tagRomanceThe Girls All Get Prettier

The Girls All Get Prettier

byJakeRivers©

The Girls All Get Prettier (At Closing Time)

Authors note: This story is very loosely based on Mickey Gilley's great song:

"The girls all get prettier at closing time ...
They all begin to look like movie stars
When the change starts taking place
It puts a glow on every face
Of the falling angels of the back street bars"

Thanks to Techsan and Lady Cibelle for their first-rate editing help.

*

JAKE

"Hey, Jake! How about that one? Damn, a nine for sure. Oh, hell, she's with that big shouldered bull rider."

I turned my head to see what Hank was looking at. Man, he wasn't kidding. An easy nine. And that looked like Pete Ayres – he was the guy that rode Bodacious inta the ground over in Amarillo and took the prize money. Yeah, I remembered ...

Never forget that night. I was young and cocky – pretty big myself. I had a ride in the finals on Hellfire; damned if it wasn't the bull right after Pete's ride. I was still glumly watching Pete in my mind and not really ready when the gate opened. My grip wasn't what it should have been and I didn't even make two seconds. It never was clear in my mind what that bull done but I landed on my nose and Hellfire kicked my leg before they got him off me.

I woke up at the hospital the next morning with a cute little blonde nurse messing 'round with my plumbing ... putting a tube in it or 'sumpin'. She looked up and saw I was awake and gave me a big smile.

"Hey, cowboy. The night nurse didn't do this right so I'm fixin' it for you. Doc says I can take it out in the mornin'. How you feelin'? I'm Annie, by the way."

I wasn't really sure how I felt – thought maybe I'd ask. I didn't know what had happened. Last thing I 'membered was that shit eatin' grin on Pete's ugly mug when he jumped off Bodacious.

"How did I get here?"

"Oh, honey. I was at the rodeo last night and saw that big handsome hunk. He was great. Then I saw you get on Hellfire and I tol' Martha – she's my best friend from forever ago – and I said, 'Martha – this guy is really cute. I bet you the next beer that he wins everything.' Then that chute opened and Martha said, 'Annie, go get them beers.' I never ever saw a cowboy hit the ground any faster," she finished with a way too cheerful laugh.

Later the doc came in and told me my rodeo days were over. I'd broken that big bone in my leg but they couldn't put it in a cast until the swelling went down. It was held in some pulley contraption and my leg was uncovered. My thigh looked like rainbows were having a convention from my knee to my hip. My leg was fatter than that Greta's over to the café. (Though some said she might be more fun to ride than any bull.)

The next morning Annie pulled out that damn thing she'd done put in my privates. Aw, did it hurt! Sweet girl like that looked like she would be gentle.

"Hey, cowboy. Now you can use a bedpan. Let me know if you need any help." She was laughing as she walked away. Woman thought she was a comic.

Since I couldn't ride anymore I had to find something' to do for money. I looked around and found something' that sounded pretty good for a broken'-up bull rider. I wound up managing a large ranch for an oil guy about forty miles out of town.

Hank nudged me as the next passel of gals come waltzin' in the big dance hall. Glancing in the mirror, I shook my head again and saw the way my nose started out heading down southeast but turned for the southwest like it couldn't make up it's mind. No, I wasn't gonna miss them bulls much. (I do gotta say that since I fell off that bull I sure enjoyed eatin' big steaks more than ever.) Running my finger over the bend in my nose I watched that group of overstuffed jeans walking away with their butts twitching back and forth like a dog and cat having at it in a burlap bag ... like we used to do to them for sport.

I looked at the clock – past ten and I hadn't even had a dance yet. Hank had gone dancing off with a solid seven while I was feelin' sorry for my nose. Shruggin' my shoulders in resignation, I started looking for a five or six – it was getting' late and I hadn't been laid the last three times I came inta town.

I saw a couple of girls come in the side door – one I knew 'cause she was a regular squeeze of Hank's. The other looked pretty good stuffed inta a short jean skirt (a good seven plus) and the brightest flowery shirt I'd ever seen but those freckles spread across her face - like the hail over my dad's hay field the time it got wiped out – and the kinky curly red hair pushing out of the ugliest hat I'd ever seen; well, that hat and those freckles cost her a good couple of points.

Her friend, Tammy, skittered off and she sidled up to the bar like she was kinda dry so I started thinkin' 'bout buying her a beer. I was rubbin' the bend in my nose and caught her lookin' at me in the mirror and she just frowned a little and decided she wuzn't that thirsty after all. Hell, those damn freckles cost her a good three points. Man, not even at closin' time!

SALLY

Tammy and I entered the dark expanse – there were five bars and three big dance floors – through the door next to the side parking lot. I hadn't really wanted to come but Tammy said she was horny and maybe that guy, Hank that owned the feed store would be there.

"Tammy, Hank's gotta be ten, fifteen years older than you. What do you see in him?"

"Sally, I admit he ain't 'xactly God's gift to women and maybe he is a little long in the tooth. But honey, he ain't forgot nothing once I get him in my bed and he done wore the paint off the wall banging the bed inta it!" This last with a big grin.

I almost didn't come: my twin babies Bobby and Missy was all over me as I was trying to get dressed. They weren't but three years old but I think their wind-up key broke – they were wound up all the time. Patsy, my sitter, was late and I was getting frazzled. I was trying to pull my panty hose up where it wrinkled on my thigh and snagged it with my nail and started a run. I 'bout said the hell with going out 'cause I was down to just this pair. I remembered what my momma told me and dabbed a little clear finger nail polish on the tear so it wouldn't run no more. Hopefully it was high enough under my short jean skirt that it wouldn't show.

I put on my new boots daddy give me for my birthday – momma passed away a year ago last summer and now daddy spent too much money on me and the kids – and my prettiest shirt with all the flowers on it. I wisht I could buy a new hat – mine looked like the hogs had got at it.

Anyway as I was walkin' in by the bar, I saw this guy with a butt that was a ten (I wasn't horny like Tammy but I could see myself cuddlin' up against that – ten for sure – butt on a cold winter night so I signed to Tammy and I started over to the bar, thinking I'd stand there and look thirsty. Then I saw his face in a mirror – kinda cute – but his nose looked like that Circle S brand that Kenny Slade used out west of town. Maybe a six. It wuzn't that late and we had just got here anyhow. Closing time wuzn't 'til two.

Decidin' I wuzn't that thirsty I scat on inta the dancin' area and found Tammy sittin' with Hank. They wuz both already sweaty from dancin' and were drinkin' a couple of long necks. Tammy was holdin' hers up to her neck to cool off.

I sat down and it weren't but a minute when this tall lanky drink of water in a new Stetson and sportin' a big handlebar mustache asked to whirl 'round for a bit. He weren't but a two or three but it was too early to worry 'bout anything like that and I surely did love to dance. They were playing "High-Tech Redneck" – man, I do love that great George Jones song – and we did a lively two-step. We did a couple more, then they started on a couple of line dances and when they started playing "Cotton-Eyed Joe" I cut loose and got all sweaty myself.

JAKE

I finally danced a couple of waltzes with Molly – a cute ol' gal I fooled with once in a while. I saw that freckle-faced gal dancin' a line dance and she sure looked good in that jean skirt. Looked like she didn't have anything to be shamed of under those roses on her shirt. Molly cut out on me to go to the bar where she wuz the late shift bartender. I wuz standing there watching her butt walk away and someone bumped into me, liked to knock me over.

I turned 'round and caught freckle-face lookin' at me a little pissed off. She'd lost her ugly little hat and her curls were looking like they were trying to cut and run – kinda reminded me of that surly old sheep dog got caught in the electric fence that time ... damn fine dog he'd been too.

"Hey, you crazy galoot. This is a dance floor, not a parking lot."

Her face was as red as her hair. I couldn't tell if she was that mad or if it were the dancin' she'd been doin'. I just grabbed her hands and picked up the beat and started a waltz with her. Her face turned from red to white so fast I thought she was passin' out. She looked like a bobcat I surprised once and it sure looked like it didn't know whether to turn tail and run or just try to kill me.

She suddenly relaxed a bit and give me a funny little smile like that lady I saw in a magazine over to the doc's office that time, Mona somebody. Anyway she was the best damn dancer I ever saw and I weren't too bad myself ... 'cept for that limp I couldn't get rid of – doc said I'd like to never get rid of it.

We danced a couple of songs then they played a slow one by Faron Young, "Crying Time." After a bit she put her head on my shoulder. She felt purty good – maybe those freckles were kinda cute after all. Of a sudden, she pulled back and turned for her table; I could see something wet under her eyes.

We had a couple of long necks, not talkin' much. Hank and Tammy would sit a bit, drink a beer and go off dancing. Finally that skinny cowboy from up Waco way, the tall one named Walt with the big ugly mustache asked - damn, I didn't even know her name – asked her to dance.

I moseyed back to drink 'nother of the beers; kinda half-heartedly looking for a girl to take home. Hopefully I'd find something better that that two I woke up to with a horrible feeling the last time I'd gotten lucky. Lucky? Shit, there's different kinds of luck. That was some of the bad kind. I swear she must've been hit with the ugly stick. I swore then and there I'd never bring anything home to that big four-poster bed but at least a four or better (that's why I hadn't got laid in three weeks).

Getting a new, cold longneck, I mused a little about how this whole scorin' thing worked. No one ever worried about it until Mickey Gilley came out with that damn song! Well, the good-looking girls suddenly wouldn't be caught dead at a dance at closing time unless they had already hooked up. They were sure-fired worried that someone thinking they must be a one or two and they'd get a bad rep. I always thought it was just the guys doing the scoring 'til one morning after an all-niter Molly told me the gals did the same thing. Sometimes I thought about driving down to Pasadena south east of Houston and burnin' down his club but someone beat me to it.

I was thinkin' about leaving when I saw that freckle-faced redhead coming out of the ladies. I figured, what the hell, between my level of horniness and the five longnecks I'd had, she was starting' to look kinda cute. And dance? Why, hell, she was the best.

SALLY

I was done wore out. I came for the dancin' – and I did like those cold Lone Stars – but I was tired and wanted to give it up. Three of those beers had filled me up - that's why I had to go to the girls. I couldn't find Tammy; damn her if she left me stranded again.

I saw that crooked-nose rodeo cowboy standing there looking lost. He wasn't too bad if you could get by that bend in his nose: damned if it didn't look like one of those S-Curve signs our west of town. He was a damn fine dancer too.

We kinda just stopped and looked at each other when the band started playing that old Hank Penny classic, "Drivin' Nails In My Coffin." It was a great song for Western Swing and the band did a good job with it. We kinda both put our arms out at the same time and moved out to the dance floor. We did four or five numbers and went to an empty table laughing and breathing hard.

The gal came by to take our order and we were so thirsty we asked for two apiece. I felt pretty good that I'd maybe found a dance partner. I hoped he had his own truck (I knew he had a truck – hell, ever' man in the dancehall did) 'cause my old car was mostly not working. I loved to dance but going with Tammy was kind of chancy sometimes.

"Jake, I have to say you a more than fair-to middlin' dancer." Feeling a little forward from the beer, I went on, "I wouldn't mind goin' dancin' with you again sometime."

I could see him thinking – at least that's what it seemed he was doing. He took a long swallow of beer and leaned across the table, "Do I know you? I feel bad, honey, but I can't remember your name."

I overlooked the 'honey' bit and told him, "No, you don't know me. I wasn't there at the rodeo that night but everyone knows of your famous ride on Hellfire. Wisht I coulda seen that."

He grunted something and finished his beer and waved the bottle at the girl taking care of us.

"I'm Sally, Sally Conrad. My dad owns the Double C spread 'bout fifty miles west of here in the hills. I was Sally Terrell for a couple of years but caught my lovin' hubby in the shower with that slut that sings a couple of nights a week over to Jerry's bar. After I kicked his cheatin' ass out of the house I taken' my name back.

I hadn't really wanted another drink but the woman showed up with two more apiece. We danced a little; put away a few more beers and got to know each other. Jack managed a ranch for a rich Texas oilman over to San Antone. The guy built a huge new house on a ten acre manmade lake but Jake said he hardly ever showed up. Jake had the old ranch house, a three-story brick monstrosity.

"I only use the first floor," he leaned across the table and kinda blushed in a cute cowboy way and continued in a hushed, confidential tone, "I always dreamed of filling up the house with younguns."

With that, he stood up and grabbed my hand, both of us stumbling a little as the band started up after a break. We did a couple of fast dances then the band started winding down for closing time with some slow waltzes.

Like he was talking to himself, he pulled me a little closer and mumbled, " ... maybe cute little redhead kids."

The band played their last song, kind of their signature song, "A Girl I Used To Know" by George Jones.

"Just a girl ... I used to spend some time with

Just a friend ... from long ago

I don't talk about the nights I cry about her

I say she's just ... a girl I use to know"

As we were dancin' I kept thinkin' 'bout did Jake have a 'girl he usta know" and wonderin' if she'd gone and broke his heart. I think I had a tear in my eye. We were holding each other pretty close ... and I woke up to sun shining through the big window and heard someone singing in another room.

JAKE

Working on a ranch, I always wake up early, five-thirty or so and get an early start on chores before the heat gets too bad. I woke in the darkness – maybe it was the coyote howling at the waning moon or maybe the fresh breeze flowing through the wide-open window.

I felt something push against my leg and sat up straight, wide-awake. There was a woman there.

I tried to remember back but could only remember the long stream of beers. I vaguely remembered singing Hank Williams songs in the cab of the truck – driving down the highway. The gal singing with me had a sweet soprano voice and knew all the lyrics. I 'member being impressed, always having thought that I was the only one could do that.

I shrugged my shoulders and eased out of bed slipping into my jeans and boots. I went out to the barn and took care of the horses and scattered some grain for the chickens scratchin' 'round. I grabbed some cold fried chicken legs from the icebox and washed them down with the slightly bitter well water.

I need to get over to a friend that had a half-section of hay to finalize a deal for feed for the winter. I went back into my large bedroom and looked over to see who was there as the sun let it's rosy light in through the window.

If I was lucky I'd see Molly there but this gal was way smaller than her. Damn. I hoped it wasn't that one I'd wound up with last time. I edged into the bathroom to look for my old straight razor so I could end my misery. I couldn't live with myself if I'd sank that low again.

I peeked 'round the corner to who it was but the sun was making her hair all rosy. Wait, her hair was red. It was the freckled-faced red haired filly that danced like a dream. How the hell had she wound up in my bed?

I couldn't figure it out so I started shaving and then jumped in the shower. I don't know why, I guess it was relief that it was the same girl; I started singing that damn song:

"I'm lookin' for a nine but an eight would slip right in
A few more drinks and I might slip to a five or even a four
But when tomorrow morning comes
and I wake up with a number one
I swear I'll never do it anymore"

SALLY

The cool air felt good flowing over my face – the early sun countering with a promise of warmth. I sat up in sudden shock as I remembered I never left my window open. Realizing I was naked, I pulled the sheet up as I heard singing, I guess from the bathroom. I could hear the shower running and a voice singing with way too much enthusiasm:

"But when tomorrow morning comes and I wake up with a number one"

I realized he was singing about me. I turned totally red and looked for my clothes. I found them wadded up in a pile by an old fashioned dresser. On it was a picture of a good-looking guy and it came to me that I'd slept with that broken-nosed cowboy!

I couldn't find my panties and I frantically kept looking. I finally saw them on the floor of the bathroom but no way was I going in there. I just wanted to get away before the shower stopped. Hell, the damned cowboy could keep them as a souvenir to brag to his buddies at the bar about.

I found my purse and wandered 'round a huge house until I found a door goin' out of the kitchen. I saw a plate of fried chicken on the table and realized two things: I was starved and I had a terrible headache. I wanted nothing more than to sit down and clean up the platter but I had to get out of there.

I walked out the door into the bright sunshine and saw ... nothing. Not a dammed thing. Oh, yeah, there was a large barn, a smaller one, a huge open-sided hay storage building and miles and miles of nothin' but miles and miles. I couldn't see any other ranches. The only other thing I saw was a large truck; a flat bedded crew cab F-350 with double tires on the back and set up for stake sides. Excited I ran over, knowing it wasn't locked 'cause the windows were down. Standing on the oversized Dee Zee stainless steel runnin' boards and looking in the window I saw it was stick shift – that worried me but I'd make it work for me – but there were no keys.

Looking back at the house and debatin' with myself I gave up and started walking back to town. About twenty minutes and a hard half-mile later, I heard a truck coming up behind me.

JAKE

I got out of the shower and put clean clothes on and figured I'd better wake up that sleepyhead Sally. Hell, if she was still in bed maybe I'd join her for a quick one before I took her into town. I saw her panties on the floor and put them in my pocket.

Turning into the bedroom, I saw the bed was empty. I felt a little empty, too, for a moment. I was starting to remember last night and an image came to mind ... damn, she was hotter than a pistol.

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