by Jhonny Shah
Sam and I began our walk through town, in the mid-day sun, which can be almost a chore in itself. The sunbaked bricks of Main Street faded into the desert. It was hard to see this town as little more than a glorified Oasis on Lux Highway. The only one excited to be here at all, was the Bossman.
The young doctor Sam, didn't have much to say at all on the crosstown trek back to the wagons. She was hard for a wagonman to appraise, especially one as green as myself. She appeared to be dressed very plain and seemed to prefer to be called Sam. She shared much of the same features as the others in the area. Nothing really stood out about Sam at all, as she was stoic and expressionless. Yet, the Bossman certainly didn't waste any time getting her to sign a contract as a trail medic.
Approaching our wagon, at the far end of Main Street, I pointed to our small outfit near a stable, just outside of town. Trekking away from the strip, we could see a familiar granger, keeping a sleepy eye on our mounts, while lounging casually on the ground, in some make-shift shade, behind the wagon. As Red's wide-brimmed hat rose up slowly, I knew something was coming by the apparent grin on his unshaven face.
" Well, ain't we the luckiest wagon on Lux highway. Hello M'lady."
"Gotta say, getting ironed don' sound so bad now, duzzit Chavo?" Red barked softly, tipping his hat. Red scooted a stool, just short Sam's path, as we came under the tarp. Sam passed Red silently, as I opened the wagon the back of the wagon for her. Before I could explain, Sam quickly and methodically found a place for her gear in the back compartment, more or less where it would go.
Red pulled out a strange bottle of whiskey from behind his gear, that he was using to cushion himself and tossed the bottle to me. The color of the liquid threw me off, as it was bright green, with a diabolic incubus drawn on the bottle's label. The granger was known to get a little too 'pished', as he calls it but we did have some time before the market opened and Bossman still had some dickery to do. "Don' ya try and boss Sam, she knows what she's doin'. Have ya some bitters, It'll clean ya out, head to arsh. ", Red chuckled and patted the stool. Sam had apparently already moved to examine the horses.
"I'm more worried about ya running off and getting ironed now", I said, taking a swig of his wicked concoction, "or worse, ya might wax off our new saw."
Red's casual cool seemed to dissipate and as if something took his pish, he appeared sober. Only knowing him for several weeks on the road, I had already discovered, neither of which ever did happen very often. Red's voice was lower and on a serious noted, he spoke " I don' know what ya reckon of saws but that woman is a real saw."
"Ya sound like ya got backtime with her, Red", I said with a grin.
"Believe it, if she was waxed, she'd have sawed my head off.”, declared Red as he wiped the sweat off his face with a rag, he then stretched and tried his best to, at least, appear relaxed.
"Pass the Pish", sighed Red, as he slid a crooked cigar out of his leather, striking a match on his boot, to light it. Following a long solemn swig, he relaxed again and looked ready to spin a story. Red was known to tell some tales and they were usually amusing. After a brief silence, Red took a long drag and spoke, "Sammy the Saw, yeah I have some back time with her, Chavo."
"We didn't have a wagon in our back time, mind ya. She rode with us as we drove a herd east, through those feudin' bangers, some seasons back. It looked like an easy job to a granger like me but partway through, we had some bangers on our herd, quick as a dicker. They outnumbered us, at least 2 bangers to one but none of 'em even had any irons but every banger had a blade ready to splash us. Did ya know Sam has a Blade?"
I hadn't noticed what kind of gear exactly that Sam had placed into the wagon a while ago. However, I could recall her hanging a long bundle near the back that looked to have a sword handle poking out of, near the door. Glancing at the wagon, I noticed the handle stuck out in a way, so that it could be drawn rather quickly, from the back of the wagon. This gave Red at least some credibility.
"Anyway, up 'till then, I figured she must be mute, mostly 'cause I never heard her even spew a hur till that day. As we're drawing, she called out their leader, who come to find out was hiding on our flank with a boomstick. "
"No way, ya just love drekkin' me, don' ya." I chuckled in disbelief.
"I'm not drekkin' ya, Chavo. Ya see, one thing her kin and those bangers have in common is some kind of honorable splash. Not only does every man, woman and child among 'em, all learn to use a sword but that's how they handle their own. It runs deep in 'em, from what I reckon, refusing an honorable scrap like that, can cost ya your place in their boneyard. They say a shameful soul won' be welcome in the afterlife or some drek like that. "
Red pulled off his poncho and revealed an area of scar on his lean, bare torso. It was probably done with a scalpel, on his left shoulder. "Looks like a nasty iron", I remarked, "did Sam do that?"
Red laughed and pointed out some scars that were hardly noticeable on his right arm and said, "Sam pulled some ironed lead out of my right arm. Did a damn fine job, ya can hardly tell, hur?"
"After her and I got friendly, "he continued, "she did the nasty mark on the other arm. Right after she found out that I got bit by a snake." "Ya are so full of drek, Red", a soft feminine voice sighed.
Sam's hand appeared out of nowhere to seize Red's mysterious bitter bottle, "he means the kind of serpents ya find under petticoats.", she said carefully wiping the glass with a rag.
"Help yourself" Red squinted at her, "so anyway, her dabster advice was to let her cut it off or just let it rot off, hehe. Did I mention how much I missed you?"
Sam smiled slowly and took a long drag of whiskey.
"Then a few days, after she got a chance to cool off, she gave me something to help clear it up", Red smiled fondly at her, watching her drink. "but I hope ya know, I love ya more, now."
As Sam gave me a sideways glance, the look of horror of my face must have fueled her wicked smile to echo into a haunting giggle. I felt the green concoction working it's magic as the air around us seem to be spinning into dream.