Gabe rode into town on a red roan. It had been about a month since he had slept in a bed and he was looking forward to it. He studied the main street as he rode towards the livery. Nothing noteworthy. Some would take that as a good sign, welcoming and comforting.
Gabe knew it probably meant the town, or someone rich enough to own most of the town was hiding something. That meant two things to Gabe. One, his employer was probably justified in sending him here and two, if he was here it was because there was no one else with enough skill and experience to ride out of this snake pit alive.
Gabe reigned up at the livery and dismounted. Most people would not have noticed anything special about the way he got off his horse, the subtle way he kept his coat over his guns, how he faced away from his horse when he hit the ground and how he never took his eyes off the livery attendant.
“Two bucks a week includin’ grain and I’ll rub him down for ya,” said the young man outside the livery. Gabe handed him a dollar.
“I’m only staying till Wednesday.” He said. “Keep the saddle handy. I may need to ride out sooner.”
Gabe took his saddle bags and headed towards the saloon. Usually folks thought he was just a common sojourner looking for work or passing through on his way to the gold rush and that’s exactly how he wanted them to think. When Gabe got to work he needed whatever edge he could get. Coming across as a greenhorn had saved his hide many times. The problem was he was getting older. His every movement was practiced and polished and he now carried himself in a way that said he was not a person to be trifled with.
As Gabe entered the saloon one man took notice of him. He saw it happen. It was just a quick glint in the eye before the man glanced away. Even if someone else had noticed they would have discounted it as a regular response to a stranger entering the saloon. But Gabe hadn’t stayed alive all these years by ignoring the little details. Gabe worked in the time that existed between time. His workplace was the fractions of a second that others took for granted. Those fractions of time spelled life and death. Tick your alive, tock your dead.
The man’s attention was unnerving. For Gabe it meant it was time to quit. He had made up his mind on the ride in that this would be his last job and this man confirmed it. His employer would undoubtedly object, but he would deal with that when the time came.
Gabe scoped out the bar and strategically took a seat on the end and ordered a drink.
“I need a bed and a place to clean up. Do you have any vacancies?” He asked the bartender.
“Sure, fifty cents a night. Bath house is around back. I’ll heat up some water. It’ll be ready in about an hour.” Said the bartender
Gabe dropped a dollar on the table. “Thanks. I’ll take a steak too if you got any.”
The bartender smiled, picked up the money then went into the back to cook the food and heat the water.
Gabe discreetly fished in his pockets for a small vile containing a bluish liquid as the bartender served the steak. Gabe cut a small piece of the meat off and dropped it into the vile. The liquid stayed blue. The food was safe to eat. At least the bartender wasn’t trying to poison him. A good sign, it meant there were some people here that didn’t have to die. As Gabe ate his steak he noticed the man from before slip out. By the time Gabe finished his bath the big guns in town would know he was here. Figures, it always felt better to take a long, hot bath before attending to business and now it appeared that Gabe wouldn’t be able to soak too long.
Gabe dried and dressed. He buckled his rig around his waist. The weight of the double .45 colts was very familiar. He thonged the well oiled holsters to his thighs. Common practice for a gunfighter. He grasped each of the walnut grips reverently and pulled the guns out of the holsters a few inches. It was part of his ritual. He pushed his arms into the sleeves of his shirt then started to button it, careful to pull his cross outside his shirt. The cross was very old, given to him from his father and made of olive wood from trees grown in Bethlehem. Time to get to work. He put on his coat and hat, took a deep breath, and then opened the door.
Gabe stepped out and started toward the sheriff’s office. As he walked he became aware of several men paying him plenty of attention. The sheriff and about twelve others stepped out of the building. Gabe recognized one of them as the man from the bar.
“You picked the wrong town to ride into stranger,” said the sheriff. Several of the men behind him chuckled.
Gabe squared off and pulled his coat back to reveal his guns.
The sheriff and his posse laughed openly. The sheriff stopped laughing suddenly for effect before flipping out his fangs. “Them guns ain’t gonna do a damn thing,” said the sheriff. He smiled wickedly and began to advance on Gabe.
“God damn vampires.” Gabe said under his breath. He meant it literally. Gabe let go of the magic that kept his wings hidden. The sheriff and his posse, with smiles now totally erased from their faces stopped dead in their tracks. Gabe pulled his guns from their holsters and leveled them towards the vampric horde. His cross shone brilliantly.
“You’re wrong sheriff. Your time of reckoning has come. Prepare to meet thy Father.”
Author’s Note:I hoped you enjoyed this story. It was composed for Write Anything’s Fiction Friday challenge. This week’s prompt: Where your character is committed to a drastic or extreme change. Thank you for reading and commenting.