We went inside into the little café style eatery in the hotel. She told me that when my brother died for the second time all the money came to her. She wanted a fresh start and was on her way to San Francisco. She had stopped here to see where he was buried and maybe find me. Her eyes lit up when I asked if she wanted to meet my wife. Growing up she tolerated me. I was another son when what she wanted was a daughter. Mom was in awe of Candice. She wasn’t just a porcelain doll or a wilting southern bell quiet and demur. Candice has a presence to her. Where mom couldn’t say more than three words to me growing up she and Candice spoke throughout the night. By morning, mom had decided to stay in Knuckle Smash. She finally had a daughter.
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The events of today will resonate throughout the town and time. It started with a fight in town. Two cowhands on their way west stopped at the only open saloon for a drink or four. On that forth drink a group of warrior deputies came in. About a week ago they started to carry these wooden clubs. They used them for everything. They decided the two men had enough and had to go. One of them said, “fuck that, no red savage is going to.” Before he finished one of the warriors took a swing striking the man across the face. His eye popped. The second guy pulled a gun and fired hitting the striking warrior in the throat. The others moved in. He hit and killed two other warriors before they subdued him and beat him to death.
The surviving warrior went outside to find twenty white men on horseback. The two hands were just the point men on a bigger move west. Four of the men shot the survivor down. with that the fight was on. Warriors came from every direction. Both parties exchanged gunfire. The mounted men dismounted and went into the saloon. The streets were covered in bodies from both side. The warriors moved in as even more cowhands entered town. The warriors were out flanked, outnumbered and out gunned. The second wave moved in. About ten minutes later the streets were covered in the dead and dying.
I was working on a fence when a rider came to the homestead. It was the Chief. He said, “the town is under siege. Some men came into town and things got out of hand.” He saw Candice and my mother and tipped his hat to the women. Then he went on, “my deputies took their job too far then more came and a gunfight started. There are at least forty dead in the streets.” He hesitated then said, “sheriff.” I said to him, “no, the only way I take that back is if I am the actual sheriff not someone you can just dismiss when it is convenient.” He opened a pocket and pulled something out and tossed it to me. It was the sheriff’s badge. He said, “there only was ever one sheriff good enough for our town. I couldn’t just give something away what didn’t belong to me. after all I’m not white.”
I went in and changed. I put on my guns as Candice loaded both lever-action 45-70s. I told her, “if things go south then take my mom and go west.” She said, “I’m going with you.” I said, “I think my entire life had led me to this moment. I can’t do what I have to do if I can’t stop worrying about you.” She got this look on her face. She said, “you sound like the Knuckle-Smash Kid.” She kissed me and told me to return to her. My mom just sat there looking at me. Maybe for the first time seeing me and not just the disappointment she felt.
Outside of town I found my three deputies. David Wednesday, Jack and James Fritz were armed and waiting for me all with their badges. We dismounted and tied off our horses. A horse is a big target in a fight. I sent David and Jack up on the roof tops looking for a vantage point. David had his Sharps rifle and I gave Jack one of the 45-70s. James and I will walk into town. As we walked into town I could feel all the eyes of the townsfolks hiding in their shops and homes following us. I bullet whizzed by my head.
We made it to the center of town. The gunfire was at a standstill with the hands in the saloon and on the outskirts of town and the remaining warriors in the street behind the carcasses of the dead horses. I grabbed a bullhorn from the gazebo and said, “I am the sheriff of this town. drop your firearms and surrender now.” A cowhand stepped out and fired. He missed me by about ten feet. I pointed at him and mimed a gun firing. A shot rang out and he hit the ground. No one saw Jack take aim from the roof top. A warrior said from behind a dead horse, “we are the lawmen now.” He then saw the badge.
The men on the outskirts of town started to leave. I realized that we had to let them go. An actual gunfight would end in more needless bloodshed. I looked over to the print shop. Allen was there in a rocker writing something down. So, if I die here someone will see it. The warriors lowered their guns then got up. One of the men inside the saloon went to fire when David shot and hit him in the face. The warriors took their wounded and loaded them in Mayor Drake’s wagon. I don’t think she would mind or say anything if she did. The men inside the saloon came out with their hands up. We told them to leave and never come back. It was better to have this over than extended with trials. There was enough blood on the street.
Overnight the people came to town and cleaned up. The bodies and blood were gone. I was surprised by the state of the print shop. With the help of Allen, David Osterhouse and Pauleen Mace had straitened the shop and re-cased the type trays. They also rebuilt one of the homemade presses. We were back in business. I went to my office. It was the same way I left it. The warriors didn’t use it at all. I sat down just as five warriors came in. One of them had a bag. The one with the bag said, “we are here to surrender ourselves. We understand that it was our warriors who started the fight. The blame ends with us.” He gave me the bag. It was the badges. I said, “we all have some blame in this. You five came here to take responsibility. To keep the peace.” I took out five badges and placed them on the desk. I said, “I need people who will follow the town charter and the rule of law. I need people who want to keep the peace. If you want that then take a badge and report back here tomorrow.” They looked at each other than one took a badge. After he did the others did as well. The first one said, “oh by the way your brother isn’t dead. We saw him about two days ago near town.”
These stories will be based in the old west and an attempt at a modern western (later on).
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