Authors: R.J McCabe
Ken and Bill walked across the street and people looked in their direction, some greeted them, but the majority just stood staring.
‘That there is Monty’s bar. He’s a good man and if you ever need a slate, he’s good to let you have it so long as you pay it back.’
‘Thanks for that Deputy, but as a rule, if the money ain’t in my pocket then I don't order. I don't much like being in anyones debt.’
‘I kind of figured you would say somethin' like that, but I got to make conversation as we gonna be workin' together. I’m a bit like that myself, but there has been occasions when I fancy another drink, so I put my hand in my pocket but I only find my balls.’
Bill laughed. ‘I appreciate the information. Keep it comin'.’
Ken pointed to a building to their right. ‘Thats Art’s barber shop, he's a hell of a barber and his razors are so sharp I reckon he sharpens them on the devils horns. Good man too, lived here since he was a baby when his parents moved down this way. I can see your hair is kinda long so you might not have much need for that place.’
Bill lifted up his hat and ran a hand through his mid length, slightly greying hair. ‘You never know, I might get a new style. I just haven't thought much about it lately.’
Ken looked at Bill. ‘Well, you say that, but judgin' on the way you got that moustache styled I reckon you take better care of yourself that you are lettin' on.’ He gave Bill a little nudge.
‘You don’t miss a trick.’ Bill said.
‘Not as dumb as folks think I am, I just do a good impression. Now that buildin' comin' up go the left there is Mary and Tom’s grocery store. They got everythin' you need to eat good and they are real nice folks. I would tell you they will let you have a slate there too but guess you ain’t gonna be buyin' any potatoes unless you got the right change in your pocket.’
Bill looked over to the grocery store and as he did he saw a man in white apron suddenly appear on the wooden decking in front of the shop as if the man had been pushed from inside. The man was staring back into the shop and he looked scared.
‘Well, what we got here?’ said Ken.
As he spoke, a big man, roughly six feet five and built like a bison, walked out pointing his finger at Tom who looked almost a foot shorter and half the weight. ‘That there is Big John Duggan. What a stroke of luck hey Sheriff?’
Bill wasn't so sure it was lucky to come across such a big man in the middle of a busy street. He had faced men like this one before and one thing he did know was that Big John Duggan wasn't going to want to lose face with all the townsfolk watching. Bill decided he was going to take the diplomatic approach, let Big John think he was a friend, for now.
As the two men approached the shop Tom’s wife, Mary, came out and was also having words with the big man, she looked protective over Tom as if scared that John Duggan was going to put a beating on him.
‘What seems to be the problem here folks?’ asked Ken in a jovial manner.
Mary was the first to speak. ‘It’s him, he come in tryin' to bully us to give him free stuff. Just like he always does, and it’s gotta stop.’
Big John pointed a finger at Mary before speaking in a deep voice. ‘Stop talkin' shit about me woman. I said I’d pay you back, I don't want anythin' for free. I’m no street dog.’
Tom spoke. ‘You already owe us money from the last five or six times you've been in here. You ain’t paid and we cant afford to keep givin' stuff away.’
‘I told you, you skinny idiot. I’m gonna pay just as soon as I get some work,’ said Big John, his face growing red with anger.
‘Maybe if you stopped spendin' all your money in the bar and fuckin' those whores, you might have some left to feed you and your wife. God knows why that sweet woman is still with you,’ said Mary. She spoke in a harsh confident tone but Bill could see she was shaking.
John Duggan looked away momentarily before swinging an open palm in an arc, slapping Mary across the face. The force of the slap sent her falling back onto her rump. She hit the wooden floor with a thud.
Bill looked around and the whole town seemed to be out on the street, all of them had stopped what they were doing to watch the commotion. He took a step forward just as Big John took Tom by the scruff of his pencil thin neck.
‘Hey there big fella,’ said Bill. ‘What’s say we all just calm down. We don't want people seein' this and we sure don't want them to see big men hittin' little women, or as I see here stranglin' men half their size. You never heard the phrase pick on someone your own size?’
Big John let go of Tom and turned towards Bill, a grin appearing on his broad face. Bill, at six feet one and around 200lbs, was no light weight. Yet he sure felt like one faced with such a large man.
‘There ain’t nobody round here my size.’ Big John said, his sneer revealing missing teeth. ‘I don’t give a fuck what these people see. Now take that old man there and go back to whatever queer bar you two just walked out of.’
Ken began to wag a finger at John. ‘Now I don't think you wanna be talking to him like that. This here is the new sheriff and he might just have to throw your big ass in jail.’
The big man laughed. ‘Is that so? I sure ain’t takin' no orders from a man with bird-shit on his clothes whether he's the sheriff or the President of the fuckin' United States. Now fuck off and let me get back to my shoppin'.’
Ken went to speak again but Bill placed a hand across his chest to quiet him before stepping up to John. ‘I come into town today, first day on the job and the first person I hear about is you. Then I walk out onto the street and here you are givin' these two nice folks the same kind of grief you’ve been givin’ the girls in the whorehouse. Word has it you keep wastin' your money over their with those fine ladies, since you cant get it up and on the rare occasion you do manage to get a bit of blood in the little fella, it ain’t no bigger than shot glass.’
Mary giggled and Ken just plain laughed out loud
‘That was a good one Bill’ He said.
Big John’s face turned crimson with rage. He wasn’t used to having anyone talk to him like that. He turned towards Mary, ‘You stop your laughin' bitch!’
Bill looked around and then at Big John. ‘I got a better idea. Why don't you just stop bein' a complete asshole and give everyone a break….Bitch!’
Big John let out a deep breath and then took a huge swing at Bill, who moved back with cat like speed. Unfortunately Ken wasn't so fast and the punch grazed his chin. His eyes rolled but it wasn’t enough to knock him over.
Bill circled Big John, taking off his waistcoat as he moved. Duggan swung another punch this time missing by a good few inches and Bill countered with a one, two of his own. The punches didn't drop John but they were good enough to stun him, his eyes crossed a little but then he shook it off. By then Bill had jumped down from the wooden decking outside the shop and was in the dusty street. His waistcoat was off now and his fists were up.
‘Come on Big John little dick. Lets see what you’ve got.’
Big John recovered from the punches and felt a new wave of rage sweeping across him. He jumped down into the street and raised his own fists.
‘Im gonna smash that pretty face of yours bird-shit Sheriff. Then I'm gonna smash their faces and take whatever food I want.’
Bill flicked out an index finder pointing it towards the sky. ‘Change of plan, I’m gonna smash your face and then take your poor wife out for dinner and show her how a lady should be treated and you can go hungry, you big, fat fuck.’
Big John let out a roar that sounded almost lion like, before swinging four punches at Bill, all of which missed, the forth one only by a whisker. Bill parried to the side and swung one of his boots up into Big Johns side towards the liver. John’s arm automatically dropped to protect the area and he grimaced, when his right hand dropped Bill fired a straight left flush onto the big mans jaw. This was a move he had used many a time to end brawls, but although John staggered a little and seemed to lose his bearings, he didn't fall. He’s a tough bastard
Bill thought before firing three more shots towards the big mans face, but Johns shovel like hands were up and the punches hit them more than their intended target. Big John surprised Bill by lunging forward in a pushing motion and his big hands landed on Bill’s chest, even though Bill was moving away from John. Bill tried to keep his balance but something hit the back of his legs and he toppled backwards. Then next thing he knew he was submerged in cold water. Strong hands reached for him almost instantly. They were Johns hands and they pulled him up out of the water where he was met with a head butt, then he was plunged back into the water.
Bill had to think fast, he wasn’t sure John was the killing type but he couldn't get his ass kicked by this big galoot on his first day. He felt the big hands pulling him up and again John’s head smashed into his face. This one connected straight onto his nose blurring his vision before he was pushed back into the cold water. His head spun a little but Bill had been here before and prepared himself for the next lift. It came and he was pulled out of the water. It seemed to happen in slow motion and this time he saw Big Johns huge head recline a little before coming back for a third head butt. Bill put his head down, he had learned many years before, after receiving a peach of a head-butt in a bar fight, that when you were gonna get nutted, the best thing to do, if you had time, was lower your head.
His timing was perfect and he felt John’s nose squash against the top of his skull. He then lifted his head and in the few seconds that John was blinking due to the impact on his nose, Bill bit into the side of John’s his face. John let out a scream and as he did Bill hit him with three left uppercuts to the jaw, the third one caused the big man stop screaming. It had stunned him. Bill then hit John with a four punch combination, the fourth being to the stomach. Big John gripped his stomach, letting out a deep groan and as he did Bill pulled the big man’s head down and met it with his knee. Big John made a gurgling noise and fell backwards into the dust. He was out cold.
A hush fell over the people who were watching, most in shock that Big John had been beaten by this stranger. Bill stood surveying the crowd, his nose was split.
An old man stepped forward, he was short, chunky and well dressed. ‘Jeez son,’ the man said looking from Bill to the unconscious man on the floor. ‘That sure was somethin'. Who are you?’
Before Bill could answer Ken stepped forward and pinned a silver star onto Bill’s shirt pocket before speaking. ‘This here is Bill James, our new sheriff. As you can see he's not a man to mess with but he’s a good sort. If any of you know or see anythin' unjust you come talk to us and we will sort it out.’
The crowd nodded and the short fat man held out his hand. ‘Its good to meet you son, if you are half as good as the last sheriff then I reckon we are gonna be all right .’
Bill shook the man’s hand. ‘Well, I can try.’
‘Oh and son?’ said the man as if thinking of something last minute.
‘Yeah?’ asked Bill.
The man pointed towards the floor
‘You got bird-shit on your waist coat.’
Bill smiled, his nose hurt like hell, but he smiled.
Ken opened the door to the cottage and the two men walked inside. ‘Now you sure you're okay with stayin' here? I mean I figured that as the old sheriff had no will or anythin' that his house should become the sheriff’s residents from now till, well whenever.’
‘It’s a nice place.’ Bill said looking around.
‘Some folks thought it would stay empty as not too many folks wanna live in the house where two brutal murders took place.’ Ken explained.