Snakes and Pills

017 - bold faces

The saloon's doors swung open violently. The heavy and loud partying that only moments ago had seemingly forgotten about the outside world, suddenly grew silent and hushed, as everyone stopped moving. An few itinerant dice fell off one of the gambling tables.

One man seated at the bar had become deathly pale. He, like most people present in the saloon, had stolen a glance at the man who had forced the door open with such disregard for the normal acceptable force used to open a door. He knew it was Strongbond, and he knew that Strongbond had come for him.

Still, he sat on his barstool, facing forward, hoping that perhaps the gunslinger at the door hadn't seen him. Maybe it was just an illusion, maybe it wasn't Strongbond at all. He went for the shot glass sitting in front of him, hoping to calm his very unsteady nerves.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you, Elmer," came booming from the man at the door. "Wouldn't want to meet your maker with booze on your breath." Elmer's hand froze and trembled halfway to the shot glass. Strongbond started to slowly pace forward through the saloon. The only sound was of Strongbond's boots making contact with the old, dirty, wooden floor as he meandered towards Elmer.

Elmer, his entire body now convulsing quite obviously, still sat facing the bar, his back towards Strongbond. This wasn't happening to him, he didn't want to believe. Casually, Strongbond put his hand on Elmer's shoulder.

"Friend, I just want that ticket," Strongbond said reassuringly. Elmer turned around, apparently experiencing a miniature earthquake all his own. Struggling to face Strongbond, he stammered, "I was gonna give it to you S-S-Strongbond, I swear! Here it is!"

Fumbling through his vest, Elmer produced a slip of yellow paper that did indeed seem to resemble a ticket of some form. He himself seemed surprised that he not only possessed such a thing, but that he was relinquishing it all the same. He seemed to be offering it at Strongbond, as a plea for mercy.

A single gunshot punctuated the air. Elmer was now steady--he trembled no more. Strongbond took a few more steps forward, grabbed the ticket from out of Elmer's calm hand, and turned around, his boots again slowly beating against the floor.

This time, he opened the door with much more finesse. And when the hinges squeaked, marking his exit, the saloon's activities started up again, as if all of this had never happened.


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