The Queen of Orla

Ft. Worth.

I fuckin hate that guy,” Leo said.

Leo and her twin brother Lenny lounged poolside watching the host of the party, Johnny Blue, strut around.

There anybody you don’t hate?” Lenny asked.

Leo’s upper lip curled as Lenny watched her face. “His wife. I’d hit that raw.”

Man you nasty.”

Leo turned to look at him. “Shut up. You know you would. Look at her.”

Sissy Florentino was one fine motherfucker. She smiled at the twins and they smiled back.

Yeah and she’s married and straight, what you gonna do?” Lenny said.

She might be married but she ain’t straight. Imma fuck the ass off of her.”

Lenny laughed. “This is not Bound, Leontyne, and he’d kill you. Come on, let’s go hit the bar.”

Leo went along but kept sneaking glances at Sissy. Lenny wandered away to get stoned and Leo examined a bookshelf, muttering to herself. “Fuckin’ bullshit shit. He ain’t never read a thing on this shelf.”

Sissy spoke from Leo’s left. Her Houston via New Orleans drawl made Leo shiver.

You’re right, darlin’. That dummy ain’t hardly even looked at nary a one of these. You wanna see mine?”

Sissy’s panty creamer tone promised everything.

Mmhmm.”

Arm in arm they walked into Sissy’s study. It was pink and frilly and packed with overflowing bookshelves. Leo stared open mouthed. “Holy damn.”

Sissy stretched out on a pale ivory couch. “I have a modest little collection. You know my husband is dumb enough to be shoppin’ for swamp land in Phoenix. You see anything you like?”

Leo pulled a copy of Sappho’s poetry from the shelf. “I suppose I do.”

Before she could say anything nasty, Sissy’s husband, Johnny Blue—his cowboy horse shit name was just another reason she hated him—walked in.

Ladies, my darlin’ girls. Look how pretty y’all are lookin. I am so pleased y’all have taken to each other. I just came in to tell you that the party is windin’ down so if you two want to go do your little girl talk or whatever that’s just fine. Us ole boys got some business to do.”

Sissy rose and kissed his cheek, pouting. “Business? I was hoping we could spend some, quality time together.”

Her tone was so saccharine that Leo faked a little cough to cover a snort. Johnny Blue beamed and hugged her.

Oh princess. Look, why don’t you have your little friend stay the night and y’all can go shopping tomorrow, my treat?”

Sissy mewled like a kitten and sighed. “I guess. We’re gonna go retire to my room. Send up some drinks?”

Johnny Blue squeezed his wife, then put a damp kiss on Leo’s cheek. He tipped his hat. “G’night darlins.”

The two women moved to stand next to each other, spoke in unison. “Night, Daddy.”

Johnny Blue turned a shade of burgundy and left. Sissy rolled her eyes and smiled at Leo. “I hope you didn’t have other plans. I’ve been wanting to get to know you, Miss Leontyne.”

Leo let herself be led into a frilly frothy pink dream of a cowgirl dollhouse that was Sissy’s bedroom upstairs. Sissy spoke and stripped.

I know, don’t ask. He thought I’d like it cause I grew up a little poor redbone Ninth Ward girl. So this is my li’l Princess Cowgirl getaway. Now you gonna take that off or are we skinny dippin?”

Leo bit her lower lip and took a few steps back. “Hold on. Let’s get something straight. You tryin’ to fuck me or are we doing some straight girlfriend bonding thing?”

Sissy laughed. “You are cuter than shit. Bonding yes, straight no and how about you take off that damn dress. And might be fuckin at a later date. Clear?”

Leo stripped and trailed Sissy into a marble and gold bathroom fit for two queens to get drunk in a tub full of bubbles.

***

Orla.

On her first sight of Orla, Sissy stood shading her eyes. “God damn, I guess you weren’t shitting about this being real country.”

Leo watched Sissy take a few steps away and turn a circle, her eyes wide. All around them beyond the sandy beige of the airstrip was green land gently rolling away.

Come on,” Leo said, “I got something to show you.”

When Sissy saw Leo’s muddy faded orange ’67 Ford truck she squealed. “Oh my fucking shit, is that really your truck? You are a for real cowgirl?”

Sissy’s tone made Leo laugh. “Yes ma’am, I was not shitting you about you getting some country pussy. Now come on.”

During the ten minute drive they passed pasture land, the old oil depot, a riotous almost feral garden belonging to everybody’s Auntie Miss Lucille Jimenez. Sissy yammered non‐stop. After a promise from Leo that yes, she would in fact get to learn to drive a tractor, when they parked Sissy bounced in her seat clapping her hands.

Grab that radio, I’m gonna show you something,” Leo said.

Sitting together on the hot hood of the truck Leo pointed with one hand and fiddled with the old boom box with the other. Sissy watched while Leo played What a Wonderful World, before Sissy could ask why they were doing that, she spotted them.

While Louis Armstrong crooned, a baker’s dozen of huge black cows wandered towards the truck. Sissy, gasped and put both hands over her mouth, too excited to even bounce.

Eyes wide, she asked, “Are those real cows? Are they your cows? Can I pet them?”

Leo had been sprung before, she fell ass over tea kettle in stupid love right that moment.

Yes, they are real cows, yes, they are mine and you can pet them if you want to. They got snotty noses and are gonna lick you.”

***

Months of night outs, teaching Sissy how to milk cows and columns in the tabloids about the exploits of Leontyne the Orla Cowgirl and Sissy the DFW Socialite later, Leo sat in the living room at the family homestead in Orla with her three favorite guns laid out in pieces to be cleaned. Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell crooned on the stereo and her cranky old fluffy butt gray and white sheepdog lounged in the sun.

Lenny, stop staring at me like that. I thought you lit out for the auction half hour ago, why you creepin?”

God damn it, Leontyne, am I looking at Johnny‐I‐kill mother-fuckers-for-Blue’s wife buck naked, blowing you kisses with her fuckin’ pussy?”

Leo giggled and took back her phone. “Yeah. He thinks we sext to help each other’s self‐esteem. I’ll explain.”

Lenny sat and started packing his pipe. “God damn it. You silly some’ bitch I shoulda—I knew yo sneaky ass was up to some shit. Riding horses, girl nights in Mexico, girlfriend Oprah shit—”

Shut up Lenny. Stop acting like a little girl. Smoke that shit and lemme explain.”

They mean mugged each other until Lenny relented first, as usual. He smoked fine home grown Orla weed and listened to Leo. “Wait wait wait. So y’all ain’t fixin to kill him? He’s goin to jail? You callin a favor with the familia or what?”

Leo grinned at him. “There you go booboo. Now you got it. Junior and them are already on board.”

Lenny hung around long enough to get a few more details, then left for the auction with strict instructions to get a spotted saddle horse for Princess Cowgirl Sissy and then to deliver a basket of banana bread to their cousin JJ and his kids. As he drove east towards Abilene, he decided not to interfere.

Johnny Blue loved the relationship between his girls. In an interview with some Dallas society gossip rag he bragged, “Well, I know how important lady friends are and those two are just two sweet peas in a pod. I introduced them, you know.”

He was telling all of his douchebag associates that he was sleeping with both of them and that it was the greatest thing ever experienced by any man ever. Sissy had someone to talk to and do girl things with and he had free range ass in his two favorite shades, ebony and redbone.

***

Leontyne, I don’t think the plan is going to work. I’m scared.”

Leo and Sissy lay in the back of the orange Ford truck, bare assed and looking up at the stars. Leo sat up and gestured around them.

See that there?”

Sissy sat up and looked around, nodding. She really did love how pretty it was out here in backcountry Orla, so quiet and the stars so thick in the sky reminded her of good gumbo, a little murky and full of mysterious bits of things.

Yeah. I see it.”

Listen. This is not just some piece of country ass land. This is our home, everybody in this town is here for us. It’s gonna be fine. What did I tell you when the truck broke down?”

Sissy looked dubious and leaned against the other woman.

You said, Orla takes care of its own.”

Leo kissed her temple and pulled the blanket around them.

Exactly. Now stick to the plan. But we gonna have to get inside, these bugs is eating my ass up and that ain’t what I had in mind for tonight. Come on.”

***

Sissy’s job was to introduce her husband via a stripper named Peaches to crystal meth. Leo’s job was to invite Johnny Blue out to Orla to party and finally let him make one of his lies true. The big night came after a goodly while of Johnny Blue’s escalating meth use and continuous mentions of an upcoming Red’n’Ebony three‐way.

Sissy, I do not want to touch him,” Leo said.

Sissy was kneeling between Leo’s legs with a razor, shaking her head. “Calm down. Jesus. Don’t let a little dick ruin your damn day.”

Leo spread her legs wider and kept on complaining. “I thought he was just gonna watch.”

Sissy kept her eyes on her task. “He was, but Peaches got him high as fuck and you know what happens when there’s meth and dick in the same room. Be still. Anyway, that sap is happier’n a two peckered dog. Dumb son of a bitch, got no idea what’s coming.”

Leo examined the job Sissy had done on her pubes. “Oh, ain’t I pretty?”

Sissy stood up laughing. “Rinse your ass off, you dirty bumpkin. Put on those booty shorts and I’ll go see if Daddy wants a drink.”

Maybe it was the lingering taste of Mt. Dew from the bottle the meth been shaken in or maybe the prospect of finally getting what he’d been begging for, Johnny Blue went all the way the fuck in. He’d brought his own big baggy of shake’n’bake meth, bottles of some bullshit pink booze for the girls and his tweaker dick to the party.

Ladies, what y’all been doin in there all this time? Oh my, Miss Leontyne don’t you look cute in them little shorts. You know how to give a lap dance princess?”

Leo smiled in his face, turned her back and twerked. He hooted.

Yes, ma’am,” he said. “Baby, baby look at all that there. That’s 100% grade A Texas ass right there, I tell you what.”

Before he got grabby, Sissy sat in his lap and got to work. While Leo stripped and bounced her ass, Sissy sat in Johnny’s lap alternating sweet nothings and murderous mutterings in his ear. “We’re gonna fuckin kill ya’ Daddy.”

Johnny started. “What you say darlin?”

Sissy cocked her head and batted her lashes. “What? Nothin. You okay?”

More meth, more ass, more meth. A few hours later Johnny Blue was a sweating red faced grabby handed asshole trying to get them both in his lap. “Come on now ladies, be nice to Daddy and Daddy will be real nice to you.”

His tone brittle, his bloodshot eyes jittered in their sockets. It was time. Both women pulled away from him and stood half naked, arms crossed and staring at him.

We’ll be right back.” Sissy purred while Leo glared.

In the bathroom Leo dialed the local deputy Bucky, whispering into the phone. “Bucky, Bucky get over here right now. Johnny is…he’s—d”

Sissy screamed into the mouthpiece. Leo followed suit and dropped her phone.

Johnny Blue busted in wild eyed and they stared up at him in horror.

Johnny, JOHNNY NO.”

Johnny Blue played his part beautifully, hollering at them both to shut up and when they cowered in the corner of the bathroom he did what men tweaked out on meth do, he started swinging.

Leo barely held back from beating the dog shit out of Daddy because that wasn’t in the plan. What Johnny lacked in skill he made up for in effort. Within a minute both women’s faces were bloodied and their cries were of real pain. Leo made as if to go for the gun tucked into a barely open drawer when she heard sirens. She knew it took three minutes full out to get from Bucky’s place to hers, now it was up to Johnny Blue not to shoot either of them before he got there.

You son of a bitch. I’m gonna whip you like I own you mother fucker.”

Sissy launched herself at Johnny Blue howling and he snatched the gun, turned and lumbered back towards the living room. The music was blaring and Leo darted out and started throwing things not quite at Johnny Blue’s head but close.

Johnny what is wrong with you? Mother fucker get the fuck up out my house before I geld you.”

Johnny Blue was beyond reason and trying like hell to find the safety on the gun. Blue lights started to bounce off of the walls and Leo screamed louder.

Deputy Bucky came through the door like a raging bear. “Police! Put the gun down! Put the gun down!”

As Johnny Blue drew anyway, Deputy Bucky fired. One clean shot right in Johnny Blue’s lying ass forehead.

Sissy and Leo clung to each other topless, beat and sobbing. Bucky secured the gun and clicked off the music.

What in the absolute fuck happened?” he asked.

***

The story came out over the next few weeks in all the papers. Headlines screamed, a small private funeral was held. Leo and Sissy made their first public appearance a month later and stood together at a press conference trembling and sweet.

I just thank God that my husband is at peace now. He was a troubled man and I couldn’t help him. Thank you to the community of Orla for taking me in and making me one of their own.”

***

Back at home, Lenny sat across from Leontyne shaking his head as she painted Sissy’s toenails.

So that wasn’t planned?” Both women shook their heads. “And he just happened to go meth fuck crazy on ole Bucky’s one night off?”

Leo looked up from her work. “Lenny, you know Orla takes care of her own.”

Lenny nodded. “Yeah it do. Orla takes care of her own.”

About the Author

Shannon Barber

Shannon Barber is a 38 year old author from the Pacific Northwest. She lives near Seattle with her partner, several elderly computers and a lot of creepy knickknacks.  Her fiction and poetry has been seen in Shotgun Honey, Gorgon Poetics and Flash Fiction Magazine. See her nonfiction at The Establishment and Nailed Magazine.

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