Chapter 18

Ready for another installment in my western?  Here you go!

Oh, and if you need to know what’s going on, this right here might be helpful.

………

She was of medium height, good figure, wearing a sundress befitting the heat of the coming day and a shawl across her shoulders to ward off the morning chill.  Her hair, pulled into a bun at the back of her head, was that reddish blonde color where it wavered from one to the other depending on the light and never seemed to stop shimmering even when she stood still.  The flickering light from the oil lamps around the bar sparkled in her fierce blue eyes.  Even with the anger and revile etched across her face she was still easy to look at.

El borracho’s heart skipped a beat.  She is beautiful.

Jack Smith’s heart skipped a beat.  What is a woman, of obvious high standing in the community, doing in a bar?  And what is she doing here this early in the morning?  The sun isn’t even out yet.

Brig Coyle’s heart skipped a beat.  Which one of me does she know?  I don’t recognize her so hopefully she knows me as either Jack or el borracho or one of my other baser aliases.  Please don’t let her know me as Brig.  I don’t need that name thrown in my face right now.  I don’t need the people of this quiet town to know who I truly am.

All that inner-turmoil dialogue transpired before Dan could even turn in his seat to see who the newcomer was.  He had just managed to get a good look at the woman himself when el borracho responded.

“I’m sorry, mam, I’m not sure what you mean.  I’m just a drunk working on turning my life around thanks to the help of the good sheriff and this man here,” he pointed at Dan.  “If I did something to offend or bother you while in one of my drunken fugues I’m truly sorry and I’d be happy to repay you in any way I can.”

She briefly looked unsure of herself, her brow furrowed as she held her own internal court about the man that stood in front of her.  Her beautiful blue eyes briefly flicked over to Dan, who for his part was sitting motionless on his stool at the bar taking in the scene, before returning to Brig.  Her mind made up, she took a purposeful step further into the bar, planted her feet, and pointed at Brig.

“Sure, you may be a drunk, you may be lots of things now, but that’s not who you used to be.”

She was going to say more and Brig couldn’t allow that.  He couldn’t allow her to say his name.  He couldn’t allow her to bring that storm down upon him.  Brig took a step towards the lady and started yammering on about the follies of his recent drunken past.

Her resolve faltered when she saw him step toward her and she involuntarily took a step back.  He took another step forward and she retreated again.  He took a third step towards her and she backed into the closed door.  If she wanted to flee further she would have to turn her back on him and wrench the door open.  Brig saw her hand start up the door, trying to find the handle without taking her eyes off him.  He took another step forward thinking that would be enough to send her scurrying into the street.

Unfortunately, the steel resolve returned to her eyes.  Having her back against the wall had literally added support to her spine and her hand stopped seeking the handle and instead pointed at Brig again.  El borracho raised his voice and continued spouting off about how sorry he was that he had been addicted to booze and how sorry he was that he had caused her some trouble and how if she gave him a chance he would make it up to her and prove that he turned over a new leaf in his life, he had gotten his train on the right tracks finally.

“Brig Coyle,” she said, loud enough for Dan to her it clearly from his stool over Brig’s chatter.

My God, el borracho thought, even her voice is beautiful.

Jack Smith thought nothing because Jack Smith was no more.  Only Brig, and el borracho, remained.  And el borracho will always be a part of who I am now.

Brig Coyle stopped talking.  The damage had been done.  Behind him he could hear Dan’s glass hitting the counter top as it dropped from nerveless fingers.  He didn’t need to see the look of fear on his employer’s face to know it was there.  He had seen it on countless faces before.  That look haunted his dreams.

“Brig Coyle,” she said, “you are a murderer.”

Crap.

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