(Originally published 4/20/2011)
Sandy focused as the silver ball arced around the top, abruptly stopped, then reflected sideways. She held her breath. This was the path her best games started. Repeated pops and bounces, the flicker of lights didn’t pull her attention – she was all about where it was headed. Left flipper. Left flipper. Anytime now. Her hand was ready but she knew the machine so well she waited. Timing was everything. Come to mama baby. She snapped the handle, felt the satisfying thump as she caught the ball perfectly, watched it sail into the forest of bumpers, heard the repeated ding of the bells signifying she was well on her way to another replay.
The sound of the bar receded to the inaudible point. She was in her zone, hands nervously tapping the flippers as she waited. Another chorus of bells, the flash of lights, distracting if you never played the game, an annoyance if you did. She glanced up, attention gone for a split second – her score was on track. A single ball and four replays so far. She felt hot tonight. She had three thousand points to beat her best, anybody’s best, on this machine. The ball slowed, nearly stopped. Her heart pounded. Come on, baby, keep going. If it stopped it would dribble around the pin it was near and she would lose it down the center. She brought her knee up sharply against the bottom of the table, hoping against hope she could force it over. About eighty percent of the time it worked. A loud buzz and the light on the top of the display began to blink. Damn, she got caught again.
Sandy felt a hard swat on the seat of her jeans. She screamed and turned around, her tiny fists cocked, looked straight at a barrel chest wrapped in a filthy shirt. Only one man was that big and that dirty.
“I tol’ you to quit doin’ that, didn’t I?”
She swallowed. Bubba was big and tough. Worse, he was mean. And it was his bar.
“Sorry my ass. The repair guy says he spends more time fixing that machine than any one on his route. And you’re the only one who plays it. You’re wreckin’ my machine. That machine’s a damn sight older than you are. Have a little respect.”
She burned inside. How dare he. She looked around. Everyone was waiting for something to develop. He was way too big for her to start anything. She backed down.
“I said I’m sorry, Bubba. I won’t do it again.”
“Well you better not, cause if you do I’m gonna give you a real whuppin’ and throw you outta here. Understand?”
“Either that or we can go in the back room and talk about it. Would you rather we did that?”
All the women in the bar started laughing. Bubba’s back room was legend, and not in a good way. He had taken Mary Ann Mack back there once, and Julie Hannah too, and neither of them ever showed up in the bar again. Neither of them would talk about it, to anyone. Sandy shook her head.
“All right, then.”
Bubba turned and waddled back to the bar. Sandy took a sip of her beer, then went back to her stack of quarters, idly picked one up. She dropped it and play started. She played aimlessly – if she couldn’t push all the way what was the point? The next few hours passed slowly. A few potential suitors stopped by and bought her a beer, but she really wasn’t in the mood. There was a prize-winning game in there tonight, she just knew it.
Finally she was down to her last quarter. She’d had just enough beer that she had a little buzz on. She needed to finish this and get back to the ranch. She pushed her hat back on her head and dropped the coin. Immediately she was lost in the game – this was her passion. For ten minutes she kept the ball in play, snatching a glace at her score and replays, her mind synchronized to the ball, the table, the controls. She was higher than ever, she was over her personal best, the machine’s best, hand-written on the wall next to it, her delicate script interspersed with the rough scribblings of ranch hands. Finally the ball stalled again, the same problem, the most irritating part of the game. She forgot where she was, forgot Bubba’s warnings, forgot everything except winning. She brought her knee up against the table again.
The loud buzz pulled her out of her zone. Oh my God, what have I done. She turned and looked and Bubba was on his way, the crowds on the dance floor parting when they saw his expression. Her mouth was dry and she could feel her chest get tight as he stood in front of her in seconds.
“What’d I tell you would happen if you did that again?”
She stammered. “You can’t do that. I’m not just…”
He interrupted her. “Shut up. You’re in my bar, my rules. You just don’t listen, do you?”
She couldn’t answer. He grabbed her by the collar of her shirt and pulled her behind him to the nearest table, her cowgirl boots dragging on the floor.
“Next time maybe you’ll listen.”
He grabbed her wrists in one big paw and held them behind her back. His free hand released her thick western belt, then unbuttoned her jeans. She started begging him.
“Please don’t do that, Bubba.” Tears were forming and she desperately wanted to keep them back. This was the most embarrassing thing she’d ever had happen to her.
“Tol’ you I was goin’ to give you a whuppin’.”
In a second he was over his lap like a ten year old. It wasn’t much of a spanking, at not compared to what the old man used to do with his belt, but she was in public, she was in front of fifty people, at least. She swallowed and tried to hold back her tears. He swatted her a dozen times, then stood her up. She had managed not to cry, but the tears made it hard to see.
“Am I gonna have to do this again, Sandra?”
She hated the name and he knew it. She shook her head. He grabbed her by her shirt again and walked her through the bar, her jeans and panties still around her thighs. She couldn’t help looking around. The men simply stared at her, sexual desire obvious, making no effort to hide it. But the women. The women were awful. A few of them she knew were good, Christian women, but the rest of them were whores, just in to fleece the cowboys out of a few dollars, renting out their pussies. They laughed at her, calling out insults, asking her if she didn’t want some more. It was a walk of shame, her face burned. Bubba jerked open the door and pushed her out, so hard she lost her balance and landed in the gravel. Two women pushed around him and their words echoed in her ears.
“You had that one coming, dear.”
“Yeah, I hope you can’t sit for a while.”
They turned and walked in with Bubba, one on each arm. She stood and brushed off the dirt and gravel, pulled up her underwear, then her Levis, tightening the belt to the point of pain. She trudged across the parking lot and climbed up into the cab of the big Ford. It took a while until she could collect herself and start the engine. She looked in the rearview and saw the handles of her ATV. She wanted to… She needed to get even. She calmly turned the truck and drove over to the door of the Do Drop Inn. Her hands stopped shaking. She could breathe normally, deeply. The burning in her face had gone. She wasn’t hurt anymore. She wasn’t crying. She wasn’t even embarrassed. She was mad. Calmly, effectively mad. Every one of her one hundred and five pounds was angry. She pulled up in front of the bar, climbed down, and walked to the back of the truck. She reached in and pulled out the gas can, the emergency supply for the quad. She walked up to the door. This was the turning point. She could never go back. She shrugged. After tonight, who’d want to? It was the laughter that did it. She could hear them laughing, then she heard Katie’s voice, high and clear.
“Boy, you really whupped the tar outta her, Bubba. You oughta do that again.”
She unscrewed the top of the can, reached in as far as she could and laid it on its side, listening to the satisfying glug-glug-glug as it emptied itself onto the porch. She pulled her lighter out of her pocket and reached down, flicked it. The gas caught with a poof, and she turned and slowly climbed in the cab, a little sad. She drove across the parking lot, stopped at the exit to look back. The front of the bar was ablaze, and Bubba’s habit of keeping the back door locked, to keep people from running off without paying their tab, as he put it, would pay off. They would definitely pay their tabs tonight. She heard a crash as a window broke, but no one was going anywhere that way – Bubba’s newly installed iron bars were there to keep the riff-raff out. Well, tonight they would keep the riff-raff in. She smiled as she drove out of the parking lot. Only one word escaped her lips.
This is for #wankwednesday. Looking for a different approach.
As noted below, last week’s entry stopped a little too early for most people’s taste, so I finished it as a complete short story. It’s posted on my website – look at
Hope you enjoy that as well as this one.
Molly- As Sir says to me….good girls get spanked and bad girls get punished.
Erikamoran – *smiles* Yes, sometimes it feels like that, doesn’t it? Actually, I’m hoping good girls get published
Cherry Sweets – Wow, great story!
Angel – Oh I liked that…especially the ending.
Aussiescribbler – Not at all what I expected. Very effective, but also very dark.
Erikamoran – Thank you all – yes, it was a little journey into la littérature noire. I’m glad you enjoyed it – it was fun to write.