Strange Flesh (Short Story No. 29)
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.
Sweet Water quickly recovered from the smallpox and no one else became afflicted with the disease. The Arapaho princess had no scars or other aftereffects. Mary Two Stones was praised for the apparent miracle. Reverend Nelson attempted to take credit for the healing.
Hannah hugged Sweet Water, kissed her sweetly, and whispered, “Thank God you’re okay. No thanks to Reverend Nelson. Half of what he says is cow chips and the other half he doesn’t even believe himself.”
The preacher went on a diatribe despite the criticism. He jumped up and screamed, “You Jezebel’s will be eaten by dogs!” He opened his King James and read Jude 7, “Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”
“That verse says ‘eternal fire’ not eaten by dogs,” Hannah noted. “Obviously you are confused again, Reverend Nelson. What do you suppose this ‘strange flesh’ is that is being referred to?”
The group had gathered and were loading their mounts in preparation to ride off. Helen’s camel appeared to be infatuated with Shorty and nibbled on his head.
“Oh look, Shorty is being eaten by a camel not a dog,” Hannah joked. “Now I would consider that camel to be ‘strange flesh’ should those two decide to breed.”
That reminds me of a true story,” Shorty said, and he told it. “A guy was guy riding through the badlands on a camel. He’d been alone for days so he felt the need for sex. No women anywhere in sight so the guy turns to his camel who has become wary of him, like the camel had had some kind of experience like this before. So the guy tries to position himself to have sex with the camel but the camel runs away. The guy runs to catch up with the camel and the camel lets him on, but just to ride. But soon the guy feels a need for sex again so he tries the same thing again—but the camel runs away. Finally after crossing the desert the guy comes to a road, and on the road is a broken-down stagecoach with two beautiful blonde women in it, who both looked like you, Hannah. The guy asks the women if they need help and they tell him if he fixes their stagecoach, they’ll do anything he wants. The guy works on the coach and fixes it and the women thank him saying, ‘Now what can we do for you?’ and the guy says, ‘Could you hold my camel?’”
Reverend Nelson objected, “Blasphemy. And it didn’t make any sense either.”
Hannah responded, “The ‘strange flesh’ in Jude 7 is referring to angels. Read the other verses in Jude like 6, “And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.”
The preacher snapped, “Angels are not human. How can they have sex with humans?”
“Yup, it would be mighty strange if they did,” Shorty said. “Just like a camel and a human, although it happens no doubt.”
“Why did God send the judgment of the Flood in the days of Noah?” Hannah asked. “In Genesis 6:2, fallen angels mingled with the daughters of men, right? In Genesis 19:4-11, the Sodomites wanted to have sexual relations with angels, correct? In Peter 2:4-6, Peter joins together the fallen angels of Noah’s day with the condemnation of Sodom and Gomorrha, doesn’t he? The Book of Enoch and the Testament of Naptali shed further light on this matter. Think about that while we ride. Also we know the spiritual can produce physical offspring, no? Think the Holy Spirit and Mary. Think about that too. If you believe that, can you not believe that fallen angels seduced human women and produced offspring?”
The group went back into Helena, except for Black Wolf and his braves and Mary Two Stones who went their own way. On the ride, Hannah became very interested in Helen’s camel, now known as Josephine. The name had been changed from Joe when it was determined that the camel was lactating. Helen and Benjamin Burrows, the snake oil salesman, had consumed the camel milk, which sustained them on the trip to Helena from the scene of the stagecoach robbery.
“That milk was real good,” Helen said. “Delicious, sweeter than cow’s milk, and foamy.”
“What’s the story with this stagecoach robbery?” Hannah asked.
“I was on that stage,” Helen said, “if you didn’t catch that.” Anne Hope nodded and raised her hand, indicating that she was too. “This Taz outlaw and his gang robbed the stage. They killed the driver Boss Foss and Red the conductor. There was a hangman named Fatty Foster travelling from Fort Benton to Helena. He was supposed to hang Seth Morris, a member of the Taz gang who had been shot and captured during the robbery of the bank in Helena. Taz murdered the hangman, shot him right between the eyes. One of Taz’ men named Randy shot and killed one of the passengers, Ezekiel Evans, when Mr. Evans protested the imminent sexual assault of his wife.”
Six hundred threescore and six
“That’s just the way it happened,” Anne Hope, the circus bearded lady agreed. “And then they had sex with us,” Anne added.
“The fallen angels?” Shorty asked sarcastically.
“No silly goose,” Anne purred, “I’m talking about the outlaws.”
“Tell us about that,” Hannah implored.
“I’d rather not,” Helen muttered with a sigh.
“Me neither,” Anne agreed.
Hannah responded, “Maybe there’s something you can tell us that will help us catch this Captain Taz.”
“Taz had strange flesh,” Helen said softly.
“Say what?” Shorty blurted. “This story is getting good.”
“Taz had numbers on his pecker,” Helen finally admitted.
“What were the numbers?” Hannah inquired. “Did you get a good look?”
“I got a real good look,” Helen answered. “The numbers were 6-6-6.”
Reverend Nelson jumped up and screamed again. He quoted Revelation 13:18, “Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.”