It was a windy day. It was obvious a sandstorm was about to pick up as well, making it nigh on impossible to find a way through the desert until it died down. The heat outside was deadly, as usual, so much so that I was sure that anyone who hadn't found shelter yet would have their bones picked clean by all manner of animals before the sun reached its peak. I sat back in my chair, and motioned to the bartender for more cranberry juice. I wasn't much of a drinker; I had seen what it did to my father and I was less than willing for it to happen to me. The bartender scowled at me and, coughing dryly, turned to fill my glass again.
“What brought you into town, stranger?”he said, his back still facing me.
“Same thing that brings everyone here. I need some money, and…” I paused, looking over my shoulder as a man in a dark coat pushed his way through the double doors, tipping his hat at the bartender.
“Scotch,”he said, his voice rough and scratchy. He coughed, turning his head so that no sand got onto the bar.
“…and a way out of the heat.”I finished my sentence, taking a sip from my glass. The bartender turned towards the man in the dark coat.
“Any luck outside, Dennis? I doubt anyone can navigate out there, especially with a sandstorm brewing.”
“Barely,”Dennis said, rifling around in his coat for a moment. “Found this, though.”
He held up a severed thumb, grayed and weather-beaten. The blood at the base had dried and turned brown. I shifted slightly in my seat at the sight of it,adjusting the handkerchief that covered my face, and slumping further forward onto the table. “It's from Jenny the Slicer. Found her at an abandoned playhouse a few miles west of here. Bitch got away, but not before I got her thumb. Hell, I didn't even get a good look at her face.”The bartender laughed, crossing his arms and looking closely at the thumb.
“Glad you gave her a taste of her own medicine! Jenny's been giving the people in this town trouble for more than a year now. Hopefully she won't be back anytime soon. Now put that away, you're making the lady sitting beside you uncomfortable.”
I looked up at the bartender, startled. I pulled my mask closer to my face.
“What are you talking about? I'm no woman.”
The bartender looked into my eyes, leaning in so that we were face-to-face.
“You can wrap whatever you want around your face, wear as many coats as you want, sunshine, but I know a woman when I see one.”
Dennis stood up, knocking his chair over in the process. He reached for his gun, but not nearly fast enough. The instant I heard the word ‘woman,’ I blacked out.
I woke up exactly fifteen minutes later, stepping from the backdoor to the bar out into the sandstorm. My memory went blurry at first, but I knew what I had done as soon as I walked through the door. I faintly remembered laughter, a bit more than usual, and myself looking down at Dennis and saying, “I'll be taking my thumb back now.”
I took a look back inside, but quickly closed the door, shying away from the carnage covering the bar. Dennis had taken me by surprise before, but he was no match for me when the Slicer took over. I pulled my hat down further over my face, and wiped my knife clean on the fringe of my trench coat. I tucked my severed thumb and the knife into my coat, resolving to find a doctor and see if he could sew it back on. Sad thing the bartender was too perceptive for his own good. My cranberry juice wasn't fit to drink anymore.