It’s that time again, where we get to step into the old west, or the version of it that my mind has produced, and check in on our favorite recovering alcoholic gunslinger. New to the story, not quite sure what’s going on, this will probably help.
Cleaning up the bar didn’t take nearly as long as Jack had thought it would. Working together with Dan speeded things right along. They cleared away the broken glass and then inspected each of the chairs and tables to see which ones were okay, which ones needed to be repaired and which ones could be chopped up for fire wood. Then Jack swept and mopped the place for the second time that day while Dan tidied up behind the bar and re-stocked.
Since the Gunnison Inn was essentially closed for the remainder of the night they were able to get the morning chores done ahead of time. That meant they’d both be able to get a bit of extra sleep in the morning. Well, to an extent. El borracho wasn’t sure how well he’d sleep in the jail now that his back had gotten used to sleeping on a bed for the past few weeks.
Then again, he thought while mopping up the last dirty section of the floor, it shouldn’t be too hard for me to switch back to the wooden cot in one of Cole’s cells. I’ve spent many more nights in far less comfortable places than my room at Mrs. Sorensen’s in the last couple of years. My body may protest at first but then it will be fine. It will be just like going home.
It was too late to do any chopping, so the broken pieces of furniture all got stacked up outside against the back wall for Dan, or Jack or one of the other employees of the bar to chop up the following day. The furniture that needed minor repairs all got shoved to one corner of the room to also be dealt with the following day when they could work in the sunlight to actually see what they were doing: added braces to cracked legs of chairs and tables, and patching up table tops where small holes had been punched out, etc…
While they worked, the sheriff had popped in twice to check on their progress and then left them to it to see to his own responsibilities. He came back the third time just as they were finishing up the last bit of furniture arrangement, getting the key items back in place and then spreading out the remaining items across the rest of the open floor. “Looking good in here, the kind of place a guy could come and have a drink in peace after a long day of work.”
Sheriff Brown smiled and kept his mouth shut for a minute or two.
Dan and Jack finished up and then stepped back to survey the work they had accomplished. The place did look good again. It wasn’t even that obvious that a third or so of the tables and chairs that had been there that morning were missing. All evidence of the fight had been successfully erased. Dan and Jack were both quietly grateful that the large mirror behind the bar had gone unscathed in the melee, that wouldn’t have been easy to replace.
“Okay, Jack,” Dan said offering his hand to his employee, “we’ll see you back here as soon as Cole lets you out of jail.”
“I get to keep my job?” Cole hesitated before accepting the offered hand.
“I don’t see as you could have played that any differently. Unfortunate, but the truth all the same. We will just have to figure out how to play it next time Ed comes in here looking for you and looking for trouble, because I’ve no doubt he’ll be back.”
Jack shook the offered hand, speechless.
“And,” Dan continued, “don’t worry about paying for the repairs. I figure I’m already getting that out of you, the difference in what I’m paying you and the rest of them working for me. We are square in my book.”
Jack found his voice, “Thank you Dan, I appreciate it. I appreciate everything you’ve done for me. You too, Cole. You’ve both been real good to me, real good at helping me find my feet again. I won’t forget it.”
“We know,” Cole replied. “We knew that the minute you decided it was better to start a fight than to take a shot of whiskey.”
“You going to take me to jail now?”
The sheriff smiled, and shook his head with a chuckle, “I reckon so.”