He stepped into the street, the dust swirled around his boots and the wind tugged at the edge of his stained trencher. The miles had not been kind to it, but it continued to hold together, just like him. He leaned into the gale, ducking his head so the current wouldn’t get under the brim and send his hat sailing down the deserted road, and his coat’s tails whipped to attention. The saloon door closed behind him and he was free of its clinging smells and dreams.
The drink remained, though. Even when it was gone, it was never far away. Of the stains on his soul, it wasn’t the darkest or the largest.
The tastes of the night remained strong on his tongue even as the morning sun warmed his shoulders. He coughed into the weather beaten fist of his left hand, having learned long ago to never allow his right hand, his gun hand, to stray too far from the holstered shooter. Thinking about it, he reached for the butt and was comforted by the reassuring feel of the smooth sandalwood grip.
Despite the demons in his head he smiled. He knew what kind of man he had become, he knew the true source of the worst of his stains, but it no longer troubled him like it used to.
His stained soul was part of him.
His eyes scanned the empty stretch of road, squinting against the blistering light, and no shadows betrayed the stillness. He considered pulling the iron and waking the town with chaos and blood. He considered turning around and having another drink, or two. Or three…
His smile broadened, mischievously, maliciously, and he…