4 comments

Jun 04, 2021

Mystery Suspense Western

Night falls over the small town of Crescent Sound. The dark form of a lone stranger slowly makes his way down the main street to the only bar in town. He walks with a limp and with each step, drags a clubfoot behind him that moves with a motion, in respect to the rest of his body, like a reluctant child being dragged off by a parent to the first day of school. The door creaks on its hinges as the visitor enters an establishment called Todd's Place - named after its owner. He limps over to the bar and asks the bartender for a shot of whiskey. While anxiously waiting for his drink, he is totally oblivious to the curious eyes that fall upon him and the nosey whispers discussing among themselves who he might be. He throws his head back in one quick motion to pour the golden elixir of forgetfulness down the back of his throat. The strong spirit in the shot glass courses through his body, and the heat from its stimulation sends a burning sensation racing through his frail frame. 

Johnny leans against the bar, reeling from the pleasure of the intoxicant he has just consumed. He scopes the place, examining the faces, straining to hear the conversations. He has been on the trail for many weeks and he has traveled a great distance before arriving here. After being alone for so long, he feels uncomfortable around people. He spots a couple of pretty girls, but can't bring himself to going over and interacting with any of them. He asks for another shot of liquid courage to calm his nerves. 

He feels a gentle tap on the shoulder and turns to see the lovely face of one of the girls he had spotted before within the group from across the room. A brunette with emerald colored eyes, a statuesque form, and she moves that body with confidence.

"Hey stranger...what's your name? My name is Amanda."

"I'm Johnny."

"I saw you come in limping. What happened to your foot?"

Johnny was taken aback by her straight forwardness in asking about his foot, but he also saw it as a virtue.

"You don't mince words do you. I mean you get right to the point."

"I'm sorry," she said, "I guess sometimes I don't think before I speak."

"That's alright, but I would rather not talk about it...if you don't mind."

Johnny looks down for a moment avoiding her eyes. He feels an attraction to her but he also feels distracted. He came a long way to do a job and he needs to stay on point to complete it, so he can't allow himself the luxury of this flirtation.

"I'm sorry, but..." he said. 

"Oh that's okay," she cut him off, "I see you have your mind on other things, so I'll just leave you alone."

She turns and starts to walk away. Johnny wants to stop her but knows he needs to stay focused. He decides he needs some fresh air and heads for the door. After stepping outside, he takes a deep breath and hobbles back and forth a couple of times in front of the saloon. He stops to look up, through a mist of tears, at the clear night sky, to admire the beauty of the celestial bodies. Now closing his moist eyes, he calms himself and gathers his thoughts - those thoughts about home and what he will do after this job is over. It is during quiet moments like these that he feels the most vulnerable. These painful experiences from his past invaded his mind - like the loss of his mother six months ago, estrangement from his wife and daughter because of financial difficulties causing them to lose their farm as a result - all contributing to his drinking problem. So working was all that he could do to keep these dark and sad memories at bay and help him to stay out of deep depression and trouble. After a while, he decides to go back inside.

Johnny limps to the bar and signals for the burly bartender, who makes his way back down to him from the other end.

"Where's Todd?" he asks the bartender.

"Who wants to know?"

"An old friend."

"You have to do better than that", the bartender replies.

"Tell him Johnny."

"Johnny who?"

"Just Johnny."

The bartender stares at him for a moment and they lock eyes. He finally turns away and walks to a door on the far side of the room and goes inside. Not long afterward, a tall silhouette of a man appears in the backroom's open doorway and makes his way to the counter.

"Yeah...who are you and what business do you have with me?"

"What...you don't recognize me? I'm hurt."

"Look," Todd says "I don't have time for games. Tell me what this is about or stop wasting my time."

"Wasting your time," Johnny sighed, "now ain't that a laugh."

Todd gives him an angry look and turns to walk away. He feels a hand grab his arm and violently snatch him back before he can take another step. Johnny, filled with rage, is hit with a burst of adrenaline.

Startled by this act of aggression, Todd struggles to free himself from the strong grip of, who he thought from his initial impression was, a weak and fragile man. After leaping forward, Johnny twists Todd's arm behind his back and then uses his left hand to grab his collar and yank him backward. After doing this, he moves his left cheek to the right side of Todd's head.

"Sarah," Johnny whispers in his ear. "Remember Sarah?"

Todd trembles at hearing this ghostly name and fear stabs at his heart. Specters from his past revisit his mind, transporting him back to a place he would rather forget and from where he thought he had escaped.

"Hey look, let's talk this out!"

Johnny then leaps over the bar and strikes the fast approaching bartender with his clubfoot, knocking him to the ground. He then swings Todd toward the counter and holds him there with a bent arm. He raises his leg and grabs a gun strapped to the fake clubfoot he is wearing - firing off several rounds into the air. 

"Everybody clear the room!" Johnny yells, and patrons run for their lives.

"Nice place you got here Todd, you did real good for yourself by lying, stealing, and running off with the inheritance after Grandma Sarah died."

"Look," Todd shouted, " you got it all wrong!"

"Ma told me all about it, so save your breath!"

Then Johnny smiled.

"Uncle," he laughs, "it's payback time."

A flame was lit, a bar is torched, and the citizens of Crescent Sound have to do their drinking in some other nearby town.

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4 comments

Onyxx Moon
23:52 Jun 04, 2021

Well done, honey!!!

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Daniel Hayes
00:21 Jun 05, 2021

Hi Michael, this story was excellent!! I really liked Johnny, and I thought you did a good job writing this. It had a good flow, and the dialogue was fun to read. The ending caught me by surprise, and I liked how Johnny used his club foot as a weapon! I'm so amazed that this is your first story, because it's really good! You have a family of great writers!! :) :)

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Michael Woods
02:03 Jun 05, 2021

Thank you for the gracious comment. I am so glad you found the story entertaining. Thanks again. :)

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Daniel Hayes
05:53 Jun 05, 2021

You're welcome :) I really like stories like this, and I'm so glad you wrote it and decided to share it! Welcome to Reedsy :)

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