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One Shot At Glory

Short story By: M Watts

Joseph Mann is a running gun, and on the run from the law. When he stumbles across a small town called Angel Grove, Mann's problems seems to get worst.

Submitted:May 7, 2011    Reads: 134    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   

Chapter I
"Welcome to Angel Grove" the sign read as Joseph Mann rode into the small town just shy to the west of the Texas border. Mann was a known fugitive throughout the West, having killed a man up North in Alaska for gold. Mann's gun of choice was a Ruger Vaquero single-action .357 revolver, while most people stuck to the gun it was modeled after. Mann was making his way to Angel Grove because it was the only city he didn't know of, and the hope that the city didn't know of him hung heavy on his heart. A running gun and out of control, Mann would kill a man just because he looked at him cockeyed. It was high noon by the time Mann came into the small town, and the mayor was the first one to greet him. A small, cubby man by the name of Alex Thistlewood, whose white button up looked like it was straining to keep his beer belly covered. Mann kept his head low under the cowl of his hat, not wanting to be recognized, if the possibility was there at all. He tied his horse up at the town's bar, a lowly little place called "High Moon Saloon". While Mann was tying his horse, Thistlewood came over to greet him. "Welcome to Angel Grove good sir! My name is Alex Thistlewood, and I'd be the mayor of this here town." Thistlewood's voice was heavy with the sound of fear, fear of the unknown and fear of the known. Thistlewood was known throughout the town as a paranoid schizophrenic, but his mental problems aside, he was the best damn mayor Angel Grove ever had.
"Much abliged, mayor." Mann wasn't much of a talker; he let his gun do most of the talking for him, but whenever he did, his deep voice caught most people off guard. He was about medium build, which is why the voice surprised people. Most big guys have deep voices, and Mann didn't look big. "If there is anything y'all need, don't be afraid to holler!" The Mayor was trying hard to make the town seem friendly, when the reality of it was; Angel Grove wasn't known for being very stranger friendly. But then again, Mann had never even heard of the place. Mann could sense heaviness in the air that told him he wasn't welcomed, and he was hoping that it wasn't because everyone knew who he was. Mann showed a little kindness by flipping a coin dollar to the mayor. Thistlewood fumbled to grab the coin and dropped it to the floor. After stooping down to pick it up, Thistlewood went to thank the stranger but he was already inside the saloon, getting dirty looks and gestures that told him he wasn't welcome, and he would be killed if he messed up. Mann simply walked up the bar and put a couple dollar bills on the counter. "Give me a bottle of your best stuff, barkeep." The barkeeper, an older gentleman named "Uncle" Sam Winslow was busy cleaning a glass when he heard the request. After cleaning the glass, Sam placed it in front of the stranger and poured him some of the best whiskey Sam had in stock, and Mann took his time to drink the shot. While Mann drank the alcohol slowly and Sam continued to clean glasses, the town drunk came stumbling into the bar with a half-empty bottle of whiskey in his hand. "Oh Lord…Not Isaac…" Sam said under his breath as he looked at Mann. "Now don't you mind Isaac none. He's the town drunk, and he's got a knack for getting into fight with people twice his size. Now you seem like a fightin' man to me, so I'd reckon you just leave him alone." Mann lifted his head up enough for Sam to see on of his eyes. "So long as he leaves me alone, we ain't gonna have a problem." Sam managed to get a decent look at Mann's face, but didn't recognize him. He did, however, get to see some of his features: Mann was a handsome man, most likely in his early to mid twenties, shoulder length brown hair and a well-trimmed goatee.
Isaac was a small man with a big beer belly and an even bigger since of self-worth to think he was the one running the town, had problems with "personal space" and bumped into Mann who continued to ignore him and drink his whiskey. When he was finished with the shot, he had Sam pour him another, and as long as he was willing stay calm, Sam would continue to give them until either Mann stopped asking, he got too drunk, or runs out of the whiskey. "Y'all must be new here." Isaac said in a drunken slur of words that Mann barely caught. "That I am." Mann kept the talk small, knowing that Isaac would go off one some kind of tangent of slurred words and useless yelling if the wrong thing was said. "I run this town, you know!" "Right on queue" Sam thought as Isaac began to yell, most people in the bar paying more attention to their poker game to care. "That's right! I own this whole damn town! You can ask anyone; even that paranoid idiot Thistlewood knows that!" Mann got shoved again by Isaac and was starting to lose his tempter, and Sam could tell by looking at the veins in his hand around the shot glass. "Hey Isaac," Sam started, trying to distract Isaac from Mann, who moved two seats down. "I think the sheriff wanted to talk to you about some new laws he's thinking about implementing. I'd think you better go seem him now." Isaac couldn't help but grin in his drunken state. "I'll be seeing you, stranger!" Isaac said as he stumbled out of the bar, heading for the sheriff's office, with Sam knowing he would arrest Isaac for public intoxication and drunk and disorderly. Sam turned his attention back to Mann, who was walking towards the piano player in the back of the bar. "Play me a tune, piano man." Mann said with a calm voice. "Why certainly, my good fellow. What tune would you like to hear?" The piano player was almost as old as Sam, and Mann figured they had fought in the war together, seeing that they both had similar scars. "How's about Ghost Riders?" Mann asked the old piano player, who smiled widely and started playing the old tune.
Just as Mann was about to go back to his seat, a big logger who was playing cards at one of the tables came up behind him and socked him in the face. "Who do you think y'all are comin' into this here bar and acting like you own the place?" "Billy, I don't think y'all want to do that!" Sam shouted from behind the bar at the logger, who flipped Sam off and went to take care of Mann, the piano player continuing to play since bar fights happens more often then not when Billy was around. "Somebody call Sheriff Lane!" Sam yelled at the crowed inside the saloon. One young boy who was picking up supplies for his father was walking by and heard the commotion and ran down the street to Sheriff Lane's office. Just as the boy went into the building, Sheriff Lane was locking up Isaac. "Sheriff Lane! There's a fight happenin' down at Sam's!" "Not on my watch there ain't." The young boy and Sheriff Lane made their way to the bar, and by the time they got there, Mann had whipped Billy something fierce. "Alright now, who started this here rumble?" Lane looked around at the crowed, but no one answered so he looked at Sam who was pointing at Billy. Lane shook his head and sighed. "Why am I not surprised?" He said to himself as he helped Billy to his feet, putting a pair of handcuffs on him. "What are y'all arrestin' me fo? I didn't start any dadgum fight!" "That's not what Sam says, Billy, and I'm more inclined to believe him than you." Lane looked at Mann, who had a cut on his lower lip. Mann picked up his hat, dusted it off and put it back on. Lane saw the blue eyes of Mann and saw that he had no problem scuffing with Billy. "Alright Billy boy, guess where you'll be spending the night at?" Lane looked at Billy, whose eye was swollen and a few of his teeth knocked out of his mouth. Billy just groaned in pain as Lane took him to the jailhouse just a little down the ways.


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