Red Eyed Sunday – Part 4
When he said that, I wasn’t taken back, I was sort of excited. I began to realize he was here for one thing, and one thing only: to help. Hopefully he has a plan, because he’ll need one, I thought.
As I began thinking what he might do, he got off his horse and walked over and leaned up against the building to have a smoke. As he smoked and stood there, I saw how calm he was, and this drew a confidence in me I had rarely known throughout my life. Maybe not since we originally began building this town. Frank Sanders quickly made that confidence dissipate, and I hadn’t felt a sense of encouragement, or hope for that matter, for this town ever since. And now was when hope was needed the most.
Right then out of the saloon came running Mr. and Mrs. Powell, who had been living in the Inn on top since it was built. I grabbed my walking stick and went to meet them in the middle of the road.
As they approached I called out, “Mr. And Mrs. Powell, where are you going!? What’s the rush!?”
They stopped where I was standing, and frantically explained, “They threw us out. Sander’s men are taking up residence in the Inn and they kicked us out! And honestly, I am a bit relieved. After what happened earlier and everything going on lately, we’re ready to get out this town.”
I took a few minutes to try and convince them to stay without mentioning the man in black_ sort of wanted him to say something, but he didn’t. And Mr. Powell didn’t want to listen and wasn’t interested in anything I said. His family and he were frightened, and their minds were made up. I wished them luck and said goodbye. And they continued out of town wherever they were headed.
“Looks like the town lost two more,” The man in black remarked taking a puff of his cigar.
“They were good wholesome folk too,” I tried to explain.
“Maybe they’ll come back some day,” he told me before asking, “By the way Buck, what happened to you leg? I noticed that limp you got there.”
“It’s an old war injury. I was a sharpshooter for the Union Army. One day I was on a mission, it was real foggy early in the morning, I couldn’t see anything, and a confederate soldier snuck up and shot me. He got me right below the knee cap, but fortunately before he could reload I got a shot off and killed him. Since then people have identified me as the guy with the limp, and at times I haven’t felt like a whole man. One of the only people who hasn’t made me feel that way is Thelma. In fact I helped build those rooms people are being run out of…”
He cut me off, “Partner, where I’m standing, you look like a whole man to me,” he expressed. “Is there anything else I should know about?”
“The dealers,” I said. “They’re most all Frank’s men. They’ll cheat you out of your money, and if worst comes to worst, they’ll just kill you. It’s probably all part of Frank’s plan to take Thelma’s. First the dealers, now he’s taking over the residency. Doubt Thelma will get any rent out of them. Thelma’s has been the place of most resistance. Actually she already has a meeting planned for tonight to try and get the dealers out. We’ll see how it goes though.”
“I reckon we will. I think we should be at the meeting in case Thelma needs any help.” The man in black professed.
This made me relatively nervous again, but following his lead I agreed, “As long as you’re aware my fighting days have been over for quite some time.”
He responded, “I don’t plan on there being a fight.”
The man in black and I discussed the town and dealings with Frank for the remainder of the day, and by the time night rolled around, the meeting was set, and we were ready to go. It was to be held an hour after sun down. Thelma was going to close early and gather the dealers to tell them they were finished here. It was suppose to be a surprise, but most of the town had gotten word and a lot of people were planning on going to support Thelma from what I heard and what was said. As were we. But when we left, we didn’t see many people going. There were a few familiar faces, and maybe some people were waiting, but I assumed most people just didn’t want to interfere or get in the way. I kind of owed it to Thelma to be there. I guess others didn’t feel the same.
While we were walking, the man in black slowed down and in a firm whisper said, “Here, take this,” as he handed me a pistol. I quickly concealed it and asked, “What are you doing? I don’t want to and I am not going to fight.”
“We’re going to support Thelma. I don’t plan on fighting,” the man in black replied, “But I don’t know what is going to happen.”
I owed it to Thelma to be there, and I was following his lead. I didn’t want anything to do with that pistol. Carrying a gun is practically asking for a fight, and especially if someone saw me with one, they’d know something was up. But I took it anyway. Mainly because I didn’t want to disappoint him, and I concealed it completely.
When we walked in, not many friendly faces were waiting, but there was some. Pressed up against the wall they stood, brave, with their eyes cautiously on the dealers. Most notable in the room were the three dealers, who sat in the center at a table playing cards with each other. Most notorious of them was Cody Lyles. He was known for picking fights during games, and was the nastiest figure in town. One of Frank’s right hand men and has been a thorn in this town ever since Frank implemented him as a dealer. He knew how to handle himself, and was quick to show it.
I went to go say hello to Mr. O’Ryan, a fellow townsman, and the town doctor, when the man in black stopped me. He grabbed my wrist and signaled me toward the back of the room. It brought to mind earlier in the day when he was run out of the saloon for a second, but I wanted to believe in him so much I forced it out of mind and complied.
We stood in back while the dealers played cards, and a few more faces walked in. Then Thelma walked in. She came from the top of the stairs and walked directly over to the gaming tables to confront the dealers. Enough had been enough, and she didn’t want to back down, nor did she want to waste any time. “Boys, we’re going to make this short and simple. There’s been too much cheating and pushing around the customers. It’s time for you to leave, especially after what happened this morning.”
Cody threw his cards down and began laughing. “You mean we’re fired, Thelma?”
Thelma stepped forward and replied, “That’s exactly what I mean, now get out of here.”
Cody stood up, took a sip of his drink, and looked Thelma right in the eyes. “Who’s going to make us leave? This is Frank’s town now.”
The other two dealers stood up and followed Cody’s lead eyeing down Thelma. Thelma’s nerves got the best of her. She knew she had to hold her ground, but didn’t know what she was going to do. She took a step back out of angst and tried to reiterate, “You have to leave. It’s time to go.”
The three started laughing when Cody scoffed, “Come on now lady, go get us another drink.”
Right as they were taking their seats again, a voice from the back of the room said, “Boys, you better keep on standing if you know what’s good for you.”
The man in black stepped up from the shadows, and I, sort of not knowing what to do, looked around and nervously followed.
We walked over and stood by Thelma’s side. I kept thinking, ‘Dear God, What did I get myself into.’
Cody and the dealers just started laughing. “You mean to tell me this is your help? The coward and the cripple?”
The man in black stepped forward in front of Thelma and me and looked each of them in the eye.
I was relieved he was now in between us and the dealers, but I feared what would happen next. I thought we were going to die. I looked over at Thelma. Her eyes were focused on the man in black. I kept thinking, This was it.
No one made a move. The room was silent.
I began picturing all of our deaths, when the dealers started going for their guns – This was it. Once again it was before I noticed anything… The man in black drew and shot them all dead.
It was quicker than a blink of an eye. This was it – For them. I took a deep breath. “Thelma, someone needs to call the undertaker. We need three coffins.”
Music: Budos Band – Chicago Falcon
Part 3 | Part 5