Authors: R.J McCabe
‘Oh thanks for remindin' me about that Ken. I'll be sure to imagine Sheriff Watts hangin' from the porch when I'm outside here relaxin.’
‘Well, I'm sure you would have remembered it anyhow when you’re here alone, at night, in the dark.’
‘The place looks like it’s been cleaned up pretty good and as long as the sheriff doesn't start walkin' through here at night butt naked and bangin' on my bedroom door, then I think I'll be just fine.’
As Bill finished speaking there was a knock on the front door. Gina was standing there holding something on a plate it was covered by a large dish. ‘May I come in?’ she said smiling, her manner a lot different from that of earlier in the sheriff’s office.
Ken looked to Bill. ‘Yeah of course, come in.’ Bill said realising this was his home now.
‘I heard what you did out there. Thats pretty impressive given the nature and size of that big bastard.’ Gina said.
‘I came close to gettin' my ass kicked if I'm honest, but thankfully I got out of it with all my teeth and just this,’ Bill pointed to his swollen nose.
‘Would you like me to have a look at that for you?’ she said, a look of concern on her face.
‘No, it’s okay, I can look at it myself.' Bill went cock-eyed trying to focus on his own nose. ‘Anyhow it’s not broken, that I do know.’
‘Looks like a nasty cut on there though,’ Gina said studying him from afar. 'Might need a stitch in it.'
‘And you can do that?’ Bill asked.
‘Wouldn’t be the first time I've done it. Some of my girls get mistreated from time to time. Men like Big John don't come through very often but they do come through. I just want to thank you for kickin' his ass.’
Bill laughed. ‘It didn't go down quite as smooth as I’d planned, but hopefully he might watch his manner a little more from now on. Whats that you got there?’
Gina looked confused for a moment before looking down at the dish she was holding. ‘Oh this? Ive made you a cake, as a Thank you.’
Bill tilted his head and looked at the dish. ‘Is that so? I'm never goin' to claim to be a great cook, not by any stretch of the imagination, however it’s been perhaps twenty minutes since all that commotion went down in the street and I figure that might not be long enough to prepare and then bake a cake. I might be wrong, what do you say Ken?’
‘I’d say she's spinnin' you a yarn Sheriff.’ Ken replied.
‘Thanks Dad,’ Gina stood there with her hand on her hip. ‘Okay, I actually made the cake yesterday but I thought you might be hungry after your travels and I got to watch my figure anyway.’
‘Well, I am a little hungry as it goes and I appreciate the thought if not the bullshit.’ Bill said, a friendly smile on his face.
Gina bowed her head. ‘You’re welcome sheriff. Hopefully see you around,’
‘Hopefully,’ Bill replied, ‘though hopefully for all the right reasons.’
‘Hopefully,’ Gina replied and then and kissed her father on the cheek.
‘Thanks Daddy. See you at home later.’
Ken smiled the smile of a proud father. ‘See you later darlin'.’ Gina walked out of the house, giving Bill one last look.
‘I think she’s a little sweet on you Bill.’ Ken said giving Bill a nudge.
‘Is that so? I guess you should know bein' her father.’
‘I sure do, she don't much trust men but you seem to of made a good impression on her. Oh and if you wish to continue makin' a good impression, then I should give you a piece of advice. Only seems fair.’
‘Well, I don’t recall sayin' I wish to make a good impression, but lets say that I did, then what piece of advice could you give me Deputy.’
‘Keep out of the whore house. They are nice girls but if you go there, then your chances with Gina are done. Just so’s you know.’ Ken said placing a hand on Bill’s shoulder.
Bill nodded. ‘Well, that might come in handy. Might.’
‘Okay Sheriff, I'm gonna leave you to get your things unpacked and get settled in. I'll be back at work so just join me when you are ready, or take the day off given that you've already served the town a good deal by stickin' your boot right up Big Johns ass.’
‘No, I'll be back to work in a little while. Just want to get myself cleaned up first.’
‘Okay then Sheriff. See you in a bit.’
With that Ken let himself out. Bill stood in the sitting room looking around. He found himself trying to imagine where the former sheriffs wife had been sitting when the men broke in and shot her dead. Then he imagined the sheriff being dragged and hung right outside. It sure was a terrible business. Even more so as the men hadn't been caught.
Bill began to unbutton his shirt when there was a knock on the door. He walked over to answer it and part of him expected to see a recovered John Duggan standing outside wanting to go another round in an attempt to get his pride back. Bill hoped that wasn't the case, his nose hurt like hell and he felt tired. He opened the door and saw Tom and Mary standing there holding two brown sacks.
‘Hello there.’ Bill said, his shirt unbuttoned to the waist.
‘Hello sheriff. This is to say thank you.’ They placed the bags at his feet and Bill noticed they were full of vegetables. The two of them then stood up straight and Bill saw Mary’s eyes quickly go to his own bare, muscular chest, her cheeks blushing a little.
‘You didn't need to bring me anythin' cause it’s all part of the job.’
‘That may be so but that big asshole has been givin' us trouble for some time now and I didn't know what I was gonna do about it. So thank you.’ Tom said and put out his hand and Bill shook it.
‘Like I said, its part of the job but thank you, and if he comes around anymore without any money in his pocket then you come see me, okay?’
Tom nodded.‘Will do sheriff but I don't think he will be tryin' that again.’
‘Lets hope not, for my nose’s sake.’ Bill said smiling.
The two of them looked at the cut on Bills nose and both grimaced a little. ‘Well, we gonna be on our way now. Thank you again Sheriff.’
‘No problem,’ Bill replied with a smile and watched the two of them walk away.
Bill closed the door and took the sacks into the kitchen. He had a good feeling about Sundown. In the last place he had been sheriff the assholes outnumbered the good folks ten to one. This place seemed a little different. He would root out the trouble makers and try and make it hundred per cent decent, or maybe 99 per cent, you would always get one slipping through the net. Bill then went and got himself ready for the rest of the day at work.
Bill made his way back to work and this time, as he passed the people in the street, everyone seemed to have a friendly greeting for him. He returned their greetings with a smile, happy to be seen as part of the town in such a short time. Maybe a sore nose and a bit of water in the ears, was a small price to pay for settling in so soon.
When Bill walked into the office Ken was tidying. Bill hadn't noticed it being untidy but he guessed Ken just wanted to make a good impression. He turned on Bill’s entrance greeting him with a wide grin. ‘How are you feeling Sheriff?’ he asked.
‘Not too bad, the nose isn’t broke so I guess I get to keep my looks.’ Bill said with a grin.
‘Well, I kinda like the look. Gives you a look of menace. I didn't say back then but you did good whippin' that big fuck. Thought he was gonna drown you though there for a moment. We’d have to recruit a third sheriff in six months. Now wouldn't that be somethin'.’
‘There are towns out there that get through more than even that,’ said Bill. ‘So when I was getting dunked, you didn't think to jump in and stop him.’
Ken nodded. ‘Sure I thought about it but the way I saw it was, I needed to leave it to the very last minute just incase you turned it all around. I didn't wanna take your glory or nothin'. Reckon I made the right choice too.’
Bill laughed. ‘I reckon you did. So what’s next?’
‘Theres a couple of little things I wanna look into’ Ken said, ‘But nothin' major. Plus I got somethin' I wanna show you.’
‘Oh, you do now? Okay then. Any news on what John Duggan’s up to?’ asked Bill.
‘His wife Missy May just came over, said to thank you for puttin' that big nasty shit in his place. Ain’t nobody ever had the balls to do it in this town since the last sheriff passed.’
‘You don't strike me as the yellow belly sort Ken, weren't you tempted to try and put him in his place? Bein' the actin’ sheriff and all,’
‘Sheriff Bill, let me tell you somethin' You’re right in sayin'I ain’t the yella belly sort, cause I ain’t! But I'm sixty-two years old and that’s too old to be fightin' in the streets with the likes of Big John Duggan and the other thing is, though I ain’t proud of saying this, I didn't get word that I was gonna be sheriff of this town when Sheriff Watts was killed, even though i’ve served Sundown well for many years. So if I ain’t good enough to be the man in this town, then I ain’t puttin' my ass on the line for it to be filled full of buckshot or, in this case, get it whooped by that big son of a bitch. That’s your job now Bill, I will however do whatever I can to assist you, as that is my job.’
Bill nodded, he could see where Ken was coming from. Every deputy he ever knew dreamed of getting the big job.
‘So you think he will come back for more? Duggan that is. I want to be better prepared if he does.’
‘Nah, I doubt it sheriff, Missy Mai said he rode on out to the Blackwater railway camp to see if they got any work for him there. It’s a good few miles north of here, so I don't think he will be back. His wife seemed very grateful to have him out of the way.’
‘I bet she did,’ replied Bill. ‘Be sure to tell Gina that cake was mighty fine.’
Ken gave a husky laugh
‘Well, I think I will leave you to tell her that yourself when you see her. Good way to start a conversation I’d say, anyway Sheriff, I got something for you, if you want it that is?’
‘Well, if it’s any part of your body I’m afraid I'll have to decline. I don’t do deputy’s.’ Bill said with a grin on his face.
‘You cheeky son of a bitch, I’m afraid this saloon door only swings one way. Though it’s been a good many years since it swung anywhere at all to tell the truth. Anyhow, stop makin' me feel like a lonely son of a bitch and follow me,' said Ken walking towards the door.
‘Okay Deputy, lead the way,
Ken walked out onto the street and Bill followed feeling, he supposed, just a little excited, a feeling he hadn’t felt for quite a while.
They walked around the side of the sheriff’s office and towards the rear of the building, Bill was a few steps behind. Once at the rear of the building the two men walked up a long passage way and finally came to what looked like a barn.
‘This is intriguin'.’ Bill said, eyeing the big barn doors. ‘Don’t tell me, you have the States Ten most wanted men tied up in there?’
‘Now wouldn't that be somethin' I reckon I could retire and live like a happy ol' bugger for the rest of my days with that kind of bounty.’ Ken looked to the sky as he spoke as if imagining a life of peace and rest.
Bill didn't buy it though. He didn't think Ken was the sitting on his ass type, he needed to work, needed a reason to get up in the morning. Bill knew this because he was the same way and he recognised one of his own.
‘Nope,’ said Ken reaching for the doors. ‘What we got in here is an honest, law servin' good guy.’