The below is the 1st chapter in my new comedy western. I’ll post more of it if people are intrigued and ask for it. Haven’t completed it yet but I’m getting fairly close.
Oh, and to start, you should probably take your tongue and place it firmly in your cheeck; that will mostly likely be very helpful.
How could he have known the kid would draw on him? He couldn’t. He would never have guessed it. If the situation ever replayed itself he still wouldn’t believe it to be a consideration after having lived through it once already. The kid had no business being there in the first place and must have been crazy to think he had any chance of coming through unscathed. Perhaps he was possessed by some sort of narcissistic demon that had no intention of coming through unscathed.
But, we are getting ahead of ourselves a bit, or more accurately, we are looking back a bit. We need to jump ahead a few years to witness the grand entrance of the one-eyed gunslinger into our story. Well, in truth, it wasn’t grand at all. He departed the Shavano passenger train when it stopped in Gunnison on its way to Ogden. Even that is being kind. He didn’t “depart” so much as he was unceremoniously thrown out of the parlor car for being drunk, and for being onboard without having a ticket or the means to pay for a ticket. I guess we shouldn’t even call him a gunslinger as he was unarmed at the time. He did only have one eye though. Unfortunately for him when he landed face first in the dirt at the foot of the train station he landed on his right side, the side with his good eye, and was therefore momentarily the zero-eyed gun-less gunslinger.
I forgot to mention that it was dark, and there was no one else, other than the conductor, another employee of the Denver & Rio Grande Western, and the local sheriff, to witness his entrance into Gunnison. Even that is misleading because it wasn’t just dark, it was midnight on a moonless cloudy night and the oil lamps at the edges of the station platform had been extinguished hours before. I’m just trying to paint a clear picture for you here. Can you see it? There is overgrown sagebrush scattered about, and a few weeds have forced themselves up through the gaps in the planks of the platform. You can’t really see those though. It’s way too dark for that sort of detail.
So, you could be thinking, because it’s what I had thought when I first heard this story, “well, it just can’t get much worse for this guy can it?” And, you’d be wrong. The sheriff had arrived at the station 5 minutes before the Shavano was due, with two prisoners in tow, in the hopes that a Marshall would be on board that could take custody of the two cutthroats. There wasn’t, but being at the station on that specific night at that specific time gave him a front row seat for the gunslinger being tossed out on his face. A brief inquiry later, and the gunslinger was in chains alongside the two cutthroats and being marched back into town to spend the rest of the night in jail.
Marched is perhaps the wrong term to use. Since he was drunk he did a lot of stumbling and flopping about. The two cutthroats did a lot of cursing as they were forced, eventually, to half carry and half drag him between them most of the way. They whispered curses in his ears about what they were going to do him once they were free of their manacles. The sheriff didn’t hear the threats over the noise of the chains rattling and a deep throated snore. The gunslinger didn’t hear the threats because he had fallen asleep as soon as the two men he was chained too had started to drag him down the street.
Okay, so to recap, he’s drunk, penniless, unarmed, one (or zero) good eye(s), arrested, and has already managed to alienate his compadres in chains. The “drunk” aspect of the current situation is only temporary of course but it will be switching to hung-over when the first rays of light wake him up the following morning. The only bit of good luck he seemed to have that night was the sheriff had been smart enough to throw him into a cell of his own, thwarting the plans of the cutthroats in the other cell. He, of course, was oblivious to that though.
It might be pertinent, at this point in the story, to introduce a few names. So, for now, let’s call the gunslinger “el borracho.” It means “the drunk.” I understand that is no longer a fair shake, as he is no longer drunk, but to cure the hang-over he is going to have to do something once the sheriff lets him out of his cell. Speaking of the sheriff, let’s call him Cole Brown, because that’s his name. And the two cutthroats, you ask? They don’t need names we never see them again.
El borracho’s head pounded. He had a bruise on the right side of his face where he had hit the dirt but he didn’t know that yet because he hadn’t had a chance to look in a mirror, and his whole head pounded so fiercely that bruise was lost in the mix. He held his head with both hands, bent over, with his rear on the wooden slat that had been his bed the night before, and his elbows on his knees. The sound the cell made when Sheriff Cole Brown swung open the door sent spikes of additional pain deep into his head and he responded with a small groan.
He thought it was a small groan but in reality it came out as loud as if someone had sucker punched him in the gut and he had gone to the ground writhing and calling out in agony. Sheriff Brown suppressed a smile and gingerly led el borracho from the cell, out of the jail, and into the bright and bustling day. With a pat on el borracho’s back he said, “If you laid off the sauce your head wouldn’t hurt so much and you’d find yourself waking up in more hospitable places than one of my cells” and then el borracho was free and the sheriff was back in the jail house.
So, he did what any drunk would do in the same circumstances and half stumbled, half walked to the nearest bar. It’s amazing how a drunk can seem to smell out where they can get their next drink from, and can still manage to get that drink even when they don’t have a penny to their name. Blind fold them, take them to a town they’ve never set foot in, spin them around and around until they are so dizzy they can barely stand, then set them loose and they’ll be seated in a bar stool before you’ve finished folding up the blind fold. It’s uncanny, but, it is also off topic.
El borracho found a bar and it was even open. That was his second bit of good luck in less than 24 hours. He was on a roll.
“Barkeep, I’d like three fingers of your second cheapest whiskey. Having myself a bit of a celebration on getting released from jail this morning.”
A glass was produced, three fingers were poured, three fingers were consumed in two long gulps, the glass was slammed down onto the bar with a resounding thump, and el borracho sighed as the pounding in his head dissipated and he began to feel like himself again. The barkeep rolled his eyes and grabbed the glass to pour another three fingers when it dawned on him that he should get paid first.
That is where el borracho’s recent run of good luck abruptly ended, at two, and he was unceremoniously tossed, for the second time in less than 24 hours, out of where he wanted to be and into Sheriff Brown’s jail. Despite the three fingers he had consumed, the slamming of the cell door got his head pounding again. Without the means to get more into his system, and not having had enough to ease the pain away again or pass out, it was going to be a long day. His right hand twitched and el borracho groaned as the first of the shakes settled in.