Saturday, July 2, 2022

Moon Feather: Part 46: Strapped for War

Everett

Everett had a bad feeling as Lavina pulled Joey away, his little wife throwing him a panicked  look as she was dragged toward a heap of strangers. Henry shook his head, sighing at the exuberant young Lavina. Everett wondered if they might have handfuls in equal measure at their sides, but, as much as he respected the man, he knew good and well Henry wouldn’t have the first idea what to do with someone like Joey. Sometimes Everett didn’t either. 

“Don’t worry, my friend. I am certain she’ll be fine,” Henry said, smiling as they disappeared into a circle of women.


“It ain’t her I’m worried for. Even slung up, she’s a force ta be reckoned with.”


“Yes, Vina told me about her, ah…grande entrĂ©e.” He held his hat up to his mouth to whisper. “Did she really kill four men?” 


“Five. Though, one were part’a the outfit what took after the stage. Wilson weren’t lyin’ when he called her a deadeye. After seein’ ‘er with a bow and a knife, I’m right loath ta give her a gun. And not least ways ‘cause she’s about knee high to a grasshopper.” Everett crossed his arms over his chest, peering at the crowd.


“Afraid she’ll shoot you, my good man?” Henry said with a small laugh.


“Not particularly, but I know it takes more forethought ta draw a bow than pull a trigger. I’m sure she’d be a crack shot in no time given the chance.”


Henry replaced his hat. “You might keep an eye on that. Vina mentioned that your Jolene requested pockets in her gowns and suggested Vina do the same, along with the advice that derringers would fit nicely in such compartments.” He looked at Everett sideways. “Naturally, I discouraged such foolish notions, but I am not entirely certain I was well-heeded.”


Everett snorted. “How discouragin’ was ya, exactly?”


Henry’s brow furrowed. “Whatever does that mean?”


“A servant will not be corrected by words: for though he understand he will not answer,” Everett quoted with a shrug. He had never really settled on whether to pass on Joey’s recommendation, but he couldn’t abide it if Lavina were to get hurt through Joey’s reckless suggestions.


“What are you sayin’, Everett MacMahon?” 


“The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left ta himself bringeth his mother ta shame,” he said cryptically, holding up his Bible. 


“Yes, I am quite familiar with the Proverbs, Everett,” Henry said, a touch impatiently. 


“Now, I ain’t tellin’ ya how ta run your house,” he said, holding up his hands. “I’d never presume ta do such a thing, but…Joey might’a been a bit forward about how I tend ta her ‘foolish notions.’”


Henry’s eyes narrowed. “Now that is somethin’ she did not mention.”


Everett chuckled. “I don’t reckon so, seein’ as she done tried ta take me ta task for it and started wallopin’ me with that fan’a hers.”


Henry’s eyes widened. “She did not!” he said, mortified.


Everett laughed. “She did indeed. Now, as I were sayin’, I ain’t presumin’ ta interfere with your doin’s. Just thought I’d pass on the information.”


Henry’s lips thinned into an angry line. “I thank you for the information, and the suggestion.”


Everett meandered over to his wagon to put his Bible up, when he saw Wilson quickly heading towards him and Henry. Everett couldn’t rightly tell if the look on his face was concern or barely contained glee. 


“Cap, you best come on afore your missus collects herself a new scalp.”


“What’d ya do?” Everett said, scowling. 


Wilson looked offended. “I ain’t done nothin’. I told ya I’s only gonna watch the show. It’s Josephine Harmon and her set what done come up strapped for war.”


Everett rolled his eyes heavenward. “Lord A’mighty.” He scanned the crowd of people milling about in churchyard socializing, but couldn’t find Joey or Lavina’s bonnet anywhere among them. “Where are they?”


Wilson smirked. “Funnily enough, behind the woodshed.”


“Well, that’s mighty convenient.”


“Ain’t it though?” 


“Why do you know where they are?” Everett said, as they followed Wilson towards the back of the church building.


“Wouldn’t be much of a show if’n ya can’t even see the main act.”


“So you was followin’ ‘em.”


“Yep.”


They came around the corner of the church to see the woodshed that sat a little ways from the back door. There wasn’t much in it this time of year, with little need for extra heat in the dead of summer. After the harvest, several men of the church would come together and purchase the requisite logs from the sawmill and take a day to chop all the wood the church would need for the colder seasons. Reverend Chastain would always help, but, being more of a scholarly feller, left much of the work to the men of the town, although he would always insist his sons assist as well.


The sound of heated feminine voices was coming from behind the small shed. They eased up against the back wall of the open shed and Everett peered through a knothole in one of the planks. Lavina stood protectively in front of Joey, hands on her hips, looking madder than a wet hen. Mrs. Harmon stood opposite, flanked by a couple of her fellow harpies, the look of utter disdain on her face enough to have Everett spitting mad himself. She held her fan in both hands, gripping the silk end like she was choking it. Her shoulders were thrown back, her head high, with her nose tilted ever so slightly up in the air.


“I cannot fathom where ya got the wherewithal ta question the marshal’s decisions, but it sure ain’t any of your business who he takes ta wife! At church of all places!” Lavina spat at the older woman, not loud enough to draw attention, but the men huddled in the shed heard well enough. 


“It is when some eastern strumpet saunter’s into town thinkin’ she can ruin my daughter’s prospects! My daughter! A girl of impeccable breedin’. Not some penniless mauk who traipsed into town entrappin’ unsuspectin’ bachelors!” Her hands were now also on her hips and they were both leaned forward glaring at each other.


Joey had a look of confused irritation on her face. “Okay, one, I’m neither eastern, nor a strumpet. I don’t know what a mauk is, but I’m not penniless either. In fact, I’ve got six hundred and fifty dollars. Wanna know how I earned it?”


Mrs. Harmon gave an indelicate snort. “On your back, I’d assume.”


Everett damn near knocked down the shed wall. The only thing that stopped him was Wilson’s hand gripping his shoulder.


Lavina gasped. “How dare you!” Her hand flew back, ready to slap the woman, but Joey caught her wrist before she could swing. 


“Nope. Nope nope nope,” Joey said, shaking her head and tugging Lavina back behind her. “As much as I wanna let you ring her bell, I promised Everett I wouldn’t kill anyone today, and I like being able to sit comfortably too much to break that.” She turned back briefly to her friend. “Trust me, you’ll thank me later.”


Returning her attention to their scowling adversary, Joey stepped forward, crowding the woman, strangely intimidating despite her size. “Let me be very clear,” she said, gesturing with her folded fan. “I didn’t earn it on my back. I earned it with a handful of arrows and one very nasty knife. Admittedly, I can’t repeat the arrows right now,” she looked down at her bound up arm, “but I’m still pretty handy with a knife. Now, I’d appreciate it if you minded your own business, as Marshal MacMahon’s is not now nor has it ever been any of yours.” 


Mrs. Harmon reared back. “Are you threatenin’ me?” she all but snarled.


Joey smiled, but it didn’t quite reach her eyes, which held all the danger of saber steel. “Not at all. I just thought you would be comforted to know that I am not, in fact, a prostitute as you have so rudely claimed. I suggest we all return to our husbands before our presence is missed. Or before I decide to let Mrs. Albritton here clean your clock anyway.”


Mrs. Harmon and the other two women gave offended gasps. “Why I never! Well, you can be quite certain Mrs. MacMahon,” she sneered, his wife’s name dripping with enough venom to put down a horse, “you and Mrs. Albritton will never find any sort of place among the elite of this town.”


Joey laughed, snapping her fan open dramatically and fluttering it coyly. “If it spares me having to endure your presence on a regular basis, I’ll consider that a blessing.”


Mrs. Harmon gave one of her signature petulant stomps and made an about face and scurried off with her minions. 


“What a positively horrid b—” 


Joey clapped a hand over Lavina’s mouth. 


“What?”


“Well, I don’t know how yours feels about it, but mine was pretty clear about not liking the word I think was about to come out of your mouth, and since they’re on the other side of this wall,” she knocked on the wood, making them all jump a bit, “figured I’d save you from yourself.” Joey turned and put her eye to the knothole and peered at Everett. “You guys aren’t as quiet as you think you are.”           


Everett turned and shoved the others out of the shed and they rounded the wall. “How’d ya know it were us back there?”


“Because I watched Deputy Tattletale over there run off the instant the old bat started dragging us back here,” she said, gesturing at the still-grinning Wilson.


“Jaybird!” Everett said, frowning severely at her.


She rolled her eyes. “What? Bat isn’t a cuss word.” 


Henry’s eyebrows rose, looking at Everett. “Is that a frequent problem?”


Joey shrugged. “I don’t think so, but he seems to.”


Everett sighed heavily, running his hand over his face. “Let’s get home afore someone starts a war. I done had enough’a that for one lifetime. Alla y’all are welcome ta join us for Sunday dinner, if’n ya want.”


“Who’s cookin’?” Lavina said curiously, which made Henry frown at her in confusion.


“Jaybird,” Everett said, walking back towards the wagon. “Just don’t ask me what.”


~

If you would like a glossary of western slang used in this story, here is the reference I'm using: Western Slang, Lingo, and Phrases – A Writer’s Guide to the Old West     


Wicked Wednesday

1 comment:

  1. Love, love, love this! Oh I knew Joey would be so strong against the old bat, but this is even better than I hoped ;)
    ~ Marie xox

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