posted on Dec, 10 2013 @ 05:58 PM
I knew Chico Ramirez was coming to town and no-one had to tell me a thing. Being Sheriff in this two-bit town has taught me a thing or two.
First off, Dale Readingly and his dry-goods store was nailed shut. That ski-flint would snatch the pennies off the eyes of a corpse if he thought he
could get away with it. There weren’t no way that he’d close his store up early. Hell, last year his middle daughter Elaine fell ill with the
consumption and his store was still open, taking sympathy cash for all he could.
Then there was Sparky’s. That Irish blacksmith had orders a mile long and with a new baby on the way, he was working all he could, yet the bellows
were silent, his fires cold.
The bank was still open as was the saloon. But people weren’t lingering in the late summer weather. They were practically running from one to the
other. I suppose getting liquored up was the best defense to what was coming to town.
And it had to be Chico.
I rolled a cigarette slowly and took in the tiny town. I’d been sheriff here for five years. A life-time in my profession. I had friends in this
town. People who’d nod politely, schoolmarms that’d bake me a nice pie on the holidays. But no-one I could count on in the up-coming fight.
That, I’d have to do on my own. I walked slowly to the saloon, hoping to wet my whistle before the big fight. Drunk, sober, one of us would be
dead before night fall. I stepped on the smoke and walked up the wooden stairs to the swinging doors, listening to the furtive talk going on
It stopped as soon as I walked in.
I walked through the silent room, all eyes on me, but none that’d meet my gaze. I slid up to the bar and Jimmy, the one-legged barkeep came limping
up (his wood leg keeping time to the grandfather clock along the wall) and pushed a bottle of scotch my way.
“Take it with ya’ Sheriff! On the house! No need to keep with the likes of us as you enjoy this fine libation.” Jimmy wiped the sweat off his
growing forehead and smiled nervously.
I looked down, paused a moment to gather my thoughts, then looked back up at Jimmy, still smiling like he was negotiating with a scorpion. I uncorked
the bottle, said, “I think I’ll just take a glass and sit a spell, Jimmy.” And slowly rolled another smoke.
The glasses underneath the bar rattled like teeth shivering in a northern wind as he pulled one up, it was clean this time, and left it on the bar in
front of me. I didn’t smile. I didn’t say thank you. I just stared at him until he limped away. This time though, I couldn’t hear if it was
keeping time with the clock because of the noise of the chairs moving across the wood floor. In just a few seconds, I was the only person in the
saloon. All because Chico was coming to town.
Chico Ramirez was a lying, low-down, cheating snake. I take that back, I wouldn’t want to insult snakes. He lied and cheated his way into small
towns all along the river until he came to my town. The minute he came into town I recognized him for what he was. He knew that I knew it too.
But he still tried.
I ended up sending him to the Territories’ prison for three years. It was trumped up charges, not enough to gather an investigation against me, but
enough to convince the traveling judge that Chico was up to no good.
Now he was out. He held a grudge. I suppose at some point I should start worrying. But that would have to wait, I suppose. I heard a voice outside
in the road.
Chico had come to town.
I slowly finished my drink, enjoying the burn of the scotch. It was actually quite good. Gonna hafta thank Jimmy for that later. I squared my hat,
made sure my badge was showing, and placed my hand on the gun at my side. I half-spun on the bar stool and looked outside.
Chico was standing in the dust, staring back at the dim interior of the saloon. His hand was on his shooting iron. He was smiling. “Time to come
out Sheriff. Time to meet your Maker, you lying black-hearted bastard.”
I waited. Didn’t say a thing.
He called out again. “You afraid of me, Sheriff? You afraid of the honest man you put in jail? You afraid of true justice?
I kept quiet. Didn’t move a muscle.
“You yeller? You gonna hide in some cheap dive hoping I go away? I ain’t goin’ nowhere, Sheriff. We gotta score to settle.” Chico
stirred where he stood. Impatient. Hell, if I had waited three years to shoot a man, I’d a thought a little patience might have been learnt.
He suddenly broke loose from where he was standing and came charging up the steps.
I shot him before he got to the door. One through the heart. It stopped him cold. It wasn’t a fair fight. He was right. I had a habit of being
a black-hearted bastard on occasion.
It came with the job.
I spun back around and decided to take the bottle with me after all. After rolling another smoke, I took the bottle and walked over Chico’s cooling
corpse. I looked up at the rising moons of Tau Ceti and thought, “This has to be my favorite time of day.”
I walked on home into the growing dusk.