"Charlotte get Sam and get inside now." Sheriff Edwards said to his wife as he slowly laid his hand on his holstered gun.
"What is the matter dear?" she asked while collecting their young son in her arms.
"Just please get inside." Charlotte complied quickly and quietly when she heard the tension in her usually calm husband's voice.
Edward's watched as the source of his concern rode calmly by him, as if he had every right to be in the town.
"What is he doing here? We can't have the likes of him associated with our town." His deputy said as he walked out of the office, Charlotte having told him something was wrong.
"Indeed, it is unlikely this is just a mere social call." Edward's said adjusting his hat over his eyes.
"What do we do?" The deputy asked. He hadn't been on the job very long, and his common sense told him they were not only justified but it might be better if they confronted him and got him out of town as quickly as possible.
"For right now let's just wait and see."
"He's a criminal…a murder we have to do something."
"I don't want trouble, right now he's alone. But he is part of a gang and they may not be far behind." Edward's said as he looked back up the road.
"But sir…" Johnson said.
"Son sometimes the best thing the law can do out here to protect a town is to do nothing at all. I know it doesn't sound like the right thing to do, but we can't risk the citizens' lives."
"Very well sir but I can tell you I don't like him walking around here."
"Neither do I, that's why we are going to have an eye on him at all times."
With that the two started to slowly follow the new comer down the main street through the small town. They hung back in the shadows when he dismounted and tied up his horse at the local bar, which on occasion doubled as a second inn. It wasn't a very impressive building, slightly run down compared to the other newer structures, but it was sturdy and served its purpose. It was two stories, the first with a large room for the bar area and a small kitchen in the back. The upstairs held the owners own rooms and a few smaller ones if accommodations in the other inn ran out.
He surveyed the building before casting a sideways glance back up the street. Making eye contact with the two law men just long enough so they knew he knows who they are. He dismounted and walked into the saloon.
Not used to having customers that early in the day, the owner was still cleaning up from the night before and going through the stock.
"Excuse me Miss." He said noticing a woman carrying a box of liquor in through what he could only assume was the door to the kitchen.
"Sorry but we're really not ready to take any customers right now, traveling or not." She said noticing how dusty his clothes were.
"I'm not looking for a drink."
"Then do tell what we can do for you." She said she carefully set the box down on the bar, moving around the back; not only to unload the box, but to get into a position that if need be she could pull the shotgun behind the counter.
"I was hoping to find a room for a few days." Charlie said trying to curb his usual harsh bluntness.
"There's an inn the next street over, as far as I know they have a few vacancies, you should try there first." She replied as she began to restock the whiskey.
"Thing is I'm a little short on money, and I was hoping…"
"That you'd be able to get a room for free, I'm sorry but things are tight around here." She said without so much as as second thought. It was true the town was growing slower than many people had hoped, but hopefully the railroad coming through nearby and the promising mines around commerce would pick up.
"I could work for the room if need be….any repairs that needed to be done and such."
"I really don't see how..."
"Sara who are you talking to down there!" A voice called down from the stairs, and he could hear heavy footsteps. A man emerged from the corner. "And who might this be?" he said eyeing the traveler suspiciously.
"Father you should be in bed, the doctor said you needed rest." Sara said as she went to help her ailing father. He waved her off.
"I've rested long enough, while you do too much of the work. Now answer me boy, what's your business."
"I'm looking for a place to stay, I don't have money to pay, but I'll work off the debt, and it'll only be for a few days."
John, Sara's father, stood there for a moment contemplating the man standing in front of him. He could tell the man was trouble but he seemed honest enough with what he had told them, and he wasn't senile. He knew there were things that needed to be done concerning the building that he or Sara could never do themselves and they just couldn't afford to pay anyone.
"You can have your pick of the four rooms upstairs, they are the first doors you'll come to. There's a small stable where you can put your horse as well."
"Just don't make me regret it boy." With that he turned and began to slowly make his way back up the steps.
Sara moved the now empty box onto the floor, "Get your horse and meet me out behind the building."
He didn't say anything only turned to go get his horse. It had been much easier than he thought it would have been. He knew he was lucky, only the law men had seemed to recognize him, and their inaction led him to believe as long as he didn't do anything rash he should be okay. The gang had split up briefly due to the threat of the law, and while he was on his way to meet back up with Wade, he was growing a little short on cash.
He led his horse around to the back where Sara was waiting with the door to the small stable open, only one other horse was inside.
"There's feed and water inside, I trust you can take care of it yourself."
He took his time, it had been a long ride and his horse deserved the attention. When he was done he took his saddle bags and headed for the main building. He didn't see anyone so he went ahead to put his stuff in a room. He heard a crash and some loud swearing from the saloon, and decided to go see what was going on. Cautiously going down the stairs one hand on his barely concealed gun he saw Sara trying to navigate the tables and chairs with a very large and apparently very heavy box. He then spied the reason for the crash; one of the chairs had been knocked over taking with it a small vase.
"Let me take that off your hands." He said taking the box realizing even for him it was on the heavy side.
"Where do you need it?"
"You can just sit it up on the bar for now."
He nodded his reply as he made his way over. Sara watched him curiously. She had never really been fond of strangers, but she had to admit she was intrigued. Two traits that could cause her to swing from cold, to extremely observing if she didn't know you really well.
"There anything else I can help with for now?"
"Not really, most of the work is done."
He nodded as he sat on a bar stool, as she made her way over to unload what was in the crate.
"So you have a name, stranger?" she said, the silence and his presence making her uneasy.
"Just Charlie, nothing else?"
"Yes." He said guardedly.
"Fine keep your secret then, Charlie nemo."
"I'm not nemo, everyone has to be someone."
Sara laughed, a true laugh, one he hadn't heard in a long time. "Very true, but if everyone was a someone we would all be equal, and this would be the best saloon this part of Wyoming."
"Who knows it just might be." Charlie replied, glad she wasn't pressing for a last name, while his face wasn't recognized he was pretty sure his name would have reached even the regular folks of a town this far out.
"That I doubt, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion."
Sara had finished preparing and went to sit at one of the tables. They usually never had customers that early in the day. Their few patrons came in much later after they had finished their own days at work. Luckily the folks in town weren't really unruly, as far as she could remember there had only been two fights in the saloon, and that was saying a lot for a place where people gathered to drink and gamble.
Charlie watched her for a moment as she produced a book, finally paying enough attention to really notice what she looked like. She had long sandy blonde hair pulled into a bun; a few wisps had escaped during the day and framed her face. Her lips were curled up in a small smile at something in the novel, Ivanhoe he noted. Also from the angle he was at he could see her eyes were a shade of blue, but he couldn't discern what shade exactly.
Finally becoming aware of his staring, and slightly bothered by it she looked up, Charlie meeting her gaze, he knew when he was caught, and figured denying it wouldn't do any good.
"Is there something I can do for you Mr. Charlie?"
"Any work around here I can do? I do intend to hold up my part of the bargain."
"I'll go ask pa what he wants you to do." Sara said snapping the book shut and promptly doing just as she said she would. After a few minutes upstairs she returned.
"I think he's decided to take it easy on you," She said with a smile, "At least for the moment, if you could just split some wood outback."
"For now." She said with a smile, walking by him to keep watch over the bar.
Charlie let his eyes follow her as she walked, his mouth forming a small smirk. He couldn't believe it, of all places to stop he had to run into the only saloon primarily run by a woman; A woman with wit, and if he must say so one that caught his attention in a few other ways. While not minding where his thoughts were straying he knew it would be best if he just went and split the wood, he didn't need the trouble and attachments women brought. Sure he'd had his fair share of one night stands, but he highly doubted he would get that here.
The rest of the evening passed quickly and without any trouble. Well at least the kind you normally think about. Edwards and Johnson however were troubled so to speak. Still toying around with the dilemma Charlie's presence in town placed them in. So far nothing had gone wrong but they worried it was only a matter of time. So there they sat in the saloon watching as he helped out dear sweet Sara as she minded the bar. In fact that was their main concern, when they had discovered he was staying there they had almost decided to step in. Sara was well liked in the town, and they didn't want her to be taken advantage of.
Charlie knew they were there but decided to not even acknowledge their presence, and thought they would leave without talking to him, when towards the end of the evening when most of the people had gone already they decided to approach him.
"Excuse me sir, but may we have a word with you outside for a moment?"
Charlie turned to them and nodded his head.
"Is there a problem Sheriff?" Sara asked, most travelers weren't,... well interrogated by the Sheriff, and it peaked her interest especially since he had been unwilling to tell her what his last name was.
"No problem, just would like to have a word with this gentleman." The sheriff said as he was already getting ready to head for the door, ready to draw his gun at the first sign of trouble. Charlie just smoothly walked out onto the porch of the building.
"Now what is it I can do for you?" Charlie asked as he leaned back on the wall, his foot propped up on the wall as well.
"We just want to make sure you understand your place in this town."
"And what would that be?" Charlie asked finally letting his appearance drop.
"Don't make any trouble and get out of here as soon as possible, we don't want the likes of you hanging around here Prince."
"I'll be out in my own time, don't you worry about that."
The Sheriff eyed Charlie, with his relaxed pose he was finding it hard to read what his true intentions might really be. The deputy however was even less trusting than he, and was irate that he was staying at the saloon rather than the inn.
"Good, well it was nice having this little chat, we'll be stopping by again, and you can trust me on that."
"And I look forward to another engaging conversation."
With that the sheriff turned his back and started back up the street, Deputy Johnson however turned and got up in Charlie's face
"I'll warn you right now, if you harm Sara or her father you're a dead man, you hear me. If you touch her..."
"You'll what? Kill me?" Charlie let out a sarcastic laugh.
"Yes." Johnson said.
"But what if she wants me to?" Charlie said and was pleased at the reaction he got out of the young deputy. He looked like he was going to pull his gun when the older sheriff called back to him, oblivious to what had transpired.
"Johnson, come one."
Johnson glared at Charlie as he backed away, Charlie just stood there grinning. He watched the two until they disappeared around the corner, before he turned to renter the saloon.
This is longer than most chapters will probably be but I felt this was the best place to stop. Hope you enjoyed it. This one may be slow coming out at first, even slower than usual for me, as I really want to finish For Thee, and I'll have another one I'm going to start, so please be patient.
PLEASE REVIEW and tell me what you think.