A Six Gun and the Queen of Light

Part 4

A Six Gun and the Queen of Light

By Mark Slade

Story Break Barbed

After taking Harley to Abrams and being cursed at by Abrams, Nat let Logan buy him a few drinks in the ‘Watering Hole’ saloon. Abrams lived upstairs and had his office there, which was convenient when a shooting in the saloon was almost as often as Sunday school. Doctor Abrams joined them at a table in the back of the room.

“How’s Harley?” Nat sucked down another shot of whiskey.

“Fixed him up, dressed his foot.” Abrams took a seat beside Logan. “I thought you weren’t here to shoot anybody?”

“I’m not! I didn’t shoot him. He shot himself,” Logan said. He poured himself a whiskey, downed it quickly. “Never saw such a fool thing in my life. And you…” Logan turned to Nat. “Didn’t your old man teach you better than to welch on a bet?”

“It wasn’t intentional. I haven’t the money.” Nat touched the bottle of whiskey and Logan took it from him.

“You had money to get liquored up,” Logan barked.

“That was my birthday money. And no… he didn’t teach me better. He was too busy being the town bully, killing people for money – like you.”

“I don’t kill for money. I offer protection.” Logan offered Abrams whiskey. He held up his hand, shook his head.

“Is that what you’re doing for Genevieve Queen?” Abrams raised an eyebrow.

“In a manner of speaking.” Logan smirked.

“Go on,” Nat said. “You know you want to tell us.”

“No!” Logan poured himself another drink. “I don’t want to tell anyone. I just want to know where she lives so I can go see her.”

Abrams sighed. “You don’t want to get caught up with Genevieve Queen.”

“Oh. And why not, Doc?”

“Do you know who she’s married to?” Abrams fired back, his top lip curled.

“I didn’t even know she was married.” Logan wiped his mouth with the back of his left hand.

“So you waltz into a job without knowing anything about what it is, or who the employer is? That’s a bit stupid,” Abrams said.

Nat smiled. “Dunderhead!” Nat cracked himself up.

“A job is a job, Doc. When you’re out of luck with silver any job will do.”

“Even if it gets you killed?” Abrams took the bottle from Logan, handed it to Nat. A huge grin spread across Nat’s face.

“Why don’t you just tell me why I shouldn’t get mixed up with Genevieve Queen?” Logan took the bottle out of Nat’s hands just as Nat was going to finish it off.

“She’s married to Clem Graves. He not only owns this town but he will kill any man that so much as looks at Genevieve.”

“She sent me a letter,” Logan finally said. Then wished he hadn’t. “I’m to escort her across the plains.”

“Why in heavens..?” Nat looked perplexed.

“I don’t know myself. That’s why I need to speak to her.”

“You know you will never see her away from her husband,” Nat said.

The door to the saloon opened and closed. A tall, grimy man appeared. His face was covered in dirt and his clothes were torn, barely on his body by thin stitching. He stood waiting for a sign to approach the table. Abrams mumbled under his breath. Logan turned and saw the man. Abrams motioned for the man to come over.

“Friend of yours, Doc?” Logan leaned an arm on the back of the chair.

“Yes,” Abrams said. “I’m afraid so. Mr. Logan, this is Jim Fagan: the town drunk.”

“Doc,” Nat cut his eyes at Abrams. “You don’t have to tell strangers that!”

Fagan smiled half-heartedly. He brushed a cowlick from his eyes. Logan noticed there was even dirt in the man’s beard. “It’s okay, Nat. Doc just calls it as he sees it.”

“Jim. How is the gout?” Abrams stood.

“A lot better, Doc,” Fagan said, wild-eyed. His hands began to shake.

“I guess you want a game?” Abrams took Fagan by the arm.

“You know I do, Doc. I… I can’t live without it!” Doc grabbed Fagan by the arm and led him to another table.

“Card games are a terrible thing,” Logan said.

“Oh!” Nat laughed. “They don’t play cards. It’s another game entirely.”

Fagan took six bamboo sticks out of his coat pocket, laid them on the table. Abrams picked them up, inspected the six-inch trimmings. The markings on each one, numbered one through six, were the same as last time they played. Abrams nodded, set them back down.

Fagan sat there, a huge grin on his face, watching Abrams take a white porcelain spinning top from his coat. Abrams slid a thin string through two holes on each side of the spinning top. He set two bits on the table. Fagan shrugged, gave Abrams puppy dog eyes.

Abrams showed distaste in his eyes. “Alright,” Abrams barked. “We’ll play for drinks, too.”

Shakily, Fagan picked up the bamboo sticks, all six, waiting for Abrams’ command.

“Go!” Abrams screamed. He pulled the string through and the porcelain top spun around in a blur.

Fagan tossed the bamboo sticks in the air. The sticks came up with numbers 1, 3, 5, 2, 1. The top stopped spinning. It levitated in the air, hovering in the middle of Fagan and Abrams. Four sides of the top opened outward, and numbers appeared and disappeared. None of them matched in threes. Example: 1,1,1. Fagan had random numbers, none a match.

He closed his eyes, put his face in his hands. He began to sob loudly.

Logan gave Nat a look. “Game’s that important?”

Nat nodded. “To him it is – turned him into the town drunk. He used to own the ranch next to Ed Gorman. That’s where your client lives now.”

“How in the world did he..? No. What would make a man..?”

“Mr. Logan. In that porcelain box are secrets – secrets that some people should never know. On a chance game with a fellow from China, Fagan here had won one game. The secret he learned was his crops were going to do very well if he planted on the east side of his spread. By God, that’s what happened. Ever since then he’s had to know more secrets. Been stuck on that damn game like a man stuck on a woman.”

At that moment, a saloon girl with fire-red hair stepped up to the bar to talk to a dust-ridden cowboy. Logan watched her like a hawk. He stood quickly, took some coins from his pocket. “Speaking of women…” He let his words trail off as he took long strides to the saloon girl. He whispered in her ear. She cackled in a high-pitched screech.

The saloon girl ordered a bottle of Rye whiskey, took the bottle from the counter, and sashayed up the stairs. Logan carelessly tossed down several coins and joined her. His hand stole up her skirts as they disappeared at the top of the stairs.

Nat laughed. He yelled over to Fagan and Abrams, “Horses are getting lonely. I’m heading to bed.”