Shot Of The Good Stuff

Sheriff Jones pushed through the batwings of the Dusty Rose Saloon and surveyed its hard edged patrons. A rag-tag group of miners, dried up gamblers, cowboys and townies. He hated every last one of them. He made sure to look hard at the ones who looked back, staring right at them until they turned away first. No better than dogs, they needed to know who the master was. Men didn’t come to the Dusty Rose for gambling or women or music, they came to drink and get drunk. As far as he was concerned the sooner he dealt with this lot the better. He sidled up to the bar and slapped his palm on the ring stained wood.

“Whiskey,” he said. “And you better not give me the watered down version, Vergil, or you’ll be thinking about your business practices overnight in the hooscow.”

A couple men chuckled, but Vergil the bar tender wasn’t one of them. He poured the good stuff into a somewhat clean glass and slammed it down hard in front of the sheriff.

“Drinks ain’t free sheriff.”

The sheriff eyed Vergil for several seconds before reaching into his pocket. He slid a coin across the bar keeping his finger on it so Vergil couldn’t pick it up.

“I’m enforcing a new law. As of now Sundays are dry. Since you don’t serve food I want the doors to this place closed.” The sheriff smirked at Vergil and removed his finger from his coin before spinning on his seat to address the crowd that now leered at him.

“The town ain’t gonna go for it sheriff,” said Vergil.

“Tough. I’m sick of picking up your drunken asses seven days a week and I’m doubly sick of unexplained deaths. I need a day to rest and besides, I thought you’d appreciate it, what with the whiskey almost gone.”

Vergil eyed the sheriff suspiciously. “Ain’t no problems with my whisky supply, sheriff.”

“You say so Verg. But that don’t change the way Sunday is going to play out.”

The sheriff turned back to the bar and finished off his whiskey, smiled knowingly at Vergil then left the saloon. He had just opened the ball. Now he had to see if Vergil would dance.

Deputy Murphy was waiting outside the jail house.

“Did they bite?” he asked.

The sheriff shook his head at the bad pun. “There good and riled up if that’s you’re asking.”
“What do you think is gonna happen?” asked Murphy.

“I think there’s gonna be a hell of a lot of pissed off hombres ‘round here. So if I was you I’d stop wasting time and start making room in the jail.”

Murphy got up and slunk into the jail house. The sheriff followed.

“Murph,” he said as he fell into his desk chair. “Truth is I don’t think this is gonna simmer till Sunday. My guess is ole Vergil has someone belly down on a roof somewhere just waiting for me to walk on by.”

“How you want to play it?” Murphy asked. Hoping his nervousness didn’t show through.

“I reckon I’m gonna walk down the street and spring the trap.”

“That’s crazy, there’s got to be another-“

“There ain’t!” The sheriff stood up and walked to a locked room next to the cells. He took a key from around his neck, unlocked the door and motioned for Murphy to follow him in.

“Look Murph, I’m counting on you here. There are still some good people in this town. People that deserve saving. If I didn’t believe that with all my heart, you and I would saddle up and ride like hell wouldn’t have it. I know its suicide, but it’s the only way to give you a shot at Vergil.”

“We could set a trap of our own, here. Look around. We have enough holy water and silver here to stop a horde twice as big.”

“I appreciate what you’re doing here, but if we don’t cut the snake off at the head…” The sheriff handed his deputy two gun belts before buckling on his own.

“After they cut down on me the pressure will be off. There ain’t no way Vergil thinks you have the sand to go head to head with the likes of him.”

“Maybe I don’t have the sand,” said Murphy. He couldn’t look his friend in the eye.

“None of us has the balls to go up alone against one of them and they know it. That, and the fact that you know there are still a hundred or so men, woman and children in this town who are no more than cattle to those monsters, gives me all the confidence I need to walk down that street.”

They stepped out of the jail house and watched the sun start to dip on the horizon. The sheriff’s head snapped back as if he were laughing at a joke. Murphy left him convulsing in the dust.

He ran toward the livery trying to draw off the shooter but no one shot back at him. He turned as he passed the Dusty Rose Saloon and crashed through its doors. Vergil looked up nonchalantly and smiled when he saw it was the deputy. He poured a glass of the good stuff.

“Well Deputy, or should I say sheriff, drinks are on the house.” He slid the glass across the bar then bent to retrieve a large stack of bills. He placed them next to the whiskey.

“Your cut sheriff, you sure you don’t want to add immortality to the list? It’s only right, considering the debt we owe you.”

Sheriff Murphy surveyed the hard edged patrons of the Dusty Rose Saloon. A rag-tag group of miners, dried up gamblers, cowboys, townies and vampires. He hated every last one of them. He pulled his twin colts and leveled them at Vergil.

“I’ll stick with the whiskey.”

Author’s Note: I hope you enjoyed today’s tale. I wanted to write something that commemorated the spirit of self-sacrifice that was demonstrated by first responders and airline passengers eight years ago. This week’s prompt from Your character is determined to do something they know to be a mistake, seemed to fit that sentiment well. Thanks for reading.

29 thoughts on “Shot Of The Good Stuff

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  3. ganymeder left a nice comment today that was unintentionally deleted by my new comment system. She commented that while she liked the imagery of seeing two guns pointed at Vergil, she became confused as to why Murphy would try and draw fire off the Sheriff.

    The response that I was going to make and apparently caused the deletion of her comment is, thank you for the insight on what confused you. It is so wonderful when fellow writers take the time to help others improve.

    When I do an edit of the piece I will make it clear that Murphy was trying to draw the shooter off himself.

    “He ran toward the livery trying to avoid the shooter but no one shot back at him.” -or something like that.

    Thanks again for your support and feedback and sorry for the comment mishap.

    • Hi Shannon, Thanks for commenting. Murphy gave up his shot at fame and immortality to do the right thing. Who knows, killing the head vampire may weaken the rest of the hoard giving him an edge. Or maybe he’s lunch for the others. He has 12 rounds of hot silver that make a pretty good argument. Hope there aren’t 13 vamps.

  4. What is it with VAMPIRES today!!! [in my best Indiana Jones voice “Vampires, I HATE vampires”] both you and Alan…vampires….[shudder]

    I really liked this piece Chris. My very first thought was that “pushed through the batwings” was such a cool term to use for those swinging saloon gatelike doors….then….they were actually batwinged shaped doors. funny. started the clues off right off the bat.
    [so to speak]

    nice job.
    Karen :0)

  5. Thanks for remembering that it’s Sept 11. I like Murphy, and I like the way you told the tale. I couldn’t tell which way Murphy was going to go until the end, but somehow that seems fitting, given the situation.

  6. Karen – glad you liked it despite your dislike of vampires.

    CJ – I don’t really know if he made it out or not.

    Mark – Thanks, I’m glad you were able to pick up on the 9/11 tie in.

    Kayanna – Yes, he bribed him then was double crossed and yes the sheriff was shot.

    Thank you all for taking the time to read and comment. I love #fridayflash!

  7. Okay, I’m learning way more than just about writing fiction… no clue there was vampire anything about this until I read the comments too. An innocent reader takes another step further into the dark side on the batwings of a well told story Chris, for I enjoyed it even without knowing the nuances.

  8. I’m slow on the uptake, so I had to read that three times. THEN the penny dropped. Great story. I’d actually like to know more about the trail of events that led up to the final stand-off.

  9. Very clever, melding the historic Old West with an even older legend. I think you captured the flavor of a western town on the edge very well, and I really liked the noble character of the self-sacrificing sheriff.

    I was afraid Murphy was going to take the bribe, and so glad he didn’t. Much good luck to him!

    Great story 🙂

  10. I loved the evolution of this piece, how through the hints you dropped the reader can see the larger plot growing. Very clever use of the Old West setting and classic vampire – it’s nice to see them in different places then high schools these days!

  11. Now that’s an interesting mix of genres. It’s enthralling. That sheriff sure did play it dumb, though, didn’t he? Trusting the deputy and all. He should’ve known better. But at least they’ll still be able to get shots of the good stuff on Sundays. Can’t say as I blame them.

    Enjoyed the read, Chris. Keep it up.

    Jeff Posey

  12. This was great. I really liked how you yanked our chain, first making it look like Murphy was a turn coat, then having him come through at the end. Great little double twist there.

    I think there was a little confusion as to just what happened when they stepped out on the street. I believe it could be cleared up with just making one little change:

    They stepped out of the jail house and watched the sun start to dip on the horizon. A shot rang out from above. The sheriff’s head snapped back as if he were laughing at a joke. Murphy left him convulsing in the dust.

    By saying “A shot rang out from above.” (or some other less cliche way to say the same) it becomes immediately apparent that Murphy was not the shooter. I think some readers may have been confused on that point.

    I also think it would be slightly better to break this into two sentences:

    “Your cut, Sheriff. You sure you don’t…

    I loved how you tied it all up with the repetition at the end, “Sheriff Murphy surveyed the hard edged patrons…” These people are scumbags. Go Murphy!

    I also like how you diverge from the standard trope: silver is for werewolves, wooden stake is for vampires. It’s your freaking legend, so write it like you want.

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