I looked up from sweeping the floor in the cavernous warehouse, and saw something I never expected to see. Something that made me rub my tired eyes and wonder if I had been smelling too much solvent.
Sure enough, it was a cowboy leading a horse and I could have sworn something about him was familiar. Of course, I grew up around a few cowboys, but that was a long time and a whole life ago. They weren’t great memories he was stirring up.
I swear to God, I’m not lying. He had on boots, chaps, and a big old dirt-colored cowboy hat. I could hear the heels of his boots clocking against the cement floor and his spurs jingling.
“Hey!’ I cried. “Why the hell have you got a horse in here? The damned thing is shitting all over my floor!”
“Darlin’, don’t be so fussy. You always were a fuss-budget, Jamie,” was the answer.
Oh, I knew that hateful voice and my face flushed.
“You asshole,” I hissed. “What the hell are you doing here? I’m the janitor of this building but I’m ain’t picking up your horse’s shit. Git out. And take the shit with you.”
Lord a’mighty, it was Percy McGill, and eternity wouldn’t have been long enough for me to never see his face again.
“Jamie, darlin’, I’ve come to get you and take you away from all this,” Percy drawled. He lifted his head slightly as he came near, and I could see that smile, those eyes, through a red mist.
I stood there in my janitor’s coveralls, ball cap on my head and dirt under my fingernails. I could feel my face starting to crumple, but I wasn’t going to let it. I smelled the odor of horseflesh, and shivered.
“If I need rescuing, I can rescue myself, pal. This ain’t cow country and you ain’t no shining knight on that horse. You’re a horse’s ass, and you can kiss mine. Now git on out, a’fore I call the cops.”
Percy stopped where he was and the horse stopped behind him, as well behaved as Percy wanted his women to be. He didn’t expect this kind of response, I could tell, and I was glad I had him off-kilter. I had to keep it that way or things could get ugly.
“You’re a feisty lil’ filly, I’ll give you that. Not such a fine lady now, are you?” He sniffed. “Your daddy sent me to find you and I aim to bring you back where you belong. I’m your destiny, Jamie , so come on and fulfill me.” The snide smirk on his face was more than infuriating.
“I’m not sixteen anymore, you idiot. This is a free country. You been fulfilling yourself for so many years what’s a few more? I’m happy where I’m at, and tell Daddy I ain’t a bale of hay to be tossed around with no never-mind.” I could feel my pulse throbbing in my temples.
Do you think any of this pierced that hide of vanity this jerk carried around? Hell no, his skin was as thick as a rhino’s and he was just as stupid.
“C’mon Jamie, you know there’s something here and you want it. Stop fightin’ and come on home back where you belong.” He looked disdainfully at the overalls I was wearing and the cap on my head, and my blood started to boil.
“You’re not fit to lick my boots,” I told him. “You just want me for the ranch, and believe me when I tell you, you’ll never get it. I’m off limits to you. I’d rather marry that horse.” I gritted my teeth.
Percy flushed and looked murderous. “Now Jamie, that was mean. What did I ever do to you that made you feel this way?”
That opened the floodgates, and ten years of pain and regret came rushing out.
“Remember a certain innocent sixteen year old girl, Percy? Remember the promises you made to her?” I stood, trembling, my hands wrapped around the broom with a death grip. “Remember what she did when she realized you wanted me instead, all for the ranch?” Tears threatened and that made me even madder. “Becka was my best friend and you used her and tossed her aside. Do you even visit her grave? You should. You’re the reason she’s there.” I felt like stomping my foot, but I was a woman now, not some stupid little cowgirl. “Now git on out of here. You ain’t never gonna be nothing but a lousy ranch hand because you ain’t never getting me.”
He didn’t even look ashamed. He looked pissed and I dropped the broom and stood fast, just like my daddy taught me, because I knew what Percy was capable of. He swung himself up on the horse, and came to get me. I felt the adrenaline pumping, making my legs feel like lead. I pulled the pearl-handled snub nose .38 my momma gave me for my sixteenth birthday from my back pocket, and fired. Right between the eyes. The horse reared and Percy fell off.
Percy is now at rest in a tiny plot behind the warehouse, covered by the new dumpster that came in last week. When he didn’t return, I’m sure Daddy got the message. I sent a card to Becka’s mother, and I bet you’re wondering about the horse.
I sold him for a pretty penny, and I daresay he don’t miss Percy neither.