Clara, part 5

June 30th, 2008 - No Responses

“By the dust! What happened to you?”
Clara’s feet had only just hit the ground. She slipped the shard of mirror from her belt and palmed it as she straightened and turned toward the voice. Her eyes took a moment to adjust to the darkness. There was a shape crouched there in the shadows. Before she could identify it, it stood and spoke again.

“Are you hurt?” it asked.
It was her client. The nice one, not the dead one.
Clara glanced down at her hands. “Not really,” she said. “What are you doing here? I thought you left.”
“One of Marcus’ lieutenants was at the bar when I went out. I’ve been keeping an eye on the place.”
“Lieutenant. hey? Not anymore,” she waved the makeshift blade in her hand in explanation, then tucked it back into her belt.
“That explains the blood, then,” he sounded impressed. “Dale could find him any minute, we should get you out of sight. Come on, I know somewhere nearby.”

Clara, part 4

June 19th, 2008 - One Response

Clara came slowly to consciousness from what felt like a long way away. As her vision cleared and she found herself standing over the bed with bloodied hands still clasping the shard of mirror, her first instinct was to check the clock. Ten minutes had passed, which left her at least ten more before Dale might come knocking. Perhaps more. She looked back to the bed. The scene was horrific, that much was clear, but she did not feel horrified. She did not feel much of anything. The hard core of her being that had seen her through the worst of the last six years had been washed away. No, not washed. Burned. Incinerated by a fire that still burned within and left her feeling gutted, not warmed.

She could not think about the reason for that fire. Not now. If she stopped to think about it now she would fall to her knees and may never find the strength to stand again. Right now she had to decide what to do about the mess in the ten minutes she had left. The body she could probably dispose of. It was still mostly in one piece and could be tumbled out the window and dealt with when the night was deeper. Likely she could convince Dale that the man had left through the side door while he was busy at the bar. The blood was a problem. It had soaked the sheets and mattress, and was pooling on the floor.

There was nothing for it, really. She couldn’t stay here; didn’t want to, either. Luckily not all the clothes in the dresser were for the titillation of the clientele, and she was quickly dressed in trousers, a blouse and sturdy boots. She tore a strip from the one clean corner of the sheets to wrap the end of the shard of mirror that had until now been slicing into her fingers and the fleshy pad of her palm. and tucked it into her belt. The man’s wallet was in his pants on top of the dresser and she pocketed that too, before striding to the window and lowering herself into the night.

Clara, part 3

May 29th, 2008 - No Responses

Clara sat at the small table in one corner of the room, shivering slightly. She felt dirty every day in this place, but it rarely got to her anymore. This was different. She hurt all over and though he hadn’t actually hit her or spoken a cruel word, she knew he realised and enjoyed it. He hadn’t spoken any words, actually, not since he had closed the door behind them. Only grunts. He was still making tiny grunts now. She could see him from the corner of her eye in the small mirror standing on the table, see the sweat on his back, dripping down onto her sheets. She was glad, not for the first time, that she didn’t sleep in that bed.

The small, discreet clock by the mirror told her he had twenty minutes left. She wanted to toss him out, but knew it wasn’t wise. Dale hadn’t taken it well the last time she’d done that, and apparently this one had been sent by Marcus. It was even less wise to piss Marcus off. In the mirror she saw him stir and her skin crawled at the thought of him touching her again.
“Marcus was right about you two,” he sat up against the headboard. “Had her last week, she’s the spit of you. Younger, ‘course. Nastier, too.”
“Excuse me?” she asked, genuinely confused, looking at his reflection but not turning.
“Your sister.” The grin that came to his face was so vile she reached out instinctively and slammed the mirror flat on the table so she didn’t have to look at it. It shattered into large pieces, the size of her hands.
“My sister is dead.” There was a roar growing in her ears. “Has been six years, now.”
“She has a hot little body for a dead girl, then. Marcus must treat her real special.”
The roar in her ears seemed to take her away from herself. She saw her hand pick up a shard of mirror, saw the room spin as she stood, turned and leapt in one motion, saw his blood on her hands and her sheets, but she did not feel any of it.

Clara, part 2

May 23rd, 2008 - No Responses

Clara picked up the bottle and two empty glasses from the dresser and followed the man out the door. She leaned against the railing of the balcony as she watched him make his way down the stairs and across the saloon, stepping over drunks and around fights, until he was out the door and into the dusk. He didn’t look back.

She had stopped asking why it was that the man paid for a service he didn’t use. Stopped seeing it as a rebuke, and started appreciating the hours, once every few months, away from the pawing hands of those brutes below.
Dale had seen her standing idle, and she fully expected to be punished for it. At least he didn’t take it in trade.
“You’ve got a customer!” he called, a leering grin splitting his face as he gestured at a sweating hulk of a man sitting across the bar from him. “Marcus sent him to you ‘specially.”
She shuddered inwardly. The man did not look kind. But, if Marcus had sent him, there was little she could do, so she composed herself and started down the stairs.


May 21st, 2008 - No Responses

The sun was setting far out on the horizon, sinking into dust. The pumpjacks were cast into stark silhouette, silent and still, like a herd of mechanical behemoth wild horses frozen in their gallop out across the frontier.
It was fitting, thought Clara. “The horses that carried us stopped, so we climbed down to rest.”
“Never got back on,” came the voice from behind her. He didn’t need to ask what she meant. “Maybe never will.”

“Your hour’s up,” she said, turning from the window and back to the room. Her client lay on the bed, just like the others, but the only thing he had taken off was his boots. He sat up, swinging his legs off the edge of the bed and set about relacing those boots now. “Sorry. I don’t mean to be rude, but Dale would kill me if I gave you a second more’n you paid.”
“Dale doesn’t own you,” he frowned, fishing a few notes, more than he owed, from his pocket and handing them to her.
She laughed. “Marcus owns Dale, and Marcus might as well own me, so it amounts to the same thing.”
He crossed to the door, stopping with his hand on the knob to look back over his shoulder. “Marcus owns the water and the power,” he said, “so he might as well own us all.”