Better Than A Gun Range
Dorothy had returned the book to the library, just in time. Another hour and she would have been in trouble. No thanks to Mable requesting a change in her choirs for the day. Dorothy had to be the one to help the other children along with doing her own tasks, more so than usual at least. The library had a large map of the town on the wall. Places like the bridge and Mrs. Beatrice’s farm seemed to be far too distant to be placed on the map. The orphanage was there, houses, shops, stores, factories, etc. But she had her eyes set on a few places in particular. Wishing she had a photographic memory, she focused on just one, the closest one, and hurried straight there. It took about ten minutes of walking. The sun was out and she had on her favorite sundress that was all white with frills at the ends of her sleeves just like the end of her dress that came to hang just over her white socks. Her shoes however were black with white ribbons. The nuns made it clear when she received the outfit for her birthday that they weren’t to be played in. Not wanting to ruin it, she kept her umbrella just in case the rain from yesterday came back for round two. She was pulled from her reverie when a car squeaked to a halt right in front of her. Her first reaction was to reach for her bloomers where she had her pistol tucked. Or she would have if she hadn’t lost it sometime during the kidnapping. So she bawled her fists, her right hand around her umbrella. Caring very little that there was a well-dressed woman in a pretty sun hat looking out the car. The woman took one good look at the glaring little girl and jerked her head back with fright. The driver on the other side finally leaned his head into view with a cigarette in his mouth and a familiar smile.
“Hey, kid? What’re ya doin’ out here?”
“Smiley!” Dorothy yelled with a sudden burst of joy she hadn’t felt in a while.
“You know this kid?” The woman asked, Smiley.
“Yeah, she’s one of the orphans down the road there, sweet girl.”
Dorothy couldn’t help but blush at his casual compliment.
“An orphan?” The woman asked, studying the girl’s clothing. “She doesn’t look like one.”
“You need a ride kid?” He asked.
“Thanks but I’m kind of busy.”
“Right, right…” Smiley took a quick glance at the shops behind her before turning to look across the street where she had been facing. Getting the hint, he gave Dorothy a small smirk and a nod to get in the back. “I just need to drop off this beautiful lady.”
Conceding, Dorothy gave a nod and climbed in the back. She noticed this wasn’t the same car. In fact, it was much nicer than even Sister Mary’s.
“Flattery will get you nowhere Mr. Smiley,” The woman teased. “How do I know this isn’t your kid? I told you how I feel about them. They’re filthy little germ walkers. N… No offense, to you umm… what’s your name?” The woman asked, getting a death stare from the little girl. “Oh, you know it’s very unladylike to make such a face. What are they teaching you at that orphanage?”
The car came to a soft stop as Smiley tapped ash out his window, with a thumb flick.
Dorothy stared at the back of Smiley’s head before her glare twisted into a scowl. She turned to open the door just enough before kicking the door open.
“Hey! Damn it, I just bought this thing!”
“And violent children have no respect for other people’s possessions.” The woman said.
Taking a quick drag of his cigarette he reached over the woman’s lap and opened the door.
“I’m talking about you, beat it.”
Moments later Smiley drove away with Dorothy in the front seat, watching as the woman in the rearview mirror got smaller and smaller before he turned a corner. She had to admit the woman didn’t lose herself like she would have thought. Dorothy turned her gaze towards Smiley, now feeling horrible about kicking his door open. Yet the man still had a smile on his face as if every day was a good day, though Dorothy wondered if his day would be better if he wasn’t sucking on that death stick. She couldn’t help thinking about Cap and how similar the two were. If the man did have a son, it would be Cap, easily. She began reaching into her pocket and pulled out a hundred-dollar bill.
“Sorry about your door.” She whispered.
The man gazed over the bill before shaking his head in disbelief.
“You got problems, kid.” He said while pocketing the money. “If you’re this crazy now, puberty will hit you like an uppercut,” He sang. “Besides, you technically paid for this car.”
“… You’re gonna let me drive it?” She asked with a spike in her mood.
“Yeah, so we can crash and I walk away with more than a broken nose.” Wishing he could take it back, he gave her a glance seeing her face full of regret. “Don’t worry about it, kid. Friends get into fights all the time, you’ll figure something out.”
“… Thank you, Smiley.”
“Hey, I’m man enough to admit I follow the money. But I also need to make sure you’re not getting in any trouble. Not in uhh… I’m an adult kind of way but… more like I’ve been there, kind of thing. Alright, we’re here.”
Parking, he hopped out, Dorothy doing the same as her gaze immediately snapped up towards the shop’s sign.
“Gunsmith?” She asked.
“You can read, that’s great.” He teased as he walked her inside. The bell chimed signaling the shop that they were there, yet the place seemed unattended. Compared to the windy drive over, it had a welcoming warmth to it, along with both a clean smell and a touch of chemicals with an unknown origin. It either came from the guns on display or the treated wood that gave the shop a cozy cabin feeling.
“Why here and not the other place? We were just there.” She asked, getting up close to the glass counter display. Inside sat so many different types of pistols, making her begin to question the reason behind so many when they all practically did the same thing. Perhaps it was purely cosmetic, she thought. Well, that and the competing egos of adults who felt they could build a better gun. What stood out to Dorothy as the most interesting of egos was a gold set of brass knuckles, next to a box of very small bullets. She studied them before it finally clicked that there was a barrel on the back of the brass knuckles. Dorothy’s eyes lit up, wanting more than anything to have them.
“Because you’re a kid dishing out hundreds like it’s candy. At least here I actually know the guy and I only know guys who keep their mouth shut and don’t ask too many questions. He’s kind of ugly so… try not to look at him,” He teased. “Frank!”
The door behind the glass counter opened up with a soft creak. The wood floor thumped as a tall, red-headed woman came into view. Her long hair draped over her shoulder like a badge of honor, Dorothy thought. She was dressed in what appeared to be blacksmith attire but retailored so that the black apron didn’t hide her figure, specifically her hips and breasts. Draping down from right above her belly and down over her lap. The woman clearly wore clothing to show off her form as if attempting to rival Sister Mary. Sister Mary was well endowed but didn’t care about wearing such tight clothing. Now that she thought about it, Dorothy was sure she never saw Sister Mary dressed in anything other than her uniform, even on hot days.
“Looking lovely as always, Rose. Care to get your old man for me?” Smiley asked.
Rose gave Dorothy a small glance before speaking.
“Frank’s dead, died this morning.” She said as a matter of fact.
“No shit? I’m sorry, Rose.” He said, taking off his black hat.
“I’m not, the poor bastard got himself screwed into an early grave. Speaking of being screwed, that girl looks kind of young don’t you think?”
“That ain’t funny.” He warned, pointing his index her way. “She just wants to buy a gun.”
“Like I said, the girl looks kind of young, don’t you think?” Rose repeated.
“Did Frank die because he asked one too many questions?” Dorothy asked.
The woman raised an eyebrow before smirking.
“Is this the old lady’s doing?” She asked Smiley.
“Nope, not this time.”
Leaning back a little, Rose crossed her arms under her bust and said;
“Good, ’cause I ain’t selling a gun to a kid. Kind of shocked you’d even buy one for her.” She gave Smiley an accusatory glance. “Thought you were better than that.”
“Hey,” His palms shot up defensively. “You know me, I ain’t no sugar daddy. The girl has her own scratch.”
Dorothy took this as a sign to put her money where her mouth was. Slipping a hundred-dollar bill from her pocket, she placed it on the glass counter.
“I don’t want to buy a gun, I want to make one from scratch,” Dorothy said.
Rose smirked as she only needed to give the bill a glance to tell it was fake.
“Counterfeit can get you into a bit of trouble, little girl.” Dorothy and Smiley simply stood there staring at the woman, causing her to second-guess herself. Picking up the bill, she moved it over to a lamp to get a better look at it.
“If it means anything to you,” Smiley began. “She was kidnapped just recently.”
The woman rubbed her thumb across the bill and whispered to herself.
“It’s as if this was just printed.” The Ricci family had a history of illegal activity but never had she heard anything about counterfeiting. What he said, finally clicked, causing her to pull her chest from the surface of her shop counter. “Kidnapped? I heard about that. Some girl from the orphanage got herself snatched up and the next day she was back home with the culprits turned into lunch.” She studied Dorothy. “Was that you?”
Dorothy slowly looked towards Smiley, giving him a look that said, being here was a bad idea.
“So much for not asking too many questions,” She said.
Smiley gave a sigh, scratching the back of his head.
“Look Rose, it’s dangerous out there. You gonna sell her a gun or let her get kidnapped again?”
“Don’t you dare,” Rose warned.
“If you’re not gonna sell me one, may I buy the parts to design my own?” Dorothy asked.
“Design… your own?” The woman asked, the glare falling from her face, replaced with curiosity.
“It’s for a boy. I… did something and now he won’t speak to me. I’m gonna make him a shotgun, the best one ever.” Dorothy said with a toothy smile.
Rose was taken aback by the smile.
“You should smile more dear,” Rose began. “Being angry all the time is bad for the heart. With that said, a smile can be more effective than a gun, don’t you think?” She asked with a warm smile.
“Not at all,” Dorothy said immediately, her smile snapping back to a determined frown. “My friend was traumatized, to the point he couldn’t speak… or do much else for that matter.” She reached up and placed another hundred-dollar bill on the glass counter as she spoke. “After he fired a shotgun for the first time, he spoke again. I was so happy, it felt like my heart was gonna burst.”
“Trauma is an ungodly curse. My mother has it.” She eyed the new bill.
“I don’t give a fuck about your mother. Give me what I came here for.” Dorothy said causly.
The woman’s back straightened as she placed the first bill next to the second.
“I don’t know what they’re teaching you at the orphanage but that’s not how you speak to people, even if you did have all the money in the world. Get out of my shop.”
“If you refuse to take money because of your pathetic pride, even if it means you and your mother could benefit from it, then you’re just as retarted as most adults on the fucking planet.”
The shop fell silent as the two locked eyes. Slightly amused by the little girl’s speech, Smiley slipped a cigarette into his lips and prepared to light it.
“That’ll kill you.” Dorothy and Rose said in unison, surprising each other.
“Yep,” Smiley mumbled from the corner of his mouth. “Right into an early grave.”
Rose’s chest expanded as she took a deep breath and sighed. Reaching out, she plucked the bill from the table, leaving the second one.
“This should be enough. Come with me,” Rose said, motioning the little girl around the counter. In just a few moments, Dorothy stood in the back of the shop. “You want to build a gun? Fine, knock yourself out, kid.” She waved a hand over the room before turning to walk back into the shop. She knew the girl had no knowledge about building guns, Dorothy figured. She’d be lying if she said the tools and machinery weren’t at least somewhat intimidating. This was gonna be much harder than she thought. Stealing a glance at her pocket watch, she still had plenty of time before needing to watch the bridge. Dorothy took a small walk around the workshop, getting a close-up look at the expensive equipment.
“You gonna adopt the brat or something?” Rose asked as she stepped back behind the counter.
“Depends on how much she pays me.” He mused.
“Think she got some kind of inheritance?”
“Maybe, though you normally have to be eighteen to even touch that kind of money.”
“Soooo you’re not counterfeiting money? Because this is the cleanest bill I’ve ever seen. That’s not odd to you?” She asked him, waving the hundred dollar bill at the man who seemed far too calm. Something she couldn’t help but admire in the man.
“Nah, nothing like that. The girl has her secrets and we get paid to do what she wants. I don’t know about you but I’m not gonna look a gift horse in the mouth.”
“Are you saying you’ll keep taking a kid’s inheritance until she’s broke?” She asked with disdain in her eyes. “Taking advantage of a little girl, like some backward sugar mama.”
With his thumb and index, he took a drag of his cigarette, before pointing it into the workshop behind her.
“See that?” He mumbled, holding in the smoke for a few moments before exhaling. “That there’s a little girl from the best orphanage in the world, walking around with big money, got kidnapped by a couple of scumbags who ended up slaughtered like pigs. And now she’s trying to design a new gun for her friend.” Chuckling, Smiley placed the cigarette back into his mouth. “Nah,” He shook his head as he watched glimpses of Dorothy passing beyond the door, seeming lost in her own little world. “Not a normal little girl. Beatrice thinks her friend is worse, though.”
Rose twitched as her hands went to her hips.
“And the girl’s trying to make him a gun?” She asked.
Rose would have given the money back to the rude little tomboy and kicked her out but the girl didn’t have a chance in hell of making her own gun.
“Nah, he’s way nicer. Like a normal kid… kind of. When that one broke his nose he started crying. I asked if he was okay and he said, ‘No, my nose is broken,’ Then proceeded to call me a kind dummy for asking.”
Rose couldn’t help but chuckle.
“A kind dummy? Sounds like an adorably smart kid.”
“Perhaps too smart for his own good. That girl is the second smartest kid in the orphanage and she’s trying to build a new gun for the kid who’s supposedly smarter. I think there might be a reason why she calls him Capo.”
“I wonder who the third smartest kid in the orphanage is,” Rose said.
“Mable,” Dorothy said, causing Rose to flinch and turn in her direction. “Mable ranks third in test scores. She does better than me in certain subjects but she’s still a boner-obsessed teenager.” Dorothy spoke in a monotone as she spaced out, blankly staring at Rose’s chest. Before Rose could say anything, Dorothy turned her attention to the man. “Smiley, are you busy today?” She asked pilotly.
“A little bit, why?”
“I want you to drive me to the library, I need to check out a few books.” She said, her gaze zoning in on the brass knuckle guns that sat behind the glass.
“Ah, I wish I had the patience to study. I’ve always been one of those ah, watch-a-call its” He waved his hand, trying to think. “Learn as I go types.”
“I hate reading,” Dorothy began. “But It’s good for you I guess.” Rose couldn’t decide how she felt about the girl. For the most part, the girl was a brat but she at least was smart enough to understand the benefits of reading. The woman perked up slightly when Dorothy looked in her direction. “I would like to buy those, please.”
“Oh, so you do know how to say please,” Rose smirked, with her arms crossed.
Ignoring the woman’s remark, she went on to say;
“Smiley has those,” She tapped on the glass case at the brass knuckles. “They’re something to keep you from hurting your hands when fighting, right?”
“Something like that, kid.” Smiley gave a toothy grin. Feeling pride that the girl was interested in his favorite weapon. “Sometimes a little hand-to-hand can solve your problems. Anybody giving you lip, no need for a gun, just knock ’em out. Big kid comes along throwing his weight around, put ’em up on the ground, and dare ’em to get up.”
“Ooor,” Rose chimed in. “You can run and seek an adult. Those brass knuckles are technically guns, but I’m sure you already knew that.” She eyed, Dorothy who simply stared back blankly.
“Ha, sorry about that kid. Rose is as smart as she is beautiful.”
Rose eyed Smiley with a smirk.
“I told you before, stop smoking and I’ll let you take me on a date.”
Dorothy rolled her eyes, caring very little at Rose’s attempt to woo the man. It made her cringe when she thought about how she did the same for Cap. Not cringing at her own attempt at making her friend stop smoking, but cringing at the fact that she and Rose seemed a tad similar in some way. The fact that she was cringing at this thought, made it clear that she definitely had some kind of god complex.
“Can you sell me something like those without the gun part?” Dorothy asked, a tad irritated.
“Fine,” Dorothy went into her pocket to pull out some cash but Rose stopped her. “No, keep your money. Unlike some people, I don’t care very much about taking advantage of children.” Rose gave Smiley a short cold glance. “Besides, a hundred dollars goes pretty far. You should be careful not to overpay for things.”
“I’ll be sure to keep that in mind.”
Dorothy watched the woman move about behind the counter, opening, and closing cupboards before finally, she leaned over the counter with a little black cloth bag with a white string that kept it close. Holding the little sack by the string, she placed it into Dorothy’s hands.
“There you go.” Seeing Dorothy about to open the bag, Rose said, “My advice… would be to only take them out when you need to or when you’re alone.”
“I’ll do you one better, kid.” Smiley chimed in. “There are only two types of people in this world. People you’ve beat the crap out of, and people you’ve yet to beat the crap out of.” Rose had a clear look of annoyance on her face that made Smiley a tad bashful. “But uh… what she says is true. Never show your hand until it’s too late, and when someone crosses you, you crisscross them.” He said, shadowboxing a little, throwing an elbow into the mix.
“Thank you… both of you.”