Chapter One: The Town with no Name

How do you find a town with no name and no roads that lead to it? Some say you get good and lost before it will appear on the horizon, others say you must desire its dusty streets and folks of nefarious intent. Most believe only the damned can find it. But the truth is, the town finds you, whether you want it to or not.

               The riders sat a top their tired beasts, looking down at such a town, nestled gently between two plateaus, it’s cobbled together buildings peaking just above the dust that kicked up from the wind. One rider had a pair of binoculars pressed against his face that was half covered by a rag in an attempt to keep away most of the dirt. They had been riding for months to finally reach this town, that had no name and no roads, in search of an outlaw that some say is a ghost. The man dropped the binoculars and nodded to his men. Together they urged their beasts forward, some happy to finally have found this town, others nervous about what would come next.

               The town was not dissimilar to others they had ridden through in search of their quarry. It held the same sort of gun shops, general stores, inns, whore houses, and gambling halls. But what this town had that the others did not, was a very specific sort of silence. A silence that weighed heavy on an honest man’s shoulders. Each of the riders, save for the leader, slowly bowed to this unknown pressure in their saddles. Their horses whinnied and became nervous the farther into the town they traveled and the men grew more and more anxious to see this job completed. Without looking back the leader said to his men, six riders in total, “Easy does it. Keep those guns holstered if you wish to see your beds again.”

               It was more of a warning and less of a command. For the leader knew this town, although he had never been here before. Its shadows reached out to him like a lover in the dark, and burned in his throat like the finest whiskey. His horse alone did not react to the pressing silence of the town. Up ahead, he could see his destination. A brothel and an inn spoken of as if it were nothing more than a legend. Standing taller than most of the buildings in this nameless town, it was easy to spot within the dust. Strangers stood on the boardwalks in front of the various businesses, eyeing each rider in turn as they slowly made their way forward.

               “I don’t like this.” Said one of the men nervously.

               “We’re sittin’ ducks here, Commissioner.” Said another. “Some of us should have posted up on those there plateaus, keep an eye on everyone.”

               “Ye woulnay returned. Not from those. They belong to the devil hisself.” Warned yet another rider, while a few others nodded in agreement, as the speaker brushed his hand over his dirt covered mustache.

               The Commissioner did not respond. His eyes were locked on his only desire, his ticket out of his predicament. Urging his horse forward, the great black beast moved to a slight trot while the others followed suit, some of their mounts spooking slightly before their riders calmed them. As they rode towards the building, it seemed as though they were standing still. The buildings around them seemed to stretch in unearthly ways and their destination seemed to subtly move away from them as they approached. The commissioner removed a small device that, to the untrained eye, looked like a clockwork pocket watch, but when he spun it, the face was blank save for two hands that spun quickly before landing solidly on the building. The town around them snapped back to normal, and the riders found themselves stationary in front of the brothel. He sighed, and tucked the piece back into his pocket before wiping a bit of blood from his nose.

               All the riders dismounted in varying degrees of anxiousness as they hitched their horses. One whispered something quietly to his mare before following the rest up on the board walk. The silence seemed to press heavily upon the travelers as they grouped together on the porch before they entered.

               “Randal, have the paperwork ready in hand before we go in.” The commissioner stated to the best dressed of the entire company before he turned to the rest. “Keep your guns holstered. Believe me when I say you will be dead before you hit the ground. Mickey, Richard, and Davis, keep an eye on the doors. Pete and Colin, watch my back, keep an eye on the patrons, Randal, you stick close to me. Got it?”

               All the men nodded, the weight of the silence weighing more heavily on some then on others. The commissioner nodded before turning and entering the establishment. Together the seven men in total entered the bar and paused to look around. Dust collected itself in the corners and on any surface currently not occupied. There were about ten people within the establishment, all in varying degrees of drunkenness. A few women with most of their breasts exposed moved between the tables trying to make a living, one individual sat alone at the bar in a leather duster and a hat that hid most of their face, and a table of four people in the back played cards and smoked cigars. All eyes turned and looked at the men who had just entered and a wave of hate rolled through each of them.

               “Law ain’t got no place here, misters.” The bartender said as he reached below the counter for something.

               “Ain’t no place left for folks to hide anymore, Eustice.” Said the stranger at the bar. “I wouldn’t if I were you.” They locked eyes with the bartender and slightly shook their head before setting their whiskey glass on the counter.

               The men playing cards in the back of the room all stared at the new comers while the working women all moved to the walls, making themselves as unseen as they could. A few drunks got up and stumbled out the back while the others sat back and waited for the show that was to come. The Commissioner stepped forward and gave a hand signal to his men who all followed his command and took up their positions.

               “I’m looking for Jesse Young, known criminal and gunslinger. Ten pence to any man who can point me to where he is.” The Commissioners voice was loud and sure as he spoke. His sharp eyes watched each individual in turn as he spoke. Three of the players in the back looked to a fourth and the Commissioner knew who his man was. He gestured to Randal, who stepped forward with him, unfolding the writ he had in his hands.

               “Jesse Young, I presume.” The commissioner said, looking the fourth player in the eyes as the gentleman set down his playing cards and picked up his pint. “I have papers to offer you, in exchange for your help.” The players all exchanged a look while the stranger at the bar laughed into their whiskey. The commissioner ignored them, and continued to look at the man at the table. “What do you say?”

               “I say you got the wrong man, Commissioner.” The voice didn’t come from the fourth man at the table, instead it came from the stranger sitting at the bar who turned on their stool and leveled a smirk at the newcomers.

               “This has nothing to do with you, vagabond. Keep to your drink and no blood will be spilled this day.” The Commissioner snapped, growing angry.

               The stranger at the bar chuckled again and just shrugged before turning back to their drink.

               “Uh… Commissioner?” Pete slowly approached his boss, never taking his eyes off the stranger at the bar.

               “What?!” He snapped under his breath.

               “I… Uh… Look.” Pete pointed at the strangers’ belt where hung the fabled opal and ivory handled gun from the hip of the stranger. The commissioner’s eyes widened as his heart began to race. Finally, finally, it was there. It couldn’t be. It had to be.

               The commissioner approached the stranger, the rest of the room fading into the background as his hand reached out for the handle of the gun he so longed for before the stranger swung their coat over it and the gun was gone from view. He blinked, and the bar came back into focus once more.

               “Like I said, Commissioner, you got the wrong man.” Said the stranger at the bar. They removed their hat and revealed that the stranger they had mistaken for a man was in fact a woman with delicate features, scarred and pockmarked due to the times, with dark auburn hair flecked through with silver and grey. Her lips curled up into a smile as her eyes sparkled with recognition at the desperation on the Commissioners face. “Have a drink with me, and tell me why I allowed you to find me.”

I know this is different from what I’ve currently been sharing, but this story is begging to get out. So, for now, I will be sharing chapter by chapter till the next thing wants to be shared. I hope you enjoyed chapter one of “The West is the Devils Playground”.

Published by Lady Storm

I am a spiritual practitioner that has walked many different paths. Some could call me a jack of all trades when it comes to belief systems. While I don't hold all the answers, I hold many tools that will help unearth answers to questions anyone may have.

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