Prairie Town 21

"She's a son bitch."

Cross-eyed Johnson shifted his cheroot from right to left.

The doctor placed his cards face down, lifted his watch from breast pocket, flipped it open and said,  "It will be dark in twenty minutes. She'll be coming and you just called her a son bitch."

"She ain't no woman. She's a son bitch. What I called her stands."

The dealer, Heberdeen Smith, who looked like a squirrel, spoke rapidly: "If you grew up here, you'd know she would have heard you say that, Cross-eyed. She can hear good, real good, like a bat. I would say we have time for one more hand, gentlemen, with me serving as your dealer. Then I'm heading upstairs to draw my bath.."

"You boys suit yourselves," Johnson said, sliding the cheroot over to where it came from. It dangled like a weed out the right corner. "Hit me, goddammit."

Mr. Smith hesitated. "You're showing seventeen."

"Hit me with all you got, Heberdeen. You boys know I'm no coward."

Just as Heberdeen Smith's index finger touched the top of the deck, the saloon doors blew back against the wall, sounding like a bolt of lightning had just split a tree in half. There, standing under the frame, was Matilda Jenkins.

"Who called me son bitch?" she snarled. And the way she did, you might have thought she was a Pentecostal worshipper possessed by Beelzebub himself, right before her exorcism.

Cross-eyed Johnson almost fell over backward, chair scooting against the floor, as he stood. 

"'Twas me called you son bitch."

"I know twas you. I heard you call me son bitch from middle of the prairie."

"Twas me."

"Twas you call me son bitch."

Matilda Jenkins pushed her long coat to one side so everybody in the bar could see her two massive pearl handled Colt Dragoons.

"You call me son bitch, you be calling my pearlies son bitches as well and they don't like being called anything but Lulu and Miss Betty. Let me introduce you. Lulu is this one on my right. Miss Betty is on my left."

Cross-eyed Johnson shifted his cheroot, shifted it back then shifted it over again.

"Will you stop shifting that goddamn cigar around and decide what you want to do. Do you want to apologize to Lulu and Miss Betty? Or, do you want them to come out of the kitchen with their soup spoons raised?"

"Apologize," Heberdeen Smith whispered.

"Shut up Heberdeen. I'll make up my own mind," Cross-eyed Johnson hissed back. 

Matilda Jenkins pursed her lips and squinted. Cross-eyed Johnson scratched his head with one of his thumbs and looked at the two pearl handled Dragoons one more time. He heard tell of her pin point accuracy and that her hearing was as good as a bat's but didn't believe it until now. He wished that he hadn't called her son bitch because he'd need to apologize to Lulu and Miss Betty in order to keep from getting shot. He didn't want to apologize to either of them.

"Goddammit," Cross-eyed Johnson said, exacerbated.