The Continental: Le Vice Anglais

Camptown Ladies

Sing this song

Do-dah Do-dah!

Camptown Races

Five Miles Long

Oh Do-dah day!

Anything by Foster is an unpleasant sound.

Even more so when you wake to it.

Even more so when you wake to it with a splitting headache.

My vision was blurry, but my ears were working all too well. As I heard the drunken voices belting out the song accompanied by pipe organ I could tell that the singers were close by, but at least one layer of timber muffled them to my extreme delight. As predicted, all of the revelers put their money on the bob-tailed nag, and I found myself wondering, as always, what kind of odds were being offered on the bay.

I was lying prostrate on a stone floor with my arms bound at wrist and elbow behind my back causing an uncomfortable strain on my shoulders. My ankles were similarly bound together and my legs bent at the knee so that my ankles and wrist met each other in what felt to my fingers to be a lovers’ knot. I assumed that I would have been relieved of my revolver and rapier, naturally. But the cold stone on my skin told me I had also been relieved of vest, shirt and trousers. This was a surprise to say the least about it.

The air was humid- warm and moist. The type of environment that absorbs smells and mellows them as they meld into their surroundings. The first scent that I recognized was leather followed by iron and oil. After that was the effeminate musk that suggested estrus and escapades accompanied by its masculine counterpart. I had heard of rooms like this, and an unindulged part of me had always wanted to visit one. Though I admit that I had conflicting feelings about regaining consciousness inside one.

As my vision grew steadily more clear I realized that I was behind a row of iron bars with a door of the same style set into them; much like a prison cell. I turned my head around to survey what I could of my surroundings to find that I was in a recess of stone that had been chiseled out of the Earth, and no doubt in some part of the sprawling city under the city that had long since surrendered its share of silver.

I was beginning to weigh my options when I heard his voice. “Awake at last, Mon Amour.” His tone was husky and almost sensuous as everything in that lilied tongue sounds. The way he spoke was as he always had with hints of hatred and unspoken threats. It was the man I had been seeking, and the familiarity of the words should have given me some comfort. But given my current situation the affect that they had was to produce a gleam of nervous sweat on the entirety of my nearly nude body.

“I’m so glad I found you, Darling.”

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Silas, part II

Two weeks had passed since Pike had given me the ominous warning. Yet still, the words played in a constant loop in my thoughts. Haunting every wakened, and many unawakened, moments of my existence.

Get a handle on this shit or someone else will!

Eddie’s autopsy said his death was the result of a bear attack, which was a believable explanation if you ignored crucial facts. But with Eddie having no family in the area there would be nobody would ask those difficult questions. At least, not anytime soon.

Get a handle on this shit– Pike had said. Easy for him to say, not being the one on the front lines having to handle shit. The office had made that one soft- he was out of touch with what it takes to operate a territory these days. Did that arrogant little prick think I didn’t understand how serious this was? No less serious than last time. But last time there wasn’t an archive and recorder in everyone’s pocket. Things were so much easier to keep quiet when all you needed was an ‘accidental’ fire in the local library or County Clerks’ Office. I knew that things were about to go from bad to worse. Because my problem may go decades without killing- but once it tasted blood, one killing was never enough.

So it came as absolutely no surprise when news of the second death, a poacher- hunting out of season and on the Appalachian Trail- turned up dead. The crime lab confirmed it was the same beast that killed Eddie. At least the bear narrative would be an easy sell this time.

But time was running out for me, and the powers that be couldn’t let this keep happening. It was only a matter of time before someone started Googling things and connecting dots. Their theory would probably have no resemblance to the truth, but that was of little consolation. Their version of the facts would most assuredly have something to do with reptilian space aliens with phase technology. And while the absurdity of the thought made me smile, stories like that would only make things worse.

Get a handle on this shit or someone else will- I told myself. The phone on my desk rang. I picked up the receiver without bothering to look at the caller ID. Few have this number, fewer still use it.

“Well?” The voice on the line said.

“I told you I would tell you once he was dead.”

“Tick tock, Whittle, tick tock”, Pike said in a tone that implied he wasn’t as upset about my predicament as he should have been.

“I’m working on it,” I said in an angry, past the point of being able to put up with his bullshit, tone. “Guys like this don’t exactly advertise who they are. And I still have to pretend their is normal law here, so I just can’t start executing people on suspicion. Now can I?”

“Two deaths on your turf- two strikes. Three strikes and you’re out, Whittle.”

“Are you really going to apply an arbitrary rule and its accompanying sports analogy to this? This is serious.”

“You’re telling me this is serious, Whittle! Get your head out of your ass and do your fucking job!” The call was disconnected with the sound of a loud slamming noise. I let out a frustrated growl as I returned to my notes.

Child of a Mad God

Child of a Mad God

R.A. Salvatore

Genres:

Adult Fiction, Fantasy, High Fantasy

Rating:

Four Moons!

Synopsis:

‘Child of a Mad God’ is set in Salvatore’s Corona universe, and this is the first novel in his ‘Coven’ series. Because of this book, I feel the need to go back and read the rest of the Corona books. I have long dismissed Salvatore as a sell-out because of his DnD and Star Wars novelizations. I know now that I have done him and myself a disservice. The book is great reading because of great writing!

Don’t read it if you expect happy endings, do read if you love good characters.

Twitter:

@r_a_salvatore

https://www.amazon.com/Child-Mad-God-Tale-Coven/dp/0765395274/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1545955568&sr=8-1&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=child+of+a+mad+god+ra+salvatore&dpPl=1&dpID=51nLCsSl%2BTL&ref=plSrch

The Continental: Castile’s Gamble, part II

The hombre behind me kept his shooting iron to my back, but at least it didn’t feel like he was trying to use it to dig my spine out of me anymore. He was silent; either considering or trying to understand all of the implications of the declaration I had just made. The silence with the subsiding pain allowed some of my other senses to return. The man smelled of beaver. The scent was too strong for him to be a trapper. No, the man wore the musk as an odorant to attract mates and intimidate contenders. Though I dare say that I wouldn’t want to meet the woman or man who would be attracted to the stench. As for me, I wasn’t intimidated. But I certainly wanted to get as far away from Musk Man as I could.

“Is that a threat?” He growled at me as he leaned into my ear the way that a lover would. His breath on my neck did excite me, but not in the way that a lover would have.

“If that is how you wish to perceive it,” I said evenly with a measured cadence and calm tone. “But, I meant it as more of an opportunity.”

“What are you playing at Grant?”

“I have friends in this town who would be very delighted to know the true identity of my traveling companion. And unless I’ve missed my guess, you have the same friends. By all ways and means of measuring, that makes us friends.”

“It seems a sound logic,” The man growled in my ear. I thought that perhaps he wasn’t angry and this was just the way he spoke, but then he continued. “The flaw in your thinking is that you ain’t got friends in Baranca Grande!”

As soon as I felt the Colt pulled away from my back I knew what was going to happen; not that there was any good in knowing since I didn’t have time to react. It was a fraction of a second, I know. But isn’t it funny how moments like that seem to last for eternity?

It’s the strangest sensation of all, really. Being nothing more than a spectator in the theater of your own body. Watching, helplessly, as the carved elk horn handle and brass back strap of the revolver comes crashing into the back of your skull. The feeling of weightlessness as you crumble to the ground like a marionette with its strings suddenly severed. And the final thought that crosses your mind before the darkness claims you…

well- shit!

Silas, part I

“Care to explain to me what the Hell happened in there, Whittle?” Pike growled at me. His eyeballs were level with mine and inches away.

“She goaded me, challenged me. What else was I supposed to do?” I answered in a guttural rebuttal.

“It would have been nice if you had kept your shit together. Or maybe you have forgotten what is at stake here. You told me I would get a confession, a nice tidy bow tied around this case. Instead I just had to let a witness walk out of here free as a bird.” It was needless to say that Pike was angry. As much as I hated to admit it he had right to be. Hell, I was angry with me.

“Artemis is a drug addict, no one is going to believe what she saw. I mean- shit- Pike, most people wouldn’t believe it if they saw it for themselves. And you’re afraid someone might believe the local junkie?” I said it in a nonchalant manner, forcing myself to calm and feigned submission. But truth is I didn’t half believe what I was saying and certainly didn’t feel calm or submissive around this suit with teeth.

“This is a problem on your turf,” Pike’s tone and cadence were steady as he let the words themselves carry the weight and severity without adding emotion, but he tapped my chest with two fingers to underscore his point. “That makes it your problem,” he tapped my chest a second time with more force. “Get a handle on this shit or someone else will, capisce?” The third poke would have left a bruise on a person, and it was all I could do to not rip his arm off and beat him with it.

“Yeah, I got it,” I said trying to sound as though I wasn’t ready to rip his throat out and blame his death on the problem I had just been assigned to handle.

“Good. Now be a good dog and fetch.”

Virtue?

“Hey! I know you!”

The new hand recognized me. His voice wasn’t excited, he was angry. I knew who he was, too. It’s why he got the job. I’m the only man in Texas who’ll give the poor bastard a chance.

We served together in The Revolution. He was branded a coward because when Travis asked for a volunteer to run to Houston for reinforcements he eagerly accepted. Most of The Republic thinks he should have died there with the rest of us.

The story goes that once Travis realized he wasn’t getting reinforcements that he drew a line in the sand with his saber and said anyone who crossed was free to go. Nobody crossed it.

Nice story- but there wasn’t a line. Travis wasn’t that agreeable. And I left. I saw no virtue in dying for a church that some jackass had defiled into a fort just so Travis could say his prick was bigger than Santa Ana’s.

Of course being branded a coward is no great thing out here, so I had to take a new name. But what’s in a name?- some fancy Englishman once said. Lost a name, but I got the biggest ranch in Texas. A lot of hard work and a little blood shed always pays off.

“Yusunuvabitch!” The new hand yelled as he reached for his revolver. And I was mightily grieved at being obliged to do the same.

BANG!

BANG!

THWUMP!

The lead ball slammed into me and knocked me flat on my ass. I laid there for a moment and watched the black smoke dissipate. I focused on the smell of the black powder. The warmth of the revolver in my hand. Anything to ignore the pain and to delay inspecting the wound.

That’s when I heard him groaning.

I sat up. I took me a few seconds and I started to feel that my left shoulder burned like Hell. And I didn’t need no doctor to tell me I wouldn’t use that arm again. But the fact that I could sit up was a good sign. Next I stood. José, the Tejano top hand, ran over to try and help me, but I waved him off.

I walked over to where the other man laid, he was moving his arms but his legs were still as death. That and the smell of shit mixed with blood told me I had gut-shot him and severed his spine.

Most people would say his was the better shot. He did hit me closer to my heart than I hit him. But those people would be overlooking one very important fact- I hit what I aimed for and he didn’t.

He raised his arm to take a second shot at me, but his revolver wasn’t cocked.

Mine was, and my second shot dug a trench through his forehead and scalp. A mercy, really.

“Enterrar con otros,” I said to José.

The damn fool went to his maker thinking that death was more virtuous than life. I’m sad that I was the one who obliged him.

On the other hand- he was the only man on Earth who could claim I had once deserted Texas in her darkest hour.