Red Eyed Sunday – Part 3
His pace hadn’t altered, my eyes had though. He did not draw my attention as thoroughly like before. I was not mesmerized. The mystery had faded, and he looked like a man in a funny costume riding my way, led by his horse. He must’ve been dying from the heat I thought. As he drew nearer I wondered what he wanted, and hoped to not be involved.
He looked dead at me. His eyes did not alter. They did not waiver, nor glance. They did not move. They locked on me, piercing through me, welching the ease in my spirit and putting me back on alert. I began to think he came looking for an easy fight after getting thrown out of the saloon. Once again, I was nervous, and began to worry as he approached.
This time as well, before I actually noticed he and his horse were standing right in front of me. This time he definitely wanted more. They stopped right in front of me and froze. It was strange. They still did not move, not his eyes, nothing. He stayed there looking straight at me, and his horse did as well. I didn’t know to look at him or the horse. They just stood there, staring.
“Sir…?” I finally asked.
He stood there… still, not moving, just staring. Finally, after seemingly forever, he sort of whispered “How you doing Buck? How’ve things been?”
Once more, I was struck and my presence of mind came stumbling back. Now I stared. Who is this guy?
“How do you know my name?” I asked.
“Thelma and I go way back,” he answered.
Before I could say any more, he started in again, “That was tense in the saloon_ could’ve gone a lot worse.”
“Why’d didn’t you defend yourself in there?” I asked.
The man in black smiled and spoke softly, “It wasn’t the time. Tell me now… What’s going on with this town?”
I stepped back cautiously out of instinct. Nothing good ever happened in this town, and any prolonged thought about it was bound to lead to your death. You survived like I did by not poking around and keeping quiet. You had to make sure your every move was in line with your own business, which could be taken away in an instant, and nothing else. That was the way of progress. And the way of progress was surviving.
“Buck, I understand it might be difficult, just tell me though, it’ll be fine” he insisted.
I thought about it for a second, and knew I shouldn’t say, but for whatever reason began to feel relieved and compelled to let go. And I did:
“It all started with Frank Sanders. A big guy. A big personality. A big idea. A big liar. A big killer. A guy that will stab you in the back then blow your head off just for good measure. Anybody that ever gets in his way or doesn’t go along with him and his gang, he just kills. They’ve taken over completely. And all of them are just the same. Any resistance or disagreement at all, you’re history,” I explained.
“I see. That’s horrible,” the man in black commented. “How’d everything start? Take me back and tell me what happened.”
I felt his concern. I could actually feel something from this man that made me know he was there to help, and my caution relinquished to dust scattering any weary thought from before, and I continued:
“Frank just rode right into town, right there, right in the damn center, and started shouting, yelling, proclaiming all sorts of promises and fortune… shouting how he was the man for the job and how he’d build up the town. Soon enough a crowd gathered round and he convinced all of us to hold a meeting that night. At the meeting, he laid it all out. He had a whole plan how he was going to grow the town. He told us from the start he had a crew of dedicated men ready to go at a moments notice. Said it was his business, and he’d done good before.
He mentioned a piece of property, he knew from his experience the railroad would be interested in, that was for sale. And if we could purchase that property and build up the town, the rail road would build in this direction, and we would start to compete and grow commerce like the other big towns.
He sold it, and we bought it. We all believed in his plan so much the town gave up most all their savings into Frank’s venture. And after there was no more money to give, Frank’s true colors began to come out. The property Frank talked us into buying was put in Frank’s name. With as little as we were being told and as much as we were kept in the dark, no one was aware at the time. We were made to believe everything was alright.
The town’s main source of water comes from a river running directly through the property. Frank dammed the river and used his stronghold to choke the town’s water supply. Water is now a premium, where it was free and always flowing before. In addition, he took over the livery stable and ran the blacksmith out of town. It’s now called Sander’s Livery. He also took over the general store which caused the store keeper and his family to flee from town. It’s now called Sander’s General Store, selling goods for twice as much as before. He’s taken over every business, and rumor has it Thelma’s is next.
The man without much expression said, “We’ll See about that.”
Music: Budos Band – Deep In The Sand