Cold, Hard Kash

A Shadow Lover Tale

Darragha Foster


Chapter One

Kash Masterson kicked in her door as easily as if it had been made of papier mâché. The din rising from the saloon below muffled the sound of his boot against the fir plank barrier. Neither wood, nor iron, was going to keep him out of the room or out of the woman.

The young soiled dove had skin like milk and honey and it glowed like gold in the light of her kerosene lantern. She was about the most comely chippy he’d ever seen—and he’d visited his fair share of cathouses.

He closed the door with a second kick. The broken lock swung in time to the vibration, beating against the door like it was a snare drum.

She modestly pulled the covers up to her chin.

He approached with a drunken swagger on legs bowed from being too long in the saddle. It had been a long cattle drive from hither to yon and he deserved to tie one on proper and get a bit of lovin’ from a lady or two before he headed back out.

He pulled her bedclothes down, stripping away her hidey hole.

He unfastened his gun belt and set it on her bedside table, then unhooked the top button on his wool riding breeches.

Her eyes widened at the sight of what he had to offer her as he released the bull from the pen. He stroked his erection proudly. Even drunk he could unleash a bronco. And brother, was he ever drunk.

She said nothing; nada. She just looked at him with big doe eyes surrounded by that honey skin and long black hair. Mamacita, she was a pretty thing!

He shook off the whiskey dizzy buzzing between his ears and climbed aboard.

He dug in his spurs and set about the business of making love to the lady, expecting to hear the moans and praises all such women give their paying customers. Praises came with the dollar he’d left with the bartender for her services. For these few minutes he’d become the greatest lover in the territories. And she’d tell him so, too.

The dusky beauty under him didn’t respond as expected—she remained still and quiet as he pressed and prodded. He liked to think he could give a woman a good run for his money. Not bringing any pleasure to a lady just wasn’t how he liked things. He was paying for it, goddammit—she’d better start enjoying it!

He’d been drinking pretty heavy. Perhaps the bottle had swallowed the best of him this time ‘round. No matter—he figured he could work the filly up to a climax before he spilled himself.

He didn’t get the chance.

A sharp blow to the back of his head sent him reeling. Before he could fight back, he found himself flying across the room. He landed with a harsh, painful thud against the wall.

He heard the chippy scream—not the kind of scream he’d been expecting, mind you—but a blood-curdling scream cut short by a slew of words in Spanish he couldn’t translate for all the stars flitting about his head.

Somehow, Kash managed to stand. He raised clenched fists, ready to fight back—but stopped. The girl was still on the bed, all balled up, hiding her head and weeping like she was a paid mourner. Between the bed and where Kash had landed stood his assailant—a wild-eyed holy man; a Mexican priest with a big silver Crucifix attached to his waist. The priest’s brown robes were stained and sooty and his long hair looked plaited with mud. Kash had seen men walk the line between heathenism and the Church before—but never so dramatically. Save for the Crucifix, the priest could have passed for an Indian medicine man.

The priest sprang at Kash like a wildcat, flying at him with both fists punching while his low, angry voice streamed curses in Spanish that Kash wouldn’t repeat in a room full of the most hardcore hombres in all of Texas. “En el nombre de Cristo, yo impongo a todos los santos y los sagrados sirvientes para condenar el alma al tormento eternal por su crimen! Tú eres rio seco que por siempre buscará la lluvia de los cielos. Tú eres un campo estéril suplicando por los semillas. Buscaras el amor solomente en los brazos de mujers que nunca podras amar. Tú alma sera alimentad por sus vientres. Diós te dará la espalda. El Diablo te dará la bienvenida. La luz del día te rechazará. La noche sera aliada. Hasta que una mujer sacrifique su alma por tí, tú serás conocido como un amor demonio una sombra impura, maldecida y abandonada para siempre.”

Kash held up his hands in a peaceful-like gesture. He couldn’t fight a priest for Christ’s sake—even though this priest sure as Hell meant to do him a bit of bodily harm!

“Now wait just a minute, Padre! I’m just a cowboy getting’ a bit of lovin’! I’m not committin’ no crime here!”

“Si, hombre. You attacked this woman. She is in my charge! You rape a nun, you rape your own soul!” the priest cursed. “Tú serás conocido como un amor demonio una sombra impura, maldecida y abandonada para siempre.”

“She’s a nun? What’s a nun doing in a whorehouse?” Kash asked. He glanced over at the young woman. “She doesn’t look like a nun! And I’ve never forced myself on a woman…” he paused, casting a regretful gaze at the girl. He’d never exactly asked her permission, either.

The woman nodded at Kash, tears streaming down her cheeks. She made the sign of the cross and choked out, ‘lo siento mucho,’ between her sobs.

Kash’s own tears welled up. He was too drunk to know if he’d done the deed or not—but by the look on the priest’s face, and the girl’s—he thought maybe he had violated the young servant of God. Damn!

That was the last thing he saw—her fresh, beautiful face—her huge eyes, weeping. Weeping for him, he figured—because he died that night, sure as he’d been shot in the heart. Not from the blows dealt by the old priest—but by those damning words. They were the killing blow. The goddamn blessed curse words.

* * * *

Kash knew he was dreaming. He’d had the same nightmare enough times to recognize it for what it was. No matter how hard he tried to fight against the flow of images plaguing him every time he tried to get some shuteye, his dream-self committed the same crime he himself had committed in his drunken, reckless youth. He wanted to awaken so desperately. But never did—until the dream had played itself out.

* * * *

The loco en la cabeza Padre hovered over his corpse after he went down. Really down. Pulled down by unseen claws to the floor and beyond the floor. Through the building and through the hard-pack Arizona desert over which the saloon had been built. He didn’t go physically—only his soul went down into the bowels of Hell. His body stayed behind. Bloodied up. Probably starting to stink. He could still hear and see. He could feel, too. He felt cold. But he couldn’t move. He no longer even needed to breathe.

The priest spoke intermittently, muttering phrases in broken English and incoherent Spanish. He crossed himself as he spoke. Kash could see the fevered look on the old man’s face, but couldn’t move a damned muscle.

Maybe he’s giving me Last Rites, Kash thought.

No—that crazy old priest was praying for himself. Praying for forgiveness. Seems condemning a man to a living Hell had a catch—it condemned him, too.

Kash realized he wasn’t alone on the journey into Hell. He had company—that crazy Padre with his blasted muttering and prayers was trailing just behind him. And for Christ’s sake—he was starting to catch the gist of what the priest was saying.

Rules. He’s making a list of rules for me to follow in eternal damnation. Jesus Christ! This can’t be happening to me!



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