Stranger in Town
Updated: Mar 21
By: Paxton Wall
The streets were empty, and the town was quiet. Well, mostly quiet, save for the saloon, which was busy as always. The commotion caught the attention of a stranger who was passing through to the West. As he arrived on the scene, the disturbance that accompanied the crowd in the corner of the room piqued his interest. As he pushed his way toward the table, through the sea of agitated objectors, he began to profile the duo that occupied the seats at the table. They were a particularly grisly pair, with an apparent lack of spatial awareness. They didn’t seem too concerned about the gathering that had formed around them, as they hadn’t said anything about it by the time the stranger began weaseling his way to them. The crowd seemed to pause their uproar to inspect this stranger that had so suddenly appeared among them. They sat in silence as they anticipated a word from this fresh figure before them. The stranger threw his revolver onto the table, planted himself in an empty chair at the table and struck up a conversation with the two.
“So, have I seen you two around these parts before?”
“No, we’re just passing through,” said the taller, leaner figure at the table.
“You know any reason these fine people might have to be this antagonistic towards you?”
Suddenly, a member of the group surrounding the table interjected, “For starters, they stole from the general store!”
“So, you two are a couple of no-good, conniving, thieves?”, the stranger questioned. The pair at the table were taken aback at this sudden accusation, and the crowd once again took up the role of angry mob.
“Woah, woah, woah. Settle down everyone. I’d like to hear these gentlemens’ accounts of the situation.”
“We only took what was absolutely necessary for us to survive! We truly meant no harm!”, the shorter man lamented.
“It sounds like you two are truly at fault here. Stealing is a crime, last time I checked.” The crowd cheered at this account and grew restless for the interlopers’ punishment. “Still, I do believe there is a way this can have a more peaceful resolution.”
“What are you saying?”, inquired a shifty-looking patron of the saloon.
“I’m saying that, if you fine people are alright with it, I’d be willing to cover the loss from this act of theft.”
“I guess I’d let that stand,” said the barkeep. Many of the patrons lost their fighting spirit upon hearing this and resigned themselves to their respective booths and stools.
“Now wait just a minute! They committed a crime, and as a law-abiding citizen I cannot let that stand!”, said the aforementioned shifty-looking patron.
“Now now, I just saw you take a feller’s watch in the commotion earlier. You wouldn’t want him knowing that, would ya?” The man went red and stormed off, spouting a myriad of curses.
“I didn’t catch your name,” said the taller man seated at the table.
The stranger said, as he pulled out a deck of cards, “Just call me the man who’s about to beat you at poker.”