Sundown was the busiest time to visit the Bonnie Lass. Men had needs and Miss Bonnie’s gals aimed to please. Like prize peacocks, they strutted their stuff around the saloon floor, adept in the art of separating lonely men from their money.
Most of those men were lonely for a reason. Ugly, mean, miserable, alcoholic slimeballs without a dime to their name and no accomplishments to speak of.
Of course, in any brothel, there’s the occasional man who isn’t so bad but just can’t get out of his own way when it comes to chatting up a member of the fairer sex.
Once in awhile, there’s even a man who, despite all the odds against him, charms the ladies into having a good time.
Doc was one of those men. A scotch in one hand and a cigar in the other, he sat in a comfy chair in a back corner. Martha and Annabelle sat in front of him, listening intently to every word Doc had to say. Jeanette, an import all the way from Paris, claimed Doc’s lap for herself.
“And so I said to the Queen, either you’re terribly ill, or you need to return these mangoes to your grocer immediately!!!”
The ladies lapped it up. “Oh Doctor,” Annabelle said. “You are too much!”
“What a life you’ve lived!” Martha added. “You really met Queen Victoria?”
“But of course, my dear, but of course!” Doc said, swirling his glass around. “A delightful woman I must say. She suffered from ghastly stomach cramps and not a single physician in London was able to properly diagnose her. Naturally, she sent for me, having heard of the yeoman’s work I did as personal physician to the Raj of India.”
Martha’s eyes lit up. “You’ve been to India? Get out!”
“I shall get it, madam!” Doc said. “The Raj. What a fine fellow. Oh, how I miss Calcutta. The cuisine, the people, the festivities…oh! But I’ll tell you as wonderful as my time there was it pales in comparison to the wonders of the world I saw while I traveled throughout Africa with the Bushmen of the Kalahari.”
“My stars,” Annabelle said, clutching her hand over her heart. “What were they like?”
Doc puffed on his cigar. “Splendid gentlemen the lot of them. They had an aversion to trousers but in that heat, who can blame them really? Do you know that one day I spotted a hungry lion who was gazing upon one of the children as if he were a particularly tasty snack?”
“No!” Martha and Annabelle said together. Jeanette wasn’t much of a talker. She preferred to wiggle her hand between two open buttons in Doc’s shirt and play with the fast talker’s chest hair.
Doc closed his eyes. “Oh ladies, please, I’d rather not discuss it…”
“Please!” Martha begged.
“No, no, you’ll think me a blowhard when all I did was what any man in my position would have done.”
“Land sakes alive, Doc!” Annabelle said. “Now we gotta know!”
“Oh, if you insist!” Doc said. “I socked the unruly beast in the nose, strangled it to death with my bare hands and now its gruesome head adorns the wall of my family’s summer cottage in Nantucket. The tribe was so pleased that they made me an honorary Bushman of the Kalahari!”
“They did?” Annabelle asked.
“Indeed, and between you and I, my dear…”
Doc paused for a moment then leaned in to revel in the transfixed look on Annabelle’s eyes. “…I’m well versed in the ways of the bush.”
Annabelle pondered that statement for a second, then covered her mouth and playfully slapped Doc’s arm. “You’re terrible!”
“I know my dear!” Doc said as he took a sip of scotch. “I’m so very, very wicked!!!”
More laughter. Meanwhile, the spirits of the three sad sacks at the bar weren’t as high as the good doctor’s.
“I will never trust a man that breaks bread with Injuns, no way, no how!” Blake said, nursing his beer.
“I don’t like it,” Burt said. “Something’s fishy about the whole thing.’
“Aww hell, we all look like cowards now,” Waldo said. “You know, I bet that’s why Slade recruited them Injuns to help him in the first place! Just to make us look bad.”
Miss Bonnie, all dolled up in red can can dress, bellied up to the bar.
“Jesus H. Christ, the three of you put together don’t have enough brain power to warm up a biscuit. The only reason why the Marshall reached out to those Injuns was because none of you would lift a finger to help him and don’t you forget it.”
Bottle crack. Chair smash. The first rigged card game related fight of the evening.
Ernie Gunderson swore he saw a spare King of Hearts drop out of Mitch O’Connell’s sleeve, but Mitch steadfastly maintained his innocence with an uppercut to Mitch’s jaw. Tim Shea, never one to miss out on a good fight, lifted his bottle high in the air and was about to bring it down on the first head he could find when a perfectly placed shot shattered it into pieces.
The chaos stopped and all eyes were on Miss Bonnie, who was now holding a smoking derringer. In her rebuke to the crowd, she started out slowly, then built her way up to an ear splitting crescendo.
“Do you think…that it would be too much to ask…that you…ASSHOLES…LEARN HOW TO PLAY WITH YOURSELVES…WITHOUT TEARING THE PLACE APART FOR ONE GODDAMN NIGHT?!”
Hats were off and heads hung low. The collective response? “Sorry Miss Bonnie.”
The proprietor tucked her piece back into her garter belt. The degenerates returned to normal, or, as normal as they got.
Doc, upon hearing the shot, had ducked for cover and sent Jeanette crashing to the floor in the process. He stood up and dusted himself off.
“Pardon me, ladies,” he said. “Reflex action, you see from…from…”
The ladies waited for an answer.
“From my days in the service of President Lincoln! Yes, that was it exactly!”
“You?!” Martha asked. “Worked for Lincoln?”
Doc grabbed his forehead as if he was suffering from an traumatic mental burden.
“Oh, yes…yes, my dear I was the President’s Chief Medical Advisor but please don’t ask me to relive that tragic day. I swear I pummeled John Wilkes Booth within an inch of his life but his six henchmen overpowered me. Oh, how I pray that one day I shall be able to forgive myself.”
“Booth had henchmen with him?” Annabelle asked. “I never knew that!”
“Oh my dear,” Doc said as he wrapped an arm around Annabelle. “There are so many things about this world that the powers that be keep from you that if I were to tell you half of them your faith in humanity would be shaken to its very core.”
“Gosh,” Annabelle said. Martha, not to be outdone, took Doc’s other arm.
Jeanette finally woke up. “Sacre bleu!”
“Ladies,” Doc said. “I don’t mean to intrude, but have you ever been properly examined by a Harvard trained professional?”
“I can’t say that I have,” Martha said.
“Me neither,” Annabelle added.
“Come then,” Doc said as he led the trio upstairs. “Let us retire to more comfortable quarters for I’ll have you know I am a master of the gynecological arts and when it comes to your health and well being I will leave nothing to chance!”
“Oh my,” Martha said. “This sounds serious.”
“Medical matters are always serious,” Doc said. “But don’t worry, my dear, I’ll give the three of you a discount rate for my services.”
“That’s mighty generous of you doctor,” Annabelle said.
“I know,” Doc replied. “I truly am devoted to my patients.”
Martha pulled a roll of bills out of her brasserie and handed it over to the physician.
“Will this be enough?”
“Hmm,” Doc said. “It’s a good start and you have an honest face. I’ll just bill you for the rest my dear.”
“Oh thank goodness,” Martha said.
“Trou du cul,” Jeanette said, rubbing the sore spot on the back of her head from when Doc dropped her on the floor.
Back at the bar, Miss Bonnie was pouring over a wad of cash, counting up the evening’s haul. It was a good one, as per usual.
The double doors parted ways and in walked Slade.
Yup. The joint was filled with men with needs and even the fine, upstanding Marshall wasn’t any different. As our hero and Miss Bonnie traded glances, it became clear that one thing and one thing only was on the Marshall’s mind.
Miss Bonnie had something that Slade desperately needed and he wasn’t going to leave without it.