Today’s Old West expression: Calico Queen
Like we do today, the cowboys of the old West used a good bit of slang. Calico Queen was used to describe a prostitute. He’d visited a calico queen last night.
Keeper Tyree is an aging bounty hunter who lives by his own set of rules. He’s a hard man, but he’s just, and his word is his bond. He’s a loner and likes it that way. Then Cathleen O’Donnell catapults into his life looking to hire his gun. Josiah Pardee has killed her boy and she’s out for vengeance. Somehow all his hard and fast rules, including working alone and minding his own business, crumbles in the face of the immovable widow he now works for. He finds himself rescuing soiled doves, a myopic bookworm more suited to city life than the Wild West, and an hombre being dragged to death by angry cardplayers as he tracks down the murdering sidewinder Josiah Pardee.
He threw his legs over the bed, held his head and groaned. At forty-six he was too damn old to be drinking that much rot gut. Ten years older than the average life span in his profession. Still and all it had paid off. Pardee, drunk on his ass to hear one of the saloon girls tell it, indulged in a little pillow talk. Pillow talk, that with a little sweet talk and a couple double eagles, she’d been happy to share. Pardee had headed for the Kansas Badlands until things cooled down. Apparently, the townspeople didn’t take kindly to a sixteen-year-old being gunned down, especially one that wasn’t even wearing a gun. It had happened when Keeper had been out of town and the news had moved on to the next scandal by the time he’d got back.
He pulled up tan canvas pants over long johns, shoved his feet into worn boots and strode to the window. A gold ball of glory flirted on the pink-colored horizon visible between the timber joists of a building going up across the street. The quiet of morning in direct contrast to the shootings and rabble rousting of last night. He splashed water in the basin and washed up, finished getting dressed then headed downstairs, a flask in his vest pocket. A little hair of the dog in his coffee would offset the hammers pounding at his skull.
He pulled out the hard-backed chair at his favorite table in the dining room and dropped down. From here he could see both the entryway and the kitchen. Part of the reason he was an aging gunman instead of a resident of Boot Hill was an abundance of caution. Drink might slow him down but he could always function.
Sandra is a vegetarian, animal lover and avid gardener, and also writes as S. Cox. She lives with her husband, their dog and cats in sunny North Carolina.
Her stories consist of all things Western and more. She is a category bestselling Amazon author, Eppie finalist and award winner.
Order link: https://tinyurl.com/KeeperTyree