|Undressed for bed.|
Privacy Is Needed
Ragtail heard enough of Rose’s declaration of innocence and waved away her excuses.
“You don’t need me anymore. Grind up those seeds, stir in water ‘til you make it like a runny oatmeal, and feed her.”
“OK,” Rose said, giving up on what must have been her favorite subject. “How much?”
“I don’t know. All of it, I reckon. I never heard of anyone using gourd seeds. It probably won’t work.”
Her stunned expression caused him to hurry the details along.
“An hour after she finishes the seeds, mix up the mud that Lark brung back into a thin slush. She should drink one good swallow or two little ones.”
“Are you serious?”
“Yep. Here, I’ll donate this.” Ragtail dug around in a pocket of Damn Donkey’s pack and pulled out a leather draw-string pouch. “Hold out your hand.”
“What is it?”
“Salt. A little flavor for the mud.” He placed a few coarse granules in her palm.
Then, swinging a finger a Rose and Lark, he invited them to leave. He and Damn Donkey wanted to bed down.
A matter of social pride for Ragtail was that he never slept with his boots on. Only the lowest desert-rats did that. Their argument went that you had to shake ‘em out in the morning for scorpions, so why bother taking them off?
It was true. Ragtail had to beat his boots together upside down, and often one or two of the ugly creatures fell out.
For Ragtail, removing his boots was the civilized thing to do. It honored mankind by telling the desert that all day he had to survive by its rules, but tonight he would show a little human dignity.
However, his human dignity went slam up against his personal modesty. How could he undress like that in the middle of all these wimmin? Civilization won.
# # #
The quarter moon’s position told Ragtail that he had only slept two hours before Damn Donkey’s restlessness woke him. He raised his head to listen. Sure enough, Lark was singing. If one of those high notes set his partner to braying, he’d get his shotgun and put some sting in Lark’s britches.
The sound of running feet heralded the arrival of a breathless Rose. “Come on. Something’s happening. It’s moving.”
Ragtail held up a blocking hand. “Please, I’m not fully dressed.”
Rose walked to Ragtail’s bedroll and inspected him to the point where he felt heat on his face.
“Don’t you want to be there to see if your cure works?”
“That’s one place I don’t want to be.”
“What do we do?”
“If you see it coming out, grab it and pull.”
Rose spotted them. “Your boots? Yeah, you’d be one of those. Okay, I’ll take your instructions back. Kettie’s so worried that she’d grab the devil. Anything I can do for you first, Sweetie?”
It was too much. Being caught undressed by a woman that refused to acknowledge his boundaries, and moreover called him by a name favored by dancehall girls sent his embarrassment over the pointed moon. Someone had to pay.
“Uh … I guess. Can you find a rock that’s comfortable in your hand?”
“Sure, one’s right here.”
“Fling it at the singer.”
Ragtail heard a satisfying thud and yell from Lark.
Rose took off running.
Will Ragtail get to sleep? Leave a comment.
To read the series, click on September in the Archive list to the right and start with Tales Old Roy Told.
Writing Fiction is published on Wednesdays.
Thank a veteran.