“Calling the Shots” by C.B. Auder


“You’re getting dusty as a muzzle-loader!” the whole world boomed into my face. “When are you finally gonna bag yourself a dude?”
Well, I’m exactly like every other madam-zelle on this progressively-parched planet: I’d never been popped. And I wanted that first grenade pin to send me to heaven.
What if the guy was too lip-lubed? Sheriff Snoozical? Stanky ass-chaps. Nitwit City! What were my odds of randomly hunting down a Mister Right? Could I love the wrong one? Could anybody with half a brain?
What I needed was managed target practice with a whopping mess of men.

The Scattershot Dates gal smiled real big. Yuge! She flicked through my file. “Your hobbies and interests are … unusual.”
“Darn tootin’!” I whooped. Call me excited, but I’d paid a saddlebag of money for a pasture’s worth of love.
She didn’t know how to mirror. She spoke in suspiciously even tones. She said, “Maybe we should remember there’s a first time for everything.”
I thought on that. Doughnut teeth, octo-boobs, a well-oiled legislature, reverse-gravity hair…. “No,” I replied after a time. “Your claim doesn’t fly– Hang on. Don’t tell me some of my Scattershot matches are fillies?”
She eyed me funny. As so many do. Weren’t raised right, I expect.
“Yes,” she said. “And no.”
“Whoa. Are you saying I’m a transvesti-presti-digi-tater?”
That started her blinking. Some kind of Morse code.
“Do you have a minder, missy?” I scratched my trigger finger. “Just who’s driving this rodeo?”
“Look, you matched only one applicant in our database,” she bleated, “and we set the search to Fuzzy!”
Well, you could’ve blown my face off. But maybe that’s true of anyone.
“LISTEN HERE NOW,” I hollered in an effort to be peaceable. “I paid good money for the Lock-Stock-and-Barrel deal. Your Hollow-Points Ad clearly stated–”
“I am so sorry, ma’am.”
“Ix-nay on the sweet talk, toots. How’m I gonna find a lifelong smoocher if there’s only one bag of shot to test-squeeze?”
She drummed her fingers in apology. “Please. We need to stay focused on the positives.”
Her squint held promise. I slid my Derringer back between my ample bazooms.
“We’ve done a background check.” She took a deep breath. “Your match couldn’t be more convenient. It’s probably safe. And they’ll always be there for you.”
“That seems excessively unlikely.”
“My hand to God.”
I wasn’t on speaking terms with her Almighty, but I took her printout. Gave it a grudging once-over. “You’re saying that out of a gigamaree’s worth of full-grown homunculi, the only person I’m compatible with is ME?”
Her face flushed with awe. “A near-perfect bulls-eye.”
That didn’t sound like me at all.
She emphasized the reputation-back guarantee. “We could pressure you to sign a contract if you like. This month’s special is no slut-shaming.”

I started slow. Took myself to a couple of matinees. Taste-tested some spaghetti westerns I’d always wanted to try, and I kinda-sorta liked them. One weekend I ate two jars of salsa? Couldn’t tell whether or not I reeked. After a time, I almost trusted myself to not bogart the last buffalo wing during a nap.
So life was going about as gooey as a pie-eating contest. I was itching to explore more intimate of pleasures. You know. Lemme tell you, they weren’t half bad. No shoot-outs whenever the showerhead got left on Torpedo Zone. And not to get too hard-core, but me and I had some bueno fart fests.
Let me be clear. The days weren’t all leather holsters and unborn babies. Given as how often I found Google nudges for celebrity nudes, I half-suspected an online affair.
Of course I denied the charge to my complete satisfaction. And yet…. I couldn’t pop the Big Q. Would the relationship survive a true-blue showdown?

One afternoon, blam out of nowhere, I caught a look of scorn out of the corner of my good eye. “You know you don’t need to curl your bangs for me,” I said, too quietly. “And shaving your legs? That’s nothing but Hopalong Cassidy’s handiwork.”
There came one of those well-regulated pauses. I grabbed more ammo. “Don’t you know you’re pretty as a sunrise without a pig’s-lick of makeup?” I said, snatching up the T.V. remote as a hostage. I hadn’t really thought that last part through.
Everybody froze. Me and myself girded our lady loins for high noon.
And then if the damnedest thing didn’t happen. I flat-out agreed with my pronouncements.
“Put ‘er there, pardner.” We shook on it! Can you imagine? Had the whole world’s thoughts and prayers been answered?
Maybe…. Or maybe it just wasn’t the hill to die on.

Time passed as it is wont to do, and one morning I found myself in a terrible state. Red-faced and splayed out on the patio. Hair like a haystack, rigid as roadkill.
“What the hell do I think is going on here?” I demanded. Did I forget to set the safety on Maggie .45? A bead of horror crept towards my thoracic vertebrae.
I put a finger to my lips. Motioned myself over with a smile.
Turns out I was watching two ants work against each other to pull a double-wide caterpillar down a single-barrel hole. Took ’em between ten and ninety-four minutes, but hog-tie me to a talking Cheeto if those six-legged gals didn’t get ‘er done! I’d have been knocked over with an air gun if I hadn’t already been prone.
After the little wriggler descended to its final resting place and the shock wore off, both of me cried and cheered. We pumped our fists like the two Sarah Connors reloading.
I know what you’re thinking. Weren’t our arms pitted from that concrete? Hadn’t our legs gone numb?
They were. They had. But the Universe had spoken, and its message rang clear as a factory-conditioned miracle: we’d finally found The One. The only one that mattered. All hands to God.




C.B. Auder’s writing and art have most recently appeared in Cotton Xenomorph, OCCULUM, Moonchild, Unbroken, and Red Queen Literary Magazine. Find Aud on Twitter @cb_auder

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