The Colesville Stand-Off

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Westerns  |  House: Booksie Classic
Written for India Emerald's weekly Flash challenge. This week it was to write out of your comfort zone and try a new genre -- I chose a Western!

Submitted: August 27, 2017

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Submitted: August 27, 2017

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The Colesville Stand-off.

Colesville had been a peaceful town until the Gradeys and the Millers fell out. Half the townsfolk seemed to side with one family or the other; there were very few that stayed uninvolved.

There were a lot of them in those two families. Six Gradey brothers, not to mention sons, cousins and nephews. And the wives were all pretty handy with the rifle too. The Millers strength lay in their workforce. They owned the ranches, the bulk of the cattle. Many businesses relied on their trade even if they were not directly employed.

Sheriff Bailey had been seen out of town, bullets aimed at the hooves of his horse to give it extra speed. He’d tried, attempted to bring back some order, but with the entire town involved he’d soon found himself being sent packing. Bryce Coulter, his deputy, was shut inside the jail, just hoping that each day someone would remember to feed him.

If anyone had looked towards the hills that morning they might have seen the silhouette of the stranger. Man and horse stood motionless as they looked towards the town.

He rode along the dusty street, this stranger, at a slow and steady pace. The townsfolk stopped and stared after him – was this the man that would sort out the dispute?

The Stagecoach Bar stood right at the center of town. The stranger drew to a halt outside, dismounted and tied his horse to the rail. The doors of the bar swung open as two men fell through them, fists flying. A woman followed them out on to the street, rifle at the ready, and fired into the air. The men paused for a second, then once sure that neither had taken a bullet, began brawling in the street. Neither the stranger or his horse reacted at all.

The bar was dull and dingy. It was packed with shouting and beer-swilling men and women. Several minor fights were in progress, attracting a few onlookers who all seemed to find it necessary to cheer on one side or the other. The stranger pushed his way through the doors and headed towards the bar.

A hush seemed to fall around him. The fighting paused, the shouting turned to talk. Glasses were raised, beer was swallowed, and everyone watched and waited. What would he say? What would he do? Who was he going to challenge?

It seemed that he noticed no-one. He didn’t look to right, to left, just placed some coins on the counter and drank thirstily from the glass that was put before him. Once finished, he placed the glass back on the counter, turned and walked away.

The bar fell in to total silence as the stranger stopped to light a cigarette. Surely, now was the time for whatever action he was going to take. Hands reached for guns, for rifles; fingers reached for and rested on triggers. The tension was as thick as the smoke that the stranger exhaled into the room.

And then he carried on towards the doors, swinging through them and crushing the cigarette beneath the heel of his boot. The stranger untied his horse and had just swung himself up onto his saddle when a woman, scantily clad, followed him through the doors.

Hey, Mister,” she said, “aren’t you here to bring order to this god-forsaken place?”

The stranger looked towards her, gave a slight frown. “Who, me? No, Ma’am. I’m only here for the beer!”

The horse and rider wheeled away and headed out of town. Minutes later, Colesville was back to full-scale feuding, as though it had never even stopped.

 


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