It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a new chapter for my comedy western… with holidays and spending my time on other projects I stepped away from it for awhile. Forgive me. Oh, you have already? Awesome, thanks.
The first six chapters are here.
And, because you’ve all waited so patiently, here’s the next installment. I know you must be beside yourself with anticipation to see what happens next.
It didn’t help that Dan Reilly loved to laugh and had one of those overpoweringly infectious laughs that could completely dominate a room. When he laughed the people down the street knew that something had tickled his funny bone. And, not a day went by that something didn’t tickle him. So, Sheriff Brown wasn’t too surprised when Dan did laugh at him, or with him, or really just at the situation, but he was still slightly taken aback by the intensity of the laughter. Though, perhaps, considering the question and the recipient of that question it really shouldn’t have been too surprising at all.
It was a forceful enough laugh, and lasted long enough, that even the regular patrons at the Gunnison Inn turned their glances towards Dan to see what had gotten him going. The presence of the sheriff only piqued their interests further and a few of them sidled up to the bar to catch what parts of the conversation going on between the two men they could.
“Now, hear me out, Dan.”
Breathless, flushed from the laughter, and still stuck between trying to catch his breath and continue to guffaw, Dan was doubled over and raised a hand up towards the sheriff to get him to hold on for a moment before he said anything else to send him spiraling further into delirium. If he couldn’t stop laughing and catch his breath he might pass out from the lack of oxygen.
At first he had thought Cole was being funny, intentionally trying to get a laugh out of him, and it had worked. Then when had sensed that Cole was being serious and really wanted him to hire a drunk to work at his bar he had completely lost it. The idea was too absurd, and the look of earnestness on Cole’s face just fueled the fire. He needed to calm down though. He needed to breathe.
He leaned forward into his bar, his elbows on top of the lovingly smoothed and polished surface, his head bowed over, eyes closed. A full minute passed and he finally got his breathing under control and could face his friend again. “You can’t be serious Cole.”
“Now, hear me out, Dan.”
“No sir, no way, no how. I can’t have a drunk working at my bar. I know you’ve managed to sober up yourself and a few others in your time here but you can’t really think this would be a good idea, can you? You can’t really think I’d be willing to go along with this farce?”
“I know, it’s asking a lot.”
“A lot?” Dan was incredulous. He threw his hands up in the air and rolled his eyes. “Asking a lot would be asking me to comp someone’s outstanding tab. Asking a lot would be asking me to close down for a few weeks for some reason or other. Asking a lot would be asking me to hire someone I’ve never met just on your word that he would work out. Asking me to hire a drunk to work at my bar, that’s asking too much.”
Sheriff Brown let Dan vent uninterrupted. He just stood across the bar and steadied his gaze upon his friend, arms folded across his chest, hat tipped back to expose his brow, with an easy “I’m going to get my way” expression on his face. When Dan’s mini outburst wrapped up, Cole asked, “Do you have an open position you need to fill, or don’t you?”
Dan couldn’t help but smile, it was his nature, and he already knew that Cole had his number. He did need the help and he did trust his friend. If Cole said the man, Jack Smith, could be trusted then he had no doubt it would work out. He even enjoyed the matter-of-fact attitude about Cole. The sheriff knew he would get his way in the end. That didn’t mean he had to make it easy.
Dan grew pensive, or he hoped that’s how he looked anyway, and scratched the whiskers coming in under his chin. “Well, I just don’t know. Just because I’ve got a couple shifts I’d like to fill so I don’t have to work them all doesn’t mean I can hire somebody willy nilly.”
“I wouldn’t have come to you if I didn’t think it would have been mutually beneficial for you as well, and you know that, so quit your stalling.”
“Stalling? Stalling he says. Like hiring a drunk is an everyday occurrence around here. Sure, sure, let me just tell the three other drunks on my payroll to clear out so I can make room for Cole’s new special interest.”
That cut a little deeper than he’d anticipated and the sheriff scowled. It was well known that he had a tender spot for drunks, having been one himself, and it had been a point of contention more than once in the past when someone he had tried to helped hadn’t been ready to venture back out into the world yet. There had been some busted dishes, some stolen goods, some broken windows and even a little spilled blood over the years. None of which Dan had experience firsthand because Cole had never brought one of his recoveries to the bar before. Still, there were elements around town that liked to give the sheriff grief because of his past and his attempts to save other drunks.
Dan held his hand up, apologetic, as a peace offering. “Alright, alright, does he have any skills I can use?”
“He’s done every menial and back breaking job I’ve thrown at him for the past two weeks, without a single complaint, other than not liking bologna sandwiches. Plus, he’s done a good job too. He didn’t just go through the motions. He’ll do whatever you ask of him and probably surprise you with how good a job he does.”
Dan pursed his lips as he pondered the situation. He could certainly use the help and it would be nice to have someone who didn’t mind getting dirty to help clean up the place. If I put him on the morning shift he can clean up from whatever shenanigans happened during the busy period the night before, there would be fewer customers in here ordering drinks for him to be tempted with. That might actually work.
“Can he be here tomorrow morning at four?”
“I reckon so.”