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Got Milk? (Short Story No. 9)
These short stories will be part of the sequel to my novel The Lady Who Loved Bones. Any suggestions for improvement or for future stories are welcome.
Pinkerton agent Helen James, with no food and no water and no clothes decided to wait until evening to start the trek to Helena, the hot sun being the determining factor. She got in the stagecoach and fell asleep. Benjamin Burrows, the snake oil salesman and only passenger also left behind, was likewise naked and eager to avoid the sun’s rays, especially because of no water.
Helen had been asleep for about two hours when Benjamin came running up to the stage from where he had been napping under a tree. “Helen!” he called, “Come look! Your camel came back!”
Joe had apparently broken away from Captain Taz and found his way back where he had left his master, Helen.
“Good boy, Joe!” Helen greeted as she petted his snout.
“Them camels sure is smart,” Benjamin observed. “They think a lot more than horses do and remember everything. But why did you call him ‘boy’ and name him Joe? That camel is a female.”
“Say what?” Helen blurted. “How do you know that?”
“Simple,” Benjamin responded. “It is a matter of anatomy, if you care to look. Your camel is lactating. You will note that this camel has a four-quartered udder, firmly suspended from the abdomen with four teats, each of which has two orifices.”
“How do you know so much about camels?” Helen questioned.
Benjamin replied, “I spent some time riding a camel around the pyramids in Egypt.”
“That’s interesting,” Helen muttered, somewhat surprised. Incidentally, it’s not just a matter of anatomy. It’s a matter of what sex one identifies with. So you are telling me that we can get milk from this camel?”
“Yes, indeed,” Benjamin answered, “we can get milk from your camel.”
“I sure hope so,” Helen said, “since we don’t have any food and water.”
“Or a ride to Helena,” Benjamin added.
“Yes, that too,” Helen agreed.
Benjamin emptied some of the bottles he had in his case, spilling the contents in the dirt. Helen watched in amazement as he held a bottle in his left hand under Joe and milked the camel with his right hand. The milk came in spurts about 90 seconds apart. Benjamin filled six bottles, which Helen estimated to be in total about a gallon of milk. She drank eagerly from one bottle.
“This is delicious!” she said. “Sweeter than cow’s milk. And foamy.”
“It also contains less bacteria than cow’s milk,” Benjamin said.
Helen drank her fill and then said, “Funny how sometimes you can’t tell the boys from the girls. I guess I’ll call the camel Josephine from now on.”
“Yes indeed,” Benjamin agreed as he stared at Helen’s penis. “Incidentally, I know of a good source of protein,” he added.
# # #
Return to Helena
Anne Hope, with Mrs. Evans in tow, arrived in Helena two days after leaving the scene of the stagecoach robbery. She immediately went to the jail and asked to see Seth Morris, the bank robber and her former lover. The deputy searched her and found the pistol. She was sent away with her request to see the prisoner denied. Anne pleaded with the deputy, Johnny Morgan, to let her see her man who was likely to soon be hanged.
“Did you ever have a bearded lady tickle your balls with her beard?” Anne flirted. But Johnny expressed a preference for boys who liked to dress like girls, and act like girls. “You’d like my friend Helen,” she whispered.
The newspaper editor, Robert Barnes, soon made Anne’s acquaintance. He asked her to lunch and asked many questions about her life in the circus and her relationship with the bank robber, Seth Morris. That was after he got a chilling synopsis of the stagecoach robbery. The elderly Mrs. Evans kept ranting that her rape by the bandit named Rusty was the first time she had sex in a decade. She was, however, most unhappy that Rusty had murdered her husband. She said, “I don’t know why my husband was so concerned about my virtue. So concerned that he got himself killed. Why, years ago used to let his friends have their way with me for a plug of tobacco.”
Mrs. Evans soon-to-be son-in-law, Leslie Baxter, appeared to be very upset, especially because the robbers took the money from the Evans that was intended to pay for his wedding to their daughter, Penelope. Leslie insisted, “Call me Shorty. I hate the name Leslie. Sounds like a girl’s name. I don’t want anybody thinking I’m one of those girly guys.” Shorty swore vengeance on the perpetrators of the stagecoach robbery.
If it quacks like a duck
It took Helen and Benjamin two days to reach Helena as they traveled at about the same pace as one rider on a horse. Josephine didn’t seem to mind the extra weight, although the skinny Burrows didn’t weigh all that much. They made quite a scene riding down the main street of Helena on a camel, naked. A curious crowd gathered, the members of which were shocked when Helen dismounted from the camel and they had a gander at her genitalia.
Among the crowd was Shorty who remarked regarding Helen, “Dear Lord, not another one!” Anne quickly ran out with a blanket and covered Helen and then took her into one of the stores along the main street to find some clothing. Shorty tagged along, although no invitation had been extended. Anne said, “Helen, let’s get you some clothes, and then something to eat.”
“Sounds good,” Helen replied. “I’m famished. All I’ve had in two days is camel milk. Although I will say it saved the day, what with us having no food or water.”
The proprietor of the store, Jacob Stallings, showed Helen some cowboy shirts and pants. “Don’t you have any dresses?” Helen snapped.
“But you . . . you have . . . you are . . .” Stallings stuttered.
“I am a woman!” Helen proclaimed. “I identify with women. It’s about more than what’s between your legs.”
Shorty interjected, “If it quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. You bitch like a woman.”
Stallings got the dresses and Helen picked out one and tried it on.
“You look just like a guy wearing a dress,” Shorty observed.
“Just because I’m a foot taller than you?” Helen questioned. “Who named you Shorty? Your fiancée, speaking of your manhood?”
“No, actually it was Buck Stewart soon after Hex Hawkins recruited me for that expedition to search for dinosaur fossils. Hawkins put Buck in charge of the men and initially the women, which didn’t last long. Delilah, the whore who really was a man sealed his doom.”
“You were on that expedition?” an astonished Helen blurted. “Then you know what happened to them, that expedition? You know what happened to the steamboat Victoria?”
“I surely do,” Shorty said. “Buy me dinner, and I’ll tell you all about it.”