"So, Johnny, you like to call women whores?" Molly hadn't tossed the piece of wood into the fire but was holding it between her hands.
He looked at her with disdain and said, "How did you know my name?"
She smiled, "I hear things. Like you've been beating your wife regular like for no good reason. Like you stole all of her money and have squandered nearly all it. Like your son is afraid of you. Like you can't keep a job to save your soul. But then you don't have a soul now, do you?"
Johnny bristled with undirected anger. Nothing Molly said was wrong, but her just knowing it was making him furious. He wasn't exactly sure why the whore was still talking to him much less why he hadn't simply slapped her for being so mouthy. It worked just fine with Jenny. The thought floated in his mind for a mere second, yet it looked like Molly drank in the quaint notion and somehow it was tasty to her. He found that unsettling. The whore wasn't like those he'd had in the past. He knew he'd seen her in the downtown saloon earlier, but never expected to find her at his campsite talking with his wife and son.
Somewhere in the distance he could hear Jenny calling for Ben in her hoarse whisper -- desperately trying to find the boy without disturbing the sleeping folks. The aberration of Jenny's temporary desertion of him was forgotten by the knowledge of how he would take the time later to thoroughly punish her. He couldn't have her getting any notions she could do what she wanted because some two bit whore told her to go. As for Ben -- he had been getting a bit too big for his britches lately and would taste the strap for his mistakes. A sullen warmth spread over Johnny at the thought of beating his family back into the proper shape. A man had to keep the upper hand or folks got the idea he was weak.
Molly laughed and said, "You're guessing wrong, Johnny, on how this here evening is going to end."
Affronted by her words Johnny snarled, "You and what army?"
A deep voiced man rumbled his reply from behind Johnny, "Well, boy, I know Molly could take care of you all on her own, but she's always good about sharing."
Johnny spun around to find a bear of a man had snuck up behind him while he had been squaring off against the whore, Molly. Johnny took pride in his appearance and size. He was less than happy at being called a 'boy'. Being over six feet tall Johnny usually used his size to tower over men and women and intimidated them into doing his bidding. He wasn't even up to the newcomer's shoulders. Johnny's frame was decent and he could conduct himself well in most brawls. Add in that he had shed his fair share of blood and worse. The deaths he caused, legal and not, seemed to blink away in the presence of the man.
"What are you, her boss?" Johnny blustered. He had called Molly a whore outright and was implying that the new man had something to do with her selling herself. A brave and stupid stand to take, he quickly discovered as Molly swung and repeatedly jabbed him in the stomach with one of the ends of the log.
The man laughed a rumbling sound deep from within his chest. His dark hair was slicked back and his beard was full and dark. Piercing hazel eyes watched for anyone coming to help. From where Johnny stood the man appeared to be a mountain. With his rugged looks and the type of clothes he had on it was obvious he was of the same general age as Johnny yet seemed to be somehow stronger and more alive. Besides, Johnny wasn't planning on getting up off the ground from where he had landed once Molly stopped slamming the log into him. Add in that Molly was enjoying the battering and not in any hurry to stop.
"No, I am Molly's friend. You wouldn't know anything about having a friend. Let me tell ya that I don't particularly care for my friend here being called a whore. Especially by one the likes of you, lacking any redeeming qualities that I can see." The man lifted Johnny off the dirt. His hands roughly beat the soil off him. A few of those slaps happened to land on Johnny's face and happened to coincide with the word friend.
Johnny nearly back-talked the huge man, then bit back his words as he saw Molly's face. She slid between them saying, "Ned, he's mine. I don't want him too tender."
She was smiling. It different someway there was more than the earlier crooked smile. Her teeth were longer than they should have been and her eyes were glistening with excitement.
Ned chuckled and Johnny saw he also had those oddly longer teeth. Surprisingly his mind flushed with terror. Rarely was Johnny afraid of anything. But something about these two was causing him to worry and panic. With the panic was a heart pumping a huge amount of fear and dread. He had no idea what these people were. Looking at their faces he was shocked when hot urine ran down his leg as his bladder involuntarily released his fears. Molly giggled, noticing the darkening of his trousers.
"It appears Johnny boy here has more brains than I thought. He is afraid of us. He doesn't know why ... but he is certainly afraid. He'll taste better now." Ned dropped him to the ground and Molly poked him with the log. She found all the spots she had smacked earlier precisely as if she had a map. Johnny winced and shook.
"What the hell are you creatures?" He was tucked into himself holding his broken ribs with the dry brush pushing at his face and he was completely unnerved by the two people standing over him. Instinctively he knew something was very wrong. He had seen men die and killed more than his share, but that was a different time and place and nothing like the field he was curled in a ball in his own piss nearly sobbing like a baby with pain and fear. The small whore yanked a thick shank of his hair hard bringing his face up to hers. Eyes met eyes and she smiled. It was a scary nasty smile. Johnny was hurting.
"Does it matter what we are? You'll be dead soon enough. Your wife and son will be better off once you're gone." She smiled. The teeth looked even longer.
"Get the hell away from me!" Johnny was consistent to the end. First he wanted to be in control and once he wasn't he wanted her to leave. Molly smiled and laughed softly.
In the distance Johnny could still hear his wife calling out for his son. Molly leaned in and sucked in a deep breath. She smiled even wider and her mouth moved to his face, as if for a kiss, and then she snapped the shank of his hair in her hand sharply back exposing his neck. Lips missed his as she skidded down his neck. He felt his body throb and rise to meet her. She was a whore for sure he thought and then icy cold points stunned him as she bit his neck.
Johnny shuddered and throbbed. Molly deeply drank.
Ned pulled Molly off Johnny's body. To be on the safe side he grabbed the log Molly had dropped in her haste to drink Johnny dead and briskly staked the corpse.
"Okay, Molly -- my love, now what? The lady and kid will be back soon and missing dear old dad. Or not. But we still need to move the body."
Molly wiped the last bit of blood off her face and slurred, "Don't care. Give him a stupid death. Toss him in the river or a ravine for all I care. He was a complete bastard."
He nodded and lifted the staked and drained Johnny over his shoulder effortlessly. Molly fussed with the fire and ignored Ned's glance. Ned hated when Molly got out of control. He couldn't fault her for killing Johnny because he was worthless, but every time she started killing folks it ended up bad. Very bad.
Ned walked out of the field without anyone noticing him. It was late and everyone was asleep except for Molly, Jenny and Ben. And only Molly was at the campsite. Jenny hadn't found Ben yet. Ned could hear them both thrashing about in the distance and made sure to take a different path.
He would have enjoyed tasting a bit of Johnny for his fears alone but Molly had found him first. Besides the town was brimming with folks they could easily sup off of before moving on to the next town. The migration of humans westward was a boon for vampires. The council hadn't been able to enforce their rules easily. It had taken a long time to get away from the European council and their rules, but it was worth every penny. The Civil War was a delicious time for the few vampires running around the battlegrounds. Molly had pretended to be an aid to the weary battle doctors and simply hastened what damage they had inflicted upon each other in the conflicts.
Ned had rampaged through the battles taking whoever he wanted with nobody caring. He would wear a blue or gray uniform depending on who looked like they were winning. He liked to fight on the side of the losing men. It made the meat all the tastier when the victors came face to face with him. Molly was more in the background behind the battlefields cleaning up on the fears and fallen. The Civil War had been luxurious with fears.
The Indian Wars were sporadic and harder to infiltrate. The natives of America were more likely to see them for what they were. And they really didn't much care for vampires. Most Americans didn't even realize vampires existed and when faced with them completely dismissed them and swore it was a trick. That was what he liked. Europe had grown wise to vampires and learned to protect themselves.
A trail went off to the mining areas and Ned wandered over and found an abandoned hole. Soon a few large rocks and small boulders finished the rough burial. Figuring Molly would inquire Ned took care to pose Johnny's body in a lurid position to create embarrassment no matter how long it took for his corpse to be discovered. He also took care to strip Johnny of all his hidden wealth and various personal items the family might want. Molly would get to figure all that out. She was going to stay with the woman and boy, Ned could tell.
As he made his way back through the brush and then the tents he could hear Molly talking with Jenny and the boy.
"But where'd he go?" Jenny sounded nervous rather than worried.
"I am so sorry, Jenny. He said he had been a burden too long. He was ready to pack up and leave when he saw me with you. It came to him that even with me being a city gal, I could show you around town and help you. He said he'd send one of the miners back with some things you'd need. I don't rightly know what he meant." Molly could hear Ned approaching.
Ned pulled a cap out of his coat and brushed off the dirt from moving the rocks. He knew his role and wandered to the fire.
"Excuse me. Do either of you ladies know where a missus Foley sleeps?" He kept his voice whisper soft and ducked his head.
"Ma, that man means you," Ben was wild eyed. His day hadn't gone normal and the night was even more unusual. The anticipated beating wasn't happening and he was hopeful. He curled into the nook in the bedding his ma had set up earlier in the night and settled in to sleep. He was happy his pa wasn't there.
Jenny looked up to see the huge man and cowered slightly. Ned smiled nicely and said, "Nice to meet you."
Molly just grinned -- a new town to play and now she had her first family. If only she could keep her temper in check. Ned nodded to her, knew what she was thinking. He hoped this wouldn't end like the last town either. But only time would tell.
-- Lydia Manx