The Fastest Dress in The West.

The Fastest Dress in the West.

The Sun’s pretty hot as I urge my horse around the cooley and down towards the creek. I needed to make camp soon I’m still a few days’ ride from where I gotta be. I’ll be out in California before too long I hope. There’s a gold rush going on out there and I want, no I need a piece of it.

I got too many folk depending on me.

I lead Lola (Ma Horse.) around to a bit of a promising looking spot, good water here, and a nice deep spot in the brook for some fish maybe. Good ’n sheltered here too, a bit of trees mostly pines and cottonwoods.

I get her tack and such off and lead her to a drink first thing and let her at it while I wipe her down. Then lead her to a patch of good graze. I turn my saddle over and let things air. I go looking for some grubs carefully ‘cause while there ain’t no scorpions around here you really don’t want to surprise a rattler out here. I find a few and hook’em then toss them into the brook on a line still wriggling around.

I throw up a snare too right up around a small stand of thimbleberries. I eat a few but gather them in my hat. They’re real delicate, kinda like a better kind ‘o razz berry. I find a few good eating mushrooms around the pines and stuff some spongy heads they call morels and these good brown ones called porkies or I think porcini’s is the proper word for it. Got me some wild chive and bush mint and some greens to. Ya gotta know how to forage out here in the bush.

It takes me a bit to get things ready. My fire pit and a good bunch of wood for the night. I air out my bedroll and get myself a nice little fire going. I need the coals more than the fire to cook things. I put a few of my tins I keep with me near the fire all full of sand I’ve gathered up. You set those away from yer camp and snakes won’t come looking for you to keep warm. I got a couple of tarps I use for a windbreak. If you can bury one of the ends in some sand and some stones because it’ll break the creep of the frost at night.

By the time it’s headed to getting dark I check my fishing lines. Nothing. I get them outta the water and strip naked and take a cold bath. I’m quick, because the water’s so cold. I feel it in my breasts for sure as they start aching and my nipples get hard from the cold.

Yeah I said breasts; I got what I have to say nice ones. But I’m not a girl, Well sort of. See there’s this thing the doc said I have called gynocomati-something and I started growing boobs just like a girl would when I was just eleven. I was taking after my ma who was an early bloomer.

………..It was hell wrapping them down, hiding them from Pa. And the local Pastor. It hurt, it hurt all the time, cause when you’re budding your breasts are real sensitive and sometimes the just ache or itch. Ma hid them and covered for me until they were getting bigger an bigger. It was real awkward cause my little man wasn’t different than any other young fellas, A mild wind’d have him stiff. Then ma got worried and took me inta town to see the Doc. He never had a clue and he wrote to other Doc’s. But some town gossip had found out about me.

Pa broke down the door to my room and ripped off my shirt and tore the bandages off of me. He looked, stared at my budding chest. He grabbed me and pushed me back into my room. “Pack yer things Nicholas, yer leavin.”

I was stunned for a few minute before Pa went for his guns. I honestly thought he was gonna kill me. I didn’t have much stuff but he rushed me anyhow. He threw me over his saddle and passed me his guns…all but his shotgun. “Nicky lad, lass whatever ye are you gotta go. There was talk in town about ye, there’s gonna be a mob forming. The preacher be coming. Ye gotta go.” He passed me another bag of things. I didn’t know what was in there until a few day’s later.

I remember leaving in a panic, I watched for as long as I dared from a distant hill after hearing the sounds of gunfire and seeing the cabin I grew up in burning in the evening night.

I escaped by crossing the Delaware after three days and nights in the rain with the posse chasing me. I got right full of fever then and so did Pa’s horse and I had ridden past the shore headed east and was just seein lights when I got dizzy and then the horse went down.

………I dry myself off from the creek water and twist my hair up to squeeze as much water as I can get out of it. I powder myself up with just some talc and take out another half slip then pull on one of my corsets over that. I do it up with the sides lacing and all but not tight. I want the support for my breasts and such but I want to be comfortable to boot.

No meat in the snare and no fish so I cut off a few slivers of fatback into my fry pan and toss in my mushrooms and have those with some sour dough I dig out of the tin I keep it in. Good stuff that, see a sour dough ferments and as long as ye keep feeding it sugar an flour an water then the yeasts keep breeding or some such. Anyways it’s fried bread and mushrooms with herbs and wild chives for my supper. Those Thimbleberries went down nice as my sweet. I top off my night with a kettle of tea full of the stuff I picked mostly spruce needles and some berry leaves and wild mint. I wasn’t ever much of a coffee drinker.

You’d think being out country’d be a might boring but out here it’s as peaceful as it is dangerous. Besides I got lots to do. Sharpening my knives and my hatchet, cleaning my guns, fixing bits on my tack, doing my dishes. I drop those lines back in the water now that the soaps all clear from it and brought Lola over for another drink.

I set out my snake lures and set to making my bed, I use a bit of canvas then two fleeces fur to fur as my padding then my bedroll. I slip into it with a sigh once the fires down low.

Morning comes cold and early but without a whole lotta incident. I take care of my business. And forage a bit as I check that snare and take another look for some more of them berries. Nothing in my snare so I take it up and no berries that I’m going to take. Pardon that I take five that I’m going to dry and keep for seedings. Once I get my homestead I’ll be planting them and a few other odds and ends thereabouts.

I doe find some nopalles and take two good sized flats bits. That’s a cactus for you all from out east way, a bit of a bugger to take care of and clean, a good pair of gloves makes it easier but I’m used to it. I luck out and got myself a nice 6 inch brook trout to go with it all, I can’t help it but to toss in them wild chives and a bit of my Jalapeno relish. I can tell you that’ll wake you up.

I tighten up my corset and tuck my blouse into my pants and adjust my duster over that. I check my knives and put on my gun belt and repack my gear and such and head out on Lola.

I ride out over the lowlands that start leading us both up into the Sierra Nevada Mountains so I can cross over them and into California and find a place and try and stake a claim. It’s one heck of a beautiful morning an I can’t help but have my thoughts drift back a ways as I’m riding towards my future.

………………I woke up feeling fevered and I was in a bed naked as the day I was born. Panicked, oh to be sure as can be I was panicked. Right at the foot of the bed was this big old sonovabitch. “Morning girl, boy, girly boy. I’m Lucien Morgan. I’m your new boss.”

“My boss?”

“Yup, you got that right. Seeing as I saved yer ass and now you’re beholden to me.”

I looked for my things.

They weren’t there.

I looked at him and he gave me this smile.

“Seeing as like I said, I saved yer life I took what’s rightfully mine.”

“You can’t do that! That’s theivin!”

He got up mad as a hornet in a tornado and ripped the sheets away and beat me with his cane. I screamed, I cried, I curled up and started to bawl. He threw the sheets back on me. “You neva!, neva! Says such things about me ever and I’ll beat you till yer dead! I took what’s mine an if you think that’s bad what’ll you think when I drop you off in front of some sheriff or a church naked and showing the world jus what you is!”

The only thing I could do was cower and shake with fear.

“You work fer me now. I run a Spectacle show and you’re gonna be one of ma attractions, Nancy Boyd, the girl that’s still a boy.”

I started bawlin then.

Then it got worse. He pulled a gun and he made me use my mouth on him. It was awful, then he well ya’ll get the picture. Lucien was a right bastard. “All that stuff ye had, I’m gonna keep safe fer ya there Nancy, You got some nice things in there, so ye better be good.”

Nancy Boyd, he even got the name done up proper and everything by some clerk in Baltimore. That was my name as far as the world was concerned. He thought that was right funny too.

I got put inta the care of big Mona the shows fat lady and for a few years I was what he said I’d be. He’d trot me out and show me off to the disgust of the crowds, pullin up my dress and pulling down my bosom for the word to see.

He wanted me pretty though, took me to some crazy chinaman and they slathered my with this goop all over ma face and everywhere else burned me like a thousand jelly fish and I turned red from it and even blistered. I was like that fer two whole weeks of hell and after I didn’t have a hair anywhere ‘cept on my head and ‘tween ma legs and it still just as smooth now.

I look like a woman in everyway but one.

Lucien’d get good money fer me too. Every place we went after the show there’d be men folk these buggering types who liked just that. They’d pay to have me for a night. I came to hate men jus on a lot of general principals an such. These were upstanding god fearing fellas who paid to have me. In the bigger cities it was better and worse.

I was there fer a few years until Lucien met himself a bitter end ay the hand of Julian Drake the son of the partner that Lucien had killed to take over the carnival.

I can still remember getting called into the big wagon. Julian had done killed Lucien in Baton Rouge and we was all terrified of him fer days until we made camp with another crew of Julian’s own called Drakes Wonders of the World just outside of N’orleans.

He was a good looking sort and white blonde hair and clean shaven. Dressed like a banker who carried guns. He was sipping a coffee where’d Lucien’d be already inta the whiskey. “Come on in Nicholas.”

I haven’t been called by my name in about 3 years. I felt so strange with my being in a dress and with my look and my breasts being called that.

“Is there something wrong sir?” I curtsey like I was taught to do in front of true men.

“There is I’ve heard it all.”

“All sir?”

“Everything that Lucien did to you.” Oh he wants a taste…figured. I look at him and sink to my knees settling on my dresses bustle. Then start unlacing my…his hands stop mine, I’m scared he killed Lucien.

“No, Nikki…I don’t want that, I’m flattered but you’re nobodies whore no more.”

He reties the ones I did and helps me up and seats me in a chair by the desk. He makes me a cup of coffee. It’s smooth and rich, and has other hints of things, sugar, cream and vanilla? He sets down a chest on the floor beside me.

“These are your things that Lucien took from you. I’m giving them back to you. I can’t ever make amends for what has done to you but….” He hands me an envelope, I look inside there $300 dollars in there…that’s a fortune. He takes out my Nancy Boyd papers and lights them it the small pot belly stove in the wagon. “You’re free, Nikki…I’m sorry Nicholas, I shouldn’t be calling you that, you’re not a woman…I’m sorry.”

“It’s alright, but I…I…I…don’t have a place to stay? I’m not exactly able ta live as either.”

“You can stay with the show of course; we’ll find something for you to do.”

………….I shift in the saddle and smile at the memories but not the time I was under Lucien. No, Julian and the time I lived at Drake’s Wonder’s of the World. Lucien was like just one of the things that hammered me into shape. I take a drink from my canteen and take a bearing from the sun and my compass. My life so changed after that point. I dig in a saddle pouch and take out a chunk of dried fruit and chew as much as I can. It’s better to suck on and it’s better for you than jerky. I turn Lola towards a deer trail heading in the direction I need and we follow that for awhile.

………….Things certainly did change after that point. Julian’s folk was a lot more circus folk and worldly than us who worked in the freakshow. I did lot’s of things for the first year. I tried to change everything; I got back to binding down my chest, to work as one of the men. I wasn’t as strong as I’d been. I wasn’t able to pass myself off as a lad. I kept to myself and I just couldn’t get passed what I’d become. I was half disgusted with myself, I missed my woman’s clothes, I missed…It wasn’t the sex, I kind of hated that but the way I was treated. As much as women folk are treated damned poorly in this world there’s a way of living I missed terrible, there was a kindly way that you got treated in public.

It changed when I couldn’t just slide into the showers one night. Yes showers, a contraption that ran a pump by way of a really large spring and gears to move the pumps all over a big set of water tubs one hot another cold all set into a large wagon with two stalls. It was a wonder to all of us and Julian was a bear about people being clean.

I had spent a year alone and lonely, eating by myself and such. I showered the same way. Tonight was different, we was swamped with a show with a really big turn out. So everyone’s routine had been thrown off. I had been working as shovel hand keeping things clean and even in my attempt at being disguised I wasn’t passing. I got called, girl, or miss, or Ma’am just a few times too many for me to take. I’m not ashamed anymore but I cried myself to sleep often, and I cried in the showers, tonight was no different. It was just too much and I was crying in the shower. I jumped when I felt a hand touch my back and shoulder. I turned and covered my breasts and tried to him my member too. I found myself looking into the most beautiful blue eyes I’d ever seen. Hell she was naked, her long lithe body just living art. Her name was Silent Dove; she was a Blackfoot Indian Princess all the way from the wilds of Canada. She and a few others worked as Native dancers and shouted things in war chants; she also did a falconry bit with a bald eagle. Yeah, most people don’t got a clue that Indian’s or rather Native folk don’t do that falconry stuff.

She smiled at me. Dove was known as being a lover of women folk. It wasn’t something that got around much but here in the show there were a lot of different couples. Heck Julian’s woman Naomi was a dwarf, she just looked like a half sized vixen.

She looked down at my member and then at my breasts in a very obvious way. Then her eyes softened and she took up the cloth I had dropped and the soap and once she got it frothy she stepped fully into the shower with me.

“You’re Nicholas?”

“Yes…”

“You are two spirited?”

“I…I…Don’t know what that means.”

“You are blessed. The two spirited are more balanced than the rest of us. You contain the essences of both man and woman. It’s does not come to people so strongly that they look or develop as you but rather as being one kind of person on the inside while being the opposite on the outside. You are very special Nicholas, blessed by the spirits.”

“Blessed, it feels more like cursed.”

“Amongst your people it is considered such.”

“But amongst your kind, I mean people. It’s different?”

“Yes, I am cross spirited and my choice of love has always been to other women. I have never been with a man, My spirit does not sing in me for them.”

“Oh…” I hang my head, more disappointed then I realized I was.

“It does sing for you.” Then she kissed me.

How do you describe what it was like for me?

Well good for one. Soapy for another. My god it had me stiffen in seconds and we washed and kissed each other. There is really nothing like having your breasts paid real attention to by another woman. Oh yeah, I couldn’t think like a man then if I tried even though my very first unforced orgasm happened without my member being touched. I had never knew that breasts could feel that good.

It didn’t take long before we had left there and gone to my own tent and we made love. Dove was the first woman I’d ever been with and I was her first man. It was like this beautiful thing that I’ll never forget. We made love for a long time and we snuggled into each other, Her perfect breasts against my firmer bigger ones. Yes, I’ve taken after my mother and I’ve grown rather large breasts. Dove loved my breasts and she had done such things, had touched me in such a place in my heart I loved my breasts for the first time in my life. I had never slept so well in my life.

I fell in love with Dove that night.

I stopped fighting everything that had gone on in my life that night. The next day I washed and freshened all my women’s things and Talked to Julian once I was dressed and feeling better. I stopped being Nicholas Steel and became Nikki Steele.

Dove and I didn’t exactly fall into place that easy as I though we would. She had several lovers and she lived with Monique Chiang, a France born Chinese woman who was one of the acrobats, dancers, and she spun plates and played these crystal bowls she’d fill with water. Monique is extremely beautiful as one would guess from being mixed blooded, it’s something her and Dove share, a French parent.

It hurt when we weren’t together. But Dove was Dove and what we had was more than just a fling. But for a year, we were sort of together, sort of. There were other offers from other ladies like her in the show.

Molly Gibson, who was a Brit and a bit of a bloke. No not like me but she wore an bowler hat, and a man’s vest over well not much during a show. She was a knife thrower and did a nice bit too with whips. She taught me a lot about both, actually its how she came on to me. We became good friends as well as lovers, she was much more about my tongue, than my gentlemanly parts but we did make love that way a few times too. She could never, use her mouth on me. It was just something she couldn’t get passed.

It hurt; sometimes that part of me wasn’t good enough for her or was dirty. I’m not saying Molly and I weren’t happy but it was a hard relationship. We fought sometimes and she’d use my male bits as a justification that I was wrong and mistreating her. It’s what broke us up really. I got fed up with her doing that and I screamed at her about the things that I had done to me, under Lucien. I stopped talking to her for a month. She took it hard and we’ve never really gotten that back. We’re friends still but we’ll never be lovers again.

Then there was Jasmina, who was Arabian and one of the belly dancer girls. She taught me that as well as showed me a lot about clothing too and paints and jewelry. I learned to dance with that belly dancing stuff. We never got serious and she has always been a friend. But my heart was always all about Dove.

I worked concessions awhile and danced as a clogging girl, I learned tap as well. I did a gig as Molly’s target girl. Heck I even clowned for a bit. Then I was going through my Pa’s guns while we were just camped making sure they were working right and doing some target practice. Next thing I know Julian’s there and getting me to shoot in all kinds of ways and all sorts of different ways. I know my way around a gun. Pa had me shooting both his rifle and his colts since I could. Just as I was getting all annoyed at all his badgerin me like I can’t shoot. He offers me a job and my own show. As a gunslinger, a trick shooter and I became who I am today.

“Nikki Steele, The Fastest Dress in the West.”

………….I lived the circus life for most of my life and then there were a few things that changed everything. My new job got me some fame and some money. Monique and I became friends then lovers too as Dove weren’t going to choose sides. I call her Jade like everyone else does, with her stage name being Jade-Song. We moved into the same living space and I started living full time as a woman. I liked them looking at me and feeling beautiful. I like pretty clothes and nice smelling things and such now.

But even as much as people were accepting in the show they weren’t either. There was a bit of sore feeling over all our ex-lovers and us three being together. Even more so when I ended up getting both Jade and Dove pregnant.

So the girls are home in a house we’ve rented in St. Lou, while I’m riding out here to the gold rush. I need the money, and I need to provide for my family as strange as it is.

……….I was packin my things I’d need for the trip when Dove came in. “Nikki, you don’t have to do this, we’ll manage, we always do.” Her hands circle my waist and hold me. I love this because I can feel her breasts softly pressing into my shoulder blades and now the little bit of the belly bump she has. I lean against her enjoying it. I’ve loved her for a long time. I love moments like these. My life was just hellish or limbo for so long I never thought that this was even a possibility. I stayed there for a spell before turning to face her. “There’s a chance for us from this, a better chance than we’ll ever hand here Dove. People don’t know about me but someone might eventually and in this country you being an Indian and Monique being a china doll they ain’t going to give any of us a chance. Even if they just see and think of me as a woman, they’ll still not really respect us and all, they won’t let us live and be ourselves.” She pouted and touched my sides, touched my breasts making my breath get quicker and shaky. She wasn’t playing fair. “But you’re talking about moving us away from here, away from America.”

“Yes I am, I know with enough money we can get us a great piece of land down there in Patagonia where we can set up a ranch and live as we like.”

“But what if it’s no different there than here?”

“It is different; Damian lived down there for a few years. There ain’t the same kinda culture there as here. Please Dove I need to at least try.”

“You don’t have to prove you’re this great manly provider Nikki.”

That stung me and I turned my head from her. I might have turned out to be very different that the boy I was and I’m not the man I pictured I’d grow up to be. Hell I’m admittedly much more woman now then I though I’d be and I love it, but…I’m still in some way my father’s son and….well providing for her and Jade is something of the boy/man in me that can’t get taken away. Dove turns my head so I can look her in her eyes. “Oh Nikki, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it like that. I didn’t I…this is important to you isn’t it?”

She pulled my dress down off of my shoulders and hefted my breasts in her hands…oh…I might be a tad biased but there’s nothing like the touch, the sweet gentle touch of a woman you love, that loves you back being amorous with yer lady parts.

And well you can guess were the rest of it all led to.

…………..It’s a might uncomfortable riding when yer all excited. Remembering that does that fer me. Only I got it worse than another fella might because there’s that ache I get from my breasts missing her touch too. It’s like when I miss my girls I get achy all over. Sigh…I really do miss them so much.

I’m riding on that trail for a few hours before I spot the main trail and there’s a large wagon train passing through headed the same way I am. A quick check through my spy glass and that’s for sure with the amount of shovels and picks and other stuff I assume you’d be using for mining. I get a good look at the bunch of them too, judging from the clothes they’re wearin they’re a bunch of Mormons more then likely outta Utah.

So much fer me joining up with them out of the safety in numbers thing. If they new what I really am I’d be strung up or something for being a monster or a devil woman. As it is, I’m wearing trousers and carrying weapons and look like a woman. To folk like this a woman not knowin an keeping to her place is just about as bad. Hell I’ve got my blouse partly undone to give my girls a bit of air, not ta mention a goodly bit of cleavage has givin me a tactical advantage before a few times.

I shadow them though. There’s still safety in numbers their attitudes not withstandin. Worse come to worse I’ve got my circus flyers about my gunslinger show. Being circus folk I’d get a little bit of leeway I’d normally not see.

Still I make my camp aways from them come nightfall and hide my fire in a hole I’ve dug.

They notice me on the second night we’ve traveled and are op in the highlands. I’m cooking supper when they walk up to my camp five strong, Mormon hats and all bearing guns out and everything.

“Evening.” One of them says. No Miss, Ma’am, no tip of the hat.

“Good evening gentlemen, I’ve just made a pot of coffee would you like a cup to take off the chill?” I’m trying to be nice. I’m trying to be sweet. He’s got this grim line on his face instead of a smile.

“No thank you, are you alone, have you no man?” The look he gives me ain’t friendly.

These fellows are just the kind of men I hate. They’re all puffed up an lookin down on me but every one of them’s already stared and some still are staring at my breasts.

“No sir, I don’t have a man hereabouts nor rightly have a need on one either.”

“So these pistols you are playing at wearing are yours?”

“Yessir and the other’s too.”

“It isn’t right, you will join our camp. God does not want a woman to carry a weapon.”

“I’m sorry sir but God’s never come to my aid before and a good pistols saved my life a time or two.”

“It wasn’t a request woman.” He reaches out and grabs my arm hard, hard enough to bruise.

As quick though he let’s go. My 12inch Arkansas toothpick under his chin dug in just enough. Two pull guns and I pull my free hand gun and snap off two quick shots shooting the guns out of their hands. The guy at the end of my knife looks as if he was thinking about makin a move.

“Uhn, uh, uh…Now gentlemen that’s not being very neighborly like is it. I was just camped minding my own business when you fellas wanted to start something.”

One of the ones that haven’t been brave enough to start something mouths off now.

“It’s an affront to god and man for you to go around as you are, bearing arms and clothed like a man.”

“I could give two figs of what god might think of me, I’ve been carrying guns all my life and he ain’t struck me for it yet. Now Man, I think I said I don’t have a lot of use for men. See y’all seem to think because you can walk about pissin all over things you got the right over women folk. An when y’all meet one who don’t cow-tow to ye y’all get a might perturbed. And just like now y’all think ye can just force a girl to do as ye please. So how’s it all feel ta have the shoe on the other hoof.”

The mouth piece draws on me and this one I shoot in the hand.

His other quiet feller had been all the while sneaking up behind me to make like he was gonna grab me and all.

I gripped his arm and threw him with one of my Chinese moves.

They all come at me.

I’m fast, faster then they is and I’ve had to fight like this before. The Kung-fu that Jades been showin me turns out to be payin off as I throw a couple more of them. I shoot one in his foot and the original feller that met my knife takes a big ole swing at me and I give him a side step and slash down with my knife cutting all the buttons off his fine vest, another slash and I sever him belt and another slash as he’s stumbling with his trousers down around his ankles slices the brim off his hat.

Another one tries to tackle me down and I turn again rolling my body outta the way like I’m dancing and lay him cold with my Sam Colt upside of his temple.

I back off and get to my horse and pull my shotgun out of the saddle sling and give them a stern look.

“Now y’all have just done and made all of this extra difficult now hasn’t you.”

They all scramble back looking shocked and fit to be tied. That changed when there were several fellas riding in from the wagon train.

I aimed my shotgun at them too as they rode up to my camp. It was the trail master for the wagon train.

“What’s going on here?”

“These fellers tried to attack me is what happened.”

The feller sitting on the ground with half a hat chimed in. “This heathen slut attacked us when we tried to offer her our assistance, do something! do your job!”

The man looked at them and at me and then pointed his gun at the feller with the half of a hat. “I am doing my job, Jacob Landry now you men (Oh the scorn he put into that.) Get along and consider yerselves lucky, you don’t have any idea who you just messed with.”

“You know that slut!” one of the others chimed in.

The Trail master most gentlemanly backhanded him in the face with the business end of his rifle. “Indeed I do, this gentlemen is Nikki Steele, The Fastest Dress in the West.”

He tipped his hat to me. “Ma’am it’s a privilege, I caught your show two years back in St. Louis you’ve got and amazing way with a pistol or a knife.”

I give him a big smile and give him my best show curtsey knife in one hand and shotgun in the other. “Why thank you good sir, I’m happy you enjoyed yourself and I’m more than grateful for you’re assistance.”

Angus and I talked for a bit while him and his men took fifty dollars off the five men as recompense and escorted them back to the wagon train. I stayed in my camp that night but the night after I moved myself up near him wagon and his men and while there were some there afraid of me least I corrupt them with my heathen and loose ways it was still a good time and while I didn’t really perform any gun tricks I did spin a wild but cleaned up funny yarn or two about my time in the carnival.

The day after that I dug out my fancy Spanish dress that’s red with black lace trim and rode side saddle like a lady, gloves, fancy hat, parasol and all. The looks I was getting were ranged from being stunned. I do say all dressed up and powdered and painted I’m quite a fine looking woman. Even if I ain’t really a woman. But it’s no-one else’s business about what’s under my slip but me and my girls of course.

But it was fun rubbin their noses in the fact they don’t see me as able to be lady like. Hell anyone can be ladylike, I know quite a few real women who’re just as rude and crude as any sailor would want to be.

I might not be a woman wholly in body but in my heart I’ve become one enough to become a lesbian. For y’all who don’t know that’s what Dove and Jade are; Two women who love other women.

It’s pretty country for certain as we come down from the passes and into the territory of California. I really enjoyed the first day riding in, mostly just us and nature and such. But the next day we really quickly seen a lot of stuff I’m not sure that I like.

There’s other wagon trains and such here and there. I see patrols on horseback of the army here and there.

My heart goes out when I see the state of Dove’s true countrymen. The natives here are living in poor conditions getting paid next to nothing for working land that rightfully should be theirs and traded fairly with. Instead it’s damned near slavery here and these once proud people are quickly being reduced to the downtrodden trash that seems to be the way that the White’s in this country want them.

It’s damned sad and the more I see the madder inside I get. This is no way for these people to live.

But there’s the rub, we just keep coming. An endless flood of bodies and white faces and guns and cannons and an entire army more that ready to fight and kill those whole don’t follow in step with the way we want things. I’m sickened by the thought of it. Angus tells me that the native lands were pretty much taken from the local tribes as property of the United States of America. By right of conquest no less. Now they got to try to live as we’d have them live but not as fellow human beings, not as equals.

It’s not much better for the Blacks or the Chinese here either.

Coloma is a very pretty spot or well it used to be. The area used to be from what I could tell forested with flowerin Dogwood, olive hued oak trees and big and beautiful cedars and the once lovely American river. Now on getting here it’s a boom town with the mucky streets and the stink as well as the hastily built businesses and stores and stall but just as bad are these miners shanty towns sprung up here or there and just about anywhere where they think they could get themselves a claim on the land.

White actually doing the job of mining, or digging or pretty much dredging the riverbed for gold was being done by the minorities I told you about. The land looked raped and gouged ad the river was a bloody mess. I’m not sure if the fish that were there would’ve survived all that mud and silt from it all not to mention all the waste from the people and chemicals to check if the gold is real. I’m not eating fish from it, my horse ain’t gonna be drinking from it.

***

I’ve been in the territory now for three months. I’m fairly pissed off and miserable seeing as everyone see’s me as a woman and they’re certainly not about to give me a fair shake about anything to do with getting myself a claim.

Both the bankers and the local law seem to see fit to back that up. I’ve lost track to the number of times I’ve been told to go whoring. There’s a lot of bad blood between me and several bunches of Mormons and the other religious types who wish to see me put in my place and more often than not hanged or burnt at the stake.

I’ve been attacked fairly often and I’ve stopped going out at nights. Truth be told there ain’t much law here and what is can be easily bought with a bit of gold. I’ve been living at the Lucky Seven where I am using my talents as a gunslinger to settle fights and keep the peace. Three months and I’ve been in about sixteen fights, I shoot to wound or to disarm as best the situation calls for but I’ve shot four men dead when they wouldn’t see to calm down or see reason. The pay’s fair and I’ve made money off the odd shooting match or three a day. There betting and gambling as my old posters from my show are all over the walls of the bar’s mud room.

“NIKKI STEELE, THE FASTEST DRESS IN THE WEST!”

There’s always guys wanting to challenge me and it’s all sorts of speed and target shooting, even snuffing a candle from 30ft with a bullet. It’s not just money or gold I win some of the times, it’s small claims to mining patches. See they could try and keep me from getting a claim but they couldn’t do nothing when the claim was passed to me and witnessed. I couldn’t work them myself and soon had myself Hiring both some of the local Indians as Well as some of the Chinese I got better service being able to speak a bit of both languages and actually paid them all a decent wage and a decent share. 70% of all the gold they dug up was theirs to split amongst them and 30% for myself.

Oh That made me infinitely unpopular and such.

***

It’s been almost a year and I’ve made my fortune, I’ve 313lbs of gold with me for myself and another near 1800lbs for my employees and we’re heading out of this cesspit of lunacy. I hadn’t meant to but I’m taking my employees with me. That’s about 34 families of native americans, 14 families of Chinese and 22 Black folk and with me is four women who’d been in the former employ of one of the local whorehouses. I gotta take them with me. There’s a whole lotta folk who’ll take the hard dug gold from them in a heartbeat.

The first and second day that we’re riding out to San Francisco is peaceful. We’ve gotta ride it because there’s none too many that’ll take the kind of people I’m traveling with on a riverboat to get us to San Francisco. I want to protect them so I had bought several rifles and shotguns and pistols. I had to pass these out on the trail because if the people around these parts saw me arming these folk, even some of the most kindly folk would have a fit and had me lynched.

It’s a good thing I did though.

It’s the third night or rather the evening of and we was setting up camp when some of my out watchers called out. Forty riders were headed our way. We circled our wagons and I took my rifle and lit outta there and ran heading up into the rocks and the brush. There was a bit of panic but we had talked about it over the last few days. I really shouldn’t be doing this in my nice cream bordered sandy peach linen dress but I wanted to look respectable for the people we’d meet on the road. The more up and up we looked the less trouble we’d get from the regular folk.

As the riders pull up, I see faces I know pulling bandannas over faces. Jacob Landry is leading them with what looks like several of the fellas I’ve beaten out in the shooting contests and had taken some of those mine claim deeds, rounding out the group was several soldiers out of the army, some officers too.

“Whore!, Whore! You ain’t leaving this place with thet gold do you here me Whore!”

They fired at my people as they rode around them.

“You’re an offense ta God Almighty and his Prophets you unnatural woman, you treat these animals as if they be the children of God!”

I aim and shoot three men off their horses, dead. I’m not fooling now. I hitch my skirting and run low changing position. My people are firing back another two of them drop. They’re too busy to track me…I can’t help but holler out. “For shame Jacob, ain’t it yer own teachings that say the Indians are one of the lost tribes of the Jews.”

He snarled enraged and fired in my general direction several times.

Bullets whizzed by my head. “When I use My gold and this I’ll have the means you bitch I’ll change things to me as they ought! Men’ll be proud again and we’ll never have to suffer these inhuman dogs like these and right thinking men’ll never have to hear the sound of a satan’s whore like yerself!”

He and his other’s fired on my people again.

I see people go down, good people, my people.

I fire back and drop three more.

My people fire back, more of Jacobs people fire back.

Then one of my wagons explodes as I drop two army troopers. My rifle’s out and I started to reload. When it blew.

Jacobs got a torch and a bundle of dynamite in his hand.

“Nikki Steele you fucking bitch!, You git out here, Or I’ll blow them all to hell where you came from!”

I use the one bullet in my rifle to shoot his horse. Jacob and his horse and the TnT plus his torch went down.

The raider’s were firing a lot better now, someone, probably one of the army fellas giving them orders.

My people are getting hurt an killed.

I step out of my area of cover and start walking towards them. I adjust my colts.

“Hey you fuckin cowards, you want me, you have me!”

Most of them turn. “It’s her!, git the whore!”

They draw on me.

I’m faster.

My world blurs down to the gunfight, it’s all moving like times slowed down as I draw and fire on them.

Bullets pass me and I swear I can see them plain as day.

I kill as many as I can.

But there is more of them than there is of me.

I dodged five bullets before three of them found me.

Then darkness…

***

I’m not sure how long I was down, I thought I was dead. The world was moving gently up and down and back and forth. I tried to talk but my mouth was as dry as Nevada itself.

Gentle soft lips touch mine and Dove swims into focus.

Another kiss and Jade’s lips are touching mine.

“Where, what happened?”

“You killed enough of them they decided to go for easier prey and ran.” Dove said.

“Where are we.”

Jade smiles at me gently. “We’re just off the coast of Argentina, we’ll be where we want to be in two days love.”

“We made it.”

Dove smiles at me. “Yes love we made it, we’re finally going to be home.”

I smile and reach out to both my girls and they both sit on either side of me taking their turns kissing me as I rub their much, much bigger baby bumps.

“Home.’

And right now, that’s just being back with them.



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