Check this one out fiction fans. Posted below is the first chapter of a fic that I never got around to writing. It's a little bit pony. A little bit noir. A little bit western. A little bit smut. Come to think of it, I don't even know why I stopped writing this story. It was one of many attempts to recapture the old magic of Eyes Without a Face. Anywho, here it is: Chapter one of a fic you'll never read to completion.
Sex and Violence
It’s way past my bedtime when I wander up to the Stable. The bouncer at the door, a skinny twig of a unicorn named Hairy Tare, looks me up and down like I’m wearing a clown wig under my ten gallon. He shoots me a smirk with his chapped lips, then covers his mouth to stifle a laugh. It’s a noble effort, but the sight of an old mare like me in a shit hole like this is too rich, and a few snorting giggles escape his scrawny throat. His adam’s apple bobs in his neck as he laughs, looking like an acorn he can’t swallow. If I were a younger mare I’d crush it, teach chuckles here some manners. But I’m not a young mare. Not anymore.
I let Tare belt out a few more laughs before I step closer and stick my muzzle in his face. When he sees the scar trailing across my nose and both cheeks—that crevice in the dusty orange landscape of my face—his skin blanches. He mumbles an apology and steps aside, shaking like he’s ready to wet himself. That’s kids these days: all cocky laughs and hard looks right up until they step in shit.
I shove past Tare, push open the swinging saloon doors, and pull down the brim of my hat, giving my scarred muzzle something to hide behind.
The Stable welcomes me with a blast of country blues that kicks me square in the chest. It’s a touchy-feely, all-the-way-bass number that might’ve sounded great a decade ago before every singer east of Galloping Gorge forgot how to hold a damn note. Luckily, the music echoing through this rat hole isn’t live. I trot up to the jukebox and shuffle through the scant selection, searching for a classic an old mare like me can drink to in peace.
I must flip through every damn song in the jukebox seven times before I realize Ms. Weed has removed all the old classics by Adams Apple and the Young Bucks. Peeved, I settle for a country rock number that doesn’t stink too bad, then pull up a stool at the counter and wait for the barkeep to finish serving another customer.
I don’t wait long. I never do at the Stable.
“Back again, I see,” says the barkeep, a young unicorn stallion with the friendliest face in Dodge. He fluffs the bowtie under his angular chin and fixes me with a gaze that’s both mild and shrewd. “So what’ll it be tonight, Miss Mane? The usual, I suspect.”
“I’ll order my drink soon as I have a word with your mammy, Flixweed,” I say. “Where is that old mule?”
“Sorry Miss Mane, but mammy’s been a mite sick as of late. She got herself a nasty bug,” says Flixweed. “Don’t you worry none though, Miss Mane. She’ll be back on all fours in less than two shakes; what do ya need her for anyhow?”
I twist in my chair and gesture toward the jukebox. “Miss Weed went and tossed out all the old Adams Apple classics. I reckon I’d like to know why, is all.”
As I talk, Flixweed takes it upon himself to pour me a beer from the tap. He sets it on the counter and slides it my way with those weathered hooves of his. He might be young, but Flixweed has done more with those hooves in his twenty or so years than most ponies do in a lifetime.
“It weren’t mammy that tossed out them old records,” says Flixweed. “It was Chickweed. Besides, the young pony folk don’t care nothing for that old zebra-loving queer no way.”
“I swear, you kids today got no sense of what’s what.” I take a deep drink from my glass. “Adams Apple was the best damn vocalist to ever grace the ears of us southerners. So what if he loved himself a few zebras? Some of the best times I ever had were with zebras. Buffalo too.” I take another swig, then let out a low contented sigh.
“And don’t forget them dinosaurs as well,” says Flixweed, slapping the counter as he whoops at his own stupid joke.
“And what does a young punk like you know about having a good time? I might be old, but I could still show you a thing or two, Flixy,” I say with a wink, prompting more laughter from Flixweed.
The two of us spend the next hour or so making small talk while I knock back glass after glass. When I’m good and drunk, we stop beating around the bush and get down to business. Flixweed asks me what I’m having tonight, and I tell him the usual. Nothing fancy. Nothing weird like what the kids are into these days.
I’m about to get up and head to the back rooms, when suddenly a prissy-looking pegasus stallion stumbles in through the saloon doors. He trips over his own tail and drops to the floor, landing on his side with a thud that makes me realize how quiet the bar is tonight. Chickweed, a drawn and wiry unicorn stallion in a leather vest, blunders in behind the prissy pegasus, swearing up a storm. He’s drunk and ornery, and without saying a word to anyone, he snatches Prissy by the mane and starts dragging him toward the back rooms.
Prissy thrashes in Chickweed’s grip, legs kicking like mad while feathers drop from his flapping wings. He shouts. Curses. Cries for help.
About halfway across the room Prissy gets brave and slaps Chickweed in the mouth, but the brute doesn’t budge. Chickweed isn’t much to look at—none of the Weeds are—but the wiry body under his booze-stained leather vest is plenty sturdy, especially for a unicorn. I’ve seen him slug it out with earth ponies twice his size and walk away with fewer bruises and broken bones than the other guy. And he hardly ever uses magic; mostly just relies on levitation spells to fire his six-gun.
Prissy tries to slap Chickweed a second time, but the brute catches his dainty hoof in mid-flight. He says something about Prissy being a “feisty one”, before rearing up on his back legs and pulling Prissy into a nasty kiss.
They tongue wrestle in the middle of the bar for a good long while, but nopony pays them any mind. This sort of thing happens at the Stable all the time, so Chickweed and his little squeeze aren’t anything special to see. I try to ignore them too, but the sight Prissy’s petite frame grinding against Chickweed makes not staring a chore. I get caught up in the moment and let myself forget that Prissy here isn’t having a good time. He’s beating Chickweed’s chest and trying hard to wriggle away, but he’s too small and too weak escape.
When the round of tongue wrestling ends, Chickweed finds an empty booth near the back of the bar and slams Prissy face first into the tabletop. Then he pins Prissy’s head with one front hoof and traces the curve his backside with the other.
I watch Chickweed cuff the back of his victim’s head. He hits him repeatedly, and when Prissy finally yields and splays his thighs for Chickweed, I feel something ancient and indignant stir in my chest.
“Think you two could maybe get yourselves a room?” I call from across the room. “Separate rooms, preferably. I reckon the little cutie there ain’t interested in what you’re selling, Chickweed.”
Chickweed looks up from the stallion’s shapely ass and pushes out a frustrated sigh. Then he smacks Prissy one more time and orders him to get to work before shoving him away.
Prissy scampers off wearing a look that’s more angry than hurt. He heads for a door that leads to the back rooms, throws it open with a sassy huff, then slams it shut behind him.
Chickweed grunts. Spits. Then straightens his vest and starts toward me, buffing his chest like a roster as he trots.
I watch him carefully as he pulls up a stool beside me. “A shot of something dark, baby brother,” he says to Flixweed. Then he looks me up and down, wearing a confused face. His brows knit in concentration. He blinks. Drinks his shot. Grimaces. Blinks again. Then all at once his vapid expression fades, and he flashes a joyless grin that’s missing several teeth.
“Well now, if it ain’t ol’ Calamity Mane come down from on high to grace us humble pony-folk with her presence,” he says, resting a foreleg on his thigh as he leans in my direction. “You know Mammy Weed ain’t been feeling so well fer weeks now. You ought’tah come round and pay her a visit sometime. She don’t got herself no company these days, ‘sept fer her boys.”
“What you going on about, Chick?” Flixweed says with a laugh that melts away some of the tension. “Mammy ain’t been sick but three days now, and Miss Mane was here just last week.”
Chickweed scratches the back of his head. “Is that right? You’ll have to pardon me, Calamity. I don’t remember things so well these days.”
I look away from Chickweed and take a swig from my glass, conscious of his beady eyes on my face. “Flixweed says you tossed out all my favorite records,” I say.
“What? You mean ol’ bellowing Adams Apple and his band of zebra hump-buddies?” Chickweed coughs up a laugh that’s dryer than sand, his wiry frame shaking from the force of it. “That old-timer’s had his day in the sun. Out with the old and all that. Am I right, baby brother?”
Flixweed nods in agreement but doesn’t say a word.
“Damn shame. It’s a sad day under Luna’s moon when the finest singer this town ever knew don’t have no place in the Stable’s jukebox,” I say. “Adams was your Pappy’s favorite too, ya know. He know about all these changes you been making?”
“Well shucks, Flix, I thought you said Calamity was here just last week?” says Chickweed, turning to face his brother. “How come she don’t know about pappy?”
“‘Cause everypony that wanders in here don’t need to know our business.” Flixweed tenses. The sudden change in disposition startles Chick, and he sits up ramrod straight.
“Now I miss Pappy too, baby brother, but that ain’t hardly no reason to be getting cross,” he says before turning his beady eyes on me again. “Don’t pay him no mind, Calamity; he’s just a mite peeved that I’m in charge of this place now that pappy’s gone.”
“So the old mule finally kicked it, did he?” A slight frown shadows my face. “Always figured he’d outlive us all, stubborn as he was.”
“He might yet!” Chickweed kicks out a trombone-deep chuckle. He’s enjoying himself and he wants the room to know it. “Pappy ain’t dead; he’s up in Canterlot training Guard Pony cadets or somesuch. I bet you didn’t even know he’s ex-military.” He gulps down another shot and slams the glass on the counter, sighing contently. “Mmm, mmm, mmm. If that don’t hit the spot ever damn time…” Chick’s voice trails off. He looks down at the empty glass and squints, like he’s struggling to make sense of what he’s seeing. Then, without warning, his eyes go dead, his body goes slack, and his head tilts to one side, mouth agape. Brown, booze-stained saliva drips from the corner of his mouth, pooling in a toxic puddle on the countertop.
Shaking, Flixweed reaches across the bar and places a hoof on his brother’s shoulder. I gulp down the last of my beer and wait for Chick to find his way back to us. I don’t know what’s wrong with the bastard, and I don’t where he goes when he slips into his stupors, but while he’s gone I see a weakness in his vapid expression that tears me up inside. Chickweed is a scumbag, sure, but he’s a sick scumbag. He doesn’t deserve my pity, but the poor bastard gets plenty of it.
It takes awhile, but eventually Chickweed blinks away his stupor. His cheeks redden as he wipes his mouth, and his beady eyes flash with blind, helpless rage. The angry eyes shift in his skull, searching frantically for something he can smash to pieces. Something that’s smaller than he is—that’s too weak and too fragile to protect itself from his fury.
The eyes settle on me. For one long, melancholy moment, I stare at Chickweed but I don’t see the abusive bully I know he is. I see a frightened foal searching the abyss for something that’s more afraid than he is.
The eyes fix on my face. He leans toward me; and when Chickweed remembers the scar trailing across my nose—remembers who I am and what I’ve done to ponies like him in the past—he backs off, sits up straight, and takes a few seconds to smooth out the wrinkles in his vest.
“You should know the only reason yer still alive is because mammy and pappy took a shine to you,” he says, suddenly frantic, the words tumbling from his mouth and crashing into each other like stones in a rockslide. “I’d kill you myself right here and now, but your death would break mammy’s sick little heart. She’s getting on in years, and that heart of hers gets weaker every day. I don’t think she could take losing her only friend, so I guess that makes you one lucky old bag of bones.”
“Stop with all that talk, Chick,” says Flixweed. “You don’t mean none of that, yer just upset is all.”
“Don’t tell me what I mean!” snaps Chickweed, his face flushing. “Ya don’t know what I mean! Ya don’t know nothing ‘bout me, or nothing ‘bout nothing!” A sea of eyes fix on Chickweed, watching him rant and rave and carry on like the angry child he is.
“You should calm down. Yer causing a scene,” I say.
Chickweed looks me square in the face… but I know he can’t see me. He’s staring at the scar, not me. That’s all I am to them—to the outlaws and the ne'er-do-wells and the no-good bullies. The takers. The scumbags like Chickweed and his whole rotten family who think their entitled to everything that isn’t nailed to the damn floor. That’s all I am to them: just a scar and a brick-red hat and a dusty poncho and ratty old bandana.
I don’t wear the bandana anymore. I still wear the hat and the poncho, and I couldn’t take off the scar if I wanted to, but I don’t wear the bandana anymore. I can’t. I promised a very special pony I’d never wear that old rag again.
“Get a look at you, sitting there wrapped up in that old poncho and all that self-righteous nonsense.” Chickweed cocks his head to one side and spits. “You can sit there thinking yer better than the rest of us all you like, Calamity, but me and Flix here know the truth. Don’t we, Flix?”
Flixweed nods but stays quiet.
“And what truth is that?” I climb down from my stool and stand eyelevel with Chickweed. He flinches.
“We know why yer here, Calamity. You like strutting round thinking you can scare me and my brothers straight as floorboards, but we see right through you,” says Chickweed. “We know the real reason you show yer ugly mug in my cathouse, so why don’t you order another drink, buy yerself a whore, and stop pretending you still give a damn about this town or any of the ponies in it.” Chickweed flashes that joyless grin, showing off a smile that’s full of gaps and chipped teeth. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to finish what I started.”
“Come on, Chick,” Flixweed says. “Leave poor Sunray alone. The dumb colt ain’t even old enough to shave fer goodness sake.”
“He’s old enough to show me a good time, baby brother,” says Chickweed, laughing as he trots off. Me and Flixweed watch him go, both of us sore over what’s about happen next.
“Well ain’t ya gonna do something?” says Flixweed.
I don’t respond; I just watch the back door open and shut behind Chickweed. Flix waits on my answer for a good while, and when he finally accepts that there isn’t one coming, he sighs longingly and says, “Don’t ya ever miss it?”
This time I do respond.
“Every day,” I say, caressing my scar with a weary front hoof. “Every single day.”