In town the road is filled with the dust of wagon wheels and horse hoofs as Sheriff Howard Crabtree stands in front of his office, watching. Farmers arriving with their crops fill the street as do ranchers with stock to trade, equipment for repair, and folks getting supplies. The town consists of a post office, city hall, a hotel, two banks, including Stillman’s, a general store, a bar and large church. There is also a restaurant called, Kittrell’s Kitchen.
One of the townspeople, Hubie Abbott, nicknamed “Gutbucket,” is standing in front of it. He finds his way through the dust and traffic to Sheriff Crabtree. The sheriff’s expression changes seeing Hubie. A mangling of facial muscles brands an ugly scowl on his mug as the stocky and arrogant personage of Hubie grunts out a noise that is his pathetic excuse for “Morning.”
“Yeah, Gutbucket,” is the sheriff’s reply.
“You still got a horse, sheriff?” Gutbucket asks.
“Yeah…And he ain’t for sale,” Sheriff Crabtree replies.
“You got a good saddle for him? One that don’t hurt his back and your behind?”
“Get to it, Gutbucket…What do you want to know for?” the sheriff asks, filled up to his eyes and mouth with dust, and Gutbucket’s questions.
“Well, I just want you to ride that son of a bitch around a little bit, away from the bar and Miss Kittrells Kitchen. You know, check on your neighbors.”
“What happened, Gutbucket?” the sheriff asks, growing impatient.
“I had one of my cows stolen and gutted out by my ranch,” Gutbucket advises.
Sheriff Crabtree quickly loses the bitter from across his face as he calmly looks up at Gutbucket. “You think someone has a grudge against you?” he asks.
Gutbucket looks out into the dusty street as he answers, “How the hell should I know? I’m workin’, man. I don’t have time to check on what people think about me.”
Sheriff Crabtree joins Gutbucket as they survey the dust filled main street. “Why would anyone have any ill will towards you, Gutbucket? A loud, mean and cheap son of a bitch like you.”
A wave of anger hits Gutbucket as he eyes the sheriff. But even through the dust the steel in the sheriff’s eyes glitters back brightly, which frightens him. Gutbucket quickly regains his composure and asks, “Why were you elected sheriff, to insult Millstown’s citizens or help them?” Gutbucket slowly walks away toward his horse and wagon across the street.
“I’ll be there to check on it…Don’t move anything,” the sheriff advises.
Gutbucket mumbles under his breath, “Just move your ass.”
The sheriff gives Gutbucket’s information a hard look, in his mind’s eye. He then walks into his office and quickly closes the door behind him. The haze of dirt continues to fly about as the sky becomes cloudy. Thick clouds, clouds filled with heavy weather, stretch across the sky. Clouds fat with raindrops to wash the day and make things grow tomorrow.
© Copyright 2017 Allen Henriquez. All rights reserved.
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