A pair of leather boots leaves traces in the blazing sand. A pair of revolvers sits on either side of the hip. A pair of hard blue eyes scans the scorched street. A clean checkered shirt under a buffalo vest, neatly tucked into a pair of spotless trousers. A man in his fifties, sporting a thick mustache above the lip and more than a few wrinkles walks towards a wooden building. The sign reads: FRONTIER SALOON.
As he approaches the saloon, a window on one of the wooden houses that line the main street, opens. An old lady pokes her head out and regards the man with an expression of relief and worry.
,, They have been in there all night sheriff, don't think they are gonna stop soon.”
Music and shouting croak from inside the saloon. A mish-mash of voices overlapping, with a piano playing unrestrained through it all. Occasionally a gun-shot rings through the air, accompanied by the sound of breaking glass.
,,Only God knows when they are gonna run out of songs or bullets. Also, the nice lady who came by the shop earlier is still in there. ”
,, You go back to your silk Mrs. Larson. This matter is gonna be taken care of.”
,, Yes, yes, you go ahead. Teachem a lesson.”
She crosses herself and shuts the window.
The sheriff enters the saloon, his nose fills with air that reeks of alcohol and smoke. On the far end are three young vagabonds from out of town, so filled up with liquor that it is a minor miracle everybody is still standing. One ineptly plays the piano, while another drunkenly sings the lead. The third one fires rounds from a quick-shot revolver at the bar. Lined up liquor bottles burst and booze runs down onto a young woman, muzzled and tied to two wooden beams like Jesus on the cross. Drifting in and out of desperately needed sleep, she barely can keep her eyes open, at least until the next surge of liquor hits her. The singer shoots a glance.
,,Ah, look at that guys. We got some company.”
The other two stop and turn towards the sheriff, so dazed they gotta see him at least double. The woman looks too, barely registering at first. The shooter takes a step forward, makes himself out as the leader.
,,You got some issue with our singing pal?”
No word from the sheriff. His face betrays nothing, except a hint of pity. In the woman's eyes there is a new spark, a fire rekindled. Shooter takes a step towards the sheriff, raises his quick-shot revolver.
,,Cause we paid for our drinks, and there ain't no limit on how long we can stay. Oh and if you wondering about the little bird over there, she agreed to this. I got two witnesses who'll swear to it in the name of the lord.”
The revolver's nozzle presses against the sheriff's chest, who briefly glances down at it, then back at the shooter, his expression a somber mask of seemingly immovable calm.
,, Zero.” , says the sheriff.
Shooter stares at him, baffled by the calmness in his voice.
,,You have exactly zero bullets left in that chamber.”
,, Is that so?”
The quick-shot revolver swings towards the bar. CLICK, Boom! More smoke fills the air, as a bottle of Jimmy Buffalo's famous cooking oil bursts above the woman, effectively showering her in the yellow liquid. Shooter grins, as she is soaked yet again.
,, That sound like zero to you?”
The sheriff is not impressed. He slowly pulls out his own guns. Light shimmers on two beautiful Colt Walkers. One is engraved with: Destiny. On the second it reads: Redemption.
,, Son, there are two ways this conversation can end. Either you and your buddies sober up, cut the young lady loose and get a move-on, or our local coroner will have to take your measurements. What is it going to be? “
Thanks to that threat, all attention directs to the sheriff. No one is registering the woman slowly slipping out of the drenched restraints, her stare locked on the distracted men.
,,Listen old man,-”
The shooter pulls back the hammer, straightens himself to full height and presses the small gun hard against the checkered shirt.
,,- you may think your shining law-makers give you authority around here, just as they are spotless, so are you huh? Yeah, you honestly believe you're on some holy mission from god to protect these folks? Well, lemme give you the news straight from over the pond: God is dead. And you know what? We fucking killed him."
CLICK. The shooter squeezes the trigger. Silence fills the room, as the desired effect fails to materialize. The sheriff is standing, calm as ever. Shooter's eyes go wide, as two glimmering barrels press against his own chest.
,,Threatening an officer of the law will land you with the hangman, but that second thing you just said will land you in a place much worse. Sorry son.
CLICKCLICK, BOOMBOOM! Destiny and Redemption discharge two thundering rounds into Shooter's chest. Blood sprays on his companions, as he flies through the saloon, lands on a wooden table and collapses in a violent spasm. The singer goes for his sawed-off shotgun, but gets a glass bottle busted on his head that sends him tumbling to the ground. Freed from her restrains, the woman towers over him, watches the blood drip from his head, muzzle still in mouth. Then her stare hits piano man.
Instantaneously, Piano man's hands shoot into the air, shaking from booze and anxiety alike, sensing the only viable option to avert certain demise.
The young woman spits out her muzzle and lets loose a burst of manic laughter, her body quivering from strains, yet still supporting her feverish enjoyment.
,,You gottem good sheriff, no doubt about it. And look at this fella over here.”
She picks up the singer's shotgun, points it right at piano player's face. The man gulps, sweat starts building on his forehead. Like most people who drank too much, he starts regretting decisions that he made hours ago. She however couldn't be happier, seemingly lost in the moment, tempted by the opportunity to inflict violence. The sheriff holsters his weapons.
,, Mrs. , please put down the gun. The law doesn't permit us to excise final justice. That is up to God.”
,, With respect sheriff, the man on that table is probably standing before God right now. You didn't seem to be bothered sending him there.”
She pulls back the shotgun's hammer, ready to unleash hell into the piano man's sweating face.
,, Mrs. , he was the one who gave you a hard time and threatened me. Even worse was what he did to our lord's name. That one is just a bystander, tail of a rattle-snake whose head has been cut off for good. Let it go.”
,, Wouldn't you agree sheriff that seeing a wrong being done and not doing a thing about it, even though you could, is as worse as committing said wrong.”
,, It's the law. “
,, Yeah. The law.”
CLICK. ZSSST. Silence again, except for the shotgun powder being defused by evaporating water from the broken bottle. The woman looks the piano man down. A stream of piss is running from his trousers. She smirks.
,, Lucky day. Hadn't had one of those in a long while. Hope you enjoy it.”
Then she knocks him out cold with the butt of the shotgun. He falls backwards onto the piano, which lets loose one last distorted climper. Putting the shotgun in her belt, she approaches the sheriff, giving him another wide smile.
,, Owners are upstairs, tied to the bed. These are all yours. Hope you don't mind me leaving, got a train to catch. “
,, Just one moment there Missy. You tried to kill that man.”
She cocks her head to the side, eyes locked onto the sheriff's.
,, Didn't exactly work for me, seeing how he's over there drooling over the piano. “
,, That's not the issue, your intent is. Wrath isn't exactly how things should be handled out here.”
His voice is firm, carrying unbroken authority of someone who speaks with utmost conviction.
,, Believe me I know what it's like to feel that temptation.”
As he says those words, her eyes glaze over.
,, Look, whatever daughter, or wife I remind you off. Let her go. You don't owe nothing to them. You ain't gotta put yourself on some pathetic spiritual mission that ain't gonna change jack shit out here. This is the frontier. Now, that train ain't waiting on me.”
She walks past the sheriff and heads for the saloon door. A reaction slips from his face, a sliver of annoyance, perhaps anger.
,, It would do you good to show a little gratitude, girl. Treating folks adequately and with respect, that's whats missing out here. A little decency.”
That stops her again. Rays of sunshine just begin to illuminate the saloon's interior. The blood sprinkles glimmer like tiny rubies. Still dripping with liquor, the woman shoots one more fierce look at the sheriff.
,, Out here sheriff, decency is for the dead. So, you'll be careful now. There are folks much worse than those buggers going around. Good Hunting to you.”
With that she is gone. Disappeared right into the blinding light of the street.