I saw some Wild West cowgirl chick smoking crushed Opana off a piece of foil through a swirly, glass sarsaparilla straw as I turned the dusty corner from the Main Street drag to the side road leading out of the town of Rock Ridge and into the wilds beyond. I nearly tripped over her, and she looked up at me with the look of being way out dazed and far out confused.
“Hey mister, do you have any of that fine, fine cowboy money?”
I fiddled around in my big pockets like a fool.
“Nope,” and I tipped my 37.9-liter hat her way and politely said “Mam.” Then I strode off all cool like with my rock-hard silver pistols dangling from my waist and ready to spit.
She came scrambling after me, nearly knocking loose from my grasp my packages of sundries I had just purchased at the local general store.
“But mister, I just need a little money, that’s all. Surely you got a little bit to spare?”
“I’m sorry drug girl. I do not have any money to spare. Now please, leave me be so I can get home and build a fire before it rains ice.”
I shoved her to the dusty ground and walked off.
I stood at the banks of the stream that ran across the land not too far from my homestead. I studied the cool water as it rolled over the rocks. I bit into an apple. I hoped it was not a poison trick from the town witch. I thought about an old gun-slinging pal from back east who was in love with a chick named Fiona Apple. The air was full of autumn chill. I looked around for some good firewood. I spit out my cowboy-rolled smoke and gathered the wood. A colorful peacock wearing a fur coat slyly followed me back to my log cabin — when I turned quickly to catch him following me, he ducked behind a tree or some brush, but hell man, I knew he was there.
“You’re not fooling me Mr. Peacock!” I said aloud to the ice-cold and wounded sky of the Wild, Wild West. “I don’t know what you want, but I know you’re following me… I hear peacock tastes like chicken, so you better watch your step, or I’ll cook you.”
There was a colorful flurry in the brush and the peacock came out of hiding and then just started pecking at the ground as if he didn’t even see me there holding wood and breathing out frosty fog from my face.
I turned and walked away. The wood was getting heavy, and I needed to dump it.
And I dumped it right where I stored my wood right outside the cabin. It was a late afternoon of a Sunday somewhere around the year 1879 or perhaps 2079 — I had no calendar or sense of time and therefore did not know. Sorry about that, but let’s just say the world was completely different then you probably know it right now.
I piled some wood in the fireplace and fondled it with flame and tinder. There was warmth and orange light. I lit some oil lamps and unbundled my bundles of sundries and laid them out nice and neat atop my roughly hewn wooden table. There was tobacco. There was rolling papers. There were matches, soap, biscuits in a tin, coarse twine, honey, paperback novel, small slab of meat, sugar, flour, fishing line, hooks, jerky, a Fiona Apple CD called Tidal, corn husk oil, bullets, new red pajamas with footies, wool socks, sharp knife, chilled butter, three eggs from a chicken, three bottles of root beer, candles, lamp oil, pencil and paper, map, big whiskey, maple syrup and black licorice.
The Sunday peacock pecked at the window as I rolled a fresh ciggy wiggy.
“What the hell do you want? Why don’t you just piss off and leave me be to my peace and being alone.”
The damn thing started to talk to me.
“But sir, it’s getting awfully cold out here and I was hoping you’d let me sit by the fire for a while. I won’t be any bother, I promise.”
I rubbed at my wicked, scruffy face and pondered the words of the Sunday peacock.
“You’ve got a fur coat on, that should be bloody well enough to keep you warm,” I barked back at him.
There were a few moments of silence.
“All right then sir, I’ll be on my way. Sorry to have bothered you. Good night then.”
I went to the window to watch him to be sure he was indeed leaving. And he was indeed leaving, but he was singing a common tune from the new old world as he walked away … “I’m screaming in the rain, just screaming in the rain …” is how it went.
It wasn’t even raining though. It was darkening clouds of ice cubes and a biting wind that began to kick up when I went out to fetch some more wood. It was then I realized something was out there — something, someone, some living, breathing being ducked behind the thick trunk of my favorite poplar tree.
“Come out from there now!” I yelled. “Come out or I’ll find you and gun you down.”
“No!” some weepy devotchka shrieked and she jumped out of the shadows.
I reached for my horny, rigid pistol.
“Don’t come any closer or I’ll blast you!”
“No sir, please, no sir.”
“Who are you?”
“I’m the girl you met in the street today, in town. You pushed me to the ground you mean bastard.”
“What’s your name, and what do you want here?”
“My name is Fiona sir, and I’m cold and hungry. I’m sorry, I followed you.”
I strained to look. “Fiona Apple? Is that you?”
“No sir, my name is Fiona Blood Orange.”
“You some kind of Native American chick?”
“My father was, but my momma was from New York City.”
“New York City! Did she eat Pace picante sauce like a bitch?”
“I’m cold. May I please come inside?”
“Yes. Just don’t try to smoke everything in my cabin.”
She sat near the fire wrapped in a thick blanket I gave her. She rubbed at her nose with the back of her hand and just stared at the flames. I sat at my table mindlessly gnawing on jerky and thinking about what it would be like to snuggle up with this little bunny.
“Are you a bunny rabbit?” I asked aloud, not thinking.
She turned and looked at me strangely.
“What did you say?”
“I was just wondering if you liked bunny rabbits.”
“They’re fine, I suppose. Do you?”
“They sure do taste good… You just got to cook them right. You have to know how to retain the juices and keep the meat tender. I like juicy, tender meat. I don’t enjoy dried out bunny rabbit.”
She licked at her lips and tried to smile.
“I don’t eat meat.”
“You don’t eat meat? Then what do you eat?”
“Nuts, twigs, grains, plants… Apples.”
“When I can get my hands on one.”
“Love them, but only when they are nice and brown.”
“Are you a woman lover?”
“Do you lie down with women? Sexually speaking.”
“No, I do not sir, and even if I did, I don’t see how it is any business of yours.”
“My apologies. I was just curious. I need to know things.”
She said nothing to me and went back to staring at the fire, clutching the blanket closer to her body as if it were some sort of shield.
After several minutes passed, I broke the sexually tense silence.
“I only have one bed.”
She turned to look at me.
“I only have one bed. It’s my bed and I plan on sleeping in it tonight.”
“That’s fine sir. I won’t deny you your own bed. I can sleep on the floor.”
“That will be awfully cold.”
“Not near the fire.”
“The fire will go out at the coldest hour of the night. Your blood will lock up and cease to flow.”
“I’ll keep the fire going, sir.”
“You can stop calling me sir. My name is Wild Rick.”
“If you are trying to get me to share your bed, you can just put that thought out of your mind… Wild Rick.”
“What if I gave you some drugs?”
Fiona Blood Orange’s eyes suddenly widened.
“You have drugs?”
“You’re a liar Wild Rick. You don’t have any drugs.”
“What would you do if I did?”
I could tell her inner thoughts were fist-fighting within her own head.
“I don’t know!” she yelled. “That’s a terrible thing you are trying to do though, just terrible — seducing me by means of my own demons. You should be ashamed of yourself!”
“You’re the drug addict, not me. I have nothing to be ashamed of.”
I rolled over in the bed and my hand fell upon her bare breast. She stirred in her dream beneath the covers. I looked at her face as the first mellow yellow glow of dawn worked its way into the cabin. She was beautiful, yet strained and sickly. Pale yet flushed. Young yet old. Crippled yet full of boundless energy. I crawled out of bed and got dressed. I scribbled her a note and left it on the pillow beside her. It read: Dear Fiona Blood Orange, I’ve gone down to the river to catch some fish. I want you to make me some flapjacks when I return, that is, if you want more drugs. Best wishes, Wild Rick.
TO BE CONTINUED. THIS IS THE FIRST OF TWO PARTS.