I ‘ve only been in Montana two days, trying to get some scratch to make it to Oregon, but this ball-freezing cold is killing me. Slapping my gloved hands against my thighs as I lean my bike on its jiffy, I look around this barren shithole: nothing but a handful of low buildings, blowing dirt and low clouds that look to snow any second. I would’ve just blown through this map-stain, but I know that little prick, Eddie, will have a job I can do for some quick cash and adios.  Sure enough, when I open the door to the dive, he’s sitting in the back, a couple of his fuckwad goons leaning against the wall.

I have to turn to get through the door that catches on the uneven sidewalk.  I’m a big guy, the kind that people cross the road to avoid.  Just finished twenty months in ND State for assault. With nothing to do but lift in the iron pile every day, I’m easily 260 and pure beef.  Eddie waves me over.  I was right, he has a muscle-job. Fifteen minutes later I’m walking out with a grand up front and the photo of some dumbass bitch who hadn’t seen right to pay Eddie back.  Figures Eddie would give me a shit job on a woman. Goddamn asshole actually giggled when he laid it out.

Fifty-two miles down the ‘200 and the restaurant’s sign, brown with dirt, rolls up on the left.  I pull my Harley off the pavement and into a graveled dirt parking lot.  I park in back, near the dumpster.

I push the door open and walk in, stomping dust from my boots.  Waitress, Cheryl by the nametag, walks over as I sit. She’s friendly and real easy on the eyes.  She’s also my goddamn mark. Fuckin’ Eddie.  While my chicken fried steak cooks in the kitchen, she makes some small talk.  She must have seen me ride in because she says a motorcycle’s not much fun this time of year.  No shit Sherlock. She asks what brings me to Montana? I say a job in loans, and her face isn’t smiling anymore.

She knows the ropes though and she shouts back to the kitchen that she’s stepping out for a smoke.  We go out the backdoor. The ground looks like it snowed butts. I reach into my jacket, pull out a bundle and unroll the bone shears I carry for these jobs. Her face is unreadable, but she draws half her cancer-stick in one long pull.

“Look Eddie’s getting payment or making an example, and I’ve got the fucked up job of collecting either way.”

She tries to sway me with a smile, her tits pushing at her t-shirt, “Couple more months and I’ll have all of it for Eddie…and then some…I’m sure you’n me can work out a deal to make us all happy?”

Fucking tempting but I need the grand on the back-end more than I need a piece of ass.

“You a lefty or a righty?”

She scowls and clutches her right hand in her left…she’s a righty.  Before she can turn to run, I snatch up her left wrist and her small hand is enveloped in mine. Her left little finger sticks out.  She curls it away as I flip the hook that keeps the shears closed.

“It’ll go quick and easy if you don’t scream.  No one uses their pinky fingers for shit anyway, Lady.”

She squeezes my hand –she’s got a fucking insane grip for a chick.  Suddenly she steps closer, rolling her body along the arm that’s holding her, and her right hand slams into my elbow as she pulls back around her torso.

I gasp, hearing the tendons pop and snap as my elbow is bent impossibly backwards.  She yanks her left hand out of mine as my arm drops down, bent at a crazy ass angle.  I reach for her, but my goddamn arm just hangs there.

“Oh that’s gonna fuckin’ cost you big now, Bitch!”

I jab the shears like a knife.  Her hair flies as she steps around the shears and in close…and what the hell is that?  Her fucking foot?  I stare in disbelief as her white sneaker flashes up and connects solidly under my jaw.  I swear I see her hair kiss the ground, her legs in a vertical splits, as my head snaps back with a massive crack. I feel another palm-strike break something in my right arm and stiff fingers jab into my neck.  The shears drop from my hand. The rest of me crumples like an imploding building.

I must have blacked out, because now I’m staring at the sky and wet snowflakes are catching on my eyelashes.  Cheryl’s holding my wallet, my thousand bucks and the keys to my ride.

“What the fuck?”  I sound like a punctured tire.

“Sorry about your arms, uh,” she glances at my driver’s license then tosses my wallet onto my chest, “John Norwalk, but you give Eddie a message for me, ‘k hun?”  I stare at her. I start to get up to beat the hell out of her, but my arms won’t move at all and my neck makes a sound like two rocks rubbing together.  Shit, that can’t be good.

“When someone, or some thing, in the DCV burned my team, I had to lay low out here in the middle of Bumfuck, but now it looks like it’s time to move on,” She said. “You tell Eddie I appreciate his loan, but it’d be best for everyone if he considers it a gift from here on out.”  She blows me a kiss and turns from my sight.

Her steps crunch away. I can’t turn my head to look, but I hear my ride’s engine roar to life and gravel pings off the dumpster before the dust blows over me.

I wonder when that goddamn cook’s gonna take his break, ‘cause this ball-freezing cold is killing me.