Currently reading: Flash Fiction Short-Story: The Stranger – Chapter 1
Flash Fiction Short-Story: The Stranger – Chapter 1
Posted on 28th February, 2017 - By Jonathan Hezzlewood
I have always been creatively driven, having in the past; sketched various drawings based on my favourite movies and television shows. But, up until now I had never written a story before, with my own characters and world. Inspired by a vastly underrated genre; the Western, what you are about to read was purely an exercise in exploring my “writers voice” and to tease out my style. I hope you enjoy reading it. Welcome to the world of; The Stranger…
The Stranger: Chapter 1
Two men were sat at the table behind, playing what he guessed was a game of Faro, between themselves.
“They got him up on Dry Gulch Ridge, robbed ‘im ‘n left him for de-ad.” said the first man.
“Not safe for a man to travel these trails alone no more.” casually replied the second.
The first man continued; “It was The Kid you know, he gone’n did it. Him’n those others he keeps company. I heard they took the few coins he had, his mare, even his shoes, then shot him in the gut. Poor guy bled out middle’o nowhere, his woman and baba left to watch, helpless”
“’Bout time someone dealt with ‘em. It got’n worse since the Sheriff and his Marshals gone disappear on us. No law in this town no mo-“
The entire saloon had hushed all of a sudden. He noticed some folks looking toward the entrance, but most looking down at their tables, or each other. Trying to avoid eye contact with whoever had just entered the saloon.
Turning his head to the side, he got a look at who had suddenly silenced the place. Out the corner of his eye he could see four men, three of which we’re of normal height and build, but the fourth, must have been close to seven-foot-tall, four-foot-wide, giant of a man.
The group walked further into the barroom and sat down at the table in the centre. People returned to their drinks, conversations picking up again. The two older men behind him back at their card game, less the talking.
The boozer to his right leaned across the corner of the bar and whispered rather loudly; “That one there, between the big’un ‘n the other fella-”
The stranger glanced back over his left shoulder, looking at the man in question. The man seemed overly confident, excited even. Looking around the room, fixing his gaze on the pleasant-to-the-eye bar girl, wiping down tables.
“-that there’s The Kid. Claims to be the quickest gun roun’ these parts, nasty’un too. Killed nineteen men by my count.”
Turning back, “That so…?” the stranger replied, in to his drink.
The boozer continued; “Four Red-Niggers, two of ‘em barely old enough to walk. A handful of Smokes, some folks claims he‘n his men ambushed a wagon heading for a mining company further up north. Claims the Negro’s he shot were unarmed, in chains. Plus the two men transporting ‘em.”
The stranger looked at the drunk man sitting across from him. The man leaning in closer now, stinking to high-heaven of whiskey and piss. He wondered what a man would have to lose to let himself get in a state like that.
The drunk looked away for a moment, called to the well-fed looking gentleman behind the bar, and gestured to his glass, “Bar dog. Another’un, if you’d be so ki-nd.” smiling, showing a set of brown, rotten teeth. He started talking again; “Celestials, you know? The Chinese. Shot two of ‘em just the week gone, here on the outskirts o’town, said they looked at him funny. Left ‘em lead across the railroad they’d been laying.” The man behind the bar poured another shot of rye, and placed the glass in front of the talkative boozer.
Raising his newly filled glass in the air toward the barman, the drunk said “Much obliged”, knocked the liquid into his mouth and swallowed, placing the glass back on the bar top.
He folded his arms across the bar in front of him, resting his head, and slurred out a little more tale; “Killed a girl a while back too, Clementine, pretty little thing. Could do things wi’ nothin’ but a smile none of which the others could do wi’ their bodies. The Kid been talkin’ a load of ballyhoo to the girls, how big he was, how they’d enjoy it once he had’em on their back.”
The stranger looked back over his shoulder, in the direction of The Kid and his posse.
“Anyways, turns out he’s a quick-draw in the sack as well as on the street.” He continued. “Later on Clementine told some o’ the other girls. Soon enough word gets ‘bout, finds its way back to The Kid. He beat her, raped her – him and his men – then set her afire. The whole place burned to the ground.” He paused. “Shame, I liked that bed-house. THE PAINTED ANGEL. Best place to blow a week’s pay in less’n a minute.”
The stranger continued to look over his shoulder, glancing around the room, his eyes resting on The Kid once more and asked the drunk; “No law here in Vulture, no Sheriff?”
He turned back to look at the boozer, now led there, drool rolling from his mouth onto his shirt sleeve, quietly snoring a tune.
The stranger asked for another glass of Red Eye. The bar tender poured and went back to wiping out the glasses. He gazed into the golden-brown liquid before downing a fresh mouthful.
The bar tender looked at the boozer; sorry excuse of a man, and grabbed him by the shoulder giving him a shake. “Rusty, hey Rusty! This ain’t no rest-house, com’on, wake up and get yourself home.” Rusty the boozer muttered something in his sleep, waving his hand loosely in the air as part of the response. The bar tender shook his head and walked back down the other end of the bar.
The group of men were laughing amongst themselves, one of them grunted, following it with an “Mm-mmm!”
He looked over his shoulder once more.
“Hey darlin’…” it was The Kid, leaning back towards the girl clearing glasses from the nearby table “…my very own Calico Queen.” He said, grabbing her by the hips, quickly moving his hands around to the front to try get a feel of her intimate area.
“Get your filthy hands off!” she yelled thumping her fists into his hands. He let go and she turned, backing away and said “I ain’t your Queen, and even if I did that sort’o thing, I wouldn’t do you. You’re ugly enough to make a train take the dirt road”
Quick to avoid anything escalating in his saloon, the bar tender said; holding his hands out in front “Now Mister Kid, Lenora didn’t mean nothing by that. She just rather you ask before touching.”
Lenora scowled back at the bar tender, struggling to believe what she was hearing.
The Kid stood up from the table. “That bitch jus’ gone insulted me! I think.”
“N-n-now s-son…, Mister Kid-d, we don’t want n-no trouble, please.” The bar tender stuttered, pale as a cotton sheet. “Lenora, say you’re sorry to Mister Kid-d!” he finished.
Lenora turned back to the coward behind the bar once again. “The hell I will!” she said.
“Well then,” The Kid grinned “looks like I’m gonna have to peel me some apple!” he said, pulling a knife from his belt as his three companions got to their feet.
The blade must have been two-thirds a foot in length at least, he stepped forward, people clearing out of the way in a hurry from nearby tables – in a sound of falling glasses and chair legs scraping across the wooden floor – leaving the walkway between him and the girl without obstacle.
The Kid started walking toward her, blade in hand. His men following right behind like shadows at midday. The girl stepped back, panicking now.
“Seems to me, when it comes to understanding women…“; The Kid stopped in his tracks; “…it’s safe to assume we’re all a little at sea…” He turned sharply in the direction of the voice.
Toward the end of the bar sat a man, in a long brown coat dotted with dust and dirt, showing signs of a long journey. He couldn’t make out much of the man’s features, the lights weren’t yet lit and the day was darkening fast.
The stranger continued to stare into his glass, gently swilling the contents around the inside in a circular motion, and continued “…but that doesn’t give you the right to threaten a lady.” He took another mouthful and placed the glass on the bar.
“Min’ya own god damn business!” demanded The Kid.
Lenora, now trying a more pleasant tone, hoping to prevent anything getting out-of-hand said “Mister Kid…, Lyle…?”
He looked back at her.
“I apologise for my remark, it was disrespectful.” Lenora started. “I’m sure Samuel here…” she gestured to the bar tender “…wouldn’t mind giving you and your men a few drinks, free of charge, to make it up to you.” She finished.
The Kid looked away, setting a serious stare on the stranger. “Lenora darlin’, fo’ no-w you can make it up by keeping your cock-holster shut! We can discuss other ways fo’ you to make-it-up-to-me later.”
The stranger stared at The Kid, wondering how many more there would be use that name – trying to create fear by riding the saddle of someone else’s legacy as if it their own.
“You keep looking blue at me Mister ‘n I’ll have to teach you a lesson.” The Kid continued.
Half smiling, the stranger said “Amputate your timber, son.” Turning back to face his glass.
“Was your family tree a shrub?” holding up his finger, silencing the man before he could reply, he finished “Forget I asked. Go away!”
The stranger looked over The Kid’s left shoulder and then met his gaze again, saying “Your friend there, the one grinning like a jackass eatin’ a cactus.”
The Kid looked around, his eyes meeting the monster of a man stood there. Turning back, he said “That there’s Big Jack, he don’t take too kindly to strangers. Speshly those sticking their nose where it don’t belong, ain’t that right Big Jack?”
Big Jack, didn’t respond.
The stranger continued; “I’d think it wise for him to holster that piece of iron he seems to be pointing in my direction.”
“Other two are Ace and Gabe.” The Kid said, ignoring the stranger’s previous comment.
The two men grinned. One of them, either Ace or Gabe – not sure which was which – asked “You’re a stranger to these parts, ain’t that right?”
“Just passin’ through.”
The Kid took back control of the discussion “That right huh? Well…, folks of Vulture know to’mine the’selves ‘round me. See, I’m The Kid.”
“Fastest gun this side o’ the border.”
“Heard that too.” The stranger said, taking a sip of his whiskey.
The Kid, agitated by this stranger’s calm demeanour said “P’raps you best be mindin’ your mouth old man!”
The sound of movement from behind distracted him, The Kid turned around, looking across the room at the people – stood as far back as possible, getting restless on their feet.
Just then Rusty the – still sleeping – drunk snorted a big snore, The Kid turned again, seeming on-edge, and stared at the snoring man.
His gaze moved from Rusty back to the stranger. “Think us need’be fixin’ this one’s flint” he sniggered, wide-eyed, trying not to blink.
“Us…?” the stranger questioned, turning to face them from where he sat. He noticed The Kid was now resting his right hand on the butt of his gun, still holstered. Left hand resting his blade on the bar top.
“I’ve got five in the wheel. That’s one for each of your friends, two for you.” Said the stranger, staring coldly at The Kid.
The stranger paused for a moment, before continuing.
“S’pose it’s been a while since I last unloaded n’ cleaned my shooter.” He said, finishing the last drops of liquid within his glass as he stood.
He picked up his Stetson from the bar top and placed it on his head, pulling it down over his eyes slightly, favouring the right.
Facing The Kid he said “C’mon then, time to bite the ground.” and walked toward the saloon doors, “Nothin’ under that hat but hair.” He said, stepping out into the street, the batwing doors swinging to a close.
To Be Continued…