“You don’t have to do this,” Lottie said as I was about to finish Landro in the alley.
“After what he did to you?” I said. If Lottie wasn’t there, I’d have killed him already. But with her it was like having a good angel on both shoulders. She was my worst good influence.
“I don’t want you do it.”
“I don’t want you to either,” Landro said through lips I’d split five ways.
“I don’t want you to get in trouble for something I…”
“You didn’t do anything, Lottie. He’s a coward and needs killin’,” I said.
“I didn’t mean it,” Landro said, a tear in his voice and a torrent streaming from what was visible of his right eye.
I should’ve shot him when he came out of the bar, but I was walking Lottie home, still jumpy as a kitten.
“Her thtockings showing, riding astraddle that plug with the missing shoe, giving me the eye. She was asking for it,” Landro said.
I kicked him again. He was asking for it.
“Ted, take me home. Please.”
“All right. Landro, you’re lucky this girl’s more forgiving than any saint.”
I guess my threat worked. Landro was gone in the morning. Never saw him again.
Week later, some Buffalo Soldiers found a body about twenty miles from town. Said Apaches left him naked, face smashed in by a rifle butt, manhood tossed in a patch of cactus. Two sets of tracks.
Funny, one of them had but three shoes.
A 250-word story drafted for Siobhan Muir’s weekly Thursday Threads contest. Had to use phrase “You don’t have to do this.” I led with it and followed that trail. This one will be expanded into something even more grown-up someday.