The six riders stood outside of the saloon, shifting slightly from foot to foot, gazing out into the town without a name. Dozens of eyes watched them from windows and outside of shops, but neither being aggressive to the other. Davis stroked his thick mustache, pulled out a whittling stick and his knife, a slunk down against one of the beams on the board walk, aiming to keep himself busy.
Their horses stamped and whinnied in front of them. Pete tried to calm his mare, but his softly spoken words couldn’t reach her. Mickey and Richard stuck close to each other, eyes on the town while Randal hastily tucked the paper work back into his satchel. The ever-present weight of the town pressed against them like freshly fallen snow, causing each man to bow slightly in their boots.
“I hate this.” Colin kicked a rock down the main road in town. “Why is he wasting time with this whore? Why don’t he just take the gun?”
“Patience is valuable, young Colin.” Davis didn’t look up from his work.
“Patience is for old men and farmers, Davis.” Colin kicked another rock, then flipped off all the eyes watching them for good measure.
“Easy, boy.” Davis’ deep growling voice fell on Colins deaf ears as Colin kicked another rock.
Mikey and Richard shifted uncomfortably while Randal wandered a little way down the boardwalk to peer into the windows of the adjacent buildings.
“I don’t know how, but I recognize this town. It’s… Familiar.” Randal furrowed his brow as he wiped the dust from a window. “I’ve been here before.”
“What you mean, Rand?” Pete asked, still stroking the mane of his mare.
“About ten years ago, the Commissioner and I traveled to a town not far from Reachers Edge, you know that old mining town up by Bago?” The others nodded as Randal spoke. “It was a massacre. The entire town shot dead by two rival gangs going head-to-head. As far as we could tell at the time, the two gangs practically whipped each other out, including most of the town.”
“How? Reachers Edge is far to the North East, nearly 300 miles from here.” Mickey gestured to the town before them. “We are in the middle of the desert, nearly to the western mountains.”
“I don’t know, but I’m certain this is that town.” Randal walked back to the group and sat cross legged on the planks, gazing out at all the eyes staring back at them.
“Why do you suppose they keep staring at us?” Richard elbowed Mickey and pointed. “It’s making me nervous.”
“No one’s quite sure why the dead do what they do.” Davis looked to Colin, who was still facing off towards the town and all the eyes.
“Bugger them all.” Colin made another gesture towards the inhabitants of the town before turning back to the other men. “I say we shoot em all, take the gun, and get back on track. Fuck this whore, it’s seven against one!”
“Mind what you say, boy.” Davis pointed his stick towards Colin, a harsh warning in his voice.
“I know you believe in ghost stories, old man, but it ain’t real!” Colin threw his arms out to the side and bowed slightly. “This is just another shitty town in the middle of the desert full of degenerates and whores. Ain’t no ghosts or devils here!”
A thin wire appeared around Colins throat and pulled taught. Moments later, as he began to sputter and clutch at the wire, a figure appearing behind him. Thick calloused hands, scarred and worn pulled the wire tight as Colin fought to breathe. All five men stood frozen at the sudden appearance of the man behind Colin.
“Commissioner!” Randal jumped to his feet, panic driving him towards the door to the saloon.
“It’s worth your time.”
Jesse and the Commissioner sat staring at each other for a long moment, neither moving to speak when the cry echoed through the saloon and both moved at the same time. Jesse was the first to reach the door, with the Commissioner hot on her heels. Outside, the scene was tense. Colin was beginning to turn purple while color drained from all the others faces, no one was moving but Mickey and Richard both had their guns out. The Commissioner moved to place a hand on Mickeys gun and shook his head while Jesse unholstered the ivory handled six shooter and took a few careful steps forward.
“Let him go, Mac.” Her voice was calm and even as she addressed the man holding Colin. “I said let him go.” She leveled the barrel of the gun at him as her words left her lips.
He called you a whore. Mac’s gravely, too far away voice, only reached Jesse’s ears who nodded slightly.
“A man is allowed to speak freely in this country.”
Mac pulled the wire a little tighter, causing small droplets of blood to form where it connected with the tanned skin. He’s a little shit and his tongue needs to be tempered.
“That is not your decision to make, Mac. Now let him go!” Jesse slightly raised her voice as the others around her looked confused, having only heard her side of the conversation. When Mac refused to let go, the Commissioner grabbed Jesse’s elbow and pleaded with her.
“For God’s sake, do something!” He pressured her.
Jesse sighed and pointed the gun up into the air and fired off one shot. Only this time, the shot was a normal gun shot. No cracks of thunder, no wave of energy, no supernatural reaction. Mac’s eyes caught Jesse’s and loosened his grip slightly at the fire behind her eyes.
“Macivelle Lieonet, I said LET HIM GO!” She shouted, her voice becoming a wave that rolled out from her, knocking Mac back a few steps and dissolving the wire he held around the boy’s throat. “I no longer need you to protect me.” These last words were gentle and only meant for Mac.
Family takes care of each other. He nodded to her. Family watches each other’s backs.
“That it does.” She nodded. “Let the others know, these men are to be left unharmed while in this town.”
“No buts. They are to remain under my protection, which means you are to watch over them as well.”
Understood, Jesse. As he faded, one last line reached her ears. You’ve come a long way from being the scared little girl we found all those years ago.
Jesse nodded and holstered her gun while Colin sat sputtering on the dusty ground.
“You men get inside.” The Commissioner ordered. Mickey went and retrieved Colin who stumbled all the way to the door. He stopped the pair before they entered and leveled a gaze at Colin. “Sometimes it’s easier to learn lessons the others have to teach.” Each word was clipped and angry, but Colin just nodded and coughed as they walked into the saloon.
Jesse sighed again and looked out over the now empty town, all the eyes having retreated to the dark corners and dusty rooms. She looked down at the panicked horses and spoke a few words the Commissioner didn’t understand, calming them. She turned to the Commissioner, but didn’t meet his eyes.
“Grab one of your men and have em help me bring the horses round to the stables in the back.” She waved a hand dismissively at him, somehow disappointed either in he and his men, or in the spirits that occupied this town. “We will rest here tonight but be gone by first light.” The words were spoken like a mantra, like she had spoken those words many times for many years. She turned his back on him and carefully approached his horse who leaned into her touch.
For so many years he had hunted her, thinking all this time that Jesse Young was a monster that needed to be buried, but looking on her now, he saw that she was just a person who carried an immense weight. For a moment, he felt bad for her, but only for a moment until a creeping voice in the back of his head whispered, you’re running out of time.
This story is in it’s infancy, but I’m enjoying it’s progress. I’m mostly sharing it here to keep me on track and to keep the story moving forward. So often I drop a story part way through because I get discouraged or lost in trying to edit while I write, but this time around I’m just writing with a vague idea in my mind. I have intentions to edit and add more to the story later and eventually try to get it published. It may be that this is the only place this story is told, but that’s ok too. I have a fondness for both Jesse and the Commissioner and I feel like their stories need to be told. I hope you’ve enjoyed this far, and I hope to hear what you like the best about it and what you’re excited to learn about. Leave me a like or comment to show your support and thanks for reading. Love to you all.