping sound, buttons popping, exposing a good portion of her pale left breast behind her partially torn chamise.
She screamed, “No!”
The big man reached for the silver-plated Colt Navy conversion pistol holstered high on his right hip.
“Oh, now, dangit,” the Kid said with an air of great despondency, rising heavily from his table and brushing his right hand across the Smith & Wesson Model 3 Schofield revolver holstered high and for the cross-draw on his left, denim-clad hip. “That ain’t no way to treat a lady, an’ you know it!”