A Six Gun and the Queen of Light

Part 9

A Six Gun and the Queen of Light

By Mark Slade

Story Break Barbed

They were at Smiley’s Saloon having a few drinks with Doc Abrams and Jim Fagan. Fagan was barely conscious, slipping in and out of sleep, waking suddenly then nodding off again. Logan touched Fagan’s shoulder. Fagan jumped, blinking and looking right through Logan.

“Are you alright?” Logan asked. Fagan nodded.

“This is a terrible affliction Jim has to deal with on a daily basis,” Abrams said. “It’s one of the many reasons he drinks too much.”

“Doc! Tell Logan what he’s about to do is crazy!” Nat jumped in, worry spreading the frown lines across his face.

“I have to say, I’m not looking forward to pronouncing your death to the world.” Abrams drank the rest of his glass and slammed it on the table. “If Mrs. Graves wants to leave, it’s between her and that husband of hers.”

“Doc! That woman is crazy… loco… She wants to go out into the badlands,” Nat said through his nose.

“By God, she is. There’s nothing out there—”

“I’m not asking anyone’s permission!” Logan hopped up and kicked the chair from under him. He took a fighting stance, like he was going to draw his gun. “You don’t have to come, Nat. I can get somebody else that’s less the color of yellow.”

It was quiet all through the saloon. Only a few customers, other than Abrams and present company, were there. A man in a derby hat sitting at the bar nursing a beer would look up once in a while. The saloon girl, a buxom blonde with a wide chin, was sitting two tables over with a cowhand who laughed in a high-pitched, weaselly way.

“He acted like he was gonna shoot or somethin’,” the cowhand told the saloon girl.

Logan slowly turned to the table where the cowhand sat, his hands sliding down the front of the saloon girl’s dress. “Did you say something, friend?” Logan asked, a small growl rolling up from his throat.

The cowhand laughed again. He whispered in the saloon girl’s ear. They both giggled, his laugh even more ladylike than hers.

Logan walked over and stuck the tip of his boot under the chair, tilting one of the legs up. The cowhand and the chair were separated, and the cowhand found himself lying on the cold, hard floor of the saloon.

“That was not smart, peckerwood,” the cowhand said, getting to his feet. He had his right hand at his back, digging in his belt. “I’m about to help you enter Jesus’ parlor.”

The cowhand produced a knife from behind. The blade was six inches and as wide as his hand. With the flick of his wrist, the knife was airborne—en route to Logan’s midsection. It never reached him. A small black ball came out of nowhere, a red-orange flame trailing behind it. The black ball hit the knife on the side of the blade, deflecting it from Logan. It fell to the floor and stuck into one of the loose floorboards beneath Logan’s boot heels.

Logan grimaced. He took three steps toward the cowhand before the man in the derby hat placed himself in the middle of the argument, holding his hands out in front of them both.

“Whoa, boys,” the man said. “No more of this foolishness. Go sit and have a drink, shake hands. Horace! Apologize! In the morning you can collect your knife. Stranger. Let bygones be bygones. You can stay in Bedlam. That sound alright?”

“Sorry, Sheriff,” the cowhand snarled, keeping his eyes on Logan. “Didn’t see you there.”

“Go on ahead, Horace. Go drink at Butch’s place. And don’t start no more trouble!” the Sheriff said.

The cowhand left through the swinging doors, hooting and hollering.

“That is a mighty strange choice of weapon, Sheriff,” Logan said.

“Sheriff Wilkes.” He bent down and picked up the small, glowing ball. Sheriff looked at it for a few seconds before placing it in his breast pocket. “Sheriff Bob Wilkes, stranger.”

“Folks call me Sirus Logan.”

“You’re in town on business, I have heard.” Wilkes went back to the bar and drank the rest of his beer. “Genevieve Graves is a very nice woman, Mr. Logan. I can’t say the same for Graves, though.”

“Yeah.” Logan sighed. He was tired of the same old story. “I keep hearing that, Sheriff.”

“Maybe you should listen.”

“And how is that?” Logan added a bit of venom to his tone.

“That cowhand that just left…”

“Yeah? Ain’t forgot him.”

“He works for Graves… ramrod.” Wilkes nodded to the bartender, walked past Logan to the saloon doors, and pushed them open. He turned to Logan and smiled. “Just thought you should know that. Good night.”

Nat put a hand on Logan’s shoulder. “I ain’t complaining or worried, Logan. Before I was. The way you handled things just then made me remember what you’re doing and why. I’ll help you get Mrs. Graves where she needs to go.”

Logan looked over at the bartender. “Joe! Get the boys another round… on credit.”

The bartender saluted Logan and went about the business of pouring beers in glasses when it dawned on him.

“Hey!” the bartender said. “You ain’t got no credit in here.”

Nat laughed and ushered Logan back to the table where Doc and Fagan were at. “Put it on my tab, Joe.”

Reluctantly, the bartender went back to the beers, mumbling under his breath.

“Tab is as long as my arm, peckerwood.”