1882 The town of Dead stone
The blood flowed from his chest as the men dragged his body out, he looked at him his eyes filled with sorrow, Tom Beck stood in his buckskin jacket watched as they carried the body through the dust, he was smiling. They night surrounded them, engulfing the men in its sinful shroud, the man was breathing his last breaths, looking as the bullet lodged in his chest slowly took him away. “It’s going to be okay son, it’s going to be okay.” They told him as he was sinking slowly into nothingness. He then uttered his last words that rang through the desert oh so beautifully. “Tom Beck killed Adam Beauperre, I watched as he put a bullet through the poor fools head out in the woods.” And with that, he was gone.
1924 New York city
The old man didn’t talk to too many people, most were curious to how he was still living, his face was one carved out of wood, his clothes tattered and his mind shrouded by the demon drink. They had let him sleep in the back room of the night club out of sympathy for an old man. On the condition that he swept the floors of the club. As he sat on his mattress he could hear the music of Pete the pianist humming in his ears, ‘Acid.’ Was the word that came to mind most of the time for him, he just didn’t know why. He heard the laughing and crying of the drunk men and women outside, the sounds churning in his head, adding to the confusion which is life. He remembered the rifle he used to carry in his hands, the closest thing he held to a baby for weeks on end. He was a great man once, but life had made him mediocre, possibly less, the exact opposite of what he had wanted. He was startled by the thumping on the door, reaching for a gun that wasn’t there. “Mister Beck?” It shouted, “Mister Beck, we need you to sweep the floors.” it said. “I ain’t a damn slave, I don’t got to sweep the floors.” Beck shouted back. “You ain’t got no respect.” After those words the door quietened. “We had an agreement.” It said. Beck sat there for a moment, before hobbling forward to open the door and see the tall owner standing there in his cheap suit. “I know, I know, you need me for your slave work.” Beck said to him, they only called him when the club was closed, they didn’t want the patrons to see the vagrant wandering around. “You’ll need a broom, mister Beck.” He said. “I know that.” Beck shouted at him. He hobbled to the corner where the broom was kept, as he turned around a skinny fourteen year old was watching him. “Hello mister.” The fourteen year old said, trying to break the silence. “Hello.” Beck replied, he looked at the boy once again before sweeping the floors. “Boy, get me a whiskey will you?” Beck asked him. The boy looked at the owner who signalled him to say no. “Sorry Mister.” The boy said. “Ain’t no respect no more, when I was a boy I respected my elders, you hear me kid?” Beck snapped at him. “My name ain’t boy mister, its Reggie.” The boy replied. “What the hell are you doing here Reggie.” Beck asked, being sure to call him by his name. “I was here to help clean up around here, but it seems you got it covered.” The boy said nervously. Beck handed him the broom and sat down. “Garcon, get me a whiskey will ye’?” Beck shouted to the owner. “The whiskey’s for paying customers.” The owner replied. “I sweep the floor don’t I?” Beck told him. “You sweep the floors so that I let you have a place to sleep and some food and water, whiskey ain’t in the deal.” The owner told him. “That’s a damn shame ain’t it.” Beck said as he got up. “Now I don’t know why you even bothered to call me.” Beck continued as he hobbled back to his room. “Goddamn it Beck, goddamn you.” The owner shouted at him. “You don’t get it you fucking idiot, goddamned me a long time ago, that’s why I’m here, I’m already dead, friend, this is just hell, and your just the devils whore.” Beck shouted at him, before slamming the door to his room. “Why do you let him stay if he acts like that?” The boy asked him. “Just get to sweeping, kid.” The owner snapped at him, before going back to his room.
The dreams were of gunpowder shrouding through the air, his years of bloodletting coming back memory by memory, man by man, death by death, all coming his head, and the man in the black hat telling him. “You’re living a lie Beck, it’s all a lie.”
“A man in a black hat came to me in my sleep, telling me it’s a lie, you know kid, I don’t if I’m dead or not, I just don’t know.” Beck told the owner. “Well, what do you think it means?” The owner asked him. “I ain’t got no idea, but that dream, it was just a dream but it was more than that.” Tom told him. “I don’t know Tom, I just don’t know.”
He sat in the lonely corner table watching the men in suits with the dolled up women, their heads clouded with the happiness of the music ringing in their ears, the air thick with the ignorance of a stupid man. The winds howled but the happiness didn’t let them notice, it just didn’t let them. Next to Beck sat the boy, Reggie, bored out of his life waiting for his time to work. “How long have you worked here mister Beck?” He asked. “Beck looked into the depths of his eyes, every crevice teeming with naiveté. “Must be about twenty-four years now.” Beck told him. The crowd paused for a second to see Abe Weinstein strutting into the room, followed by his shadow the men who’s coats followed shrouding them. “Killers, every one of them, shootin’ men in the back and goin’ into their little caves, them bastards.” Beck said. “Back in my day we had the decency of shootin’ ‘em in the front.” Beck shouted to Weinstein. Weinstein’s men gave Beck a stare that would put other men to praying for quick death, but Beck looked right back at them, back in the day he’d shoot all of those bastards. “You ever shot men, mister Beck?” Reggie asked. “You kiddin’ me? I was the meanest bastard back in Arizona, no bastard shot my way without getting’ themselves smoke, you got no idea kid.” Beck told him. “How many men did you shoot?” Reggie asked, laughing by the senile old man, his hair hanging off his head in wisps, his eyes alive, ready to speak of death. “Shot twenty men, fourteen of them died, that’s a fact I tell you, no man lived if I didn’t want ‘em to.” Beck told him. “Alright, mister Beck, I got to get to cleaning.” Reggie said as he got up to get the broom. Beck sat there, watching as Abe Weinstein approached him, like the king of kings approaching a president, his eyes glinted in the lights, his fists were clenched, and he seemed ready to kill. “I’ll tell you to respect me old man, you don’t have any idea what I could do to you.” Weinstein shouted at him, the music went quiet and everyone watched the strong man threaten the one who was strong no more, but not weak, his wits and strength may have gone but something lived in the murky waters of his mind, pride. “Boy, get the hell away from me, you ain’t worth my time.” Beck told him quietly. Weinstein grabbed him by his collar and the owner ran to grab Weinstein, the shadows pulled the owner back and beat him as he lay , before the owner slammed Weinstein’s face with the aggression left in his fists. Weinstein quickly let go of Beck, in order to shout at his men to let go of the owner, who had beaten the pride out of him, with the only pride he had left. “I’ll come back, you’ll see.” Weinstein said before him and his men walked away, leaving a wounded man behind them. The owners pride oozed out of him as blood. Beck got up to help him up. The owner left without a word, and the people of the club left quickly. Leaving Beck and the boy in the middle of the dead dance floor. “Why’d you do it mister Beck?” He asked. “Prides all I got kid, I want to hold on to that one thing, it’s all I have after all these years, and now I ain’t sure what to do, so I hold on to it.” Beck told him as he sat there. “Mister Weinstein’s a powerful man, he could kill you.” The boy told him, fearing for the old stranger’s life. It was the only time he worried for a man he barely knew. “Weinstein’s a hood, he don’t got nothing, that’s why he struck me.” Beck said before hobbling to his own room.
The desert sung a sad song as the man in the black hat walked into town his guns in its holsters like vipers ready to poison another man. The whirlwind of the desert spun through the air and the man stopped on the street to see five other men standing in all their despair. “We ain’t seen you in a long time Sutton.” They said to him. “You know why that is.” Sutton replied. They looked into each other’s eyes and then laughed. “We heard you got something big for us.” They said. “I do, but I’ll need your help.” Sutton replied. “Wouldn’t have it any other way my friend.” One of the four men said, before they went to fill themselves with the demon drink.
Beck sung the national anthem with the wrong lyrics as the drunkenness had consumed him. “Come on ye’ whores, why don’t ye’ dance for us.” The red faced pig of a man shouted as he raised his silver man killer in the air. Beck laughed as he remembered these were the things his mother tried to make him not do. “My boys, these days will be remembered.” Beck told them, he sat in his buckskin jacket, two pistols at his side, filled with a room of companions he had laughed and killed with. The room filled with the black powder smoke shot by the drunk men stuck in their very own cesspits. ‘Strange times are near, oh strange times are near.’ Beck thought to himself as he sat there. “Get me another drink will ye’ Garcon?” Beck shouted at the bartender. “Yes sir.” The bartender said, out of respect for a powerful man, and out of fear of the killer within him. Beck grabbed it and scarfed it down. “Oh you’re a mean bastard ain’t you Beck.” William Gardner said to him as he sat in his chair, his image was of a legendary lawman, but being friends with Beck didn’t help, but everyone’s human. “Fuck off my boy, I know I’m the meanest bastard around, every man should hide when I came, the sun hides behind the moon when I arrive at night, my bullets’ll kill any bastard who fucks with me, that’s a fact ain’t it boys.” Beck shouted, the saloon agreed, you don’t disagree with a drunk with a gun. “I think you’re a little drunk Beck, it’s about time you left.” Gardner told him. Beck looked at him for a second. “I agree.” He said as he got up and walked out of the saloon. “You better go with him, make sure he don’t shoot no one.” Gardner told one of the patrons, who gladly agreed. As he followed Beck, the man turned around and signalled for him to leave. “Gardner told me to make sure you get home.” The man told him. “You do his work now, do you?” Beck said to him. “I don’t work for no one, Beck.” The man told him. “I like that attitude, it’s the type that gets a man killed ain’t it.” Beck said as he turned to face the man under the night sky. “Look, I just have to make sure you get back home without shootin’ no one that’s all.” The man told him. “What’ll be your name?” Beck asked as he staggered. “Wayne Frazer’s the name, and I know who you are.” Frazer said. “Course you do, I’m a god among men.” Beck told him. “They talk about you a lot, back in Texas, sometimes what they is good too.” Frazer laughed. “You from Texas, friend?” Beck asked as he slowly went towards his house. “I am, I’m from Robstown.” Frazer said. “Ain’t that where they made poker?” Beck asked. “No, it’s where they made Texas hold ‘em up.” Frazer replied, as he silently laughed. “Well, I’m from Galveston, I’ve been in Deadstone eight years, I was a scout before that.” Beck said to him, as he reminisced his army days, the days you could kill legally, hell, they encouraged you to kill. “Never took you for a soldier boy.” Frazer said standing there, his hands on his waist. “I served about ten years, saw most my action when I was drinking off duty though.” Beck told him. “Ain’t hard to believe.” Frazer replied. The warmth in the air was clotting Beck’s skin; a certain sleaziness came about him, crawling up their body. His head was throbbing, but he ignored it, trying to stand strong. “I, I got to go now, my wife should be waitin’.” Beck said as he kept walking, Frazer completely forgot that he was meant to accompany him.
The snake distracted Sutton as he followed the five men to, he watched as it clutched a mouse with its teeth and slowly ended its life. “It’s Magnificent.” Sutton told them. They agreed. As they reached the doors of the bank, they pulled their revolvers. “Let’s give this town something to remember.” Sutton shouted as he slammed the doors of the bank in and the men ran inside.
Beck woke up with the sound of the devil in his head, he shook it away and got up quickly. His wife had left for work. He put his clothes on and walked outside to see the streets deserted, not a soul. ‘Not a soul Beck.’ The devil told him, standing there looking mighty slick. “Fuck off, my head hurts.” Beck told him as he walked through the streets looking for civilization. And it came, in the form of a Mexican running through the streets holding a rifle. “What the hell are you doing.” Beck shouted at him. “It’s the bank, their robbing the bank.” The Mexican shouted back in his broken English, his voice like a broken harmonica. Beck ran towards the bank as he took his pistols out, the clouds of death forming above him. ‘They always come about this time’ The devil told him. Beck ran through to see townsfolk running into their houses, the distant gunfire ripping through his ears and into his soul. He heard the screams of women piercing the air. His trigger fingers ready to fulfil their purpose. He saw the blood spilling in his mind. “Beck, Beck” Gardner shouted, he was holding his shotgun in both hands, sweat soaking his shirt. “What the hell happened?” Beck shouted back. “Some bandits, they robbed the bank, a bunch of boys in town tried stopping them and two of them got killed, I just got here.” Gardner replied quickly. The two men continued to the bank to see one of the bandits bodies lying on the floor with a bullet in his eyes. “They got one of ‘em.” Beck said as he stood over the body. “Ain’t this Ike Riggs, he runs with Jamison.” Beck said to Gardner. “Looks like it.” Was Gardner’s reply. As they walked into the bank the pools of crimson soaked into the soles of their boots. “Why the hell were they stupid enough to shoot.” Gardner said looking at the bodies of the two young men lying in their own blood. “They were soldiers.” A women said as she sat in the corner of the bank. “They just got back from fighting Indians.” She said, she seemed like she wanted to sob but couldn’t, she sat there stone faced, looking at the blood surrounding her. “I’m going to talk to Jamison, we’ll get the bastards.” Gardner said, he walked silently out of the bank, leaving Beck with the woman. “I’m sorry.” Beck told her. “You didn’t do nothing.” She replied. Beck was going to ask her if she wanted to leave, but he decided against it. One of the two men was her husband.
As Sutton sat in the room, the four other men sat there saying there blessings for a fallen comrade. “Why’d they have to shoot?” One of them asked. “Because of their pride, they were soldier boys, I knew them.” Sutton said. “People know he rode with us, what’ll we do?” One of them asked. “Barney, you tell your wife to tell ‘em we were with her the whole day, just tell her to tell Gardner that.” Sutton said as he got up from his chair. “I didn’t want to kill nobody, I didn’t.” One of them said. “None of us did.” Sutton lied.
“We can’t get Sutton.” Gardner said as he sat next to the glorified killer at the gambling table. “Why the hell not.” Beck asked, feeling the whisky surging through his veins, it felt like he was injecting the shit. “It was some lady out in town, said that Sutton and the boys were having drinks at her place.” Gardner told him. “That bitch ought to be hung for defending killers.” Beck said angrily, wishing to put a bullet in the woman’s head. “Well Beck, the town ain’t in for hanging women folk.” Frazer said walking in, wearing an expensive ten gallon hat, though there was no one to impress. The music filled their ears, the pianist was black man, who used to be referred to as a runaway slave, but since slavery didn’t exist anymore, neither did runaways. He was an old man with prune like features, his eyes glinting on the lantern next to his notes. Passion running through his fingertips. “Beck you remember Frazer.” Gardner said to Beck as he signalled for Frazer to sit. “Not really.” Beck replied. “Well you were out of it.” Frazer said laughing. “Well Beck, this is Frazer, he was in the ranger company that took down the Dollton gang in Texas.” Gardner said, trying to imprint the name into Becks mind. “We killed all eighteen of ‘em.” Frazer said, smiling. “I heard they were mean bastards.” Beck said as he signalled for another drink. “Well they were, but as much as I like talkin’ about myself, there’s something I got to tell you boys.” Frazer said with a grin. “Shoot.” Gardner replied. “Well the thing is Ike Riggs hung with some bad people, as we know, but there’s one in particular that I think’ll lead us to the rest, you know Donald Miller?” Frazer asked them, his eyes bursting with the idea that justice was close. “Sure, runs with Jamison.” Gardner said. “Well Donald’s a weak one, I think if we ask him, we could probably get the others too.” Frazer said. Beck’s trigger finger was itching. “You can finally get to some killing.” The devil told him. Beck silently agreed.
The three men walked to Miller’s house getting ready to use their shotguns. “Remember, no shootin’ till he does it first.” Gardner said as he knocked on the decayed door. “I hope he shoots first.” Beck said smiling. The door opened to reveal a twenty-three year old man in his pyjamas. “Boy, we need to speak with you.” Gardner said. Beck pushed Miller aside and walked to his table to sit down. “You got any whiskey, boy?” Beck said slowly, as if Miller was a retard. “I don’t drink whiskey.” Miller stuttered. “Get a load of this shit, the kid don’t drink whiskey, if you didn’t drink whiskey how’d you get the nerves to kill those boys at the bank?” Beck asked him, with a serious laugh. “I didn’t kill no one, I was at Miss Daisy’s house the whole day, she’ll tell you.” Miller said, as he pulled a chair for Gardner. “Daisy always was a goddamn whore, defending killers and such.” Gardner scowled as he said the words, letting them sink in. “I don’t appreciate you talkin’ bout her like that.” Miller replied. “Your unarmed in a room, with three men holding shotguns, it ain’t no time to defend a whore.” Beck said solemnly. “Look, I wasn’t at the robbery, I swear on my mother’s life.” Miller said, tears running down his face. “Your mothers dead Miller, don’t make me do the same to you.” Gardner said, cocking his shotgun. “You can’t shoot me, I didn’t do nothing.” Miller whimpered as Gardner shoved his shotgun in Millers face. “Watch me boy, watch me and weep.” Gardner growled the words, ready to pull the trigger. “I swear I didn’t do nothing.” Miller cried. “What the hell was Riggs doing there, he was your friend, one of your best friends and he didn’t tell you he was robbin’ a place.” Frazer said calmly from across the room. “He didn’t tell me nothing, get the gun away.” Miller shouted. “You’ll get a death sentence for the killings, unless you tell us who was in on it.” Beck said as he sat next to him. “I don’t know nothing.” Millers voice filled the room. “I’ll shoot you kid, hell I’ll shoot.” Gardner shouted into his face, Miller could smell the gunpowder. “It was Sutton, Sutton convinced Jamison to rob the place, I didn’t do nothing, honest.” Miller whimpered. “Looks like you gone and pissed yourself.” Frazer said to Miller, the three men laughed.
“Jamison, Jamison, they know we robbed the place.” Miller whispered loudly. “How the hell would they know that?” Sutton asked, as he loaded his revolver. “I think its Daisy who told ‘em.” Miller lied through his teeth, self-preservation at its best. “That dumb bitch, Who knows?” Jamison asked. “That bastard Gardner.” Miller replied. “Sutton, will you do the rites? you’ll get paid.” Jamison said. Sutton agreed. “Do this right.” God told Sutton.
As the whiskey whisked through Gardner’s body, he quickly finished his meal and said thank you to the waitress. The sky was shrouded by the night as he walked through the empty streets, the sound of creaking emerged from an alleyway. He heard a bumping sound and a shout. “Howdy, my man.” It said. Gardner looked in the direction of the alley and felt the shotgun slug slam against his chest, throwing him back into nothingness. He lifted his head for a second to see the man in the black hat, and then he fell back. The waitress looked out of the window to see the man in the black hat walking away. “You did good.” God told Samuel. Samuel laughed and walked off slowly, no one was after him this night, he had god on his side.
Whispers through the air told Beck that Sutton had killed Gardner. “We can’t simply get him, we don’t have proof.” The marshal said to him. As Frazer sat at the bar trying to drink away his friends death he saw Beck come in slowly. “Beck, how are you?” Frazer asked as he turned to face him. “Shit.” Beck replied. “You know Beck, I never found out what your job is.” Frazer said, curiosity grabbing his mind and distracting him. “I own a hotel.” Beck said quickly. “I never would have guessed you as the hospitable type.” Frazer said, completely serious. “I ain’t, especially not to Sutton.” Beck growled. “You want to kill him, don’t you?” Frazer asked him. “Don’t you, Gardner was your friend.” Beck asked, looking up into his innocent eyes.“Killing some ones not gonna bring him back.” Frazer replied. “But it makes you feel a whole lot better.” Beck said to him, his eyes filled with hellfire, waiting to take another soul from the devil. “Can’t say you ain’t right, I’ll help you get ‘em.” Frazer agreed to murder so quickly. The two men got up and left without a word.
Sutton sat surrounded by friends, but they didn’t feel like friends. “Why are you upset?” God asked him, “I have no clue.” He replied. As they sat in silence Sutton realized for the first time he had gone outside without a gun. The clock ticked, but they didn’t know what they were waiting for. As the door opened they watched as a silhouette covered by the sun walked in, behind him a man with a rifle. “What do you want?” Sutton asked as he leaned back. “Not much, all I want of you is to have a bullet in your head, given by me, right now.” Beck replied in a loud whispering growl. “I don’t got a gun.” Sutton said. “Then get one, and meet me outside.” Beck replied. Sutton nodded in agreement. As Beck left, he said what could be his last words to Frazer. “Keep an eye out, they’ll try something, keep that rifle of yours ready.” Beck said to him as he waited on the empty street, the sun blinding him, “The vultures are waiting Beck, give ‘em a good meal.” The Devil whispered in his ears. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.” Beck replied. He watched as Sutton walked out into the street, alone, in his duster and hat, he looked Beck in the eyes and smiled, ignoring the hellfire. “Let him pray for quick death.” God told him. Frazer watched as they stood there, just waiting, and waiting. Becks hands trembled, but he didn’t shoot as the shots had not been picked. He saw Suttons hand move, so his moved faster, Frazer saw the blur of Becks steel come out of its holsters and let out the hell fire through the small pieces of lead, penetrating Suttons body and causing him to fall back into what he thought was heaven. From the top of a building another bullet was fired and Beck fell forward as hit pushed him into the floor, the blood gushing out. Frazer lifted his rifle and fired a shot at the gunman on the roof and watched him fly down into the dust, his face covered with the crimson he shared with his family. Frazer threw his rifle aside and ran to Becks body and turned him “Don’t you worry, I got life in me yet.” He said as the Devil smiled at him.
Beck smiled as he remembered the Devils face, it seemed the Devil had not taken him yet for that moment. The owner was discussing business with another man while Beck swept the floors with the boy, both of them standing silently, the boy offered him some gum so he took it, never having had it before. The music stopped for a second, people looked up at Weinstein walking in alone, they resumed. Weinstein looked at Beck, and then went straight to the bar, his heart crushed as he realized he had no respect, only fear. Beck looked him straight in the eye and gave him the smile that the devil had given him long ago. “I didn’t think he’d be back.” The boy said. “Me neither.” Beck replied. The owner went over to speak to Weinstein, excusing himself from the business associate. He didn’t need to help Beck, but Beck had avenged his father’s death so long ago that he needed to do something. The owners name was Roderick Gardner. As he spoke to Weinstein the two men shared a small joke and a laugh, before Weinstein pulled a pistol and shot him. He turned the bar stool and fired a fusillade of drunken shots towards him, Beck watched the boy fall first, before three bullets pumped into his torso, as he stood there, looking at Weinstein, he gave him the Devils smile one last time, before falling back. He looked around as a pool of blood formed on the dance floor, the screams of the patrons around them. They all ran out, so the Devil walked in. “So you think you’re gonna die Beck?” The Devil asked him. “I believe so.” Beck replied from the floor. “You’re not dying here, you died a long time ago, don’t you remember?” The Devil asked. “I don’t.” Was Becks reply. The Devil brought Beck back, a while ago, Beck watched himself shooting Sutton. Just standing next to Frazer. As he stood there, he watched as the gunman from the roof pumped a bullet into his back, as he fell forward. He watched it all. “You didn’t live Beck, you didn’t.” The Devil told him. Beck was in his own body again, the bullet in his back, him coughing out his own blood, coughing out life. Frazer ran to him. “Beck, Beck.” He shouted. “I ain’t making this one, I’m not.” Beck said. The Devil smiled at him, as he faded away, into the depths of hell.
© Copyright 2017 aurko maitra. All rights reserved.
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