The man in the mirror looked back at me. It's taken me fifteen years to see him, but now I know he's there. I wasn't always like this, you know. I used to have a backbone. A hundred years ago, some goddamn Irishman wouldn't be slapping and shoving me around. I'd have shoved him right back. I might not've been able to draw as fast as him, and I surely would've missed anyway, but I could hold my own in hand-to-hand combat. Especially in bar brawls. I was as good as starting 'em as I was as ending 'em.
Today started just like any other day. I started serving whiskey at eight in the morning, which my momma would've said was a sin. Anyways, there was nothing out of the ordinary about today. Nova came stumbling back down the stairs after servicing Jericho. She took her spot by the washroom and lit up a cigarette. I poured a shot of vodka for a regular and was getting' out a Nuka for Billy when Moriarty came hustling down the stairs like someone'd lit a fire in his ass.
"Gob!" he was screaming. "You goddamn moron! You 'ere fifteen caps short las' night, boy. Anything to say fer yerself?" I shook my head subserviently and braced myself for the beating I knew was coming. People were starting to stare. Ms. West stood up uncomfortably to leave like she always did. She didn't like this. Some people did though. Jericho came down the stairs, buckling his armor and smiling from ear to ear.
I felt the bottle connect against my cheek. I felt the blood running. I felt one of my precious, precious few teeth knock loose. I didn't fall, though, the way that bastard wanted me too. It made him angrier.
"Don't try showin' out in fronta these folks, Gob. Go ahead an' fall on yer knees cryin' like a wee girl like ya do every other time. Now tell me—did ya steal them caps or did that parta yer brain that remembers basic math GO FERAL!" he yelled, shoving me back with all the force he could muster into the shelves. Bottles of whiskey, vodka, scotch, and beer fell to the ground, most of them shattering.
Great, I thought. There goes the inventory. I'll have to pay for this, too. Nova looked over at me with a sense of commiseration. Ha. Her idea of solidarity sure seems strange. She'd agree with Moriarty about everything he about me, just nodding her head. I used to hold a torch for her. Until I realized something I should've noticed a long time ago. She was just like everyone else.
I came out of my thoughts in time to feel the next blow Moriarty threw at me. I landed haphazardly among the glasses, feeling it sticking into my exposed tendons. The door to the saloon pulled open and in walked Sheriff Simms. Moriarty didn't notice. He swung for my stomach. I caught his fist and squeezed. He gasped, taken aback by surprise and pain. Moriarty drew a knife from his boot and laid it against my throat. I struggled underneath him, but he wouldn't budge.
"Colin!" Simms shouted. I was relieved. I had begun to think he had just popped in for the entertainment. "You'd best move that knife now. Or else one of my bullets is gonna relocate itself into your head. Your choice." Moriarty looked back between us. He pulled the knife back. As he pulled himself off of me, he kneed me in the balls. Mostly it was just for show, but that was the last straw for some reason. I cold-cocked him with my left hand, using my right for leverage. He fell, outraged. Simms started for me.
"Now Gob, it's all done and over with. Just cool off." I couldn't hear him; I was in my own world now. I was invigorated with destroying Moriarty. With Moriarty on his back, I straddled him. Looking down, I felt the power I had consume me. I grinned menacingly. Never before in my life had I seen someone look so horrified. Something in his face was purely frightened. My head was pulsing with rage. I grabbed his head in between my hands. I saw that moment perfectly: his gray hair twisting between my hands, my twisted, rotting hands, his blue eyes haunted by my reflection. I saw my eyes in his. I thought about letting him utter last words, but decided it was futile. The world would be better off if Colin Moriarty had never said anything. I broke his neck in one quick, clean gesture.
As I stood up moments later, Simms was hovering over me. I realized then that the barrel of Simms' Chinese assault rifle would be the last thing I ever saw. I felt the instantaneous regret that came with punishment. I didn't really regret killing that bastard, but I knew I would have to pay with my life. Simms turned to the patrons.
"Crime of passion. Gob, clean this up. Find Moriarty's will and divvy up his belongings. Move along people." I was astounded. Even more so when I discovered that I was to receive the bar. I wondered why, but I guess in the end I was the closest Moriarty had to family, me and Nova.
After I had shut down the bar that night and paid Nova, I went to the washroom. Looking in the mirror, I no longer saw the miserable slave I had seen so many times before. There was a man looking back at me. He had my gray eyes and deteriorating skin. He had my crooked mouth and sarcastic eyebrows. He was me.